ZWT - 1914 - R5373 thru R5599 / R5457 (145) - May 15, 1914
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VOL. XXXV MAY 15 No. 10
A. D. 1914--A. M. 6042
Giants In These Days..............................147
A Show of Great Strength......................148
The Death Struggle Near.......................148
Trials Essential to Development of Character......149
A Word of Warning.............................150
Causes Inducing a Fall........................150
"The Israel of God"...............................151
The Church's Two-Fold Office..................151
What Constitute Good Works....................152
Expiation of Sin--Adamic and Partially
Jewish Age Reckoning..........................153
Legal Expiation by Scape-Goat Class...........154
Jesus Alone the Ransomer......................154
The Friend of Sinners.............................155
Two Salvations--One Savior....................156
Difficulties of the Rich..........................157
A Camel Through a Needle's Eye................157
An Interesting Question...........................158
Some Interesting Letters..........................159
Berean Bible Studies, Vol. II.....................159
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GIANTS IN THESE DAYS
READERS of these columns, and especially such as are familiar with the presentations of the volume entitled "Armageddon," know quite well that it is our opinion that there is a correspondency to be noted between the conditions which will prevail in the days of Noah, prior to the Deluge, and the conditions which will prevail in the days of the Son of Man, prior to the great Time of Trouble, which the Bible declares will symbolically melt, or dissolve, as in a furnace of fire, the social elements of today. We have called attention to the fact that the Giants of Noah's day, according to the Bible, endangered the lives and the happiness of humanity; and that it was our thought that a counterpart of these Giants is to be found in the great institutions and trusts of our day, which have the power to throttle, to strangle humanity.
We have pointed out that much could be said in favor of aggregations of wealth and intellect in mighty combinations, if properly used, not selfishly, but in the interests of the people. We have pointed out that although these Giant corporations have accomplished great good, which could not have been accomplished without their aid or without some Divine interposition, nevertheless, under present selfish conditions, they are a menace to the people.
We should not be misunderstood. We do not mean even to hint that the men at the head of these Giant corporations are inferior to their fellows in sympathy and in wisdom. On the contrary, we believe that they are generally superior, and that had brutish men been at the head of these Giant corporations they long ago would have sought to squeeze the very life out of the people. But, as we have pointed out, there is continually a tendency on the part of all imperfect people toward selfishness, acquisitiveness. That "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" is as true today as ever it was. The people must watch the Giants lest they become autocratic.
APPEARANCES SOMETIMES DECEITFUL
But, say some, The Editor of THE WATCH TOWER must be behind the times. Does he not know that the trusts are being throttled, and that these Giants have been made the slaves of the people?
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The Editor is well aware that apparently much has been done to bind these Giants; and he well knows that they have apparently submitted and apparently acknowledge themselves the creatures, the servants of the people. But he also takes note that this transformation is merely an appearance. This docility is merely affected. The Giants of intellectual and monetary strength have not really surrendered, nor is it in harmony with the laws of human nature to suppose that they would ever capitulate. Instead, they have seemingly acquiesced to the laws and regulations while merely transforming themselves and retaining their power. In several instances they have demonstrated that they are as powerful today as they ever were. And in their behalf it should be acknowledged that much of the legislation enacted against them is mere demagoguery--the work of politicians, intended to curry favor with the people and not for practical use.
We have no sympathy with those who make tirades against the courageous and brainy men who have, along purely commercial lines, done so much to help forward the world's condition--so much to prepare for the Millennium. Instead of being tantalized and hampered, these financial and engineering princes should be appreciated, honored. Then, while honoring them, we should insist upon their reasonable control and supervision by the people through their governmental representatives. If these Giants are necessary and useful, they can be better ruled by love and justice than by nagging and pin-pricking. No doubt it is this very nagging that is producing more and more a spirit of bitterness in the Giants--a feeling that they are not appreciated by some, a feeling that they must teach the people a lesson.
CONDITIONS AS THEY ARE
We are not especially finding fault with anybody. We are merely pointing out conditions as they are, and showing how these are shaping themselves and preparing for a great struggle between the Giants and the people--a struggle in which the people will suffer more than will the Giants. The fault is not with humanity at all. The fault is with the sin, the selfishness, the meanness, which for centuries has had a firm foothold in humanity--rich and poor. All are selfish. Each according to his opportunity seems disposed to take advantage. The Giant corporations, we believe, are much more lenient than they would be if they were in the hands of naturally smaller men of lower class.
These Giants are realizing that they have opponents on every hand. They have long contended with the labor unions, and more or less have been compelled to submit. Now, in addition to the unions, they are obliged to contend with the people in governmental legislation, and with new ideas in respect to corporation rights and liberties. These Giants are saying to themselves, The people do not realize how much good we have done, nor what important factors in their welfare we are.
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Few of the people realize that the managers and the presidents of our great railroads and large business enterprises are men of powerful mind, any of them well qualified for the highest stations of life, and many of them are earning salaries as great as that of the President of the United States, and solving problems as difficult as those which the President must handle. Few people realize that next to the farming element in importance come the railroads, as respects numbers of employees. And the latter are an increasing army, while the farmers are a decreasing army, because of labor-saving machinery.
Whoever supposes that these long-headed business men intend to sit down and quietly submit to every kind of legislation is deluding himself. The Giants know their own strength. They prefer to hide it rather than to boast of it; but when it comes to a life-and-death struggle they will use it, and terrible will be the effects. The very fact that the people are seeking to bind them arouses them to a more arbitrary exercise of their power. If legislation, for instance, affects to hinder railroads from monopolizing the anthracite and other coal interests, the coal-owning railroads with a snarl of defiance raise the price of coal, and thus give a hint to the consumers that they will need to be thankful if permitted to purchase at all and to keep from freezing.
A SHOW OF GIANT STRENGTH
A more or less preconcerted action has begun on the part of the great railroads and affiliated interests. They have determined that unless they are granted permission to raise their freight rates they will make the restrainers of their liberties pay dearly for it by bringing upon the country financial disaster, reaching losses a thousand times greater than the five per cent. which they demand. It would surely in many respects be wise to placate these Giants with the increase they ask, merely requiring them to render more prompt and efficient service in return.
But will this course of wisdom prevail? Possibly not. If not, we have before us already an illustration and prophecy of what may be expected. Already the railroads have laid off thousands of workmen who have been employed in road construction and repairs. Already they have canceled orders for rails and equipment, which in turn has rendered idle many of the large mills, throwing other thousands out of employment. Already they are cutting down their office forces. All this is done with a certain amount of justification in the fact that they have not been making as much money as formerly. For instance, a great steel corporation's recent report showed a "sad" falling off of revenue and profit, "leaving only $18,000,000 of profit for the quarter;" whereas they had for some time been accustomed to more. In accord with this policy, there has for some time been a gradual curtailing of train service, which is really a safe and sane policy.
We are not complaining, we are not finding fault even; we are merely recording facts, in supporting our contention that these great institutions are really Giants which, if they ever become angry and malicious, may accomplish incalculable injury. Their power and dissatisfaction have already been hinted to the government, which is more or less fearful of the industrial suspension threatened.
On the other hand we have trades unionism, which is only beginning to realize its great power at the polls, and also its physical power through strikes. The threat of the railroad managers partially to suspend business until their demands are met may any day be duplicated by the Giants of labor with their threat of suspension of labor, stoppage of fuel supply, walk-outs, etc. It may be said that these Giants of labor are blind and unwise; but nevertheless it is manifest that they, like the blind Samson of old, are feeling for the pillars which support our present social structure; and that they have in view its wreck and ruin, even though this means also the destruction of their own interests.
THE DEATH STRUGGLE NEAR
How soon these great Giants will enter upon their death struggle, each confident of victory, yet both doomed to destruction, no one can tell. Sure we may be, however, that in the battle of these Giants the masses of mankind will suffer with them in the ordeal.
Looking from the Bible viewpoint, we perceive that these Giants have reached their present size and strength through the light and blessings of the Millennial Morning. Had the veil of gross darkness been lifted a thousand years sooner, these Giants would have developed that much sooner; and their death struggle would have come that much sooner, with its resultant overthrow of present institutions in anarchy. But God would not permit this. It is no part of His Plan to allow human passion utterly to desolate the earth. Hence, He withheld the Morning Light until the Morning time, so that the struggle and its disastrous effects upon human institutions will occur just in advance of the time for the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom, for the control of the world by its spiritual, invisible, but all-powerful King, who is so soon to take unto Himself His great power and reign.--`Rev. 11:17`.
How soon this great catastrophe will engulf the world none is wise enough to say, yet the trouble is discerned and feared by all persons of intelligence, but more particularly by those whose intelligence is guided by the Word of God. The catastrophe may be put off for months or years, but it is sure to come. And we can see how it might be suddenly precipitated. Even as we write, the newspapers are echoing the mutterings and threats of the labor Giants, while the capitalistic Giants are admittedly feeling sour, and are half inclined to give the public a pinch as a mere suggestion of what they could do. It is these hints, suggestions and threats which are likely to lead from bad to worse, producing anger, malice, hatred, strife, and various works of the flesh and of the Devil, as St. Paul intimated.
"SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT"
Whether this great trouble be very near or further afield, the proper course of God's consecrated people is the same--"Seek peace and pursue it." And not only so, but we are to be peace-makers and not strife-breeders. When all around men's souls give way, a special opportunity comes to the people of God for pointing their distressed fellow-creatures to the grand blessing which God has provided for the near future, and for re-establishing faith in the Creator and in the future life, and for pointing out that it is to be attained only by those who learn the true lesson of life and who come to love righteousness and to hate iniquity.
We would be inclined to expect this great trouble to break out very soon were it not that the Scriptures apparently indicate that it will be preceded by a very powerful
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Church Federation, which will flourish outwardly in unrighteousness and be the first to succumb.
"I can see His coming judgments, as they circle all the
The signs and groanings promised, to precede a second
I read His righteous sentence in the crumbling thrones of
Our King is marching on."
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TRIALS ESSENTIAL TO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."--`James 1:2`.
ALL those who have been called of the Lord during this Gospel Age are called with what the Apostle Paul styles the High Calling (`Philippians 3:14`), the Heavenly Calling (`Hebrews 3:1`), which is a call to share with Jesus in His glory, honor and immortality. But the call is not the decision in the matter; it is merely an invitation with certain definite conditions. We are called, not only to righteousness, but to walk in the Master's footsteps of suffering and self-sacrifice. These are the only terms on which any are received as disciples of Christ. We understand the Scriptures to teach that during the Millennial Age there will be other terms of acceptance with God, offered the world. But there are no conditions offered now other than those of becoming followers and disciples of Jesus, to walk as He walked.
The Apostle James intimates that temptations may overtake these followers of Christ, into which they will fall as into a snare. As for an army, traps are set by the enemy, so the great Adversary sets traps and snares for us. He endeavors to misguide our minds and to lead us away from proper conceptions of truth and righteousness. We should be very careful to avoid his snares. Nevertheless, in spite of diligence, we may fall into a trap.
The Apostle says we are to rejoice when we fall into various temptations--not that we are to rejoice if we fall into sin when tempted, but that we may rejoice if we find ourselves suddenly precipitated into temptation. Temptation is not sin. If we could but keep in mind the fact that every temptation, every trial, every persecution, every difficulty in life, permitted to come upon us who have made the covenant of sacrifice with the Lord, is intended to prove us, to test our love, to see whether or not our characters are fixed, rooted and grounded in righteousness and being built up in love, it would put all these trials, difficulties and temptations in a new light before us, and greatly assist us in fighting a good fight and overcoming. When we find ourselves suddenly in temptation, trial, we should say, If by these temptations, or trials, the Lord is proving my love and devotion to Him, then, however trifling they may be or however important, I will diligently use them as favorable opportunities to demonstrate to my Lord the fulness of my love and devotion to Him and His cause. I must fight a good fight against this thing--the world, the flesh or the Adversary --whatever it might be that had brought the snare.
Thus viewed and thus met we can rejoice in every such experience; every trial and every difficulty will prove a blessing; for we shall, first of all, have an opportunity to show the Lord that we will endure, and not compromise His cause or our own position as His servants. We can rejoice also because we know that under such trials our characters will make advancement toward crystallization, if we overcome; and because we know that the Lord would not let us fall into any temptation which He would not cause to work out for us a blessing if we are wholly loyal. Let us dwell often upon the words of the Apostles: "Beloved, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." "Greatly rejoice, though now for a season ye are in manifold temptation, that the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." "Blessed is the man that endureth [faithfully under] temptation; for after his trials he will receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." "These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"--if rightly utilized; if we are rightly exercised by them.--`1 Peter 1:7`; `James 1:2,12`.
"HE THAT ENDURETH"
We are assured that those who love the Lord, and who because of this will receive the Kingdom, will be those whose love will have been tested by trials and temptations on the way. Those who do not love the Lord with all their hearts--in whom self or some other idol has first place--will be seduced by the world, the flesh or the Adversary, into some form of rebellion against the Divine Word or Divine providences. They will have schemes and theories which they will prefer to the Lord's Plan. These when analyzed will usually be found to be based either upon selfishness or upon ambition or an evil spirit of envy, hatred, etc. The Lord's leading and the Lord's words lose their attraction to such, and they lose their interest correspondingly. Like those who turned away from the Lord at the First Advent, declaring, "This is a hard saying," they walk no more with Him.
As there are some substances which are short and brittle, so are there some which have fibre, strength, endurance. The Lord chooses for Himself such characters as have the strong, enduring qualities--fortitude, patience, long-suffering, etc. Some there are who walk close to the Lord, who will not be driven from Him by any of the arts and wiles of the Adversary. They are such as are at heart fully the Lord's--not their own; they follow wherever the Lord may lead, because they have no will except the will of God. These will follow the Lord in the narrow way of trial, discipline and testings during the present life, and by and by, as He has declared, "They shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy."--`Revelation 3:4`.
He who escapes all trials and temptations and difficulties has every reason to doubt that he is really in relationship to God as a son. If he were a son, the Lord would surely find it necessary to give him trials and difficulties. If he does not have these he should go to the Father and make sure that there is no impediment on his part--make sure that he has put himself in the proper place where he can be prepared for the Kingdom. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."--`Hebrews 12:6`.
FAILURES AS "STEPPING-STONES"
All will rejoice when the testings are over and we are accepted as overcomers, to share with the Lord in His Throne. But patience, trust and love must first do a refining work in our hearts, making us mellow, submissive and obedient to God. Let the good work go on! Let us rejoice if our trials have made us stronger in character, more humble and Christlike, more aware of our blemishes and imperfections, more watchful and earnest in our endeavors to correct them so far as possible.
Even the conflicts in which we have had only partial victory may have resulted in blessings to us. Even in those experiences where we have suffered absolute failure, there may be, through the humiliation and the pain of defeat, a strengthening of our character, a firm determination for greater watchfulness in that direction, and a more fervent prayer for the Lord's sustaining grace, the need of which has been more deeply impressed upon our hearts. Thus even failures may become "stepping-stones" by which we rise toward God and Heaven. Only through much tribulation shall we enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all. If, therefore, the Lord's people
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find themselves involved in temptations, tribulations, instead of feeling downcast they are to rejoice and say, These are evidences that the Lord is preparing me for a place in the Kingdom. This should give one courage to fight the good fight against the world, the flesh and the Adversary. The flesh is suffering; but the new mind, the new will, has this joy; and the New Creature can rejoice, knowing that these trials are not for his harm, but for his good.--`1 Peter 4:13`.
A WAY OF ESCAPE PROVIDED
The Heavenly Father will with every temptation provide a way of escape. Hence when we find ourselves in difficulty we are to say, The Heavenly Father is permitting this trial--the Lord Jesus will help me, and so I will rejoice in the fact that the Lord will not allow me to be overthrown; for He has promised that all things shall work out for my good.
As our text expressly says: We are to count it all joy when we fall into temptations--not when we walk into them. We are not to seek temptation. In our own fallen condition and that of those around us, with the Adversary alert to harm us, we know that there will be plenty of temptations without our walking into them. But if we fall into temptation we are to say, I have been striving against this thing, but the Lord has permitted it; and there must, therefore, come some blessing out of it for me. Even temptations that come through negligence are not to be disesteemed. Some of our greatest lessons in carefulness have resulted from the effect of our own carelessness.
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Our joy is largely dependent upon our study of the Word and our knowledge of the precious promises contained therein for those who overcome. The Lord wants those who will endure a great fight of afflictions, who will endure patiently, though the temptations continue long and the tribulations become more and more severe. But if they should lose faith, all their previous good resolutions and standing for what is right would not make them overcomers.
These trials are intended to develop in us patience-- that this quality may be deeply ingrained. We are building character for all eternity; and patience could not be thus developed and maintained except by repeated difficulties, tests--by our resolving again and again to be stronger and firmer in building the character-likeness of our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
A WORD OF WARNING
To those who are of this anointed company and who are striving to attain the glory promised to the faithful followers of Christ, the Apostle Peter issues a word of warning. In the first chapter of his second Epistle, he urges the Church to add quality after quality of character-preparation, that thus they may be fitted for the glorious things that God has promised to the faithful. He specifies faith as the primary qualification. To this he says that we are to add fortitude, knowledge, patience, self-control, godliness, brotherly kindness and a broad, generous love for all mankind. The reason why the Scriptures declare that our judgment will be according to our faith is that while in the flesh we shall never be able to perform works such as God could approve.
What God approves is the New Creature. By exercising faith and by demonstrating loyalty these New Creatures will be able to please Him, and to work out the proper character as enjoined in His Word, developing the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. "If ye do these things," says the Apostle, "ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Faith is necessary all along the line. Without faith we could not have courage to go on. If we did not have faith what would be our source of encouragement? The fall mentioned in the text above quoted (`2 Peter 1:10`), is evidently a fall from the position to which we have been invited and to which invitation we respond. We were called to be joint-heirs with our Lord. If we are obedient to the Word of the Lord and are properly exercised by the experiences which are given us in the School of Christ, we shall gain His approval; for "Faithful is He that hath called us." If there is a fall in our case, it will be due to failure to do our part. If we fail to cultivate character, we shall fail to gain the Kingdom.
CAUSES INDUCING A FALL
Among those who fall some will fall more seriously than others. Those who fail to go on will receive certain tests which will determine whether they will turn back to the world or will continue in the narrow way. Some will fail in that they will not manifest sufficient zeal. These will come through great tribulations. If by these experiences they are brought to a full loyalty to the Lord, they will be granted everlasting life, but not on so high a plane as if they had not failed in their manifestation of zeal for the Lord, and of faith, energy and perseverance in doing the Lord's will.
Again, from lack of zeal in the Lord's service or from cultivating a spirit of bitterness, one may deteriorate until he becomes an enemy of the Lord, loving sin rather than righteousness. As an opponent of God such a one would suffer a complete fall. But those who have a temporary fall, but who afterwards overcome in the trials which the Lord will allow to come upon them, thus showing their loyalty to Him, will be fully recovered. Those who fall utterly can never be recovered. Such will lose everything. They had sacrificed their human hopes before they could be accepted at first; therefore their falling away from this condition of a New Creature will be a hopeless fall.
The fall of such will be far worse than the fall of Adam, whose fall resulted from having only limited knowledge and from lack of experience in the results of evil, for these have come to a clear knowledge of the Truth and have experienced a share in the redemption. The falling away of such would mean a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation--of destruction as enemies of God. Adam had only a small knowledge of the grace of God, and therefore is to be redeemed and ultimately restored, if he shall come into harmony with God.
Dear brethren, let us take heed to our ways. Let us earnestly cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, that we may indeed be presented "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."
"'From glory unto glory' that ever lies before,
Still wondering, adoring, rejoicing more and more;
Still following where He leadeth, from shining field to
Himself the goal of glory, Revealer and revealed!
"Then let our hearts be surely fixed where truest joys are
And let our burning, loving praise yet more and more
And gazing on the 'things not seen' eternal in the skies,
'From glory unto glory,' O Savior, let us rise!"
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"THE ISRAEL OF GOD"
"Ye are a chosen generation, a Royal Priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."--`1 PET. 2:9`.
IN OUR text the Apostle Peter is pointing out the fact that the Church of Christ is separate and distinct from all other people. For many centuries before our Lord came, the Jews had understood that they were God's people. He had made a special Covenant with them through Moses, which constituted them His people. He had also made certain promises to them dependent on their keeping of the Law. Thus they were His chosen-- heirs of certain special promises that were conditioned upon their obedience, and of certain other promises that were stated without specified conditions. God had also promised to make a New Covenant with them, to give them a new heart, to take away their stoniness of heart, etc. But after the First Advent a different arrangement began.
The Apostle is directing attention to the new feature of God's Plan--that during the Gospel Age He is calling out a special people. There will be no competition between the two classes--the new nation and the nation of Israel--for the promises given to Israel after the flesh were earthly, and the promises given to Israel after the spirit are spiritual. The Jews were a "peculiar people" (`Deut. 14:2`), a special people whom God had separated from the world; they were a chosen generation, or race. They were the generation, or race, of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. This special generation was recognized of God as His people, Jews, Israelites, through the Law Covenant, as well as through the preceding promises God had made to Abraham.
But since Pentecost God has started this other work in the world--another generation--peculiar, separate, selected for a particular purpose. And this generation will all be holy--there will be none but holy ones in it! The other nation had a priesthood, but this new people is a whole nation of priests. We see how this description applies to the Church. The Apostle Paul points out that while Aaron and his sons were typical in some respects, yet they did not typify all the features of God's Plan. They typified how Jesus would die--as a Sacrifice--how all His associates would be sacrificers. But Aaron and his sons did not typify the still higher priesthood which God had in mind when He established the Levitical priesthood. This higher Order of Priests was typified by Melchizedek, the king-priest.--`Hebrews 6:20`.
CHURCH'S FUTURE TWO-FOLD OFFICE
Jesus is this great antitypical Royal, or Kingly, Priest, and His Church is the Body of this antitypical Melchizedek. Before the new Order can reign as kings, and before they can serve as Priests, they must go through a certain process. The members of this Body of Christ must be first generated. It is a new race--all are begotten of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus was begotten of the Holy Spirit at the time of His consecration, and there became a New Creature, spirit-begotten, so also the Church, those who are to walk in His steps, must first make a full consecration before this new generative power will begin to operate in them.
This power began to operate in Jesus at His begetting, and completed its work in His resurrection. And so with us: This power will complete its work in us when we have proven our loyalty even unto death. When this
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work has been accomplished in all of the Priesthood class, then they will be of the Royal Priesthood indeed, on the Heavenly plane. This power of the Holy Spirit is not only a generating, or begetting, power, but an anointing power. And the anointing is not only to a priestly office, but also to a kingly office. This New Creation are a holy nation in the sense that they are representatives of a special Government, a Divine Government.
THE HOLY NATION--TYPE AND ANTITYPE
Israel purposed to be a holy nation, and in a typical way they were a holy nation. But in a broad sense, the Church constitutes the holy nation--separate and distinct from humanity. We are a separate nation in every sense of the word--living in the midst of people of the world. We keep our laws and also their laws. We are obedient to the "powers that be," realizing that the Lord has permitted these and wishes us to be subject to them, wherever our consciences will not be sacrificed. The Lord tells us that as representatives of His Kingdom we are to make known His Message. He tells us that the world is in a rebellious condition because they have become blinded by the Adversary.
And so He sends us as His ambassadors to tell men of His goodness, His Plan, which He purposes to work out, that the hearts of those who have an ear to hear His Message may turn to the Lord. He tells us not to expect many to hear this Message; for they will be so deaf and blind that they cannot understand. But He assures us that by and by their blindness will be taken away, and they will be ready for what He has for them.
The world does not understand us--they do not know that we belong to a different Kingdom; but we understand them. As the Apostle points out, "He that is spiritual judgeth all things." But they cannot understand, because no man can understand beyond his mental status, so to speak. We who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit still understand the natural things, but the natural man does not understand the spiritual things--"neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"; "they are foolishness unto him." So we dwell in the midst of a perverse race, or generation, fallen into sin for six thousand years. As our Lord declared, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."--`John 17:16`.
OUR PRESENT GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE
And we are a peculiar people in the sight of the Lord. This word peculiar signifies a separate people--implying that God had done something special for us. The Lord Jesus has purchased us. His merit--the purchase-price-- has been applied on our behalf. The only ones for whom this purchase-price has as yet been applied are the spirit-begotten ones. The Apostle's Message is to these. What object had God in selecting this peculiar people? It was that we might "show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." Is God proud, or vain, that He wishes His praises to be shown forth? Oh, no! God wishes His praises to be known because His praises will show to His creatures the great blessings He has provided for them.
If we go out and tell men that "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," we are showing forth His praises. We are not making God happy by so doing--He was already happy. But we are in this doing a great favor to the people who hear: we are telling them that God will bring them back again into His favor; that He will remove the curse. So, then, it is a great privilege now to tell forth the praises of God! But alas! not very many have the ear to hear; yet by our zeal in showing forth the Master's praises, we are doing all that we can to help men back to God.
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The greater work by and by will be the work of the Kingdom in ruling mankind, in overthrowing sin, in instructing and healing the people, bringing them into harmony with their Creator. And this will require a thousand years for its accomplishment. This glorious work will be ours! How wonderful it will be to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord--to be higher than angels! We shall be next to Jesus, as He will be next to the Father--"far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named."
"BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH"
But it is not only the honor that we should seek, but also the privilege of service God is pleased to give this class; the privilege of opening all the deaf ears, of awakening the whole world, to see, to know, to understand our God, to realize that the knowledge of the Lord is to fill the whole world--"for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" --ocean deep! (`Isa. 11:9`.) That glorious work of the future shall be done only by those who have proved themselves wholly loyal to God. If we are careless or indifferent about telling forth the good Message and showing forth His praises, we shall show that we are not worthy of the Kingdom. Those who prove loyal and faithful to the end will be the ones whom the Lord will exalt by and by.
And in doing this, God has been merely carrying out a course which men have imitated. God laid His plans long before men were born; nevertheless, wise men instinctively follow certain great principles. Napoleon is said to have directed that the various men who were faithful to him be made princes in the countries he conquered. Our Lord says, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (`Rev. 2:10`.) So we have from every standpoint the greatest encouragement to "show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." This Scripture implies that we realize we were once in darkness, and that we know we are now in the light.
Comparatively few have had this experience. Those who have been raised out of ignorance and sin into a heart appreciation of God's Plan are the ones referred to here. They could not get this light, except by being begotten of the Holy Spirit and becoming members of this holy nation, this peculiar people. And we cannot do the world greater good than by telling them of God's great favor, and thus helping them also out of darkness into the light. The light is given us that we may let it shine. May we be enabled to sing from our hearts:
"All for Jesus, all for Jesus--
All my being's ransomed powers;
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours!"
WE ARE NOT OUR OWN
In `Titus 2:14`, St. Paul sets forth a similar thought: "A peculiar people, zealous of good works." The people here referred to by him are the saints of God, those who are waiting for the fulfilment of God's promises--for those things which were to be brought to them at the coming (during the parousia--presence) of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These are the people who realize that they have been purchased with the precious blood. Some translators render `1 Pet. 2:9` "A purchased people, zealous of good works." The Lord's people are a people who have been redeemed, purchased. Whatever they were through the fall, they have been redeemed from that condition. St. Paul, in recounting certain sins, said, "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified."--`1 Cor. 6:9-11`.
The thought in `Titus 2:14` is much the same as in the other. Ye are a peculiar people, a people bought back from Sin and Death, and all such are "peculiar," different from the remainder of mankind. Amongst mankind, in Christendom, we find some that are vicious, and even amongst the heathen we find noble people. But these peculiar people of whom St. Paul wrote, are different from all others--they are New Creatures in Christ.
To these, "old things have passed away, and all things have become new." They have new hopes and new aims. They are hoping to attain the highest position offered to any in the Universe; namely, to be made associates in the Government of Messiah. These are very wonderful hopes. And the possession of these hopes by faith constitutes them different and peculiar, separate and distinct from all other people.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PECULIAR PEOPLE
While others seek the emoluments and distinctions of the present time, these count all the things of this world as loss and dross, in view of the wonderful things that God has set before their minds. They have seen the "pearl of great price," and have given their all to purchase it. They see that the Kingdom of God is the most valuable thing that is obtainable now or ever will be attainable. They have recognized the terms upon which this Kingdom-Pearl may be obtained and are seeking to make good the purchase. The terms are self-sacrifice, faithfulness to God at any cost, and patient endurance under adverse conditions, even unto the end.
These peculiar people are seeking to accomplish this work in themselves, because they see that these are the most gracious characteristics and qualities that can be imagined. Hence they are doubly solicitous; they are zealous of good works. They love to see others good and happy, and they love to spread the knowledge of God. They love the things that God delights in, because they have the Spirit of Christ. They are interested in reforms
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--social reform, temperance reform, every kind of reform; but this does not mean that they will engage in these reforms. The same man cannot be a great preacher, a successful farmer, a successful lawyer, etc. If he be a great farmer, he must give up the other things to a large extent. Or if he be a great preacher, he will have to give up, for the most part, other things. Yet he may have pleasure in them all.
And so with these peculiar people: they have one particular work given them of the Father. They recognize that this work is most important to be done, hence they cannot give their attention to political reform, social reform, or other reform, outside of their own work. For this reason they are called theorists instead of practical people. Nevertheless they have the most practical plan of all; for God's Plan is of all plans the most practical. These people, in becoming co-workers, are taking the wisest course. But they do not find fault with others. They see that the only ones who can grasp these things are those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear; they know that others cannot go beyond what they see. The peculiarities of these "peculiar people" extend to all the affairs of life.
WHAT CONSTITUTE GOOD WORKS
This class of people are wise enough to know that all the Truth even should not be mentioned at once. The Master said to those who had been His close followers for three and a half years, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (`John 16:12`.) The Lord's people are eager to do good, but in the way that will be the most effective, and in the way
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that will not stumble others. The good works, then, that this peculiar people are zealous of are the works of God. As Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me."--`John 9:4`.
The world cannot appreciate this, not having the Spirit of God, but more the spirit of the Adversary. The world are walking in the way of slander and hypocrisy, more or less. Jesus said, when speaking to the Pharisees, "Ye are of your father, the Devil." (`John 8:44`.) And when Jesus walked in the way of God, His course was a condemnation to them. Therefore Jesus declared, "The darkness hateth the light," and He forewarned us that it would be the same all the way down through the Age. He warned His followers that they would suffer the same persecution He had suffered. But the Master urged that they be zealous for the Truth--solicitous for it.
Since God has called us to good works, we are to show great zeal, even though it bring upon us the envy and hatred and opposition of others. We are to rejoice, even if we are called to suffer persecution for His sake. And though the world does not appreciate these good works now, they will see and understand by and by, in their day of visitation. (`1 Peter 2:12`.) They will see that God's Plan was the best plan. The Church glorified will be the channel for blessing the world in general.
Only this peculiar people can now understand these things. Jesus said unto His disciples, "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them [the multitudes who went to hear Him] it is not given....Therefore speak I to them in parables; because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand." (`Matt. 13:11,13`.) Only those who have come into this special relationship can understand. "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence Him, and He will show them His Covenant."-- `Psa. 25:14`.
We find a great many who gladly accept the Truth, and then seem to forget that the only way they can make progress in the Truth is to consecrate themselves to God. If they fail to make consecration, they must fail to make progress. We should be sure that we give people the right thought along this line. Only those who thus become God's "peculiar people, zealous of good works," can inherit the Kingdom.
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EXPIATION OF SIN--ADAMIC AND PARTIALLY WILFUL
THE expiation of sin may be viewed from two different standpoints. A satisfaction to Divine Justice for Adamic sin is, first of all, necessary. The decree of the great Supreme Judge of the Universe--that the human race must die--went forth because of the disobedience of Adam; and no one can be released from death until that decree shall have been revoked because of its requirements being complied with. The annulling of that decree of Justice, however, will not make the individual at once a perfect man.
If a man had been put into prison for some offense, and after ten years someone should make satisfaction, should pay up his account and comply with the requirements of the law, the prisoner would be released--justice would be satisfied. But freedom from the restraint of prison life would not give back to the prisoner his clear vision, his teeth, his hair, his health, or anything that he might have lost or that had been impaired during his term of imprisonment. And likewise, whatever satisfaction of Justice is made for mankind, they will not, at the time they are awakened from the tomb, be free from the marks that Sin has placed upon them.
There will be no Divine disfavor holding over upon the world at that time, because the price for man's release will have been paid. But mankind at the beginning of the Millennial Age will still have the blemishes resulting from the fall. It will be the work of that Age to restore the human race, to lift them up out of imperfection and weakness. Man will be helped up from his fallen condition, because Justice will have been satisfied.
The world will be in the hands of Christ, who purchased them by the sacrifice of His own life. We are to bear in mind that the satisfaction of Justice does not bring about the restitution of humanity from imperfection, but this judicial satisfaction is merely the turning away of the disfavor of God, the annulling of the death penalty. This gives the opportunity for man to be restored to favor with God--to be brought into a condition worthy of Divine acceptance at the close of the Millennium.
As for this satisfaction of Divine Justice which must take place before the New Covenant can be inaugurated, it includes not only a satisfaction for Adamic sin, but it embraces also stripes for partially wilful sins, and satisfaction for certain gross injustices which mankind have committed when they had a knowledge of a better course and were in a measure responsible for their unjust words and actions. To an extent they were in ignorance, but often they were wilfully so, and in proportion to the measure of responsibility will Justice require a recompense.
JEWISH AGE RECKONING
At the close of the Jewish Age God had a reckoning with the nation of Israel, which was one of the most terrific times of trouble the world has ever known. The declaration of Jesus was, that of that Age--that generation then living--God would require expiation for all the righteous blood that had been shed from the time of Abel to the time in which He was speaking.--`Matt. 23:34-36`.
And these partially wilful sins of the world are not fully covered by the Sin-offerings. In so far as they have been wilful they must be expiated by punishment. These sins and trespasses are shown as placed upon the scapegoat class--the Great Company. In the great Antitype shortly to be enacted, these will be allowed to suffer for some of the partly wilful sins of the world--especially the sins of Babylon. All the blood of God's holy ones, from the beginning of this Gospel Age, will be required of the present generation, in the "great Time of Trouble, such as never was."
The martyrs of the past, "the souls under the altar," are represented symbolically as crying out for the vindication of Justice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood upon them that dwell on the earth!" They were bidden to wait until others of their brethren should be similarly killed, when the guilt of all will be avenged.--`Rev. 6:9-11`.
RECKONING OF THE GOSPEL AGE
From the above we see that at the close of this Gospel Age there will be another squaring of accounts. A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and never will be afterwards, is to come shortly. (`Matt. 24:21,22`.) This is shown forcefully in many prophecies of Scripture. Our Lord is now again present, as the great Judge, and the storm clouds are rapidly gathering in this Day of His kingly presence.
Why require the full payment for all the wrongs of
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the two Ages--the Gospel Age and the one preceding, extending from the time the blood of righteous Abel was shed to the present time--at the closing of these Ages, is it asked? We answer, Because the chief light of each Age comes at its close, and because those who sin against such light are worthy of more severe judgment than similar evildoers preceding them, who had less light. The Scriptural argument is that to endorse the wrongs of the past in the light of the present is to multiply the responsibility and to deserve the plagues of the whole.
We have not far to look if we would see these iniquities, or inequities, of the world today, especially of Christendom. There is considerable light now shining upon the whole world, and more particularly upon its civilized portion. The principles of righteousness set forth in the Jewish Law, and subsequently amplified by the Lord and the Apostles, have enlightened the minds of the public in general in respect to justice and injustice, right and wrong, good and evil, so that there never was so responsible a generation as the one now living.
Notwithstanding this increase of knowledge, and notwithstanding that there are gross iniquities prevailing throughout the world, we find comparatively few willing to do anything toward a readjustment and equalization of the world's affairs, financial, social and religious. Rather, it seems that the majority of those possessing advantages are quite willing to hold to them, even though recognizing that they are inequitable, iniquitous.
We perceive also that much of the evil done against the Lord's holy ones of the past has thus far failed of the punishment due. Great systems which in the name of Christ persecuted the true Church have practised and prospered, but have not yet received their just recompense of reward. In the terrible trouble of the near future great Babylon will go down as a mighty millstone into the sea, when every man's hand will be against his neighbor in anarchy, when "there will be no peace to him that goeth out, nor to him that cometh in."
LEGAL EXPIATION BY SCAPEGOAT CLASS
But it seems that the legal expiation of these sins must be accomplished by the scapegoat class, as shown in the type. (`Lev. 16:20-22`.) Israel here represents the world. In this scapegoat type, the Lord pictures the sending into the wilderness of isolation and persecution the Great Company who, after consecration, were unwilling to go voluntarily "outside the camp, bearing the reproaches" of Christ. They shared not in the Sin-Atonement, but will be permitted, yea, forced, to bear the weight of some of the world's wilful sins, and thus to become dead to the world, that their spiritual being may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus.
This class, particularly large in the present day, will be delivered over to the Adversary, to suffer in this great time of trouble. Such of them as respond to these tribulations, faithfully and loyally, will be counted as overcomers and be granted palms of victory, as shown in `Revelation 7`, and will be privileged to share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and to be honorable servants of the Bride of Christ. If they fail to respond, and to wash their spotted robes in the blood of the Lamb, they will go into the Second Death.
It is this great trouble-time which the Little Flock, the Lord's goat class of faithful sacrificers, will escape, and which the Great Company will not escape, but will share. They will come up out of this trouble with washed robes, made white in the blood of the Lamb. Their sufferings will not wash their robes, but in their sufferings they will learn to appreciate as never before their relationship to the Lamb of God and to His atoning merit, and will by faith be permitted to apply the same to their own cleansing. As we consider the experiences of these children of God, so soon to come, let us all the more manifest our love for the Lord, and all the more seek to lay down our lives faithfully in the service of our King, and in behalf of the Household of Faith.
JESUS ALONE THE RANSOMER
It would not be correct to say that the scapegoat class atone for sin and thus make it possible for a certain part of humanity to be brought forth from the tomb. The tomb represents the penalty upon Adam for his transgression, and this penalty has been inherited by all of Adam's children. The Apostle says that "by one man sin [disobedience] entered into the world, and death by [as the result of] sin; and so death passed upon all men." --`Romans 5:12`.
The death of Jesus alone can cancel the sin of Adam. He only was the Redeemer, the Ransomer. He gave His life for Father Adam's life, and thus as a satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Those for whom Jesus advocates as the members of His Body become associated with Him and identified with Him in His work, not by virtue of their own merit, but because "accepted in the Beloved." These are Scripturally shown as having something to do with the cancelation of "the sin of the world," because of their association with the Head. The Great Company have nothing whatever to do with the cancelation of THE sin of the world.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR SINS AGAINST LIGHT
"THE sin of the world" (`John 1:29`) was the sin of Adam; but there are other sins aside from Adamic sin, which was brought on the race by the fall. We may suppose that in every Age there have been sins committed against a measure of light. But the sinners were not begotten of the Holy Spirit, and therefore their sins against light would not involve them in the Second Death.
Nevertheless, in whatever proportion they had light and knowledge, they had also responsibility. And while Jesus died in order that all might have an opportunity of coming back from the tomb, and to perfect life, yet He did not die on account of any individual sin committed against light. For such sins the individual is himself responsible.
In the case of the Church class, wilful evil-doers will be cut off from life. The Apostle Paul says that some were delivered over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that their spirit might be saved. Every wilful sin, no matter by whom committed, or when committed, must be answered for by stripes or by the death of the sinner.
SINS NOT COVERED BY CHRIST'S SACRIFICE
Nothing is to be atoned for by Christ's death but the sin of Adam. But other sins of direct responsibility, sins against light, must also be settled for. In olden times there were bitter persecutions of God's people, and those persecuted were obliged to dwell in caves and dens of the earth. (`Hebrews 11:32-40`.) The transgressions against these, in proportion as they were committed with a degree of light, were to be settled for by the transgressors.
God's providence squared off the account against the Jewish people in the end of the Jewish Age. There came upon that people wrath to the uttermost. The squaring of accounts for that nation, we understand, was completed A.D. 70. As for other nations, we must assume that God has dealt with them along similar lines--though not just the same; because they were not in covenant relationship with Him as were the Israelites.
Coming down to the Gospel Age, many sins have been committed which could in no way be covered by Christ's sacrifice--sins against a measure of light and knowledge.
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The chiefest of all these sins have been, according to the Master's words, against His people. He said that whoever would harm one of the "little ones" who believed in Him should have punishment; and that whoever would give even so much as "a cup of cold water" to one of these should have a reward.--`Matthew 18:6`; `10:42`.
We read of terrible atrocities committed against the saints during the Dark Ages. They were covered with tar and burned; they were fed to wild beasts, their poor bodies being torn to pieces. They were tortured in innumerable ways. We are reasonably sure that some punishment is due to those who committed these atrocities. But the Lord has told us that we are not to judge before the time. In due time we shall be made judges of the world. Now we are to look to the Lord and wait for His judgment.
THE ANTITYPICAL SCAPEGOAT
The Scriptures indicate that as there was a settling time, culminating in A.D. 70, with the Jews, so there will be a settling time with those claiming to be Christian nations. To whatever extent they have lent themselves to injustice, to whatever extent they have sinned against light, they are responsible. We do not know the extent of their responsibility--God knows! But in this Time of Trouble He will square all these matters, in order that the New Dispensation may be free from all accounts-- that there may be nothing of this kind charged up to humanity. The sins committed nationally will be expiated nationally. And of course, as individuals suffered from the wrong-doing, so individuals will suffer in the expiation.
And how will God reckon with the injustice which He wishes to cancel, so that the world may come forth with a clean slate? We answer, the Great Company class will have a share in that trouble. And since they do not really deserve a share in the trouble, in the sense of having merited Divine wrath, what they will suffer will be in a measure a suffering the merit of which will go to others. It is not a punishment to get into the Great Company class. The Great Company will be a very blessed class. They will not be seated in the Throne, but will serve before the Throne; neither will they obtain the Divine nature. The Little Flock class will get the great prize of being associated with the Master, joint-heirs with Him in the Kingdom. The other class will get a reward on a lower spiritual plane--a spiritual plane, because they also were begotten of the Spirit.
So far as the Great Company are concerned, God's permitting them to share in the trouble at the end of this Age will be for their own development. Their Covenant was unto death; and unless they lose their lives in obedience to the Lord, unless they prove faithful unto death, they will not be worthy of any position of life on
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any plane. Hence it will be to their own personal advantage that they suffer in that time. They are said to suffer for the iniquities, the sins and transgressions of the people of the world as the antitypical scapegoat. (`Leviticus 16:21,22`. See TABERNACLE SHADOWS, pp. 68-72.) Instead of allowing that merit of the Great Company to go for nothing, the Lord makes a credit of it, as it were, to balance the world's account for wilful sins.
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THE FRIEND OF SINNERS
--JUNE 14.--`LUKE 18:9-14`; `19:1-10`.--
"I came not to call the righteous but sinners."--`Mark 2:17`.
IN OUR Lord's parables He dealt chiefly with the Pharisees and the publicans; for the Sadducees were Jews in name only, not believing the Scriptures nor expecting a future life. The Pharisees were orthodox, reverenced the Law and taught it to the people. Outwardly, they were very correct; but Jesus in various parables pointed out that with many of them religion was a ceremony and the keeping of the Law an outward obedience, which did not extend to the heart. The publicans did not profess holiness, but rather confessed estrangement from God and lack of harmony with His Law.
The Pharisees treated the publicans as though they were Gentiles--refused their company and would not even eat with them. The Pharisees recognized Jesus as being exemplary, and His teachings as in full accord with the highest principles. They wondered, therefore, that He did not join with them, and wondered still more that He would have fellowship with publicans--confessed sinners.
The secret of the matter is that Jesus looked not upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart. He did not love the publicans because they were sinners, nor disapprove of the Pharisees because they outwardly kept the Law. We remember the case of the young Pharisee who came to Jesus and who, when questioned about the Law, said, "All these things have I kept from my youth up." We read, "Jesus beholding him loved him." He was a sincere Pharisee.
The parable of our lesson illustrates this matter. It shows us the heart-attitude of some of the Pharisees and of some of the despised publicans: Both men went up to the Temple to pray. The one said in his heart, How thankful I am that I am not a sinner, like the majority of men and like this poor publican! I thank God that I am a Pharisee--that I am righteous! But the publican felt differently. The weight of sin was upon him. He could not look up to Heaven. Striking his hand on his bosom, he exclaimed, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"
From God's standpoint, both men were sinners--both needed forgiveness of sins. But the one trusted in his own imperfect works, and asked no forgiveness; the other realized his blemishes, and prayed for mercy. We are not to get the impression from this that God is more pleased with people who live in sin than with those who strive to live to the best of their ability in harmony with His Law. The lesson is to the contrary. We must all realize that we come short of perfection, and that we need Divine mercy. The sinner who recognizes this is more pleasing to God and nearer to forgiveness than the more moral person who fails to see his blemishes.
At another time, Jesus referred to this same error of the Pharisees, saying, "The whole need not a physician," and, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." By these words He sought to call attention to the fact that although the Pharisees claimed to be righteous, they were not so. They were sin-sick, imperfect, needing a Savior. But they were not in a condition to appreciate their need and to come to the Lord for forgiveness--not until they should learn their need-- that they and all other members of the fallen race are sin-sick and need the remedy which only Jesus can give.
Not realizing their need, the Pharisees did not come to Jesus, did not become His disciples; and thereby they missed a great blessing. On the contrary, the majority of Jesus' followers was made up of publicans and sinners --people who had not been living proper lives, but who were earnest, who acknowledged their faults, turned
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from them and accepted the forgiveness and healing of the Good Physician.
PHARISEES IN OUR DAY
Both classes are still represented in the world, amongst Christians. Some are trusting in their church membership, their benevolences and general morality, for salvation, and ignoring the fact that all are sinners, and that forgiveness of sin is obtainable only through faith in the Crucified One. Others today, not so conspicuous in religious circles, are all the more ready to discern their own weaknesses, to confess them and to accept forgiveness of sins and everlasting life as unmerited gifts of God based upon the Sacrifice at Calvary. These latter, we may be sure, will have much advantage every way over the others as respects Divine acceptance to joint-heirship with Christ in His Kingdom.
The general lesson to us all is expressed by the Apostles James and Peter: "God resisteth the proud, but showeth His favor to the humble"--the penitent. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." Confess your sins, strive manfully against them, and trust for deliverance, ultimate victory and life everlasting through the merit of the Crucified One, in whose footsteps you seek to follow.
A LITTLE MAN--A BIG HEART
The latter part of our lesson relates to Jesus' journey from Jericho to Jerusalem, just prior to His crucifixion. Multitudes were journeying in the same direction, going up to the feast of the Passover. As always, Jesus was the center of attraction; all wanted to see and hear Him of whom we read, "Never man spake like this man."
Zacchaeus, a rich man of that vicinity, was one of those whose curiosity was aroused to see Jesus, of whom he had heard much. He was not a Pharisee; he did not profess holiness of life. He was one of those condemned and ostracised by the Pharisees. He had accepted a minor office under the Roman government; he was a tax collector for the Romans--a publican. On this account he was despised, and declared to be disloyal to Judaism.
Small of stature, Zacchaeus was unable to see Jesus because of the crowd. He therefore ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree, that he might have a good view of Jesus as He passed by that way. Little did he realize that the Master knew him and had read his heart and perceived in it honesty, and that therefore he was to be greatly honored. When Jesus came where Zacchaeus was, He looked up at the publican, called him by name and told him to come down at once, for He was to be his guest. The summons was gladly received by Zacchaeus. And we may be sure that the whole circumstance was greatly to the disgust of the Pharisees. They murmured at Jesus' being the guest of one not orthodox.
Evidently the murmuring reached the ears of Zacchaeus, too; for forthwith he addressed the Lord in self-defense --as though urging that these charges against him should not hinder the Master from coming to be his guest, and as intimating his desire of heart to be all that he ought to be and could be. He said: "Lord, behold, I give one-half of all my goods to the poor; and if I have wrongly exacted money from anybody, I restore him four-fold." Thus did Zacchaeus intimate his devotion to God and to righteousness, and his acceptance of Jesus as his Lord, his Teacher.
How did Jesus receive all this? He replied to Zacchaeus, "This day is salvation come to this house; for as much as he also is a son of Abraham." From the Lord's standpoint, all the sons of Abraham were eligible to discipleship. The thing required was an honest confession of imperfection, a turning from sin, a hearty acceptance of Christ and an endeavor to walk in His steps.
Unquestionably this same principle still applies, regardless of what men may think or say to the contrary. The Lord is willing to receive the repentant. No longer is it necessary to be of the natural seed of Abraham in order to be acceptable as disciples of Jesus. The middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been broken down, as St. Paul explains. All who have the faith of Abraham may be counted in as children of Abraham by becoming related to the Divine Plan as disciples of Jesus.
Our lesson closes with our Lord's words, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." Some who deny that Adam was created perfect, who deny his fall from Divine favor and who deny that redemption by Jesus was necessary, have sought to sustain their position by saying that Jesus never referred to the fall, although the account in Genesis tells of it, and St. Paul and other Apostles particularly mention it. But in this text we have Jesus' own statement as to why He came into the world at all. He did not come into the world to help along the Adversary's schemes; but, as He says, He came into the world to be man's Redeemer--to seek and to recover, restore, that which was lost.
Everlasting life was lost, Eden was lost, human perfection was lost, the image of the Divine character was lost. These could not be recovered by humanity, all of whom were under death sentence--the curse. God's compassion arranged a Plan, by which Jesus came into the
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world and gave Himself a Ransom for all.
The very fact that the Master speaks of His work as a ransoming one (`Matthew 20:28`) corroborates the declaration that man was under a sentence of death and needed to be ransomed from it. Without the Ransom there could be no resurrection of the dead, no future life. The Bible is beautifully consistent and harmonious when we allow it to speak for itself. It demonstrates that it is the Word of God, written under Divine direction.
TWO SALVATIONS--ONE SAVIOR
Although the race was one and although all shared the same sentence of death, nevertheless it has pleased God to provide two different salvations from this curse of death. Both salvations are based upon the great sacrifice which Jesus accomplished at Calvary. The first of these salvations is for the Church class, called out of the world during this Gospel Age, called to a change of nature --from human to spiritual nature. Even this first salvation is not yet complete, and will not be until the whole company of the Church shall have been selected from the world, and by the First Resurrection shall have been glorified with Christ. These will be joint-heirs with Christ in His Kingdom; and that Kingdom will begin its work on behalf of the remainder of the world.
The second salvation belongs to the Millennial Age, during which Messiah's Kingdom will control the affairs of earth, and Satan will be bound. Then the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. Then all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped; and at that time the second salvation will be effective to all mankind. That will not be a spiritual salvation--to the new nature, like unto the angels. It will be a salvation to human perfection, and uplift out of sin and death to the image of God, as at first experienced by Father Adam.
Both salvations will be grand, glorious, though that of the Church will be the more glorious. This salvation alone is open now; and the pathway to it is by the low gate and narrow way of consecration and self-sacrifice, walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
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DIFFICULTIES OF THE RICH
--JUNE 21.--`MARK 10:17-31`.--
"Ye cannot serve God and mammon."--`Luke 16:13`.
IT MUST have been an enthusing sight for the disciples of Jesus to see a rich young ruler run after the Master and, on overtaking Him, fall down on his knees at Jesus' feet, saying, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" --a very hopeful subject, we all agree. The Good Teacher did not answer the question directly; but for the benefit of the young man, and of others who have since read the narrative, He inquired why the title "good" was applied to Him. He would have the young man notice, and would wish all to notice, that everything that is really good must in some way be of God and in accordance with God.
There were only two ways in which Jesus could be viewed. Either He was, as He claimed, the Son of God come into the world on a special mission in the interest of humanity, and therefore a servant of God; or, on the other hand, if He was not, He was a deceiver, misrepresenting Himself and deceiving the people, and was bad, very bad. Jesus wished the young man to consider the force of his own expression and to decide at once this important question, upon which so much would hinge.
Not waiting for a reply, Jesus proceeded: "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor thy father and thy mother." The young man replied: "Master, all these things have I observed from my youth." And Jesus, beholding him, loved him and said unto him: "One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up thy cross and follow Me."
WHAT DID JESUS MEAN?
What did Jesus mean by telling the young man that the way to everlasting life was the keeping of the commandments? We would not so tell him now. On the contrary, we would tell him that he could not keep the commandments perfectly, and that his only hope for everlasting life would be through the exercising of faith in Christ and His sacrifice for sins.
Why did Jesus point to the Law? We reply that the Law Covenant was still in force in Israel, as it had been for more than sixteen centuries. God's promise to the Jews was respecting the Law. "He that doeth these things shall live by the doing of them." Righteousness was to be the condition of everlasting life. All the Jews understood this; and this young ruler confessed that he so understood, and that he had been striving to live according to this rule. Yet he realized that he was dying, like the remainder of the race. Therefore his query. Jesus' answer signifies, "You should not strive only to keep the Law, and no more; you must be a sacrificer, and take up your cross and follow My example."
We are not hastily to suppose that Jesus meant that the riches should be given away recklessly or indiscriminately. Had the young man agreed to the terms and asked the Lord how he could best distribute his wealth, we doubt not that the Lord would have said to him, "Give it all to God; and then, as His steward, distribute it according to the wisdom which God will give you and according to His providential leadings." Even this full surrender of earthly possessions would not be sufficient for one who would gain a place in the Kingdom class. He must do more; he must become active in the Lord's service, take up his cross, practicing self-denial, and follow on patiently in the narrow way of self-sacrifice, in the footsteps of the Redeemer, even unto death.
After the close of the Jewish Age, Jesus would not have suggested the possibility of everlasting life through keeping the Law, but rather would plainly have stated the impossibility of any imperfect person's keeping the Divine Law perfectly and the necessity of having the imputation of Christ's merit to cover his imperfections. Only thus can the righteousness of the Law be "fulfilled in us who are walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
SORROWFUL! FOR VERY RICH
The young Jewish ruler was anxious to do God's will, but not sufficiently anxious to be accounted worthy of membership in the Little Flock. He was willing to do right, to do justly, but unwilling to sacrifice. Jesus and all of His followers, on the contrary, engaged to sacrifice their lives, even unto death. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God."
The riches of the young ruler were not of themselves harmful. God is very rich; Abraham of old was very rich. The difficulty was that the young man had set his heart upon the riches, so that when the testing time came as to whether he loved riches or God more, he demonstrated that he loved God and the Divine will less than he loved his earthly property. He forsook the opportunity to do the greatest good, and thus turned his back upon a membership in the Kingdom class. We are not, however, to understand that there is no hope for that young man, who had such a noble character that Jesus loved him. In due time he will be getting necessary lessons. Even while missing the Kingdom opportunities, he may be one of the multitude who will be blessed by the Kingdom.
Jesus points out this test, saying: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The call of this Gospel Age is to be servants of God at any sacrifice, with the assurance that "all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," and find the path to glory, honor and immortality in the footsteps of Jesus a very rugged one. God has purposely put the matter so that we cannot be servants of wealth and servants of God at the same time. He wishes to bring us to the testing point. With all of this class now being called out of the world to be sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ, the test is "God first." We should have no idols--either wealth or fame or selfish ease--which might attract our devotion away from God and tempt us to ignore the rich blessings which He is now offering to the faithful.
FEW RICH IN THE KINGDOM
The rich young man's failure to become a disciple on Jesus' terms furnished a text for Jesus. He said to His disciples: "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" How difficult it will be for any rich man to get into the Kingdom class!
The disciples were amazed at this; for, of the great bulk of those who were claiming to be the holiness people of their day, very few were Jesus' disciples. The richer Jews were chiefly associated with the Pharisees. How, then, could it be that few rich would enter into the Kingdom? Was it not a mistake? Could Jesus mean it?
But Jesus emphasized His teaching, saying: "How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom! It is easier for a camel to go through the Needle's Eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."--`Matthew 19:23,24`.
A CAMEL THROUGH A NEEDLE'S EYE
The illustration regarding "the eye of a needle" used by our Lord was unintentionally spoiled by our translators.
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How many have looked at an ordinary cambric needle, and have noticed the smallness of the eye and the impossibility of a camel's going through it, and then have felt perplexed!
The Needle's Eye referred to by Jesus was the name given to a small gate or opening in a large gate in the city wall. The gates of Jerusalem were closed at night for protection against robbers, and watchmen were on duty. The gates were not allowed to be opened until morning, lest a considerable number of armed men might enter and pillage the city. An arrangement was made, however, for travelers who failed to reach the gate before it was closed. The smaller gate, the Needle's Eye, was just large enough to permit a camel to go through after it had been unburdened--its load removed. Thus understood, Jesus taught that as a camel could go through the Needle's Eye, or smaller gate, only by having its load removed, so a rich man could enter the Kingdom of God only by renouncing his burdens, giving up all to the Lord.
All this placing of the rich, the favored class, apparently at a disadvantage as compared with the poor, or disfavored class, caused amazement to Jesus' disciples. They inquired, "Who, then, can be saved?" The rich seemingly had all the opportunities of time, influence and money to enable them to give more and better service to the Lord than could others; and if they would have such difficulty in getting into the Kingdom, how would it be with others, less favored apparently? Jesus answered that "all things are possible with God." That is to say, if the rich man's heart be pleasing to the Lord --if he be honest-hearted and humble, and his riches alone stand in the way--the Lord would know how to show him His will in respect to their use; or if this did not avail, the Lord would know how to strip him of his wealth, even as the master of the camel would unload his beast to permit him to pass through the Needle's Eye.
Many have had this very experience. They have been rich in honors of men, in social standing or in a financial sense; and God, in love and mercy, has stripped them of all these, giving them the necessary lessons, fitting and preparing them for a share in the Kingdom. With God this is possible. He knows how to overrule all things for good to those who love Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.
"WE HAVE LEFT ALL"
St. Peter seemed to get the thought that joint-heirship with the Master in the Kingdom would mean a full surrender to God--a leaving of all and a yielding up of all--in order to a close approach to God and full acceptance by Him. St. Peter said: "Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee."
Jesus did not fully endorse St. Peter's statement. He knew about Judas, who had not nearly left all. He knew about St. Peter himself--that some self-will still remained, and that self-preservation would lead him to deny his Master. But the answer that Jesus gave fully covered the question, not only for the Apostles, but for all who have become followers of Jesus from that day until now. He said:
"Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for My sake and the Gospel's, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands--with persecutions; and in the world [age] to come, eternal life."
What a broad promise, and how abundantly fulfilled in its earthly respects to many! The persecutions they are sure to get; but everything sacrificed for the Lord's cause is compensated a hundredfold in the present life. How gracious the Divine arrangements; and then beyond, the everlasting life and, if faithful, a share with the Master in the Kingdom!
"But many that are first shall be last; and the last first." In other words, many possessing great privilege and opportunity for Divine favor and exaltation to the Kingdom will fail to embrace the opportunity, while others, naturally less favored, will gain the great prize of glory, honor and immortality. Again, we might say that those who first had the opportunity of becoming disciples of Jesus at His First Advent will not on that account (except the Apostles) have any pre-eminence or advantage over others of the Lord's followers in the future, nor did they have here.
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AN INTERESTING QUESTION
GOD'S SUPERVISION OF THE NATIONS
"THE MOST HIGH ruleth in the Kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."-- `Daniel 4:17`.
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God."-- `Romans 13:1,2`.
Question.--Should we understand from the above Scriptures that God guides the affairs of nations, and chooses their rulers?
Answer.--These Scriptures are in harmony with other statements of Scripture. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, for instance, after he had been seven years insane, lying amongst the beasts of the field, his reason returned to him and he extolled the God of Heaven, acknowledging that God setteth up those whom He will and putteth down those whom He will. We understand that God's dealing with King Nebuchadnezzar was prophetic.
In the case of Israel God had very particular oversight of their affairs, and dealt with their rulers. David was anointed when he was a youth, to be king in due time instead of Saul. So with several others of their kings--the Lord had them anointed in advance. It might be said of Israel, that whoever sat upon the throne was there as the Lord's representative. We remember also that on one occasion the Prophet of God was sent to anoint one of the kings of Syria and to give him a prophecy respecting himself, that he should take the throne.
Looking back, we see that in the case of Pharaoh, the perverse king of Egypt, God declared, "For this very purpose I raised thee up, that I might show forth My Power in thee." God did not approve of Pharaoh, but used him to show forth His own glory. God also used King Cyrus of Persia as a servant to perform His bidding.
GOD'S SUPERVISION OF CURRENT EVENTS
All of these recorded instances show a vital interest on God's part as to who shall come forward and who shall be retarded when these matters would affect His own Plan. We are not to understand that these different kings represented God's choice as respects their loyalty to Him, but that these were the ones through whom the
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Divine Plan in operation could be signally manifested and outworked. And so it is today. The Lord knew which of the men running for the office of President of the United States in the fall of 1912 would be the most suitable --the one who would most fully co-operate in the carrying out of the very conditions which He is pleased to permit to come to pass at this time.
The Lord guides in the affairs of nations now, only in so far as such oversight will promote the fulfilment of His own purposes. When the monarchs of various countries declare themselves "King by the grace of God," we do not agree to the thought they have in mind in making such claim. They are expressing the thought which has prevailed throughout Christendom for centuries--that they reign as representatives of the Kingdom of God, and by His special favor. And likewise the Catholic Church: When the pope claims that he is the head of the Church of Christ, claims that he is Christ's Vice-gerent, he thus claims that Christ has set up His Kingdom, and that the pope reigns in His stead.
OVERRULE TO OUTWORKING OF GOD'S PLAN
After the Papal power waned in Europe, and the Protestants came into power, the Protestant rulers claimed the same right that the Catholics had claimed--to rule as the Lord's special representatives. And it is from this standpoint that kings maintain that they reign "by the grace of God," that the Kingdom of God is set up, and that they are reigning in God's Kingdoms. We do not understand this to be the right thought, but that in God's providence He permits these to occupy the thrones of the world for the time being. We understand that God does exercise a supervisory oversight in respect to them--not that He has authorized them to represent Him, or that He is responsible for their deeds and acts, but that He is so controlling matters as to cause them to outwork His own arrangements.
God will not convert a king in order to do this; He will not make him a saint. But He can allow or hinder events without interfering with the free will of any individual, and without becoming responsible for his government.
We may assume that this supervision of Divine Power is for the ultimate interest of mankind. We remember that there is a Prince of Darkness, who is seeking to do violence to humanity. Our thought is that the Divine Power hinders or restrains, so that the worst
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things cannot come to pass until His due time, and He overrules to bring those into power who will have the disposition to do what He purposes to permit when His due time has arrived. However, since the Lord does not explain to us just how He does this, it would be wise for us not to be too emphatic in our statements.
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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
SOUNDS A NOTE OF WARNING
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
A peculiar circumstance occurred here in the Ecclesia on Sunday, March 15th, which I think should be brought to your attention. Just what it portends or just how far the several versions are to be relied upon, I cannot say; but as it appears to be in line with numerous warnings issued through THE WATCH TOWER for years past, I will state the facts upon which there appears to be unanimity:
It is the custom of the parents in this Ecclesia to allow the children to play during meeting hours in the ante-rooms adjoining our main hall. On this particular afternoon after the Berean Lesson had been in progress for some little time a commotion was heard in the children's room, mingled with screams of fright. One of the sisters was just entering the building when the matter started, and rushing into the room found several of the children hysterical, others cowering in abject fear with heads covered, and all greatly alarmed. When pressed for an explanation they stated that they had seen "a ghost." The older ones, better informed, declared they had seen a demon materialized, and that several arms had appeared protruding from the bare walls of the room. They declared that when they began to cry and shout, the apparition disappeared in the air.
It required some little persuasion to quiet them and to furnish solace in the suggestion that the Lord would not permit harm to come to the children of consecrated parents.
Besides this circumstance, two of the brothers in the class have had particularly heavy trials through semi-materializations of the demons within the last few weeks. Another brother who, I understand, has been clandestinely attending "Tongues of Fire" meetings on different occasions, suddenly became insane a few weeks ago and was sent to the asylum. His sad case gives many evidences of obsession.
Too many of the dear friends only half-heartedly accept the plain Scriptural teachings respecting the actual existence of these evil personalities and their pernicious activities. Some of these are in danger of severe testings from this source. Would it not be well to sound a warning? Can this sudden increase of activity on the part of these evil spirits, reports of which are coming from many sources, be premonitory of the "loosing of the winds" in the very near future? God help us all to have on the "whole armor and to stand in the evil day."
The Vow is still as valuable a factor in this "wrestling against principalities," etc., in exalted positions, as it was the day I made it my own.
With Christian love, your servant, WM. A. BAKER.
A SOFT ANSWER
Below is a copy of a letter sent by one Brother to another in the endeavor to effect a reconciliation. We commend it: DEAR BROTHER:--
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Lord be unto you!
What is it, dear Brother, that has caused this difference between us? As brethren of the Lord we should not devour one another; for that is the spirit of the world, and as the Apostle says in `Galatians 5:15`, there is a likelihood of our being consumed one of another: "Take heed that ye be not consumed one of another," urges the Apostle.
What if, in our appreciation of the liberty that is ours, and of which we know through the Gospel, we should reach the point where we would be so contentious for our liberties, great and small, that we would consume some brethren for whom Christ died! What if in injuring another, the spirit of strife should so react upon us as to poison our own spiritual lives, and we also should be consumed, lost, as respects the gracious things to which the Lord has invited us and for which we have been running in the race!
Now, dear Brother, let the Apostle's words RING in our hearts, "Lest ye be consumed one of another."
With this thought before our minds, let us more and more put on the armor of God to fight AGAINST our own fleshly weaknesses and to fight FOR our dear brethren, assisting them by example and by precept to war a good warfare also against the world, the flesh and the Adversary. Nearly all these contentions come through some misunderstanding. Neither you nor I have a desire to injure each other, but we earnestly desire each other's good.
For what I have done in any way to hurt your feelings in the past, I heartily ask your forgiveness; and believe me, I do the same with you, remembering `Matthew 7:1,2` and `6:14-16`.
If our views are correct, dear Brother (I really believe they are), with regard to 1914, we have no time to lose; and as the Apostle says, "There should be no SCHISM in the Body; but the members should have the same care one for another." Now let me conclude with love, and `Jude 24,25`.
Yours by His grace, J. HODSON.
I.B.S.A. BEREAN BIBLE STUDIES
FOR MONTH OF JUNE
Questions from Manual on Series Second of
"STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES"
STUDIES III. and IV., VOL. II.
Week of June 7.......Q. 15 to 20
Week of June 21.......Q. 8 to 15
Week of June 14.......Q. 1 to 7
Week of June 28.......Q. 16 to 23
Question Manuals on Vol. II., STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, 5c. each, or 50c. per dozen, postpaid.