Overland Monthly / OV174 - The Greatest Thing in the Universe
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OV174 THE GREATEST THING IN THE UNIVERSE
C. T. RUSSELL, Pastor London and Brooklyn Tabernacles
THE TEXT of this discourse is from #Eph 2:7: "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." All Christendom has erred in respect to the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God, which passeth all understanding. (#Eph 3:18,19.) This is evidenced by our conflicting creeds, not one of which is rational enough to be defended by one in a hundred of its own clergy, who profess that they believe it and are teaching it. This is driving many noble souls away from the Bible, which has been misinterpreted by us all. Our difficulty has been that we have looked at the unfinished parts of the Divine Program, and have neglected to properly use the telescope of God’s word, which would have enabled us to see the future features of that plan, without which the whole world would be incomplete and unsatisfactory.
Wonderful Divine Plans.
None of us would judge of a new building merely by the first story of the structure, incomplete and surrounded by scaffolding. On the contrary, we would inquire for the architect’s drawings and consider them prophecies of the building to be. God proposes the development of the church first, as a "new creation" on the spirit plane, higher than the angels, and "partakers of the Divine nature;" "Ye are the church of the living God;" "a kind of first fruits unto God of His creatures."
The fact that the Bible declares the church to be the "first borns," the "first fruits" of God’s creatures. Thus does God positively declare a secondary part of His great plan of salvation—in which "free grace" and fullest opportunity for reconciliation to God will be granted to the non-elect. But their salvation will be, not heavenly, but earthly. Their resurrection will not mean a "change" of nature, but a raising up to the perfection of human nature, to be enjoyed in a world-wide paradise by all the willing and obedient. Nor will the unwilling and disobedient be tortured to all eternity, but, as the Scriptures declare, "All the wicked will He destroy;" they shall "perish like brute beasts," in the "second death."—#2Pe 2:12; #Ps 9:17, R.V.
Foundation of the Great Structure.
In order to judge of the Divine character we must see the truth, the Divine program, and not merely a primary section of it. The Jewish age and its people, its law, its mediator, its priesthood and its jubilee were only rough outline sketches of the Divine plan, which had not then even begun. The Redeemer is the foundation for the great structure, as said St. Paul, "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid—Jesus Christ." A God of justice, wisdom and power devoid of love would be as cold and unsympathetic as a marble statue. The greatest thing amongst men is love.
OV175 Neither palace nor cottage could be a real home and a place of joy and peace and refreshment without love. We cannot even suppose a heart devoid of love without supposing it under the control of selfishness, and selfishness is merely another name for sin. The greatest men and women who have ever lived, and who have done the most to bless our race, have been men and women of heart, of love.
Surely, love is the principal thing in all this world, without which none can be truly happy under any condition, but with which happiness is possible under almost any condition. Whence came to man this quality of love unless from the Creator?
The Display of Divine Love.
God’s love will be most wonderfully displayed in His gracious kindness in the resurrection of the church to glory, honor and immortality. Then will come a further display of "love divine, all love excelling," when mankind in general shall be blessed under the Messianic Kingdom. We are not informed respecting the work of the church beyond their thousand year reign; the text merely assures us that Divine love is illimitable, and that those who now shall prove themselves loyal, even unto death, shall have blessing upon blessing through future ages.
Astronomy assures us that, aside from the planets which belong to our own system, all the other stars are suns, with whirling worlds about them, invisible to us.
Photography shows stars which cannot be seen with the eye. The number of these suns is now reckoned at more than 100,000,000. Although this sum is quite beyond the power of human comprehension, there is a general agreement among astronomers that if we stood upon the farthest world we should probably see just as many suns beyond us as behind us. What a suggestion we have here of Divine power—omnipotence! How little we feel ourselves to be, and proportionately how amazing seems the love of God toward us in Christ Jesus!
The Lessons Taught by Sin.
Does our text speak of "ages to come for the showing forth of God’s love toward us?" Ah! what a limitless eternity is provided! Nor can we doubt that the lessons taught through the permission of sin among humanity on our earth are designed of the Creator to furnish a great lesson throughout ages to come. The church, the new creation, will undoubtedly be associated with the Redeemer as Jehovah’s agents in creating inhabitants in all of these billions of worlds. And who will say that even the witness of God’s justice and love, in the perfected world of mankind, might not be taken to tell in other worlds the story of Adam’s disobedience and fall; the story of the reign of sin and death for 6,000 years; the story of the redemption accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus; the story of the selection of a faithful "little flock" of his footstep followers to be His bride; the story of human restitution to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed through Jesus’ death; the story of the second death visited upon the unwilling and the disobedient, that eventually every creature should bow the knee and confess with joy, and acclaim the Father and the Son!
BUILD a little fence around Today, And therein stay; Look not through the shelt’ring bars Upon Tomorrow, —Sufficient for each day, the evil And the sorrow.