ZWT - 1911 - R4733 thru R4942 / R4898 (385) - October 15, 1911
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VOL. XXXII OCTOBER 15 No. 20
A.D. 1911--A.M. 6040
Feeding on the Words of God.......................387
Obedience the Test............................388
The Spirit of Discontent..........................389
Tendency Not to See Our Own Faults............389
What the Church Sacrifices........................390
God's Providence Re Two Queens....................391
"Mene, Tekel, Upharsin"...........................392
The New Covenant..................................393
Justification by Faith............................394
The Co-Operative Church Movement..................395
"The Issues of Life"..............................396
"The Peace of God"................................397
Questions on Our Lord's Life-Rights...............398
The Merit and the Life-Right..................398
Actually No Life-Rights to Sacrifice..........398
Failure Releases Imputed Merit................399
Life-Rights Represented in New Covenant.......399
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............399
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
BROOKLYN TABERNACLE, 13-17 HICKS ST.,
BROOKLYN, N.Y., U.S.A.
Foreign Agencies:--British Branch: LONDON TABERNACLE, Lancaster Gate, W. German Branch: Unterdorner Str., 76, Barmen. Australasian Branch: Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne. Please address the SOCIETY in every case.
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Terms to the Lord's Poor as Follows:--All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied Free if they send a Postal Card each May stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the STUDIES, etc.
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FRIENDS LIVING NEAR ESPERANTO CLUBS
We have some leaflets in Esperanto (the well recommended international language) consisting of a portion of the "Do You Know?" tract. For friends living in cities where there are Esperantists there is an opportunity for service in ascertaining the time and place of their study-room and in serving them with the literature. On account of their interest in the language, some would read who would not otherwise do so, in their native tongue. Write us, saying how many of these Clubs you could serve and how many leaflets are desired.
The good work progresses favorably in the India Mission. The last word is that the native teachers number twenty-four and that they are serving, with more or less regularity, thirty-two congregations. The work done for July is as follows:
277 general meetings..........In attendance 8,180 persons
315 cottage meetings.......... " " 2,527 "
280 meetings with the sick.... " " 1,684 "
Class meetings for Bible
study, 63................... " " 2,878 "
935 total..................... " " 15,269 "
BETHEL HYMNS FOR NOVEMBER
After the close of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for November follow: (1) 165; (2) 259; (3) 331; (4) 188; (5) 7; (6) 293; (7) 260; (8) 307; (9) 91; (10) 99; (11) 197; (12) 110; (13) 170; (14) 198; (15) 105; (16) 130; (17) 217; (18) 93; (19) vow; (20) 95; (21) 117; (22) 119; (23) 211; (24) 299; (25) 12; (26) 307; (27) 53; (28) 176; (29) 209; (30) 87.
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FEEDING ON THE WORDS OF GOD
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."--`Matt. 4:4`.
WE READ that these words were a part of our Lord's answer to Satan when the Adversary exhorted Him to command the stones to be turned into bread, in order to satisfy His hunger, after fasting forty days in the wilderness. The Lord knew, however, that it would be unlawful for Him thus to use the superhuman power which came to Him as a result of His consecration to the Father's service. That power was not to be used for His flesh. Hence our Lord refused to use His superhuman powers for the gratification of the flesh, even though He hungered. Then Satan suggested, How do you expect to live if you do not exercise your power to live? Our Lord's answer, as we see, was that man shall not live by bread, merely, but by every word, every promise that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Our hope of eternal life, therefore, rests upon that obedience to God which would entitle us to eternal life, according to His arrangement. If our Lord had gratified the flesh He might have satisfied His hunger, but He would have violated His covenant of obedience to God. Whoever would have eternal life must seek to be obedient to God, to all that God has commanded, all to which He has directed the individual. Of course, He might have one command for the angels, another for man, and a third for the Church. But since we find that we are not able to obey perfectly every command of God, we cannot hope for eternal life by perfect obedience to the letter of the Word of God. Even though God has accepted us as His children, we can hope for life only by having the spirit of obedience to His Word.
One of the lessons to be learned in the School of Christ is that a "man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth"--food and raiment, etc.-- but that his life, in the fullest, highest, grandest sense, is dependent upon his complete submission to the Divine will. Careful attention to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, to every admonition, every encouragement, every promise, is necessary to the development of those whom God is now calling to eternal life as joint-heirs with His Son in the Kingdom. Let us, then, more and more, as the disciples of the Lord Jesus, keep in memory the words of the text, and act upon them.
LIVE BY EVERY WORD FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD
But how is it possible for us to live by the words that proceed out of the mouth of God? What did Jesus mean? How can God's words give life?
He meant that all hope of attaining eternal life depends upon God--upon the Divine Plan and its promises. Looking into these promises we can see distinctly that the Divine Plan, dating from before the foundation of the world, is that all of God's creatures, created in His likeness and abiding in faith, love and obedience in harmony with Him, shall have life everlasting. This is God's Word upon the subject, namely, that obedience is the condition of life everlasting. This is, undoubtedly, what our Lord had in mind in the words of our text. He may also have had the thought that He had come into the world upon a special mission, to do the Father's will, and that His understanding from the beginning was that His perfect obedience to the Divine will would insure Him glory, honor and immortality with the Father, eventually; but that any disobedience would mean the forfeiture of Divine favor and would involve the sentence of disobedience --death.
Our Lord's prompt decision, therefore, was that to disobey the Father's will and thus to secure bread for the sustenance of His body, would be a great mistake; that food
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thus secured could sustain life for but a little while; that His better plan would be to trust in the Word of God, the Divine promise, that those who love and serve and obey Him shall ultimately come off conquerors and more, and have eternal life with God. And this, our Master's conclusion, is full of instruction for us who are His disciples, seeking to walk in His footsteps.
DISCIPLINE AN EVIDENCE OF SONSHIP
One "word of God" which is very comforting to His children is His assurance of Parental care and discipline. "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" (`Heb. 12:7`.) In this statement the word "chastening" should not be understood as meaning disapproval on the part of our Father, and sin on the part of the individual, but rather instruction. We are guided in the matter by remembering that although our Lord was a Son in whom there was no sin, yet He received, in the Father's providence, as a part of the "cup" poured for Him, various trials, disciplines. All of these experiences were very profitable, showing that the Father loved Him; that the Father had something which He was desirous that our Lord should do that He would not have been qualified to perform without some of these educational instructions and experiences.
Some disciplines, some chastisements, come as a result of our own mistakes and the natural consequences flowing
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from those mistakes and the apologies and heartaches which may necessarily follow them. God could save us from these experiences and so seclude and shelter our lives that we would not have anything to tempt us. But such is not His proposition. He wishes us to have these experiences that we may be guided in the right way and learn of our own weaknesses.
If we did not come into contact with various testing experiences we should not know where we are weak. Thus we learn where we can strengthen our characters and how we can be thoroughly developed as New Creatures. The Scriptures speak of our Lord Jesus as "enduring such contradiction of sinners against Himself." (`Heb. 12:3`.) Our trials, or disciplines, in meeting every opposition that can come to us, should bring more or less of correction in righteousness. Even if this would not mean outward stripes, we, in any event, would have our mental regrets as New Creatures, and thus we would get a form of correction, or discipline. Additionally, the Lord causes His children to come into peculiar trials as an example either to the brethren or to the world. In many of these, whatever the cause, we may understand them to be also corrections or instructions in righteousness.
TRIAL--DISCIPLINE--NECESSARY TO THE PERFECTING
OF OUR CHARACTERS
Character cannot be developed wholly without trial. It is like a plant. At first it is very tender; it needs an abundance of the sunshine of God's love, frequent watering with the showers of His grace, much cultivating with the applied knowledge of His character as a good foundation for faith and inspiration to obedience. Then, when thus far developed under these favorable conditions, it is ready for the pruning hand of discipline, and is also able to endure some hardness. Little by little, as strength of character is developed, the tests applied to it serve only to develop more strength, beauty and grace, until it is finally developed, perfected, fixed, established, through suffering.
This great work of developing and training character is necessarily a slow and tedious one, and not infrequently it is a painful process. But the Apostle plainly tells us that such things are necessary for the development of steadfast and enduring character. Consider how your own experience has verified this, you who have been for some time under the Lord's special care and leading. How much richer you are for all the lessons of experience, and for the patience and other spirit-fruits that experiences have developed in you!
Although, like the Apostle, you can say that "No chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (`Heb. 12:11`.) The lessons of experience and discipline have made you stronger. They have increased your faith and drawn you into closer communion and fellowship with the Lord. They have made you feel better acquainted with Him and enabled you to realize more and more His personal interest in you and His love and care for you. And this in turn has awakened a deeper sense of gratitude and an increasing zeal to manifest that gratitude to Him. This also deepens the sense of fellowship with God, and gives confidence to the hope of final and full acceptance with Him as a son and heir, made worthy through Christ.
OBEDIENCE THE TEST
Another helpful "word of God" is found in `I John 2:5`: "Whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." Here we have a test by which to determine our development as a New Creature. Only those who have received the Word of God can keep it, can retain it and comply with its requirements. The text suggests that it is a difficult matter to keep the Word of God. On all sides we hear various reasons why we should retain, hold fast the world, the flesh, rather than that which the Lord's Word holds out to us. There are many allurements to entice us from the "narrow way." Hence these who hold fast to the Word of God are "overcomers."
The Scriptures intimate that to live righteously and godly in this present time will cost us our very lives. "Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (`2 Tim. 3:12`.) Under present conditions faithfulness means faithfulness even unto death. The intimation is that unless we have the love of God we will not undertake to be obedient to His Word; that otherwise we can neither retain the Word of God nor be in accord with it, serving it even unto death.
Our Lord Jesus illustrated the perfection of obedience to the Word of God when He said, "I come to do Thy will, O God!" Everything written in the Book; everything that was God's will, He was glad to do at any cost. Our Lord Jesus could not have reached this degree of submission to the Divine will unless He had had love for the Father. And so with us. Unless we have love for God and the principles of righteousness we cannot continue in this way.
Consequently, only those who so love God that they would surrender life to do His will, are properly keeping His Word. We may say that this condition is reached when we first make consecration, for the heart has given up its will and surrendered itself fully to the Lord--"Not my will, but Thine, be done." All those who are complying with the conditions of self-sacrifice have reached the mark of perfect love. Of course, there is another sense of perfecting which we shall attain in the resurrection. But only those who will keep God's Word by faithfulness even unto death will secure the prize and become partakers of the divine nature.
The test is OBEDIENCE. In proportion as we keep the Lord's Word, in like proportion the love of God is perfected in us; for if we have received the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the effect will be to cause us both to will and to do His good pleasure to the extent of our ability. And this ability should be continually on the increase year by year. Although we may not hope to be perfected until we shall be "changed" and be granted our new resurrection bodies, nevertheless, we may keep so closely in touch with the Lord in the spirit of our minds that we may have continual fellowship with Him; and by confessing our faults daily and seeking his forgiveness we may continue to the end of our journey clean from sin, even though we must still acknowledge the infirmities of the flesh, that in our flesh dwelleth no perfection.
THE WORK OF RESURRECTION
A further word from the mouth of God assures us that He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust--weak, imperfect, dying; and that it is not His purpose that we shall continue always to be in conflict with ourselves--perfect will against imperfect body; but that He has provided that, in the resurrection, we shall have new, perfect bodies, in full accord with our new minds.
He assures us that He is able and willing to do all this and that He purposes to give to His elect, bodies of a
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much higher order than the human--that He will give us spirit bodies--and that of the highest rank. We shall have part in the First Resurrection, and will thenceforth be able to do the Father's will perfectly in every respect, as we now show ourselves desirous of doing His will so far as we are able. O gracious provisions! O wonderful words of compassion, inspiring us to wondrous hopes of eternal life and glory! It will be to such as thus overcome in spirit, in faith (`I John 5:4`), that the Lord will give the final Word of His mouth--"Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord!"
"A little while; now He has come;
The hour draws on apace--
The blessed hour, the glorious morn,
When we shall see His face.
How light our trials then will seem!
How short our pilgrim way!
The life of earth a fitful dream,
Dispelled by dawning day!"
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THE SPIRIT OF DISCONTENT
"So far as lieth in you, live peaceably
with all men."--`Rom. 12:18`.
THE SCRIPTURES speak of the hour of trial coming upon all men. (`Rev. 3:3,10`.) We believe that hour is upon us--already begun. To the world it means discontent, bitterness, evil-surmising, hatred, strife, robbery, murder. It is this spirit which is about to wreck society. The Scriptures seem very clearly to establish this fact.
Let us not forget that this trial hour in some respects begins with us, the Church. God permits it. He has given us great light respecting Himself, His character, His glorious plans, etc. He has instructed us respecting our "high calling" to the divine nature. We have accepted His invitation and have been begotten of His Holy Spirit. We have entered the School of Christ and have been given lessons respecting the character we must attain if we would be accepted as members of the Bride company. Much advantage every way has been ours. Now the examination is on. Which of us will graduate with honors? Which will show that, however poor and imperfect in the flesh through heredity, he has attained a character-likeness of the Lord in his heart and mind? This is the test.
How shall we expect this test to be applied? Dearly beloved, we see how it is being applied. We perceive from observation and through correspondence that the examination is going favorably with some and very unfavorably with others. In some places the entire Class of Bible Students seems to be involved. Petty questions respecting authority and methods are causing distraction and tending to arouse contentions. This detracts from service of the Truth. It cools the ardor of some; it makes others positively bitter. Anger, malice, hatred, envy, variances, strifes--all fruitages of the evil spirit--appear to some extent to gain control.
EACH SHOULD JUDGE HIMSELF
We are not judging nor condemning anybody, but with the Apostle are saying to all that each should judge himself. Each should see to it, not only that he has the graces of the Spirit--humility, gentleness, meekness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love--but that he manifests these qualities in his conduct, in his words. We should remember, too, that the Lord's test is not merely along the lines of love for the beautiful, the good and the gentle, but a patient, kind and loving forbearance also for those who are out of the way, and even for enemies. We should bear in mind that justice is as elementary a feature of the Divine character, as love itself. Hence if we would be god-like, if we would be copies of God's dear Son with His likeness, we must have the principle of justice firmly established in our character. We should be generous, benevolent, loving toward all; but we should be just even before we are generous. If we love not our brother whom we have seen, how can we show that we love his Father and our Father whom we have not seen?
This same spirit of discontent is testing God's people in their homes. Keener perceptions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, enable us all to see wherein we have ourselves been either just or unjust, and also where others have been either just or unjust toward us. This increase of knowledge brings a responsibility upon us individually, to see to it that any injustices of the past shall be fully, quickly, heartily apologized for and undone and henceforth avoided. This work thoroughly done will keep us thoroughly occupied--straightening ourselves, bringing the conduct and thoughts of our mortal bodies into full submission to the Divine standards, as we now more fully discern these.
TENDENCY NOT TO SEE OUR OWN FAULTS
But there is a tendency in an opposite direction--not to see our own faults and rectify them, but to see the faults of others, to note the injustices which they have practised upon us and to resolve that they must toe the mark of our new appreciation of our rights and that right quickly, or otherwise be forced so to do. This is the very spirit of the world, which is rapidly precipitating the great time of trouble. Those in power feel that they must use force. Labor realizes as never before its own power and is thereby tempted to exercise it and hastily enforce upon the world its convictions of right and justice.
As we urge the world not to undertake the matter by force, but to hearken to the Word of the Lord--"Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until that day"--so we urge upon the Church of Christ: Do not attempt to force husbands, wives, parents and children up to the line of perfect justice toward you. Be sympathetic, forbearing, even as God has been sympathetic and forbearing toward us and toward all mankind. If the injustice has been long-standing, that is not a reason why it may not be quickly rectified, but, on the contrary, it is a reason why we should suffer long and be kind, while trying to show the erring one his fault, speaking the Truth in love, and in meekness instructing those who oppose us.
There is no doubt about it that more than half of humanity live in gross violation of the principles of justice, as well as contrary to the principles of love. Sometimes it is the husband, who, while loving his wife and children, rules them in so arbitrary a manner as to cause them to doubt his love and sympathy. Such a course on the part of a brother in the Lord is probably owing to some misconception of the Divine order. He knows the Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the family, but does he know how, properly, to take and to hold this noble headship? Apparently many have not learned that the chief function of headship is not merely to be the provider for the temporalities of life nor merely
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to be the responsible head who must finally decide in respect to the family's interests. Rightly seen, man's headship means much more. It is his duty to look out for the health, the happiness, the morals, and the spiritual interests of his family. And this includes a reasonable consideration of their natural weaknesses and imperfections, mentally and morally, as well as for their physical weaknesses and imperfections.
DUTIES OF THE HEAD OF THE HOME
A true head of a happy home must of necessity frequently ignore his own preferences and tastes in many things, because his duty to his family and to their happiness would so demand. Man's headship, then, from the Scriptural standpoint, means much more than to be the "boss," the judge, the decider of affairs. And this is further proven by the Scriptural declaration and illustration in which Christ and the Church and their mutual relationship are made a pattern of the proper love and respect and co-operation between husband and wife.
Our Lord is indeed Head over the Church, and to whatever extent we, His Church, recognize this Headship and follow His directions we find them wise and helpful and advantageous. And to whatever extent we do not follow them we later find that we have missed some blessing. Our Lord does not force us to recognize His headship. Our necessity forces it. So it should be in a properly regulated home. The conduct of the husband and father should be that of self-sacrificing devotion to those dependent upon him, rather than an attitude of general assertion of headship, commands or threats.
It may take days or weeks or years for the head of the family to demonstrate his love and care for those under his supervision--before they will realize the same. Perhaps his devotion may never be recognized in the present life. All the same his duties as a father, husband, caretaker, etc., are fully upon him, regardless of how his devotion may or may not be recognized by his family. As with the Lord, so with the husband--meekness, gentleness, consideration, should always be manifest.
We have heard with regret that some dear brethren of the Lord have misinterpreted STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. VI., along this line and that as a result their lives, instead of being made more loving and gracious, have become the reverse--more dictatorial, unsympathetic, tyrannical. We hope that these reports are overdrawn at least, and we hope also that the clearer knowledge on the subject has, at least, made some more noble and more loyal and more esteemed by their families.
"WOMAN'S RIGHTS" SENTIMENTS IN THE AIR
And how about the sisters? Alas, not all of them are rightly exercised by the precious truths with which the Lord has so highly favored us! The greater knowledge of justice and injustice, and of the rights of man and woman, become tests to the sisters, as well as to the brethren. They, too, are in the hour of temptation, trial. The "Woman's Rights" sentiment is in the air. It does not make for peace and harmony. On the contrary, it is a part of the general spirit of discontent--the spirit of the world, which our great Adversary is stirring up more and more. As in the world this is stirring up the time of trouble, so in the Church and in the family it is bringing a time of trouble in advance of the world's tribulation. Alas! dear brethren and sisters, what shall it profit us if we gain a few rights and destroy our own peace and happiness and the peace and happiness of those whom we have vowed to assist and comfort and to sustain while life lasts?
As St. Paul says, "Ye were called to liberty, but use not that liberty for an occasion to the flesh." Our real liberty which brings us blessing and Divine favor and peace of soul is a liberty from error and superstition, and a liberty from the bondage of selfishness--a liberty to sacrifice, to serve, to lay down our lives for the brethren
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and for all men as we have opportunity--and particularly the liberty or privilege of showing to those of earthly relationship that we are copies of the Master and have His Spirit of self-denial, love, sympathy, good fruits.
There are, indeed, times and places where both the brethren and sisters must stand for principles and the liberty to worship God; but, these being granted, we may well sacrifice all other things as trivial; or, if we must contend, let us contend for only such things as our Redeemer would have contended for. Thus let us "walk in His steps, as He has set us an example."--`I Pet. 2:21`.
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WHAT THE CHURCH SACRIFICES
IN THE SCRIPTURES the word sacrifice is very properly used in two ways--first, to describe the surrender of our will in order to have God's will done in us; second, to indicate the work of our great High Priest, to whom we give up ourselves, and who makes that consecration acceptable to God. Primarily we sacrifice what we possess of the present earthly rights, privileges and opportunities; for this is what we possess. But, additionally, we give up something by faith. By faith we believe that God has made a provision that all mankind shall have the privilege of restitution to perfection during the Millennial Age; and by faith we forego, or give up, our share of Restitution privileges. Thus our principal giving up is our surrender of what we have; and our secondary giving up is that which we have by faith in God's great Plan.
However, it is not necessary for one to have an appreciation of the coming restitution blessings in order to sacrifice these and thus to present himself a living sacrifice, as the Apostle exhorts. (`Rom. 12:1`.) A knowledge of Restitution blessings is connected with a full knowledge of the Ransom. We can see that others in the past did not have this knowledge clearly. But since those who consecrate to the Lord give up everything that they have, this would include Restitution also. So, then, while the saints who lived before the Harvest period did not have this knowledge of Restitution, yet they made an acceptable sacrifice through faith in the Redeemer.
The terms offer, sacrifice, devote, etc., sometimes have different meanings. When, for instance, we read that the high priest offered the sacrifices and also that we offer our bodies living sacrifices, we would differentiate between these uses of the word offer and say that to devote for sacrifice is our part. This we do when we present our bodies. We can do no more than present them. This is shown in the type by the bringing of the two goats to the door of the Tabernacle and the tying of them there. In this sense we sacrifice--that is, we give up our own will and our own rights to everything. But the Heavenly Father does not deal with us in the sense of accepting a sacrifice from us, except through the Redeemer. As our great Advocate He stood ready to impute His merit to our offering; and as the High Priest, the representative of God, He sacrificed it. We had already
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presented ourselves; and our offering was completed when the High Priest accepted the sacrifice and began the killing of the antitypical goat. But this is a gradual work. In the type, the life was accepted instantly when the High Priest thrust the knife into the goat; but the sacrifice was not actually completed until the blood was taken into the Most Holy. And so in the antitype.
OUR WORK NOT COMPLETED AT CONSECRATION
This work of sacrificing the Church our Lord is continually accomplishing in one way or another all through the Gospel Age. When we received the begetting of the Holy Spirit we became New Creatures. And this actual dying, and all the sufferings in the "narrow way," and our continuing to yield ourselves to the guidance of the Lord, are all parts of the work of sacrifice. When we sacrifice our will we should not entertain the thought, Now I have done my part, let the High Priest do the rest! This is not the right thought. At any moment we may cease to will and thus cease to present ourselves; at any moment we may sit down and say, "We will take our ease." We must not do so; but we are to continue to fill up the sufferings of Christ.
It is not all over when we consecrate. Then we gave up all of our rights and interests. It requires a great deal of grace to be dead to the world and alive to God. This the Apostle represents when he says, For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Most Holy by the high priest, wherewith to make atonement for sin, are burned outside the camp. (`Heb. 13:11`.) In one sense of the word that "goat" is dead. Our experiences represent the actual suffering and going outside the camp --all that happens to us while we are reckoned dead according to the flesh.
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GOD'S PROVIDENCE RE TWO QUEENS
--NOVEMBER 5.--`ESTHER 4:1-5:3`.--
"The Lord preserveth all them that love Him."--`Psalm 145:20`.
TODAY'S STUDY has Queen Esther for its topic. She was a Jewess, noted for her beauty, and on this account she was chosen of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to be his queen. It is presumed that she received the name Esther, which signifies a star, because of her beauty, Hishtar being the Chaldaic equivalent for Venus. She succeeded Vashti, the former queen, who had displeased the king and been divorced.
In the opposite course of these two queens we find a lesson bearing on the Suffragette question of today. The king had a banquet with the lords of his empire. It may be assumed that it was a revel, and that the king and his guests, at the height of the revel, were more or less under the influence of wine. Giving Queen Vashti the benefit of the doubt, this was probably her reason for ignoring the king's request.
Many will say that she did just right in asserting her womanhood, in "standing up for her rights," etc. We will not dispute that all women have rights, and that Queen Vashti had hers and that she exercised them. We merely offer the suggestion that in a question of "rights," along lines of force and compulsion, Queen Vashti won a victory which cost her dearly.
In Queen Esther's procedure, which is the subject of this lesson, we see the opposite course pursued--the queen won a great victory with happy results by a totally different procedure, and one which in our judgment recommends itself to the wisest and best of men and women.
Vashti could have taken a similar course but did not. However much she might have felt that the king's requirement of her presence would expose her to jest or rudeness, she should have relied upon her charm and tact and purity and upon her husband's love and care. While it was not hers to intrude into the banquet, once invited, her presence should have been a hallowed one, a sweet perfume, a rebuke to any immodesty. Like many another well-meaning woman, Queen Vashti was unwise; she abandoned the most potent defense of pure womanhood when she met command with refusal. But then we must remember that Vashti was neither a Christian nor a Jewess, and was therefore without any Divine instruction or guidance.
ESTHER STOOPED FOR VICTORY
Queen Esther was not a suffragette. When invited to become the queen she did not decline and see to it that she stood on the same ground as Vashti. She accepted her accession as of Divine providence. She clothed herself with humility and with the most becoming of her fine apparel. She made herself as agreeable to the king as possible. It is presumed that at this time she was in her fifteenth year. Haman, the king's favorite, took a dislike to the gate-keeper of the palace, Mordecai, a Jew, because the latter did not bow before him, as did others. Mordecai was so faithful that Haman could not hope to find a fault with him, and thus to cause his removal. His hatred extended to the entire Jewish race. He prevailed upon the king to issue a decree that all the Jews of his kingdom should be set upon and killed as enemies of the country. This, of course, would include Mordecai, his special enemy, whom he would then feel free to kill.
As the time for the enforcement of the decree drew nearer and nearer, Mordecai and all the Jews throughout the empire were in great distress and fear, yet not without hope that their God would work some deliverance. This matter is detailed in our lesson.
Queen Esther was cousin to Mordecai, although the latter was old enough to be her father. She was, indeed, his adopted daughter. He appealed to her to use the influence of her position to have the king rescind the order. She delayed because, strangely enough, at this very time, the king had shown a coldness toward her, and had not called for her for a month.
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LOVE AND BEAUTY CONQUERED
Mordecai pressed the matter more urgently, assuring her that she was about to lose a great privilege of service for her people; that God had evidently raised her to this position in the kingdom for this very hour and for this very purpose of bringing to the Jews relief and that, if she failed to note and to use the privilege, God doubtless would use some other agency and still bring deliverance in harmony with His promises. The appeal was sufficient. The queen merely delayed for three days more, requesting that Mordecai and all the Jews of the royal city join with her in a three-days' fast before God, which of course included petitions to God for the deliverance of His people, and for wisdom to guide Esther in her endeavor to use her talent and opportunity wisely.
Queen Esther risked her station, and even her life in going into the king's presence without a summons; but, attired in her royal apparel, she risked everything for her race. She charmed the king, who extended to her his royal scepter, which she touched. He perceived
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that she had a request to make, and urged her to speak. Wisely she refrained and asked the king and Haman, his prime minister, her enemy, to partake of a special dinner with her in the court garden. After the visit the king again urged her to say what wish of his attractive queen he could gratify. This was Queen Esther's opportunity, and she replied, asking why, if he loved her, he would issue an edict that she should be killed, and all of her race, the Jews.
Her case was immediately won. The king perceived that he had been inveigled by Haman into making an unjust decree. A bad law stipulated that no decree of a Persian king could be changed. This decree had been stamped with the king's seal, and the king, angry at Haman, made another decree, namely, that Haman should be hanged, and that the Jews everywhere should be notified that they had royal consent to use force against their enemies in defending their lives.
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"MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN"
--NOVEMBER 12.--`DANIEL 5`.--
"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil."--`Eccle. 12:14`.
A LAW OF RETRIBUTION operates. Good thoughts, good words, good deeds, are sure to bring good results--sooner or later. Evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds, are sure to bring evil results--sooner or later. This Divine Law operating in the world, rewarding good and evil deeds, save in exceptional cases, now operates only amongst the Jews and amongst Christians. This is because only Jews and true Christians have come into covenant-relationship with God. The Apostle's declaration is true--"The world lieth in the Wicked One"; "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." The time promised in the prophecies has not yet come when "all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped." (`Isa. 35:5`.) Nevertheless, in a general way God exercises a supervision of the world's affairs, restraining evil from going to such lengths as would be irreparable; restraining it also from working real injury to those who are in covenant-relationship with Him--Jews and Christians.
Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, Nebuchadnezzar and our lesson of today tell of exceptions to God's rule of dealing merely with His covenanted peoples. In our lesson the fall of Belshazzar's kingdom was not merely a judgment upon it, but a part of the great type of the fall of antitypical Babylon at the hands of an antitypical Cyrus.
The king of Babylon, feeling secure in the great walls of his capital, three hundred and fifty feet high, revelled with his generals and nobility. To renew the memory of their great victories of the past, he brought forth for the occasion the golden vessels taken in the pillage of Solomon's temple--a triumph over the Jews and, as was generally supposed, over Jehovah, the God of the Jews.
In the midst of the banquet a horror came over the
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assembled dignitaries as a human hand was beheld writing on a wall of the banquet room in letters of fire, "Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." The wise men and astrologers were unable to read the writing or give its significance. Daniel was remembered and sent for. He not only showed the reading but its meaning. The secret evidently lay in the manner in which the letters were arranged, the characters themselves being Chaldaic. The Prophet Daniel declined the rewards and honors offered for the interpretation. He told the king plainly that the writing signified that he was "tried in the balances and found wanting." The Babylonian kingdom, so far from advancing human interests, had really retrograded from the original type. Another nation--Medo-Persia--would be given a trial. Later, the Grecians were given universal empire; still later, the Romans; and finally God permitted what was styled the "Holy Roman Empire," or the reign of Christ. Each of these has proven its insufficiency--its inability to bring to the world the blessing which God declares shall ultimately abound when Messiah's true reign shall be inaugurated, and the blessing and uplifting of mankind will become the "desire of all nations."
EVERY MAN'S WORK TO BE TRIED
We have said that Jews and Christians, because of covenant-relationship with God, are now on trial--being judged. This has been God's repeated declaration to the Jews. Their shortcomings are punished in a manner that the shortcomings of others, not in covenant-relationship with God, are not punished, but their punishments and stripes are intended to work out blessing for them eventually. Had it not been for the persecutions which have come to the Jews they would not today be a separate and distinct people as God designed, and hence they would not be ready as a people to receive and be the first to participate in the glorious blessings of the Messianic Kingdom. In proportion as they maintain loyalty to their Law and confidence in the promises of God they will be prepared for the fulfilment of these great promises which are still theirs--earthly promises of restitution, etc. --`Acts 3:19-23`; `Isa. 35`.
While God's promises to the Jews pertain to the earthly phase of the Kingdom and its blessings, His promises to covenanted Christians are spiritual, heavenly. These respond to God's invitation, "Gather together My saints unto Me," saith the Lord, "those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (`Psa. 50:5`.) That covenant to sacrifice earthly things will be rewarded with heavenly things. In proportion as they are faithful to their covenant of sacrifice they will be spiritually refreshed, strengthened in the will and in the power of His might and rich toward God in faith and in works. Those riches of grace and spirit, the full attainment of which will come in the First Resurrection, are often associated now with poverty and sorrows of an earthly kind. The heavenly things are to be attained only by those who sacrifice earthly things. Hearken to the Master's words, "Whoever will live godly shall suffer persecution"; "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life."--`2 Tim. 3:12`; `Rev. 2:10`.
ALL REAP AS THEY SOW
During Messiah's thousand-year reign of righteousness the world will be dealt with and brought to its judgment, its testing, its crisis. But it will be a righteous testing or crisis, giving to all mankind a fair test as to loyalty to God. The result of this opportunity, or trial for everlasting life or everlasting death, will come as a result of the great redemption work accomplished at Calvary. It is the will of God "that all men should be saved [recovered] and come to a knowledge of the Truth." (`I Tim. 2:4`.) In that glorious Epoch Satan will be bound and the fetters of sin and death now upon our race will be broken, and all will be granted the full opportunity of returning to the blessed conditions and favors enjoyed by
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Father Adam in his perfection--but refusing this favor they will be destroyed, and that without remedy, in the Second Death.
But while that future time will be the actual testing period of the world for life or death everlasting, we are not to forget that every good deed and every evil deed committed now will have a bearing then. Every good deed, every good thought, every good word, has its uplifting and beneficial influence upon character; and every evil word, thought and deed has its injurious effect upon character. Every kindness done to one of the Lord's saintly, elect members, will be rewarded. Every evil deed done to one of the least of these will be surely punished.
Thus the world of mankind is now laying up in store helps or hindrances as respects their own everlasting interests. The honorable, the upright, even though they do not become Christians or saints, will have proportionately a better standing in the future time of trial. The dishonorable will have proportionate degradation in the future, and will come forth proportionately more degraded, and will need proportionately more stripes in order to rise up out of sin, degradation and death, by the assistance of the Savior and the glorified Church.-- `I Cor. 6:2`.
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THE NEW COVENANT
"They, like Adam, have transgressed
the Covenant."--`Hosea 6:7`.
AFTER THE CREATION of Adam, God entered into Covenant relationship with him to the effect that through obedience he might have eternal life. Adam failed; and thus that Covenant was broken. The relationship between God and man was changed. God no longer sustained the life of man and gave him everything for his happiness, but the Divine sentence of death passed upon the entire human race. Because of the undeveloped condition of the earth at that time, everything was favorable for man's death, as unworthy of life. God intimated, however, that He had compassion upon humanity; and that at some later time He would grant a blessing. This promise implied reconciliation to Himself. Later, God made a special promise to Abraham-- "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Gen. 12:3`.) During all this time God had in view the great Plan which He is now carrying out, the establishment of a New Covenant through a great Mediator between God and man who would sacrifice His life to satisfy Divine Justice.
The time not having come for the development of the great Mediator, God made a typical arrangement with the nation of Israel. That nation was made to represent the world. Moses was made to represent the world's Mediator. At Sinai God entered into a Covenant with Israel, not directly, but through Moses, the Mediator of that Law Covenant. God was bound to give Israel eternal life if they would keep that Law. (`Ex. 19:3-9`.) Moses was the Mediator, the counselor and the instructor of the people to bring them to the place where they could keep the Divine Law and have eternal life. In due time it was discovered that the Law gave eternal life to none. What would God do? There was perplexity.
"In due time" God sent forth His Only Begotten Son, qualified to be the Redeemer of Adam's race. In due time Jesus, as the Son of God, became the Redeemer, in that He gave His life to be the ransom-price for the world, and began the redemption work. As the man Jesus He could not redeem and restore the world, for it would require His death as a man to furnish the redemption-price. Hence His first work was to lay down His life as a ransom-price, to lay it down in the sense of putting it into the hands of Divine Justice. In harmony with the Divine arrangement, the Father raised Him from the dead to a new nature; and He still had this ransom-price to his credit.
During the Gospel Age He has been imputing the merit of this to the Church class in order that they may join with Him in a covenant by sacrifice, in harmony with the Scripture which says, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (`Psa. 50:5`.) Christ's sacrifice and the sacrifice of His members constitute the "better sacrifices" than those of Israel in the type. These "better sacrifices" began with our Lord's experiences at Jordan and will continue down to the time when the last member of His Body shall have shared in His suffering, and shall have been made partaker of His glory in the resurrection.
MEDIATOR COMPLETE WILL INAUGURATE NEW
By that time, the great Mediator complete, our Lord and His members, will be ready to inaugurate the New Covenant which God has promised, through the Prophet Jeremiah. (`Jer. 31:31`.) This New Covenant is intended to bless all the families of the earth, as God said to Abraham. (`Gen. 12:3`.) The promise is that this New Covenant will be made with Israel. In order to avail themselves of this Covenant, therefore, all other nations and peoples will be obliged to become a part of Israel. Thus eventually Abraham will become the father of many nations. All who will come into harmony with God will be the children of Abraham, in the sense that they will attain to that faith which Abraham had. Both the faith and the obedience will be necessary. As soon as the New Covenant shall have been sealed it will become operative. The Christ will then stand forth to be the Mediator of the New Covenant.
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This Covenant will be like unto the old Law Covenant; but it will be better, superior, the one of which the Law Covenant was a shadow. God will not then deal with Israel directly, but through the Mediator. Primarily, the Ancient Worthies will be fully received and will gladly accept the Mediator and all the terms and conditions of the New Covenant. Since they will be perfect they will be entirely able to comply with its conditions. They will have no weakness of the flesh, as they will be raised from the dead perfect human beings. During the period of the Mediatorial reign the Mediator will stand ready to help and assist all who will come back into harmony with God. None will be brought immediately into communication with God, however, but they will be dealt with through the Mediator until the close of the Millennium, when they will be turned over to the Father. During the Messianic Age all will be subject to the Mediator's arrangements and the Father's arrangements through Him. Gradually the effect will be to take away the stony heart out of all flesh and to restore all mankind to that which was lost--perfection, mental, moral and physical. Those who refuse to participate in this blessing, we are told, will be destroyed from amongst the people. (`Acts 3:22,23`.) Those who continue to progress will reach the
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condition of perfection of heart, of mind and of body which God requires.
MANKIND WILL BE RESTORED TO PERFECTION
At the close of the Mediatorial reign all mankind will be ready to profit by the experiences of the Millennium and will be turned over to God, to Divine Justice. Then they will be actually on the same plane that Adam was before his fall; and it will be for them to maintain this Covenant relationship with God. If they fail, as Adam did, then they will die the Second Death. But if they are faithful they will be passed on to eternal life. The test will be made by God, who will loose Satan for a little season, to demonstrate who will yield to his seductions. (`Rev. 20:7-9`.) God wishes those to have eternal life who can stand all kinds of tests and whose loyalty to Him will be above the power of temptation.
So we see that preparations for the inauguration of the New Covenant began at the time when Jesus came into the world, and are still going on. These preparations are; first, the development of the Priesthood, the Head and the Body, the High Priest and the underpriests; second, the offering of "the better sacrifices." Thus we have the entire picture--the New Covenant about to be inaugurated, the people about to have the blessing, just as they would have if God had received them to Himself and had dealt with them personally, with compassion and mercy. But He will receive and pass as satisfactory none except those who are perfect. His dealing with the Church now as perfect is in view of the fact that their imperfections are made up for by the Advocate; and they, as the Royal Priesthood, have their standing as New Creatures in Christ.
We understand that the New Covenant goes fully into operation at the beginning of the Millennium and that it brings blessings all through that Age. Under this New Covenant the Lord will take away the sins and stony hearts of mankind. (`Ezek. 36:26,27`.) But the New Covenant does not become personal between God and mankind until the Mediator steps out of the way. (`I Cor. 15:24`.) After He steps out of the way, Covenant relationship with God will be established just as with Adam, and God will guarantee eternal life to all who continue obedient to the Divine Law.
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JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
IN `ROMANS 5:1`, where the Apostle says, "Being justified by faith we have peace with God," his thought is that our peace or harmony with God began with our faith and led on to this condition of grace wherein we stand as sons of God, begotten of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing in the hope of Kingdom glory, honor and immortality. Our justification by faith began with the first element of our faith; that is to say, when first we saw the Lord even imperfectly.
From the time we first approached God we began to have a measure of peace, which continues with us as long as we are walking in the right direction, growing in knowledge and obedience. Those whose faith or obedience stops find their peace with God diminishing. If the faith and obedience extend to the point of full consecration and begetting of the Holy Spirit, it becomes the "Peace of God which passeth all understanding," ruling in our hearts. (`Phil. 4:7`.) The latter text refers to the perfected peace imparted by the Holy Spirit, which results from a full consecration to the will of God.
After trust and obedience had increased to the point where we were willing to present our bodies living sacrifices to the Lord, then we entered into this fuller blessing, wherein we now stand. But in order to enter, we must first have our faith vitalized by the great High Priest, who imputes to us as much of the merit of His sacrifice as is necessary to perfect us; and secondly, we must be accepted as sacrifices by our Heavenly Father, who indicates His acceptance by begetting us of the Holy Spirit to newness of life.
The vitalization is that which makes justification complete and unchangeable. The person whose justification has been vitalized has received his full share in the merit of Christ. To such there would remain no more an interest in the great atonement if he were to turn back, like the sow to the wallowing. If he fails to go on to perfection as a New Creature, the only thing for him would be a "certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."-- `Heb. 10:27`.
By way of illustration, let us consider a person not in harmony with God, but feeling after him. Typically he recognizes the Divine Presence as represented in the Tabernacle. He draws near to God. As he approaches the Tabernacle he finds but one gate for entrance from the Camp to the Court. After he enters that gate he beholds the brazen altar with its sacrifices, representing the Redeemer's meritorious sacrifice. Passing the altar implies faith in the redeeming work. From the time he enters the "court" condition of faith his faith continues to increase with each onward step of obedience. Next the first veil is seen, representing consecration to death. If the stoop of full consecration to pass under the veil be made, the result is full or perfect peace, such as our Lord referred to when He said, "My peace I give unto you."--`John 14:27`.
His faith is no longer merely a faith in the Redeemer's work; more than this, it has become "peace, the gift of God's love," the begetting of the Holy Spirit, which passeth all understanding, ruling in his heart. But if, after the first veil is reached and seen to represent the sacrifice of all earthly interests, that step is not taken, the result will be a lessening of the peace, and possibly a more or less retrograde movement toward the gate, toward the world.
The difference between the justification of those now justified through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the other Ancient Worthies who were said to be justified by faith is this: The Ancient Worthies lived at a time when their faith could not be vitalized. Hence, nothing that they could do would give them more than the privilege of having the Divine approval and a better hope for the future, according to the amount of knowledge they enjoyed. They could never gain eternal life actually, except through the Redeemer. Hence they received only the promise of eternal life. Their full justification will come when the Redeemer shall have made application of His merit to the world.
During the Gospel Age matters are different. Whoever would be justified by faith and similarly approved of God now, must present His body a living sacrifice. Those who do so, in this "Acceptable Time," will be accepted of the Lord and begotten of the Holy Spirit. Such then cease to be of the earthly, and get their reward with the heavenly class, with our Lord, on the spirit plane.
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THE CO-OPERATIVE CHURCH MOVEMENT
NEWSPAPER items advise the world that Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, financier, and other prominent men are backing and financing a great religious movement for this fall--a religious revival to be simultaneously launched in every part of the United States by the active co-operation of Christians of all denominations. Realizing that few except women attend the usual Church services, this movement is to be specially directed toward men. It is styled, "The Men and Religion Forward Movement."
Each Christian should properly ask himself, what should be my attitude toward this movement? We therefore offer some suggestions to WATCH TOWER readers, but they are merely suggestions. Each child of God, of course, is free to follow his own judgment respecting the Divine will. The Editor will merely express his own convictions, his own mental attitude, and such as like may copy the same wholly or in part.
OUR SYMPATHY SHOULD GO OUT TO THEM
Our sympathy goes out toward the good people who are launching this movement, even though we have every reason to believe that probably only a few of them may be devout Christians in the deepest sense of that term. We sympathize with those who are not Christians at all in the Biblical sense, who are merely well-meaning moralists and who, not understanding the Divine Plan, consider the real, saintly Christians to be merely extremists and freaks. Going about to establish a righteousness of their own (`Rom. 10:3`), they are in deep earnest in desiring the welfare of humanity. We surely rejoice that their intentions toward their fellowmen are good and not evil, not injurious.
This kind of sympathy with their methods should lead us to speak to them and of them in most kindly terms, whether they be ministers or laymen, rich or poor. God is on the side of everything that is good and sympathetic with everything that is good and right-- to the extent that it is good-intentioned. And so His children should be. Thus the Master taught: When the Apostles told Him that they had forbidden others to cast out demons because they followed not with them, He said, Forbid them not, for whosoever is not against us is on our part. In other words, there should be a bond of sympathy between all who are right-minded, just, kind, well-meaning, whether or not they can see eye to eye theologically.
A HOUSE-TO-HOUSE CANVASS
It is a part of this general revival scheme to visit every home and to make inquiry respecting the attitude of every citizen as respects the Church relationship, attendance at meetings, etc. These visitors will call at our homes. The fact that we see that they are attempting an impossible work, and the fact that we believe that they are ignoring the Divine methods, should not blind us to the fact that some of these dear people are spending time and energy in what seems to be a valiant fight for the Lord.
Our sympathy should go out toward them and they should be received by us in the most kindly and generous manner. But we need to be on guard lest our zeal should outstrip our wisdom, and we should do them and the cause harm rather than good. We should be wise as serpents at all times and as harmless as doves.
For instance, our sympathy with their good intentions, uniting with our knowledge of a more excellent way, would incline us to use such an opportunity for instructing them in this more excellent way. In our zeal we might forget that a certain preparation of the heart is necessary before the Truth can be received into even a good and honest heart and that it will do no good to others. Instead, therefore, of attempting to delay these visitors and apparently to hinder their work by engaging in theological discussions, the wiser course would seem to be to give in a dignified and kindly manner and unobtrusively our little witness for the Truth and to leave the matter there. If their hearts be in right condition the Truth itself will appeal to them. And if they hunger and thirst after righteousness, they will seek more of it, either at the time or later.
A SUPPLY OF "PEOPLES PULPITS"
Each reader should have a supply of PEOPLES PULPITS covering interesting topics, for wise use on such occasions. After answering the questions kindly and very briefly and without any attempt to convert, some free reading matter on the subject might be suggested, with the intimation that if he would read it you could get it for him, but without any attempt to thrust it upon him or to unduly urge him to accept it. If he has no ear for the Truth, it would be better to save the reading matter for another less likely to waste it.
Again, if the gentleman manifest an interest, do not thrust upon him a great amount and thus make it appear common and valueless. Rather make a selection of one, letting him know that there are many so good that you scarcely know which one to give him. Select the one which, in your judgment, would be most likely to help him and tell him that, should he want more, you would be glad to hear from him. Show him also the SCRIPTURE STUDIES and in a very few, moderate, well-chosen words let him know your estimation of them and how you wish that all Christians could have them and obtain from them the same blessing which you and thousands of other Christian men and women have experienced.
YOUR CARD AND CHURCH RECORD
Below we print a little statement which may be used by those who please as their card. It bears answers to nearly all the questions likely to be asked you. Of itself it will be a witness for the Truth that may seem foolish --even silly--to some who are not spirit-begotten, but will prove powerfully enlightening to such as are Spirit-begotten --which is the only class we expect to reach anyway.
We have arranged this so that it may be clipped and handed to your inquirer with as little inconvenience as possible:--
MY CHURCH CONNECTION
"The Church of The Living God
Whose Names are Enrolled in Heaven."
I joyfully recognize as members of the same Church all who profess faith in Christ's redeeming sacrifice and full consecration to death with Him--whether in or out of earthly sects and parties.
I am not a member of any earthly sect, believing that they are all of human organization. I love all who love God and are seeking His ways, but I abominate the creeds of the "dark ages," which did so much to misrepresent the Divine Character and Plan and which so seriously enslaved so many of God's people in the chains of ignorance and superstition.
I meet regularly with other Bible students for the study of God's Word, regardless of creedal limitations and colorings.
We give our children religious instruction at home, believing this to be the Divine arrangement set forth in the Bible. We have found God's way helpful, both to them and to us.
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Name................................................ .................................................... .................................................... ....................................................
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism
One God and Father of All
One Church of the First-Borns, and
One Hope of Glory, Honor and Immortality
`Eph. 4:5,6`; `Heb. 12:23`; `Rom. 2:7`.
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"THE ISSUES OF LIFE"
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."--`Proverbs 4:23`.
ORIGINALLY man was created in God's image and likeness. As a result of the fall our hearts are not perfect, but are prone to sin. The Lord invites us to give our hearts, our affections, to Him: "My son, give Me thine heart." (`Prov. 23:26`.) God has provided the Channel whereby He can restore us to the relationship of sons, that Channel being the Lord Jesus. After we have accepted the Lord's proposition and given Him our hearts, we become the Lord's dear children, as the Apostle expresses it. The next thing is to keep the heart in loyalty, in full submission to the Divine will. The necessity for thus keeping the heart is manifest. Even though our hearts are loyal to the Lord, yet we are surrounded by adverse conditions. The world, the flesh and the Devil are assailing our hearts, which need, therefore, to be watched continually. As the Apostle says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." (`2 Cor. 4:7`.) We have these adverse tendencies, or conditions, to deal with.
God is not judging His people merely in respect to their flesh, in respect to the deeds of life. These are more or less imperfect. He has so fixed the matter that the result of that which springs from the heart, for which the heart is responsible, is life or death. If the issues are right, the result will be life eternal. If the issues are wrong, the result will be death, unworthiness of life. It is not merely the issues of our conduct that determine the everlasting result, life or death, but the issues of our hearts. They not only affect the present life, in the cleansing or polluting of those with whom we come in contact, but they determine or settle the matter as to whether or not we shall have life.
Thus the issues of the heart constitute the decisive test. The statement does not say that the antithesis of life is death; but the question is, Shall we have life? We have already been in death. We can have life only through the appointed Channel, the Redeemer. If we accept the issue of life and receive God's favor of life everlasting, we avoid the other issue, death everlasting. Not only is this question decided by the issue of our hearts, but it is also true that those who attain the condition of life during this Age will attain either the glory of the divine nature or membership in the "great company." They will be either of the Royal Priesthood or the servants of this priesthood. Hence, a great deal depends upon the issues of the heart. Therefore, we should desire the things approved, the things of God. We should seek to have the very best achievable issue, or result, to attain to the prize of our calling in Christ Jesus!
MUST ROOT OUT OF OUR HEARTS ALL LOVE OF SIN
It is not sufficient that we acknowledge sin in its various forms to be evil, and that we resolve that we will strive against it because it is under the Lord's ban; in addition to this we are to root out of our hearts every longing, every desire for everything not thoroughly approved by the Lord. Oh, what a cleansing this would mean in the hearts and lives, and especially in the thoughts of many who have named the name of Christ! Many who fail to note this point find themselves continually beset with temptations because, while outwardly avoiding gross immoralities, they secretly harbor sympathies for things condemned, desiring that they might have them, if only they were not forbidden.
The more attention we give to this subject the more we will be convinced from our own personal experiences of the truth of the Scriptural declarations respecting the beginnings of sin as secret faults in the mind, the heart; and the more we will appreciate the statement of our text, "Keep thy heart [mind, affections] with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."
We are not to wonder that God has so constituted us as to permit temptations to come to our minds, nor are we to pray that we may have no temptations; for if there were no such presentations, no such temptations, there could be no victories on our part, no overcoming of sin and of the Wicked One. We know that for this very reason we are now in the School of Christ; not that we shall there be shielded from all temptation, but that we may learn of the great Teacher how to meet the Tempter, and by our Master's grace and help come off conquerors, victors in the strife against sin. The degree of our success in this conflict will depend largely upon the keenness of our faith and trust in the great Teacher. If we have confidence in His wisdom, we will follow closely His instructions and keep our hearts, minds, with all diligence. Faith in the Lord's wisdom and in His help in every time of need is necessary to us in order that we may be thoroughly obedient to Him; and hence it is written, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith"; that is, it will be by the exercise of faith and the obedience which flows therefrom that we will be enabled to come off conquerors and "more than conquerors" through Him that loved us and gave Himself for us.--`I John 5:4`; `Rom. 8:37`.
We are not to seek Divine aid far in advance; as, for instance, to ask to be kept throughout the year to come, or month to come, or week to come; rather we ought to know that if we have made a covenant with the Lord and are His, He is near us at all times, in every trial, in every temptation; and that His assistance is ready to our use, if we will but accept it and act accordingly. Hence our prayers should be for help in the time of need, as well as general prayers for the Lord's blessing and care for each day.
The difficulty with many is that they are looking for some great battles instead of averting the great battles and keeping their minds cleansed from secret faults. The little battles, which are much more numerous, are principally the ones in which we gain the victories, with their ultimate rewards. "Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit [mind, will] than he that taketh a city."-- `Prov. 16:32`.
Finally, the grand results of obedience to this counsel
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of the Lord, the grand attainment of those who have faithfully kept their hearts with diligence, is expressed in the words of the Psalmist, and may well be the repeated, earnest prayer of all the sanctified in Christ Jesus: "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults....Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer."--`Psa. 19:13,14`.
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THE PEACE OF GOD
"The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." "Great peace have they which love Thy Law: and nothing shall offend them."--`Phil. 4:7`; `Psa. 119:165`.
GOD'S LAW represents God's will. All who are right minded, rightly disposed, will rejoice in having God's will well done. Originally, God's will was written in man's nature. After sin had effaced it there, God wrote it upon tables of stone for Israel. It is the righteousness of this Law that Christians obey (the Divine regulations, the Divine requirements, whatever they may be) so far as possible. We delight to do God's will.
To love God's Law, then, would be to appreciate the fact that God has a great purpose; to take delight in finding out what God's will is; and to have full confidence in His Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power. Great peace have all those who so do. They do not understand every dealing of Divine Justice, but their faith holds to the fact that He is too wise to err. Thus they have peace in confiding their interests to Him.
In this text the Apostle differentiates between the mind and the heart. The heart represents the affections. The Apostle urges not only that we should have good feelings in the matter, but that our minds should be at rest. If after we have made a consecration of ourselves to the Lord we should do something to violate our conscience in some respect, we would feel estranged from Him. Then our hearts should know that we might draw near to the Lord again; and we should endeavor by prayer to get back into harmony with God and thus to effect a reconciliation. Our Lord has made provision on our behalf, that we should have an Advocate with the Father. (`I John 2:1`.) He who appeared in the presence of God for us at first is the same One who ever liveth to make intercession for us. So we come to the Lord through the arrangement which He has made; and we rejoice that we may obtain forgiveness and grace to help in time of need.
The text does not refer to our own peace, but to the peace of God, the peace which comes to us through a realization of God's power, of His goodness and willingness to hold us by His right hand as His children. This peace stands guard continually, as a sentinel, to challenge every hostile or worrying thought or fear. It so keeps the Christian's mind that he at heart has peace with the Lord, fellowship, communion; and it guards his mind also, his reasoning faculties, instructing him and assuring him respecting the Divine power, wisdom and love.
We should make request increasingly for grace and wisdom and the fruits of the Spirit, for opportunities for serving the Lord and the brethren, and for growing more and more into the likeness of God's dear Son. Under these conditions the promised "peace which passeth all understanding" will guard our hearts and our thoughts. Selfishness and ambition would find little room in hearts so filled. Even when in "deep waters" Divine peace can dwell in our hearts and keep them.
The Apostle's thought seems to be that those whom he addresses have come into harmony with God through acceptance of His terms. Turning from all opposition, they have become the children of God through faith, obedience, self-sacrifice and consecration to death. The Apostle urges that God's peace should be in these and should continue. They should be guarded by that peace. The expression, "through Christ Jesus," suggests that, as we entered into this peace through our great Advocate, so we can continue in this peace only by His continuing to be our Advocate; otherwise, through imperfections of the flesh, we would get out of harmony continually.
"Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (`Heb. 4:16`.) Thus as we come daily and say, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," we abide in the peace; for we have this great Advocate. Therefore, this peace abides-- a continuing supply of grace through the great Advocate.
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PRIDE OF HEART ABOMINABLE
"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord."--`Prov. 16:5`.
PRIDE MUST take its stand with the other reprehensible qualities of the fallen human mind, character. The Scriptures recognize two conditions of heart, the right and the wrong. The one that God approves is called Love; the other, the one that He disapproves, is Selfishness. All selfishness is opposed to God's Law. Anything selfish is contrary to the Divine purpose. The quality of pride is specially abominable to the Lord, because there is not a creature in the Universe that has anything to be proud of. Everything that anyone has is a gift; it is not of his own manufacture or creation. God gives the blessing. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." (`James 1:17`.) It is of His fulness that we have received. Everyone, therefore, who is proud, is certainly very reprehensible in God's sight, for he has been only a recipient of favor, blessing. All God's creatures are dependent upon Him.
Worldly pride challenges faith in God and obedience to Him. Only those of the Lord's people who are of good courage and full of confidence in the Lord can overcome this giant of pride. It is necessary that the victory should be made complete. Pride, in its every form, should be so thoroughly humiliated, killed, that it can never rise again to destroy us. This battle each one has to fight; and the only proper weapon with which to overcome is the "Sword of the Spirit," showing us what is pleasing and acceptable in God's sight. "He that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."--`Luke 18:14`.
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QUESTIONS ON OUR LORD'S LIFE-RIGHTS
SPIRIT LIFE-RIGHTS NOT SACRIFICED
QUESTION.--What rights did our Lord possess when He was a spirit-being, before He became a man, and what became of those rights when He became a man?
Answer.--Our Lord was rich and for our sakes became poor (`2 Cor. 8:9`) by exchanging the heavenly rights and perfection for the earthly rights and perfection. This exchange was not a sacrifice [not an offering]; for it was the man Christ Jesus who became a ransom. There is no statement in the Scriptures that He sacrificed any pre-human rights. He did, however, resign these for the "joy that was set before Him."--`Heb. 12:2`.
The rights that man needs are earthly rights, human rights; and it is those rights that Jesus redeems through giving His earthly life sacrificially. As a spirit being He could not have sacrificed the rights of a spirit being; for there were no spirit beings condemned to death. It was the man Adam whom He was to redeem. "Since by man came death, by man comes also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive."--`I Cor. 15:21,22`.
RANSOM-PRICE FURNISHED AT CALVARY
Question.--What did our Lord accomplish at Calvary?
Answer.--The laying down of life on the part of our Lord did not ransom the race, as we have shown, but it furnished the ransom-price which is to EFFECT THE RELEASE of humanity, in God's due time and order; He gave Himself an antilutron [a corresponding price]."-- `I Tim. 2:5,6`.
Our Lord's sacrifice, His willing resignation of His life to death, was meritorious in the Divine sight and was rewarded by the Father's giving Him a new life on a higher plane. The new life was started in His begetting at Jordan and was completed in His resurrection. This right to earthly life, not having been forfeited by sin, still belongs to our Lord. This earthly life-right He purposed to give to Justice as an offset [counterbalance, or equivalent] for the sin of one man, which involved the race. He was put to death a flesh-soul. He was rewarded as a spirit-soul. He has the right to His flesh-soul yet, to appropriate for Adam and his race, sealing for them the New Covenant.
THE MERIT AND THE LIFE-RIGHT
Question.--How shall we distinguish between the merit of Christ which He will appropriate for the sins of the world, and the life-right of Christ which He will give for the sins of the world?
Answer.--Our Lord's righteousness on the human plane of course appertained to Him while He was a man. He has no righteousness as a man now. He has merely the credit of that righteousness in the Father's sight, in the sight of Justice, constituting a merit which is to be appropriated to the world in due time, but which is loaned to the Church during the Gospel Age.
The human life-rights Jesus had need for up to the moment He died. In dying He committed them to the Father, according to the Father's arrangement. He said, "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" (`John 18:11`.) When a man, those life-rights were His to use; but He does not need them now; for He has better rights. But He has a right to human life, which He does not need personally--but which He needs in order to give for the world of mankind, that they may have life everlasting if they will.
The Lord is to be viewed from the standpoint of His own personality. First of all, He was a spirit-being; secondly, He was made flesh--holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; thirdly, for permitting the earthly life to be taken from Him, God rewarded Him personally with a high exaltation.--`Phil. 2:9`.
God has arranged that this glorious Personage shall do certain things for the world of mankind. The power to do these things lies in the fact that He still has a right to earthly life, which He does not need. He holds it over to give to the world in the Millennial Age, gradually, as they will come into harmony with the terms of the New Covenant. He imputes now a share of that value to such as desire to become His members--to cover their blemishes and make their sacrifices acceptable to the Father.
Christ's merit was in doing the will of the Father. That merit the Father rewarded with the new nature on the other side of the veil. And, of course, that merit still persists; and He will always have, in God's sight, a personal merit, irrespective of anything that He may do for mankind. Therefore we cannot suppose that He would give away His merit; in that case He would be left without merit. But having obtained His reward, He has a right to human life, which is so recognized by God. And this constitutes a thing of merit in God's sight--a value for the redemption of Adam and his children--his purchase-price, so to speak. This He is to use for the world shortly and this He is now imputing to us.
THE IMPUTATION OF CHRIST'S MERIT
Question.--What is meant by the expression, "Christ's imputed merit"?
Answer.--When speaking of Christ's imputed merit we should keep distinctly in mind that He has a personal merit, a righteousness of His own, which He has never given away. He needs His own righteousness. In this sense of the word He could not give us His righteousness, without being bereft of righteousness. The same would be true of His life-right. He has a right to life; but it is not that right to life which He imputes to us; for He needs it Himself. He needs His own personal merit.
In what sense, then, do we say that He will give to mankind during the Millennial Age and impute to the Church during the Gospel Age, a life-right and righteousness respectively. In this way: He will give to mankind His human life-right, the merit that was His as the reward for His obedience as the man Christ Jesus, namely the privilege, or right, to live as a human being. That right was secured to Him by obedience to the Law. (`Rom. 10:5`; `Gal. 3:12`.) Now He is highly exalted, a partaker of the divine nature, and no longer needs that right to human life and the righteousness which goes with that right. He is quite satisfied and complete in His present condition. He has, to give to the world, by and by, the right to human life and the righteousness which goes with that right, the merit of that earthly sacrifice. Of this, He imputes to the Church at the present time a sufficiency to make good for their imperfection. We are complete in Him, so that our offering of ourselves may be, through Him, an acceptable sacrifice to God and reckoned holy.
ACTUALLY NO LIFE-RIGHTS TO SACRIFICE
Question.--Do the under-priests sacrifice their earthly life-rights?
Answer.--Since God purposes to give eternal life only to those who are perfect, and since we of Adam's race are all imperfect, therefore, we had no life-rights to sacrifice. But Jesus appeared as our Advocate and purposes to help us if we are desirous of becoming followers in His steps, and thus of being sharers with Him in His
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sacrifice, and afterwards in the glories of His Kingdom.
To enable us to do this, He purposes to make up for us a sufficiency of His merit to compensate for all of our blemishes and defects. But we do not present this merit imputed to us by our Lord. Our whole part is faith that our great Advocate is able to make up for our shortcomings. He makes up that which is imperfect, and then offers us in sacrifice; and the Father accepts the sacrifice. Really, we never had any life-rights to sacrifice.
FAILURE RELEASES IMPUTED MERIT
Question.--In the case of one who makes utter failure and who dies the Second Death, is the imputed merit released at the time his failure is determined or at the time when he actually dies?
Answer.--The merit of Christ is imputed to those who come unto the Father through Him. Those who repudiate this earthly merit of Christ have it no longer from the moment of their repudiation; from the moment of their rejection of the Lord; all the merit that they had is released, forfeited, gone. This does not mean that they must die actually at that moment. But they fall into the hands of the living God; that is out of the hands of Mercy, into those of Justice. And we know that no one can stand in the presence of the living God and Justice without perfection. Those who repudiate the Ransom seem to have no longer a sense of sin. This is illustrated by the parable of the man who takes off the "wedding garment"; from the moment of his repudiation, no longer is it his in any sense of the word.
LIFE-RIGHTS REPRESENTED IN NEW COVENANT
Question.--During the Millennial Age where will be the life-rights that Jesus laid down at Calvary?
Answer.--That which we speak of as the life-right of the great Redeemer is, we understand, that which is typified by the blood of Atonement. According to the type, in the end of this antitypical Day of Atonement, that blood of Atonement will be applied to Justice on behalf of the whole world of mankind and will be accepted on their behalf--that is to say, as the Apostle expresses it, "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (`Heb. 2:17`.) As soon as the people shall have been released from their death-condemnation they will be in a position to begin to receive blessings, but not before. As the great High Priest, our Lord undertakes, at the close of the Gospel Age, to seal with the Blood of Atonement a New Covenant between God and the seed of Abraham, natural Israel; and He, together with the "Church, which is His Body," undertakes to stand as the Mediator of that Covenant. All who come into full accord with that Law will have eternal life. Through all those years the Mediator will merely carry out the provisions of that Covenant,
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which promises that they shall have the privileges of Restitution. If they avail themselves of the opportunity they shall have eternal life.
At that time, the right to human life will have passed out of the hands of our Lord as Redeemer, and will all, thenceforth, be represented in the Covenant itself, which guarantees all the things that God declared man should have. The stony heart of mankind will give place to a heart of flesh; and all who will live up to the terms of this Covenant shall have eternal life. During the Millennial Age the New Covenant will represent the life-rights laid down by our Lord. Whoever fails to observe that Law will receive chastisements. By this arrangement Christ, as Mediator of the New Covenant, will for a thousand years dispense the blessings. During this Gospel Age our Lord keeps the right to life under His own control in order to give it to Justice as the ransom-price for the world's sins, for the redemption of the world. As soon as He gives up this right at the end of this Age, Justice relinquishes it, and mankind receives it, as shown foregoing.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study VI., Order and
Discipline in the New Creation.
(38) In case the trouble does not cease after a personal appeal, and further proceedings become necessary, what course of action should be strictly followed by all concerned? P. 292, par. 1.
(39) What is the object of withdrawing fellowship from those who "walk disorderly"? P. 292, par. 2.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ELDERS.
(40) What two principles are recognized by the Apostle in `1 Tim. 5:19`, R.V.? P. 293, par. 1.
(41) What should faithful Elders as well as other members of the New Creation expect, if they follow closely in the Master's steps?
(42) Should hearsay evidence be considered at all? If not, what kind of evidence should be required? and what course of action followed? P. 293, par. 2; P. 294, par. 1,2.
MISTAKEN CALLS TO PREACH.
(43) What is the popular impression respecting a call to preach? P. 294, par. 3.
(44) How are all the members of the New Creation called to preach? Give Scriptural proof. P. 295, par. 1.
(45) With respect to teachers, what should the Church expect of the Lord, and how should self-seeking and ambitious brethren be regarded? P. 295, par. 2; P. 296, par. 1,2.
(46) Distinguish between a proper and an improper ambition among the members of the New Creation. P. 296, par. 3; P. 297.
(47) Is `1 Thess. 5:14,15` applicable only to the Elders, or to the entire Church? P. 298, par. 1.
"WARN THEM THAT ARE UNRULY."
(48) How should we chiefly consider our own defects, rather than each other's? P. 298, par. 2.
(49) What method of reasoning should be used with the unruly? P. 298, par. 3.
(50) While sympathetically regarding disorderliness as perhaps inherited, should it be permitted to injure the Church or hinder the service of the Truth? P. 299, par. 1.
ADMONISHING NOT A GENERAL ORDER.
(51) Why is admonishing the special duty of the Elders? P. 300, par. 1.
(52) What is the application of `1 Thess. 5:12,13`, in this connection? P. 300, par. 2.
(53) What conditions would necessitate a public rebuke? and how and by whom should it be administered? P. 301.
(54) To what extent may the Church as a whole admonish the disorderly, or exclude them from the assembly? P. 302, par. 1, first half.
(55) What is the "sin unto death," how does it manifest itself, and what are the Apostle's injunctions to us respecting those who commit this sin? P. 302, par. 1, last half.
(56) How apply our Lord's words, "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican," to those who "walk disorderly"? P. 303.
"COMFORT THE FEEBLE-MINDED."
(57) How shall the Elders and the Church in general follow this exhortation? P. 304, par. 1,2.
(58) How does the Lord regard the feeble-minded or faint-hearted ones, and what lesson does this teach us? P. 305, par. 1.
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
SERIES I., "The Plan of the Ages," gives an outline of the Divine plan revealed in the Bible, relating to man's redemption and restitution: 386 pages, in embossed cloth, 35c. (1s. 6d.) India paper edition, 75c. (3s. 1-1/2d.)
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