ZWT - 1892 - R1346 thru R1484 / R1434 (019) - August 15, 1892
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
::R1434 : page 243::
VOL. XIII. AUGUST 15, 1892. NO. 16.
ENOCH, ELIJAH AND THE SENTENCE.
The answer to the following query may interest others than the inquirer:--
"Since 'death passed upon all men,' because of Adam's sin, and since all had to be redeemed before they could escape from that death sentence, how came it that Enoch and Elijah escaped from it before the redemption-price was paid?"
We answer, that they did not escape, but were still under the sentence of death until the ransom was paid. The execution of the sentence was deferred in their cases, and their lives prolonged; but they would eventually have died had they not been redeemed. After father Adam was sentenced he lived nearly a thousand years, but under his particular sentence he could not have lived more than a thousand years; because the sentence read "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die." And since "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years" (`2 Pet. 3:8`), his death was fixed to take place within that "day." But God left the way open to make types of Enoch and Elijah, and hence, so far as they and the remainder of the human family were concerned, no limit of time for the execution of the sentence was fixed. If, therefore, it pleased God to have it so, they might have continued to live for thousands of years, under the death sentence, without dying. In Elijah's case, although he was translated, it is not said that he did not die afterward. His translation made a type, as we have seen (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chapter viii.), and he may have died and been buried afterward, unknown to men, as was Moses.--`Deut. 34:6`.
But with Enoch the case was different, as we are expressly told that he did not die. In his case, therefore, it is evident that the execution of the sentence was deferred, but there is no evidence that it was annulled. He, therefore, remained under that sentence of death until he was ransomed by our Lord's death. As a member of the fallen race, he was an imperfect man, and although redeemed, and although a restitution to human perfection is provided for him in the divine plan, we are not certain that he is yet a perfect man. For the Apostle seems to teach that none of those whose faithfulness was attested before the Gospel call was made will be made perfect until after Christ and his Bride are made perfect. He says (`Heb. 11:39,40`), after enumerating many of the ancient worthies, Enoch included, `verse 5`, "These all, having obtained witness through faith, received not the promise [everlasting life, etc.], God having provided some better thing [priority of time as well as of honor and position] for us [the Gospel Church], that they [the ancient worthies] without us [apart from us] should not be MADE PERFECT." And since the Church, the body of Christ, has not yet been perfected in glory, it is but a reasonable inference that wherever Enoch is and however happy and comfortable he may be he is not yet made a perfect man, and will not be until all the members of the body of Christ have first been made perfect in the divine nature.
::R1434 : page 244::
As to where God took Enoch, we may not know, since God has not revealed that. Should we speculate as to whether God took him to some other world, and for what purpose, it would be but an idle speculation. We may not be wise above what is written. We may be certain, however, that Enoch did not go to heaven--the spiritual state or condition--for such is the record: "No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven-- even the Son of Man." (`John 3:13`.) Elijah is said to have ascended to heaven; but, from our Lord's statement above quoted, that must be understood to refer to the air--as, when it is said that "the fowl fly in the midst of heaven," it certainly can not refer to the heavenly condition, which flesh and blood cannot enter nor even see without a change of nature, which has been promised only to the Gospel Church.
Understanding, as above shown, that Enoch was preserved from actual dissolution in death --although, already under that sentence, legally dead (`Rom. 5:12`; `Matt. 8:22`) until the ransom price for all was paid by our Lord's death-- we can see that there will now be no necessity for his dissolution, but that when the due time shall have come he may be fully and completely restored from even the measure of human imperfection he had inherited, to full, perfect manhood.
So, too, it will be with those of the world who will be living when the "times of restitution" are fully ushered in: it will not be necessary for them to go into the tomb. For although they are already legally dead, in that condemnation [or sentence] to "death passed upon all men," yet their penalty has also been legally met by another, Christ. He now holds the judgment against all, but graciously offers to cancel it entirely for each one who will accept restitution to life and perfection on the conditions of the New Covenant.
As during this Gospel age the Church, although once, under sentence, they were dead in trespasses and sins, are reckoned as freed from condemnation, as justified, and as having passed from death unto life when they accept Christ's merit under the New Covenant, so it will be in the Millennial age with those of the world who, upon learning it, accept God's offer of life. They also will be reckoned as having passed from death unto life--as though they had been utterly dead and then been awakened. So complete is the reckoning that those who then sin wilfully, and forfeit their reckoned life, die the second death, although they all may not actually have died before. And indeed so, too, it is now with the Gospel Church--if after we, through faith in Christ, are reckoned as no longer dead, but alive toward God through Jesus Christ, we were to sin wilfully, intentionally, we would thus bring upon ourselves again (a second time) the full penalty of sin, death, and this would be the second death.
But while there are such similarities between the Lord's methods now and in the next age for justification to life, or passing from death unto life reckonedly, there are very different arrangements for the two ages for the actual passing out of death into life, when the trial of each is finished. The Church of the Gospel age walks by faith entirely, and not by sight. Her trial occurs before the actual setting up of the Kingdom, and hence each one, as he finishes his course, must wait for the crown of life. They "all die like men," and the world recognizes no difference. But while they actually die the same as other men, God keeps up the reckoned difference between those who have accepted his offer of life and become his children and others who have not done so. Hence in Scripture believers are not said to be dead, but to be sleeping until the "morning," when, according to God's pre-arranged plan, such shall have actually and in full measure the life now reckoned as theirs under God's covenant in Christ. Thus our Lord spoke of Lazarus and others as sleeping, and the Apostles' writings refer to "those who sleep in Jesus." And the Scriptures, throughout, preserve the same sentiment, saying: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning;" "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," etc. The only exceptions to this "sleeping" are particularly mentioned by the Apostle when he says, "We shall not all sleep, although we must all be changed." Those living in the
::R1434 : page 245::
time when our Lord begins to take his great power and reign, although they all must die, because consecrated even unto death, yet they will not "sleep," their "change" to spirit-being coming in the moment of dying. And in this blessed time (according to the evidences presented in Millennial Dawn, Vols. II. and III.) we believe we have been living since April, 1878 A.D. What a blessing this is we find stated by our Lord, saying, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth --yea, saith the Spirit, they rest from their labors [from weariness, etc.], but their works [not discontinued in the sleep of death] follow with them."--`Rev. 14:13`.
But during the Millennial age it will be somewhat different. While then, as now, all who accept the New Covenant will at once be reckoned as having passed from death unto life, they will no more get the perfect life instantly than we do now. They will get it at the end of the Millennial age, as we get it in the end of the Gospel age. Yet not just the same; for the Gospel Church, as we have seen, has waited in the sleep of death for the close of the age and the reward of the perfect life, while the faithful of the Millennial age, instead of dying, will gradually improve in health--mental, moral and physical--until perfection will be reached by all such, at the close of the Millennial age. Meantime, those who sin wilfully against full light and full ability will be accounted to have committed the sin unto death; and death to such, even if born in the Millennium, will be the second death, because they will be reckoned as having passed out of Adamic death when brought to a knowledge of the ransom and of their probation for life through the New Covenant.
::R1434 : page 245::
There has been a great deal said and written on hope; there is being a great deal said and written on it; and yet what constitutes the "One Hope" seems to be, to many minds, as vague as ever. Some claim "the large hope," others "the larger hope," and others again "the largest hope." Anything more vague than such phrases is scarcely conceivable. In the same way, some seem to prefer the small hope, others the smaller hope, and others again the smallest hope, as though they had concluded that the smaller their hope the more certain would be its genuineness. The extent of the hope, whether it be large or small, does not constitute its genuineness. It may be the largest conceivable and yet be a counterfeit, and it may be the smallest conceivable and still be no better. All depends upon the elements of the hope being right and its foundation
::R1435 : page 245::
adequate. There is much to be learned by considering the phrases which inspired men have used regarding hope.
In writing to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul reminded them of a time when they had no hope: "Remember [said he] that ye, being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands: that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (`Eph. 2:11,12`.) The Apostle did not mean that they had no hope of anything. Like other men, those Ephesians had hope of a great many things, but at the time referred to they had no hope of the things in question. The things in question are "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and at the time referred to they were "without Christ." Before Christ came the descendants of Israel, called "the Circumcision," had a polity or citizenship of their own, but the other nations of the earth, called "the Uncircumcision," had neither part nor lot in the matter. Before Christ came the Circumcision were under "covenants of promise," but the Uncircumcision were "strangers and foreigners" to all that they contained. The Ephesians were a fair sample of the Gentiles generally. Without the Christ all men are without "the hope" in the world.
::R1435 : page 246::
The one hope is designated "the hope of the gospel" (`Col. 1:23`), "the hope of eternal life" (`Tit. 3:7`), "the hope of salvation" (`1 Thes. 5:8`), "the hope of glory" (`Col. 1:27`), etc. Nothing could be more specific. It is not a hope, but the hope. It is not some general hope, but this particular one--the hope comprising the specified elements. The specific character of the hope is emphasized by all the apostles, but by none more so than the Apostle Paul. Take another example. Referring to the Gentiles in Christ being built upon the same foundation as the Israelites in Christ, he says: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." "For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known to me the mystery, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (`Eph. 2:19 to 4:6`.) "The household of God" is no longer composed exclusively of Israelites, but of those out of every nation; and its one foundation is occupied by Israelites and non-Israelites alike. The anxiety of the apostle is that "the unity of the Spirit" may be kept in the bond of peace. He enumerates the elements of that unity. They are seven units; and one of those units is the "one hope." There can no more be two hopes in "the unity of the Spirit" than there can be two Lords or two Gods in it.
"THE HOPE OF ISRAEL."
The one hope is the hope of Israel. The Jews accused the Apostle Paul of heresy, and he was under examination before Felix. When Festus succeeded Felix, Paul was in prison at Caesarea. The Jews wanted Paul sent to Jerusalem for trial, Paul appealed unto Caesar, and Festus sent him to Rome. At Rome Paul called the chief of the Jews together, and having explained to them his position he declared: "For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." They expressed their desire to hear him concerning the "sect" which was everywhere spoken against, "and when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." Then Paul applied to those who believed not the words of "the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet" (`Isa. 6:9,10`), and concluded with this emphatic announcement: "Be it known therefore unto you, that the Salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (`Acts 28:16-31`.) There are three phrases here--"the Salvation of God," "the kingdom of God," and "the hope of Israel." They are practically the equivalents of each other, and cover "those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ." Israel, of course, is the nation composed of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants; and the hope of Israel is the blessedness promised to that nation, and through it to all the nations of the earth. The Salvation of God is another way of expressing the blessedness promised in the Abrahamic covenant, and the Kingdom of God is the medium through which that blessedness is to be realized; so that whatever
::R1435 : page 247::
there is in the Kingdom of God, and in the salvation of God, there is also in the hope of Israel, and vice versa.
"THE HOPE OF THE PROMISE."
The hope of Israel is the hope of the promise. Before the Apostle Paul was sent to Rome, and while under examination at Caesarea, he testified, saying: "My manner of life from my youth, which was at first among my own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" (`Acts 26:4-8`.) Hope is impossible without a promise. Genuine hope is impossible without an adequate promise. The one hope is impossible without the Divine promise. The Divine promise is the foundation upon which the one hope rests. The foundation of the one hope is not any Divine promise, nor every Divine promise, but the Divine promise--"the promise made of God unto our fathers." The particulars of the promise can be easily traced. To Abraham the Lord said: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." "And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting (age-lasting) covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee." To Isaac the Lord said: "Go not down unto Egypt, dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of; sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of Heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And to Jacob the Lord said: "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Gen. 12:2-3`; `17:1-7`; `26:1-4`; `28:10-15`.) In these particulars of the promise there are several elements, some of which require special attention.
1.--The Blessedness promised. The root of the blessedness is the resurrection of the dead. Hence the interrogation which the Apostle Paul addressed to King Agrippa touching the hope of the promise: "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" (`Acts 26:8`.) It is the fact that the resurrection of the dead is the root of blessedness promised which gives to the interrogation its point. Were the resurrection of the dead not the root of the blessedness promised, Paul's question in such a connection would be senseless. But Paul did not indulge in senseless questions; and this one is most pertinent. The blessedness promised is the removal of the curse which is resting upon man and his entire environment, and that curse cannot be removed without his resurrection from the dead. Resurrection is a re-standing or standing again, not in some stage of a fallen or lapsed state or condition, but in Adam's original state and condition, which was in every respect "very good." (`Gen. 1:31`.) Resurrection is complete restoration to the state and condition in which Adam left the hands of his Creator. The resurrection of a "blind" man is complete when he sees as clearly as Adam ever saw; the resurrection of a "deaf" man is complete when he hears as acutely as Adam ever heard; the resurrection of a "dumb" man is complete when he speaks as fluently as Adam ever spoke; the resurrection of a "leper" is complete when he is as clean as Adam ever was; and the resurrection
::R1435 : page 248::
of a "lunatic" is complete when he is as sane as Adam ever was. In like manner every element of every disease, defect, deformity,
::R1436 : page 248::
weakness, etc., physical and mental, might be enumerated, and whatever it may be the resurrection of its subject is complete when he is delivered from it. The resurrection of the dead varies as to time, order, manner, etc. That is only of secondary importance. It is of first importance, however, to see that the resurrection is re-standing in man's original state and condition; and that that is the root of the blessedness promised by Jehovah.
2. The Extent of the blessedness promised. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their seed are to be blessed. That is the Israelitish part of the promise. All the nations of the earth are to be blessed. That is the non-Israelitish part of the promise. It is not Abraham alone, nor Isaac alone, nor Jacob alone who is to be blessed, but all three individually. Nor is it merely those three fathers who are to be blessed, but the whole of their children as well. It is not some particular generation or generations of the patriarchal seed who are to be blessed, but the whole of their generations. Nor is it some particular generation or generations of all the nations of the earth who are to be blessed, but the whole of their generations. This, that, or the other generation or generations of one nation is not the equivalent of one nation, nor is this, that, or the other generation or generations of all nations the equivalent of "all nations;" in each case it is only a part, and a part is not the equivalent of the whole. The one part of the promise covers every individual of the Israelitish nation, and the other part of the promise covers every individual of all the other nations of the earth without exception, past, present, or future.
To have "The hope of the promise" in its integrity it is necessary to have the promise in its integrity, and to have the promise in its integrity it is necessary to have at least its two major parts in their integrity. To limit or emasculate either of these parts is suicidal. If the Israelite limits or emasculates the Israelitish part of the Abrahamic Covenant he excludes himself from it, and if the non-Israelite limits or emasculates the non-Israelitish part of it he does the same. Neither the one nor the other can then show that he is included in it. Wish, desire, or expectation, ill or well-founded, he may have, but "The hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers" he cannot have.
3. The Medium of the blessedness promised. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their seed are the medium. Not the whole of Abraham's seed, but his seed in that particular line:--"And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai, thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." "Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting (age-lasting) covenant, and with his seed after him." (`Gen. 17:15-19`.) Referring to this election, the Apostle Paul wrote:--"They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (`Rom. 9:6-8`.) Abraham's wife was "barren," and they were both "old and well-stricken in age." What could Abraham do under such circumstances? He could believe "God who quickeneth (maketh alive) the dead;" and that was exactly what he eventually did: "Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He hath promised He was able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (`Rom. 4:13-22`.) Thus Isaac was brought forth. In reference to this son of promise, God afterwards said to Abraham: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering." (`Gen. 22:2`.)
::R1436 : page 249::
What could Abraham do now? He could obey God; and that was exactly what he did: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said that In Isaac shall thy seed be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (`Heb. 11:17-19`.) Thus Isaac was brought forth the second time. The elect seed is the seed of "promise" throughout. The elect seed in "figure" was the seed of promise, and the elect seed in reality is also the seed of promise. The Apostle Paul identifies the real seed most unmistakably: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Not the Christ in one person merely, but the Christ in many persons: "For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."--`Gal. 3:16-29`.
The medium of the blessedness was incomplete while it was merely "according to the flesh:" it required to be "according to the Spirit" also. Hence in writing respecting its Root, the Apostle Paul describes Him as having been "made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." "Whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (`Rom. 1:1-4`; `9:5`.) It was necessary that Christ should come according to the flesh in order that man might be redeemed; and He redeemed man from the curse by becoming a curse for him: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (`Gal. 3:13,14`.) The death of Christ was necessary, but the death of Christ in itself is not the medium of blessedness. There is no blessedness in death, but the death of Christ prepared the way for untainted life. Untainted life is the cardinal element of blessedness; and the Root of it is the Christ--"the Resurrection and the Life." In resurrection, in life, in incorruptibility, in immortality, and having all authority and power in heaven and on earth, Christ is the Root of the medium of blessedness for all the nations of the earth. In the complete medium of blessedness there are natures both human and divine. In those natures there are many ranks, and from the lowest to the highest of them Christ "is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
"THE HOPE AND RESURRECTION."
The Apostle Paul had often to defend his position. Sometimes his defence was before a sacred and at other times before a secular tribunal, but the ground-work of it was always substantially the same. When at Jerusalem, Paul was accused of polluting the Temple. This caused a great tumult, and some of the Jews "went about to kill him." The captain took him in charge, and "carried him into the castle." The next day, "because he would have known the certainty whereof he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them." In his defence, "when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." (`Acts 21 to 23`.) "The Hope," "the Hope of Israel," "the Hope of the promise," and "the Hope and resurrection" are not so many different Hopes, but the "One Hope" presented under different phases. The hope was given to Israel, and is phrased "the hope of Israel;" the hope rests upon the promise of Jehovah, and is phrased "the hope of the promise;" and the hope in realization is the
::R1436 : page 250::
resurrection of the dead, and is phrased, "The hope and resurrection." When the phraseology of inspired men is ascertained and remembered their ideas may be apprehended, but without their phraseology their ideas are impossible of apprehension. In connection with no subject is it more important to bear this in mind than in connection with the present one, it being fundamental to every Christian. In his day, the Apostle Paul raised the One Hope as his rallying cry: "Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day" (`Acts 24:21`); and from that day to this it has been the only adequate rallying cry for the Church of the living God.
Because all men will eventually be raised from the first death to the second life, and that with all of life's original concomitants, it does not follow that all men will always live. They may, or they may not, according to each individual case. That was Adam's position at the beginning. He refused to conform to the law of the first life, and he incurred its penalty--the first death; and any man who may refuse to conform to the law of the second life will incur its penalty--"the second death." The promise made of God unto our fathers guarantees to every man the second life, but it guarantees no man against the second death. It is not God's purpose to unman any man. In voluntary obedience the second life is to be perpetuated, and in wilful disobedience it is to be terminated.
"The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."-- `Tit. 2:11,12`. --JOSEPH MOFFITT.
::R1437 : page 250::
"We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe."--`1 Tim. 4:10`.
It is very generally conceded among Christians that Universalists are the only class of people who have any claim upon, or use for, this text of Scripture; but although we are not Universalists, we also, with Paul, trust in the living God [Jehovah], who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe. Thus the Apostle declares that in one sense the salvation which God has promised is to be universal, while in another sense it is to be restricted to believers.
A little reflection upon the general teaching of the Scriptures makes the Apostle's meaning here very evident. Nowhere in the Scriptures is eternal life promised to any except on conditions of faith in Christ the Redeemer, and repentance, or change of heart from sin to righteousness --"For there is no other name under heaven which has been given among men, by which we can be saved;" and "Now God commandeth all men, every where, to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (`Acts 4:12`; `17:30,31`.) And the numerous exhortations to faith and repentance, as the prerequisites on man's part to salvation, are too familiar to every Christian to need repetition here. We merely cite a few. See `John 3:15,36`; `6:47`; `Acts 13:39`; `Mark 6:12`; `Luke 13:3,5`; `Acts 3:19`.
In harmony with this teaching of the Scriptures, we therefore understand the Apostle's statement to signify that God is the Savior of all men from the Adamic death, or the death into which all were precipitated by Adamic transgression, in that he hath provided a redemption for all. In thus providing salvation and ultimately offering it to all men as a free gift of his grace, through Jesus Christ, who is "the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," God stands in the attitude of a savior toward all men. He is the Savior whether all men accept the proffered salvation or not.
But, while thus the Savior of all, there is a particular or special sense in which God is the Savior of those that believe and accept this reconciliation
::R1437 : page 251::
and the opportunity offered of making it everlasting salvation. This salvation is conditional: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." (`Acts 16:31`.) This is an unequivocal promise of actual and permanent salvation to every individual who believes, i.e., heartily accepts. To such an one, God not only stands in the attitude of a savior, ready and willing to save, but he will go farther and actually accomplish his salvation; and this is the special sense in which he is the Savior of them that believe. Between the general sense in which he is the Savior of all men, and this special sense in which he is the Savior of them that believe, there is, therefore, all the difference between a possible and an actual, a proffered and an accepted salvation.
The general difficulty with Christian people on this subject is, that they do not admit that God is the Savior of all men--that he stands ready and willing to deliver all from sin and death into life and liberty of righteousness. Some declare that he stands ready to be the Savior of all "the elect." Others, while claiming that God is willing and ready to save all, practically deny it by claiming that the necessary believing must be done in the present life-- which practically excludes three-fourths of the race from any opportunity of sharing in it, since more than that proportion have died without any knowledge of the only name given under heaven or among men, whereby we must be saved. This view contradicts God's Word; because for even one member of the human race to be left unprovided for--to be left without the needful information and opportunity-- would render false the statement which God makes, that he stands as a Savior to all men. The entire matter is clear, however, when viewed from the standpoint of the Plan of the Ages-- which shows that through the redemptive work of Christ God has provided salvation for all from all that "was lost" in Adam; and that the knowledge necessary to the acceptance of this provided gift, while it has reached only the few in the present life, is to be testified to all in due time--in the coming age, in which Christ and his Church shall reign over and bless, with his gracious offer, all the families of the earth.
God has appointed means of salvation, of which every one who is sick of sin and desirous of a return to his love and service will gladly avail himself. At great cost it was purchased-- even at the sacrifice of the "only-begotten" and well-beloved Son, who freely gave himself for us all. (`John 3:16`.) Condemnation unto death passed upon us through our father Adam, while we were yet in his loins and were therefore represented in him; but the death of the Son of God, "the man Christ Jesus," as a ransom or substitute for Adam, taking his place in death, legally released, not only Adam, but also all his posterity, from death. Thus, legally, the salvation of the race was secured--made possible--possible for God to be "just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (`Rom. 3:26`)--when the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was finished on the cross: and this is what our Lord meant when, dying, he bowed his head and said, "It is finished." And of its actual accomplishment toward all them that believe, "God hath" as the Apostle states, "given full assurance in that he hath raised him from the dead;" not indeed again in the flesh [The body of his humiliation was taken by him merely for the suffering of death, because, as by man (Adam) came death, by man also (the perfect man and therefore the acceptable sacrifice, Christ Jesus) must come the resurrection or salvation from the dead.]--but to the divine nature, a spirit being, endued with all power in heaven and in earth. He is therefore abundantly able to accomplish the great work of restitution of the dead--of whosoever wills to accept everlasting life on the terms and conditions of the New Covenant.
But before this provided salvation can become actual or special to any individual, such an one must believe the testimony of God with reference to the matter, as expressed in his Word. He must realize (1) that he is imperfect, a sinner, unworthy of everlasting life; (2) he must recognize the man Christ Jesus as his personal redeemer, as the one through whose meritorious sacrifice for human sins comes the privilege of reconciliation with God and the
::R1438 : page 251::
consequent return to perfection and lasting life. All who thus believe and who act accordingly,
::R1438 : page 252::
i.e., who accept the proffered salvation as the free and unmerited "gift of God our Savior," secured for us by him through the Atonement for sins provided in the sacrifice at Calvary-- and who, in accordance with this faith, reform their lives, submitting themselves thereafter to the will of God--these shall in due time fully realize the special or actual salvation promised in the above text.
In accepting Christ as the Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned as no longer a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the "last Adam" (`1 Cor. 15:45`), having a new life in Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ [i.e., represented in Christ instead of in Adam, as formerly], he is a new creature" [newly "created in Christ Jesus" (`Eph. 2:10`) --reckonedly; and in due time, if he "abide in him," he will be a new creature actually].-- `2 Cor. 5:17`. Such have, in God's estimation and in their own, "passed from death unto life:" being justified by faith they are no longer under condemnation.--`Rom. 8:1`.
Thus (by faith) we are transferred from the dead head of the race, Adam, to the living head of the redeemed race, Christ Jesus. And if any man be thus in Christ he is a new creature (`2 Cor. 5:17`): old things--the old love of sin, the old disposition to do evil, and the old worldly and selfish ambitions, strifes, etc.--no longer please and satisfy his new mind. Their power of control has passed away, and behold, all things have become new. He begins to realize a new spirit, a new disposition within him; and therefore he has new hopes, new joys, new ambitions, a new heart [will] for love and joy and peace, and a blessed sense of the divine approval; and he looks forward with joyful anticipation, realizing that his destiny is eternal life. But out of Christ there is no life, no hope; and those who have not come into him by faith still abide under the Adamic condemnation. However, as already shown, it is the purpose of God that in "due time" these truths shall be so clearly testified to every man that all will have the fullest opportunity to believe and thus to come into Christ and through him inherit eternal life. See `1 Tim. 2:4-6`.
The time for fully realizing the special, actual salvation is the Millennial age: the sense in which any possess it now is by faith; for "we walk by faith and not by sight" until the appointed time--the Millennial age. Then the faithful Bride class will be perfected as spirit-beings like their Lord; and thenceforth the reconciliation of the world will be accompanied by gradual restitution to human perfection, which salvation, if they are worthy, at the close of the Millennium will become everlasting salvation.
::R1437 : page 252::
ALL IN ADAM AND ALL IN CHRIST.
"As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man [of those in Christ to be made alive will get life] in his own order [company or band]: the first fruits, Christ [The head, Jesus; the body, the faithful "Church, which is his body"], afterward those who are Christ's at [during] his presence" [Greek, parousia.]--`1 Cor. 15:22,23`.
We thus correct the translation of a passage very frequently misused to prove the everlasting salvation of all men irrespective of their acceptance of Christ as their Redeemer and King. But as here translated this passage is in perfect accord with the remainder of the Bible, which everywhere declares that, "He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."--`1 John 5:12`; `John 3:36`.
But, aside from the testimony of other scriptures, we call attention to the facts that the Greek text supports the above translation and that no other view of `verse 22` could be reconciled with the context, `verses 23,24`. Note carefully that the expression, "But every man in his own company," refers to the all who are to be made alive. Then notice that but two companies are specified. The chief of these is mentioned first, and includes the Redeemer and all of the Gospel age overcomers who are now having fellowship in "his sufferings"--"his death"--and who shall be accounted worthy also to have share in "his resurrection," a resurrection to the immortal glories of the divine
::R1437 : page 253::
nature. (Compare `2 Pet. 1:4`; `Phil. 3:10,11`.) The second company includes, specifically, "those who are Christ's in [the time of] his presence." And these two companies are the "all" of `verse 22`, who are to be made alive in Christ. Could language show more clearly than this does that none are to be made alive (in the full, complete sense in which the word "alive" is here used) except those who in this age become the Redeemer's Bride or in the next age become his children--begotten through faith and developed through obedience?
The difficulty with many, however, is that they have never noticed the full sense of the words life and made alive in the Scriptures. The whole world is reckoned as already dead-- because under sentence of death through Adam --and unless they eat [assimilate and appropriate by faith] the flesh [sacrificed humanity] of the Son of Man, they have no life and can have no life. And those who do so "eat" are said to pass from death unto life now, reckonedly; but the actual making alive of such, as stated in our text, will be in the Resurrection morning. And so it will be with the world in general during the Millennium: when awakened from the sleep of death they will still be unjustified, condemned, dead. But they will be awakened by the great Redeemer in order that each may have the offer of everlasting life, on condition of becoming Christ's, accepting his gracious work for them in the past and his regulations for their future. Thus they may "eat" his flesh--appropriating his merit and receiving thereby his strength and life. They will be accounted or reckoned as living from the time that they begin to "eat," but they will not be made alive, perfect, until the close of the Millennial age of trial or testing.
STUDIES IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL. PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
::R1438 : page 253::
PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN.
LESSON XI., SEPT. 11, `ACTS 8:26-40`.
Golden Text--"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."--`John 3:36`.
In this lesson we have a beautiful illustration of God's supervision of his own work--a supervision which has been exercised throughout the entire age, and which the faithful of today, as well as of the past, may take comfort in considering. The great plan, both for the salvation of the world and for the selection of the Church as Christ's joint-heirs, is his work; and therefore in its minutest particulars and in its widest scope we see the evidences of his wisdom and grace. Mark in this lesson the special direction and leading of his servant Philip, and the careful providence over a sincere inquirer after truth, the Ethiopian eunuch.
`VERSE 26` shows that an angel was sent so to direct Philip's course that he might come in contact with one who was an earnest inquirer after the truth. And Philip promptly followed the angel's leading, though it took him away from a seemingly prosperous work, where the multitudes heard him gladly, to preach the gospel in the wilderness to a single individual. Just how the angel of the Lord conveyed his message to Philip is not stated, but possibly it was by a vision or a dream.
`VERSES 27,28` show with what care this man was seeking the truth. He had traveled alone a long distance at considerable expense in order to join in the worship of God at Jerusalem, and now, on his way homeward, he was carefully pondering the words of the Prophet.
`VERSES 29,30`. As he journeyed through the desert and observed the stranger slowly riding in his chariot and reading, Philip was prompted by the spirit of God, which filled him with zeal in his service, to run and overtake him, and, when drawing near, he heard him read from the Prophet Isaiah, and inquired, saying, "Understandest thou what thou readest?"
`VERSE 31`. The stranger replied, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" and he invited him to sit with him in his chariot.
Here we have another evidence that the eunuch was one of "the meek," whom alone the Lord has taught us to make special effort to reach with the truth, and who alone are hungering and thirsting for it. The same spirit of meekness that led the eunuch to desire a knowledge of God's Word--the heavenly wisdom--
::R1438 : page 254::
prompted him also to confess his ignorance of the meaning when asked. Had he been proud he would have resented such a question, and answered either that he did understand it, or else that what he, a man of wealth and education, could not understand he need not expect to have explained by anyone of Philip's appearance and social standing.
But, on the contrary, having a meek and teachable spirit, the bare hint of Philip's words was sufficient. He was anxious to learn the truth anywhere and from any person, and invited the humble looking teacher into his carriage to teach him. And we are safe in supposing that the great Shepherd is always on the lookout for such truth-hungry sheep--to feed them meat in due season--now as well as then; and whenever special providences are necessary in order to reach such they will be exercised.
Another lesson here taught is respecting God's methods. Many believe and teach that God by impressions on the mind teaches the truth-seeker without the written Word--the Bible; others that God teaches by impressions, illuminating the Bible to each student individually. But this lesson, agreeing with all the teachings of the Scriptures on the subject, shows God's usual method: he uses his inspired Word as the text, and sends his specially qualified representatives to expound it, as it becomes due to be understood.
`VERSES 32,33`. The hand of divine providence is here again manifested in the choice of the Scripture reading so that Philip might begin his teaching at the very foundation principle of the doctrine of Christ--how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
`VERSES 34,35`. "And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee of whom speaketh the Prophet this? of himself or some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same Scripture and preached unto him Jesus," showing how his sacrifice was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and how in deep and voluntary humiliation on account of our sins, his judgment--his right to life--was taken away; how that because he took the sinner's place as a substitute he was counted as a sinner, worthy of death, although he had no sin. "And who," says the Prophet, "shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth?" The question is a suggestive one, and one which Philip was probably able to explain. The underlying thought is that though in the dawn and vigor of his manhood he was cut off from life without any posterity to perpetuate his name, yet he is to have a numerous posterity; for God would raise him from the dead and he should be, as elsewhere stated (`Isa. 9:6`), "a mighty God, an everlasting Father, a Prince of peace."
`VERSES 36,38` show that the teaching of Philip must have been very comprehensive: he had evidently progressed from the foundation doctrine of justification (by faith in Christ the Redeemer) to the doctrines of the resurrection and the restitution of all things and then to the special privilege of the fully consecrated during the Gospel age, of becoming joint-heirs with Christ and in due time sharing his crown, if now they are willing to bear his cross. This seems evident from the fact that the man was anxious to be baptized at once in this faith-- another evidence, too, of his prompt acquiescence in the will of God, and his desire to be in fullest accord and co-operation with him.
`VERSE 37`, though true in sentiment, does not seem to be a part of the original text, as it does not occur in any of the three oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts--the Sinaitic, the Vatican and the Alexandrian. See foot notes of the Tischendorf New Testament, which gives all the variations of these oldest MSS. from the common English version.
`VERSES 39,40`. Just how the Spirit of God caught away Philip is not stated: it was evidently a miraculous transportation which Philip himself did not understand, and probably did not realize until he found himself at Azotus, where, and thence on his way to Caesarea, he made use of numerous opportunities to preach the Word. Doubtless Philip, as well as the Ethiopian, went on his way rejoicing.
What cause for rejoicing both had--the one in the blessed new-found hope in the Gospel, the other in the additional joy of being recognized of God as a chosen vessel to bear his name to one of his beloved children. May we also have many such occasions for rejoicing in God and in his power and providences manifested toward and in and through us. Praise his dear name for many such favors in the past.
::R1439 : page 254::
III. QUAR., LESSON XII., SEPT. 18, REVIEW.
In reviewing the lessons of this quarter, TOWER readers are referred to comments in previous numbers of this magazine.
CHRIST.--Once in all history we meet a being who never did an injury, and never resented one done to him, never uttered an untruth, never practiced a deception, and never lost an opportunity of doing good; generous in the midst of the selfish, upright in the midst of the sensual, and wise far above the wisest of earth's sages and prophets, loving and gentle, yet immovably resolute; and whose illimitable meekness and patience never once forsook him in a vexatious, ungrateful, and cruel world.--Sel.
::R1439 : page 255::
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM EARNEST WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER:--I have refrained from expressing to you the joy and gratitude that I have felt for the light thrown upon the Scriptures by your writings, through fear that I would appear to give glory to man rather than to God, from whom I am sensible that the light really comes. Still I realize that it is due you, as God's willing agent in distributing the light, to know something of the joy it has brought me.
I had long been an earnest student of the Word, but because of the many false doctrines that I had been taught from infancy to believe were supported by the Bible, I was like one groping in darkness. About four and a half years ago, through the merest accident (as some would say), I saw a reference to Millennial Dawn in a secular paper. I at once ordered the book and shall always thank God for that accident. It "opened my eyes to behold wondrous things out of his law." Since then I have eagerly read every thing I could get from your pen: I subscribed at once for the TOWER, and could scarcely wait for volumes two and three to be out of press before ordering --in fact ordered them before they were out. Oh, the joy and delight they have given me! Words cannot express it!
But with the sweet has also come the bitter. It has compelled me publicly, in the church in which I was a member, to renounce the false doctrines that I had previously held in common with others. This, of course, brought upon me much that was painful in the sundering of pleasant associations and in misunderstandings and isolation. But through it all I have been wonderfully supported and strengthened, and have verified the promise, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom that none of your adversaries can gainsay or resist." I have tried earnestly and faithfully to present the truth to others, and have distributed much of your writings among my friends; but have been greatly disappointed as to results, as few have shown any special interest, none have confessed a belief in the new (old) truths, and some of my nearest and dearest friends have been greatly shocked and grieved by my heresy.
But I leave all in the hands of the Lord and accept every trial and disappointment as a part of my testing, and, by the grace of God, I will be faithful to the end. But enough of this. You are familiar with all the trials that are common to those who would, in this evil day, be faithful to the truth. I have not accepted the truth as presented by you without questions, but have diligently searched the Scriptures upon every point; and in almost every instance I have been able to agree heartily with you. And oh, the joy of believing! It has changed the whole tenor of my life and thoughts. It has made the study of the Scriptures my chief delight. I truly meditate upon them day and night. Like one of old, I feel like saying, "I have esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food."
Hoping that you may, in the future as in the past, be blessed and honored of God as his mouthpiece, I remain, yours in the glorious hope, L. A. WEATHERLY.
DEAR FRIENDS IN CHRIST:--I cannot tell you how much benefit my mother and myself have derived from MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. I., II. and III. I have found that in whatever company I have mentioned our faith it attracts attention. So many have grown restless under the old creeds that they hail with delight any reasonable explanation of God's dealings with the race. For myself, I am thankful that I have a God who is both to be loved and to be respected. As long as I believed in a Calvinistic hell, there lurked in my heart a feeling that a more effective and a less cruel way of dealing with humanity would be perfectly consistent with the idea of a just judge. I thank you for showing me the way. The chapter on the Pyramid in Volume III. will eventually attract the attention of many scientists. A consistent explanation like yours will be appreciated in time.
The fact that the doctrine of the inherent immortality of the soul is not true was a new idea to me. But I traced it back carefully and found that it was the foundation doctrine of the religions of Egypt and Babylon. Then, and not till then, did I realize how the Jewish faith differed from the esoteric religion of the priests, and why the Jews were prone to wander into idolatry. Truly, all Buddhism, Theosophy, etc., originated in Eden. "Thou shalt not surely die" has been believed, not by Eve alone, but by most of her descendants. Pardon me for taking your time, but you do not seem other than friends to me.
Yours in Christ, MISS E. L. HAMILTON.
DEAR FELLOW-LABORERS of the Church at Allegheny, and others scattered abroad, Greeting in the name of our present Redeemer.
I know that the time to reap has come, for in obedience to him who gave the command, I have lifted up mine eyes (of discernment), and
behold, the fields are white for harvesting. And I know that he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal. I pray the Lord of the harvest that I may be among that favored number; and that I may have such success in this last harvest reaping of earth as will redound to his honor and glory.
Fraternally yours, R. H. LIST.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have read all three volumes of DAWNS three times through, my interest increasing with each reading, and have found it a means of opening up the Scriptures to my understanding. I was brought up by Methodist parents, and was consecrated twenty years ago, and joined that church. Since I have been out in this country, I have labored hard for the upbuilding of Methodism in this place, and have watched the growth of the church here with pride and pleasure; and it was with a good deal of hesitancy on my part that I withdrew my name and membership from the church. It is causing a great deal of talk among my brethren with whom I have worshiped for the past eight years. But I have never enjoyed so much of the presence of the Master, or had such peace and joy in the spirit of truth, which leadeth into all truth and teaches me things to come, as I am now enjoying.
Reading the Scriptures with the thought in mind of the Coming Kingdom seems to open up to the light many passages that I never could understand; and I cannot begin to express my thankfulness for the benefit I have received in studying the Word of God from the standpoint which you have pointed out in your messages.
Now I want to ask you to send me a good assortment of Old Theology Tracts, and a few of the Wonderful Story illustrated.
Yours in Christ and the truth,
C. C. FIFIELD.
C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR:--You will no doubt think me very slow in acknowledging the generous bundle of Tracts sent me. Sickness has prevented my writing before, but I wish to thank you very much for sending them, and thus giving me an opportunity to do a very little in the good work. I had them distributed quite thoroughly, although I was unable to superintend the distribution personally. I pray the Lord will bless some of the seed thus sown.
For myself I would like to say that the past three years have been years of great trial, and I have been so overburdened with household cares and ill-health that my spiritual nature would have been utterly crushed were it not for the blessed TOWER, that always comes with food just suited to my needs.
That God may bless you greatly in your work is the prayer of your friend in Christ,
MRS. J. M. WHITE.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--To-night I do say with all my heart, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise his holy name," for the grand and, I trust, saving blessing he has bestowed upon me through the MILLENNIAL DAWN series.
I have more or less, ever since I was about fifteen or sixteen years of age, been trying to serve God and to walk uprightly, but found so often that I had most terribly back-slidden. When I tried to reason with myself as to why I had so fallen, I could not explain it, but felt that I needed some stronger meat than I had been to that date receiving. I never thought of not believing the Word of God; but the explanations I listened to from different ministers of my own church, as well as of other churches, never seemed to be logical or satisfactory. No doubt I have been very prone to wander from the narrow path and too weak to live before the increased light and knowledge of the present day. Thank God! however, I do believe that I am now in the right company to serve him more faithfully. It has always been a mystery to me how so different creeds as are advanced by our many nominal Christian churches could be recognized by our Lord.
The theory of the Methodist church, of which I have been at least in name a member, the eternal torment of the unjustified soul and the utter hopelessness of those who pass out of this life stained with sin, seemed to destroy the idea of the endless love of God and the justice of judgment; but as I come more and more fully into the knowledge of the plan of the ages as set forth by God in his Word my heart fills with joy.
I am distributing the fifteen sets of Vols. I., II. and III. which I received a few weeks ago. Hoping I have not taken too much of your valuable time in this expression of my thankfulness to you, as God's agent (through another believer in MILLENNIAL DAWN), for the meat in season, Yours in God's cause,
==================== ::page 258::
ZION'S WATCH TOWER
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY, "BIBLE HOUSE" ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, (INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION TO TWO COPIES OF OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS QUARTERLY) By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
FREE TO THE LORD'S POOR.
N.B.--Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
::R1440 : page 258::
FAITH AND WORKS.
Whilst some go to the extreme of saying and hoping that their good works will commend them to God's favor, regardless of what faith they hold, others make the serious mistake of supposing that if they hold a correct faith there can be no necessity for works. But though faith in the redemptive work of Christ is indispensable --so that no works of ours would be acceptable to God without it--and though clear knowledge and faith respecting the divine plan are to be desired and sought, yet the objective value of all faith and knowledge is to lead the believer into works of service for the Lord.
Nor should we esteem works essential to the success of God's plan for the blessing and instruction of others; for, if we are unwilling, our God is able to use many other agencies. Rather we should esteem it a privilege to be co-workers with our God, to honor his name and to serve his people; and indeed it is thus that the worker in the Master's service is blessed-- every effort to serve his Master adds to his strength and joy. The Lord is seeking for membership in his Bride such believers as feel so full of grateful joy for their own redemption and are so anxious to honor and serve their Redeemer that they esteem it a privilege to work in his service--a privilege to suffer as well as to labor for him and in co-operating with his plan.
This being the case, beloved, none of us can afford to exercise or cultivate a spirit of idleness. Those who idle away their time, and those who absorb it all in the service of business, or pleasure, or family, or self, are laying up no treasure in heaven, however much or little they may be laying by on earth. Present opportunities for sacrificing service are therefore to be esteemed, not only as the greatest privileges of the present life, but also as the greatest privileges ever offered or to be offered.
Let each one, then, ask himself--What am I doing for God, his plan and his people? If you are doing all that you can do, be glad and rejoice, even though that all be miserably small, even in your own estimation. It is the will and effort to DO and to BE that our Redeemer regards with loving favor. But if you are not doing all that you could do, be dissatisfied with yourself; and uneasy lest your listlessness and carelessness for his service settle it with the Master that you are unworthy to share in the work of glory as a member of his Church glorified.
Let each one resolve to do something each day to serve our gracious King--not to merit salvation, but as the expression of our love for him through whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.
Our Lord does not despise our feeblest efforts when prompted by warm, overflowing hearts. The servant who has but one talent and uses it faithfully will be welcomed as a good and faithful servant, as surely as the one who uses faithfully two, five or more talents. He that is faithful with a little can be trusted with more, and he that is unfaithful in the use of one talent would be unfaithful with more. And every one who uses his talents faithfully finds them increasing daily. He who cannot deliver an oration can speak a quiet, pointed word, or write a letter, or hand a tract, or loan or sell a DAWN. When so many privileges abound on every hand, surely all have several talents for service.
Be assured, dearly beloved, that neglect to use your privilege of serving the truth will react to your spiritual degeneracy. As a sound faith is for the purpose of leading to good works, so the activity of service is necessary to continued purity of faith. It is from this cause that many are stumbling into the "outer darkness" of agnosticism--doubt, uncertainty.