BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor of Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me."—#Joh 14:1.
THE WORLD does well to keep up a cheerful, outward demeanor—to "drive dull care away" to the best of its ability. Nevertheless, there is great force and weight to St. Paul’s words to the effect that "the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together, waiting" for Messiah’s Kingdom and its long-promised blessings to lift the curse of sin and death and to restore to mankind the smile of the Father’s favor. Reason though they may, that there is no personal God—that there is merely a blind god of nature, an evolutionary force, etc., nevertheless, deep down in the heart, men believe that there is a God. Almost unconsciously the mind attributes to Him Wisdom, Justice and Power—but little of Love or sympathy with humanity and its frailties.
Root of All Trouble.
This very intuitive knowledge of God is closely associated with many human troubles. As the root of nearly every trouble, perhaps deep below the surface, is sin—disobedience to recognized principles of righteousness, and a fearful looking for of retribution, and uncertainty as to what it will mean. This is true, not only of many Christians, but frequently true also of others who have made no profession, who have taken upon them no solemn vows of obedience. This troubled heart condition does not always show upon the surface. Sometimes the troubled heart is in the theatre to try to forget its troubles. Sometimes its owner is immersed in sinful pleasure-seeking, in endeavor to drown some haunting grief. Sometimes relief is sought through intoxicating liquors or narcotics; sometimes in suicide. Sometimes the troubled one is on the stage. One cannot surely know that the merry laugh and witty joke and cheery song do not come from a troubled heart. We are sure that they do, in many instances, for frequently those who have been indulging in merriment have committed suicide a few moments thereafter, leaving messages that their hearts had been severely burdened, while outwardly cheerful. We have much sympathy with these sorrow-laden hearts. As a race we are walking through "the valley of the shadow of death," day by day. On every hand we have reminders of this—grief, disappointment, headache, heartache, etc. If we are measurably free from pain ourselves, yet have sympathy, we are pained in the interest of others. If none of our own dear ones has recently died, the great Enemy, Death, has laid hold upon the home of a neighbor, a brother, and he is bereaved and a reflex shadow falls upon our hearts; and further, the thought comes that our home may be invaded by the great Enemy which has already swallowed up twenty thousand millions of our race—and that by Divine permission, because we are sinners—and because sinners are unworthy of everlasting life.
The Fear of the Lord.
In our troubles, we sooner or later realize the lack of human sympathy
OV180 or, at least, its impotency. Feeling our helplessness, we instinctively look to our Creator. In the hour of trouble remarkably few doubt the existence of God. As Jesus said, "Ye believe in God." But as we look to the Almighty for protection and consider Divine Justice and realize our own weaknesses and shortcomings, the heart of man fails. How could he think that the Omnipotent One would have interest in or care for such a worm of the dust as he feels himself to be? How could Divine Justice look with any sympathy upon the course of selfishness which he recognizes stretches out behind him in full view of the All-Seeing Eye? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," is the inspired Message. Surely many have this beginning of wisdom come to them at some period in their life’s experience. But such a fear is the start of wisdom only when it leads the fearful one to greater carefulness of living and to a desire for the Heavenly Father’s approval.
If this be the leading of the fear, it is indeed the precursor of, the leader to, wisdom.
As proper fear or reverence for the Almighty comes in, it acts as a restraint upon sin. It tends to make one more thoughtful, more careful, more wise, in seeking for a better way.
Come by the Narrow Way.
Jesus addressed the words of our text to Jews who, under the instruction of the Law given by Moses, had learned of Divine righteousness and the Divine requirements of all those who would come into harmony with Him. They believed in God. They recognized His Justice. They were desiring to be His people; they had heard of Jesus; they had traveled with Him as His disciples. In a general way they believed in Him. To a large degree they accepted Him as the promised Messiah, and yet they found it difficult to express a fullness of faith. We would like to bear home upon the hearts of these the very Message that Jesus gave to those who heard His Voice: "Let not your heart be troubled—ye believe in God; believe also in Me." Hear Him saying to us to-day, You already believe in the Creator and His Justice. You already desire to draw near to God. You have heard that He has sent His Son into the world. You have heard that this is a manifestation of His love and sympathy for you. You have heard that while you are condemned as imperfect, as sinners, as unworthy of eternal life, Divine provision has been made for your recovery through the Redeemer. As you believe in the Father’s Justice which condemned you and which justly holds you at a distance from Him as unworthy of His favor, so now believe also in Me. Believe that the Father hath sent Me. Believe that it is His Love for you that prompted the sending. Believe that His Love is as strong as His Justice. Believe that His Justice and Love will co-operate for your eternal comfort and blessing, if you will accept the Divine terms.
Losing Our Heart Troubles.
The Father knows your heart troubles. He wishes the burden to be there until you shall appreciate its weight—until you shall be ready to cry to Him that you are sin-sick, weary, troubled, and above all, hungering and thirsting for righteousness and desiring reconciliation to Him—the smile of His face. He has not waited for all of this to take place before making provisions for you. He has anticipated your needs, your longings, your necessities. He has already provided the Redeemer, who is Mighty to save. If Divine Justice is exacting to the last degree, believe that Divine Love, as represented in the Redeemer sent of God, is equally exhaustless, boundless—sufficient for all your needs. If you will accept of this, the Divine arrangement through Christ, your heart troubles may be at an end. You will still have troubles in the flesh, weaknesses, aches and pains, but your heart will be joyful and happy in a fellowship Divine with the Father, through the Son.
OV181 How to Get the Peace.
Ah! says one, I have heard of God and of Jesus and of the invitation to reconciliation, but I know not how to proceed. To whom shall I go? How can I gain a hearing in my case to obtain the blessed assurance, Thy sins are forgiven thee; go and sin no more. Which church shall I join? To what priest shall I confess? First of all, my brother, or sister, allow me to rejoice with you that you have come into the condition where you are seeking and knocking for the opening of the storehouse of Divine favor, because "He that seeketh shall find, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Continue, then, to seek and to knock, and very soon the blessings will be yours. See, first, whether or not you are seeking the proper blessing. You want forgiveness of sins that are past. You want the assurance of Divine love and care. You want the Heavenly Shepherd to take you for one of His sheep and look after your interests, both temporal and eternal. If so, good. You are seeking the very thing that God is pleased to give. Many are seeking something else—seeking to have some of self-will and some of God’s will, some of sin and some of righteousness. They seek in vain until, in purity of heart, they seek that which God is willing to give. All of God’s gifts are by grace. None of us could claim them on the grounds of justice or merit. We cannot keep God’s perfect Law, not because it is too exacting, but because we are fallen. We were born in sin, shapen in iniquity; in sin did our mothers conceive us. Be our wills ever so strong, our flesh is weak. The Divine arrangement of this Gospel Age is adapted to this very condition and is open for the honest-hearted, the sincere penitents, the ones fully determined for righteousness. You need not come to any earthly priest, but as the Master said, go to the Father, in secret, in private. Go not in your own name, or merit, or worth, but in the merit of the Redeemer. Go Scripturally, claiming Him as your Advocate and appealing in His Name for the forgiveness provided by Divine mercy—to cover all the sins of the past and provide for all the imperfections unwillingly yours for the future—even to the end of the way. Coming thus, Jesus becomes your Priest, your Advocate with the Father. "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." (#1Jo 2:1.) "Let us come with courage to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need." (#Heb 4:16.) What will you say to your Father as you present yourself in the Name of Jesus, do you ask? In prayer tell Him that you are sick of sin and desirous of His righteousness; in every way tell Him of your appreciation of the glorious qualities of His Character and of your desire to be as much conformed to that Character as possible. Tell Him that you know you have nothing worthy of His consideration, except the merit of Jesus to be imputed to you, which will be the covering for your imperfection. Tell Him that you present your all thus justified by faith, that the merit of Christ may be imputed; that you desire to be a living sacrifice—to be faithful unto death to Him, to His Message in the Bible and to all who are, with you, following in the good way to the Kingdom.
Daily Dying—Daily Living.
Those who have acted upon the above directions of the Lord’s Word and who have thus been accepted of the Father and begotten of the Holy Spirit, are thenceforth New Creatures in Christ Jesus. To them "old things have passed away and all things have become new." Their souls are not troubled, because they have passed from death unto life, from Divine disfavor to Divine relationship, as sons of God—and "If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that we suffer
OV182 with Him, that we may also be glorified together." (#Ro 8:17.) Those who reach this blessed state are no longer heart-troubled. They will have troubles from the world, the flesh and the Adversary, but withal they have rejoicing—"The peace of God which passeth all understanding" ruling in their hearts. But the end is not yet. The body has been separated from the will. The will has become identified with Christ and represents the New Creature, which will not be perfected, and in its new body, until the resurrection. Meantime, as the Apostle teaches, the flesh must be considered and treated as an enemy because of its weakness, its fallen condition.
A struggle, a battle, must go on continually to the end of the course. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The faithfulness of the New Creature, the will, will be judged by its loyalty to the Divine will and its strenuous endeavor to keep the body under—to be dead to the flesh and to the world and to be alive to the will of God. Every day should make us more alive as New Creatures and more dead as old creatures.
At the present time we have 1,200,000,000 that in no sense of the word are called by the Lord, and therefore have had no opportunity of responding to that call. With the thought that has prevailed for centuries that these uncalled millions are doomed to eternal torture, the hearts of God’s people have been very sorely troubled, and infidelity has been very greatly assisted into a denial of everything pertaining to Christian faith. All agree that it would be very unreasonable for the Creator of those 1,200,000,000 to expose them to the danger of eternal torment, and not give them the slightest opportunity for hearing of the only terms of salvation from it.
But when we get the correct, the Scriptural view of the matter, we see that the penalty upon those 1,200,000,000 is, "Dying thou shalt die," and that in this particular they are not different from their fathers, who were under the same curse, or sentence of death—the Adamic condemnation. We see from the Scriptures, too, that our Lord Jesus, "by the grace of God, tasted death for every man"—"to be testified in due time." (#Heb 2:9; #1Ti 2:6.)
Jesus, therefore, tasted death for all these 1,200,000,000, and for all their forefathers. He has given the ransom-price for their sins as well as for ours, the Church’s, and resultant blessing must come to them as well as to us. The coming blessing is a rescue from the sin-and-. death conditions in which they were born—an opportunity for rising out of those conditions of degradation, up, up, up to full perfection of nature, and all that was lost through Adam’s disobedience. This work of Divine Grace, we see, is to be accomplished for the world during the Messianic Age, when Christ and the Elect Church will constitute God’s Kingdom, with power and great glory for the blessing of the world.
THERE are great truths that pitch their shining tents Outside our walls, and though but dimly seen In the gray dawn, they will be manifest When the light widens into perfect day.