VOL. XXXVI AUGUST 15 No. 16
A. D. 1915--A.M. 6043
Privileges of the Throne of Grace.................243
Manner of Acceptable Prayer...................243
Selfish Petitions Unjustified.................244
"Blessed Are the Pure in Heart"...................245
Fault-Finders, Accusers of the Brethren.......245
The Final Issue--Life or Death................246
Jehovah Our God is One............................247
Confusion of Trinitarian View.................249
Making Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon..........250
Trespasses and Sins and Their Effect Upon
The Sin Against the Holy Spirit...............251
Elijah's Return and Victory.......................252
Elijah's Flight and Vision........................254
What the Antitypical Elijah Sees..............254
Fulfilment of the Vision Begun................254
"Watch Tower" References Re Tabernacle
When Their Happy Life Began...................255
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PRIVILEGES OF THE THRONE OF GRACE
"Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."--`Hebrews 4:16`.
WHILE these words of the Apostle have always been applicable to the people of God, they are especially important to us, for we realize that we are now living in this very evil day to which he referred in his letter to the Ephesians; that it has already come, and that only those who have put on the whole armor of God will be properly equipped to withstand the assaults of the enemy. His instruction that the Christian supply himself with the whole armor of God indicates a need for the armor, a difficulty in withstanding the attacks to be expected in this day, and the fewness of those who will eventually stand. The exhortation is not to take merely the shield of faith, not merely the helmet of salvation, not merely the breastplate of righteousness, not merely the Sword of the Spirit, not merely the sandals of preparation, not merely the girdle of Truth; but all of these. The implication is that we shall need all of these if we stand all the assaults to be expected in the evil day.
Alas, how few seem to realize the importance of this armor which God has commended! Their difficulty is the result of their not recognizing the time in which they are now living, of their not being sufficiently awake, of not being zealous to search the Scriptures, and to arm themselves therewith for the battle of the Great Day of God Almighty.
But with all the preparation the earnest Christian may make, he should see to it that there is a direct and continual communication between his heart and his Lord. In the Bible God has given us His Message, His promises, His instruction, in advance. Elsewhere St. Paul has declared that this Word "is sufficient, that the man
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of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." We appreciate this assurance and also realize our own unworthiness, our littleness and our imperfections. But despite all these our Lord has assured us that we may approach with courage the Throne of Heavenly Grace and there obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need--and forgiveness of sins.
This promise of forgiveness does not include the thought of original sin; for that is forgiven us at the time when we consecrate ourselves to the Lord; and therefore it need not be remembered day by day. But, having surrendered our will to the Lord and having started out in the narrow way, we should know what our reasonable service to Him would include. (`Romans 12:1`.) We have need of every provision that He has made for us. It is our daily transgressions that require daily forgiveness. Any one, therefore, who would be a good soldier of the Lord Jesus must keep in close touch with Headquarters. This he is privileged to do by coming daily to the Throne of Grace.
If we would contrast the privilege of approaching God with that of approaching earthly potentates, we would see a marked manifestation of God's favor to us. With the King of England or the German Kaiser or any other earthly sovereign, the dignity of the throne is maintained so that it is difficult for any to approach. One must earnestly desire to do so. And if he would come into the king's presence, he must wear a certain style of dress, observe a certain etiquette, and also have a proper introduction. If the king were gracious, an interview might then be granted. But our God, the Mighty Creator of the Universe, has graciously granted to each one who has been begotten of the Holy Spirit the privilege of bringing everything to Him in prayer --all his needs, all his difficulties--and of calling Him by the endearing name of "Father." What wondrous grace!
Then each of God's children before approaching the Throne of Grace should seek to know what things are approved of the Lord and what things are disapproved. It should be the one ambition of the child of God to know the Father's will and to guide his affairs accordingly. But taking it for granted that our hearts are fully submissive to the Lord's will, the Apostle is here describing the Christian soldier who has put on the whole armor of God, or who is putting it on, and who is seeking to come up to the highest standard. He will need, with all his armor, to cultivate and to use the privilege of prayer.--`Ephesians 6:18`.
THE MANNER OF ACCEPTABLE PRAYER
The foregoing reference tells us how prayer should be offered--"praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." We should lay emphasis on the words "in the Spirit." Contrast this sort of prayer with others which are not "in the Spirit," but merely formalistic. We know that the heathen have great formalities in their prayers. The Chinese, for instance, have a wheel on which certain prayers are inscribed, and they think that the more times the wheel is turned around the more times the prayer goes up to their god. These are vain repetitions. But the Chinese are heathen--they have not learned of the true God. Others approach the
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true God, using vain repetitions, not knowing what they want or what is best for them or what is God's will. Some Christians use printed forms of petition which are not really their own sentiment or spirit, but which as worshipers they offer to the Lord in a more or less perfunctory manner. Some prayers are represented by beads. These are used by our Roman Catholic friends. Each bead represents a prayer, and the repetition is supposed to help the worshiper. He counts these beads over and over, repeating his prayer over each bead.
All these endeavors on the part of humanity, heathen and Christian, to approach God in prayer indicate that there is a recognized need of Divine assistance. But God is not to be approached in a merely formal manner. He is not to be mocked. If we should approach an earthly king in such a perfunctory way, he would see through the hollowness of the petition and would resent it. And so we may know that if we come with merely a lip service to God our prayers will not be heard. We must remember, too, that only those prayers are acceptable to God which come from those in covenant relationship with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way by which we have a right to come to the Almighty addressing Him as "Our Father."
Reverting again to the text, "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication--in the Spirit," we understand the Apostle to mean that with every prayer we offer, whatever may be our petition, there should be an earnestness of spirit. The prayer must always be offered "in the spirit," with heart-appreciation of what we are doing. Otherwise it would not be acceptable to God. It must be a "supplication," an earnest entreaty. When we pray to God, we are to "watch thereunto, with all perseverance" --having importunity in prayer, not soon growing weary if our petitions do not seem to be quickly answered. We are not to pray for the things that the Word of God does not justify us in believing are the Lord's will, but for the things which we believe are His will; and we are to really desire what we ask for. Then we are to watch for the fulfilment of our prayers, and thus be prepared for the blessing when it comes. Our Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him.--`Matthew 6:32,8`.
SELFISH PETITIONS UNJUSTIFIED
The object of prayer, then, is to benefit ourselves, and to bring us into that attitude of mind which will be in heart-readiness to receive our Father's blessing. God does not wish to give His choicest blessings where they would be fruitless. When He gives us these blessings, He purposes that our hearts shall be in that condition which will assimilate them and bring forth fruitage. We must ever be in an attitude of full submission to His will. We know that our Heavenly Father not only has the fullest knowledge of our needs, but is waiting to bestow His richest gifts upon His children, as soon as we are ready for them. Then let us never come before Him with vain, meaningless repetitions.
While the world would pray merely for food, clothing, temporal blessings or for victory over their enemies, we as God's children should yield up our wills to Him and pray in the words of our Master's exemplary prayer: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done." Then, "Give us this day our daily bread," whether it be little or much--not saying what kind of food, but simply receiving what He sees we need. We have placed these matters entirely in the Lord's hands. We ask especially for the spiritual Bread. Our prayers are to be along the lines of the Spirit and not of the flesh. We are to pray only incidentally for the earthly things, because we have consecrated our bodies to God. Since the body is to die, since it has been accepted as a sacrifice, we are to seek to perpetuate that body which we have given to the Lord only long enough for our spiritual development and testing and for the completion of whatever work He has for us to do. We are also to be willing and glad to surrender it as soon as the Lord is ready to consummate the sacrifice. We have it now only as the instrument of the New Creature.
As New Creatures, then, we are to pray always in harmony with the interests of this new nature. We are to hunger for the Bread from Heaven and to feed upon it. We are to develop the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. We read that the Father is more willing to give good things to them that ask Him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. So then, we are not only to pray in the Spirit, but as the Lord's Word indicates, our prayers are to be along the lines of the Spirit, of the New Creature, whose needs are first in our sight and in the Lord's sight, and whose interests the Lord is especially pleased to bless and to have us consider and pray for.
THE CHRISTIAN'S VITAL BREATH
The logical conclusion of all this is that the Lord's consecrated people would have little to pray for of an earthly kind, realizing that with the Church the end is not restitution, but sacrifice unto death, and then the glorious resurrection. Therefore the prayers of the consecrated should be for grace to meet in a faithful spirit our various trials and difficulties while we are putting on the armor, and likewise after we have put it on, and are learning how to use the Sword of the Spirit, how to resist the Adversary, and the foes entrenched in our own flesh--our Philistines. We need much grace to be rightly exercised by the trials and the assaults of the enemy and to realize that all these things are to work together for good to us who love God, who are "the called according to His purpose." We are learning day by day how to "make our calling and election sure."
The Lord's people are encouraged to take part in the prayer meeting, and individually they are to approach daily the Throne of Grace. Our Lord has declared that where two or three are met together in His name He will be in their midst. When a petition is made having something of general interest, we are to unite our hearts that the blessing may be spread abroad and extend to many hearts. The suggestion is that the Lord's people should do considerable of their praying in fellowship, in cooperation. But this would not hinder our private praying to the Lord, hourly if need be, telling him of our realization of our faults and our weaknesses and asking for the application of the precious merit of our Savior's sacrifice to remove every spot and every wrinkle from our garments. Such prayer is the very essence of the Christian's life, his "vital breath."
We find that the encroachments of the Adversary and of the world and of the flesh are liable to discourage
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us or to entangle us with the things of the present life. But the Lord has made it so possible for us to approach Him that we can go to Him with any trial, any difficulty, and be sure that our petition has Divine attention and will have Divine aid. We have spoken of our fleshly weaknesses as sometimes hindering us from prayer. There is a disposition on the part of many Christians, after having done something that has wounded the conscience, to avoid going to the Lord in prayer for awhile, to dread to go, to feel ashamed to go--
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thinking that they will feel better about it afterwards. This course is fraught with great danger; for it is likely to hinder our spiritual growth. Therefore it should not be permitted. We should realize that there is all the greater need of our going then to the Throne of Heavenly Grace. The Lord has known of our weaknesses in advance. He knew beforehand of our failure, and wished us to profit by the experience, that we might, in harmony with our prayers, become stronger against sin, against everything displeasing to Him.
ONE OF SATAN'S CHIEF METHODS OF ATTACK
The Adversary has to do, no doubt, with seeking to interrupt our prayers, our communications with the Father. One of our hymns declares that
"Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees."
We need not go to this extreme of thought, that Satan really does so tremble; but we may know that he realizes something of the power of prayer in the life of the child of God, and one of his chief lines of attack is to seek to cut off our communication with the Lord. Just as in warfare a skilful general seeks to cut off the enemy from its communication with headquarters, with its base of supplies, so with Satan. If he could succeed in cutting off our communication with the Heavenly Courts, we would be so much more liable to fall under his mischievous and wicked assaults. Then we would indeed be helpless, without Divine direction.
Is it asked, What could Satan do to cut off our communication? We reply that there are various ways of intruding upon the human mind--thoughts may enter the mind while the child of God is at prayer or at other times--thoughts of business, of pleasure, of sin, of worldly interests and projects, etc. We do not know how much power the Adversary is given in connection with the Lord's people. We do know that he is powerless to interfere with their will. But he has power to stimulate certain organs of our minds, so that unless we are very alert we might be cut off from proper fellowship with the Lord, and our Christian courage might become more or less weakened. Thus we would be proportionately less able to resist the world, the flesh and the Adversary.
It is, therefore, proper to take every precaution to keep the lines of communication with our Heavenly Father well open. For instance, in private prayer, if there is a tendency toward drowsiness or toward thoughts going to other things, then we might lift the head, if it be bowed; or if the eyes be closed, we might open the eyes, and raise them. We are to see to it that in all our prayers and supplications these are in the Spirit, that they are not perfunctory, not formalisms. We are to see to it that they are the real expressions of our heart. We may say that a few sentences of real heart-prayer will accomplish more good for the child of the Lord than any amount of lip service. We advise that any who have difficulty in keeping the mind concentrated while in prayer should rather intensify and shorten their petitions and that in all their prayers they should see that the things they desire and pray for are in harmony with the Lord's Word--in the interest of the New Creature.
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"BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART"
"Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful is nothing pure; but both their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to have known God, but by their works they renounce Him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work worthless." "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." --`Titus 1:15,16`; `Proverbs 4:23`.
OUR first text is an extremely severe arraignment. The context seems to imply that the Apostle Paul was addressing some who were identified in a sense with the Cause of God, but whose doctrines and manner of life were in conflict with the Message of the Gospel. Whether he referred to unbelieving Jews or to those who had at least outwardly become followers of Christ we may not be sure. He was referring, at any rate, to those who professed to have known God, whether they knew Him through the Law or through the Gospel. The language seems to imply that these were fault-finders. They could find fault with everything --nobody could do anything just right, no doctrines were right. We have all met people of this character-- people who see nothing pure, nothing good, anywhere, and who are denouncing others all the time.
The Apostle's statement is very strong, very forceful --"Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful is nothing pure." We understand him to mean by these words, not literally that the pure could find nothing that is impure, nor that the impure could find nothing pure, but that this is true in a broad, general way. Those who are themselves pure can see righteousness in the Divine Law and in the Divine arrangement. They can see the true, pure hearts of God's sincere "little ones," in spite of the weaknesses of their fallen flesh. But the unfaithful become defiled, their consciences become perverted, so that they are unable to see anything or anybody in a proper light. They have permitted ill-natured thoughts to enter the mind and lodge there--suspicions, evil surmisings, such as, "Every man has his price. Every man can be bought. There is not one that is honest"; and all that sort of thing. They have been more or less judging others by themselves.
Not only the minds of such become corrupted, seeing nothing pure, nothing good, nothing right, in others; but their consciences become defiled. At first the conscience of such would to some extent reprove them. But gradually, if they yield to this wrong heart attitude, their consciences become corrupt and hardened, so that they do not realize that they are prevaricating, misjudging, do not see how unjust, impure and blind they have become. "They profess to have known God," says the Apostle--knowing something in an intellectual way about His Plan and Word--"but by their works they deny Him." Their works are contrary to God's Word, which instructs that all should seek to do all the good they can, to see all the good they can, and to give generous judgment to others.
FAULT-FINDERS, ACCUSERS OF THE BRETHREN
These defiled ones deny God, renounce Him in their works--as St. Paul declares, they are "abominable, and disobedient" to God, walking contrary to His instructions. This is surely an abominable thing to do--after knowing the Lord to go in an opposite direction, and set His counsel at naught. Such are "to every good work worthless." They do not accomplish anything good, but the very opposite; yet they find fault with everybody else.
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The Apostle is not saying here that such have necessarily become immoral and vile in that they have become delvers into all kinds of sin and vice. We are not to read into his words anything that is not there. But he does say that so far as any good work is concerned they will defile it, injure it. Better would it be that they keep away from the Lord's work entirely. They have allowed the bitter spirit to work in them until everything takes on the color of their own minds. They do not recognize to what an extent they are unjust, unrighteous, in their thoughts, their words, their conduct. They are injurious to every good work.
There are lessons of warning here for all of us, lest we should be led astray by the spirit of the Wicked One and become mere fault-finders, accusers of the brethren --not giving our time, our hands, our feet, our tongues, to doing good, to blessing and upbuilding the brethren, but rather to tearing down. In proportion as any one does this, he is worthless, yea, worse than worthless, to the Lord and to His Cause.
NECESSITY FOR GUARDING THE HEART
"Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life," exhorts the Wise Man. The thought embodied in this exhortation is of the utmost importance. Truly these are words of wisdom! As the heart is perhaps the most important organ of the human body, so the word "heart" is here used in a figurative way to represent the center of the affections of the human mind. The implication is that the heart needs keeping. There are many things to distract, to draw away, to lead astray. Not only the burden of business, but also the trend of the world in general and of our fallen flesh, tend to lead the heart away from righteousness, from the service of God, from purity, love and kindliness toward others.
The great Adversary also gives his assistance in attempts to thus mislead. The heart--the will, the affections --of every human being should be loyal to God and to righteousness. It was made so originally. As the magnetic needle turns to the pole, so the human
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heart should turn to the Lord. Anything to the contrary represents a sinful, distorted, perverted condition. But as a matter of fact, sin has become firmly implanted in the fallen human nature. During these long centuries of sin many people have striven to keep their hearts right with God. But after getting right, the majority fail to abide in that condition, to keep their heart in God's love, to keep it from going into wrong avenues, from getting into the wrong condition.
We often have difficulty in managing our bodies. There are appetites of the flesh that need constant watching. The tongue needs continual guarding. While we are to watch all these things carefully, yet the most important thing to watch is the heart; for all our evil tendencies have their mainspring there. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things." We should be ever alert to see that our heart is kept pure, true. If we find impurities there, they should be prayerfully fought against and made right. We should keep our minds filled with that which is pure, worthy, Godlike.
As children of God we have learned that the only way to have our hearts right with our Father is through the Lord Jesus Christ. We have come to God through Christ and thus become His sons, receiving His Holy Spirit. Then we have a new influence, a new fountain, opened in the heart, which changes its current, which sweetens its outflow. Thenceforth we love righteousness and hate iniquity. If there is any variation from this at any time, we should see that we are promptly brought back into alignment with the Spirit of the Lord. We need to keep our heart continually under inspection, so that we may abide in close fellowship with the Father and with our Lord Jesus.
"For out of it [the heart] are the issues of life," declared Solomon. From this organ--the heart--the blood is pumped out to all parts of the body. The body is thus dependent upon the heart for its strength, its vitality, its very life. The body would be dead if the heart did not continually propel the blood through the system. So the issues of our bodily life are going forth from the heart every day, yea, every moment. It is either issuing little life or much life each day. So it is with the seat of our affections--so it is with our will. All who come in contact with us day by day are influenced for good or for evil by the spirit we manifest. It is highly important that all our conduct in life should be under the proper direction of a pure heart--one that is carefully watched and kept under inspection, so that today as we go forth, a good issue shall flow out from our heart to others. Thus the Lord will be pleased with us, and will count us "dear children." Thus shall our minds and consciences be kept undefiled.
THE FINAL ISSUE--LIFE OR DEATH
But there is a further sense, a vital sense, in which the issues of life are from the heart. God has informed us that though He sentenced our race to death, He has made provision for a future and an eternal life for all. And the conditions on which any may have this eternal life are set forth in the Scriptures. They tell us of certain things that must be done. To us who are called and accepted now it is important that we do all we are able to do, because by nature we have sin entrenched in our flesh. Like all of Adam's race, we are imperfect by nature through his fall; but the Lord informs us that if we become His children He will judge us by the heart--by our will, our intention, our desire, our efforts. Therefore when we are thinking of the glorious prize, we are to remember that the ultimate issue of this matter, the final decision, will depend altogether upon how we have fulfilled the conditions. It is as in a court, where a jury is sworn in to decide what the verdict shall be--whether in favor of one party or the other party. There will be an issue in our case, a decision, from which there will be no appeal.
The world will be on trial in the next Age, but the Church of Christ is on trial now--from the time they are begotten of the Holy Spirit. The new life is on trial. Our new heart is before the bar of Divine judgment. That new heart, then, needs keeping very carefully, since connected with it are the issues of eternal life or eternal death. Our hopes are not dependent on a perfect body; some may have a sick body, some may have a naturally amiable disposition, and others not. But our old bodies are reckoned dead from the moment we become New Creatures, and the New Creature is responsible for the control of the body to the best of its ability. These new hearts are to be kept loyal to God, to the principles of righteousness, truth, equity--loyal to our Covenant. If we fail properly to cultivate Christlike character, if we fail to keep in attunement with the Lord, then we shall never develop as New Creatures in Christ. And when the decisive testings come, we shall be found wanting.
The Lord has promised to give the blessing of glory, honor, immortality, joint-heirship with Jesus, to those
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who during the Gospel Age attain His character-likeness. And that character-likeness to God will demonstrate our loyalty to the principles of righteousness and to the Divine will. In the case of our Lord Jesus, He was willing, glad, to sacrifice everything to do the Father's will. So must it be with all who would be counted in with Christ. The issues, the results, of our life are here. God says to us, as followers of Christ, as His professed disciples, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life that ye may live." Life is the blessing; death is the curse. All through the Bible this thought is maintained--that the gift of God is His blessing of eternal life, and that "the wages of sin" is the curse of death--not torment.
So to the Christian the issue of our life here on earth is life eternal, if we are faithful. Failing to gain the life eternal, we shall go into death--the Second Death; for if we are disloyal to the principles of righteousness and to the opportunities granted us in this trial for everlasting life that has come to us in the Gospel Age, there remains no future opportunity for us. These words apply to those who have really become children of God, who have tasted of the "heavenly gift." How important, then, to keep our hearts true, loyal, undefiled!
FINAL ISSUE OF LIFE DIFFERING IN DEGREE
Amongst those in whose cases the issue will be everlasting life, there will be different ranks, as regards the degree of honor and blessing. As the Apostle pictures it, "For star differeth from star in glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead"--so it will be with those who have a part in the First Resurrection. Some will have a brighter glory in the Kingdom than others. We might say that there will be various issues--greater honor and less honor. As elsewhere shown in the Scriptures, there are two classes who will gain everlasting life on the spiritual plane of being. Many will be of the Great Company; some will be of the Little Flock, the Bride of Christ. Some will attain the highest plane, immortality; but more will get life similar to that of the angels, on a lower spirit plane.
So we see the wisdom of the Scriptural exhortation that the heart needs constant attention, because there are such important, vital issues in respect to it. And we see the wisdom in warning of the danger of permitting the mind and the conscience to become defiled and impure. Some might say, "I will be very careful about every word I speak." Very well so far. But to keep the tongue would not alone be sufficient to give eternal life; for the heart might be quite different from the tongue in some cases. One might be able to speak very smoothly, yet have a deceitful, impure heart. Again, one might say, "I will watch my body, and not sin with it." But that would not be enough. We must get down to the source. The Lord is looking at the desires, the intentions of the heart, in His people. This needs special watching, because the heart is the battle-ground, so great are the issues from it--life or death. If life, then we desire that we may have the highest place that God is willing to grant us. And it is ours by meeting the conditions.
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JEHOVAH OUR GOD IS ONE
"To us there is but one God, the Father, of
whom are all things."--`1 Corinthians 8:6`.
NOTWITHSTANDING the wide-spread acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity, we have held closely to the Bible teaching that there is but one God. Jesus called God His Father, and spoke of Himself as the Son of God. A father is a life-giver. A son is an offspring, one who receives life from a father. This distinction implies that the father existed first. And so Jesus says of Himself, "I proceeded forth and came from God."--`John 8:42`.
In our writings we show the clear teachings of the Bible, that Jesus in His pre-human condition was the Logos, the Word, or Message, from the Father; and that as such He was called a god, but not the God--the Father. On so important a question as the equality of the Father and the Son, we must not rely upon any man's testimony except that of the inspired writers of the Scriptures. We should accept no dictum save that of the Divine Word itself. Let us ask Jesus. He replies, "My Father is greater than I"; "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge"; "My Father is greater than all"; "I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God"; "This is life eternal, that they
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might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."--`John 14:28`; `5:30`; `10:29`; `17:3`; `20:17`.
In our writings we point out that Jesus was the first of God's creatures, the only being directly created by Jehovah; and that Jehovah did all subsequent creating through the Son. Thus we read that Jesus was "the beginning of the creation of God," "the First-born of every creature," "the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" of the Father's direct creation. (`Revelation 3:14`; `22:13`; `Colossians 1:15`.) The Apostle John declares (`John 1:1-3`), "In the beginning [not Jehovah's beginning, for He had no beginning; but the world's beginning, or man's beginning] was the Word [the Logos], and the Word was with the God and the Word was a god. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." Could this subject be made plainer? Why confuse ourselves needlessly? Why fight against the plain statements of God's Word to uphold a theory which is without Bible support and was formulated in the Dark Ages?
We teach, as does the Bible, that the Lord Jesus came from Heaven to earth; was born of a virgin mother; that He, "the Logos, was made flesh and dwelt among us," and His disciples "beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" (`John 1:14`.) Jesus had not two natures, but one nature, having changed the higher, the spiritual nature, for the human nature. As the Scriptures declare, "He who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." (`2 Corinthians 8:9`.) And as He grew to manhood He grew in favor with God and man. He was perfect--"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."--`Luke 2:52`; `Hebrews 7:26`.
JESUS BECAME A NEW CREATURE
At thirty years of age, this Perfect One, having reached the perfection of manhood according to the Law consecrated, or devoted, His life to God as the great Sacrifice for human sin, fulfilling the Scriptures, "a body hast Thou prepared Me," "for the suffering of death." (`Hebrews 10:5`; `2:9`.) That consecrated sacrifice of the Man Jesus God accepted, indicating His acceptance by the anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit at Jordan. Thenceforth He was dual--a perfect human body with
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a newly begotten mind--spirit-begotten. He then, as a New Creature, was to complete the sacrifice of His flesh; and His new mind--the New Creature--was to go on to perfection. He prayed that the Father would restore Him to the glory which He had with the Father "before the world was." (`John 17:5`.) In His humility He asked no higher glory. His sacrifice was finished at Calvary, and His new mind, His spirit-begotten new nature was, in the resurrection, granted the new body which the Father had promised. "Sown in dishonor," He was "raised in glory"; "sown in weakness," He was "raised in power"; "sown a natural body," He was "raised a spiritual body."--`1 Corinthians 15:43,44`.
Our Lord was not originally created in the way the angels were; for He was the direct creation of the Father, whereas the angels were the indirect creations of God, through the Son. St. Paul declares that all things are of the Father, and all things are through, by the Son. (`1 Corinthians 8:6`.) He was the Father's honored agent in all other works of creation.
Our Lord Jesus became the Christ, the Anointed, when He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit at His baptism. He was perfected as the Christ at His resurrection. He was a god (Mighty One) before He came into the world; He also was a god from the time He received the begetting of the Holy Spirit at Jordan; and He is still a god, set down at the right hand of the Father. But He is not The God, He never was and never will be. Note again His own words after His resurrection, when speaking to Mary Magdalene: "I ascend to My Father and your Father; to My God and your God." (`John 20:17`.) Hear what St. Paul says, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, * * * and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by [or through] whom are all things." (`1 Corinthians 8:6`.) Again, in referring to Jehovah, the Apostle calls Him, "God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and again, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ."--`2 Corinthians 1:3`; `Ephesians 1:3,17`.
A COMMON, BUT UNSCRIPTURAL VIEW
The Lord Jesus is not the second person of a triune God. The word "triune" is unscriptural; so is the thought. St. Paul sets the matter straight in his words quoted above. He also declares that Jesus "thought not of robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation." No translation of this passage (`Philippians 2:6`), save in our Common Version gives the thought that Jesus considered Himself equal to God the Father, but all are to the contrary of this. Our Common Version rendering is evidently a mistranslation. The entire argument of the Apostle shows that Christ humiliated Himself, not that He claimed equality with Jehovah!
The word "trinity" is not found in the Bible. The only text in the Bible which seems in any way to suggest a trinity is acknowledged even by trinitarians themselves to be a forgery, incorporated into the text about the fifth century. This interpolation forms a part of `1 John 5:7,8`. We quote the passage, with the interpolated words enclosed in brackets: "For there are three that bear record [in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth,] the Spirit and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one." See Revised Version, Emphatic Diaglott, American Standard Union translation, Young's translation, etc. This passage is pronounced an interpolation by such eminent authorities as Sir Isaac Newton, Benson, Adam Clarke, Horne, Griesbach, Tischendorf and Alford.
We have explained in our writings that there was a time when our Lord Jesus did not exist, when Jehovah was alone. How else could the Bible declare that Jesus was the "beginning of the creation of God"? (`Rev. 3:14`.) What is the value of language, anyway, if we do not give words their manifest meaning? Jesus undoubtedly had a beginning. This beginning was ages before He came to earth as a human being to die for Adam and his race. Those who denounce us should read our writings before criticizing them. Then they would not criticize at all, if honest; for they would know that there is no ground for criticism on the part of those who hold to the Bible as the Word of God.
THE LOGOS TRANSFERRED FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH
The Lord Jesus had a Heavenly nature before He came into the world. He exchanged that nature, as we have stated, for an earthly one, in order that He might give His flesh, His humanity, a Ransom-price for the sins of the whole world. Having accomplished this great work, He was granted by the Father an exaltation still higher than His previous glorious position and nature, even though His previous station had been second only to Jehovah Himself. St. Paul declares of the position given Christ at His resurrection: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth [those now in the tomb, but yet to be raised to learn the Truth as it is in Jesus]; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."--`Philippians 2:9-11`.
When on earth Jesus was not a sinful man in any sense. His birth of the Virgin Mary was miraculous. His holy life was transferred to human conditions. He was made a man--"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and fit, therefore, to be the great Sin offering for Adam and all his posterity. He was simply the Man Jesus up to the time of His immersion in Jordan; but the anointing He there received constituted Him the Anointed of God, the Christ, the Messiah.
MADE "PARTAKER OF THE DIVINE NATURE"
Jesus was a god, a Mighty One, higher than the angels, before He became a man. When born a babe, He was not a god at all, but a human being; and as the perfect man of thirty He was not a god. But when He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of Divine power, He became a Mighty One, because of this spirit-begetting. And since His resurrection He is a god, greater than ever before, "partaker of the Divine nature"; for His Church are called to this great exaltation, and they are called to the obtaining of the glory of their Lord, that they may be with Him, as His Bride, and be like Him, members of His glorious Body.--`2 Thessalonians 2:14`; `1 John 3:2`; `Revelation 21:2,9`; `22:17`; `1 Corinthians 10:16,17`; `12:12,13,27`; `2 Peter 1:4`.
Our Lord is the great Head of His Church, and Head and Body must partake of the same nature in glory. He gave up His human nature in death to purchase the human race. For parts of three days He lay dead in the tomb--not alive in any sense; for death is the absence of life. He had given up His human life never to take it up again. It was the purchase-price for the world. He was resurrected to the Divine plane, an exaltation never before given to any creature of God. His Bride is called to the same glorious nature as her Head, whose inheritance she is invited to share. Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God.--`Romans 6:4`; `8:11`; `Acts 2:22,24,32,33`.
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CONFUSION OF TRINITARIAN VIEW
Notice for a moment the great confusion from which we are saved by following the Bible's own testimony respecting our Lord Jesus and by throwing out the ridiculous nonsense of the Dark Ages. We are saved from thinking of our God as three beings with only one body or one being with three bodies. Trinitarians do not know which of these creedal statements to take--some say one and some say the other. But both are wholly irrational: three are not one and one is not three. The oneness between the Father and the Son is explained by our Lord Himself. He prayed that His disciples might become one in the same sense that He and the Father were one-- surely not that His disciples might become one person, but that they might be one in spirit, in mind, in purpose, as were the Father and Himself. See `John 17:20-23`. The followers of Jesus become one in mind and purpose by each giving up his own will to do God's will. And Jesus and the Father are one because Jesus surrendered His will to the Father's will, saying, "Not My will, but Thine be done"; "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me"; "Lo, I come; I delight to do Thy will, O My God!" These are the words of the Lord Jesus to the Father.
Touching the rise of the Trinitarian view, Abbott and Conant's Religious Dictionary, page 944, says, "It was not until the beginning of the fourth century that the Trinitarian view began to be elaborated and formulated into a doctrine and an endeavor made to reconcile it with the belief of the Church in ONE GOD." "Out of the attempt to solve this problem sprang the doctrine of the Trinity." Trinity "is a very marked feature in Hindooism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese and the most ancient Grecian mythologies."
Like some other doctrines received by Protestants from Papacy, this one is accepted and fully endorsed, although its educated adherents are aware that not a text of Scripture can be adduced to its support. Yea, more; whoever will not affirm this unscriptural doctrine as his faith is declared by the articles of the Evangelical Alliance to be non-orthodox--a heretic. `Hebrews 1:8` has been used by Trinitarians as a proof text that Jesus is Jehovah, and the fact is cited that the word God here is theos, the same as `verse 9` which refers to the Father. They seem not to have noticed that the word god, `2 Corinthians 4:4`, which refers to Satan, is also theos in the Greek. Theos is used of any mighty one, the same as Elohim in the Hebrew.
`Philippians 2:8,9` implies that our Lord's present glory is greater than the glory which He possessed before He became a man; otherwise it could not have been an exaltation. Now having the Divine, immortal nature He cannot die. "Christ dieth no more." How straightforward and simple and reasonable is the Scriptural presentation compared with human traditions! In what a jumble of contradictions and confusion do they find themselves who say that Jesus and the Father are one God! This would involve the idea that our Lord Jesus acted the hypocrite when on earth and only pretended to address God in prayer, when He Himself was the same God. Such should conclude, too, that since we read that God cannot be tempted of any, it was only a farce when Jesus was tempted of Satan. Again, the Father has always been immortal, hence could not die. How then, could Jesus have died? The Apostles are all false witnesses in declaring Jesus' death and resurrection if He did not die. The Scriptures declare, however, that He did die--"He poured out His soul [His being] unto death," not merely His body, as many assert.--`Isaiah 53:12`.
If they admit that Jesus really died, they take the other horn of the dilemma; for believing that their three Gods are all one person as many do, when Jesus died they must all three have died. If they all died, who raised them to life? How foolish all this sounds! Yet if Jesus and the Father are the same person, the same Being, then when Jesus died the Father must have died. Shall we thus contradict the Apostles and Prophets and Jesus Himself, and ignore reason and common sense, in order to hold to a dogma handed to us from the dark, superstitious past, by a corrupt apostate Church? Nay! "To the Law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."
TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURES RE THE HOLY SPIRIT
We next inquire, What say the Scriptures with regard to the Holy Spirit? The nominal churches, Protestant and Catholic, affirm that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity. They claim that all this is "a great mystery." Yes, truly it is a mystery, such as is characteristic of the confusion of man-made creeds held by Babylon. But to those who turn to the Word of God and let it speak, all is clear and plain. We suggest that whatever definition of the term "Holy Spirit" will meet all known conditions and harmonize all Scriptures bearing thereon may be understood to be the true meaning of the term. We will first give what we conceive to be such a definition, and then ask the reader to subject every Scripture where this term is used to this definition and see if it does not make harmony of all.
We understand the Bible to teach that the Holy Spirit is the Divine will, influence, power or disposition, exercised anywhere and for any purpose, at the Divine pleasure. God exercises His Spirit or energy in a variety of ways, using various agencies, and accomplishing various results. Whatever God does through agencies is as truly His work as though He were the direct actor, since all His agencies are His creation--created by His own Power; just as a contractor for building is said to build a house, though he may never have lifted a tool upon it. He does it with his materials and through his agents. Thus, when we read that Jehovah God created the heavens and the earth, we are not to suppose that He personally handled them. He used an Agent. "He spake and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast." His holy Power was exercised through His Only Begotten. God's Spirit was exercised in times past through the Prophets. "They spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" [Power] of God. The masculine pronoun is often used in our Common Version Bible in referring to the Holy Spirit of God, because God, who is a Spirit, is represented as masculine, as indicative of strength. The pronoun translated he when referring to the Holy Spirit can with equal consistency be translated it, and is often so rendered. See Diaglott rendering of `John 14:17,26`, as an example. For further elucidation of this subject of the Holy Spirit, we refer the interested reader to our Fifth Volume of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Chapters 8-11, where we have treated the subject at length.
"One reads with father's specs upon his head,
And sees the thing just as his father did;
Another reads through Campbell or through Scott,
And thinks it means exactly what they thought.
Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed,
Thus understand but little what they read;
And every passage in the Book they bend
To make it suit that all-important end.
Some people read, as I have often thought,
To teach the Book, instead of to be taught."
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MAKING FRIENDS OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS MAMMON
"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."--`Luke 16:9`.
GOD'S chosen heritage was the Jewish people. Under the Mosaic Covenant there were certain members of that nation who were representatives of God and of the people Israel. Therefore Jesus could say to His disciples, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Whatsoever, therefore, they bid you do, that observe and do; but do not after their works; for they say and do not." (`Matthew 23:2,3`.) God had committed to them these special responsibilities, blessings, privileges and knowledge, and the people were more or less dependent upon them; and they were unjust in their dealings with the people.
Through His Son, the Lord sent word to these Scribes and Pharisees that they were to be cast out of the stewardship. They had come to understand in a general way that a New Dispensation was coming in--the Gospel Age. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, had also proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. Now Jesus gives a parable, which explains the reason for the course which these classes should take. He assumes the case of an unjust steward who was called upon by his lord to render up his accounts, because his stewardship was about to end.
When notified that his dismissal was at hand, this steward tried to make friends of all who were debtors to his master. No matter how unjust the steward had been with these debtors before, he now minimized their accounts, as he had a right to do. In olden times a steward had the right to make contracts, etc., for his master. So this steward cut down the accounts and made friends of the people. Commenting upon his course, our Lord said that this was a very wise procedure on the part of the steward, for thus he would be ingratiated into the favor of those who could help him. While our Lord commended this course as good worldly wisdom, He did not commend the steward's injustice, but his shrewdness in adopting a policy which would win the favor and friendship of those whom he had unjustly treated before.
Applied to His time, our Master's words would teach that the Scribes and Pharisees should have sought to win the love and gratitude of their Jewish brethren. Had they tried to make the people happy and contented, it might have gone better with them afterward. But they did not do this; and when the great time of trouble came upon the nation, in the year 70 A.D., these religious rulers
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were among the chief mourners and sufferers in the trouble. They had not been as wise as the unjust steward.
OUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AS GOD'S STEWARDS
Then our Lord applied the parable to His disciples, and gave them a lesson. "Likewise I say the same unto you." The application of the parable to His followers is somewhat different from its application to the Scribes and Pharisees. "I say unto you: Make for yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness." In other words, the Lord's people are here advised to use whatever of the unrighteous mammon they may have in doing as much good as possible, in blessing and assisting others; and thus they will make grateful, appreciative friends.
This does not mean that our good deeds and our use of whatever means the Lord has given us should be with a view to bringing commendation and material advantage to ourselves, but with a view to being of real service in blessing others along the lines laid down in the Scriptures. Thus the Lord's children make themselves truly worthy and pleasing to God. We believe this is a good plan to follow now. The Master declared that the children of this world are generally wiser than the children of light in recognizing what is for their best interests.
TIME OF TROUBLE PICTURED IN FRENCH REVOLUTION
The ecclesiastical powers of today are professedly sitting in the seat of Christ. The masses of the people know nothing better than what their religious rulers tell them. Now that these Doctors of the Law see the present Dispensation coming to an end, they should seek to correct their former mistakes in dealing with their flocks, should seek to make some reparation for all their past delinquencies. They have been to a greater or less extent hiding "the key of knowledge" (`Luke 11:52`), to a greater or less extent imposing on the superstitions of the people, and taking the people's money under false pretenses. They should now seek to rectify all this so far as possible by telling the people the truth. They should try to save themselves from the violence of the fall which is coming to them. Were they to do so they would not fall so hard when the great disaster comes. But in antagonizing the interests of the people more and more they are adding to their own distress in the near future, as the Scriptures point out.
We should not be surprised if the priests and ministers will suffer more distress in the great trouble time nearing than will the people, because of their having hoodwinked the people. The Catholic priests suffered terribly at the time of the French Revolution, which was a picture on a small scale of the approaching great cataclysm. The French Revolution, we understand, is clearly referred to in `Revelation 12:15,16`. See also STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. 3, pp. 50-54, and pp. 64-69. We believe that the nominal church clergy and leaders will particularly suffer in the universal overthrow of the Present Order near at hand--some of them because they have actively opposed the Truth; some because of posing as representatives of truth and enlightenment and the liberties of the people, and failing really to stand for the truth which they recognized--keeping quiet about it for policy's sake. They have failed to conserve the interests which they pretended to serve.
APPLICATION OF PARABLE TO THE SAINTS
In applying the words of Jesus to ourselves, they would seem to teach that to whatever extent we have the mammon of unrighteousness, worldly goods, we should be inclined to be liberal rather than penurious, according to the measure of our ability. We take it that the Lord is showing us here that we as His followers have more or less of means, opportunity, influence, etc., and that we should use these talents He has given us in forwarding His Cause. And if in our presentations of Truth a certain amount of denunciation may be met with, we should rather let the matter go unnoticed and seek to be generous, so far as is compatible with faithfulness to the Lord and the spirit of His Word.
The Master adds, "that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Those who could receive us into everlasting habitations would be only the Lord and His angels. He has promised to receive all His faithful ones. Our use of the unrighteous mammon, our sacrificing of earthly interests, which might in some cases bring us blessings from men, would surely at last bring us the crowning blessing from the Lord, as is promised. Our failing will be the reaching of the end of our sacrificial course. All of the Lord's people are to die--that is the purport of their consecration; it is a sacrifice even unto death. If they are of this class who make friends
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with, or of, or through. the mammon of unrighteousness, if they sacrifice these earthly things, then when they fail, when they die, when they have finished their course, they will be received into everlasting habitations--the place prepared for the faithful class of "more than conquerors," the "House not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens."
We would not apply the word "they" necessarily to those of whom we made friends. God is our Friend, if we as His children live a life of self-sacrifice and ignore the selfish use of earthly mammon in favor of the service of the Lord. Then our friends, those who will receive us when we fail, will be not those alone or those necessarily who may have been benefited by our sacrifices, but will be especially those beyond the veil--the Father, the Lord Jesus, the glorified saints, and all the holy angels. Blessed expectation!
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TRESPASSES AND SINS AND THEIR EFFECT ON CHARACTER
"All unrighteousness is sin: and there
is a sin not unto death."--`1 John 5:17`.
WE SHOULD recognize a distinction between trespasses and sins. A sin is that which is more or less wilfully and intentionally committed. A trespass is a sin in a certain sense, but one committed without intention. The fact that a sin is called a trespass would imply that it was not done wilfully. The Divine Law stands whether we are able to keep it or not; and every violation of the Divine Law is a sin in one sense. But those violations of God's Law which are wholly the result of our unavoidable weaknesses are not culpable sins, and hence not in the same category with sins more or less wilful.
So far as the world is concerned, it is already under condemnation for sin. Those who have accepted Christ and have received the forgiveness of their sins through Him, are spoken of by the Apostle Paul as those whose sins "are past, through the forbearance of God." (`Romans 3:25`.) Because of their consecration of their lives to be the followers of Christ these sins are forever gone, so far as responsibility for their transgressions is concerned. From this time on the Lord's people are counted no more as sinners, but as saints whose whole lives have been devoted to righteousness.
Nevertheless, we have this treasure of the New Creature in earthen vessels, our mortal bodies. The New Creature in Christ does not expect to practise sin any more; for if he should sin wilfully, this would mean his entire repudiation of the Covenant into which he has entered with the Lord. But notwithstanding this, he will commit trespasses; for he has merely the good intentions of the heart, with only an imperfect body in which to operate. The Apostles recognized this fact. St. Paul declared that in his flesh dwelt no perfection. St. John says that whosoever says that he has no sin deceives himself, and the Truth is not in him. (`1 John 1:8-10`.) This same Apostle, in the same Epistle, declares that whoever sins is of the Devil. In this last text he evidently refers to the practise of sin, to wilful sin, not to unavoidable trespasses; for he has just said that all commit these unintentional violations of God's Law. St. James says that in many things we all offend. (`James 3:2`.) To will is present with every consecrated child of God; but how to perform is the problem.
OUR ATTITUDE BECAUSE OF TRESPASSES
According to the Scriptures it is sinful for the Lord's people to injure one another in word, act or thought. But many do not realize this high standard, even after they have come into the family of God. They may not learn until months, or even years afterward, the full measure of the Divine Law respecting every affair in life. Therefore there are many who for a time are guilty of evil-speaking and evil-thinking, but who are unconscious of having done wrong. These transgressions of the Divine Law are trespasses. This should be our attitude toward God: "Gracious Heavenly Father, we cannot do perfectly. We pray Thee, forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. We come with courage to Thy Throne of Heavenly Grace, asking for the covering of the merit of our Savior for these trespasses, and for grace to overcome as far as possible and to become holy in thought, in word, in deed."
But if any man sin, it is a different matter. In proportion as he wilfully violates the Divine Law, in that proportion he shall suffer stripes. Sins leave their mark on the character; for they are to some extent at least intentional violations of the principles of righteousness and of the Covenant with God by which every real Christian obligates himself to obey the Divine injunction. The Scriptures clearly indicate that if one of these deliberately sins, he commits the sin unto death, for which no penalty will be sufficient except the extinction of the Second Death.
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TRESPASSES NOT NECESSARILY A HINDRANCE
The text, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous," evidently refers to trespasses and not to deliberate, or wilful sins; for, as we have already noted, the same Apostle writes, "He that sinneth is of the Devil"; "that which is begotten of God sinneth not." Any one begotten of God, possessed of the Holy Spirit, could not, so long as he is in possession of this Holy Spirit, commit a sin with full intention. Except under the influence of strong temptation of the flesh, he could not sin knowingly; for if he were to commit such a sin, he would be manifesting that he had lost the Holy Spirit entirely. So long as the Holy Spirit abides in him he could not wilfully, intelligently, commit sin. He might be overcome by the weaknesses of the flesh, and thus might give a measure of consent to the wrong; but this would be only a partial sin. Yet for that portion which would involve the consent of his mind he would receive stripes, in proportion to the degree of wilfulness connected with the matter.
Our unintentional trespasses, properly striven against, evidently do not interfere with the development of character. The implication of the Scriptures is that the New Creature who is properly growing is striving against all kinds of sin and imperfection and is waging a good warfare. In the case of trespasses which are unavoidable on his part, instead of doing him an injury, these serve to show him what points in his character are weak and need to be strengthened. He learns of his weaknesses only by more or less falling into trespasses unintentionally, unwillingly. As he finds weaknesses in his character-development, it becomes his pleasure and earnest effort to fortify himself along these lines, that he may become "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."--`Ephesians 6:10`.
THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our Lord declared that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men except the blasphemy
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against the Holy Spirit. His thought here, we believe, is that because men are more or less imperfect in their judgment, on that account the Lord would be willing to forgive all such blemishes and trespasses; for they are unintentional. Hence there would be Divine forgiveness for some of the great trespasses and transgressions which they have committed. The crucifixion of our Lord was not really intentional. Speaking of those who crucified Christ the Apostle Peter says, "I wot, brethren, that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." St. Paul expresses the same thought, saying, "For had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory."--`Acts 3:17`; `1 Corinthians 2:8`.
These statements imply that this act was more or less of a trespass on the part of the perpetrators. There was a measure of sin, a measure of knowledge. In proportion as they had knowledge they had responsibility, and proportionately received stripes, nationally and individually. Therefore the Scriptures tell us that there will be future opportunities of blessing to those who crucified the Prince of Life. Their eyes will be opened when they awake. We are glad of this. They did not sin with full knowledge and wilfulness, and are not, therefore, subjects of the Second Death. They will have a future trial. But we understand they will come up merely as members of the race of Adam. They will have no special favor as Jews, and may require, indeed, many stripes. Some may never be recovered.
What is it to sin against the Holy Spirit? We reply that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Truth, of righteousness. Whoever recognizes the Spirit of the Truth, the Lord's Spirit, and intentionally does violence to it and to the messengers of that Truth, because they are its messengers, is sinning against the Holy Spirit; and to whatever extent one does this he is a wilful sinner. If his act be committed with full knowledge, full light, there would never be forgiveness for the sin, either in this life or in the life to come. And the end of that sin against full light and understanding would be the Second Death. While every intentional sin against the Holy Spirit, against the Truth, must have a punishment, whether in this Age or in the incoming Age, yet the punishment will not be the Second Death unless the knowledge, the sin, be a full, complete one.
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ELIJAH'S RETURN AND VICTORY
--SEPTEMBER 5.--`1 KINGS 18:16-40`.--
ELIJAH'S EXPERIENCES TYPICAL--KING AHAB AND QUEEN JEZEBEL ALSO TYPES--THREE AND A HALF YEARS' DROUGHT
PREFIGURED TWELVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY YEARS OF SPIRITUAL DROUGHT--ELIJAH'S PRAYER OF FAITH BROUGHT
NATURAL SHOWERS--CHURCH'S PRAYERS OF FAITH BROUGHT SPIRITUAL SHOWERS AND A GREAT REFORMATION.
OUR lesson is interesting as we find it simply recorded in the Bible, but the interest of Bible students increases from the time they learn that Elijah was not only a Prophet of the Lord, but also a type of the Church's earthly experiences. The Book of `Revelation (2:20-25`; `18:7`) pictures to us Queen Jezebel as representing a great religious system of this Gospel Age which did great violence to the Truth. Ahab represented the worldly governments. His wife represented a false Christian Church system married to earthly governments. As Ahab represented the worldly governments claiming to be Christ's kingdoms, so Queen Jezebel pictured, or typified, a false Church system, which, instead of maintaining its purity as the virgin Church of Christ, became married or united to these earthly systems. Contrary to this, the true virgin Church of Christ was to remain faithful to her Heavenly Lord, awaiting His Second Coming; and her marriage to Him was then to be accomplished.
As the Prophets of Baal were under the care of Queen Jezebel and under the patronage of King Ahab, so the priests and the religious representatives of a great church system have been the obedient servants of the great false institutions pictured by Ahab and Jezebel. Similarly, Elijah the Prophet and his dealings with Ahab, Jezebel and the affairs of Israel, was a type of the true Church of Christ in the flesh--this side the veil. Although the true Church is indeed represented symbolically by a woman, it is also represented sometimes by a man, when the picture includes the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.
In Revelation we have the three and a half years of Elijah's experience stated in symbolic language--forty-two months--1,260 days--three and a half times or years. (`Revelation 11:2,3`; `12:6,14`; `13:5`.) In Revelation the time was symbolic, so that each day of the three and a half years represented a year, or the whole period 1,260 years. Some Bible scholars have applied this period as beginning in 539 A.D. and ending in 1798 A.D., at the time when Napoleon Bonaparte took the Pope of Rome prisoner to Paris.
As during Elijah's hiding in the wilderness there was no rain until he came forth, as told in today's lesson, so in the Church's experiences there was a lack of rain, a drouth spiritually, for twelve hundred and sixty years, ending in 1798.
As just before the time of drought in Israel ended, there was a great contest (related in to-day's lesson), with the victory on the side of the Lord, so in the history of the Church a great contest took place between Catholicism and Protestantism in the period styled the Reformation. In the Revelation picture the Church, symbolized by a woman, is seen driven into the wilderness-- lost to the general view. The woman corresponds in the type to Elijah hidden from view to the king, the queen and the prophets of Baal--in the world, but not of it. As Elijah was fed in the wilderness by the ravens, so the account in Revelation says that the woman, the true Church, secluded from general view, was, nevertheless, spiritually fed during the twelve hundred and sixty years in which the famine for spiritual food prevailed in the world.
The Elijah class did a very courageous work after emerging from the wilderness condition. Spiritual refreshment came in abundant measure. For a time it looked as though Queen Jezebel had been vanquished, and that the slaying of her prophets with the Sword of Truth had demonstrated their errors and put the Truth of God and its servant, Elijah, the true Church, into a commanding position. However, this was not for long. Our next lesson will show us the Elijah class again fleeing from Jezebel's power.
WHY DEPRIVED OF RAIN
Many express surprise that in response to earnest Bible study the Word of God in our day is telling such a beautiful Message of Divine Wisdom, Justice, Love
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and Power--a Message very contrary to the teachings of the past. "How," they ask, "is it possible for Bible students of today to have so much more light on God's Word than was found by equally zealous Bible students of the past?"
We reply that the twelve hundred and sixty years of spiritual drought are the explanation. About the year 300 A.D., Christian bishops began to claim Apostolic powers and to style themselves Apostolic Bishops. The claim is still made that the bishops of the Church of Rome, of the Church of England, etc., are of equal authority with the twelve Apostles, while the Bible claims to the contrary --that the twelve Apostles selected by Jesus (St. Paul taking the place of Judas) were to be the only foundations of the Christian Church, their teachings being on a full parallel with those of the Lord Jesus-- they being His special mouthpieces to the Church, orally and through their epistles. Jesus prophesied the falling away which would result in some falsely claiming to be
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Apostles. See `Rev. 2:2`. Compare `2 Pet. 2:1`; `Acts 20:30`.
This exaltation of the bishops came in gradually and was given great force by the action of Emperor Constantine in calling for a Church Council at Nice, Bithynia, 325 A.D. The Council, under the Emperor's guidance, produced the Nicene Creed as representing the faith of the people of God. Subsequently that creed was impressed upon the people as being the only proper and infallible faith. Similarly, other additions to the creed were made later on by the bishops. The indorsement of these creeds implied that the bishops who made them had the right, the authority, the Divine revelation necessary for the work; and the people gradually endorsing the creeds were really endorsing at the same time the doctrine of Apostolic Succession, which was subsequently made a feature of the creeds.
From the time the Nicene Creed was promulgated and accepted, 325 A.D., there was practically no more Bible study for over twelve centuries. During all that time Bible study was considered unnecessary, because the Apostolic Bishops had formulated the creeds as proper statements of the Church's faith. To study the Bible would have meant the studying of how to fight against the Emperor and the combined views and teachings of the bishops. Besides, Bibles, then written on parchment, were worth a fortune and possessed by few; and education necessary for reading was extremely limited.
REVIVAL OF BIBLE STUDY
Twelve hundred years after the first expression by the so-called Apostolic Bishops brings us to 1526, when the art of printing had become common. In that year Prof. Tyndale, having prepared his MS., published it in Germany, because of the opposition of the English clergy. He imported his New Testaments into London, in whose shops the people began to purchase them. Few were able to read; but many were glad to organize classes and to hire a reader, that they might know the Word of God. At this same time the Germans were learning something of the New Testament and its different teachings, from Luther and his associates.
The Church of England bishops had heard about this New Testament. They forthwith bought up the entire edition in the shops, and publicly burnt them in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. They feared that the people would become interested in the words of Jesus and the Divinely-inspired Twelve Apostles; and that they, who had taken to themselves the title of "Apostolic Bishop," would become mere ciphers. They knew, too, that the eighteen Ecumenical Councils held during those twelve hundred years had declared to be true Christian faith many things not taught in the Bible, and that they had omitted many things that are taught therein. They feared that the people, becoming Bible students, would know of these things, and thus would be upset the general belief based in the creeds--and not in the Bible.
We see, however, that their fears were almost groundless. The teachings of the creeds, impressed for twelve centuries, have so fastened themselves upon the minds of the people that they can read to the contrary in the Bible and never notice the discrepancy! However, a great Bible-study inclination came at that time to the British people. Several other translations were subsequently brought out, until finally the bishops considered it advisable to give the Bible to the people, impressing upon them the thought that the bishops had all along been upholding the Bible. Then, too, they warned the people against putting any construction upon the Bible that would make it different from the teaching of the so-called "Apostolic Bishops" in the creeds--threatening them with eternal torment.
Interest in the Bible continuing, King James thought to popularize himself by authorizing a committee to prepare the so-called King James Version. While it was in preparation, the Roman Catholics, not to be outdone, produced a version entitled the Douay Bible--still in vogue. This also was given to the people, with the suggestion that it was in harmony with the creeds, and that any one interpreting it differently would be a heretic who could not be stopped even in Purgatory, but would pass straight on to eternal torture.
As it was, Tyndale and some of the others interested in the Bible suffered martyrdom, as enemies of the "Apostolic Bishops," and their creeds and institutions. The conflict proceeded, as already suggested, until 1799, when the Bible came into great prominence, nearly all of our great Bible Societies of today having been organized within fifteen years after that date. The foretold period of spiritual drought having been ended, a great spiritual shower came to the world. Nevertheless, as our next lesson will show, Ahab, and especially Jezebel, were unchanged. Elijah's life being again in danger, he fled to the wilderness.
PILGRIMS ALL, IN SOLEMN HASTE
"Silent, like men in solemn haste,
Girded wayfarers of the waste,
We pass out at the world's wide gate,
Turning our back on all its state;
We press along the narrow road
That leads to life, to bliss, to God.
"We cannot and we would not stay;
We dread the snares that throng the way;
We fling aside the weight and sin,
Resolved the victory to win;
We know the peril, but our eyes
Rest on the splendor of the prize.
"'Tis but a little and we come
To our reward, our crown, our Home!
Another year, or more, or less,
And we have crossed the wilderness;
Finished the toil, the rest begun,
The battle fought, the triumph won!
"We grudge not, then, the toil, the way;
Its ending is the endless Day!
We shrink not from these tempests keen,
With little of the calm between;
We welcome each descending sun;
Ere morn our joy may be begun!"
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ELIJAH'S FLIGHT AND VISION
--SEPTEMBER 12.--`1 KINGS 19:8-18`.--
JEZEBEL UNREPENTANT--AHAB UPHOLDS HER--ELIJAH'S LIFE THREATENED--HE FLEES, DISCOURAGED--GOD GRANTED
HIM A VISION OF THE FUTURE--THE WIND, THE
EARTHQUAKE, THE FIRE, THE STILL, SMALL VOICE--WHAT THESE THINGS SIGNIFY NOW TO THE ANTITYPICAL ELIJAH CLASS.
ELIJAH expected that, after three and a half years of Divine chastisement, followed by a special manifestation of Divine Power against the representatives of Baal, the true God and the true religion would have a measure of prosperity with the people. He was surprised to find Queen Jezebel bitter and murderous as ever and King Ahab fully dominated by her influence. He fled, sadly discouraged. After a long sleep, relieving his nervous strain, the Lord gave him, through an angel, a special message of comfort and food which lasted forty days, until he came to the Mount of God--Horeb.
There Elijah went through a series of experiences (whether literal or in vision we may not be too certain), in which the Lord was to reveal Himself. First came the winds, rending the rocks; but God was not in the winds. Next came the earthquake, with destructive force; but God was not in the earthquake. Then followed the devouring fire, but God was not in the fire. Finally came the still, small Voice, which Luther's translation renders, "The Voice of Eden." God was in the Voice--it really and truly represented Him. This narrative multiplies in its force to Bible students when they realize that all these things which occurred to Elijah foreshadowed experiences with which the Church of Christ in the flesh is intimately connected.
Jezebel still represents a form of godliness great and boastful, and supported by earthly power, represented in King Ahab. The picture intimates to us that the great social and religious upheaval of a century ago did not deeply affect or greatly alter the outward attitude of the Church nominal and the world toward the true Church of Christ in the flesh, represented typically by the Prophet Elijah. The reformation was partial only. Great institutions still upheld many of the serious errors of the past. The Elijah class again passed out of public view, though not out of communion and fellowship with God, Divine supervision providing for their necessities of rest and spiritual refreshment.
Mount Horeb, otherwise called the "Mount of God," fitly represented in the picture Messiah's Kingdom. The coming of Elijah to it portrayed the fact that the Church will be in and under the Kingdom administration while still in the flesh, although the last members of the Church
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will not fully participate in the Kingdom honors and blessings until they shall have experienced the great resurrection "change" noted by St. Paul in the words, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."--`1 Corinthians 15:50-52`.
WHAT THE ANTITYPICAL ELIJAH SEES
Many Bible students understand that chronologically Messiah's Kingdom began its operation in the world in the year 1878, while the last members of the Elijah class are still in the flesh. How soon the entire company of the Elijah class will pass beyond the veil and the Kingdom be ushered in with power and great glory is not definitely stated in the Bible.
While in this condition Bible students the world over have been receiving of the Lord a special vision of the future. That is to say, through Bible study they have been learning that Messiah's Kingdom is to be inaugurated in a Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation--no, nor ever shall be afterward. (`Daniel 12:1`; `Matthew 24:21`.) They have learned that the winds of strife, the present war, have been held back for years by Divine Power, during the time when God's people have been assisted in Bible study, symbolically spoken of as the sealing of the saints in their foreheads. `Revelation 7:1-4`. These see the four parts of the great Divine Program which will usher in the Kingdom of God, for which so long God's saints have prayed, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as in Heaven." They see that the winds represent the war; that the earthquake of Elijah's vision represents a great social revolution, which will follow the great war, lapping upon it, perhaps. They see that, following the revolution, anarchy is to be expected, symbolized by fire, consuming, destroying, the present order of things--symbolically represented by St. Peter as consuming the ecclesiastical heavens and the social, financial and political earth, giving place to the new heavens, Messiah's Kingdom, and the new earth, society upon a new basis approved by the Kingdom.--`2 Peter 3:10-13`.
In none of these great experiences coming to the world will God be manifest. They will all be merely preparatory, terrible experiences, to fit and prepare man for the Voice of Eden, which will subsequently be heard, bringing the message which will be "the desire of all nations." The same Voice of Eden is mentioned by the Lord through Zephaniah the Prophet, saying that first the fire of God's jealousy will consume the present order of things; and that then, following the fire, God will "turn to the people a pure Message, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent."--`Zephaniah 3:8,9`.
FULFILMENT OF THE VISION BEGUN
Bible students understand that these four great features of God's Plan portrayed to Elijah have already begun a fulfilment--that the present European war is the letting loose of "the four winds of heaven"--winds of strife. It is unnecessary to say that no such war has ever before been. Official reports show that more than twelve millions of men have already been either killed, wounded or captured, in the army. The world has been getting ready for this war for forty years and wondering why it did not come sooner. The newspapers have been declaring year after year that it would surely come before Fall or before Spring. Now we see why it has been held off--that the angels were commanded of the Lord not to loose the winds until the servants of God should be "sealed in their foreheads."
This intellectual appreciation of God's Plan our Lord clearly foretold, saying to His people now living, "When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads and rejoice; for your deliverance draweth nigh." Bible students see these things beginning in the present war. They know what to expect in the near future. The fact that Elijah saw these things before he was taken up in the chariot of fire should not be understood to mean that all these experiences will be past before the Church will be translated, "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," but rather that all these things were shown to Elijah on the Mount of God as identified with the inauguration of the Kingdom. Then he had other experiences before he left.
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Some are inquiring why God permits such a great war. The Bible answer is that this war and all the other death experiences of our race are parts of a great Divine lesson on the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is no war in Heaven--no sickness, no death, no sorrow, no pain, no insane asylums, no sanitariums, no doctors-- because there is no sin there. But we have all these terrible conditions on earth because sin entered the world, as the Bible tells us, six thousand years ago, and because death is the penalty for sin--not eternal torment, as we were once taught. "The wages of sin is death"; "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (`Romans 6:23`; `Ezekiel 18:4`.) The resurrection of the dead is the hope of the world, and is built upon the great sacrifice which Jesus gave when He died for our sins.
THE ANTITYPICAL ELIJAH ENCOURAGED
St. Paul, as well as Jesus, tells us about our day. He not only describes it as a day of symbolical fire, but he also assures us that all who are truly the Lord's people will be granted an opening of the eyes of their understanding to appreciate where we are. "The fire of that Day shall try every man's work of what sort it is." He tells us that all who build their faith and character with the gold, silver and precious stones of Divine Truth will pass through the fiery ordeal of this time safe--"kept by the power of God." Others who have built their faith and hope with the wood, hay and stubble of human tradition will suffer loss, though themselves may be saved by the fire. (`1 Corinthians 3:11-15`.) He tells us that that Day shall come upon all the world as a thief and as a snare. "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of the light and children of the Day." Let us, therefore, walk in the light, as children of the light.-- `1 Thessalonians 5:1-6`.
As Elijah was discouraged until the Lord gave him the vision showing how He ultimately would be revealed through the winds, the earthquake, the fire and the still, small Voice, so it has been with the Church. There was a time during which much discouragement was felt, until the Lord began to make clear the Divine Plan by which Messiah's Kingdom would be inaugurated. Seeing this Plan, the Bible students are now lifting up their heads and rejoicing, as Jesus instructed, knowing that their deliverance will be inaugurated through the great Time of Trouble, of which they see only the beginning.
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WATCH TOWER REFERENCES RE TABERNACLE SHADOWS
[FROM 1907 TO 1915]
MY DEAR PASTOR AND BROTHER:--
Excuse me for taking a few moments of your valuable time. I write this message thinking perhaps it may be a means of assistance and blessing to some of the Lord's flock.
In studying the TABERNACLE SHADOWS, certain questions often come up which might receive a more satisfactory answer. Few of the friends, however, have the time to look up past references in THE WATCH TOWER. Quite a while ago I made a list of every reference I could find in the TOWERS from 1907 to 1914, relating to the TABERNACLE, and when we went over the TABERNACLE in class I found the added references exceedingly helpful and satisfying. I thought I might pass the blessing along to others. Hence I enclose a list of them, and you may do with them as you see fit. Our Bible Helps give references up to 1907, and these take up from that year to 1914 and also some Convention Reports.
God bless you, dear Brother, in all your labors of love, now and hereafter. You are constantly in my prayers. I love you and your work dearly.
Yours in the One Hope, DAVID DAVIDIAN.--Calif.
WATCH TOWER REFERENCES
Significance of Garments of Glory and Beauty..... Year 1910 Page 136 Coals from the Altar--what they typified......... " 1910 " 137 Atonement Day Type of Resurrection............... " 1910 " 138 Condition of Israel on Day of Atonement.......... " 1910 " 247 Going Outside the Camp........................... " 1910 " 150 " " " " ........................... " 1909 " 133 Sins Borne by Scapegoat.......................... " 1910 " 235 Lord's Goat and Scapegoat........................ " 1911 " 426 " " " " ........................ " 1911 " 234 Melchisedec Priesthood--how long?................ " 1910 " 270 Beginning of Melchisedec Priesthood.............. " 1910 " 270 Is Church Royal Priesthood Now?.................. " 1910 " 318 Priests or Levites--which?....................... " 1910 " 283 Court Condition--Progressive Justification and completed Justification......................... " 1910 " 246 Christ's Merit imputed at time of consecration. " 1910 " 206
" " " " " " " . " 1910 " 246 Justification completed at Consecration........ " 1912 " 152
" " " " ........ " 1912 " 184 Court Condition.................................. " 1911 " 22 Great Company as Levites......................... " 1911 " 22,23 Melchisedec and Aaron as Types................... " 1911 " 44 Do We enter the Holy as Individuals?............. " 1911 " 235 " " " " " " " .............. " 1911 " 239 Falling into Great Company--not reinstated....... " 1911 " 235 Two Altars Contrasted (`Hebrews 13:10`).......... " 1911 " 238 Incense abode in Most Holy....................... " 1911 " 239
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Incense and Satisfaction of Justice.............. " 1911 " 239 Who Typified by Levites?......................... " 1911 " 348 Why represented in Court?--Their Service After Day of Atonement............................... " 1911 " 349 Tentative Levites............................... " 1911 " 349 Type Changes at Close of Age.................... " 1911 " 349 Typical and Antitypical Gifts and Sacrifices..... " 1911 " 415 Male and Female Distinctions to Cease--when? (`Luke 20:34-36`)............................... " 1909 " 174 Moses a Mediator before Aaron a Priest........... " 1909 " 325 Levites had no Inheritance....................... " 1912 " 152 "Urim and Thummim"............................... " 1912 " 186 Great Company and First Resurrection............. " 1912 " 297 Were the Atonement Day Sin-offerings for the year preceding, or for the ensuing year?............. " 1907 " 230
Do., do., do. ............. " 1913 " 19 Manifestation of High Priest..................... " 1910 " 136 White Robe of High Priest........................ " 1910 " 136
APPLICATION OF THE RANSOM
Following references are helpful studied in connection with chapter IV., TABERNACLE SHADOWS--"The Great Day of Atonement:"
World is not yet Bought.......................... Year 1912 Page 107 Ransom Points to be Remembered................... " 1909 " 349 Deliverance from the Curse....................... " 1911 " 187 Ransom--Application to all Mankind............... " 1911 " 151 Does our Lord Now own the human race?............ " 1910 " 199 "Sold all he had and Bought"..................... " 1909 " 379 Christ Made a Curse for Israel................... " 1912 " 197 What the Church Sacrifices....................... " 1911 " 390
WHEN THEIR HAPPY LIFE BEGAN
DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER RUSSELL:--
May the love of God be with thee! It has long been my desire to tell you my appreciation in my feeble way. Three years ago, I had the pleasure to listen to a workman in the Standard Oil Yard, Pt. Richmond, Cal. When I heard him I was amazed and coming home that night I told my wife that I had heard a man talk as none else before in my life, although I used to seek around for the Truth, but had failed to find that which I could love. My wife asked me to bring that man (Brother Starr) home, so I brought him home one night and I got some of my friends over to hear him. Thanks be to God for that night, for there began our happy life! Our home before that time was not very happy; but since then it has certainly changed. We are now consecrated to the Lord, and one of our friends, a sister, has done the same. Happiness untold in both homes is now to be found.
The Lord has been feeding us from His storehouse, and each time when we read THE WATCH TOWER, and see the letters from the friends, I simply must pray for each one of them! It has been hard for me to learn certain lessons. I have prayed for patience and would forget time and time again. I am a hard workman and my associates are very impatient. So in a recent WATCH TOWER you told us to pray for love to be cultivated in us, and in the evening report to our Heavenly Father. Since then I have had great blessings along the line of patience. Both my wife and I love the brethren, for among them we spend all the time we can, thanking our Heavenly Father for his loving kindness to us. My wife is doing colporteur work as much as her strength permits, and we have both had great blessings therefrom. The six volumes have brought us untold happiness. Daily we pray the Lord to give you strength. We love you and ask you to include us in your petitions to the Lord that we may be among that Little Flock.
BROTHER AND SISTER CHRISTIAN LARSEN.--Cal.
International Bible Students Association Classes
STUDIES AND LECTURES UNDER THE AUSPICES OF PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION