VOL. II. PITTSBURGH, PA., MARCH, 1881. NO. 9.
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
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Wherever we find a counterfeit we may rest assured there exists a genuine. If there were no genuine gold dollars, there could be no base imitations, or counterfeits. Then too, the base or spurious article must appear very much like the genuine or it would not be a counterfeit.
This is what we claim relative to what is at the present time called "Spiritualism": That it is a counterfeit of the true, as taught in the Bible.
Whoever has carefully searched the scriptures cannot have failed to see that while God throughout all past ages has condemned evil and sin in their various forms, and warned his children both "Israel after the flesh" and also the spiritual children (the Gospel Age Church) of the danger and bad results of evil, yet He has nevertheless permitted evil and good to stand side by side before the people, for their choice. If we take heed to his Word we may discern which is evil and by obedience to that Word, shun the evil and choose the good.
God is the head and fountain of goodness and truth and the Scriptures teach that Satan is the head and fountain of all evil and error--"The father of lies" (deceptions). Both of these are spiritual beings. "God is a spirit," and Satan, as we have heretofore shown, was once an angel of God-- The chief or Prince of "Those angels which kept not their first (sinless) estate." These though cast out from God's presence, are not yet destroyed --they still preserve their nature as "angels," though through sin they have become evil angels; consequently they still are spiritual beings (not human) and have the same powers as they ever had, and as good angels have, except that God has put them under certain limitations and restraints which we shall more fully discuss farther along.
If we trace them through the Scriptures we shall find that these fallen spiritual beings have continually made use of their spiritual--super-natural powers, to lead mankind astray into disobedience of God and injury to themselves.
Spiritual beings, as we have heretofore shown, possess powers greater and higher than humanity. We have seen from the statements relative to good angels that they can be present in our midst without our being conscious of their presence. (The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him. `Psa. 34:7`.) (Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation? `Heb. 1:14`.)
These we have seen, have power to appear as a flame of fire (The Angel of the Lord so appeared to Moses in the bush. `Gen. 3:2`) or they can and have appeared as men. Of this power there are numbers of instances in the Bible.
Some other powers of angels can be discovered by examining the record, for instance, the angels who delivered Lot and his family from Sodom, had power to smite the rioters of Sodom with blindness. (`Gen. 19:11`.) An angel "did wondrously before Manoah;" another performed a miracle before Gideon. (`Judges 6:21 and 13-19`.) The Angel of the Lord delivered the Apostles from prison, and yet left the prison doors unmolested; again, an angel delivered Peter from prison, the doors opening of their own accord. `Acts 5:19-23` and `12:8`. On many occasions they made known to men things which were about to come to pass, etc.
Now, the evil angels, "the devil and his angels," have by nature the very same powers, but are restrained. So much of evil as can be overruled for good, and tend to the development of experience and the education and discipline of the "heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ,"--is permitted and the remainder restrained. As God through his Spirit and influence works in and through men who give themselves up to His control, so does Satan operate in and through those who "yield themselves as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin." "His servants ye are to whom you render service." As Jesus said to some, "Ye are of your father the devil for his works ye do."
As "God in times past spake unto the fathers through the prophets," who were His mouthpieces, so Satan spake through his agents and agencies. His first agent was the serpent which became his agent in beguiling Eve into disobedience. He manifested his powers through the magicians and soothsayers of Babylon and remarkably in those of Egypt, where God's powers were manifested through Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, while Satan's powers, of a similar kind, were used to oppose the truth for a time. Here these two spiritual powers were strikingly manifested; both did miracles --things which men alone could not do--but which men possessed of evil and good powers, did do. (`Exod. 7:11-22` and `8:7-18`.) "There were false prophets also among the people," who evidently spoke by an inspiration, or power in them almost like the real prophets of God; these were the counterfeits. (See `2 Pet. 2:1` `Jer. 23:21`.)
We are aware that to the worldly mind it seems superstitious to believe that men and women may be so given up of themselves to Satan, and so controlled by him as to be wizards and witches; but they are recognized as such in the Scriptures, and we believe it. Israel was commanded to put such to death. (`Exod. 22:18`; `Lev. 20:27`, etc.) Manasseh, King of Judah made Judah to err, &c.; he "used enchantments and used witchcraft and dealt with a familiar spirit and with wizards." (`2 Chron. 33:6`.)
Take a concordance and see how much God says against wizards, witches, and "they that have familiar spirits"--mediums of the devil for communicating with mankind. It was the claim of these mediums of "familiar spirits" that they held communication with the dead and received their information from them. In this claim they contradicted the plain statements of God's word, which assure us that the dead could not furnish any information. (See `Job 14:10-21`; `Eccl. 9:10`.)
But this was merely another way in which Satan sought to continue the lie imposed upon Eve in Eden. ["He is a liar from the beginning" said Jesus.] God had said that if disobedient they should die; Satan contradicted this statement; claimed that man had naturally, immortality and could not die, and that God was a liar. Ever since, he seeks to uphold the statement, "Ye shall not surely die." Full well does he know that if people realized that it was the "spirits of demons" who spoke to them through the mediums they would shun them; hence, the claim that it is dead people (not dead, but more alive than ever) who communicate the information.
An illustration of this sort, is given in `1 Sam. 28`. Saul, King of Israel, had become wicked, and God would no longer communicate with him through the Prophets. He was engaged in a war with the Philistines, and a great battle was about to be fought. He wanted council and desired to know what would be the outcome. Since the Lord would not answer him, he sought out one of the condemned and forbidden class, a medium, a woman who had a familiar spirit--the witch at Endor.
All are familiar with the story: (`1 Sam. 28:3-20`) how that the medium pretends ignorance as to her visitor, knows what Saul desires, gives a description of Samuel, etc. Then follows an account of the coming defeat of Saul's army and the death of himself and his sons. The fact that these things occurred just as foretold by the medium, has been thought by some, to be a proof that Samuel really furnished the information. But, Satan could foretell those things as well as Samuel could were he alive. Not that Satan is a prophet, nor that God reveals coming things to him, but he is a student of God's word and a believer of it. "Devils also believe and tremble." (`Jas. 2:19`.) The defeat of Saul and accession of David to the throne had been foretold by the Prophet and both Saul and Satan knew it, and Satan had learned that every word of God's is sure.
Besides we should not forget the words of the apostle that "He that hath the power of death is the devil." (`Heb. 2:14`.) Since he is the executor of the death penalty, and must have the permission to execute from God, (`Job 1:12`) is it strange that he knew that he was to have power over the lives of Saul, his sons and many others on the next day? No, it is the reasonable inference. Certainly we should not for a moment suppose that God (or Samuel if he could) would recognize, or use any means of communication which He had prohibited on pain of death and condemned as wicked. Read `1 Chron. 10:13`.
Coming further down the stream of time, we learn that the same wicked spirits continued to operate in the same manner. The Lord, while still permitting them, warns the people against such, saying: "They shall say unto you, 'Seek unto them that have familiar spirits (spirit mediums) and unto wizards that peep and mutter.' (But) should not a people seek unto their God? For [why should] the living [go] to the dead? To the law and to the testimony, [the Bible], if they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them." (`Isa. 8:19`.) God warns people not to believe any one whose
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teachings are contrary to the Word, no matter what powers they may exercise.
Coming down to the days of Jesus and the apostles we find that Satan still operated in much the same manner, as well as a variety of other ways. Among the more notable instances [not to mention the numerous cases of casting out of devils, etc., by both Jesus and the disciples] we might remind you of the experience of Philip and Peter with Simon the sorcerer (`Acts 8:7-9-24`.) "Unclean spirits crying with loud voice came out of many that were possessed;...but there was a certain man named Simon which...used sorcery and bewitched the people...to whom they all gave heed...saying, This man is the great power (medium) of God." Thus did Satan use his power to delude the people.
Paul and Barnabas had an experience with another of these mediums of the devil named Elymas, who withstood them. Paul addressing him said: "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" (`Acts 13:10`.) And he was blinded immediately. Again Paul and Silas met a female medium at Phillippi. "A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination...which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying." But Paul "turned and said to the spirit [Satan] I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." `Acts 16:16`.
And so ever since, Satan has kept up his practices with various changes of method to suit the circumstances; sometimes with characteristic devilishness, at other times in the garb of religion, "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [mediums] also be transformed as ministers of righteousness"... (`2 Cor. 11:14`.) In our day when knowledge is so great, and morality (called Christianity) so popular, Satan must if he would continue to oppose truth, take the religious cloak; and so he does. To-day Spiritualism ranks itself among the religious sects. ["The synagogue [church] of Satan," truly.]
Spiritualism though refined and modernized is yet the same that it ever was, in ages past. Its object is not the inculcation of truth, nor of love for God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. They claim that Jesus was a fine medium and taught and used spiritualism in His day as well as He understood it. They do not outwardly profess to oppose the Bible and its teachings, but they do so really, both teaching and practicing the very things therein condemned and still seeking to prove by their enchantments that men are not dead, thus endeavoring to uphold Satan's first falsehood. `Gen. 3:4`.
They still possess supernatural powers, too, just as in the days of Saul and Paul and Moses, etc. While we do not question that some of the things claimed to be done by them are mere deceptions, yet we know of many things done by them where no deception was possible. Among those who believe "in this way" we know of several who once were mediums of the devil and did "those things whereof they are now ashamed." These, when coming to a knowledge of the truth, are thankful for their escape from that "snare of the devil." Spiritualism hates the light and their wonders are done under cover of their favorite principle--darkness. Their work of proselyting, too, is dark, covered --secret. Jesus gives us a word of wisdom on this subject. "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved." `Jno. 3:20`.
Though working stealthily, their numbers are large and embrace many of the influential of earth--Judges, Senators, etc. The queen of what is known as the greatest christian kingdom of earth, on whose possessions the light of day is said never to set, called the "Christian Queen," is known by many to be a "Spiritualist." It is coming before people in a way that commands attention, and those who do not realize it to be the work of Satan are almost sure to regard it as a power of God. The Rev. Joseph Cook, justly celebrated for his able defense of the Bible and its author, God, against the attacks of Atheists and Infidels, such as Huxley, Darwin, Arnold, et. al., has lately had his attention aroused to the recognition of the growing influence of "Spiritualism," and having investigated the subject to some extent he recently delivered a lecture on the subject, in which he expressed his belief that many of their tricks and performances, are performed by no human power and are actually super-natural. He does not pretend to say how, or by what power, but claims that not only himself but some of the profoundest scientific minds of Germany have reached the conclusion that Spiritualism cannot be condemned as false by any scientific tests yet applied to it.
Nor is this power of Spiritualism difficult to account for if we take the Bible as our authority and recognize it as the work of Satan, whom Jesus designates "The prince of this world." (`Jno. 14:30`.) "The prince of the power of the air (spiritual power) the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." (`Eph. 2:2`.) And the same book is our authority for saying that "Spiritualism" has not yet reached the climax of its power; its powers are to increase wonderfully. Paul says, (`1 Tim. 4:1`), "Now the Spirit [of God] speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing [deceiving] spirits and doctrines of devils." Jesus says, "They are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." `Rev. 16:14`.
`Peter (2:4`) and `Jude (6`) tell us, that when cast out of God's presence as evil angels, they were bound by "chains of darkness" "unto the judgment of the great day." Many scriptures have shown us that the closing part of the Gospel age is to be upon the living a time of trial and trouble preparing them for the coming Millennial reign of Christ, and is called "the day of the Lord"--"the great day"--"the great day of His wrath," etc. We understand, then, that Satan and his angels have been limited: might not appear except through human beings who willingly gave themselves up to be "possessed of devils" or became his "mediums." He has thus been confined or chained. But we claim that this "day of the Lord"--day of the "presence of the Son of man"-- has already commenced, that the Scriptures prove it to be so; and if the chains of darkness restrain Satan until "the great day," we should expect that very soon those chains will be loosed and no longer restrain. (Any who expect soon the loosing of those powers should, to be consistent, recognize both "The day of the Lord" and the trial as commenced.)
The facts correspond to this exactly. "Spiritualism" claims that they are having more power to show their wonders daily, and they claim now (one case very recently) that the Spirits can materialize in broad day light: and they promise wonderful revelations and manifestations very soon. Now, materialization of a spiritual being, just as they claim, has been possible all along to the angels of God, of which we have many records --angels on many occasions appearing as men. Jesus, as we have seen, when born of the Spirit at his resurrection, a spiritual body, ("That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.") was, as all other spiritual beings, (good and evil) invisible to human sight, and in making known his resurrection to his disciples he appeared in various fleshly "forms." (`Mark 16:12`.) These are the powers which Satan has desired, but could not heretofore use, because bound or limited, but which he will have when the judgment (trial) of "the day of the Lord" begins. (Which we believe is now.)
The trial of this day is not only a day of trouble and distress among nations, but it includes a trouble or fire upon the living phase of the church. This church trouble comes first, and we believe began in the spring of 1878, and is to result in the purifying of faith and bringing of those who will continue to bear the name of Christian to the firm foundations of the teachings of the Word of God. For all the errors of human traditions shall be consumed as dross, wood, hay, stubble, in the fire (trial) of this day. The apostle says, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you (the church) as though some strange [unforetold] thing happened unto you." (`1 Pet. 4:12`.) For the fire of that day shall try every man's work of what sort it is: "He that hath built [his faith] with gold, silver and precious stones [the truths of God's word] the same shall remain. (His faith will not be destroyed.) But if any man build with wood, hay, stubble, (the teachings and creeds of man) the same shall suffer loss, &c. (`1 Cor. 3:12-15`.)
This trial is "the trial of your faith" and in this "day of the Lord" not only does the light of truth shine strongly and beautifully, showing us the great prize of our high calling as we never saw it before; revealing to us the present king, who causes us to sup with Him and feeds us with His truth which is, "meat in due season," giving strength needed in this day; but it is also a day for the increase of the powers of evil, that the separation between the wheat and tares (the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one. `Matt. 13:38`) may be complete.
Because of this struggle between truth and error, the real and the false spiritualism, etc., Paul says, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against the flesh and blood [not against human beings, but against evil spiritual beings] but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness, of this world, (Satan --the prince of this world. `Jno. 12:31`) against spiritual wickedness in high (controlling) places. Wherefore, [on this account] take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand [the spiritual wickedness--the devil's wiles] in the evil day [this day of the Lord's presence --day of trial.]...Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness, etc. `Eph. 6:11`.
This same day of trial is referred to in `Psalm 91`, where only those who have made God's "Truth their shield and buckler [support] are able to withstand the snares of the devil, the arrows of infidelity and the moral pestilence of Spiritualism. While thousands shall fall at their side."
"In God I have found a retreat,
Where I can securely abide,
No refuge, nor rest so complete,
And here I intend to reside.
"The pestilence walking about,
When darkness has settled abroad,
Can never compel me to doubt
The presence and power of our Lord.
"A thousand may fall at my side,
Ten thousand at my right hand,
Above me His wings are spread wide,
Beneath them in safety I stand.
"His truth is my buckler and shield;
His love He hath set upon me,
His name in my heart He hath sealed;
E'en now His salvation I see."
--Songs of the Bride.
There are portions of Scripture which seem to teach that during this "Day of the Lord" there will be manifestations of the saints as men in fleshly bodies of those who have been changed to spiritual bodies like unto Christ's glorious body--and that they will appear as He "appeared" after His resurrection, and do a work of teaching as He taught the Disciples, opening men's understandings that they might understand the Scriptures.
We have seen that the coming of Moses the first and second times to deliver Israel from Egypt, was a type of the two comings of the Lord. The second time he came with power, and "Aaron, the saint," was his mouthpiece before Pharaoh, and during the signs, &c. So we expect that the living representatives of the church will sometime be used as the mouthpiece of their Lord before the world [Egypt in type]. As there in type Jannes and Jambres, and the other magicians under Satanic power, opposed and hindered for a time the effect of the wonderful powers wrought through Aaron, so we anticipate that in the antitype, when the living church is used as the Lord's mouthpiece, they will be withstood and their teachings controverted by the same spiritual wickedness--"Spiritualism" --which will seek to do the same things and partly be able. Paul seems to refer directly to this in `2 Tim. 3:1-8`, when, after saying: "In the last days [of the age] perilous times shall come," &c., he adds: "Now, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth...but they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest unto all men as theirs also was."
We suggest again, then, that every counterfeit is a proof of a genuine; second, that none but valuable things are counterfeited, and third, that a counterfeit must resemble the genuine very closely, or it would not deceive. Already, Spiritualists, are talking much as we do, of "the good time coming," the "glorious day," and even declare that Jesus is present, &c. This is an old practice with our opponent. At the first advent, the devils knew Jesus and crying out said: "Thou art Christ the Son of God," and He rebuking them, suffered them not to speak, "for they knew that he was Christ." (`Luke 4:41`.) (See also Paul's experience, `Acts 16:17`.) Yes, "The devils also believe and tremble." (`James 2:19`.) And
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no doubt they would fain call some of us, Spiritualists, both for the purpose of bringing to their credit our knowledge of God's word and plan, and to seek to offset the value and effect of our Bible teaching, by claiming us as one with themselves.
But, beloved, "believe not every Spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God" or of Satan. "By their fruits ye shall know them." That system, by whatsoever name it calls itself, whose time and talent is spent in doing useless and foolish things, and making use of supernatural power to obtain money; which appeals merely to the human credulity, and neither seeks nor develops an increase of faith and love toward God and men; ignores Jesus and the plan of salvation; repudiates the Bible; whose tendency is toward things earthly, sensual, devilish--"Free-loveism," &c., is not of God, but bears unmistakable signs of Satan being its author.
On the contrary, a system based not on forbidden and pretended communications with the dead, but upon the word of God only; whose teachings tend to the glory of both the Father and His Son, our Lord; which seeks to unfold to those who have "ears to hear" and "eyes to see" the glorious beauty and grandeur of God's plan of salvation, of which Jesus is the recognized foundation; which tends not to the ignoring of any part of the Word, but to a searching of the Scriptures daily; which tends toward and teaches that the prize of our high calling is obtainable only by patient perseverance in well-doing --the death of the old nature and newness of life as a new creature in Christ Jesus, bears unmistakably the stamp of God and is of God-- for it speaks according to His word.
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Truth itself, severed from the love of the truth, may be an idol.--Pascal.
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GOD'S LOVE TO ME.
I love to sit, and think,
How Jesus came to me;
And brought his box of Jewels
Which Angels longed to see.
He opened wide the lid,
And took them, one by one;
He showed them unto me--
Their light was like the sun.
He said, my chosen one
Put on these Jewels bright;
And follow where I lead you,
To lands of pure delight.
I soon will take you hence
My home to share, with me;
There you shall ever be my Bride,
--MRS. A. M. B.--Newark, N.J.
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THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.
"Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (`Matt. 12:32`.) [The word here rendered world, as in many other places should be rendered age and is so rendered in all translations.]
This text teaches first that there is such a thing as forgiveness of sins both in the present gospel age and in the coming--millennial--age. The basis of all forgiveness of sins, is in the fact that "Christ died for our sins."
Secondly it teaches that some sins are possible, which God will not reckon as a part of the Adamic sin which passed upon all men and which is to be forgiven all men. If men looked at Jesus and ignorantly supposed him an imposter and blasphemed him, it would be excusable and forgivable as a result of the fallen nature. Even should they blaspheme the name of God, and say they believed in no such being, &c., this too might be forgiven for the same reasons: But when God's power (the Holy Ghost) was manifested in doing them good as it was manifested through Jesus, there certainly was no excuse for even the most depraved of men ascribing those good works to an evil power--Satan. And this is just what Jesus tells them, that such conduct cannot be classed as a part of the general human depravity and it therefore cannot be forgiven.
The light was shining so clearly, that though their eyes were nearly blinded by sin, they could not help realizing some of the light as Jesus manifested some of "the powers of the world (age) to come." As he said to them on another occasion their "stripes" (punishment) in the next age will be in proportion as they have been able to comprehend and do justly and have not so done. They whose moral sight and hearing have been totally destroyed by Adam's sin and its results (if any such there be--the Lord knoweth) will have no stripes in the future, will be forgiven fully. They who see a little and could obey a little and do not so do, shall be forgiven the things they did not see and could not do, but will be beaten (punished) with a few stripes for the few things they saw and could but did not do. They who saw more and whose ability to perform was less impaired by the fallen nature, and who fail to do according to their ability, are to be beaten with many stripes.
Now notice that all who receive "stripes" receive them for unpardoned sins, for if the sins were pardoned they would not be punished for them. In our earthly courts if a man had trespassed against the law in two ways, and the penalty of the first crime was imprisonment for five years, and for the second six months; if it could be shown that he was not really to blame for the first crime, but was forced into it by circumstances over which he had no control, but the second crime was measurably under his control, the decision of the court would be "guilty" on both charges: but he would be pardoned on the first charge and not on the second; the result would be that he would serve the six months punishment.
Here are two earthly crimes, one pardonable and one unpardonable: So it is with God's law; all are sinners and condemned--guilty--on account of Adam's sin, but the full ransom from that sin has been paid and so though condemned before the court of heaven, it is announced that all of our imperfections traceable to that cause are freely and fully forgiven. But neither more nor less is pardonable. All sins against light and ability are unpardonable, cannot be forgiven at any time, and hence must be punished. The world will have many such sins to be punished in the age to come, and they receive in some instances much punishment in the present life and age. In a word all punishment indicates unpardoned sin, for if it were pardoned it would not be punished as well.
Paul tells us of extreme cases of this sort of unpardonable sin. Men of the world who have a little light we have seen can commit it, but when a man becomes a christian and has the eyes of his understanding opened --when he is brought from the condition of darkness and ignorance, into the light of the knowledge of the Lord, to then sin willfully is terrible indeed. Due and full allowance is made for all our weaknesses and imperfections which come to us through our fallen nature, and which clog and hinder our doing as we should wish to do-- our Father's will but no more. If we cease to desire to do God's will, we cut loose from our Lord and begin to walk according to our own will as natural and no longer spiritual beings. This is the thing pictured by the proverb: "The dog is returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." `2 Pet. 2:22`.
In `Heb. 6:4-6`, Paul assures us that any christian who has reached a full and mature development in the spiritual life, having "been enlightened," "tasted of the heavenly gift," "been made partaker of the Holy Ghost," "tasted of the good word of God"--if such shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. Why? Because this is an unpardonable sin. But can they be punished for this sin and thus go free from it in time? No, with the above description of the Apostle, we understand that these had enjoyed all the blessings due them on account of Christ's ransom: i.e. They were reckoned of God justified from all sin, as new creatures had been brought to a condition of enlightenment and knowledge of the Lord's will, and then, had deliberately and willfully acted contrary to it. We do not refer to a child of God stumbling or being overcome of the old nature for a time, but as expressed in `Heb. 10:26`--If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more (a) sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour (destroy) the adversaries."
In a word we understand Paul to teach that the class here described have received all the benefits due them through Christ's ransom, and that their willful sinning against knowledge, &c., places them in the same position as Adam occupied when he sinned; the penalty of all such willful sin is death. In Adam's case it was the first death. In the case of these it is the second death. They had been reckoned dead as christians and then reckoned of God alive as new creatures and now they die for their own willful sin--the second death. There is neither forgiveness nor excuse for such sin; they must have the full penalty and die. They have lightly esteemed the ransom after they knew of it and thus have "trodden under foot the Son of God and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified (set apart as new creatures) an unholy (ordinary--common) thing and done despite (disrespect) unto the spirit of (favor) grace."
These have no hope; they could not be recovered from the second death in any other way than as Adam and his children were redeemed from the first death i.e. by some one dying for their sin as Jesus died for Adam's sin. Will Jesus die again for them? No, "Christ being risen dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Nor could there be any object in bringing such to life again; having had full redemption and having come to know both good and evil, if they love evil rather than good and willfully do it, let them be deprived of life. All will say it is love on the part of our Father to deprive them of life, which, if continued, would be only of injury and evil both to themselves and others.
It will readily be seen, that this sin to this last mentioned extent--punishable with the second death--could not possibly have been committed prior to the gospel age, since not until Pentecost did the Holy Ghost come as a teacher to guide the church into the truth. (`John 16:13`.) It had in past time been active through holy men of old as they "spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," but it moved them to write but not to understand. It came upon the Prophets as servants to communicate; it comes to us as a seal of sonship and to enable us as sons to understand our Father's will, (`Rom. 8:14`.) consequently in previous ages none ever "tasted of the good word of God," or "became partakers of the Holy Ghost, etc., and consequently none who lived in past ages could sin away forever all hope of a future life.
The millions of past ages never have been recovered from the first death (Adamic) in any sense and must be so recovered before it will be possible for them to commit the "sin unto death." (`Heb. 6:4-6`). That Israelites, Sodomites, Egyptians and others have not fully lived up to the knowledge they possessed we doubt not, and they will doubtless therefore have "stripes" in the coming age for sins not pardoned by Jesus' ransom.
There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty."
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THE SHEEP AND GOATS.
The scene of this parable is laid after the time of trouble, and after the exaltation of the "little flock" to the throne, when the nations have been subdued, Satan bound and the authority of Christ's kingdom established. So we read: "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory...then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations." The Bride of Christ before this time, has been seated with him in his throne, and has taken part in executing the judgments of the great day of wrath. Now, "the Son of Man appears" (is made manifest) to the world, "in his glory"--The glory of the husband is the wife (`1 Cor. 11:7`) and together Jesus and his Bride "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
Here is the "New Jerusalem" as John saw it (`Rev. 21`)--"that holy city...coming down from God out of heaven." During all the time of trouble it was coming down, and now it has touched the earth. This is the stone cut out of the mountains (kingdoms of earth) without hands, (but by the power of God) and it has become a great mountain (kingdom) and has filled the whole earth. (`Dan. 2:35`.) Its coming has broken to pieces (`Dan. 2:34-35`) the evil kingdoms of the Prince of darkness. Here is that glorious city (government) prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, (`Rev. 21:2`) and the nations of them which are saved (restored --brought back from the Adamic death) are walking in the light of it. (`Vs. 24`.) These may "bring their glory and honor into it, but there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, etc." (`Vs. 27`.) Here from the midst of the throne, proceeds a pure river of water of life, (truth, unmixed with error) and the Spirit and the Bride say come and take it freely. (`Rev. 22:17`.) Here begins the world's probation--the world's great judgment day--a thousand years.
But even in this glorious time of blessing and healing of the nations, when Satan is bound, evil restrained, mankind released from the grasp of death, and when the knowledge of the Lord fills the earth, two classes will be developed, which Jesus in this parable calls sheep and goats. These he tells us he will separate. Gradually throughout the age he gathers his sheep (those who know and obey his voice) to his right hand (place of favor) but the goats (the disobedient) to the left.
In the end of the Millennial age, at the final adjustment of human affairs, Jesus thus addresses his sheep: "Come ye blessed...inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." What kingdom? Is not the kingdom under the whole heavens given to the people of the saints of the Most High God to possess it forever? Yes, as we have already learned, a "little flock," "the saints," the "sheep" of the gospel age, having followed the Lamb (Jesus) whithersoever he went, through evil and through good report, even to the sacrificing of the human life, with him have been exalted to the divine nature and to the throne of the spiritual unseen kingdom, to possess it forever (for the age)--"He (the Christ, head and body) must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet." (`1 Cor. 15:25`.) --The saints shall reign with Christ a thousand years. `Rev. 20:6`.
Jesus calls believers of the gospel age, who know and obey his voice, his sheep. But he says--"Other sheep I have which are not of this fold (referring to those who should follow him in the millennial age) them also I must lead (into truth and righteousness during that age) and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." Jesus and the "little flock"--the bride-- made one will be the good shepherd who will lead mankind into the one fold of safety--harmony with God.
This work of separating sheep and goats is a gradual one, requiring all
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of the millennial age for its accomplishment. During that age each individual as he comes to a knowledge of God and his will, takes his place at the right hand of favor, or the left hand of disfavor according as he improves or misimproves the opportunities of that golden age. And by the end of that age, all the world of mankind (not the church of the gospel age) will have arranged themselves as shown in the parable, into two classes. In nature sheep are far more numerous than goats, and we do not doubt that with the perfect knowledge then possessed, the sheep company will far outnumber the goats. With the end of that age (1,000 years) is the end of the world's trial, or judgement, and final disposition is made of the two classes. The goats who have not developed the element of love-- the law of God's being and kingdom --are not counted worthy of life and must be destroyed, while the sheep who have developed and by deeds exhibited Godlikeness (love) are to be installed as the rulers of earth for future ages.
The work of restitution will not be quite complete until the great mass of mankind, having been restored to the perfect condition, is again restored to the dominion of earth as given originally to Adam before sin entered. For God said: "After our likeness, let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth...and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth"-- a ruler over earth, like as God is ruler over all things. And the Psalmist expresses the same idea saying: "Thou hast made man a little lower than the Angels and hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands." Not over each other; when the law of love controls human hearts, there will be no necessity for dominion over one another, though by mutual consent, prompted by mutual love, regulations may be made among themselves for the common good and blessing of all.
This then, is the kingdom that has been preparing for mankind from the foundation of the world. It was necessary that they should suffer 6,000 years under the dominion of evil, hatred and strife, to learn their certain results, misery and death, and in order by contrast to prove the justice, wisdom and goodness of God's law--love. Then it requires the seventh thousand years under the reign of Christ to restore him from ruin and death to the perfect condition, thereby fitting him wisely to exercise dominion over earth.
But why is man thus crowned with glory and honor, a king in all the earth? The Lord makes them answer --because "I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, in prison and you came unto me." But, they answer, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and ministered unto thee? Hear the reply--Ye have done it to each other; ye are all my Father's children; I also am his Son, though on a higher plane, and all we are brethren: (Christ and the saints of the gospel age--children of God on the spiritual plane; mankind in general will be sons of God on the restored, or fleshly plane as Adam was before sin.) The love you have shown to the least of my brethren, I count as shown to me. No great deeds are assigned as the ground for this honor and favor--they have simply come into harmony with God's law, love, and proved it by their works. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," (`Rom. 13:10`.) and "God is love," so when man is restored again to the image of God --"very good"--man also will be love.
Then the message to those on the left--"Depart from me ye cursed, (condemned as unfit vessels for the glory and honor of life, who would not yield to the moulding hand of the potter--the moulding and shaping influences of divine love). When these
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my brethren were hungry and thirsty, naked, sick and in prison, ye ministered not to their necessities, thus continually proving to be out of harmony with the law of the heavenly city (kingdom) and "there shall in no case enter into it anything that defileth." "Depart from me into everlasting fire (symbol of destruction) prepared for the Devil and his Angels." Satan is to be destroyed, as we read--"That old serpent which is the devil and Satan was cast into the lake of fire; this is the second death." Christ will "destroy...him that has the power of death, that is the Devil." "And these (the goats) go away into everlasting cutting-off (destruction) but the righteous into life eternal." (Never ending.) Diaglott.
Of the "sheep" it is said: "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." But because God gave it to man at first and designs restoring it to him again, when he has prepared and repaired him for the great trust, we are not to suppose that God intends man to rule it except as under, or in harmony with His heavenly laws. "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven" will be the rule.
There could scarcely be a better illustration of Man's dominion under God, than that afforded in the government of this country. Each state is permitted to have dominion over its own territory, but all must be subject to the general government of the United States. And no one state may make a law which will conflict with any law of the United States. When in the late rebellion some of the states attempted so to do, the general government was obliged to reduce to subjection the refractory states, and when they were restored to harmony, they were again permitted to occupy their former position.
So we learn that God's government is a general government over all his works; that he rules in justice equity and love; that His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him; that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will"--but the kingdom of earth is sure to man after that he has learned that the heavens do rule. (`Dan. 4:17-26`.)
When the perfect man to whom it was first given, through sin lost his ability and right to reign, the dominion was taken away and given to his adversary whose reign of terror and death lasted 6,000 years. But a limit was set by the Almighty to his time and power to hurt mankind and while used for man's discipline and final good, the remainder of his wrath was restrained. When the powers of darkness have accomplished their part in God's purpose, the Son of God is sent to restore all things and to bring order and harmony out of confusion. When his work is finished he "gives up the kingdom to the Father that God may be all and in all." (`1 Cor. 15:28`.)
Man henceforth rules his dominion in harmony with the law of heaven-- delighting continually to do his will, in whose favor is life, and at whose right hand (place of favor) there is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore. O who would not say "Haste thee along ages of glory," and give glory and honor to him whose loving plans blossom out into such fullness of blessing.
This parable as we now understand it, is in complete harmony with the ideas advanced in article headed "The restored dominion." See WATCH TOWER, Dec. 1880.
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LOOKING UNTO JESUS.
There are two principles involved in the word look, two mediums by which we are enabled to discern objects, light and the eye. Without these mediums there may be ever so many or interesting objects to be seen, but they will not be seen; there must be both light and the instrument of seeing (the eye). These are the requisites in nature; these are the necessary things for material sight, and the basis of our understanding of spiritual things, the things of God. Light in nature is the means of knowing (or seeing) natural things; so in spiritual things means of knowing are called light--"By using such lights as we have we arrive at probability, if not certainty."
Explanation and illustration are other means of knowing or understanding and are also called light: "one part of scripture throws light on another part." Point of view--situation to be seen, is called light-- this is a use of the word taken from painting; "let every thought be presented in the strongest light." Looking in the natural is to direct the eye--in the spiritual to direct the mind of the understanding; "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened."
With these terms in mind let us consider the subject before us, "Looking unto Jesus." Let us bring in the lights and turn the eyes of our understanding toward the desire of all nations," the hope of the world. How, "we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death"--`Heb. 2:9`. O earth! bow down, hide thy face in the dust, the Lord of life dies for thee. The mystery of God is among men. Did we see rightly? How was he made? A little lower than the angels? Let us look closely. Does Paul mean just that? Yes, it seems so. But man is a great deal lower than the angels. Did he not take upon him the nature of man? Yes, he took the "seed of Abraham." `Heb. 2:16`: Well, if he took on him the seed of Abraham did he not take a nature much lower than angels, even the fallen nature, and work his way up to this position a little lower than the angels? We think not--let us see. Hold the light this way a little, brother; there, now. What said the scriptures? ABRAHAM believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness....How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision but in uncircumcision...for the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." `Romans 4:10-13`. If then, Abraham was justified by faith--reckoned in God's sight a perfect and righteous man, who will say that Jesus must have taken the fallen nature--imperfect, because it says: He partook of the "seed of Abraham." But was he not made of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh? Well, yes; he was "made of the seed of David according to the flesh." `Rom. 1:3`. "When the fullness of the time was come God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." `Gal. 4:4-5`. But he was "made not after (down towards) the law of a carnal (fleshly) commandment but after the power of an endless life, for there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; for the law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope did, (viz: Jesus, the perfect one, in whom was no sin,) by the which, we draw nigh to God. `Heb. 7:16,18-19`. But was he not made in all things like unto his brethren? And does not this plainly show that he took the fallen nature of man, the lowest step that could be taken? "In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. `Heb. 2:17`. But was he not made like other men, was he not in his fleshly nature just as low in the scale of being as any other man, only that he did not actually sin? No; if he had been, he could not have resisted actual sin; the fallen human nature is "prone to sin as the sparks to fly upward," and as long as we are of the fallen human nature we cannot avoid sin. Of such "there is none righteous; no, not one." [It is only when justified, new creatures, that we can realize ourselves as no longer sinners and enemies, but sons of God.]
Again, if on the depraved plane of being he could not be said to have been "made a little lower." He as a perfect one was to mediate and bring about a reconciliation between God and his fallen carnal creatures who by sin had become His "enemies;" hence Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, "for the suffering of death," that he might raise us up to a point but a little lower than the angels, (as perfect beings--justified or reckoned perfect,) thus becoming our mediator "for if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." `Rom. 5:10`. But in what sense was he higher or superior to Adam? In this, that Adam was created of God, but Christ was begotten of God; now do we see how he was made like unto his brethren? Not like unto fallen man, they are not begotten of the spirit Christ and his brethren are. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, (and Jesus) are children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? "Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." So then, brethren, we (nor Christ) are not children of the bond woman, but of the free. `Gal. 4:28-31`. But was he not for our sakes made poor that we through his poverty might be
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made rich? Yes, he became poor for our sakes; when he died upon the cross he consummated his poverty, giving up all, even life itself, and thus reconciled us to God; for, as by Adam's death in or because of sin all die, so by Christ's death in or because of righteousness all are made alive; but we who are reckoned in the Adamic nature by the death of
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Christ are much more"..."saved by his life;" we begin to be new creatures in Christ Jesus, and so we are not (reckoned) in the fallen condition, as the world, but in that which he recognizes as brethren. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." `Heb. 2:11`. He came low enough to reach us and taste death for every man, but a little lower than the angels was low enough for that, for from that intermediate position God can reach us through Christ and "raise us (from our fallen condition where we were with the world) up together and make us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. `Eph. 2:6-7`. Now, if we can see clearly that his being made a little lower than the angels was for no other reason than that he might suffer death (to which he was not legally subject) and destroy him who had the power of death for us, do we not see that there is no reason for his being made a little lower, or even as low as the angels again for us whom (in our brotherhood condition) he was made like unto? He was as we are (reckoned) and we shall be as he is now.
Beloved, now are we (reckoned) the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure. `1 John 3:2-3`.
Now let us look close, (hold the light steady and keep an humble position,) there, now, if it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, if we can get a good view of him we can get a good idea of what his brethren are, for they will be somewhat as he was, "wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him." He was "appointed heir of all things." "And ye are complete in him" "In whom ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit." Now, dear brethren, is it not clearly God's design to glorify his Son and his church (bride) by what he shall accomplish through them? Think you they are to be exalted and honored merely for the honor? Ah, no! Honor and glory and happiness are in store for those "who are the called according to his purpose," and that purpose is the bringing of "many sons unto glory," and to accomplish that purpose it was necessary that the captain of our salvation should pass through suffering, "leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps." Dear brethren, are we willing to do that? Is the lesson so often set before us in the "Watch Tower" (drawn from the word) forgotten and overlooked in our eager gaze at the coming glory? Wherefore let us suffer "according to the will of God and commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator.
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We have found in the past that the number seven is a fruitful and interesting topic; and that on this sacred number many things in God's plan are based. The investigation of the Tabernacle with its three apartments has suggested that number three is also a sacred and important number. We are convinced that three is fundamental in Heaven and Earth, as to God and man, in the structure of the universe, in the plan of the ages, and in the process of Christian development or of coming to God. For these reasons and in harmony with the Spirit and method of prophecy, we think a glimpse of God's plan was the basis of the pattern which the Lord showed Moses in the mount, from which pattern the tabernacle and all its arrangements were made. No part can fail.
In seeing these underlying principles in the construction of the word, we have additional evidence that the Bible reveals a science, and is God's truth. As men can be made to see these things, it will be like taking the vail of unbelief from their minds, which will let in a flood of God's light and love. One motive in our writing is the desire to guard some against the overspreading wave of unbelief.
The number three is surprisingly prominent, as the subject opens before us. We may not, in every case, see its significance--sometimes little, perhaps, but often much. Others may enlarge on thoughts suggested. Our hope is that all who read may love the word more and more, as the rich treasure house of its great Author.
We would first call attention to the Divine Three--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--often mentioned in the Bible. This is fundamental, as shown by the commission of Christ, (`Matt. 28:19`) and is related to our faith in the Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator, and suggests the three steps in bringing men into the Divine image.
Man, in his composition, is spoken of by Paul as having three elements --"spirit and soul and body," which he prays may be sanctified wholly, and preserved blameless unto the coming (presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ. `1 Thess. 5:23`.
The Divine Spirit is the Sanctifier, and the word of truth is the instrument. `2 Thess. 2:13` and `Jno. 17:17`.
Man's spirit, in the above passage, which needs sanctifying, should not be confounded with the indwelling Spirit of God, by which we are sanctified. The distinction is observed by the apostle when he says: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." `Rom. 8:16`.
We would now call attention to
THE THREE WITNESSES.
There are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit and the water and the blood: "and these three agree in one." `1 John 5:8`. The three witnesses agree in one testimony. What is their testimony? It is God's testimony concerning His Son. It must be important. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater." `vs. 9`. As the Son is the great expression or revelation of the Father, we should expect this important testimony of the three witnesses to have reference to the revelation of God's love for the world. "God is Love," and He wants us to believe it. Let Paul speak: "Because the love of God is shed abroad [made known] in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us." `Rom. 5:5`. Here is one of the three witnesses telling us of God's love for us while we were yet sinners. How are we to know that love? What is the Spirit's testimony --the record that God gives concerning His Son? Listen--"For when we were yet without strength in due time CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY." `Verse 6`. The death of Christ must, then, be an important event in God's plan.
By reference to `Daniel 9:26` the "due time"--the time appointed-- will be seen. "After the threescore and two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself"--it was for sinners. This shows that the death could not have been from His birth, nor all the period of His earthly life as some maintain. The weeks mark the time of His baptism, after which He should pour out His soul (life) unto death. He came to His death by the way of water and blood. His baptism in water was a symbol of His baptism into death, and because it was a symbol it became a pledge that He would die, in obedience to the Father's will. It was His consecration to the cross. For this reason if for no other, it could truly be said: "This is He that came by water and blood--even the anointed Saviour; not by water only, but by water and blood." `1 Jno. 5:6`. The coming, or manifestation of the Messiah, taken as a whole, was to make known the love of God to the world, and the manifestation included the death.
But is the death of Christ, after the weeks, an expression of God's love? Listen to Paul again: "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: [that would be a great stretch of love] yet possibly for a good man some would even dare to die. But [wondrous beyond measure] God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." `Rom. 5:7-8`. The death of Christ, according to `verse 10` and onward, secures reconciliation in the sense that it reverses the curse that came on all by the first Adam; and because of this removal of the encumbrance, it opens the way for the impartation of the Spirit to the obedient, and so for the gift of eternal life. Hence it is written that "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved [the higher and spiritual form of salvation] by His life." Christ is thus shown to be both the Restorer of the old, and Giver of the higher life--the second Adam.
No one who can appreciate the Spirit's testimony can ignore or belittle the death of Christ. He not only came to His death by the way of water and blood, as the Spirit hath borne witness, but the water and blood that flowed from His side when He was
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pierced add their testimony to that of the Spirit that He was dead, and also that it was a voluntary death. He poured out His soul unto death.
The statement of John concerning the testimony of the three witnesses, finds its foundation in the gospel written by him: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith there came out blood and water. And he that saw it bear record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." `Jno. 19:34-35`. The Spirit says, "Christ died for our sins" and that "He gave his life a ransom." The separation of the watery portion of the blood, gave proof that He was already dead, and had been dead for some time; for had He not been dead, the flow would have been red blood.
We offer this as evidence that His death was not the direct result of crucifixion. The record is that He lived only six hours on the cross, from the third hour until the ninth hour of their day, (`Mark 15:25-34`) while men who were crucified usually lived much longer, even for days. The case of Jesus was so exceptional that when Joseph, the counsellor, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, "Pilate marvelled if he were already dead, and would not believe it until he had called the centurion and knew it from him. `Mark 15:43-45`.
The Jews had no thought of the possibility of His being dead so soon, when they "besought Pilate that their legs might be broken." The soldiers on account of finding Him dead, made an exception of His case, and so "brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers pierced His side." Thus a prophecy was fulfilled: "A bone of him shall not be broken." A type too was fulfilled, no bone of the passover lamb was to be broken. `Num. 9:12`. And in the piercing of His side, the foundation was laid for the fulfillment of another scripture in reference to the nation of Israel, when at His second coming He appears for their deliverance, viz: "They shall look on him whom they pierced." `Zech. 12:9-10`. It was therefore, for all these reasons, necessary that He should die sooner than crucifixion by men would secure.
We are led to believe that Christ's death was a voluntary act in the Divine administration. This is in harmony with the idea which was shown sometime since, in our paper, that Christ was both human and Divine, and thus became the antitype of both priest and sacrifice--Aaron and the beast. Not the life of the Priest, but the lower nature, as represented by the beast, was required as a sacrifice. The Divine is the priest power both in Jesus and all His true followers. A body was prepared for Him and He offered it. `Heb. 10:5-10`. We are to sacrifice our bodies. `Rom. 12:1`. The power by which we do this is the indwelling Divine Spirit. `Rom. 8:13`. Christ said He had received power or authority of His Father to lay down His life." "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me [this could have no force if it referred to His pre-existent life. No one thought of taking that. The force of the statement is sure in that while men might seem to take His life by crucifying Him, yet they were mistaken;] in reality "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself." I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment [authority or power] have I received of my Father." `Jno. 10:15-18`. And when speaking of the temple of His body, (which is equally true of His own person and of His body, the church, for it is Christ that raises all the dead, i.e. God in Christ, or Christ as a Divine Person) He said: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." `Jno. 2:19-22`. "I will raise them up at the last day;" Which when applied to the church, is the seventh thousand from the first Adam and the third thousand from the second Adam.
Now we can see that the real crucifying power is also the saving power, and therefore that the only way of salvation is by following Christ. As the Divine is the Priest power, so when the Humanity of Christ was forsaken of that Divinity which held the human in His hands, it was (the writer thinks) the antitype of Aaron killing the beast; so Jesus immediately bowed His head and died.
It seems certain that the sacrifice was a special preparation of God and in the act of sacrifice was a voluntary offering. In this fact as well as in the ransom thus provided, we may well see the Father's love commended, "in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." And as God has given us the combined testimony of three witnesses to the truth, let us believe in the truth, and thanking Him for it,
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may we be able to see also the value of Christ's example, and so follow the Lord in sacrifice. If we are made conformable to His death we shall share in His glory. J. H. P.
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There are three baptisms spoken of as related to God's dealings with men, that of water, of Spirit, and of fire. All are mentioned by John, "I indeed, baptize you with water... but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire." `Matt. 3:11`.
This statement doubtless had reference, primarily, to the disposition made of the Jewish nation, at the end of their age, and is intimately related to the harvest work of Christ, mentioned in the `next verse`, which also has three elements, separation of wheat and chaff, gathering of wheat, and burning of chaff. This work covered a space of forty years, not being complete until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jesus was clearly the Lord of the harvest, and Himself the chief Reaper, though He had assistants under His control.
John baptized and addressed a mixed multitude, of which, when passed over to Christ, some were baptized with the Spirit and some with fire. It seems clear that the baptism of the Spirit agrees to the gathering of the wheat into the Gospel barn, and the baptism of fire to the burning of the chaff, or judgments on the rejected nation. Those who bore the fruit Christ was seeking, were counted worthy, and were filled with the Spirit as the sons of God; and those not bearing good fruit, were cut down, and cast into, or baptized with fire. Read the context and see if the "wrath to come," the baptism of fire, and the "unquenchable fire" are not identical.
It may be observed here, as has often been shown, that the harvest of the Gospel age, as mentioned by the Saviour, in the parable of tares and wheat, (`Matt. 13`) is parallel to the Jewish harvest, and also has its three elements, separation, gathering and burning. Then, it was the Jewish nominal church, wheat and chaff, that was disposed of; now, it is the nominal Gospel church, wheat and tares, that is to be disposed of. The harvest here, according to the prophetic periods, [see "Day Dawn"] also covers a period of forty years, reaching to and including the year 1914.
The Saviour says: "The harvest is the end of the age," (`verse 39`) and in the `next verse` includes the burning of the tares in the closing work of the age; so let us not overlook the fact that in some sense the age, and therefore the harvest reaches to 1914. The tares are not to be burned after the end of the age, but in the end of the age.
According to the order of events, as the Saviour explains them, the shining forth as the sun is not due until after the tares are burned. We believe it must be "Day Dawn" until 1914. Of course the exaltation to glory precedes the shining forth in that glory.
The extension or prolonging of the Jewish age after A.D. 33, and of the Gospel age after A.D. 1878, is an expression of the long suffering of God to His defiled people; He is not willing that any [of them] should perish, but that they should come to repentance." `2 Pet. 3:9`. His encouragement to the lukewarm church, is, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent." `Rev. 3:19`. And it seems from the Saviour's parable of the lost sheep, that he will not be content until He finds and brings in the lost one [of the sheep, not of the world.]
There is nothing in what is said above, on the extension of the harvest, to militate against the idea of the exaltation of the king and priest company immediately, if the Lord so wills; in fact, it has often been shown that the little flock are to share in the administration of the coming judgments, which will purify the defiled, or ripen the unripe wheat.
Returning from the seeming digression, we would say, that while the three baptisms had primary application to the Jewish nation, there seems to be a sense in which they are applicable to each Christian. Water baptism is of course external, and has to do with external relationships; but it is important as an act of obedience, or expression of loyalty to the Saviour, and may appropriately be regarded, on account of the place given it by the Saviour in His commission, and by the apostles in their practices, as an incipient step in a life of loyalty. And we know that it is the obedient who can claim the promises attached. And as a symbol, we may safely say it represents all there is of Christianity, --its faith or foundation, in the death and resurrection of Christ; its life, in dying to sin and rising to walk in newness of life; its hope, in the death and resurrection of the saint.
The baptism of the Spirit, we understand is necessary, to enable the christian to carry out what was symbolized in the water baptism; in other words to enable him to keep his covenant. That to be baptized with the Spirit, is to be filled with the Spirit, seems clear by comparing the promise of Christ, (`Acts 1:5`,) and the fulfillment. `Acts 2:4`. He said, "Ye
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shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence;" and when the day of Pentecost was fully come, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Speaking of the same thing Jesus said, "After the Holy Spirit has come upon you." `Acts 1:8`.
While, as has been clearly shown by another, the company who received the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, represented the whole church; and it has remained with the church ever since; yet, there is of course, a time when each individual, passing from death unto life by faith, receives that same Spirit. So at the conversion of Cornelius and his family, "The Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word." `Acts 10:44`. And all with Peter were "astonished" ..."because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit," `ver. 45`. Peter said they "have received the Holy Spirit as well as we." `ver. 47`. And he afterward said, "And as I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell on them as on us at the beginning &c. `Acts 11:15-17`.
"The gift of the Holy Spirit is to all that obey the gospel," even as many as the Lord our God shall call. `Acts 2:38-39`. "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit." `Acts 13:52`. Paul exhorts the church at Ephesus to "be not drunk with wine...but [to] be filled with the Spirit." `Eph. 5:18`.
We understand the baptism of fire, in the individual is equivalent to the trials, chastisements, afflictions, and tribulations, through which we must pass in order to overcome and so reign with Christ. The baptism into death which the Saviour endured, and with which He said His disciples must also be baptized, is the very thing pledged in water baptism, but it has often been shown that it can only be carried out by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. `Rom. 8:13`. The baptism of fire and of death seem to be identical, or rather different parts of the same thing, the former being the process and the latter the completion of the work. To be baptized into the Saviour's death means far more than to be baptized into water, though the former is represented by the latter.
It is doubtless true that much of our chastisement and affliction comes by our own natural conditions, and the Apostle tells us that, "Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth... that we might be partakers of His holiness." `Heb. 12:6-10`.
As judgments and troubles are represented by fire in the Scriptures, so the Christian's trials are called "fiery trials." `1 Pet. 4:12`. Some of these trials come from the enemies without, but the Christian's greatest enemy is his old self, or carnal nature, against which the Spirit within, or new nature wars. `Rom. 7:15-25`.
It is one of the great mistakes of the nominal church that it is considered so easy to be a christian; as if we might sail to Paradise by balmy breezes, and rest on flowery beds. The road the Master went, was a thorny road, and He said, "Follow me." The way of the cross is the way to the crown. The cross is a symbol of death by crucifixion. The word teaches that through much tribulation (fire) we must enter the kingdom of God. `Acts 14:22`.
The Lord is represented as a refiner of silver, watching His children in the fire, and thus He will purify the sons of Levi. `Mal. 3:3`. These trials are often severe, but they have their attending joys. Jesus said to His disciples, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace." `John 16:23`. Paul says, "We glory in tribulations also," because of the good effects on character. `Rom. 5:3-6`. None of these things can separate us from the love of God in Christ. `Rom. 8:35-39`.
It seems that the fiery baptism whether it be of a nation, church or an individual is permitted in mercy, as a purifying process, without which the final good is not attainable.
We understand the baptism of fire is for the destruction of the flesh-- the old nature; that as a means to that end we need the baptism of the Spirit; but the Spirit has the double work of killing, and of making alive with a new and immortal life; and we believe that both are represented by the baptism of water--which is a symbolic death and resurrection. J. H. P.
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JUSTIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION, REDEMPTION.
These are the three steps by which we are to reach "the prize of our high calling"--glory, honor and immortality. Not one of these steps can be omitted by those who win the great prize, nor can they be taken in any way but their order as directed in the Scriptures.
Justification comes first as a necessity, because, all the human race being sinners, as such God could not either sanctify or glorify them; therefore, by some means, they must be "made free from sin" (brought to a condition of sin-less-ness) in order that they might "have their fruit unto holiness" (sanctification), and eventually receive "the end thereof-- eternal life" (redemption). `Rom. 6:22`.
As sinners, men "are not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can they be." (`Rom. 8:7`). We are "made free from sin" by faith; that is, we are told of God that a ransom has been given for our sin, and that if we by faith accept the ransom, he no longer regards or treats us as sinners, but as perfect and sinless beings. This cleansing from sin is a complete work. You are justified--reckoned of God just and perfect, but it cannot be seen with the natural eye. You cannot realize that physically you are any more perfect than before you believed yourself justified. It is entirely by the eye of faith that you know yourself now as a being, justified freely from all things. God's word declares it and you believe Him.
We need not fear that our justification is incomplete, for Jehovah Himself is the justifier, as we read, God is "just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (`Rom. 3:26`), and again, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Upon what grounds does God reckon human sinners as justified or righteous persons? Because the ransom for our sins has been paid by Jesus, who "Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (`1 Pet. 2:24`). For "Christ suffered, the just for the unjust (sinners), that He might bring us to God" (`1 Pet. 3:18`) as justified beings. Jesus was treated as a sinner on our behalf, and we are now treated as just persons on His behalf. As we read again, "Ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus." (`1 Cor. 6:11`). And again, "Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (`Rom. 5:9`). But
ONLY BELIEVERS ARE JUSTIFIED
during this Gospel age. They who do not believe that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that "He rose again the third day," for our justification (`1 Cor. 15:14`; `Rom. 4:25`), are not justified: "Ye are yet in your sins." So we read, God "is the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Again, "All that believe are justified from all things" (`Acts 13:39`), and "A man is justified by faith." (`Gal. 2:16` and `3:24`).
When we believe the "good news" of our justification, it causes us joy and peace to realize that we may now come to God; and we no longer dread but now love God, because we see His goodness and love, for "herein is the love of God manifested." (`1 Jno. 4:9`).
We are thus brought into fellowship with God as justified human beings --"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." (`Rom. 5:1`). Few, very few, lay hold upon justification fully; few believe God that they "are justified from all things" and are in God's sight clothed in the spotlessness of Jesus, in whom was no sin; consequently very few have the joy and peace which spring from believing. And it is no uncommon thing to hear, in church meetings of all denominations, men and women tell God that they know themselves to be "miserable sinners." Poor creatures, no wonder they agonize and daily ask the forgiveness of those sins which God's word declares are forgiven. `2 Pet. 1:9`. They know not that they partake of the justification by believing. If they would only believe God, they would have the realization of forgiveness, and consequently joy and peace. "For without faith it is impossible to please God." Beyond this point of rejoicing in a consciousness of forgiveness of sins, and acceptableness in God's sight, few Christians go.
Did you ever think why God has
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made known to us our justification now, but keeps it hidden from the great mass of the race until the millennial age, though the ransom price is eventually to release all mankind from sin and its penalty, and bring them to the same condition of acceptance --sinlessness--perfection which we now enjoy by faith? It is because God has a plan which He is working out according to the counsel of His own will, and a part of that plan is that He will select from among mankind a number who will eventually be transferred from the earthly conditions and human nature to spiritual conditions and the "divine nature"--to be "heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord."
God's object in the development of this "little flock" is two-fold: first, He will make them everlasting monuments of His goodness, to be known and read of angels and men. As Paul expresses it (`Eph. 2:7`), God's plan in the development of the Gospel church of overcomers, is, "That in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." The second part of God's
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plan, in which we are directly associated, is, that He purposes to use us during the next--millennial--age as kings (rulers) and priests (teachers), when we shall reign with Christ a thousand years. (`Rev. 5:10`, `20:6`). Thus shall the "seed," of which Jesus is the head, bless all the families of the earth. (`Gal. 3:29`).
No sinners are called to have part in this "high calling, which is of God in Christ Jesus." True, Jesus called "sinners to repentance"--so does the word of God, and all his children seek to bring men to repentance and faith in Christ and consequent justification. But only the justified ones are called to be "kings and priests unto God, and to reign on the earth." It is worse than useless to present the grand prize for which we run to the attention of sinners--the unjustified. For the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned--they are foolishness unto him. Therefore, "cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
This being true, that none are called to the high calling except the justified ones, the fact that you know of your justification may be the proof to you that you are one of those whom God has "called" to spiritual life and joint-heirship with Jesus. What a blessed privilege to be called with such a high calling. Now do you realize that you are called to be a member of the Bride of Christ? Then remember who called you-- God; and that "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." (`1 Thess. 5:24`). Our Father mocks none with a call which they cannot attain to. His grace is sufficient for us.
All who are called may take the second step--
To sanctify is to set apart or separate to a special thing or use. God's will is that all justified ones should be sanctified or set apart to his service as we read: "This is the will of God even your (believers) sanctification." (`1 Thes. 4:3`.) There are two parts to sanctification--first ours, secondly God's part. As we have seen, God provides for our justification as men and then calls us to set apart--sanctify --or consecrate to him, that justified humanity. When we do, thus consecrate or give up our will, our time, talent, life and all we have and are to God, and ask him to take our little all and use it as seemeth to him good, and agree to let the will of God dwell in us richly--when we have done this we have done all that we can do; and here God who accepts of every such sacrifice, begins His part of the sanctification work. He begins to use this will resigned to his care and "to work in you both to will and to do" in harmony with his will. From that moment it is no longer you (the human) but "Christ in you." Even the earthly (human) body, under the new controlling will (God's) is used in God's service and is thereby made holy.
From this moment when we give consecrate--ourselves--we are reckoned dead, as human beings for the human will, should be buried from that moment forward; and when the will of God--the mind of Christ--the Holy Spirit takes possession of us so that it becomes our will and our mind, we are called "new creatures"--we are thus begotten to newness of life. This new creature is only an embryo being: It is not complete; but it grows and develops and "we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (`2 Cor. 3:18`.) Thus as new spiritual creatures we grow in his likeness during the time we abide in this earthly condition. As the spiritual nature grows stronger the human nature grows weaker and is the easier to keep dead, for I must not only give up my will to God, but keep it in a surrendered condition, "keep my body under"--under God's will.
As the new spiritual nature grows it longs for its perfection when it will no longer be trammeled and fettered by human conditions, but be "like unto Christ's glorious body." This is promised us--we have been begotten, and by and by shall be born of the Spirit--spiritual bodies, for "that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit," just as truly as "that which was born of the flesh was flesh." Our begetting we have and our spiritual life is begun. It is to be completed, perfected, when this corruptible, and mortal condition shall give place to the incorruptible, immortal conditions of the Spiritual body. This will be at the moment of resurrection to those who sleep in Jesus--raised spiritual bodies; and it will be the moment of change to the living (from the fleshly body to their own spiritual bodies-- theirs as new creatures.) Thus, "we which are alive and remain shall be changed in a moment." `1 Cor. 15:52`.
"If I in Thy likeness, O Lord, may awake,
And shine a pure image of Thee,
Then I shall be satisfied when I can break
The fetters of flesh and be free.
When on Thine own image in me Thou hast
Within Thy blest mansion, and when
The arms of my Father encircle His child,
O! I shall be satisfied then.
And O! the blest morning already is here;
The shadows of nature do fade;
And soon in Thy likeness I'll with Thee appear,
In glory and beauty arrayed."
This change of residence or condition, from the earthly body to the spiritual body is the third step of our development, viz:
This redemption from the present earthly conditions, finishes and completes our salvation and the glory of power will follow.
Toward this the end of the race we are looking with longing eyes, "Ourselves, that have the first fruits (begetting) of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves waiting for sonship, --the redemption of our body" (the body of which Jesus is the head and all overcomers are members.) `Rom. 8:23`.
THE POWER WHICH SANCTIFIES.
It is not a power of physical force that is used by the Spirit of God in our development, but a mental power which appeals to our minds and wills.
The Spirit appeals to our reason, and uses the word of God as its agent. In the Word, the Spirit has in former ages stored up, both by prophetic utterances and Law shadows and types, those truths which God designed should during this Gospel age be the food to sanctify the body of Christ and build it up in the most holy faith. And we act wisely if we make use of this spiritual food. ("Thy words were found and I did eat them." `Jer. 15:16`). It is furnished us for the purpose of sanctifying us. If we go to our Father and say, Father, I give myself all to thee; I pray thee, set me apart as holy to thy service, both now and hereafter. Give me needed strength to do thy will. He answers, yes, my child, I have already provided a rich store-house of truth, from which, if you eat, you shall have the strength you ask. "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you"--seek, and you shall find."
The seeker returns, saying, Father, I found the store-house, but saw little but plain food exposed to view; most of the choice viands must have been locked up in the great closets which the keys did not seem to fit. Father, give me strength in some other way. Not so, my child. Part of your lesson is to learn that my way is best; that my way of giving is your best way of receiving strength. Go; your strength, joy, zeal and love for me will increase as one after another these closets open before you, revealing their rich treasures.
Yes, the word of God is the treasure-house of our Father, in which He has stored truth to sanctify the church in every age, wherein is "given us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might become partakers of the Divine nature" (`2 Pet. 1:2,4`). In it is revealed "the love of Christ (which) constraineth us." (`2 Cor. 5:14`), and by means of it our Master prayed that we should be sanctified: "Father sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth." (`John 17:17`.) What Christian, then, who desires sanctification can afford to ignore the Scriptures? Which one will say he has no time to examine and seek in it for truth? As well say he has no time for sanctification. "It is the power of God unto salvation." (`Rom. 1:16`.) Let us, then, who seek this great salvation-- high calling--say to ourselves as Paul said to Timothy (`2 Tim. 3:15-17`), "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Now call to mind the steps: First, justification of the human nature; second, a consecration or sacrifice of that human nature to God, its consequent death and the beginning of your existence as a spiritual new creature in the human body during the present life; third, the completion of your new, divine nature, by the power of God, when you will be like unto Christ's glorious body--who is the express image of the Father's person. Glorious, high calling! You are called: "Many are called, few are chosen," "Make your calling and election sure."
Do you ask how you can make it sure? I answer, by doing according to your covenant; give up your all to Father and let Him use you as he sees best--
"All for Jesus! all for Jesus!
All your being's ransomed power:
All your thoughts and words and doings,
All your days and all your hours."
"If you do these things (which you covenanted) ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (`2 Pet. 1:10-11`.") God will surely keep His part of the agreement [Faithful is He that called you.] "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (`2 Tim. 2:12`.)
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AN OPEN LETTER.
Dear Brother Russell, I write to ask your prayers for Mr. C., his wife, son and daughter. They are steeped in sin. Pray that they may be saved and become members of the Bride of Christ.
My dear brother, your request would be considered a very reasonable and proper one by most of christian people; but from our standpoint it would be the height of presumption. I can and do thank God that they and all others of our race ARE SAVED, are redeemed, and that in God's "due time" they will be entirely released from the bondage of sin and death, and during the next (Millennial) age will come to a full knowledge of their Redeemer, and have abundant opportunity to come to the condition of perfect men and women for "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God tasted death for every man," "Gave himself a ransom for all to be TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME."
To ask God to convert by any other means than the word "which is able to make them wise (now) unto salvation," would be to ask Him to perform a miracle. If this be HIS WILL He can do so (as in Paul's case) without my asking Him; and would do so whether I ask or not. If not God's will to make an exception of Mr. C. and family, who am I that I should ask Him to change His plans to suit mine? Oh, no! rather reverse the order and change my will to suit His plans.
His plan is to give "Restitution" to the billions in the next age, but to select now during the Gospel age "a little flock" (from among the billions who are redeemed from death)--to take out a people for His name--to be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife" and bear His name. It is not our business to help the Lord decide who shall be of that selected company.
The key to many unanswered prayers is "ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss." To be sure of an answer we must ask in harmony with God's plan and word. Suppose now that I should ask the Lord that Mr. C. and family may be a part of Christ's bride, and suppose Mr. C. should not be the Lord's choice for that exalted position, one of two things would surely follow: either the Lord would take some one contrary to His will, or my prayer would go unanswered. And undoubtedly it would be the latter--an unanswered prayer.
Unacceptable prayers come from one of two causes: Either they are the desire of our old (human) nature or of the new spiritual nature uninstructed as to how to ask and what to ask for.
Now brother, your request was undoubtedly made by your spiritual nature.
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So far it was good; but our new nature or new mind can at present operate only through the natural body and may consequently make mistakes (therefore, "in this tabernacle we groan"--longing for our spiritual body, which will be fully in harmony with our new nature--our birth). It is because we are thus hampered by the imperfections of earthly conditions that "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities;" for we know not what things we should ask for as we ought, but "the Spirit maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (`Rom. 8:26`.) Therefore, sometimes God answers very improper prayers in a very gracious manner, though not according to the asking.
If we would ask and receive, we should study to ask aright. "Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable before Thee, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer."
There is only one source from which we can learn "what things we should ask for," and that is the Spirit's text-book--the Bible. How important, then, it is for us to use our text-book and be well acquainted with God's plan that we may ask in harmony with it and receive. How fully this point was covered by our Lord Jesus, when he said: "If ye abide in me (first condition) and my words abide in you (second condition), ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Truly, your brother in Christ.
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QUESTIONS OF CORRESPONDENTS.
QUESTION.--Bro. R., how could Moses appear on the Mount of transfiguration if not translated?
ANSWER.--Moses was not translated; he died. (See `Deut. 34:5`.) He could have been resurrected by God's power, but not as a spiritual body since Jesus was "the first-born from the dead" to a spiritual body; "put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit." Moses may have been on the Mount as a fleshly being but nothing in the narrative demands it. Jesus doubtless knew all about it and He charged them straightly, saying, "See that ye tell no man the vision until," etc. (`Matt. 17:9`.) If He thus calls it a vision who am I that I should call it a reality.
QUES.--Bro. R., why do you advise us to read the tracts carefully before handing to others? I read them many times and have been much instructed by so doing. I don't know why I should doubt the truths they teach.
ANS.--The habit of giving tracts, etc., of whose contents the distributors are ignorant, often does harm. We should be as careful about not distributing moral poison as any other--more so. If all our readers learn to examine the tracts it will aid them in the use of the same care with other writings, to see whether it be food or poison. If by reading they are convinced that the tracts are food, such as many are starving for, it will fire their zeal in distributing them.
Then, too, we should like to think of all readers of the WATCH TOWER as preachers of God's plan and truth: "living epistles known and read of all men" "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness." (`1 Peter 3:15`.) The reading of the tracts might be God's way of making ready your answer.
QUES.--Dear Bro., do you not see that we, the people of these U.S. are the seed of Abraham, the lost tribe of Israel?
ANS.--Abraham was the father of two seeds, the children of the flesh [twelve tribes of Israel] and the children of promise, [faith], of which two seeds Ishmael and Isaac were types. (`Rom. 9:8`. and `Gal. 3:23,28,31`.) "There are spiritual promises for the spiritual seed, which is Christ," "and if ye be Christ's (members) then are ye Abraham's (spiritual) seed." (`Gal. 3:16,29`.) None of the spiritual promises belong to the natural fleshly seed, though any of them may give up their earthly promises and with the "Gentiles become fellow-heirs and of the same body [of Christ] and partakers of His promise, in Christ." `Eph. 3:6`.
Almost all of the fleshly seed are so blinded by the fleshly promises, that they do not see the greater spiritual prize. (See `Rom. 9:30-32`.) "What, then, Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for (the chief blessing through Abraham) but the election (the remnant, the few, in connection with the Gentiles) hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." But, "they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in again"--into the spiritual promises. [That is, as a nation they lost those spiritual promises and were cut off from them; but believing Israelites, as well as Gentiles, may be grafted into the spiritual vine by faith.] But, I would not, (spiritual) brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery...that blindness in part (to the larger part) hath happened unto Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in (to the spiritual blessings) "And (thus) all Israel shall be saved," (receive the things promised them as the natural seed,) viz: "There shall come out of Zion the deliverer (the spiritual seed) who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, (fleshly seed.) For this is my covenant unto them." (`Rom. 11:7-23-25 and 26`.)
These two seeds of Abraham are referred to in `Rom. 4:16`: That "the promise might be sure to all the seed (natural and spiritual) not to that only which is of the law (the natural) but to that also which is of the faith."
We know not whether the people of these United States and of England are the natural, fleshly descendants of Israel or not. It could make no difference as regards the spiritual "prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus." If they are, and were made to know it, the effect of those earthly promises would probably be to blind them to the spiritual prize as it did the others, 1800 years ago. If they are of the natural seed, they will receive grand blessings in the coming age, after the spiritual seed has been exalted to glory and power; as it is written. "They shall obtain mercy (God's promised blessings) through your mercy" (through the spiritual seed.) `Rom. 11:31`.
Bro. A. Hipsher, for answer to your question: see "Unpardonable Sin," page 3.
QUES.--Dear Bro. what kind of bodies will little children have in the resurrection?
ANS.--Paul gives us an answer to this question in `1 Cor. 15:38`: "God giveth...to every seed His own body." "There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body"--`vs. 44`. Adam, the perfect man will serve as an illustration of a perfect natural (human) body, what the earthly ones shall all be when the work of resurrection and restitution, is complete. Christ's body after his resurrection will serve as an illustration of a spiritual body. Like Him, we who have been begotten of the Spirit shall be, when we get our birth, as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.-- `Vs. 48,49`.
Now, let us use this rule: Were these children begotten and born of the flesh--fleshly bodies? Yes. Were they afterward "begotten of the Spirit by the word of truth?" No. Then they remained natural, or human, and as such belong to the natural body, while we who have been begotten of the spirit and are therefore of the spiritual seed, and in the resurrection, God will give to every seed his own body; consequently they as part of the natural seed will have a natural body, while we who have been begotten of the spirit and are therefore of the spiritual seed, will have our own bodies, viz: Spiritual bodies, "like unto Christ's glorious body."
While they are designed ultimately to reach the same grand perfection of powers, and being enjoyed by the head of the human family, (Adam), yet we do not suppose that they will come out of their graves thus perfect. We presume (merely) that they will arise children and develop. The government, etc., of children will be much easier when the curse begins to roll away; besides, in past ages the proportion of deaths in childhood, was much less than now.
Bro. J. Baldwin: It would require the entire space of Z.W.T. for a year or more to answer all your questions in full. We commend to you the reading of all the tracts 3 or 4 times; then read "DAY DAWN." You need not expect to obtain all the truth on so great and grand a subject at one swallow, it is a continuous eating. You must seek. "He that seeketh findeth." "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." (`Hos. 6:3`.)
QUES.--Dear Bro. R., may we be sure we belong to the "little flock," or must we be in doubt?
ANS.--"I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep (preserve) that (life) which I have committed unto Him against that day." Paul thus expresses his and our confidence in God that He is both able and willing to do for us, all of his part of the covenant. The question, then, of our membership in the little flock depends entirely upon our keeping our part of the covenant. We are His spiritual sheep, ever since we entered our covenant relationship,--we are His workmanship. If we are entirely given up to Him, so that His will is accomplished in us [the human nature crucified] He will give us the grand prize. If we hinder the work by opposition of our wills, we lose the prize and are obliged to come through the fire of tribulation in order to obtain the spiritual body.
We may not be able to say: the prize will surely be mine; but we can say if now entirely given up,--The prize is mine to-day unless I lose it to-morrow; and by God's grace I will "keep my body (humanity) under lest after having preached to others (of the grand prize) I myself should be a castaway" (from it.)
::R202 : page 8::
The trimming, hesitating policy of many reminds us of Luther's words to Erasmus: "You desire to walk upon eggs without crushing them, and among glasses without breaking them!" This is a difficult game to play at, and one which is more suitable for a clown at a theatre than a servant of Christ. When you are attempting to compromise, you have to look around you and move cautiously as a tight-rope dancer, for fear of offending on one side or the other. A little too much this way or that and over you go. A cat on hot cinders is in an enviable position. No true-hearted man will ever bear such wretched constraint for any length of time, or indeed at all. Think of being able to go no further than the aforementioned timorous, time-serving Erasmus, who said, "I will not be unfaithful to the cause of Christ; at least so far as the age will permit me." Out upon such cowardice: life is too dear when bought at such a price.--Spurgeon.
::R202 : page 8::
When a cloud comes between us and the sun, it robs us for the time of the enjoyment of its beams. It does not prevent him from shining, it merely hinders our enjoyment of him. Exactly so it is when we allow trials and sorrows, difficulties and perplexities, to hide from our souls the bright beams of our Father's countenance, which ever shine with changeless lustre in the face of Jesus Christ. There is no difficulty too great for our God; yea, the greater the difficulty the more room there is for Him to act in His proper character, as the God of all power and grace. It is the privilege of faith to find God behind the cloud in all His faithfulness, love and power.--Sel.