VOL. XX. JANUARY 15, 1899. No. 2.
View from the Watch Tower......................... 19
Blindness Beginning to Turn from Israel....... 19
Zionism Making Progress....................... 21
"Ye Must be Born Again"........................... 22
The Water of Life................................. 25
Faith Rewarded--"Thy Son Liveth".................. 27
Poem: Encouragement to Faithfulness
and Progress................................ 29
Who is Judging the Church?........................ 30
Letters from Distant Colaborers................... 31
Items:--Tempt Not Thy Neighbor;
Baltimore's One-Day Convention;
The Date for the Memorial Supper............ 18
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 56-60 ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR IN ADVANCE. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, N.Y. DRAFT, MONEY ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR, AS FOLLOWS:
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age or accident, or other adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list constantly.
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TEMPT NOT THY NEIGHBOR.
A brother recently mailed us a letter containing a donation to the Tract Fund in money. The letter was lost in transit--a person of weak conscience in the Post Office (by practice possessed of a keen sense of touch) recognized the nature of the contents and stole it. The brother wrote subsequently that, as the money was for the Lord's cause, he thought it proper to trust it to his care. This was a mistake of the head, not of the heart. We are to do all in our power before expecting divine interpositions. We are not to tempt Providence thus. See a Scriptural illustration of this principle in `Matthew 4:6,7`.
On the other hand, the command is that we shall love our neighbor as ourselves, and lay no snare for his weaknesses. Covetousness, we know, is a general weakness amongst men; and we should so far as possible guard and shield them from temptations of this and of every kind: besides, this is only business prudence. P.O. Money Orders or Express and Bank drafts are safe, and we advise that these be used.
During the month of December we received 3997 letters and cards and have reason to think that about one hundred sent to us were stolen by someone tempted to dishonesty by reason of the touch of a bank bill or the bulky appearance of the letters.
By the way, last month's mail was our largest--exceeding any previous month in the history of this work.
BALTIMORE'S ONE-DAY CONVENTION.
There will be a gathering of the friends of present truth residing in Baltimore, Md., and vicinity on Sunday, Jan. 22nd, at 10.30 A.M. and 2.30 P.M., at Dushane Post Hall, corner Baltimore Street and Postoffice Avenue, Baltimore.
The Editor of ZION'S WATCH TOWER (D.V.) will address the meetings. Brethren and Sisters will be cordially welcomed, also their friends to whom they have been making known the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God. A noon luncheon will be provided.
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THE DATE FOR THE MEMORIAL SUPPER.
In the interest of readers in "the uttermost parts of the earth" (Australia, South Africa, Russia, China, Japan, etc.,) we give, thus early, notice that this year the date fixed by Roman Catholics and Episcopalians agrees with the true date for the anniversary of our Lord's death, as reckoned by the old Jewish method. Consequently, Thursday evening, March 30th, after six P.M. (the beginning of the 14th of Nisan), will be the proper time for the celebration of the Memorial Supper. The next day ("Good Friday") will be the anniversary of our Lord's death, and the Jewish Passover week should begin that evening--in exact accord with the record in the Gospels. But for contrariness' sake, to keep away from the Christian date, or for some other reason unknown, the Jews this year depart from their proper mode of reckoning and begin the Passover week on March 26th which would really be the 9th of Nisan instead of the 15th, if properly reckoned.
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VIEW FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
BLINDNESS BEGINNING TO TURN FROM ISRAEL.
A REMARKABLE lecture was recently delivered before the "Council of Jewish Women" at Philadelphia by Rabbi K. Kohler--on "The New Testament in the Light of Judaism." It illustrates the new attitude of Jewish thought toward Christianity, and indicates the first stage of fleshly Israel's recovery from the gross blindness of the past eighteen centuries.-- `Rom. 9:31-33`; `11:7,10-12,20,25-29`.
The following extracts were the Doctor's most favorable references to Jesus and Christianity, and might be misleading, did we not explain that, while making these remarkable admissions and concessions to Christianity, he attempted to offset them and neutralize their effect by claiming that our Lord's most forceful teachings were merely a fresh presentation of the sentiments and sometimes the very phraseology of the Jewish teachers who preceded him. His criticisms of the Epistles of Peter, James and John are in similar strain. These, he claims, were all Jews and merely restated or rehashed Jewish doctrines and precepts. All the seriously anti-Jewish and anti-Law teachings are charged to the Apostle Paul.
The Doctor fails to see the point. Biblical Christianity makes no claim of being in antagonism to ancient Judaism. Quite to the contrary, it claims that "holy men of old [Jews] spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit." It claims, however, that the real force and the true meaning of those inspired words were not appreciated, nor intended of God to be understood until, the antitypical sin-offering having been presented by "the Lamb of God," the holy spirit was granted to all consecrated believers. For instance, we heartily assent that the Golden Rule in "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"--was delivered to Israel as a part of the Law sixteen centuries before our Lord repeated it (`Lev. 19:18`); and our Lord quoted it, not as an original saying of his own, but as a teaching of the Law. (`Matt. 19:19`.) What we claim is that those words were never understood, never comprehended, until our Lord Jesus, the great Teacher sent of God and illuminated with the holy spirit, expounded them by his example and teachings. More than this, we claim that the Jews and the majority of professed Christians do not understand these words now;--that only such as have consecrated themselves to the Lord and have received the holy spirit are able to "comprehend the lengths and breadths and heights and depths" of this and other "deep things" of God's teaching. If any man will do my Father's will, he shall understand the teaching.--`John 7:17`; `1 Cor. 2:7-12`.
Respecting the writings of the Apostle Paul, not only the Jews, but all others, in proportion as they come into close accord with both the letter and the spirit of the divine Word, will find in them the keys of the mystery of God--supplied to the Church by the Lord that they may be "all taught of God"--"that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work;"--revealings of "the whole counsel of God;" capable of elaboration under the spirit's guidance, but quite "sufficient" for such elaboration.--`John 6:45`; `2 Tim. 3:17`; `Acts 20:27`.
The extracts referred to follow:--
"There was a time when you and I were taught not even to mention the name of Jesus the Christ in order not to transgress the Law, which says: 'Ye shall not mention the name of other gods, neither shall it be heard upon your mouth.' Nor need we wonder at that. It was little short of idolatry which a paganized church made herself guilty of in her worship of Jesus and his mother. Christianity has advanced since toward the light of Jewish monotheism. It is Jesus as a Man, as
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an ideal of humanity, that is now held up for adoration and emulation by Christian theology, in spite of the Trinitarian dogma. Both art and literature portray him no longer as a God, but as a wondrously gifted teacher and healer of men, who appeals to our human sympathy. Nay, more. His Apollo face gave way to the historically more correct type of the Jews. He is recognized as one of Israel's great sons, whatever the restriction in the flesh may amount to. Should we then, as Jews, not also gladly and proudly own him as one of our noblest of men and accord to him the proper position in our own history?...Ought we, notwithstanding all difficulties, not learn to appreciate the exquisite sayings and teachings contained in the New Testament, if only from a literary and humanitarian point of view?
"There is but one answer: Find the right focus, and the colors and shades of the object in view will lead you in the direction of the one light. We need no clear sky to see the sun rise on the Eastern horizon. The clouds reveal rather than hide the dawn of light. So do the myths or legends that gather round a popular hero disclose rather than obscure the existence of a personality impressing the people with its charm and power. It must not needs be exact historical truth what we are told concerning Jesus. Those beautiful and strange tales about the things that happened around the Lake of Galilee show that there was some spiritual daybreak in that dark corner of Judea of which official Judaism had not taken sufficient cognizance, that a movement was inaugurated then which did not receive its impulse or its sanction from the regular authorities or schools. It matters not whether we accord to Jesus the claim and title of Messiah or Christ or not, whether the people and authorities of Judea did or not, or whether he himself assumed it at any moment of his life....
"It is one of the most interesting historical and psychological studies of Judaism to follow this movement through all its phases from the moment the cry of the coming--"the Kingdom of Heaven"--was heard on the shore of the Jordan among the humble Baptists until the fishermen of Galilee carried the good tidings or good spell (gospel) as the watchword of a new faith triumphantly out into the wide world. All the written and unwritten records point in unison to John the Baptist as the starter of the movement, the prophet-like preacher of righteousness whom, according to Josephus (Ant. xviii, 52), Herod the Tetrarch feared for the mighty power he wielded upon the multitudes following him to the Jordan to purify themselves of their sins. Of course Josephus, writing for the Romans, took heed not to allude to that Messianic message of his--the cry: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near;" that is to say, the kingdom of Rome, the satanic power of Edom, has reached its end. All New Testament reports agree that Jesus was among those
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who received the consecration of baptism from that popular saint of the time. Still, between the simple Messianic hope and promise of John the Baptist, with his fasts and ablutions and prayers and the bewildering faith of the Christians that the Messiah has appeared, and, tho crucified, has risen from the tomb, now to sit at the right hand of God as his son--there yawns a wide chasm which no ordinary reasoning of either Jew or Gentile could easily bridge over....
"Beneath the thick crust of the second century hatred which endeavored to malign the Jew in order to court the favor of Roman rulers, we can still read the true story of Jesus' tragic end from his own lips as he, on the road to Jerusalem, announces his fate to his disciples, saying that "He shall be delivered to the high priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death and deliver him to the heathen to mock and to scourge and to crucify." (`Mark 10:33`; `Matt. 20:18`; `Luke 18:32`.) The priestly Sadducees and not the people and their Pharisean leaders were interested in having Jesus brought to trial for his open attack on the priestly misrule, and from fear lest the Romans might hold them responsible, as Caiaphas, the high priest, actually says in the older record in John's gospel.
"All the anti-Jewish utterances are the work of the Pauline school....Every word uttered by Jesus was the ring of Jewish sentiment and betrays the originality of a religious genius....
"We cannot close our eyes to the one great fact that this man Jesus must have made a wonderful impression upon his hearers by the thousand and one sweet and beautiful things he said, no matter by whom they were uttered before or after, or else he could not have been made the author of all these a generation or two after he lived....
"Suffice it to say that his greatness consisted in belonging to no school. He was a man of the people. ...'Christianity,' says Leroy Beaulieu, 'produced saints; Judaism, sages.' I say: Christianity gave us Sisters of Mercy; Judaism, noble types of wives and mothers."
* * *
That Doctor Kohler is not merely giving expression to views of his own far in advance of the general trend of Jewish thought, is evidenced by the following comments on his lecture by the editor of The Jewish Exponent:--
"Dr. Berkowitz, in discussing the lecture, said that it could not have been delivered in other times, because the lecturer's life would have been imperiled thereby. There was another reason why this was true; which is, that there would have been no one to listen to it. Christians, of course, would have objected, and to the Jews the New Testament was forbidden fruit. Our ancestors regarded the reading of the New Testament books as next door to apostasy itself. That Jewish mothers should wish to be acquainted with its contents would have been unheard-of perversity.
"All this has largely changed. The Jews have gone out into the world; they meet Christians on equal terms. The dread of the Christian religion has disappeared with the effort to forcibly convert Jews. They have gone out into the full tide of Christianity, and behold, they have not been swept away. On the contrary the love of their own faith has grown. It is an evidence of strength that leads the Jew to wish to ascertain the true character of that literature so intimately connected with his own and yet so widely different; so world-embracing in its influence; so potent in its effects upon his neighbors, so freighted with consequences for himself. When before would rabbis have been found who would have invited their people, and
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especially the women, under any circumstances or conditions, to read the New Testament? Yet here it was done. It need hardly be said, however, that such reading must be conducted with care, and, if possible, under conditions which, if not favorable to Judaism, will be at least not hostile thereto....
"But, however the Bible is read, with whatever preconceptions, it is extremely difficult to escape the pervasive influence of its purity, its strength, its exaltation both of Deity and humanity, its powerful plea for righteousness. Its influence in the Christian world is incalculable; not so much in making Jews of Christians, as in refining and purifying Christianity of its dross and bringing it nearer to the pure stock whence it sprung. In every reformation of Christianity the testament of Israel has been the starting point and the great foundation for the religious enfranchisement. The trend of enlightened Christianity of to-day is towards a return to Israel's simple and pure religious conceptions. Not a little of the antagonism felt towards the Jews and their scriptures is due to the fears of Christian reactionaries, who would crush every attempt to elevate and purify the church under the opprobrious epithet, 'It's Jewish.'
"What, then, would be the effect of the study of the Christian Testament in the light of the Jewish scriptures as indicated by Dr. K. Kohler? Certainly it will have an important influence. It will not only disclose beauties of its own, but also open Jewish eyes to treasures in their own scriptures, to which, with the indifference of inherited spiritual wealth, they have been hitherto oblivious."
* * *
This means the opening of the New Testament to the Jews--not willingly upon the part of the Rabbis, but by force of circumstances, the growth of intelligence and the fact that the best people of the world have drawn their inspirations from it. It was this same force of circumstances that compelled the Roman Catholic Council of Baltimore some years ago to grant Roman Catholics residing in the United States liberty to own and to read the Bible.
Surely this removal of the Jewish ban from the New Testament will mean the reading of it by the purest and best of that long blinded people. And the reading of the New Testament will mean the gradual turning away of their blindness. So far as our observation goes, nearly all the Jews who have ever gotten their eyes opened to see Christ as Messiah have been converted by reading the New Testament and not by tracts or other treatises--altho other writings are as necessary to them as to others as helps in understanding the divine plan of the ages, after they have accepted Jesus as Messiah.
Is not this the beginning of the fulfilment of our Lord's words, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him [Compare `John 5:45-47`]: the word that I have spoken [directly and through the apostles] the same shall judge him in the last day." (`John 12:48`.) Are we not entering the Millennial period--"the last day?"--and are not the blinded ones getting ready for the eye-salve? They are still proud, and their words are still stout against Jesus as the Messiah--it is merely their race-pride perhaps which now leads them to acknowledge the great Teacher's greatness, because he was a Jew. But in the great time of trouble near at hand, which will include "Jacob's trouble" as well as "Babylon's" fall, the honest and humble ones will look unto him with the eye of faith and shall see him thus, and then will be fulfilled `Zechariah 12:10`.
ZIONISM MAKING PROGRESS.
Zionist Jews--those Jews who are identified with the recent movement for a resettlement of Palestine by the Jews--report that the cause so near their hearts is not languishing. Their leader, Doctor Herzl, has recently had interviews with the Sultan and the Pope, and with four prominent compatriots was present at Jerusalem at the time Emperor William visited that city and were kindly received by him. Dr. Herzl is reticent respecting the amount of encouragement given by these potentates; but as one result of his visit to the Sultan he bears a badge of the Order of Mejidie, which would seem to imply that the man and his plea were not disdained. That the door of Palestine will open to the Jew, and that shortly, we have no question; altho it has been effectually closed for now nearly seven years --no Jew being permitted to enter it except as a visitor whose period of stay is expressly defined and limited.
Respecting Doctor Herzl's efforts, etc., Rabbi S. Wise, Hon. Secy. Amer. Fed. Zionists, writes:--
"The exact tenor of the Kaiser's courteous reply, spoken in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Von Bulow, has not been disclosed. Enough is known, however, to enable us to predicate that the Kaiser is prepared to vouchsafe his benevolent sanction to the Zionist movement, calculated as it is to foster the agricultural life of Palestine under the acknowledged sovereignty of the Sultan. The members of the deputation have since returned to Vienna and have practically made this declaration, altho they have couched their interviews, which appeared in the official organ of the movement, in terms of becoming reserve....
"We do not ask that the holy places be committed to our exclusive keeping; let these remain, as they are now, in the hands of those who guard and cherish them. Surely the Christian world requires no assurance on our part that every spot which Christians hold in reverence will be precious to us. The Jew shall not cease to honor true devotion to an ideal--least of all in the land which his past has hallowed for all time.
"Not in vain do we place our reliance upon Kaiser and Sultan. Help and deliverance have come to us before through the grace of 'stranger kings.' Two
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historic instances recur to us of Israel marvelously saved and prospered with the help of reigning kings. In the year 538 of the pre-Christian era Cyrus took Babylon and graciously permitted the Babylonian exiles to return to their fatherland.
"The momentous results which followed from the reestablishment of the Judean Commonwealth are part of--and the largest part of--the world's history. A tree of two great branches flourished in time on the soil which the former captives by the rivers of Babylon began to cultivate with all the ardor and assiduity of their nature--two branches, the one the religion of Ezra and the latest prophets, of Hillel and the rabbis, the other, the faith of Jesus, later become the Christianity of his countless followers. And all this came to pass, as Dr. Max Nordau has aptly pointed out, owing to the hardihood of a handful of the earliest Zionists, who, availing themselves of the rights accorded them by Cyrus, the noble, chose to give up their peaceful and secure residence in Babylon in order to live and labor in Zion and rebuild its waste places. The second exile is soon to end. In the words of Josephine Lazarus, 'once planted again upon native soil, "taking root downward," as Isaiah has it, who can tell what "upward flower and fruit" the immortal branch may bear--what new birth of the spirit, the undying spirit of Israel may give to the world?'
"Another King there was, greater even than Cyrus, who, like him, befriended the Jews. In the course of his victorious marches Alexander visited Jerusalem in the year 332. Legends in great number have been woven around this visit, picturing the manner in which this youthful Prince, who had come to scoff, remained to pray. Whether it be true, as rabbinic tale has it, that Alexander was so deeply impressed by the visage of the venerable High Priest Jaddua and the priestly train that he was moved to bow in humility and adoration before these whom he had set out to conquer, and that he even caused sacrifices to be offered up to the Most High in the Temple of Jerusalem, we cannot tell. We do know, however, that this Macedonian ruler, far from despoiling and violating the shrine, as had been and continued to be the custom of earlier and later invading princes, openly befriended the Jews and treated them with the utmost consideration and generosity."
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"YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN."
--JAN. 22.--`JOHN 3:1-16`.--
NICODEMUS displayed both a noble and an ignoble disposition in coming to the Master. (1) He had a nobility of mind which was able to discern distinctly that Jesus was not an impostor, but a Teacher from God; and it was his desire for the truth which led him to seek it from the lips of one of no reputation amongst the worldly wise. (2) But he displayed the ignoble element of his disposition by coming privately, secretly, at night, whereas he should have acted up to his convictions fairly, and have come forward to inquire of the Lord, if not in public, at least in daylight and openly. There are a good many Christians of the Nicodemus type. They have a standing in the nominal church, and a great respect for the "honor of one another," so general in it.
Some to-day, for instance, see something of the light of present truth, and are convinced that the meat in due season now spread before the household of faith is from God's Word, and not human speculations. They will confess this much to themselves, and privately to some of the servants of present truth, and privately, secretly, so far as their denominations are concerned, they procure and read MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER--perhaps subscribing in the name of some one else, "for fear of the Jews." But altho this is an ignoble course, the Lord does not refuse them the opportunity they seek and, like Nicodemus, they are made acquainted with the truth. But, as we hear little more respecting Nicodemus, so the Nicodemus class of to-day very rarely develop into true overcoming disciples, servants of the truth. Fear is good, caution is good, when properly exercised; but when these are allowed to have any voice in dictating our course after we have found the truth, their influence can only be evil, enslaving, demeaning. Those who are thus bound by love of human approbation, and fear of the consequences of a public, bold advocacy of the Lord and his truth, are not worthy of him, as he declared: "He that is ashamed of me and my word, of him will I also be ashamed." We urge that all who find in themselves the Nicodemus disposition seek immediately to overcome it, and to get their hearts so filled with the love of God and the love of his truth that it will make them free from bondage to sectarianism, and to fear of man, which bringeth a snare. "Perfect love casteth out fear." Whom the Son makes free is free indeed.--`1 John 4:18`; `John 8:36`.
Evidently but a small portion of this conference between Jesus and Nicodemus is furnished us--merely the leading features. Evidently the questions which Nicodemus asked related to the Kingdom of God, which John the Baptist had declared was at hand, and which our Lord also declared to be at the door. As a teacher amongst the Jews, Nicodemus was surely imbued with this hope of Israel--that in due time God would send Messiah, who would establish the long-promised Kingdom of Israel--superior to all the kingdoms of the world, and over them all,--to bless all the families of the earth, according to the promise made to Abraham. Not only might we infer that his question pertained to the Kingdom, but our Lord's answer plainly indicates this, for he began at once to talk about the promised Kingdom.
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The great Teacher's explanation respecting the Kingdom-class must have struck Nicodemus as totally new. He had been accustomed to think of all the nation of Israel as being the children of the Kingdom, or, if not the entire nation, at least their most intelligent classes, the scribes, the Doctors of the Law, and their holiness class, the Pharisees. But here was a new thought--none would be in this Kingdom, sharers of its glory and of its work of blessing all the families of the earth, except they should be "born again." Nay more, the intimation was that the Kingdom would be an invisible Kingdom, that none could even see it, except he would be born again. Failing to grasp the thought of begetting and birth to a higher nature, Nicodemus was puzzled to think how a person who had reached maturity could ever be born again according to the flesh: and of course he was right in considering that an impossibility. The new birth is not to
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be a birth according to the flesh: as our Lord explains, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the spirit is spirit." The Master's teaching was not that we should be born again of the flesh, but quite to the contrary, that those who would constitute the Kingdom class must be begotten and born of the spirit of God, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of the truth.
There is a great lesson here for many pre-millennialists, who vainly think, as Nicodemus, that the Kingdom of God will be a fleshly Kingdom, that the Kingdom-class will have what they are pleased to call "glorified flesh." Our Master's plain declarations thoroughly set aside all such expectations: and to us, as well as Nicodemus, he positively declares that none shall enter into the Kingdom except he be born again. The statement that "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit," is so unqualifiedly plain, and proves so emphatically that the spirit-begotten and spirit-born class, the "little flock," which will inherit the Kingdom, will not be flesh-beings in any sense of the word, but spirit beings, that there is no room for controversy or for misunderstanding on the part of those who have no will of their own in the matter, but are seeking to be taught of the Lord.
All recognize the meaning of the expression, "born of the flesh," that it does not mean merely begotten of the flesh, but a birth into independent flesh-life as a result of the begetting and gestation. And precisely the same thought should attach to the expression, "born of the spirit." It does not relate merely to the begetting of the spirit through the word of truth, which occurs during the present life, and at the time of our consecration to the Lord, but on the contrary, it implies and includes a subsequent birth to perfected spirit conditions--the entrance of the spirit existence in the resurrection--the result of the present begetting of the truth, and the present period of gestation or development as "new creatures in Christ Jesus."
That this is the proper Scriptural thought to be attached to this word, "born," is manifest from other Scriptures which declare that our Lord Jesus was, at his resurrection, "the first-born from the dead," and "the first-born amongst many brethren." (`Rom. 8:29`; `Col. 1:18`.) Our Lord was begotten of the spirit at the time of his baptism, when the holy spirit came upon him. The new nature there begun, in the flesh, developed during the three and a half years of his ministry in proportion as the flesh, the human nature, died. Thus, as the Apostle expresses it, he was dying daily, as the man Christ Jesus, but was being renewed day by day in the inner man, the new creature, the spirit being.--`2 Cor. 4:16`.
The complete death of the flesh, with our Lord, was the victory of his new nature, which refused to draw back, refused to save the flesh, which had already been devoted to sacrifice, as our sin-offering. It was because of this faithfulness of our Lord, as the "new creature," in offering up his flesh as a sin-offering, that the Heavenly Father was pleased to resurrect the "new creature"--not the flesh, which was man's ransom price. The resurrection of the "new creature" in a spirit body, glorious, powerful, immortal (`1 Cor. 15:42-44`), was our Lord's birth of the spirit, as the first-born amongst many brethren. As the Head of the Kingdom was thus begotten of the spirit, and in due time born of the spirit, so likewise must it be with those who will be members of that Kingdom. "Flesh and blood [human nature]" shall not inherit the Kingdom of God,--"cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." (`1 Cor. 15:50`.) Hence, we who would be heirs of the Kingdom must all be changed--made like our spirit-born Head, ere we can either see the Kingdom or share its glorious work as members.
Not only did our Lord clearly state the matter thus, but he gave an illustration which is in absolute harmony with this understanding of his words, but meaningless from any other standpoint. He declared that as the wind comes and goes, but is invisible to men, so will all those be who will be members of the Kingdom, born again. Our Lord illustrated this teaching in his own person, after his resurrection. Altho he was present forty days, he appeared only a few times to the disciples, in all apparently not more than seven, and even on these occasions he appeared in a form of flesh (as angels did during previous dispensations) and communed with them for a few moments, and then vanished out of their sight. As the wind he came, as the wind he went, and they knew not whither. Invisible
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as the wind, he was present with them, taking note of all their affairs, during all that forty days, and merely appearing at the proper times to give the needed counsel and directions and assistance. So it will be with all of the Kingdom class, when they are born of the spirit; they will be able to go and come and attend to all the various functions of the Kingdom, without being visible to mankind. They will be as the wind. It will be within their province to appear as men, as the angels have done, if there be necessity for so appearing, altho we incline to think that there will be no such necessity, as God has already provided an earthly class as the representatives of the Kingdom amongst men.--`Heb. 11:39,40`.
We are in no sense denying or objecting to the ordinary thought, that a work of grace takes place in the heart of the Christian when he is adopted into the divine family as a son and prospective heir of God, a "new creature in Christ Jesus:" on the contrary, we are affirming this, as an absolute necessity to a share in the Kingdom, for whoever is not begotten of the spirit surely can never hope to be born of the spirit. We are merely making the proper distinctions between the begetting of the spirit, which is merely the beginning of the work of grace in us, and the birth of the spirit, which is the completion of that work, when we shall be like the Lord and see him as he is, and behold and share his glory.
We cannot wonder that Nicodemus was astonished when we remember that the holy spirit was not yet given, and that Nicodemus was not a member of the house of sons, but merely of the house of servants. We wonder far more that some who have been begotten of the spirit do not readily comprehend this spiritual teaching: for it is their privilege to understand "the deep things of God." (`1 Cor. 2:10`.) As our Lord said to Nicodemus, "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" we may, with much greater point, say to Christians who cavil to-day, Are you begotten of the spirit, and taught of God, and yet ignorant of these things?
Our Lord does not even class this teaching as being specially spiritual, but rather earthly, such as the natural man, in proper harmony with God, should be able to understand and appreciate. He says, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" Those whose minds are on so gross an earthly plane that they cannot appreciate so simple a matter as this are not in the condition to be inducted into the deeper things of God. They are at most but "babes," and have need to be fed with milk instead of with strong meat. (`Heb. 5:12`.) Nicodemus, unable (or perhaps we should say, because of prejudice, unwilling) to believe this message concerning the spiritual character of the Kingdom, was unprepared for any further teaching along that line--he was unwilling to receive the truth, the only message which Christ had to give, altho he was already persuaded that our Lord was a teacher sent from God. Hence our Lord says, "Ye receive not our witness."
Our Lord's statement, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God," deserves further consideration. We have seen what he meant by the expression, "born of the spirit," viz., born from the dead by the power of God as a spirit being, but what is signified by the expression, "born of water?" It is claimed by a very large number indeed that this refers to water baptism, and that those who are not born out of water will not have part in the Lord's Kingdom. We are willing to admit the truth of this only to a limited extent. We hold that the Lord refers to the true baptism, which is merely symbolized by immersion in water, and the rising out of it. We hold that the real thought is the burial of the old nature, and the rising of the new nature to newness of life, and that this is accomplished through consecration of the will to the will of the Lord, a burial or immersion of the human will to death, as the necessary step to be taken in connection with the obtaining of the holy spirit, the holy mind, the mind of Christ, the spirit of Christ, which is the beginning in our flesh of the new creature, which must be developed and made ready if it would be born of the spirit in the resurrection.
This same thought seems to be in the mind of the Apostle, when he refers to the bath of a new birth, the making new by the holy spirit. (`Tit. 3:5`.) Cornelius evidently had this bath of the new birth, the making new by the holy spirit, before his baptism in water (which was a symbol of it, and an outward confession to others). And so it is, we believe, with some Christian people to-day. They have had the bath of the new birth, and the making new by the holy spirit, and are thus genuinely new creatures in Christ Jesus, without having had the symbolical immersion in water,-- because, being mistaught as a result of the errors of the Dark Ages, they do not discern the beauty of the symbolic baptism in water, and the Scriptural command thereto; and this ignorance and disobedience God evidently has passed over, with many of us, for years. But when, in the abundance of his grace, a knowledge of his will on this subject ultimately reaches us, there should not be one moment's hesitation--there will not be one moment's hesitation, if the will of the flesh is entirely dead, and the mind of Christ fully in control.
The oldest Greek MSS. (the Sinaitic and Vatican) omit the last four words of `verse 13`, with evident propriety,
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for, altho our Lord is now in heaven, he was not in heaven at the time he addressed Nicodemus. The words in this verse were intended to remind Nicodemus that he need not look to fellow-human creatures for information respecting heavenly things, as they could not know them, any more than himself; but incidentally this verse teaches us something more, viz., that no man has ever been in heaven except our Lord Jesus. This not only agrees with the statement of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, "David is not ascended into the heavens," but it also agrees with the Apostle Paul's statement, "Flesh and blood [human nature] cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."--`1 Cor. 15:50`; `Acts 2:34`.
The only ground for hope that any of the fallen race of Adam will ever know anything about the heavenly condition is then stated by our Lord to depend upon his own justifying work on man's behalf. He must be lifted up as the great sin-offering, the antitype of the brazen serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness, the antidote for the bites of the fiery serpents, which represented sin.
Our Lord's reference to the results gives the thought of the wideness of God's mercy, and of his provision for our race. Altho now this mercy is confined to the elect Church, "even as many as the Lord our God shall call," it is in due time to be world-wide, and a blessing to "whosoever believeth on him." Then the grand Gospel provision is briefly stated in few words--God's sympathetic love for the world, his provision of the ransom in the person of his Son, and that provision made not merely for an elect class, but for the world of mankind in general--whosoever believeth.
Another thought: God's provision is not to rescue any from the flames of hell, from an eternity of torment; but to rescue them from death, from destruction, from perishing, from nonentity, and to grant to whosoever is willing to have it, on the conditions of the New Covenant,--Everlasting Life.
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THE WATER OF LIFE.
--JAN. 29.--`JOHN 4:5-15`.--
"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst."--`John 4:14`.
EARLY in his ministry, in sending forth the Apostles to preach the Kingdom of God at hand, our Lord had instructed them that they were not to go amongst Gentiles nor to Samaritan cities to deliver their message. It was easy to avoid the Gentiles, because comparatively few of them resided in Palestine: the governors of the land, Herod and Pilate, the centurions, and the soldiers, were probably the only Gentiles they were likely to meet, and these they were to seek to avoid, as the message of the Kingdom was not for them. But it was a difficult matter to avoid the Samaritans, for the district called Samaria lay between Judea proper and Galilee, and was necessarily passed through repeatedly by our Lord and his chosen twelve.
The Samaritans, it will be remembered, were not Jews, altho they were worshipers of God, and had come largely under the influence of the teachings of the Law. They were descendants of those mixed peoples which were placed in possession of the land of Israel, as colonists, when the ten tribes were taken captive and colonized amongst the Gentiles. As the Israelites in a foreign land took up with the religious customs of those lands to a large extent, so these Gentiles, transported to Palestine, took up with many of the religious customs, etc., related thereto. But their belief in God, and the fact that they worshiped the true God, did not constitute them proper subjects for the Gospel call, which was confined exclusively to the natural seed of Abraham up to the time of our Lord's rejection;--then their house was left desolate, and the middle wall of partition between them and other nations was broken down, and the Gospel of the Kingdom was sent forth, without restraint, to whosoever would have the ears to hear it.
It was while our Lord and his disciples were passing through this Samaritan territory, between Galilee and Judea, that, coming to one of the cities of Samaria, he was refused entertainment, and James and John inquired, Wilt thou that we command fire from heaven to destroy them? and Jesus refused, saying that his mission was one of salvation and not of destruction. The Samaritans did not refuse entertainment because they were opposed to the Lord and his teachings, for, quite to the contrary, they apparently would have been very willing to receive him, recognizing him as a teacher sent from God, who performed many wonderful works. Their refusal to entertain him was because he did not purpose to stop with them to teach them, perform miracles in their midst, heal their sick, etc., but was merely passing through in his journey to perform his miracles upon and teach the Israelites.
It was while our Lord and the Apostles were similarly passing through Samaria again, that, weary with his journey, and probably not wishing to appear unkind, nor to be similarly repulsed again, Jesus waited beside Jacob's well, and rested, while the Apostles went to the city of Sychar to replenish their stock of provisions. And in the interim a woman of Samaria met Jesus at the well, when she came to draw water. It was evidently with less of a desire for the water for his own comfort, than from a desire to teach the woman, that
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our Lord asked her for a drink. While he could not invite her, or any other Samaritan, to a place in the Kingdom, which was the central thought of his Gospel, he could nevertheless appropriately give her some food for thought, which later on might do her good, and prepare her to have a hearing ear against the time when the Gospel call would be unrestricted--for whosoever hath an ear to hear.
The completeness of separation between the Jews and Samaritans, as of different classes or castes, is clearly shown in the woman's surprised reply to our Lord's request. Not that the Samaritans were averse to having fellowship with the Jews, but that the Jews, imbued with the thought that the promises of God were to the seed of Abraham exclusively, would "have no dealings with the Samaritans," would ask no favors of them, and apparently would grant few favors to them. While our Lord was bound to act in line with that truth, that the seed of Abraham, and the promises made to it, were distinct and separate from all others, yet he was not influenced by feelings of pride, caste, etc., and in this instance he pursued a policy in harmony with the Apostle's admonition--that good be done to all men as we have opportunity,--preferably to the household of faith. (`Gal. 6:10`.) For the time our Lord was not in a position to speak to Israelites, to do them good, and he was prompt to embrace the opportunity to do what good he could to even a Samaritan woman. And therein is a lesson for all of his followers to-day: we should serve the household of faith wherever possible, but when this is impossible, and an opportunity offers, we should seek to do some good to others--to speak words which may help them by and by, if not in the present time or age.
Not entering into a dispute with the woman, nor into explanations of the distinction between the seed of Abraham and others, our Lord proceeds to talk of something much more important to her, and in this also sets a good example to all those who would speak his truth in his name, in his way, wisely. He told the woman of a more important matter,--that he alone could give the water of life. While physically he was weary, and needed the natural water, yet in a higher sense the woman was the weary one, heavy-laden with sin, who needed the invigorating water of life of which the Lord himself is the fountain.
The thought in the expression, "living waters," is that of a fresh spring in contrast with stagnant waters, which become contaminated and foul. The water which our Lord proposed to give the woman was certainly not the holy spirit, for this is distinctly termed the gift of the Father, and is symbolized by the anointing oil. The water of life is the truth, which both cleanses and refreshes. A portion of this our Lord could properly give to the Samaritan woman, if she were hungering and thirsting after it, and he did give her a drink of it.
The woman classed herself as a daughter of Jacob, and thus implied a hope on the part of Samaritans that notwithstanding their rejection by the Jews from heritage in the Abrahamic covenant, they nevertheless trusted in some blessing. And indeed there was a mixture of Israelitish stock amongst the Samaritans, for certain poor Israelites had not been deported to foreign countries, and these, ignoring the strictness of the Abrahamic covenant, had intermarried with the Gentiles and in general had abandoned circumcision and the other conditions of Judaism, and hence could be no longer recognized by the Lord as in any respect different from the other nations,--Gentiles. So, too, it was with many of the Israelites who were deported: they mixed and mingled with the Gentiles, abandoned the sign of circumcision in the flesh, and in general all the provisions of the Lord's covenant: these, in every sense of the word, ceased to be Israelites, and had no further hopes under that covenant,--being as much strangers and foreigners to the promises of the Covenant as any Gentiles.
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Thus, from our Lord's treatment of the Samaritans we can readily see the baselessness of the expectation of some, who style themselves "Anglo-Israelites," and claim to be the descendants of these deported Israelites who abandoned circumcision and all the features of the Law Covenant, given to Israel. Those who lean on such a prop lean upon a broken reed. The only Israelites who can hope for any mercy and blessing at the Lord's hands, under the Law Covenant, and as the natural seed of Abraham, are those who have a sufficiency of Abrahamic faith to at least maintain the outward signs in the flesh, and an outward attempt at obedience to their Law Covenant. As for the others, who become part and parcel of the Gentiles, they have neither part nor lot any longer with Israel: they may, however, through Christ, come under the still more beneficent terms of the New Covenant, sealed with his precious blood. But the blessings of the two covenants cannot be mixed, and, as the Apostle Paul distinctly declares, whoever hopes for justification under the Law Covenant and under the New Covenant is making a great mistake, and is falling between them both. Whosoever he be, Christ profiteth him nothing; he is yet in his sins, and not an heir, neither as a member of the natural seed, nor yet as a member of the spiritual seed.--`Gal. 5:2`.
The woman's slowness of comprehension is striking, and yet so it is with all of us when first we came in contact with spiritual truths. Our Lord's patience as a teacher, with a congregation of only one, and that one a woman of a low caste, should be a lesson to all of his followers who seek to distribute to others a taste of the water of life.
Our Lord's explanation of the peculiarities of the
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water of life of which he is the fountain for mankind is very beautiful, but its force can be appreciated only by those who have received this blessing at his hands --only by those to whom he has communicated his truth and who have been sanctified by that truth, set apart as his disciples--as fountains of truth for others.
Errors, falsities, may satisfy temporarily the cravings of those who have never yet tasted of the truth, the water of life; but nothing can give permanent, lasting satisfaction except the truth: and our Lord himself, the Word, the Logos, the message of the Father, full of grace and truth, is the embodiment and representative of this satisfying water of life. Whoever receives the Lord as his Redeemer and Leader and Teacher, through whom all the gracious promises of God are to be fulfilled; --whoever receives this water of life, receives a satisfying portion, and will never be found looking for truth in other directions. It will satisfy his longings as nothing else could do, and so abundantly as to leave no appetite for strange waters.
The saints, the Body of Christ, the prospective Bride, are the only ones who receive this water of life in its fullest and completest sense during this Gospel age; and of them it is true that this water is always fresh, springing up within them everlastingly. And when these many well-springs shall in God's due time be brought together in the Kingdom, then will be fulfilled through them unitedly, as the Body of Christ, the prediction, "Out of thy belly shall flow rivers of living water."--`John 7:38`.
This river of water of life does not flow at the present time: it cannot flow out to the "nations" until all the "little flock" as well-springs shall be brought together in the Kingdom. And thus it is pictured in Revelation, that after the throne, the Kingdom, is established, from under it shall flow the river of water of life, clear as crystal. Truth will then flow as a mighty river, refreshing and blessing the whole earth, and causing the trees of promise to bring forth "leaves for the healing of the nations [the heathen]." And then shall be fulfilled a promise of the Scriptures which is misapplied by many to the present time: "The spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (`Rev. 22:17`.) The Bride cannot say, Come, in this sense of the word, until she becomes the Bride, when the marriage of the Lamb is come, and the new age has fully opened. Neither can she invite the whole world to come to the river of truth until she herself has been glorified, and until that river of life flows. While looking forward to that glorious day, when grace shall be free to every creature, we nevertheless rejoice in the election of the present time, in which the Gospel call is intended not for everyone, but for only those who have ears to hear, "even as many as the Lord our God shall call."--`Acts 2:39`.
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FAITH REWARDED--"THY SON LIVETH."
--FEB. 5--`JOHN 4:43-54`.--
"Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house."--`John 4:53`.
TWO days were spent preaching to the woman of Samaria and completing the journey into Galilee, etc., ere the nobleman's son was healed. Galilee was a part of the territory which formerly belonged to the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel, and the district called Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea. It will be noticed that, while our Lord journeyed hither and thither, he never went outside the territory occupied by the twelve tribes. It will be remembered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, not far from Jerusalem, and that his parents, shortly after his birth, fled into Egypt, under the Lord's direction, before the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem: and on the return from Egypt, instead of returning to Bethlehem, they located at Nazareth in Galilee,--"that he might be called a Nazarene," and that thus odium for eccentricity might attach to the Lord, as an offset to his wonderful personality and the "gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth" --"such as never man spake" before or since;--to the intent that only the Israelites indeed might hear in the true sense of the word, and be healed and accepted as sons of God under the New Covenant of grace.
It will be remembered that our Lord's disciples were known as "Galileans," and himself as the "Galilean." And recognizing the truth expressed in the proverb, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country," our Lord did not begin his ministry in Galilee, but in Judea. It seems probable that after his first miracle at Cana he, with his disciples, went to Judea, and was present there at the time of the Feast of the Passover, and at that time performed many notable miracles, on account of which his fame went abroad, not only throughout Judea, but also into his own country, Galilee: for it was the custom for large numbers of the devout Jews to go to Jerusalem to the Feast of the Passover every year, and these from Galilee had brought back word of the works and fame of their countryman. Hence our Lord was now returning to his own country, a great prophet, because of the fame first gained elsewhere.
Our Lord's experience was no exception to the general rule: it is a trait of human nature to lightly esteem things with which we are intimately acquainted. "Distance lends enchantment to the view." When one sees
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a mountain at a distance, its outlines stand out with boldness and symmetry, but when he comes close to it the beauty and grandeur are apt to be marred, in his estimation, because his eye rests upon the smaller fragments and the silt and soil and tangle of common weeds. Nevertheless, the view and thought from a greater distance are the truer ones, the proper ones. So, too, some of earth's characters who are highly esteemed to-day were much less esteemed by those who came most closely in contact with them in their day: not that the present view is the false one, but because those who were closest to them, and who were affected by the commonalities of daily life, failed to rightly appreciate them. This is often true in the households and family connections of the world's notables. The little things of life are seen, and the character is measured by these, rather than by its larger features, which alone are seen in the distance. For instance, Julius Caesar, who by all the world is acknowledged to have been a great man, was lightly esteemed by Cassius, his intimate friend and servant, who once saved his life from drowning, and who was with him when sick, and who measured him by the weaknesses of these occasions and others, rather than by the largeness and greatness exhibited at other times. He, for instance, called attention to the fact that "when Caesar was sick he cried, 'Give me some drink, Titanius,' like a sick girl." His closeness hindered him from seeing the greatness which others, less close, could readily discern; and thus he says,--
"It doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone."
So it was with Jesus: "Neither did his brethren believe on him" (which expression in olden times signified kinsfolk, including cousins as well as brothers). They knew Mary, his mother, they knew his brethren, they knew Joseph, the husband of Mary, and apparently they knew also that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but was conceived before Joseph had taken Mary as his wife (`Matt. 1:18`); for this was the evident purport of
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their sneer at him, when contending with him they said, "We be not born of fornication." (`John 8:41`.) They knew him as the young man who probably had worked as a carpenter in their midst for years. They knew that his home city, Nazareth, had never been reputed for its wealth or its learning--its sons were not the bright ones of the Jewish firmament. It was correspondingly difficult for them to realize that this one whom they knew so well could be the great one of whom Moses and the prophets did write.
Hence we find that in his own city, altho they said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, and this miraculous power?" they also said, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary, and do not his brothers James, and Joses, Simon and Judas, and all his sisters, live with us?...And they stumbled at him. ...And he did not perform many miracles there because of their unbelief."--`Matt. 13:54-58`.
But, returning to our lesson: The news that the great Galilean Prophet and healer of the sick had returned to his home, soon reached Capernaum, which was only about twenty miles distant from Cana; and a person of social and political rank in that city was amongst the first to manifest his faith, and to receive a corresponding blessing; for we are told that the healing of his son was the "second miracle" performed by our Lord after his return from Judea.
It was doubtless by way of testing his faith that our Lord seemed at first to object to his petition, saying, in effect, You do not have faith in me as the Messiah; it is my signs and wonders that you are interested in. The troubled and affectionate father showed by his answer that his interest was not merely one of curiosity and desire to see a miracle performed: his was a true faith in Christ's power, which, he did not question, was able to save his son from death--"Sir, come down ere my son die." His true faith had its reward, and yet he was required to exercise it still further, and to believe that his request was answered, notwithstanding he could have no proof of this for several hours. His faith again stood the test, and he went his way, ascertaining later that the child had begun to mend at the very time our Lord had granted the request. And his faith brought him a still greater blessing than the physical recovery of his son's health, for it made him and his family "believers" in the Messiah, and thus brought them within reach of the great privilege of sonship and joint-heirship mentioned in `John 1:12`.
Our Lord's object in this and other healing miracles was evidently not merely the recovery of the sick from pain and disease. Had this been his object, he might have commanded the healing of all the sick in one breath: and more than this, he might have remedied the evil conditions which tended to promote sickness. For instance, the nobleman's son had a fever, and quite probably there were many others in Capernaum similarly afflicted, as the city was built near low, marshy ground, and is noted in history as a malarial locality, unhealthful. The Lord did not do this work of general healing, but this is no evidence of a lack of sympathy, nor of a lack of appreciation of what would be necessary to make that and other portions of the earth healthful, any more than it could be considered a lack of interest in mankind on God's part which had permitted malarial and other evil conditions and resulting sickness and disease throughout the whole world for thousands of years. On the contrary, God foreknew the sickness, and designed to permit the evil conditions, as accompaniments
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of the sentence against man as a sinner--as accessories and concomitants to his death sentence.
The time will come when he who redeemed mankind, and who redeemed also from the curse the earth, "the purchased possession" (`Eph. 1:14`), will cleanse it from all evil, baneful influences--and there shall be no more death, nor pain, nor sickness, nor crying, for the former things shall have passed away, and all things will be made new. And the period of the renewing of the earth and of mankind, for whose use and blessing it was intended, is Scripturally termed, "the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." And this restitution the Apostle Peter, speaking under the inspiration of the holy spirit on the day of Pentecost, tells us will begin at the second coming of our Lord Jesus.--`Acts 3:19-23`.
At his first advent our Lord's mission was specifically to give himself as the world's ransom price, and secondarily to furnish evidences which to a certain class would be a ground for faith in him, in his teachings, and in his future work--to the intent that such "believers" of the present age might come to the Father, receive the adoption of sons, and the promises; and through faith and obedience unto self-sacrifice might become joint-heirs with Messiah in his great future work of restitution--in the work of blessing all families of the earth.
Bringing the matter down to an individual one, we find that the nobleman received the blessing through faith, and that his faith was attested by his conduct. And so must it be with all who would be acceptable to God, and who would win the great prize set before us in the Gospel. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith:" but "Faith without works is dead." Faith cannot live without manifesting itself. All of our services to the Lord are valuable chiefly as proofs of our faith in his promises.--`1 John 5:4`; `Jas. 2:26`; `Heb. 11:6`.
A story is told of how a private soldier in Napoleon's army exercised faith in his word, and as a result of acting thereon received promotion to a captaincy. Napoleon was reviewing his army in the city of Paris, when the bridle dropped from his hand and the horse started on a gallop. A soldier leaped from the ranks, caught the horse and returned the bridle to Napoleon. The Emperor thanked him, saying, "Much obliged, captain." The soldier immediately responded, "Of what regiment, sir?" And the Emperor, pleased with his quickness and confidence, answered, "Of the Guards." The soldier immediately took his place amongst the officers, altho his clothes were those of a private and notwithstanding the fact that they ridiculed his faith. He believed the Emperor's words, and acted on that belief, and was a captain. So our Lord has given unto us "exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature;" and those who will attain the exceeding great and precious things which God has in reservation for them who love him will be the ones who take him at his word, become "children of the light," and "walk in the light." Such, ultimately, shall be members of the great Sun of Righteousness, which shall arise with healing in its beams, to refresh and bless the world by scattering the darkness of sin, superstition, evil.--`Matt. 13:43`.
But let us guard ourselves against the error of some who have great faith in themselves, and consider this a proof that they are of the "elect." Only the soldier who served as well as believed Napoleon was rewarded. Each should therefore ask himself--Are the exceeding great and precious promises to me? Are there conditions attached to those promises? and if so, am I living up to the conditions so as to make sure of my calling and election?
To answer his question so as to have "full assurance of faith," he should search the promises--their significance and conditions, and then act accordingly, if he would win the prize: remembering our Lord's word's, "Not every one that saith, Lord! Lord! shall enter the Kingdom, but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven."
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ENCOURAGEMENT TO FAITHFULNESS AND PROGRESS.
"Rouse up, O heart, brooding o'er earth's broken friendships,
Mistakes and griefs. Retrospection truly brings
Relief at times; but to scan too oft life's pages
Brings weariness, sapping strength thou need'st for progress.
The past forget! As a mighty vessel swings
To right her course, while the skies, serene and fogless,
And calming seas, tell no tale of tempests' rages,
So thou, O heart, whilst her pennant Mercy flings,
Retrieve the past; and returning calm and sun
Shall not condemn--only speed thine onward journey,
Forgiving and forgiv'n.
"Fret not, O heart!--not because of evil-doers.
They soon shall cease. When their cup of crime is full
To overflow, then the great and just Avenger,
With girded loins, sword unsheathed and wrath enkindled,
Will tread the press, and his blood-stained hand annul
Their ill kept lease, and shall vanquish all the tinseled
Recruits of sin. But, O heart, heed thy great danger.
Besetting sins, and fair vanities which lull
To fancied safety the listless, thou must fear,
Lest that dread sword thee mark also for its victim,
A reprobate despised.
"Awake, O heart! Hurriedly from drowsy slumbers
Arise, arise! Night is sleeping time, not day.
Press nobly on, heeding not the faithless numbers!
The mid-day glare tempts to quietness and shadow;
Suave lethargy, friendly false, persuades the way
Is soon retraced from the cooling brook and meadow;
But he who turns from the strife and glare, and cumbers
Himself with pleasure's delights, will ne'er essay
The path again; and yet thou, O pilgrim weary,
Foregoing rest, shalt be strengthened with all might:
Thy faith, sore tried, shall develop eagles' sight,
And penetrate, past environment, to glory
Unspeakable, where in Heaven's effulgent light,
Thy glorious Leader dwells." --Unknown.
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WHO IS JUDGING THE CHURCH?
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--A brother who gave a lesson here recently spoke on the judgment-- and claimed that Christ had been judging the Church during this age. A number of the friends took exception to this. For my own part, I have studied all the texts on this subject, and I cannot find one text that favors the idea that Christ is the Judge of the church, unless it be `Rom. 14:10`;--but that is a wrong translation. Tischendorf, Rotherham, Revised Version and all the best authorities render it "the judgment seat of God."
In `2 Cor. 5:10`, the Church is said to appear before the judgment seat of Christ--not to be judged, but to receive, etc.
All krisis (judgment) has been given into the hands of the Son, but the Church does not come into the krisis.--`John 5:22,24`.
The judgment seat of Christ does not come into existence until his thousand-year reign begins; and the krisis or the krisis day does not begin until the dead come out of their graves, and Christ sits on his own throne.--`John 5:29`; `Rev. 14:7`.
"God has appointed a day [the krisis day] in the which he will judge the world by that man," but where does it say that God has been judging the Church by Christ?--`Acts 17:31`.
Peter says, "If ye call on the Father [not on the Son] who without respect of persons judgeth," etc.-- `1 Pet. 1:17`.
Christ says, "I am the Vine, ye are the branches, and my Father the husbandman." "Whom the Lord [the Father] loveth he disciplines, and scourges every son whom he receiveth."--`John 15:1`; `Heb. 12:6-10`.
When the judgment of the world is spoken of the Greek word krisis is always used, but never krima. On the other hand, in speaking of the judgment of the
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Church the word krima is used, but never krisis. The Church does not come into the krisis, but it does come into the krima.--`1 Pet. 4:17`. Compare with `John 5:24`.
It is this krisis, into which the Church does not come, that God has placed in the hands of Christ.-- `John 5:22`.
I would like to hear from you on this matter. I hope this communication will find you well in every way, and that the Lord will continue to give you strength for every trial. You are surely having abundant practice in suffering, and ought to become quite a proficient sufferer. Paul says, "I glory in tribulation, for tribulation works out the capacity for enduring. And the capacity for enduring works out approval, and approval works out hope, and hope maketh not to be ashamed."
May our dear heavenly Father continue to be with you alway--and that you may continually realize his approval and smile--is my prayer. Sister McPhail and I often talk to ourselves about your severe trials, and wonder how you have been able to bear them as you have. I often think of Paul's words, 'We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed," etc. (`2 Cor. 4:8-11`.) God's grace was always sufficient for him, and will be for you.
Wishing you a happy and successful new year, with Christian love from Mrs. McPhail and myself to you and all with you,
Your brother in Christ, M. L. McPHAIL.
IN REPLY: DEAR BROTHER:--I am glad to know that I have the Christian love and sympathy of yourself and family. One thing in connection with my troubles gives me great satisfaction, namely that, repeatedly and carefully searching my heart, I find in it no hatred toward those who have been maligning me --no desire to render evil for evil, but on the contrary a desire to do them all good, if possible. There is a great satisfaction in this, as it affords me one evidence that the spirit of love has possession of my heart. I trust that it may never be otherwise; but that more and more I may become a copy of God's dear Son, our Lord,--"who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not, but committed his cause to him who judgeth righteously." (`1 Pet. 2:23`; `1 Cor. 4:12`.) You will be glad to know that I have on the girdle of love; that the peace of God rules in my heart; and that I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men.--`Col. 3:12-15`; `Acts 24:16`; `1 Pet. 2:19`; `3:16`.
Respecting the proposition that Christ has been judging the Church during this Gospel age, would say: The Church is the Body of Christ, and as such is collectively at the judgment seat of the heavenly Father. Our Lord Jesus is not presented to us as our Judge, but rather as our Advocate before the Judge, our Bridegroom, our Friend, our Lover, our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Head, our Governor, our Guide. As the Head he takes the supervision of the Body, he commands, instructs, guides, in the affairs of his Church, and takes it into fellowship with himself in the building up of the Body of Christ in the most holy faith. If we love him we will keep his commandments, and he that loveth him will be loved of the Father. Thus his commandments are to us a line of judgment, rules of life, daily; we are in him as members of his body, who professedly have given him our wills,--accepting his will or judgment instead of our own. Nevertheless he has given gifts unto men, unto the Church--a measure of his spirit, his will, to every man to profit withal; and for the use of these gifts received from our Lord Jesus we are accountable to him. And our use or misuse of these will constitute a judgment with which he will have to do, as represented in the parables of "The Pounds" and "The Talents." I presume these were the thoughts which the Brother had in mind, when he spoke of our Lord Jesus as judging the Church during this Gospel age. As the head judges or criticises the body, succors it, shields it, supervises its affairs, so does Christ with the Church, which is his Body.
Seemingly you have overlooked the Greek word, krino, which is also rendered judgment, and which occurs more times than krisis and krima both together, in the New Testament.
Strong (in substance) defines these words thus:--
Krisis--Decision, for or against. Justice.
Krima--Decision, in respect to crime.
Krino--"To distinguish, decide, try," etc.
Krino is used in referring to the judgment (trial) of the Millennial age when the Church (head and body) will be the judges.--See `Matt. 19:28`; `Luke 22:30`; `John 12:48`; `Acts 17:31`; `1 Cor. 4:5`; `6:2,3`.
The same word, krino is used in attributing that coming judgment to God.--See `Acts 7:7`; `Rom. 3:6`; `Heb. 3:10`; `1 Pet. 1:17`.
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These seemingly contradictory statements are made harmonious by two other texts in which this same word krino is used--thus: "God shall judge [krino] the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (`Rom. 2:16`.) God "hath appointed a day in the which he will judge [krino] the world in righteousness by that man whom hath ordained;"--the Christ, head and body "one new man."--`Acts 17:31`.
From this standpoint--of "God the judge of all," we need not be surprised if we find not only that the world's judgment (trial) by Jehovah is committed to the well beloved Son, but the Church's judgment (testing, trial) also. Hence our Lord's statement, "The Father judgeth [krino] no man, but hath committed all judgment [krisis] unto the Son." (`John 5:22`.) This judging in the Church is not only referred to in the parables of the Pounds and Talents, etc., but the Apostle particularizes respecting it in `2 Thes. 2:8-12`. And here the statements respecting the Father's part and the Son's part are so intertwined as to prove that they are united in the one work of judgment-- of the Father, by the Son. In this text krino is rendered "might be damned."
Again, "ye that are spiritual" are to take part in the work of judging the Church now;--especially each one is to judge himself and help each other to look into the perfect law of liberty (Love) by which all are now being judged (`Jas. 2:12`) under the New Covenant. "If we would judge [dia-krino--"thoroughly judge"] ourselves, we should not be judged [krino]. But when we are judged [krino] of the Lord we are chastened, that we should not be condemned [kata-krino--"judged down"] with the world."
It is in harmony with the above that the Apostle declares our Lord Jesus "the Lord, the righteous Judge," who will give him his crown of life (`2 Tim. 4:8`); and in harmony with this thought that the Church, the Lord's body, is being judged now, under his supervision, and is not (directly) in the Father's hands for judgment, is the Apostle's expression in `Hebrews 10:31`, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." To be judged by Jehovah directly, none of the imperfect race of Adam could stand--all would fall under his just sentence: but under the New Covenant, God is dealing with the Church now as "the body of Christ"--so long as we severally abide under the robe of Christ's righteousness, our wedding garment,--not imputing our trespasses unto us, but unto our "Head" who died for us. Nevertheless, we (the Church) are "accepted in the Beloved" in a manner different from the world: they will not be accepted at all, nor have any intercourse with the Father until the close of their trial at the close of the Millennium.--`1 Cor. 15:24-28`.
Similarly Jehovah is the Creator of all things; yet he does this by proxy through him who was "the beginning of the creation of God." (`John 1:1`.) Likewise it is written, "They shall be all taught of God," yet Jesus was the Teacher sent of God; and we are in the school of Christ, learning of him.
With much Christian love, very truly your brother and servant in the Lord, --THE EDITOR.
LETTERS FROM DISTANT COLABORERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It is with pleasure that I write a few lines to you. I should have written before, had not sickness prevented. I am glad to say that I have nearly recovered from it, and hope to be in the colporteur work again very soon, and my purpose is to stay in the work just as long as I can do so and keep out of debt. Not having any family duties to keep me from doing so, I see that it is my duty as well as my privilege to be thus engaged; for I realize that it is a very important part of the harvest work. How much the truth and knowledge derived from reading the DAWNS have done for me, the dear Lord and myself only know. My prayer is that I may ever be faithful to the truth. I will write to you again when I am ready to start into the work. With greetings of the season I remain, your brother in the dear Lord,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I take this opportunity to drop you a line, to inform you that I feel somewhat better; my lungs are not nearly so sore as they were, so I hope soon to be able to be out again in the work. I feel that I should go to Oklahoma, as I ministered to some of our Lord's dear children there before I came fully out into the light of present truth; and I believe I shall be the means in our Lord's hands to seal some of them with the present truth. I have had two letters from there the past week, also one from __________ in Kansas; they are rejoicing in the truth as revealed in the DAWNS. Let me quote from one of these:
"I have read my WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., and commenced on VOL. II. I am just surprised to see the grand truths so plain, and wonder that I never saw them before. There has been a large book opened, and a flood of light has poured in upon this benighted and prejudiced mind, till I can only say, it's wonderful; and that does not express it so that others can understand it. I wish I had the power to tell it to every person so that they could understand it."
Brother Russell, in regard to the WATCH TOWER for 1899, I do not want to miss an issue, as it always has just that food which I need most. I pray that our Lord's choicest blessings may rest on you and all your colaborers in the WATCH TOWER office, and I would kindly ask you to remember me in your daily prayer (as I always do you, night and morning), that I may have wisdom and humility enough to show forth his death and resurrection.
Your brother in Christ, FRED. H. ANTHONY.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have just to-night received the Christmas number of the TOWER, and have scanned it through hurriedly, intending to study it tomorrow. In renewing my TOWER subscription, I wish to write to you more particularly.
You know well my sentiments towards yourself, but on this anniversary of the Savior's birth, a grand and happy time, I think it is fitting for me to express them once again. For years and years I hungered for truth, and longed to know and understand the Bible, and nobody gave to me the spiritual food. I searched
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the Bible for myself, and the more contradictory it grew: and the preachers never tried to explain it to me.
At length God answered my prayers and gave me the understanding of the glorious Gospel, and for his great goodness in sending me the truth I cannot love and serve him as I would; I can only ask him to accept such services as I have and to count them perfect through the Savior's blood.
It was through you that this glad tidings came, and I know how you must have loved me, for the Lord to have used you: "He that desireth the office of a bishop desireth a good thing;" and I know that you desired it in the real Scriptural way; that is to say, you said in your heart, "The Lord's people are hungry and thirsty. Lord, I wish to 'serve' them." And truly, you have done so. In all my intercourse I have never known you otherwise than as you sign yourself, --a brother and a servant: and therefore I send my heartfelt thanks.
My feet had well nigh slipped, after I had received the truth, for I was growing cold and losing my first love, and again your loving words helped me and put new life into me, and just lately you have honored me by giving me an opportunity to share with you the work of feeding the Lord's sheep. It is a grand and glorious privilege, and most heartily do I thank God and the Lord for giving me this opportunity.
With regard to the "Good Hopes" I thoroughly endorse your words; no need is there to urge those to give who know this truth, for it is so satisfying that we long to tell it to others and, if we have money, to use it in the spreading of the "Good News." God willing, I purpose devoting to this the interest accruing to me this coming year from the money loaned to the Tract Society, and I have every reason to hope I shall be able to do so.
Your brother in the Lord, W. HOPE HAY.
[The above is from the dear Brother whose donation of $10,000 to the Tract Fund was noted in our issue of Dec. 15, '96. He has since then deposited with us as a loan, at low interest, money which he is not certain if he can spare. He is going out now as one of the "Pilgrims." May the Lord bless and "water" him while he thus serves the "flock!"--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER:--We wish you a very bright, happy and prosperous new year. Enclosed find order for four pounds, three shillings. We think possibly your own comforts are not sufficiently attended to, and we think you should take two pounds of enclosed for your own special wants. It is a small thing for us, the recipients of so many spiritual blessings by God's goodness through you, to repay you with carnal things. The Lord himself will abundantly reward you. May you never fail or be discouraged, till all the will of the Lord has been fully wrought out in you, and by you. We know a little of the difficulties of the fight of faith, and of enduring hardness as good soldiers of Christ; therefore we send our hearty greetings, and deepest love and sympathy.
The TOWERS continually come, laden with blessing. We have by means of them, and especially in our busy work in worldly affairs, a rich spiritual feast every time. The last one, Dec. 1, was particularly interesting and blessed. Some of the readers here say that the facts recorded are merely to bring out the points of the truth, and that we must not think of it as an actual reality. We contended, saying, all the facts of the case--the train journey, the Presbyterian minister, the conversation, his conversion, his resolve to preach the fuller Gospel--were all an actual reality, tho written up in proper form, for a TOWER article. Could you kindly let us know which is the case, and if possible who is "B."
We are still trusting that the Lord will open up our way that we may yet get free to distribute the glorious truth ere the dark night closes in. We have started (a month ago) a "Dawn Circle Bible Class."
I am yours in our blessed Lord, C. N. HOUSTON.
REPLY: DEAR BROTHER:--I am always glad to hear from you. I congratulate you that the past year brought you so many opportunities for serving the truth--by holding meetings, by writing articles in defense of the truth for the public press, by the using of your various little vacations from business in colporteuring the DAWN and circulating tracts: and I thank God on your behalf that you have the will to thus serve both the Chief Shepherd and his sheep.
I am glad to know that the things pertaining to our Lord's cause are so first in your heart, and your business so secondary, that you are seeking release from the latter in such a way as will permit more and more of your time and energy to go to the former. I am sure that our Lord is pleased with your efforts to do what your hand has found to do; and I feel sure he will continue to open the door of opportunity before you in proportion as he sees you humble and faithful. I trust that the present year may be a very blessed one to you and to all of the Lord's faithful.
I thank you most heartily for the proffered (L.2) two pounds sterling for personal use: but as my wants are at present well supplied, I am sure you will take no offence at my declining it as a personal matter and joining with you in making it a part of the heavenly treasure by covering it into the Tract Society's funds. Your other contributions to this fund are greatly appreciated also, dear brother. Your orders have had attention.
Respecting the discussion of The Bible vs. Evolution in our Dec. 1, '98, issue: It is an ideal sketch, intended as a hint to brethren and sisters respecting good opportunities and methods for preaching the truth to others when on a journey. Nevertheless, about nineteen-twentieths of that dialogue (almost word for word) actually occurred on our homeward journey returning from the Council Bluffs Convention. "Betha" represents the Editor. All articles in the WATCH TOWER are editorials, unless otherwise indicated.
Very truly your brother and servant in the Lord,