Cain—Where Did His Wife Come From.
Question (1985)—We read in Gen. 4:17 that “Cain knew his wife.” Where did his wife come from? Was she of some pre-Adamite race?
Answer.—An evangelist was asked by a challenging questioner: “where did Cain get his wife?” His reply was that those who sought after other men’s wives never came to any good end! As mentioned in Gen. 5:4, quoted above, Adam had both daughters and sons. Cain’s wife was one of his sisters. The human race was still nearly perfect, so a brother-sister marriage would not then bring the undesirable effects in children of such a marriage as it would in our day. It will be noted that when Cain went and “dwelt in the land of Nod,” he knew his wife” (Gen. 4:16, 17). This does not mean that he found a wife in the land of Nod, but that he there cohabited with his wife, his sister. There is no record of any pre-Adamic race. The Bible plainly states that Adam was the first man—“The first man Adam was made a living soul” (1 Cor. 15:45). ’85-47
Cain—And Abel As Types.
Question (1985)—Whom and what is typed by Cain and Abel, Cain’s murdering Abel, his vagabondage, etc.?
Answer.—We believe that Abel was an intended Bible type, in his bringing an acceptable sacrifice to God, in his murder by Cain, etc. He obviously types Jesus (Heb. 11:4; 12:24). Cain evidently types the Jewish nation in its leaders, who, because of envy and other undesirable qualities (Matt. 27:38), through the instrumentality of the Romans were responsible for the death of our Lord Jesus. God expostulated with the leaders of Israel over their envy, wrath, malice and hatred of Jesus, but this did not deter them from putting Jesus to death, even as God’s expostulating with envious Cain did not deter him from murdering Abel. Fleshly Israel, including its leaders, were cast off by Jehovah from his favor (Matt. 23:36), and were caused by Him to wander away from His favor in the dispersion (Diaspora) during the Gospel or Church Age. But He nevertheless gave them certain characteristics (a mark—Gen. 4:15), which kept them from being destroyed as a separate people. They during the Gospel Age engaged in many labors, such as the bringing forth of the Talmud, which have been in large measure unproductive.
The Cain picture does not show the restoration of Israel to God’s favor, but other typical pictures do. For example, Hagar and her son Ishmael are intended Bible types of the Law Covenant and its servants and Fleshly Israel (Gal 4:22-31). Hagar and Ishmael’s outcast condition (Gen. 21:14-16) types the outcast condition of Israel in the Diaspora. When Israel was about to lose its existence as such, God came to its rescue with the message of religious and political Zionism (a well of water), whereby Israel was revived, is surviving and is doing well, typed by Ishmael’s being revived and prospering thereafter (vs. 17-21). ’85-47
Capital Punishment—Is It Ordained By God.
Question (1984)—There has been much discussion and publicity recently about capital punishment. Is executing murderers proper according to the Scriptures?
Answer.—For human society’s benefit God ordained that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood shall by man his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). For murder committed “pre-sumptuously”—premeditated—He decreed death invariably; but if unpremeditated (manslaughter), He provided for mercy—a way to escape death by fleeing to and remaining in the cities of refuge (Ex. 21:12-14; Lev. 24:17; Num. 35:10-34; Deut. 19:1-13; Josh. 20). He knew that these regulations would tend to keep life sacred and lessen the incidence of murder, so that bloodshed would not pollute the land (Num. 35:33).
It is good to see among nobler people a humane, constructive, merciful spirit that seeks to uplift and rehabilitate those committing crimes rather than to destroy them. (Prisons should be geared to rehabilitating inmates, in sharp contrast with the treatment often given to them in the darker past, and even now in many instances.) But sentences for murderers are now often too light, pardons are usually given and paroles are generally granted too soon.
The feeling that a great responsibility is associated with taking human life in a judicial way is right. No murderer should be executed unless admitting or being clearly proven guilty of killing with premeditated, willful, malicious intent. But public sentiment today is much too lenient; it opposes capital punishment for even the worst of premeditated murderers. This, we believe, results generally from disregarding God’s laws mentioned above. As punishment relaxes inevitably increase greatly, as it has in our day. Despite contrary claims, capital punishment is a proven deterrent to murder.
By capital punishment, society does not send criminals into horrible and eternal torture (as some have supposed), but merely hastens (for the good of all) the death penalty still upon the whole world (Ezek. 18:4, 20, Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22). Hopefully, many criminals in their Judgment Day (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8; Rev. 20:2, 3, 7, 12) will repent and reform, and gain eternal life (2 Tim. 4:1; Isa. 26:9, 28:17; Acts 3:19-23). ’84-6
Children—Does God Take Little Children Into Heaven.
Question (1961)—Is it a part of God’s Plan to take into heaven those who die as infants and little children?
Answer.—There is no way into the heavenly Kingdom except by believing in Jesus as one’s own personal Savior and then being begotten again and born again (Acts 16:31; 1 Pet. 1:3; John 3:3-5). Can infants and little children thus believe and then be begotten again, of the Holy Spirit, with the word of truth (James 1:18; 1 John 5:1, 18)? Can they thus become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15)? They surely cannot! And, since they cannot be begotten of the Holy Spirit, and thus become new creatures, they surely cannot be born of the Spirit, in the resurrection (Col. 1:18), into the heavenly realm. The Bible states, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Hence little children cannot enter into the heavenly realm and come and go like the wind, as invisible spirit beings (John 3:6-8). They are not old enough to be placed on trial for life or death, to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, or to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, sowing to the Spirit and not to the flesh (Phil. 2:12; Rom. 12:2; Gal. 6:8). ’61-7
Children—Meaning “Suffer Little Children, And Forbid Them Not To Come Unto Me: For Of Such Is The Kingdom Of Heaven.”
Question (1961)—But what about Jesus’ statement: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14)?
Answer.—Parallel passages are found in Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16. Jesus was not there teaching that the Kingdom of heaven is composed of little children. Rather, He was teaching that only those believers who are childlike in certain respects will attain to that heavenly Kingdom. The concept in Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17 shows this, for there Jesus stated, “Whoso-ever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Note also Matt. 18:1-4; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48. The special characteristics of a little child are simplicity of heart, meekness, truthfulness, freedom from unholy ambition and rivalry, faith, love obedience, teachableness, indifference to social distinctions and popular opinions, and guilelessness. These are some of the qualities He desires to have in all of His disciples, and only those disciples who have them are fit for the Kingdom. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20). See also Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2. These passages also show that in some respects we are to be like children, but not in other ways. ’61-7
Children—What Is God’s Provision For The Little Children Who Die.
Question (1961)—Being children of Adam’s race, “of the earth earthly” (1 Cor. 15:47), and having been born under the sentence of death brought upon the human race by Father Adam (for “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”—we were all in Adam when he sinned—and “sin hath reigned unto death”—Rom. 5:12-21), little children, as well as all others of Adam’s race, are permitted by God to go down into the unconscious sleep of death. Since “the dead know not any thing” (Eccles. 9:5, 10; Job 14:21; Psa. 6:5), the little children who have died are peacefully “asleep”—they “sleep in Jesus.” But because Jesus gave Himself a Ransom-sacrifice on behalf of all (1 Tim. 2:6), God will in due time bring them forth from the sleep of death in the resurrection awakening during the time of Jesus’ Second Advent (1 Thes 4:13, 14; Dan. 12:2). Then Jesus will call, even as He called Lazarus (John 11:43), and “all that are in the graves [including the little children who have died] shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28, 29; Isa. 26:19).
They will come forth as they went down, “of the earth, earthy”; for “that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” “As was the earthy [Adam], such are they also that will be earthy” (1 Cor. 15:48). Thus they will be in the new earth (Isa. 65:17; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). “They shall come again (in the resurrection awakening] from the land of the enemy [Adamic death—1 Cor. 15:26]. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border [their family circle or boundary]” (Jer. 31:16, 17). They will then be given an accurate knowledge of the Truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 2:4; Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34), and the opportunity to go up the Highway of Holiness to human perfection (Isa. 35:8-10). If they respond properly to God’s leadings at that time, they will eventually get everlasting life on earth as a part of the “sheep” class (Matt. 25:34). If they fail to respond properly, from the heart, they will eventually be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:23; Rev. 20:7-9, 15; 21:8). Praise God for His wonderful provisions for all, including those who die as infants or little children! ’61-7
Children—Religious Training Of.
Question (1999)—What is your position regarding the religious training of children?
Answer.—The Scriptures show that it is the responsibility of the parents to train up their children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement does not sponsor Sunday schools or special classes for children, though individual ecclesias are at liberty to make whatever arrangements are found to be of greatest benefit in the training of their young attendants.
It is paramount that the parents first lay down a good foundation of Truth for themselves so that they may teach their children aright. A sound understanding of Bible stories and their context is a good basis on which to build a doctrinal understanding later. Conversations on Biblical themes at mealtimes, games centered around Bible stories—such things are helpful for the younger children. For older children a regular study of appropriate Truth literature, Bible in hand, may be preferable. Certainly children of appropriate age should be trained in the habit of regular class attendance so that they learn the discipline of class behavior and protocol.
Any good bookstore will contain helpful material of a Biblical nature that will help the youngsters. Organizations such as Focus on the Family sell a wide range of low-cost material along this line. A cautionary note to parents: Read the material yourself before passing it on to your children to verify its doctrinal soundness. We have a range of materials suitable for children of young age. See the catalogue entries in this issue (page 93).
Class studies for young and old are an excellent way to learn how to study God’s Word and to get the most from it. ’99-89
Christ—Why Did He Have To Die.
Question (1975)—In 1 Cor. 15:3 and 2 Cor. 5:15 we read that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” and that “He died for all.” Why did He have to die in order to save us? Couldn’t He have brought to us salvation without His suffering death?
Answer.—The Bible makes it very plain that “the wages [penalty] of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Sin’s sting brings death, for “the sting of death is sin” (1 Cor 15:56). “When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
Adam was created a perfect human being. God tested his obedience telling him plainly: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof dying thou shalt die” (Gen. 2:17, margin). Adam by his sin of disobedience gradually died and finally returned unto the dust of the earth, where he remains unto this day. If Adam and his dying race were ever to have life again some other perfect human being must pay his debt and arrange for his release at the bar of justice.
“In due time Christ [who became flesh (John 1:14)—a human being] died for the ungodly”; and as “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” and as “through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many”; and “as by the offense of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time’—1 Tim. 2:6] the free gift [the forgiveness of sins, i.e., release from Adamic condemnation] came [it should be shall come, as is evident from the words ‘shall be made righteous’ in the next verse] to all men unto justification of life” (Rom. 5:6, 12, 15, 18).
Our only hope of a resurrection awakening from the unconscious condition of death (Psa. 6:5; 146:4; Eccles. 9:5, 10; Obad. 16), and of a future eternal existence, is because of Jesus’ laying down His human life as a ransom, a corresponding price, an equivalent for the forfeited human life of Adam.
Thus Jesus Himself testifies: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: . . . the bread that I will give is my flesh [my life as a perfect human being], which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). “I am [as a result of this ransom sacrifice] the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25; 14:6). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life [complete, perfect, everlasting life]; but the wrath of God [the curse, death] abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Thank God for the unspeakable gift of His love (2 Cor. 9:15), and the hope of a resurrection to life again! “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened—made alive, resurrected—in spirit—as a spirit being—1 Pet. 3:18], even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thes. 4:14). “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then . . . they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Cor. 15:13, 18). Thank God that Jesus came to pay Adam’s debt and to set us free! ’75-94
Christ—Did He Die For The Benefit of All.
Question (1925)—If Christ died for the benefit of all mankind, why have the benefits of His death been so long delayed in coming to all mankind? Why did they not flow out to all as soon as He died and was resurrected or at the latest at Pentecost?
Answer.—Our questioner shows that he has been doing some earnest and good thinking, which makes the work of answering his question all the more pleasant. In reality he has in one question asked two, which we will answer from the standpoint of their implications in the reverse order of their presentation. Christ’s death benefits could not flow out to all as soon as He died and was resurrected, because the merit of His death was not yet appropriated on behalf of anyone. This was not done until after His ascension, i.e., until Pentecost. While at Calvary our Lord completed the laying down of His human life rights and His human right to life—His merit—for us, He thereby did not appropriate them and us; He thereby merely made them available for such an appropriation, which was later to be made. In other words, justice was not yet satisfied for our sins at Calvary; for there only the right to life with its corresponding life rights was separated from Himself in so far as His use of them for Himself was concerned; and thus they were put into a condition in which He could use them for others. Nor by His resurrection did He appropriate them to us; for from the standpoint of God’s justice, Christ’s resurrections was not the rendering of satisfaction to it, but was the evidence that He had faithfully done the Father’s will unto death, and that His righteousness was available for making atonement, which as a matter of fact He had not yet made. In other words, by His death He had set aside a ransom price sufficient to purchase the world, and by His resurrection the proof of this fact was given; but by neither of these acts did He actually purchase the world. He was by these two acts in the position of a man who has made the purchase price of a certain property available for buying that property, but who has not yet bought it, though he is fully intending to buy it. What must a person do who has the money to buy a house that is for sale, in order to acquire it for himself? He must pay for it, and obtain the necessary papers, before He is the purchaser and owner of the property in question. And when He does these things the property is his purchased possession. So Christ, making the purchase price available by His death, and by His resurrection being assured that the purchase price was acceptable for the redemption of the race, had to appropriate it for purchasing the possession. And this He did after His ascension only for the Church, not for the world, even as we read in Heb. 9:24 (compare 1 John 2:2): “Christ hath now appeared in the presence of God for us,” i.e., as our Advocate at the bar of justice He appeared with the price that satisfies justice for the debt of the Church—those of the culprits for whom He now acts as Advocate before the Divine bar of justice. It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit could not be given until after He appeared in the presence of God—at Pentecost. St. Paul in Heb. 9:24 traces the matter from the standpoint of type and antitype thus: As Aaron had first to offer the sacrifice in the court so as to make the blood available for sprinkling on the mercy seat for atonement, and thereafter made the atonement by such sprinkling (Lev. 16:11-17) in the holy of holies; so Christ, by His death in the justified condition—the antitypical Court—had to make His merit available for atonement, and thereafter, at Pentecost, in heaven—the antitypical Holy of Holies—actually did make the atonement for the Church only. Hence the blessing of His death could not operate on anyone’s behalf until Pentecost, fifty days after His resurrection. Thus we have answered part of the implications in the first question.
Now for the answer to the rest of the implications in the first and the whole of the second question: Why have the benefits of Christ’s death been so long delayed in coming to all mankind? And why did they not come to all at Pentecost? It undoubtedly is a fact that the vast majority of mankind has died without getting the benefits of Christ’s death, yea, without even having an opportunity of obtaining them, having never heard of them. It is a further fact that comparatively few have as yet obtained these benefits, and these facts have doubtless raised in the questioner’s mind the queries that we are considering. We would give several reasons for this long delay in applying Christ’s merit for the whole race: (1) The main reason is that God for the wisest and most benevolent purposes has not willed that during the Gospel Age these benefits should come to everybody, but rather that they be restricted to the faith class—the Elect; for they are the only ones who could be saved the strenuous conditions of a faith Age, since they are the only ones capable of exercising the necessary faith required by the conditions of such an Age. Therefore God mercifully leaves the others shut up in their unbelief until He has completed the Elect class, who need the schooling of present faith testing conditions for their proper training for the office of blessing the non-elect with favorable opportunities of obtaining the restitution salvation of the Millennial Age. (Rom. 11:30-32.) (2) If the benefits of Christ’s death were in this faith Age applied for the unbelief-class, every one of them would be eternally lost, because they lack the faith essential to overcoming amid the strenuous conditions of the faith Age. (2 Thes. 3:2; Heb. 11:6.) (3) Jehovah benevolently designs permitting the unbelief-class now to undergo an experience with evil, which when contrasted with the experience with good, designed by Him for them in the next Age, will better than anything else that we can think of turn them into hating and forsaking sin and loving and adhering to righteousness, because experience is the best of all teachers to such characters as the unbelief-class. (4) The nearly two thousand years since Calvary have been needed in order that there be enough human beings propagated for replenishing the earth in the Millennium. (5) And, finally, Jehovah has set aside the Millennial Age for the very purpose of instituting a fit time and proper conditions for extending the benefits of Christ’s death with best results to the whole non-elect world—conditions which will not require a sightless faith, now required of the Elect. It is for this reason that Christ during the Gospel Age imputes His merit only on behalf of the Elect. (Heb. 9:23; 10:14), and reserves the application of His merit on behalf of the world for the Millennial Age, even as Aaron made the first atonement for the Priesthood and Levites only, and then made the second atonement for the people.—Lev. 16:6, 11, 14, 9, 15, 17; Heb. 7:27. ’25-7; ’68-86
Christ—Died For All.
Question (1958)—How many of Adam’s race are to be benefited by Jesus’ death?
Answer.—“Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death . . . that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9) “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6). This does not leave out any of Adam’s race—not one. “As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). During the Gospel Age, only the Church is on trial for life. The Apostle Peter explains (1 Pet. 4:17) that “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” But God also “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31); for Jesus “is the propitiation for our [the Church’s] sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). He is the redeemer of both the Church and the world. The time will come, therefore, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34), for Jesus is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”—He “will draw all men” unto Him. He gives all a fair trial for everlasting life, either in this world or in the world to come (John 1:9; 12:32). ’58-93; ’74-94
Christ—“The” What Is The Meaning Of This Term.
Question (1922)—In several issues of The Herald of The Epiphany (the former name of this magazine) Jesus and the Church are spoken of as being The Christ. I do not understand this. Will you please explain the matter somewhat further?
Answer.—The word Christ—from the Greek Christos, which is derived from the verb chrio, I anoint—means anointed. The word Messiah—from the Hebrew Meshiach, which is derived from the verb mashach, he anoints—has the same meaning. That with which one is anointed is the Holy Spirit, as St. Peter assures us in Acts 10:38: “God anointed [literally, christed, from the Greek, chrio] Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit.” This is also taught in Is. 11:2, 3; 61:1; and we have the fact of it witnessed at our Lord’s baptism when the heavens were opened unto Him, and the Spirit descended and lighted upon Him in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16). Thus we see that Jesus was anointed, christed, by His receiving the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible speaks not only of one individual (Jesus) but also of a company (the Church) as being anointed--christed. Thus St. Paul, speaking of the whole faithful Church, said: “He that . . . hath anointed [Greek, chrio, from which Christos (Christ) is derived, hence meaning christed] us is God, who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.” It is for this reason that St. John speaks of our having received the “unction,” the “anointing” (chrisma—literally, christing) from God (1 John 2:20, 27). Hence all who received the Holy Spirit as prospective members of the Body of Christ were thereby anointed. For this reason Jesus and the faithful Church constitute Jehovah’s Anointed, the larger Christ—the Christ Body, or Company. Therefore in a number of places in the Scriptures the Church, with Jesus, is called Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:23 St. Paul, writing about 25 years after Jesus’ resurrection, says that the Christ, the First-fruits, would on the last Day be the first order, or company, to rise from the dead. Evidently in this verse he does not by the term “Christ the First-fruits” mean Jesus, but rather the Church, for Jesus rose 25 years before St. Paul here prophesied of the future resurrection.
Again, in 1 Cor. 12:12, 13, St. Paul compares Jesus and the Church (which consists of many members and which he here calls, with Jesus, Christ) to a human body with its members. Thus he shows us that The Christ is not one member (Jesus) but many members (Jesus and the Church). Again, in Gal. 3:16 he calls the Seed of Abraham Christ; and in v. 29 he calls the Church with Jesus the Seed of Abraham; hence the Church with Jesus is The Christ. This larger Christ (the Christ company) is the “one new Man” that God has during the Gospel Age been making out of Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:15), and the “perfect Man” into which the whole Church with Jesus, as the full Christ, was to grow (Eph. 4:13); and it is for this reason that Jesus is called the Head and the Church the Body of this one new Man (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 14, 27; Eph. 1:22, 23; 4:4, 12; 5:30-32; Col. 1:24). Briefly we may sum up the matter as follows: the great Deliverer, the Kingdom class, through whom God promised to rescue the human family from the Adamic curse and bless it with an opportunity of gaining everlasting life, is composed of a number of persons, and therefore is a multitudinous Savior, consisting of Jesus and the true Church. This fact, that the Messiah, the Anointed, would be a company, and not simply one individual, is the Mystery—the secret—hidden from the ages and generations before the Gospel Age, but now—during the Gospel Age—made manifest (Col. 1:26, 27). During the Gospel Age this Christ class, “the sons of God,” appeared on the stage of human affairs to suffer for truth and righteousness on behalf of the human race; and in the Millennium they appear in glory to bless and uplift the race from the curse (Rom. 8:17-23; 2 Tim. 2:10-12). This thought of Jesus the Head and the Church His Body constituting the Kingdom Class, the great Deliverer whom Jehovah has been raising up for the rescue of mankind from the curse, is at once the central thought and deep secret of the Bible. Blessed is he who sees and appreciates it! ’22-4 ’52-15
Christ—As The Great High Priest (Heb. 9:28).
Question 1966—In Heb. 9:28 we read: “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Who are these who will look for our Lord?
Answer.—The Apostle is here tracing the work of Christ as the great High Priest. He represents our Lord as having offered the Sin-offering, on the Day of Atonement, in its two parts—the bullock and the goat (Lev. 16)—and as being now in the Most Holy. When He has accomplished His work, He will appear the second time—not to repeat any of the offerings of the Gospel Age, not as a Sin-offering—but He shall appear unto salvation, to all those who look for Him. We can see that His words might apply to the Church. They will know of His second appearance. They will have an appreciation of that fact before He will be revealed to the world. He will appear to them that look for Him.
But we are to remember that our Lord’s going into the Most Holy at the close of the antitypical Day of Atonement with the blood of the Lord’s Goat class, would indicate the death of that goat—the Church’s completed sacrifice. The Underpriests will be with Him, as members of Himself. Then He shall come forth the second time, after this second presentation of the blood, not to offer a sacrifice—for the sacrificing will all be finished—but to bless the people.
Who then are these who look for Him and to whom He will appear the second time, unto salvation? We answer that in the Time of Trouble, and subsequently, the whole world will begin to look for the Deliverer. All nations will be desiring Him—not as a Sin-offering again, but for their salvation. As mankind will get their eyes open to their need of salvation, they will be looking for this deliverance by the Christ in glory. They will never see Him with their natural eyes (John 14:19). But they will look for Him in the same sense that we now see Jesus—they will see Him with the eye of faith (Rev. 1:7).
At that time many nations shall say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’s house. He will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths” (Isa. 2:2, 3). Other Scriptures assure us that, when He shall appear, the Bride class shall appear with Him in glory. It is after the sacrificing is all finished and the Church glorified that He comes forth the second time unto salvation, saving and blessing all the people. The high priest in the type did not return into the Most Holy again, but lifted up his hands and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people, and they gave a great shout and fell upon their faces (Lev. 9:23, 24). So the people of the world will prostrate themselves before the great Messiah (Phil. 2:9-11). And this will be the work of Christ during the thousand years—uplifting mankind and giving them the benefit of the Atonement Sacrifice. For further details, see our Tabernacle Shadows book and B.S. 317 (a copy free on request). ’66-71
Christ—Reign Over The Earth . . . Why.
Question (1972)—What are the reasons for Christ’s reign over the earth (1 Cor. 15:25, 26)?
Answer.—According to the Scriptures, the reason for His reign are: to relieve the needs of the race (Rom. 8:21, 22)—Physical, mental, moral and religious; to exalt the righteous, who have been oppressed (Isa. 35:4; Psa. 37:7-11; 75:10; 107:41; Matt. 25:37, 46); to overthrow Satan’s empire, which has ruled the world with terrible results—it will be completely annihilated (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Isa. 25:7; Rev. 11:15); to dispense justice to mankind (Isa. 26:9; Jer. 23:5, 6; Matt. 10:42; 12:36); to restrain evil and spread good (1 Cor. 15:24-26; Rev. 20:1-3; 21:4, 5); to make possible to all the benefits of Christ’s death, for He died for all (Heb. 2:9; John 1:29; 12:32; 1 John 2:2), though all in this life do not receive the benefits of His death, as history and observation prove—hence this can be brought about only through His reign; to give the world an opportunity to obtain salvation (1 Tim. 2:4-6; Rom. 5:18, 19; Psa. 22:27-29; 1 Cor. 15:21-26; Phil. 2:8-11); to minister restitution to the obedient (Acts 3:19-21); to test the world of mankind as to fitness for everlasting life (Rev. 20:7-9); to render and execute final sentence (Matt. 25:46). God will receive the glory for all things (1 Cor. 15:28). ’72-70
Christian—Enlightened And God’s Spirit.
Question (1969)—Do God’s people who hold to the false doctrines of the Dark Ages, such as the consciousness of the dead, the inherent immortality of all the human race, purgatory and eternal torment as the wages of sin, etc., have God’s holy Spirit?
Answer.—There are various degrees of the Spirit of holiness which the child of God may possess at various times in his Christian experience. We should have more of the holy Spirit now than we have had before, especially early in our course of Christian discipleship. Also, there may be some who have less of it now than at some previous time, because they have not been growing spiritually, and are grieving the holy Spirit whereby they are sealed (Eph. 4:30).
We are not to think that all who have the holy Spirit have exactly the same degree of spiritual appetite or Christlikeness or knowledge of God’s plan as revealed in the Scriptures. We grow in grace as we grow in the knowledge of the Truth, as it becomes due to be understood. Far more is due to be understood now than was due in the Dark Ages, or even 100 years ago; for “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). This greater knowledge increases our responsibility beyond that of those who lived in previous times; “for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).
Knowledge properly used increases our measure of grace. Grace and knowledge work together (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18). Knowledge misused lessens our measure of grace; and if this lessens, our knowledge of the Truth begins to fade. The more grace we have, the more understanding is ours. The whole in general is laboring under strong delusions, in the darkness of error (Isa. 60:2), and consequently does not have much of God’s holy Spirit. After God calls us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9), we are astonished to see how little we knew—how ignorant we were of some of the precious messages of God’s Word and of the way to grow in grace.
Many of us were believers in Jesus as our Savior and were consecrated children of God for a considerable length of time before we received, for example, the correct understanding as to the unconscious “sleep of death” (Psa. 13:3)—that this is the true meaning of the Bible hell as distinct from the eternal torment nightmare of the Dark Ages, that the human soul is not inherently immortal, but that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” be destroyed (Ezek. 18:4, 20; Matt. 7:13; 2 Pet. 2:1, 12). So doubtless there are many others who, as believers and consecrated children of God, have His holy Spirit but have not yet received the correct understanding of these and other important truths of God’s Word.
We are now living in the end of the Gospel Age, the Harvest, when the Lord is causing the knowledge of much Truth to reach those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6). But Satan and his cohorts are raising much “dust,” calumny, persecution, prejudice and opposition of all kinds, to hinder people from appreciating the Truth.
We believe that there are many children of God still unenlightened as to the Truth, attempting to live on skimmed milk and the husks of Dark-Age doctrines, who need the assistance we are able to give them. For this reason we are trying to help them. Otherwise we would abandon all special efforts to disseminate the Truth, knowing that there will be favorable conditions for all to obtain it when the Kingdom shall be established (Isa. 11:9). But the saving of the elect for the blessing of the non-elect is not yet completed. Many therefore have a measure of God’s holy Spirit and “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). Let us who have been given the fulness of Truth help wherever and whenever possible those who have not yet been thus favored. ’69-14; ’89-70
Christians—Meeting With Others.
Question (1996—I cannot find an established group of Christians who believe as I do. But some of my friends or neighbors or family do similarly believe, and are devoted to God as I am. Should we have meetings together as a little group? And can we consider ourselves an ecclesia of God’s people, if there are no classes to meet with? And, can we be in God’s favor?
Answer.—Certainly, Yes! Some hold and teach that one must belong to a Bible-believing local church in order to be in God’s favor; however, the Scriptures do not so teach. Beware of formalism, and of becoming a member of religious organizations, which would seek to bind and restrict you. The Bible rules are the only rules you will need. Do not seek to bind others’ consciences, and do not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey so far as you can understand God’s Word today, and so continue growing day by day in grace, knowledge and love.
The Bible instructs us whom to fellowship with as “brethren”: only believers who are seeking to walk after the spirit, not after the flesh. Not believers of any and everything, but believers of the Gospel record—that mankind is fallen into sin and its penalty, death, and that only in Christ is there salvation, “through faith in His blood” “shed for the remission of sin,” as a “ransom [corresponding price] for all.” You come together, then, as God’s children, brought back from sin and death with the great price, and resolved henceforth to live not unto yourselves, but unto Him who died for you (2 Cor. 5:15).
The Scriptures do teach, however, that we should, if reasonably possible meet with other Christians—to hear the Scriptures expounded, to study them, and for praise and worship of God, and for fellowship (Matt. 18:20; Heb. 10:25). We should meet with those we recognize as having the most clear and logical understanding on the Plan of God as revealed in the Scriptures, and the least error. Yet some brethren do, on occasion, meet and fellowship with other Christians who do not believe as we do, if the spirit of Christian love is present. However, if any are wedded to the Dark-Age or modern errors, and not willing to listen, discuss, and respond to our efforts to enlighten them with the truth of God’s Word, it may be better not to assemble with them—even if it forces us to meet with a far smaller group who are Bible-Truth-believing, or even to stand alone with the Lord and His precious Truth message as due.
LOCAL MEETINGS NO OUTSIDE APPROVAL
Such meetings need not be authorized by any denomination, movement or group, nor a representative of the L.H.M.M. These meetings can be arranged by local groups (regardless of size), at the direction of our Lord and without outside interference. We encourage particularly such brethren as do not have any class in their vicinity to start such meetings. They may begin as two or three individuals (Matt. 18:20), which may then establish regular meetings, with additional ones-taking part. These meetings may be attended also by those not in the Truth; for this often has served as a means of helping them into an understanding and appreciation of the Truth.
The Lord desires us to witness to, and seek to assist or make Christian disciples of, others. This means that we should, if possible, have contact with believers who want to learn more about God and His plan, or believers who may be amenable to the true Gospel. Sometimes a Brother or Sister may start these meetings by explaining the chart of the ages (or others features of the Truth) to one or more listeners. We encourage the brethren to have these charts in their homes and to become proficient in explaining them.
These meetings should have certain objects in view, viz.:
(a) Worship, praise and prayer — in prayer meetings, testimony meetings, hymn singing, etc.
(b) Mutual helpfulness in waging victorious warfare against the world the flesh and the devil (within and without, as to all three), and developing a positive Christlike character.
(c) And to these ends, you meet also for the study of God’s Word.
Thus seen, knowledge of doctrines is not our ultimate object in meeting, but rather the building up of our characters, which we are attempting to form into copies of the character of God’s dear Son. Hence, after worship, praise and prayer, Bible study should be recognized in its two parts:
(a) The study of God’s plan — what He tells us He is doing for us and for the world; what He has done; and what He will yet do;
(b) The study of our duties and privileges in God’s service, toward each other, and toward those that are without.
In the way of Bible-related study material, we know of nothing equal to the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures and Tabernacle Shadows; for here we find the main subjects of the Scriptures, gathered from “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10), systematically, progressively and completely treated, supplemented by copious Scripture quotations. We believe that these presentations display the harmony of each Scriptural passage and doctrine with itself, with all other Scriptural passages and doctrines, and with God’s character, the Sin-offerings, facts, and the design of the Bible.
And for those who have read and absorbed the above studies, we recommend basic Epiphany articles such as: “The Last Related Acts of Elijah and Elisha”; “The Time of Reaping”; “Ruth”; “Azazel’s Goat”; “The Great Company”; “The Youthful Worthies”; “The Quasi Elect”; etc. These are found in the Epiphany Volumes and PRESENT TRUTH back issues. ’96-37; ’99-30
Christians—Not Many Truth-Enlightened.
Question (1975)—Is there anyone at the present time outside of the knowledge of “the present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12) who has the holy Spirit?
Answer.—There are various degrees of the holy Spirit which may be possessed by the child of God at various times in his experience. We may ourselves have more of the holy Spirit now than we ever have had before, thus showing that there was a time when we did not have so much. Or there may be some who have less, indicating that they have not been growing spiritually, and may be grieving or quenching the holy Spirit with which they were sealed (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19).
We are not to think that all who have the holy Spirit are on exactly the same plane, in their spiritual appetites or their development or their knowledge of God’s Plan. We usually grow in grace as we grow in knowledge. If our measure of grace lessens, the knowledge usually begins to fade. The more grace we have, the more understanding usually is ours. The whole world has been laboring under such delusions that we are surprised, when we “wake up,” to see how little we did know—to see how ignorant we were of some of the precious messages of Truth God has given us!
Many of us were justified by faith in Jesus as Savior and were consecrated children of God, before we received very much knowledge; so we believe it is possible for others to be children of God without having a very full knowledge of the Truth as due. We are living in the end of Gospel Age, the Harvest, when God is causing the knowledge of the Truth to encircle the world. And yet the Adversary is raising “dust”, errors, misrepresentations, calumny, prejudice, etc., to hinder the people from appreciating it.
In very rare cases God will give someone a very abrupt awakening, as He did through Jesus with Saul of Tarsus—He struck him down with a great light, brighter than the sun at noonday. And it is because we believe that there still are children of God outside the knowledge of the Truth, attempting to live mostly on “husks” and “skimmed milk”—that there are such enlightened brethren who need the assistance of the Truth and its Spirit we are able to give them—that we are trying to help them. Otherwise we would abandon all special efforts to disseminate the truth to believers, knowing that there will be more favorable conditions for all to receive the Truth as soon as the Kingdom of God is established on earth.
The Bible speaks of the Great Company class as a “great multitude” (Rev. 7:9-17), thus showing that the “foolish virgin” class is large. And the Scriptures indicate that the Lord’s consecrated ones will not all have fled from symbolic Babylon before its overthrow. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). This call of God has been gong out for many years.
The Scriptures show us that some will come out, and others will not come out, will not be released from Babylonish fetters. These Foolish Virgins will see in due time that their lack of love and zeal has lost them a place in the Bride class. But they are Virgins nevertheless, and will have a place, or portion, in the heavenly realm, as the companions of the Bride. They will follow her into the King’s Palace (Psa. 45:14, 15). They will be Bridesmaids, if you please—a position of lesser honor; but they will attain everlasting life on the spirit plane.
So we have reason to believe that in Babylon there are still some of God’s consecrated people who will have everlasting life in the “new heavens,” as well as many who will have everlasting life in the “new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13), in the soon-coming Kingdom (Luke 21:28, 31, 32). It is to these that our hearts go out in love; and our earnest desire is to give them “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (Isa. 61:3) and satisfaction of the Truth for the “husks” on which they have been feeding (Joel 2:26; Rev. 3:20). ’75-79
Christians—Hebrew Consecrated Only Are Addressed In (Heb. 10:26-29).
Question (1975)—A prominent preacher and writer who believes the “once in grace always in grace” theory, claims that Heb. 10:26-29 “does not refer to a Christian,” but is “addressed to Israel,” and that the “covenant” is “God’s covenant with Israel, whereby Israel was sanctified.” What do you say to this?
Answer.—A common mistake of nominal church leaders is their teaching that the book of Hebrews is addressed to Fleshly Israel in general. If we examine the book of Hebrews carefully, we will see that it is addressed, not to all Fleshly Israelites, but only to the consecrated Christians among them.
In Heb. 1:1, 2 the Apostle says, “God . . . hath in these last days spoken unto us [italics ours] by his Son.” In Heb. 2:1, 3 he refers repeatedly to “we” and also to “us.”
And in Heb. 3:1 he leaves no doubt as to whom he is addressing, for he calls them “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling [italics ours].” In v. 6 he refers to them as the house of Christ—which is the house of sons (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 2), and in v. 14 he says, “For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence [they already were Disciples of Christ] stedfast unto the end.”
In Heb. 10:10 the Apostle writes of this same “we” class as being “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” And in v. 23, 24 he exhorts them to “hold fast the confession of the hope” (see Diaglott) and to incite one another unto love and good works. It is this same “we” class he is addressing in vs. 26-29.
Also it is evident that the covenant mentioned in Heb. 10:29 is not God’s covenant made with Israel at Sinai, but rather the covenant of sacrifice made by the Church of Christ, including both Hebrew and Gentile Christians (compare Psa. 50:5; Eph. 2:15). ’75-79
Christians—“Partakers Of The Holy Spirit” Of Heb. 6:4-6 Are Hebrew Consecrated.
Question (1975)—The same preacher says concerning Heb. 6:4-6 that it does not refer to true Christians falling away, because instead of “partakers of the Holy Spirit” in v. 4, it should read “going along with the Holy Spirit.” What about this?
Answer.—It is very evident that those who have experienced the five blessings of Heb. 6:4, 5 are disciples of Christ, and that the Apostle is addressing Jewish consecrated Christians, showing that they are on trial for life and that it is possible for them to fall away entirely and go into the Second Death—eternal annihilation (Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8).
First of all, these individuals were “enlightened” with the knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim. 2:4; Eph. 5:8; 1 Thes. 5:5) concerning repentance and the way of salvation through Christ as their own personal Savior.
Next, these enlightened one “tasted of the heavenly gift,” that is, they responded to the invitation accepted Christ as their personal Savior, and thus “tasted of the heavenly gift” of forgiveness of sins and justification by faith in Christ (Rom. 5:15-18).
Then these enlightened and justified ones “were made partakers of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word here translated “partakers” is metochos, which means sharing in, partaking of, from the word metecho, meaning to be or become partaker; to partake (see Thayer; compare Liddell and Scott, Diaglott, Strong, etc.).
It is therefore very evident that the clear meaning of the Greek word metochos in v. 4 is partaking or sharing in the holy Spirit in the sense of being begotten of the holy Spirit. This is clearly shown to be its meaning also by its use elsewhere in the Scriptures. In Heb. 3:1, 14; 12:8 it obviously has the same meaning.
It is surprising to what lengths the “once in grace, always in grace” advocates will go to try to uphold their unscriptural theory. It is manifest that they are hard pressed to uphold their error in the face of such Scriptures as Heb. 6:4-6 and 10:26-29, which clearly teach that it is possible for true disciples of Christ to fall away. (See BS No. 440 for details on this subject—a copy free on request.) ’75-79
Christian’s—Armor . . . His Breastplate.
Question (1980)—In Eph. 6:13-17 we read of the Christian’s armor, including “the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14), but in 1 Thes. 5:8 it is designated “the breastplate of faith and love.” What is the reason for this difference?
Answer.—It seems that the Apostle in 1 Thes. 5:8 is giving a more condensed viewpoint, in which he desired to include faith, hope and love, the greatest of the fruits, or graces, of the holy Spirit (1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:22, 23; 2 Pet. 1:5-8). Accordingly, hope is likened to the helmet, and faith and love to the breastplate of the soldier.
But in Eph. 6:14-17 the Apostle gives a more expanded viewpoint saying, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Here, as in Isa. 59:17, righteousness, duty love to God and the neighbor, one part of love, is likened to the Soldier’s breastplate, whereas in 1 Thes. 5:8 not only faith but also unselfish, disinterested love (agape) is meant, which should not be exercised contrary to duty love. Thus the Apostle here seems to supplement his Eph. 6 description of the Christian’s armor by including disinterested love. Let us all seek to put on and keep on “the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12)! ’80-79
Question (1984)—Should Christians take part in political campaigning and elections?
Answer.—We realize that in our day many professing Christians, especially leaders among Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, have been more or less earnestly advocating that all Christians as well as others, should register and vote in political and also take part in campaigning for certain candidates who are seeking office in these elections.
Very prominent among these leaders is North Carolina Fundamentalist Pastor Jerry Falwell, leader of the so-called “Moral Majority,” who is traveling widely by air and otherwise seeking to get Christians to register and vote and to encourage others to do so. He hopes thus, as he expresses it, to “turn America around” from its drift into liberalism, humanism, etc., and back to belief in traditional teachings on family life, marriage, education, morality, etc., Most of Pastor Falwell’s objectives are not to be faulted, but properly enlightened Christians cannot agree with his methods of attaining them, even though he may have some success with them.
Properly enlightened Christians recognize that “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), the 2520 (7x 360) years from 607 B. C. to 1914 A.D., have ended (see The Time is at Hand, chap. 4), that accordingly the time has come for the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God and Christ soon to be established in place of the kingdoms of this world (Rev. 11:15), for the present-day governments, represented in the feet and toes of the great metallic image, to give way to the fifth universal empire of earth, the everlasting Kingdom given by Jehovah to Messiah Jesus (Dan. 2:31-44; 7:9-27). Therefore these Christians realize that for them to do political campaigning for the parties seeking elections is largely futile, that their time, effort and means should be used rather in proclaiming the soon-coming Kingdom of God and Christ.
This point is brought out in Vol. 6, The New Creation, p. 593, par. (3): “Those of the New Creation who engage in politics and its various arguments find not only their time consumed thereby, but also their energies and their means—all of which are consecrated to the Lord, to heavenly things, to promulgating the good tidings of great joy. And not only so, but their minds will necessarily be occupied with these political interests to such a degree as to hinder considerably their private meditations on the better things—their communion and fellowship with the Lord in spirit.”
Two other reasons given on p. 593 for not participating in the politics of this old world are: “We could not hope to find on any electoral ticket persons thoroughly competent for office, according to our standards of judgment,” and “We could not hope that our votes would have any appreciable difference on the results of the election anyway,”
The right, or privilege, of voting for one’s choice of candidates in political elections is one of our human privileges, which (Except in certain countries) may be used or left unused, according to our preference. But each disciple of Christ, having dedicated His all to the Lord, is not to use or leave unused any right excepts as he or she sees it to be His will, as the interests of His cause may require.
There are some unusual cases and circumstances in which a consecrated Christian may feel it to be the Lord’s will for him or her to vote. E.g., if a Christian husband and wife have children of school age and there is an election of school board members, especially if some candidates are known to be much more qualified or better morally than others, they may feel it clearly to be the Lord’s will for them to vote in such an election.
The Apostle Paul used his earthly citizenship rights to protect his ministry, his stewardship in the Lord’s service. When the Philippian magistrate Festus to please some unbelieving Jews made a proposal that could have resulted in the stopping of Paul’s ministry and his death, he made use of his earthly rights—his Roman citizenship—in an appeal to be tried before Caesar, in order to prevent the stoppage of his ministry (Acts 25:1-12). On other occasions also the Apostle made use of his rights of Roman citizenship to prevent injury to his ministry for the Lord (Acts 16:19-22, 35-39; 22:24-30). ’84-85; ’92-86
Christians—And Jury Duty.
Question (1984)—Should Christians serve jury duty, and if so, would this not be taking part in politics?
Answer.—Serving on a jury is in no sense taking part in political affairs. A jury has nothing to do with politics. As far as judging is concerned, the Apostle Paul remarked that since we are to be judges in the weighty affairs of the Millennial Age, we ought to be able to judge in the small matters of the present (1 Cor. 6:2, 3).
The law governing juries is very simple. The judge instructs the jury on the points of law involved in the case, and each juror is required to reach a conclusion in his own mind with reference to the facts brought out by the evidence. In serving as a juror he has nothing whatever to do with the law, whether it be good or bad, right or wrong; he merely decides what the verdict shall be, according to the law stated by the judge. When called upon to serve as a juror it becomes a duty to respond, and one should ask to be excused only in a case of necessity.
The above would apply even in murder cases, although in such instances we would prefer to be excused. But if it is necessary to serve, and if the verdict is murder in the first degree, it does not imply that the jury either gives the sentence or executes it. The law provides what shall constitute murder in the various degrees, and the jury merely finds to which of these degrees the facts and circumstances point. It remains, then, for the judge, as the representative of the law, to sentence the culprit, and for the authorities to execute the law’s commands.
In the matter of being sworn in as a juror, we see nothing in this to conflict with our Lord’s words, “Swear not at all” (Matt. 5:34). In this Scripture Jesus was speaking out against what was the current custom—adding an oath to almost every statement in ordinary conversation, and not believing any statement without the oath added. But Jesus showed that it is not wrong to be sworn in before officials. When the high priest said to Him, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God,” He replied, “Thou hast said” (Matt. 26:63, 64). ’84-86
Question (1972)—How near to the character likeness of Jesus must one attain in order to have God’s full approval?
Answer.—Jehovah God will not accept anything that is imperfect. This was emphasized typically in the Law arrangements (see, e.g., Lev. 22:17-25). Accordingly, when we first came to God, it had to be through Christ as our Ransomer and also as our High Priest, so that He might cover us with His robe of righteousness and present us to God as “holy and acceptable,” without condemnation, because of His Ransom merit imputed to us (Rom. 12:1; 8:1; 4:24; 1 Cor. 1:30). In thinking of ourselves, however, we are to remember that we have the new mind, heart and will or the New Creature, “the inward man,” as a treasure in an earthen vessel (Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:7, 16; Eph. 3:16). It is this “inner man” that must have the likeness of Christ.
In our fallen flesh “dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). The world, the flesh and the Devil beset us on every hand. These all conspire to hinder the new heart, mind and will or the New Creature from working perfectly in the old body. The new will, the will to do God’s will, must be nothing less than perfect. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Purity of heart must be absolute. We must “keep the heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). We thank God that whereas man “looketh on the outward appearance,” He “looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
The pure in heart are those whose intentions are pure, whose motives are pure, and who desire the best—long for the best. These may have strong consolation, may have full confidence toward God respecting the glorious things He has promised; for they can do no more than their best in the mortal body—and thus show their devotion.
We are reminded of the boy who earnestly desired to become a good violinist. His father provided him with a violin of poor quality and the needed instructions and helps for his training. The boy practiced diligently day after day, but felt quite depressed that he could not make perfect music of good quality. He told his father that it was just impossible to make perfect music on such an old cracked fiddle. “I know,” said the father, “but this one is good enough to practice on; when you learn to play it well, so that you are good musician, I will give you a nice new violin, a perfect one of good quality, and then you will be able to make perfect music.”
So with us: We cannot make our old bodies do perfectly; but they are just what we need to practice on as we perfect ourselves in Christlikeness. We will soon have our new bodies in the resurrection, and then we will be able to make perfect music. Now “to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18). Now we make melody in the heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19) and struggle with the old body, to keep it under and bring it into subjection (1 Cor. 9:27)—but it constantly squeaks and screeches and makes discordant notes; but when God gives us our new, perfect bodies we will be able to do everything perfect-ly—providing we become proficient as “musicians” in “the inward man” of the heart. ’72-15
Christmas—And The Saturnalia.
Question (1961)—Was not the giving of gifts a Roman custom in connection with the Saturnalia, a festival in honor of the heathen god Saturn, which occurred at the same season as Christmas, and is it not therefore sinful to give gifts on or about Dec. 25?
Answer.—The Romans did honor their god Saturn, or Saturnus, supposedly the god of sowing, or seedcorn (Satus), with a great festival called the Saturnalia, at the same season as Christmas. It was a sort of harvest home, during which business was suspended; courts and schools were closed; no war was commenced or malefactor punished; slaves were relieved from ordinary labor, and dressed in their masters’ clothes, were waited upon by them at the table; and presents were freely exchanged.
The date of this festival was not Dec. 25, however; originally it was Dec. 19, and was then gradually extended to seven days, Dec. 17-24. Dec. 25 was called Brumalia, and was generally known by the heathen as dies natalis solis invicti, i.e., birthday of the unconquered sun, because it was the time in the year when the victory of light over darkness began to be apparent in the lengthening of the day.
The early Church evidently did not make any special observance of Jesus’ nativity. The church fathers of the first three centuries A.D. do not mention it. The special observance evidently developed gradually, first being attached to the earlier feast of Epiphany, which was celebrated Jan. 6 (some Eastern churches still observe Christmas on Jan. 6). Before the fifth century A.D. there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25, or Dec. 25; but in that century the Dec. 25 date was quite generally accepted. It is true that converts from heathendom considered the Christmas festival as superseding the heathen Saturnalia and Brumalia, and that in time some customs used by the heathen, such as giving gifts, lighting tapers, etc., were engaged in also at the same season by the Christians. But it is not necessary to conclude, as some writers do, that the origin of the special observance of Jesus’ nativity was in the heathen Saturnalia and Brumalia; for, as noted above, it was previously attached to the feast of Epiphany, held on Jan. 6.
Even irrespective of the above considerations, we should be careful to think soberly on this subject. It is true that faithfulness to the Lord and the Truth requires us to disapprove, avoid and fight against heathen doctrines and practices that are contrary to the letter or spirit of Bible teaching and that mixed in with Bible teachings and practices during the Gospel Age, particularly in the Dark Ages; but just because heathen people (and apostate Christians) have used (and in many cases abused) certain days and customs is no reason why we cannot use them, providing there is nothing in the letter or spirit of Bible teaching against our using them, and we do not abuse them. We remember that the Apostle Paul did not consider it wrong under certain circumstances even to eat meat that had been offered to heathen idols (1 Cor, 8; 10:25-33; Rom. 14:14-23), let alone merely using certain days and legitimate customs that the heathen have used in their festivals. Surely therefore it would not be a sin for Christians to give gifts or do any other good deed at the Christmas season any more than to do so at any other time, just because of previous heathen associations with giving presents at that season! In fact, if we should try to skip by Dec. 25 without thanking God for the great gift of His Son (for which we should thank God every day) just because of ancient heathen holidays at that season, we would be more unChristian than Christian.
Those who object to all giving of gifts at the Christmas season because it was an ancient heathen custom to do so at that season, might with just as much reason be so illogical and radical as not to use names such as Sunday, Monday or Saturday for days of the week, because of the heathen sun and moon worship and “Saturn’s day,” from which those names are derived, and not to use the name March for the third month of the year, because March is derived from Mars, the Roman god of war. ’61-93; ’68-94; ’69-95; ’81-94; ’86-99; ’92-95; ’95-94
Christmas—Trees Not Meant In Jer. 10:2-5.
Question (1981)—Jer. 10:2-5 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it moves not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” Is this a warning against the putting up of Christmas trees?
Answer.—It is evident from these verses and the context that this chapter has reference, not to the putting up of Christmas trees, but to the making of decorated wooden idols, which must be carried around (“borne,” v. 5) because unable to go of themselves. (Decorated Christmas trees are not generally carried around.) The line of thought in vs. 6-16 is the contrast between Jehovah, the living, great, wise, powerful Creator, the only true God, and the lifeless, silver-and gold-decorated idols of wood and metal made and worshiped by the heathen. Some of the Israelites were ensnared into worshiping such idols. Jer. 10:1-16 is a stern warning by Jehovah to His people against idolatry.
Psa. 115:1-9 and Hab. 2:19 make a similar contrast between the great living Jehovah and the insensible idols of the heathen.
Of course, if any of God’s people were to worship a Christmas tree or other object in nature, or manufactured object, or to divide worship between Jehovah and a Christmas tree or any other natural or manmade object, the Bible’s many stern warnings against and prohibitions of idolatry would apply to them. The spirit of a sound mind in God’s consecrated people (2 Tim. 1:7) will keep them from idolatry of any kind (1 John 5:21). ’81-95; ’95-95
Question (1996)—What are some of the standards which an ecclesia of Christians should follow as they organize?
Answer.—Elsewhere in these columns we have seen described the beauty, simplicity and completeness of the organization of the church. Its only ruler and Head, the Lord Jesus, is infallible; God has centralized the authority in His hands, and all of His people are required to render loving, loyal and prompt obedience to Him — not only in their words and conduct, but even in their very thoughts.
His people are firmly united under Jesus, their Head, and thus to each other, according to their degree of development in the Master’s spirit of love. Jesus regards these as admitted to membership in His household of faith, and, when needful, He regards the disloyal as not in His favor.
Christians are required to recognize as “brethren” all who have this spirit of love and consecration, as based on “the faith once delivered unto the saints”: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He ever liveth to make intercession for us. Furthermore, it is urged that they meet together and edify one another, and to conduct their meetings with decorum and order.
The church needs no organizing apart from what was recommended through our Lord and His Apostles at Pentecost and in the Jewish Harvest, and supported by “That faithful and wise servant” in the Gospel-Age Harvest, e.g., in Studies, Volume 6. For a new group starting meetings, it is only necessary for such to recognize Christ their Head, His Word and His laws, and to obey them.
This church does not need to draw up membership rolls, nor dole out official titles, nor ask one to pass oral or written exams in order to attend their meetings.
The New Testament recommends that members of an ecclesia search out among themselves those such as the Lord’s Word and providence seem to indicate as being suitable as elders, deacons and deaconesses, and to give them their public recognition (as for instance by vote) and their cooperation in the service.
God’s intended method is that anyone may advise and teach from the Word of the Lord. (However, none can do more without violating the rules and risking his own favor granted by the great and infallible Head.)
Characteristic of the Lord’s organization is the individual liberty of each member as granted by the rest of the congregation. Complete subserviency of each is to the Lord only.
FALSE CHURCH STANDS IN CONTRAST
But how great the contrast between the above, and so many churches, which have become organized according to various human traditions! Even in the early Gospel Age, the Apostles wrote of the dangers of God’s church adopting methods not of Biblical origin.
Elders were warned not to make themselves into a self-constituted “clergy,” who lord it over the “laity,” nor to divide among themselves the spoils taken from the laity — the “filthy lucre,” honors, reverence, titles, etc. Do we not see this perpetrated today — from those of the claimed infallible pope down to the “inferior orders of ministers”? The majority lord it over God’s heritage to the extent that their flocks will permit. Read carefully Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek 34:1-16.
A bond of love should exist within the true church; but this is replaced in the nominal organizations by a selfish bond of sectarian pride, and a fear that to die outside an organized church would incur eternal woe.
For the simple but forthright confession of faith in the early church, they have substituted elaborate catechisms and tests for new inductees to memorize and reel off.
Members are caused to surrender their individual faith, judgment, and liberty to the congregation. In this way they bind themselves with sectarian names, obligations and confessions of faith. The congregation in turn often surrenders its faith, judgment, and liberties to ruling Presbyteries, Synods or Conferences, or to an earthly pope, cardinals, bishops, priest, etc.
Verily their strength is in their carnality, and their clergy’s strength is in the “laity’s” ignorance of the Lord’s Word and their individual liberties. ’96-38
Church—Elections Who May Vote.
Question (1999)—Should only the consecrated believers vote in Church elections, or should justified believers who are not consecrated vote also?
Answer.—Only the consecrated, those who have denied self, taken up the cross, and accepted Jesus as their Head, are really His disciples (Matt. 16:24; Luke 14:27). And how can any who have not accepted Him as their Head express His will as their Head? During the time of the High Calling, while the Body members of the Christ were still in the flesh, they endeavored in their Church elections to express the mind of Christ, their Head, by voting what they believed to be His good pleasure. All others who have consecrated and thus have come under the headship of Christ should do the same. Eventually all must consecrate and come under His headship (Eph. 1:10; A 242; F 156) and must seek in all things to do His will (which is the same as God’s will), if they are to have everlasting life.
In some matters, in which all class attendants are involved, including believers who are not consecrated, it might be desired by the ecclesia, consisting of the consecrated only, to consult the wishes or preferences of all. For example, if a question arises in a business meeting of the ecclesia as to the time or place for a certain meeting or meetings to be held, it might be well for the ecclesia by vote to ask all the congregation to express themselves on it, whether they are consecrated, or justified but not consecrated. But on any question like electing the servants of the Church, or any such matter as that, it would be for the consecrated only to decide, by voting for or against. Bro. Russell states in F 281: “The general ‘household of faith,’ believers who have not consecrated, have nothing to do with such an election; because it is the Lord’s choice, through His ‘body,’ possessing His Spirit, that is sought. All of the consecrated body should vote, and any of them may make nominations at a general meeting called for the purpose—preferably a week in advance of the voting, so as to afford time for consideration.” ’99-29
Commandment—Which Is The Fourth.
Question (1982)—Which is the fourth command-ment—the one requiring rest on the seventh day or the one enjoining the honoring of one’s parents?
Answer.—The Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran Churches claim that the fourth commandment is “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Ex. 20:12), but other churches say it is the one requiring rest on the seventh day (vs. 8-11). The Catholic, etc., churches claim that the words, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” and bow down to it (vs. 4, 5) are only in explanation of the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (v. 3). Thus they make one commandment out of what other churches make two.
Then the Catholic, etc., churches, in order to make ten commandments, make two out of the one commandment against covetousness, claiming that “Thou shalt not covet . . . thy neighbor’s wife” (v. 17) is the ninth commandment and that the prohibition against coveting the neighbor’s goods is the tenth commandment.
Furthermore, the Catholic, etc., churches cannot answer the objections to their making one commandment out of “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (v. 3) and thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” and bow down to it, because they are two separate acts and so the commandments against them are separate and distinct. Therefore two entirely separate actions are prohibited by them, while only one action, coveting, is prohibited by what the Catholic, etc., churches claim are two commandments.
Some Catholic catechisms, in treating of the ten commandments, give the first as “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and then completely omit any reference whatsoever to “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness” and bow down to it, and wrongly list “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” as the second commandment.
It is quite evident that the Catholic, etc., churches make this omission because of their practice of making idols, icons, and pictures and bowing down and worshiping them, which is unscriptural and prohibited by God’s Word (Acts 15:20-29; 17:16-29; 1 Cor. 10:14, 20-22; 1 John 5:21).
It is obvious that correctly the fourth commandment is the one that enjoins rest on the Sabbath and the fifth is the one that commands honoring one’s parents. ’82-63
Commandment—Was Making Images And Pictures Banned.
Question (1982)—In the second commandment God said, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” Did this commandment forbid the making of any kind of an object, drawing or painting that looked like an animal, bird, fish, tree, flower, etc.?
Answer.—The first commandment specified Jehovah—the true God—as the only proper object of worship. The second commandment specified how He should not be worshiped. It forbade a false method of worship of the one true God. Jehovah is a spirit being and He is to be worshiped with a worship of the heart—in spirit and in Truth (John 4:23, 24). The second commandment forbade worship by bowing down to and venerating material representations of Jehovah or of likenesses of anything in the animal or plant creation. “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”
However, it is clear from other Scriptures that the second commandment did not forbid the making of and the using for non-worship purposes of any kind of an object or picture that looked like something in the animal or plant creation. The same One—Jehovah—who gave the Ten Commandments also told Moses and his artisans to make cherubim (angels) of gold for the ark of the covenant and to embroider cherubim on the tabernacle curtains (Ex. 25:18; 26:1, 31; 31:1-6). Also, for God’s Temple, Solomon’s artisans made two large carved olivewood cherubim for the Most Holy, and the walls were carved with figures of cherubim, palm trees and flowers (1 Kings 7:23-26).
God arranged for the four camps of Israel (three tribes to each) to have their standards, or ensigns (Num. 2:2, 3, 10, 17, 18, 25, 34). These undoubtedly had different inscriptions on them, likely a lion, an ox, a man’s face and an eagle, as in Ezek. 1:10; Rev. 4:7.
God told Moses to make a brazen (bronze) serpent and to elevate it in the sight of the snake-bitten, dying Israelites, and that all of them who would look on it would live (Num. 21:8, 9). God used this elevated serpent and the snake-bitten Israelites looking to it and thereby living, as a picture, or type, of Jesus Christ lifted up on the cross and sinners looking by faith on Him as Savior and Lord for deliverance from the sting of Adamic sin and thereby obtaining eternal life (John 3:14-17). Later, however, when the bronze serpent became an object of worship called Nethushtan, King Hezekiah did God’s will in destroying it (2 Kings 18:3-6).
The making of paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc., for purposes other than worship was therefore not against the second commandment. It was the making for the purposes of veneration, bowing down to, the images that was forbidden. The use of pictures of animals and plants and religious pictures and sculptures is not objectionable, but venerating and bowing down before them is wrong. ’82-71
Communal—Living A Report By John Wesley.
Question (1989)—Do we have any examples of the manner of communal living?
Answer.—Yes we do. Of course there are differences in the various communal arrangements. We are fortunate that John Wesley (who was very impressed with Count Zinzendorf and the Moravian religiousness) recorded some observations for us, which were published in the book entitled “The Life of Wesley” by Robert Southey (1820).
We quote as follows:
“Herrnhut [Germany], the first and still the chief settlement of the Moravian Brethren, consisted [about 1738] of about a hundred houses, built upon the great road from Zittau to Lobau. The Brethren had chosen to build by the roadside, because they expected to find occasion for offering instruction to travelers as they might be passing by. The visitors were lodged in the house appointed for strangers. And here Wesley found one of his friends from Georgia, and had opportunities of observing and inquiring fully into the economy of this remarkable people, who without the restriction of a vow had submitted to a rule of life, as formal as that of a monastic order, and though in some respects less burdensome, in others not less fanatic.
“The sexes were divided each into five classes, the three first consisting of children according to their growth, the two others of the young, and of the married. The single men, and single women and widows dwelt in separate houses, but each in community. Two women kept a nightly watch in the women’s apartment, and two men in the street. They were expected to pray for those who slept, and to sing hymns, which might excite feelings of devotion in those who were awake. There was an eldest over each sex, and two inferior eldest, over the young men and the boys, and over the unmarried women and the girls. Besides this classification according to sex, age, and condition, each household was considered as a separate class and had its helper or deacon, its censor, its monitor, its almoner, and its servant or helper of the lowest order; in the female classes these offices were filled by women.
“The deacon or helper was to instruct them in their private assemblies; to take care that outward things were done decently and in order, and to see that every member grew in grace, and walked suitably to his holy calling. The censors were to observe the smallest things and report them either to the helpers of monitors, and the monitors might freely admonish even the rulers of the Church. And as if this system of continual inspection were not sufficient, there were secret monitors besides those who were known to hold that office. They were subdivided into bands, the members of which met together twice or thrice a week to confess their faults one to another, and pray for one another. Every band had its leader chosen as being a person of the most experience, and all these leaders met the superior eldest every week, for the purpose of ‘laying open to him and to the Lord whatsoever hindered or furthered the work of God in the souls committed to their charge.
Overseers of the Flock
“There were four pastors or teachers, as they were called, at Herrnhut, and these persons were regularly ordained. They were overseers of the whole flock, and were the only men except the eldest, and one or two of the helpers, who were allowed to converse with the women. The elders, and teachers, and helpers, held one weekly conference concerning the state of the souls under their care, another concerning the youth, and a daily one relating to the outward affairs of the Church.
“The censors, monitors, almoners, attendants on the sick, servants, schoolmasters, young men, and even the children, had also their weekly conferences relating to their several offices and duties, and once a week there was a conference at which any person might be present, and propose any question or doubt. Public service was performed every morning and evening at eight o’clock: it consisted of singing, and expounding the Scriptures, with a short prayer, which in the evening was usually mental; and this latter service concluded with the kiss of peace.
“On Sunday, in addition to the daily service, and the regular church service at Bertholdsdorf, the superior eldest gave separate exhortations to all the members of the community, who were divided for that purpose into fourteen classes, spending about a quarter of an hour with each class. After the evening eight o’clock service, the young men went round the town singing hymns.
“On the first Saturday in the month the sacrament was administered, and they washed each other’s feet, the men and women apart; the second was a solemn prayer day for the children; the third was set apart for a general intercession and thanksgiving; the fourth was the monthly conference of all the superiors of the Church. And a round of perpetual prayer through every hour of the day and night was kept up by married men and women, maids, bachelors, boys and girls, twenty-four of each, who volunteered to relieve each other in this endless service.
“The children were prepared by their education for a life of such continual pupilage. They rose between five and six, prayed awhile in private, and worked till seven: an hour’s schooling followed, and then the hour of public service. From nine till eleven they were at school, they were then included with an hour’s walk; at twelve they dined all together, and worked till one; from one till three writing or working was the order of the day, arithmetic at three, history at four; work again at five, supper at six, and more work till seven; a little prayer at seven, and a little walking till eight, when the younger children went to bed, and the larger to public service, and when this was done they were set again to work till bedtime, which was at ten. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and English were taught. There were no holidays or relaxation of any kind, except the little time allowed for walking.
“It is somewhat remarkable, that Wesley should have said nothing of their customs respecting matrimony. He took the account, which they presented to the Theological Faculty at Wittemberg, and appears not to have inquired farther. In this the Moravians say, ‘we highly reverence marriage, as greatly conducive to the kingdom of Christ: but neither our young men nor women enter into it till they assuredly know they are married to Christ. When any know it is the will of God that they should change their state, both the man and woman are placed for a time with some married persons, who instruct them how to behave, so that their married life may be pleasing to God. Then their design is laid before the whole Church, and after about fourteen days, they are solemnly joined though not otherwise habited than they are at other times. If they make any entertainment, they invite only a few intimate friends, by whose faithful admonitions they may be the better prepared to bear their cross, and fight the good fight of faith.’
“This passage Wesley inserted in the second part of his Journal, without any comment or further explanation. ‘I would gladly,’ he says, ‘have spent my life here; but my Master calling me to labour in another part of His vineyard, I was constrained to take my leave of this happy place.’ After a fortnight’s tarriance, therefore, he departed on foot as he came, and return to England.
John Wesley disapproved Count Zinzendorf’s supremacy
“Count Zinzendorf would not have been very well pleased if he had known that one of the things which Wesley disapproved was the supremacy which he exercised over the Moravians—for Wesley, immediately upon his return, had begun a letter to the Moravian Church, in a very different strain from the epistle which he afterwards substituted for it. Instead of a grave and solemn superscription, it began with, ‘My dear Brethren’; and after saying that he greatly approved of their conferences and bands, their method of instructing children, and their great care of the souls committed to their charge, he proceeded to purpose, ‘in love and meekness,’ doubts concerning certain parts of their conduct, which he wished them to answer plainly, and to consider well.
“’Do you not,’ he pursued, ‘wholly neglect joint fasting? Is not the Count all in all? Are not the rest mere shadows, calling him Rabbi; almost implicitly both believing and obeying him? Is there not something of levity in your behavior? Are you in general serious enough? Are you zealous and watchful to redeem time? Do you not sometimes fall into trifling conservation? Do you not magnify your own Church too much? Do you believe any who are not of it to be in gospel liberty? Are you not straitened in your love? Do you love your enemies and wicked men as yourself? Do you not mix human wisdom with divine, joining worldly prudence with heavenly? Do you not use cunning, guile, or dissimulation in many cases? Are you not a close, dark reserved temper and behavior? Is not the spirit of secrecy the spirit of your communion? Have you that childlike openness, frankness, and plainness of speech, so manifest to all in the Apostles and first Christians?’ [Many of these deficiencies can accompany a communal lifestyle.]
“Some of these queries savor of supererogatory righteousness, and as they contain no allusion either to the wild heretical fancies which are deducible from Count Zinzendorf’s writings, nor to his execrable language, it is evident that Wesley must have been ignorant of both. He saw much to disapprove in the Moravians, but he says, that being fearful of trusting his own judgment, he determined to wait yet a little longer. Indeed he thought that whatever might be the errors of the United Brethren, the good greatly preponderated; and therein he judged of them more truly, as well as more charitably, than when he afterwards separated from them.” ’89-53
Consecration—In The End Of The Age.
Question (1961)—Is it proper to consecrate one’s life to God in the Time of Trouble after the Little Flock, Christ’s Bride, the 144,000 have been fully selected?
Answer.—It was early in the Gospel Age that “God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men [the rest of the world of mankind] might seek after the Lord, and [Greek, even] all the Gentiles [the non-elect nations], upon whom my name is called [God’s name is called upon them by virtue of the Ransom, which makes them His property—’bought with a price’]” (Acts 15:14-17). The special work of the Gospel Age has been the selecting of the Little Flock (Luke 12:32), who are the “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14), the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1-4; 14:1), the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, who during the Gospel Age makes herself ready (Rev. 21:2, 9; 19:7).
Ever since 1914 we have been in the Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21); and during this time we see the beginnings of the building again of the tabernacle of David and the ruins thereof (Israel has been in ruins as a kingdom ever since losing its royal family as rulers in the days of Zedekiah). Israel is again a nation, and soon Christ’s reign of peace shall be established in the earth (Matt. 6:10; Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 18), and “out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:2-4). People will then consecrate their lives to the Lord, even as now—to do His will (Psa. 110:3; Isa, 35:10; 51:11; Psa. 51:18, 19 [bullocks—symbolizing perfect human offerings]; Zech 13:9; 14:9, 16-21).
It is always proper for one to consecrate his life unto God—to lay down self-will and accept fully God’s will. All during the Jewish Age and previously, even as now, consecration was proper. Take Abraham as an illustration. No prize of the High Calling was offered to those who consecrated prior to the Gospel Age, but God will give them a suitable reward. “There is a reward for the righteous”; for God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Psa. 58:11; Heb. 11:6).
Therefore, consecration to Him is always in order: Give your all to Him through Christ (Rom. 12:1; John 10:9; 14:6); give Him your heart affections and learn His ways (Prov. 23:26); worship Him and serve Him in spirit and in truth (Matt. 4:10; John 4:23, 24); “follow peace with all men, and holiness, with-out which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), and enjoy His good mercy extended to and fulfilled in you, regardless of the reward or prize. Be assured that He who called you wills you a suitable reward, if you are faithful to Him and His cause. What would you think of a great king, would he give you a mean reward? No, but according to his riches and the standing of his kingdom. In the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7). But let us serve Him in love, “doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6), and not as hirelings in self-interest (John 10:13). ’61-71
Covenant—Of The People.
Question (1962)—Who is it that God gives “for a covenant of the people” (Isa. 49:8; 42:6)?
Answer.—It is the Christ, primarily the Head, secondarily the Body—God’s “servant” described in Isa. 42 and 49. Isa. 42:6, 7 and 49:8, 9 refer to the Christ as functioning throughout the Gospel (2 Cor. 6:1, 2) and Millennial Ages. The Christ, Head and Body, will be given for (in the interests of, i.e., to seal, ratify, make operative) a covenant of the people. This Messenger of the Covenant (Mal. 3:1) will seal the covenant (the New Covenant), which will be made with Fleshly Israel—“the house of Israel” and “the house of Judah”—Jer. 31:31-34, 32:40; 33:14; Ezek 16:60-63; Heb. 8:7-13) during the time of Christ’s Second Advent, when the earthly phase of the Kingdom is set up. The Church, the members of His Body, are spoken of as able servants of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), even though it has not been sealed yet, for among other things, they lay down their lives for its seal (Heb. 9:16, 17; comp. Diaglott).
This covenant of the people is the New Covenant, the Restitution Covenant through which the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:8, 16, 29) will bless “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3), “to establish the earth” in truth and righteousness (Psa. 96:13; 98:9), to raise them up out of long degradation and to cause them to inherit the lands so long desolated by superstition, ignorance, error and sin, to “say to the prisoners [death’s captives, in the prison-house of death], Go forth [John 5:28, 29; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2]; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places . . . even by the springs of water [God’s Word] shall he guide them” (Isa. 49:9, 10). Hallelujah! What a Savior! ’62-63
Covenants—The Abrahamic The Greatest.
Question (1969)—Which is greater, the Abrahamic Covenant or the New Covenant?
Answer.—The Abrahamic Covenant is an all-embracing arrangement. Everything that God has done and will yet do for our race is included in it. The Law Covenant was added to this Covenant “because of transgressions” (Gal. 3:19). Although only a typical arrangement, nevertheless the Law Covenant developed a certain class that will be used of the Lord in a subordinate way in blessing mankind during the Millennial Age. This Covenant is represented by Hagar; and her son Ishmael represents the nation of Israel (Gal. 4:21-31). The Christ, Head and Body, is represented in Isaac, Sarah’s son. Sarah, Abraham’s first wife, represents the Christ-developing part of the Abrahamic Covenant, which pertains to the primary spiritual Seed. We sometimes speak of it as the Sarah Covenant. This Sarah Covenant—the Grace Coven-ant—brings forth the Isaac class, the Christ, Head and Body.
Even as Isaac was not born after the flesh in the ordinary sense (Abraham and Sarah being too old naturally), but was a special creation, so with Christ. This “Isaac” class is a distinctly new creation. Jesus the Head became a New Creature at Jordan. The Body has been formed from members of the fallen human race during the Gospel Age. The Divine invitation to these was to present their bodies living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), that they might attain with their Head the Divine nature—something that had never before been offered. After the completion of the Christ class and their entering with Christ into His Millennial throne (Matt. 25:31), the blessing indicated in God’s promise to Abraham will reach all the families of the earth. It will reach them through the “Isaac” Seed, the Christ, and subordinately through the Great Company, and also through the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, developed respectively before and after the time in which believers could attain to Little Flockship.
In the incoming Messianic or Millennial Age, all kindreds and families of the earth who have not had an opportunity in this life will be blessed by the privilege or opportunity to become children of Abraham, children of God. Abraham represents God in a figure. He said to Abraham, “I have made thee a father of many nations” (Gen 17:5; Rom. 4:17); “in becoming thy seed shall all nations of the earth bless themselves.” They will be blessed under the New Covenant, the arrangement whereby the earthly features of the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled as relates to Israel and others. Accordingly, the Abrahamic Covenant embraces all the other covenants, which are merely different features of God’s arrangement by which the work implied in the great Abrahamic Covenant is to be accomplished.
Abraham, representing God, took another wife after the death of Sarah, named Keturah, representing the New Covenant. By her he had many children (Gen. 25:1-3), representing those who will obtain everlasting life under the New Covenant. Thus is typed the New Covenant and its grand work of bringing many to life—to “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19, 21). ’69-47; ’86-75
Creative Days—The Six.
Question (1970)—Did God create the heavens and the earth in six twenty-four-hour days?
Answer.—The Genesis account makes a distinction between the creation of the heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1) and the subsequent regulation, or ordering of these creations, and the further creations of vegetable and animal life. It is these subsequent operations that are described as the Divine work of six epochal days. V. 2 tells us that in the very beginning of the first day of that creative week the earth was—it already existed—though without form (order), and void (empty)—it was waste, empty and dark. This important item should be distinctly noted. If recognized, it at once corroborates the testimony of geology. The Bible does not say how long a period elapsed between the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth, and the beginning of the creative week used in perfecting it for man; nor do geologists agree among themselves as to the period of this interval—their guesses vary by hundreds of thousands of years.
Coming then to the creative period—the ordering of affairs in our heaven and earth in preparation of the Paradise of God for man’s everlasting home—we note that these “days” are nowhere declared to be twenty-four-hour days; therefore we are not obliged thus to limit them. We find in the Bible that the word day frequently stands for an epoch, or periods of time. The fact that it is most frequently used to refer to a twenty-four-hour period matters nothing, so long as we have the record of it being used frequently to designate a longer period. Thus sometimes a “day” or “time” represents a year period (Num. 14:33, 34; Ezek. 4:1-8), or forty years (“the day of temptation in the wilderness . . . forty years”—Psa. 95:8-10), or a thousand years (“a day with the Lord is as a thousand years”—2 Pet. 3:8; Psa. 90:4), or the 1845-year period of the Jewish Age (Isa. 65:2; compare Rom. 10:21), or the Gospel Age (2 Cor. 6:2), or the entire creative period (Gen. 2:4). Most assuredly the epoch-days of Genesis were not sun days; for the record is that the sun was not visible until the fourth day or epoch.
Although the length of these epoch-days is not indicated, we are justified in assuming that they were uniform periods, because of their close identity as members of one creative week. Therefore, if we can gain reasonable proof of the length of one of these days, we will be fully justified in assuming that the others were of the same duration. We find satisfactory evidence that one of these creative “days” was a period of seven thousand years and, therefore, that the entire creative week would be 7 x 7,000 or 49,000 years. Although this period is infinitesimal when compared with some guesses of geologists, it is, we believe, a period quite reasonably ample for the work represented as being accomplished therein—the ordering and filling the earth, which already “was” in existence, but “without form [order], and void [empty].”
Perhaps nothing was done more to becloud and undermine faith in God as the Creator and in the Genesis account as His revelation, than has the error of understanding the epoch-days of Genesis to be twenty-four-hour days. The various stratifications of rocks and clays prove beyond all controversy that long periods were consumed in the mighty changes they represent. And when we find that the Bible teaches that the six creative days were epoch-days, we are prepared to hear the rocks giving testimony in exact accord with the Bible record, and our faith in the latter is greatly strengthened; we feel that we are not trusting to our own or other men’s guesses, but to the Word of the Creator Himself, abundantly attested by the facts of nature.
Space will not permit our giving further proofs here, but we refer to The New Creation, pp. 17-58, and to our book Creation, for further details. ’70-94
Cross—The Superscription On The Cross.
Question (1971)—Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38 and John 19:19 give four different wordings for the superscription placed on Jesus’ cross, respectively as follows: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS; THE KING OF THE JEWS; THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS and JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. Which account is correct? And why the differences?
Answer.—All are correct. The matter is easily understood if we note the explanation in John 19:20, that the title on Jesus’ cross was written in three languages. The order, according to the best authorities (see Diaglott, ARV, RSV, Rotherham, Westcott and Hort, Panin, etc.), was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. This answers to the position, which they would naturally occupy: the national dialect, the official dialect and the intellectual or universal dialect. The wording was different in each of these languages. Matthew and Luke probably quoted the Latin and the Greek, and John the Hebrew, which usually omits the verb is; while Mark, usually the briefest in his wording, gave only that portion of the superscription which was common to the other three and which had to do particularly with the accusation against Jesus. Thus there are really no contradictions between these three accounts, though there are differences in them because the superscription was written in three languages. ’71-22; ’97-22
Crucifixion—Why Needed For Man’s Redemption.
Question (1973)—Could not Jesus have laid down His life as a ransom-price for Adam and his race without being crucified? Could He not have died in some easier way?
Answer.—For the Gentiles as such, our Lord would not have needed to be crucified, i.e., to die on a tree; another kind of sacrificial death would have been sufficient for them. In Gal. 3:10-13, St. Paul explains: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse [for no imperfect man could come up to the standards of a perfect man expressed in the Law—Lev. 18:5; therefore by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified—Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; Rom. 7:10] . . . no man is justified by the law in the sight of God . . . Christ hath redeemed us [Jews, who alone were under the Law Covenant and its curse] from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us [as our substitute]: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
The Apostle is here pointing out that Christians who had been Jews and had therefore been under the Jewish or Law Covenant, had not only been redeemed from under its sentence, but were also released its dominion. V. 13 does not say that Jesus redeemed all the Israelites, but only “us”—the Jews who had become Christians. The curse of the Law was upon only those who were under that covenant; for “what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law” (Rom. 3:19).
Gentiles, who never were under the Law Covenant, could not, of course, be released from it; and in order for a Jew to be released from that covenant he must by faith recognize that Jesus Christ fulfilled the terms of the Law Covenant, and then by consecration be transferred from Moses into Christ, accepting Him as their Lord and Savior. “For Christ is the end [the fulfillment] of the law for righteousness to every one [to every Jew; no others were ever under the Law Covenant] that believeth [but not to others]” (Rom. 10:4). “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15); “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [the Law Covenant] that was against us [believing Israelites], which was contrary to us, and took out of the way, nailing it to his cross [making a full end of it as respected Himself and all Jews coming unto the Father through Him]” (Col. 2:14).
In Gal. 3:13 the Apostle Paul is speaking, not to Christians in general, but to those Christians who had passed from Moses into Christ—out of the Law Covenant into the Covenant of Sacrifice (Psa. 50:5) with Christ, as members of His Body. It would not be true to say that Christ redeemed us Gentiles from the curse of the Law, for we were never under the Law. Only Jews were under the Law and therefore under its curse. The Apostle classifies himself with Israel, some of whom were in Galatia, some in Palestine, etc. Christ has been made “a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
The particular sense in which Christ redeemed the Jews was as a nation and not as individuals. The whole nation was involved in the contract made at Sinai. Consequently, in order to meet all the requirements of the nation as a whole, the one who would redeem Israel from the baneful effects of the Law Covenant must suffer the extreme penalty imposed by the covenant. Therefore to redeem Israel from that condemnation our Lord had to be crucified.
As for the remainder of mankind, they suffer from the sentence of death that came upon Adam, but no particular form of death was implied. The Jews alone needed this particular form of death for their release. The whole nation was under their Law Covenant because the contract was made with them as a nation and through one mediator, Moses. Our Lord will redeem the whole nation from their failure to keep that Law Covenant, from the condemnation of that Law Covenant, by instituting “a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,” by taking over into the New Covenant all those who were under the old Law Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:37-40; Rom. 11:26, 27).
Israel’s New Covenant will be inaugurated after the end of the world’s great Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21), which began in 1914 and will culminate in “Jacob’s trouble” and the final overthrow of Satan’s empire (Jer. 30:7-11; Psa. 46; 72:4; Isa. 9:4; Haggai 2:6, 7; Heb. 12:26, 27). Our Lord Jesus has already redeemed the Jews and all mankind in the sense that He has laid down the ransom-price; but He has not yet redeemed them in the sense of recovering them nor even in the sense of applying that price. At the end of this Age He appears the second time without a sin offering unto salvation (Heb. 9:28). Soon He will apply the price for Israel and the world; and then, the New Covenant arrangements will go into effect for the blessing of all who come under its regulations. ’73-86
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