Faith—Free Moral Agents
Question (1966)—What is faith?
Answer.—Faith as the quality by which one believes may be defined as a mental appreciation of, and a heart’s reliance upon, certain objects. This definition is based upon St. Paul’s statement, “Faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, A.R.V.; see also R.S.V., Rotherham, Young’s Literal Translation, etc.). It will be noticed that the Apostle here gives the matter in reverse order to its actual development or unfolding, for he gives the heart’s reliance (the assurance or confidence in things hoped for) first, and the mental appreciation (the conviction, based upon the evidence or attestation of God’s Word concerning things not seen) last.
Thus, in reverse order, the Apostle shows that there are two parts to faith: one of these is exercised by the mind—mental appreciation, and the other is exercised by the heart—heart’s reliance. Neither of these can be absent in a genuine faith. Mental appreciation must be present as the foundation, and heart’s reliance as the superstructure. Both are necessary to the house of faith, as a natural foundation and superstructure are necessary to a natural house. A believing Christian exercises as his faith a mental appreciation of, and heart’s reliance upon, God and Christ in respect to Their persons, characters, words and works. ’66-62
Question (1966)—What difference, if any, is there between trust, belief and faith? Are not these terms synonymous?
Answer.—These terms are sometimes used more or less synonymously and loosely as meaning the same thing, but there are different shades of meaning between them. To believe and to trust are essential elements of faith, the former pertaining to the head and the latter to the heart. Faith may be analyzed as follows: (1) Its basis is mental appreciation, which embraces three elements: (a) knowledge, (b) understanding and (c) belief; and (2) its superstructure is heart’s reliance, which likewise embraces three elements: (a) confidence, trust, or assurance (b) appropriation and (c) responsiveness or activity. Thus we see that trust and belief are integral elements of faith, but that neither of them alone constitutes faith.
First, in a real mental appreciation, knowledge is essential. We cannot exercise faith in a person or thing of whose existence we know nothing. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14.) From this we see that without knowledge there can be no belief. But knowledge is not enough to constitute belief; for many have knowledge of things that they do not believe. For example, we know of the theory of evolution, but we do not believe in it, for it is contrary to Scripture, reason and scientific findings.
Next, between knowledge and belief comes understanding. We must have an understanding of a principle, or a proposition, or a theory, before we can believe it; for if we know of it, but do not understand what it means, we cannot truly believe it. To help His disciples to believe, Jesus “opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45). Philip the evangelist asked the Ethiopian (Acts 8:30), “Understandest thou what thou readest?” And the Apostle Paul in Col. 2:2 speaks of the “riches of the full assurance of understanding,“ and he prays that we may be able to comprehend with all saints the breadth, length, depth and height, and to know the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18, 19).
Third, belief is essential to mental appreciation. One may know of certain things and understand what they mean, but not believe them to be true. Thus one may know of the virgin birth of Jesus and understand what is meant by it, and still not believe it to be true. Similarly, many a person knows of “the restitution of all things” when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Acts 3:21; Isa. 11:9), and understands it, but does not believe it to be true. Therefore another step must be taken in order to complete mental appreciation, namely, belief or assent to what one knows and understands. This accords with our Lord’s statement (John 3:36), “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” He that cometh to God must believe that he is” (Heb. 11:6). Accordingly we see that the three elements of the mental appreciation of faith are knowledge, understanding and belief.
But mental appreciation in its three elements is not enough to constitute Biblical faith as the quality by which we believe; for the devils have all three of these features of mental appreciation—“the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19); yet who would say that they measure up to the quality of Biblical faith? They have merely its head part, its foundation. They lack the superstructure of faith—heart’s reliance. Not only the head, but also the heart must act in a genuine faith. Heart’s reliance is such a full persuasion of the trustworthiness of the person or thing believed in as to fill one with confidence in that person or thing and to produce corresponding conduct in the one who exercises such confidence.
The first element of heart’s reliance is full persuasion or assurance. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22; see also Rom. 4:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8). This element of heart’s reliance makes the objects of faith real to us. The poet expresses it well as follows:
Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me
A living, bright reality!
More present to faith’s vision keen
Than any outward object seen.
This confidence, trust or assurance, as the first feature of heart’s reliance, is the basis for its other two elements, the second of which is appropriation. This feature of faith makes the objects of faith its own in the sense that the Scriptures teach they are to be taken into one’s possession by faith. Thus a living faith lays hold upon God as our Father, Jesus as our Savior, the promises as our Mother, etc. St. Paul indicates this feature of faith in the expression “embraced them,” in Heb. 11:13--i.e., made them their own. And in v. 17 he expresses the same thought, in the words “had received the promises.”
The third element of heart’s reliance is responsiveness, or an activity that corresponds to the requirements of faith. Every example of faith given in Heb. 11, the great faith chapter, proves this. So completely does such a faith possess one that it dominates him, animates him and enables him to express his conduct in the various forms of faith. Verily, such an one walks by faith. There is no heart’s reliance where no corresponding conduct is produced.
In the list of the heroes of faith given in Heb. 11, in every case their faith made them energetic, prompting them to act as faith dictated that the situation required. With them the persons and the things on which their faith rested were so real and were theirs in such a sense, that they acted upon the requirements of the situation; and that for the reason that they were fully persuaded of the promises and embraced them (Rom. 4:18-21; Heb. 11:13). Only then may we rest assured that we have a true, full faith when it produces proper and appropriate action (Gal. 5:6; James 2:17-26).
We see, then, the Scripturalness of the above, definition of faith as well as the three elements of each of its two parts. ’66-62
Question (1966)—What is the difference between faith and credulity?
Answer.—As seen above, faith’s mental appreciation includes a positive or definite belief reached by relying upon competent evidence, which comes from a reliable and truthful source. Credulity, on the other hand, is a disposition to believe something with no evidence, or upon slight or insufficient evidence. It is a conclusion reached by relying upon opinion-evidence, upon supposed proof, which does not come from an absolutely reliable source. A small amount of information suffices for credulity, but accurate knowledge is essential to faith. Credulity is usually based upon the mere opinion of a finite mind. Faith results from reliance upon the testimony of the infinite God. Credulity has a poor foundation; faith has a sure foundation.
To believe in non-understandable things—things, whose meanings are incomprehensible, is credulity, not faith. Satan desires us to be credulous; God desires us to be believing. Satan would have us believe that such credulity is the acme of faith, while God prizes a faith built upon an understanding of the things that He reveals to us, and He invites us, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). In this respect Satan acts like a confidence man who picks out as his victim a credulous, and therefore a foolish person; while God acts like a wise father who seeks to raise not foolish but wise children. And He whispers His secrets—the sweet morsels of wisdom contained in His Word—into the hearing ears of those who reverence Him, and shows them His covenant (Psa. 25:14). ’66-63
Faith—Gift Of God Or Fruit Of Spirit.
Question (1956)—Are we to understand that faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8), or are we to consider it as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)?
Answer.—As shown in our August issue, Christian faith is a mental appreciation of, and a heart’s reliance upon God and Christ. This definition is based upon St. Paul’s statement in Heb. 11:1: “Faith is the substance [confidence] of things hoped for [heart’s reliance], the evidence of things not seen [mental appreciation]” The Apostle here traces the matter in reverse order to its unfolding. Mental appreciation must be present as the foundation upon which the heart’s reliance is built as a superstructure. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Even before one comes to Him in justification and consecration he must “believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).
Some draw a wrong conclusion from Eph. 2:8: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” They think it means that our faith is not in any sense our own faith, not of our own volition, but an impartation, a gift from God. Of course, in one sense every gift and blessing which we enjoy is in directly if not directly from God—“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). But the proper understanding of the Apostle’s words, we believe, is that it is of God’s grace and not of personal merit on our part that salvation is offered to us; and although that salvation is offered to us as a reward of faith (including true faith’s obedience), yet we cannot even boast respecting our faith as though it merited the Lord’s favor,—for our faith is something which is the indirect result of Divine providence also; there are millions of others in the world who might exercise just as much faith as we if they had been favored of God with as much light, intelligence and knowledge, as a basis for faith; hence our faith is not to be credited to ourselves as a merit, but we are to be thankful to God for it, for the circumstances and conditions which have made possible our exercise of faith are of His grace.
Nevertheless, we have much to do with our own faith—our mental knowledge, understanding and belief, and our heart’s assurance, appropriation and corresponding activity—and must exercise a certain am-ount of it even before we come to God through Christ and are accepted by Him on the basis of Jesus’ ransom merit, else we could not be “justified by faith” and find “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). This tentative justification, of course, precedes our presenting ourselves to God in consecration, holy and acceptable unto Him (Rom. 12:1). After we have received of the Lord’s Spirit our faith may grow exceedingly, so that we will be able to walk by faith and not by sight—to accept by faith the things that are not seen, and to give up for them things that are seen.
It may be said with propriety that the attitude which permits us to receive God’s message of grace unto justification is all of God; however, it is especially true that that faith in spiritual things which we develop after we are made partakers of God’s Holy Spirit, is the result of Divine instruction; as it is written, “They shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). The faith which will enable the consecrated ones to come off victors is not merely the natural faith with which they started, and with which they laid hold upon the Lord and justification, but is a higher attainment of faith, the result of being taught of God through His Word, Spirit and providences. In this sense faith is a fruit of the Spirit, which we develop under God’s tutelage. We are God’s “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10), for by His Truth and by His Spirit and providences He is working in His children, not only to will but also to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13)—He is working in us faith, hope, joy, love and all the other glorious graces which He approves; and if we will be obedient to His teaching and leading He will complete the work eventually and we shall be copies of His dear Son, our precious Lord and Savior. Thus depending on the standpoint from which we view the matter, faith may be considered either as a gift of God or as a fruit of the Spirit. ’56-71; ’66-93
Faith—“These All Died In Faith”
Question (1961)—In Heb. 11:13 we read: “These all died in faith.” Does this not prove that Enoch and all the others mentioned in vs. 2-13 died?
Answer.—No. Such a viewpoint would contradict the plain statement in v. 5 that “Enoch was translated that he should not see [experience] death.” The “these all” of v. 13 refers to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah—those who were promised the covenant blessings, but who did not while alive receive them: “not having received the promises.” Vs. 13-16 prove unanswerably that the “these all” refers to those only of the ones discussed in Heb. 11:2-13 who were offered the Abrahamic promises. Hence Abel, Enoch and Noah (Heb. 11:4-7) are not included among “these all.” Therefore Heb. 11:13 does not teach that Enoch died, for it refers to others. ’61-46; ’63-87
Faith—The Gift Of God.
Question (1975)—Is faith the gift of God?
Answer.—“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). The Apostle seems to intimate that grace is God’s favor; in fact, the word “grace” has the signification of gift, or that which is favor. Our salvation is of Divine favor—not of to any necessity on God’s part, not because Justice required it, not because anyone could have demanded it from Him, but it is His own merciful, gracious provision, and this salvation in our case is through faith. And the faith is not of ourselves, as a matter of course.
Therefore we think that when the Apostle says, “it is not of ourselves,” he must refer to faith. However, faith, in a very important sense, is of the individual; we are urged to “have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). One cannot have faith for another. The individual must exercise his own faith in God; and yet in this text we are told that our faith is of God.
In what sense could this be of God? We answer that it is of God in the sense that every good and every perfect gift comes from the Father. Our faith must have a foundation, must have a basis. We must have knowledge of a matter in order to have faith in it.
We have knowledge of God, and this knowledge, which is granted us as a grace or favor, brings us to the place where we are enabled to exercise the faith. The faith in a great measure rests upon the knowledge. The knowledge shows us God’s character; the Divine Revelation makes known to us certain facts respecting God’s purposes, and we see the purposes thus outlined to be in harmony with the character of God, and this enables us to believe the promises; and believing them, we are enabled to act upon them; and this is faith.
So, then, our faith, while it is of ourselves is the sense that we must exercise it, is of God in the sense that He supplies the necessary elements from which that faith is to be compounded. ’75-62
Faith Healing—Are The Current Miraculous Cures Of Divine Origin.
Question (1926)—Are the current miraculous cures, generally called faith cures, of Divine origin?
Answer.—We think that they are not of Divine origin. A number of reasons make us think that they are not, the main ones of which are the following: (1) they do not fit in with the purposes of Divine miracles. The Lord has wrought miracles for a two-fold purpose: (a) to prove that their agents came from Him with a Divine revelation, and (b) to form as signs, types, parts of such a revelation. (Heb. 2; 3, 4.) But the Divine revelation is complete in the completed Bible. Hence God’s messengers bringing no new revelations or revelatory signs, types, need no miraculous attestation, since God’s revelation has been completed. Thus the Divine purpose of miracles no more prevails. Therefore God no longer performs them, because their present performance would not fit in with the purposes for which He caused them to be wrought. (2) Again, God can by faith be required to do only those things that He has promised. The whims, desires or determinations of others or ourselves are not the foundations of faith’s claims before God; God’s promises only could be such. (Rom. 4:17-21.) And since God has not promised to heal the sicknesses of all who may persuade themselves to believe that He will heal them, He is not bound to heal them just because they believe He will. Therefore He does not feel obliged to respond to insistent requests for unpromised blessings. (3) Furthermore, the spirit of faith and consecration which says, “not my will, but thine be done,” will not, apart from the promise of God, claim such healings as God’s promised will for them, since, having no such promises, they cannot know such healings to be God’s will for them. Therefore they would refrain from such claims, since they know that such unauthorized claims in effect say, “my will be done regardless of what Thine may be.” In view of the last two considerations, to call these cures “faith cures,” is a misnomer. They should indeed and in truth be called presumption willfulness- and credulity-cures, not faith cures; for they are contrary to the spirit of faith and consecration. (4) Still further, the purposes of consecration and of so-called faith cures are in direct conflict with each other. Consecration not only surrenders to God’s will all we are and have, and all we hope to be and have, but in demonstration of loyalty in God’s service actually uses up for the Lord our little human all, which includes our health, in order to the sacrifice of humanity and to the attainment of Divinity. Therefore to claim health from God on the part of the consecrated is just so much of a withdrawal of their sacrifices, which if persisted in would make their consecration end disastrously of the consecrated would make God a partaker aider and abettor in the sin of withdrawal of consecration, of which He would of course not be guilty. Therefore He would not be a party to a “faith cure” of a consecrated person—and it is for such almost exclusively that “faith-curists” perform their “wonders” (5) finally there is no record in the New Testament of a consecrated person being healed miraculously of bodily sickness. In every case in the record of miraculous bodily healing was withheld from them. St. Paul thorn in the flesh—his weak eyesight—was not miraculously removed though prayed for three times. (2 Cor. 12:7-10.) Timothy’s dyspepsia was not miraculously healed by St. Paul, who healed multitudes of unconsecrated people, but who on the contrary counseled Timothy to use wine as a medicine for his sickness. (1 Tim. 5:23.) Epaphroditus “was sick nigh unto death,” but, though he recovered, no miracle is recorded as having been performed on his behalf to effect his cure. (Phil. 2:25-30.) Nor was our Lord healed from the nervous prostration, from which He suffered in the garden as manifested by the bloody sweat, and by which His death was greatly hastened. Therefore the course of faith-curists in almost invariably demanding consecration as a condition of a “faith cure” is contrary to Scripture, for which reason we may be sure god does not work the cure through them. The above five reasons from various standpoints, prove that God is not a party tot he current “faith cures.” ’26-15; *’78-85
Faith Healing—What Is The Source Of The Current Cures.
Question (1926)—What is then the source of the current “faith cures?”
Answer.—In many cases it is the result of the influence of a highly wrought mental condition on the body; for undoubtedly the state of the mind has much to do with bodily health and sickness. This is especially true of nervous temperaments and nervous sicknesses. In many cases, according to the Scriptures, Satan to bolster up his empire, especially when it would be tottering to its fall, has been resorting to so-called “faith cures,” even as Jesus suggests of him. (Luke 11:17, 18.) The Scriptures frequently speak of Satan’s working miracles, e.g., through Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian sorcerers, who withstood Moses and Aaron at Pharaoh’s court. (Ex. 7:10; 2 Tim. 3:8.) While most of Papacy’s miracles have been frauds of the sleight-of-hand sort, yet some of them have been real, coming as they did from superhuman agencies—Satan and his fallen angels. The Bible expressly teaches that Satan at the time of Christ’s Second Advent—our times, as we have already shown in these columns (H. E. ’23, 37-43)—would work many miracles. (2 Thes. 2:9.) In this verse our Lord’s second presence is said to be accompanied by special Satanic miracles, to which the “faith cures” of our times in very large measure belong. Ours are the special times of which it was prophesied that the boasting of working miracles as grounds of demanding special recognition from the Lord would be made (Matt. 7:22, 23); and Jesus answers the boasters that He never recognized them. Consequently their miracles must be of satanic origin. This doubtless applies among others to faith-curists. ’26-15; *’78-86
Faith Healing—The Case Of Tabitha (Dorcas).
Question (1959)—In the same booklet (P. 6), we read: “Search as we may, no record can be found in the New Testament of a consecrated person being healed miraculously of a bodily sickness.” How about Tabitha, mentioned in Acts 9:36-42?
Answer.—Please note that Tabitha (Greek, Dorcas) was not healed of her physical ailment, miraculously or otherwise, by the Apostle Peter or the brethren of Joppa--but that she died. Note also that Jesus healed many of the sick, but allowed His special friend, Lazarus, to be sick and to die, without relieving the distress (John 11:1-45). As subsequently Lazarus was awakened from the sleep of death as an evidence of Divine power and an evidence of restitution times (Acts 3:19-21), so with Tabitha: she died, but through the Apostle Peter, and in answer to his prayer, the Lord awakened her from the sleep of death as a miracle and demonstration of the Divine power accomplishing the work of the Gospel message and making it forceful to the people. Thus we see that Tabitha was not healed miraculously of her bodily sickness. Nor do the Scriptures indicate that the “gift” of healing was ever exercised on behalf of the Lord’s consecrated footstep followers. ’59-23; ’81-46
Faith Healing—Of James 5:14, 15; Is Referring To Sin-Sickness.
Question (1959)—Does not James 5:14, 15 prove that a physically sick person will surely be restored to health if he calls in the elders of the church to anoint him with literal oil and to offer the prayer of faith over him?
Answer.—The true Christian who desires to do only God’s will rather than to follow the desires of his flesh, will be very careful not to misapply this Scripture. To do so would be to follow Satan’s example (Matt. 4:6). James 5:14, 15 does not refer to physical illness at all, but to spiritual illness. To apply these verses to physical illness would be to make God’s Word appear untrue and would tend to make people become infidels; for many sincere people have done literally all the things here specified, in their efforts to obtain recovery from physical ailments, only to reap disappointment and cause to some to lose faith, wondering why God did not keep His promise that “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.”
We do not mean to say that God never answers a prayer for physical healing (see e.g., page 3 of our “Faith Healing” booklet), but James 5:14, 15 cannot properly and truthfully be applied to the healing of physical sickness. As explained in the booklet (pp. 10, 11), sickness of body, losses, troubles, disappointments, etc., are covered in James 5:13: “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray”—for grace sufficient, for the Lord’s strength, which is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). But in the next verse (v. 14) a recommendation is made for the spiritually sick, the sin-sick. The Greek word astheneo here translated sick should have been translated weak, even as it is in Rom. 4:19 (Abraham was “not weak in faith”) Rom. 8:3 (the law “was weak through the flesh”); Rom. 14:1 (“him that is weak in the faith receive ye”); 1 Cor. 8:12 (“When ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ”); 2 Cor. 11:21 (“I speak concerning reproach, as though we had been weak”). Obviously physical sickness cannot be referred to in these texts any more than it is referred to in James 5:14, 15.
Therefore, if any of the brethren (“any among you”) is sick (weak, sick in spirit, sin-sick), let him call for the elders—the elected Truth-teachers of the church. And let them pray for him that he may recover from his spiritual illness. Let them anoint him with spiritual oil—the Word of God—the Divine Truth (“the golden oil”—Zech. 4:11-14) derived from the Old and New Testaments. And the prayer of faith (which the sin-sick one shall offer with the praying elders) shall save (from spiritual sickness and death) the sin-sick one; and the Lord shall raise him up from his sin-sickness, his weakness—the Lord has never failed to keep this promise, though the same cannot be claimed as respects physical sickness. “And though [the Greek word kan should not be translated if here, but though, as it is translated in John 8:14; 10:38; 11:25, for this is a concessive, not a conditional clause; it concedes that the weak one has sinned, and for that reason is weak, or sin-sick] he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” And continuing with the same subject of sin-sickness, the Apostle, adds: “Confess your faults [sins] one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed [of your sin-sickness—Heb. 12:13—for], the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much [e.g., in the cure of sin-sickness].”
Then the Apostle, to prove that prayer is effective, cites the case of Elijah’s prayers and how God answered them, and then proceeds to discuss sin-sickness further, saying: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth [which usually follows in the train of sin-sickness], and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner [the sin-sick one] from the error of his way [through anointing him with the spiritual oil—‘the golden oil’—of God’s Word] shall save a soul from death [causing the spiritually sick one to revive] and shall hide [under Christ’s robe of righteousness] a multitude of sins [committed by the sin-sick soul].”
We see, therefore, that James 5; 14, 15, understood in harmony with itself, with its context and with other Scriptures, does not apply to physical illness. To so apply it would be to misapply it—and that contrary to Scripture, reason and facts. ’59-23; ’81-46
Faith Healing—2 Kings 20:1-7; 2 Chron. 16:12; Psa. 103:2-4; Examined.
Question (1978)—What about these Scriptures in relation to “faith healing”?
Answer.—Hezekiah’s healing in answer to his prayers and tears (2 Kings 20:1-7) is thought by some to teach that we as the Master’s footstep followers are to expect to follow the same example and get similar healing. First of all, we should keep in mind that Hezekiah was not of the house of sons, but of the house of servants (Heb. 3:5, 6), under the Law Covenant. While that covenant made nothing perfect and none of the Israelites obtained or could obtain eternal life under its provisions, until Christ as the Prince of Israel fulfilled all of its requirements and inherited its reward of eternal life, it had special provisions relating to the physical health and prosperity of the Israelites (see Ex. 23:25, 26; Lev. 26:3-16; Deut. 7:11-15; 28:1-12, 15, 21, 27, 28, 37-42, 45-53, 59-61). If faithful to God, they would be blessed in temporal things above all other nations; but, on the contrary, if Israel would not obey the Lord, they were to receive extraordinary punishments. We understand Hezekiah’s healing in answer to his prayers and tears to be in harmony with the promises of the Law Covenant, which promised physical health as one of the blessings for those who obeyed it.
Another case is that of King Asa, who, diseased in his feet, “sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians” (2 Chron. 16:12). He followed an opposite course to that of Hezekiah, in that he did not seek unto the Lord, hence did not receive the physical healing as one of the rewards of obedience under the Law Covenant. It was not wrong for Asa to seek the help of physicians; his mistake was in seeking only to them, and not first unto the Lord with a repentant heart for his defiance of God and His prophet (2 Chron. 16:7-10).
Psa. 103:2-4: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases: Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.” Any attempt to apply this to the Gospel Church as respects physical conditions must of necessity be lame and weak. Who does not know that from the first down to the last members of the Church, the Lord has not been pleased to heal all their physical diseases? However, God’s consecrated people do contend with spiritual maladies, sicknesses, and this Scripture warrants them in expecting that such diseases may be so healed with the Balm of Gilead, so bound up with the great and precious promises of God’s Word, so offset by the peace and joy that man can neither give nor take away, that disease of heart, unrest, may intrude no longer, where the love, joy and peace of the holy Spirit abide and rule. ’78-87
Faith Healing—Harmonize Your Views With Mark 16:17, 18 And James 5:14, 15?
Question (1926)—How do you harmonize your views on faith healing with Mark 16:17, 18 and James 5:14, 15?
Answer.—We will first discuss Mark 16:17, 18, which reads as follows: “These signs shall follow them that believe: In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak in new tongues; they shall take up serpents [St. Paul did this very thing (Acts 28:3-5)]; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” We harmonize this passage with our views on current faith cures by rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15) as follows: This passage applies during the time that the gifts of the Spirit were operative in the Church. Since these gifts have ceased, the passage no more applies. Apart from the two outpourings of the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-47; 11:15), the gifts of the Spirit were never given except by the laying on of the Apostles’ hands. (Acts 8:14-18; 19:1-6.) We search the Bible in vain for the record of any one other than an Apostle conferring the gifts of the Spirit. If this were not an exclusively apostolic power, St. Paul could not have appealed to his exercising it as a proof of his apostleship; against those who denied that he was an apostle (Gal. 3:5), in his argument against them and in defense of his apostolic office. (Gal. 1:11-3:5.) Since therefore, the only human instruments through whom God bestowed the gifts of the Spirit were the Apostles, it follows that when the last disciples died on whom an Apostle had conferred these gifts, these gifts then ceased to exist. St. John, the last Apostle and the writer of the last books of the Bible to be written, died just before the end of the first century. Therefore these gifts ceased within about a generation afterwards. St. Paul contrasts the transitoriness of the gifts of the Spirit, especially belonging to the time when God’s revelation was incomplete, with the permanence of faith, hope and charity, which will remain throughout the Gospel Age, especially in the end of the Age when that revelation would be completely understood. He says (1 Cor. 13:8-13): “Charity never faileth [never will cease]; but whether there be prophecies [one of the gifts of the Spirit—verse 2], they shall fail [cease to be exercised as one of the Spirit’s gifts]; whether there be tongues [another gift of the Spirit—verse 2], they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [another gift of the Spirit—verse 2], it shall vanish away. For we know in [on account of a] part [only of God’s revelation being given], and we prophecy in part [their having in the harvest of the Jewish Age these gifts was due to the Bible’s not yet having been fully given; and thus they were to supplement the incompleted revelation]; but when that which is perfect [complete, i.e., the completed Bible] is come, then that [the gifts of the Spirit] which is [exists] in [on account of a] part [only of the revelation being given] shall be done away [the gifts will cease after the completed Bible will be here. This St. Paul proceeds to illustrate by the things of childhood as having been put away as unsuitable to manhood, when one is a man]. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought [reasoned] as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things [i.e., the gifts of the Spirit pertained to the Church’s childhood, not to its manhood—its present state]. For now [in the Apostle’s day] we see through a glass, darkly [the revelation was not yet complete, nor was all of the part so far given clearly understood]; but then [in the end of the Age] face to face [Is. 52:8]. Now I [the Church] know in part; but then shall I know [completely] even as I am known. And now [throughout the Gospel Age] (2 Cor. 6:2)] abide faith, hope, charity [in contrast with the transitoriness of the gifts—verse 8].” The power of healing was one of the gifts of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:7-11.) Therefore, apart from the two outpourings, it was never given except through an Apostle. Hence, when the last Apostle died, it was no more conferred, and shortly thereafter ceased to operate. Accordingly we are to limit the application of Mark 16:17, 18 to the early part of the Gospel Age exclusively. This would harmonize our view with Mark 16:17, 18.
As to James 5:14, 15, we would say that the connection proves that it refers to the healing of sin-sickness, not body-sickness. By a quotation of James 5:13-20 with bracketed comments, we will show this: “Is any among you afflicted [by sickness of body, losses, troubles, disappointments, etc.]? let him pray [for grace sufficient]. Is any merry? let him sing psalms [religious songs]. Is any sick [in spirit, sin-sick; the Greek word here used--astheneo—generally means to be weak (Rom. 4:19; 8:3; 14:1, 2; 2 Cor. 11:21; 12:10, etc.); and this should be its translation here; for bodily sickness is covered in the preceding verse by the word afflicted,—hence another kind of sickness is treated of in this verse] among you? Let him call for the elders [the elected Truth teachers] of the Church; and let them pray over [for] him [that his sin-sickness may depart], anointing him with [spiritual] oil [the Word of God, which is a figurative medicine (Zech. 4:11-14, where the oil coming out of the two oil trees represents the Truth coming out of the Old and New Testaments; see also Rev. 11:3, 4)] in the name of the Lord [as God’s authorized messengers]; and the prayer of faith [which the sin-sick one shall offer with the praying elders] will save [from spiritual sickness and death] the [sin] sick [one]; and the Lord will raise him up [from his sin-sickness]; and if [literally, though (John 8:14; 10:38; 11:25)—This is a concessive, not a conditional clause. It concedes that he has sinned, and for that reason is sin-sick] he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. [Still continuing with the subject of sin-sickness the Apostle says:] Confess your faults [sins] one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed [of your sin-sickness (Heb. 12:13); for] the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” [in the cure of sin-sickness. Then the Apostle to prove that prayer is effective cites the case of Elijah’s prayers, and then proceeds to discuss sin-sickness further:] “Brethren, if any of you do err from the Truth [which usually follows in the train of sin-sickness], and one convert him; let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way [through anointing him with the spiritual oil—God’s Word] shall save a soul from death, and shall hide [under Christ’s robe of righteousness] a multitude of sins [committed by the sin sick soul].” This passage, James 3:14-20, therefore undoubtedly treats of sin-sickness and its cure, and not of bodily sickness and its cure. It is therefore in harmony with our view on current faith cures. ’26-22; ’55-55; *’66-47; *’78-86; ’90-46
Famines—To Be Expected.
Question (1974)—Are we according to the Scriptures, to expect famines to increase here in “the last days” of the Gospel or Church Age?
Answer.—Our Lord in His great prophecy tracing the history of the Gospel Age (Matt. 24; Luke 21) tells us of many things that were fulfilled during the Jewish-Age Harvest and the Gospel Age and that are being fulfilled in the Gospel-Age Harvest. In Luke 21:11 He says that “great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences.” Within the past 100 years, some of the greatest and certainty the most frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, storms, floods, famines, pestilences, railroad, ship and mining disasters, fires, wars, revolutions, etc., of history have occurred.
Referring to the prophecy of Dan. 12:1, our Lord said that here in the Harvest or end of the Gospel Age (“the harvest is the end of the world [Greek, aion, age]”—Matt. 13:39) there “shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [it will never need to be repeated]” (Matt. 24:21). It will completely over-thrown Satan’s empire, preparatory to establishing God’s Kingdom on earth, for the blessing of mankind (Matt. 6:10; Acts 3:19-23; Gal. 3:8).
The prophet Elijah was given a vision of the three great phases of this Great Tribulation—the World War, the World Revolution and the World Anarchy—represented by the wind, earthquake and fires of 1 Kings 19:11, 12. And using Jerusalem as a figure of Christendom, the prophet Ezekiel by the term “sword” describes the World War (into which we entered in 1914) and the World Revolution (into which we are now gradually entering); and by the figure of “the noisome beast” (a beast is not governed by law and order) he fittingly describes the World Anarchy of the great Time of Trouble (Ezek. 14:21). But note, this text shows that famines and pestilences are the other two parts of God’s “four sore judgments;” and vs. 22, 23 show that “therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth . . . and they shall comfort you,” etc. These apparently are the ones (comp. Zeph. 3:8, 9) with whom the restitution work will begin under the New Covenant, to be made “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40; 33:7, 8; Ezek. 16:60-63). Our Lord also assures us that some flesh will be saved through the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:22).
Famines and pestilences accompanied the two phases of the World War, and according to the Scriptures, greater ones will accompany the World Revolution, and still more severe ones may be expected during the World Anarchy. The clouds preparatory to the general outbreak of the World Revolution are gathering fast. Serious drought and famine have recently been experienced, for example, in six countries of northern Africa, resulting in the uprooting and death of many thousands of people; and many other countries have been in the grip of near-starvation, with foods unobtainable or so high in price that most people cannot buy them.
There is also an imminent possibility of a worldwide famine, or at least a severe shortage of food. Recent news reports state that the world has only 27 days’ reserve supply of food, as contrasted with 100 days’ supply in 1961. The world now depends very largely on this year’s crop. Scientists warned that any major crop failure this year would place an even tighter strain on the reserves presently available. Many farmers in the U. S. have had small crops this year. They and farmers in other countries have become discouraged and quite cynical with the present-day controlled economy. Some farmers have destroyed crops voluntarily rather than take the chance of losing huge sums of money on their produce. Also, epidemics of anthrax and hoof-and-mouth disease have resulted in the destruction of thousands of cattle, and thousands of others have been slaughtered because the high cost of feed has made it unprofitable to keep them for breeding and for future markets.
Famine is more and more becoming a worldwide problem. According to Nobel laureate Norman E. Borlaug, the year 1975 may be remembered as “the first year of the Big Hunger.” He says that initially it may cost the lives of 20 million people and trigger cataclysmic social and political unrest. With the great changes that are taking place in worldwide climatic conditions, in the geometric expansion of the world’s population, in the huge rise in the world price of petroleum, in the world’s economy, in the general political, financial and social structure, etc., the old order is weakening more and more and is rapidly passing away.
There is much evidence that the Thousand-year Day of the Lord has come unexpectedly “as a thief in the night” (2 Pet. 3:7, 8, 10). We see the ecclesiastical systems, “the heavens,” passing away with much commotion (“a great noise”). The earth (human society as now organized under Satan’s control) also and the works that are therein are being burned up, destroyed, in this great Time of Trouble; but, thank God, “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens [new powers of spiritual control, the Christ, Head and Body, in Kingdom power] and a new earth [human society organized on the basis of truth, righteousness and love, i.e., Paradise Restored] wherein dwelleth righteousness” (v. 13).
Then there shall be no more famines in the earth: for “there shall be no more curse” (Rev. 22:3). “The righteous [except the elect, whose inheritance will be in heaven] shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever” (Psa. 37:11, 22, 29, 34). “The meek shall eat and be satisfied” (Psa. 22:26). “They shall not hunger nor thirst” (Isa. 49:10). ’74-86
Fear—”There Is No Fear In Love; But Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear” (1 John 4:18)?
Question (1957)—What kind of fear is referred to in the text, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18)?
Answer.—Fear is a mental condition which is begotten of uncertainty. There are some things, which we ought to fear, and some, which we need, not fear. The Adversary seems to take advantage of the fallen condition of the race, and to cause them to fear God; for it is natural to avoid whomsoever we fear. Mankind realizes instinctively that they are sinners by nature and that there is a penalty for sin. Taking advantage of this fear of the consequences of sin, the Adversary tries to instill in them a dread of God. He pictures before their imperfect minds a God who is unjust, over-severe in His dealings with sin and the sinner, for whom He has prepared a place of everlasting torture.
As we gradually come to a clearer knowledge of God and the principles by which He regulates the universe, we lose this improper fear; and in its stead comes a love for God and a realization that He has love for us. Our love for Him grows in proportion, as we perceive that He loves mankind and has made provision for them whereby they may have an opportunity for everlasting life. After we have come to love Him perfectly, all fear in the sense of dread is cast out.
Our knowledge and love should not, however, cast out the fear of displeasing God; for proper fear (rever-ence) must never be cast out. The more we have of reverential love, the more of the proper fear we shall have. Who would not fear to offend a brother or a neighbor whom he loved and appreciated? Much more should we dread offending our just, wise and loving God.
The principle that “perfect love casteth out fear” should operate between husband and wife, between parents and children. The wife who fears her husband cannot be as happy as she would be if there were perfect love; and so also children who are in dread of either, or both, of their parents cannot love them with true filial affection. Each should fear to wound or offend the other, and should strive to have that perfect love which God is pleased to have all exercise. ’57-55; ’87-7
Figs—Good And Bad.
Question (1972)—Jer. 24 mentions two baskets of figs—one of very good figs and the other of very bad figs—showing that God would bring back from the land of the Chaldeans and bless Judah’s captives corresponding to the good figs, but would not bring back and bless those corresponding to the bad figs; yet Rom. 11:26 tells us that “all Israel shall be saved.” How can we harmonize these two Scriptures?
Answer.—Here, as in many other instances, we must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) if we would find its harmony. We may be sure that God’s Word never contradicts itself. The prophecy of Jer. 24 was given after Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive king Jeconiah (also called Coniah and Jehoi-achin, 2 Kings 24:6; 2 Chron. 36:8; Jer. 22:24) the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with the choice ones among the people—the princes, craftsmen and smiths—and had appointed Zedekiah (Mattaniah) as king (vs. 1, 8; comp. 2 Kings 24:14-17); and it deals primarily with God’s people of that time and their near future.
Jehovah here contrasts the comparatively good Israelites (the choice figs) who went into Babylonian captivity with Jeconiah, and bad Israelites (the bad figs)—those who remained in the land of Zedekiah and his courtiers and those who had fled to Egypt to escape judgment. God also contrasts their future: the former in its more faithful remnant returning to His favor after the 70 years’ desolation of the land, and the latter, generally speaking, not doing so.
The “good” and the “bad” not so much to the character of the people as to the prophecies regarding them. This is seen in v. 5, where God says that like the good figs He would later acknowledge (regard with favor) those whom He had sent into captivity for their good; and in v. 6 He says, “I will set mine eyes upon them for good.” Their removal to Babylon saved them from the calamities, which befell the rest of the nation, and led them to repentance there; so God bettered their condition (see, e.g., 2 Kings 25:27-30). Also Ezekiel and Daniel were among these captives. The influence of men like these must have greatly improved the general condition of the Jewish exiles.
The blessings promised in vs. 6 and 7 were only partially fulfilled in their restoration from Babylon; the complete fulfillment comes at the time of Jesus’ Second Advent and the deliverance from Mystic Babylon, Christendom. God here in the end of the Age has brought them again as a nation and has planted them, and “will . . . not pluck them up” (see Amos 9:14, 15; Thy Kingdom Come, p. 259); there they eventually will return to God “with their whole heart.”
As one deals with bad, inedible figs, i.e., discards them, so God said He would deliver up to ignominious ruin Zedekiah, his princes and false prophets, and the remainder of the people, both those still dwelling in the land and those living in Egypt—the new life of the Jewish nation was to come, not from Egypt, but from the more faithful to the exiles in Babylon. The punishments recorded in Jer. 24:8-10 apparently refer back to Deut. 28:25, 37. As to God’s dealings with those corresponding to the good figs and to the bad figs, see also Jer. 29:10-14, 15-23.
It was long after the initial fulfillments of Jer. 24 had taken place that the Apostle Paul in Rom. 11:26 wrote, “all Israel shall be saved.” Meanwhile, a small minority, mostly of the tribe of Judah, returned after the 70-year desolation of the land, under the promise of the blessing. In time of these also lost their integrity, so that when Jesus came unto His own, they, with few exceptions, received Him not (John 1:11). They also were cast away as bad figs, and their house was left unto them desolate, though God has not cast them away for ever (Luke 13:6, 7; Matt. 21:33-46; 23:37-39; Rom. 11:15, 1, 2).
“Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance . . . God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:25-32).
From this and the context we see that the statement “all Israel shall be saved” refers, not to salvation to eternal life, but to salvation from Israel’s Gospel-Age blindness or hardening (vs. 25, 26) and from their Adamic sins (vs. 26, 27). The former (which has already begun) and the latter will be fully accomplished in connection with their New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:26)—not that all Israel will gain everlasting life, but all will be saved from Adamic condemnation by the Ransom-merit of Jesus, who “tasted death for every man” (Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-6; 4:10; 1 Cor. 15:22). For further explanation of Rom. 11:26 and its context, please see The Time is at Hand, pp. 210-217; The Millennium, pp. 391-396).
From the above we see that there is really no contradiction between Jer. 24 and Rom. 11:26. The prophecy of Jer. 24:8-10 was fulfilled and those spoken of in v. 8 suffered the punishments of vs. 9, 10 and were “consumed from off the land.” Of course, they were not on trial for everlasting life, and they died without hearing of “the only name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). But they will come forth from their sleep of death and be given the truth and an individual trial for eternal life (Deut. 4:30, 31; John 5:28, 29; 1:9; 12:32; Acts 17:31; Isa. 11:9; 26:9; 35:8-10). ’72-62
Fire—“Everlasting Fire” (Matt. 25:41).
Question (1965)—In Matt. 25:41 our Lord tells the “goats” to depart from Him “into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What are we to understand this to mean?
Answer.—In our study of the Scriptures we must be careful not to take figurative statements literally and thereby make them contradict literal statements. Obviously our Lord is speaking figuratively in His parable of the sheep and the goats—not that He will judge literal sheep and literal goats, but rather, as He states, that “before him shall be gathered all nations [the sheep and the goats therefore represent people].” when He “shall come in His glory [in His Mediatorial Reign], and all his holy angels [Greek, aggelos—messengers] with him [including His saints, His faithful Church—Jude 14]” (vs. 31, 32).
In the thousand-year Judgment Day (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8) the people undergoing the resurrection process to human perfection (Acts 3:21) will gradually be divided into two classes. Those who reform their hearts and lives by casting out selfishness and evil from them and by filing them with love to God and man, will more and more as the years go by gain the Lord’s favor, i.e., will, figuratively speaking, be put on His right, the place of favor; while those who do not so reform their hearts and lives are pictured as being put on His left, the position of disfavor (V. 33). Those who, like teachable and tractable sheep, continue meek toward their great Shepherd-King will be given the earth (Paradise restored) as their kingdom-inheritance—“prepared for you from the foundation of the world [note by contrast that the Elect Church’s kingdom was prepared from ‘before the foundation of the world’—Eph. 1:4, 5]” (v. 34). But those who will continue stubborn like goats toward the great Shepherd-King will be destroyed. Those who refuse to obey even outwardly will be destroyed at the of 100 years’ trial (Isa. 65:20), while those who will obey outwardly but not from the heart will be ensnared by Satan in the testing at the end of the 1,000 years and will then be destroyed. All of the Goat class will be destroyed in “the second death,” which is pictorially set forth in this parable as fire (v. 41), because as fire destroys, so God uses it to picture forth the everlasting destruction, the everlasting cutting off, of the Goat class in “the second death” (Rev. 20:7-9, 11-15; 21:8).
That this fire represents destruction is manifest also from the fact that the Devil will be cast into it (v. 41); and his final fate is declared to be annihilation—he will not be kept alive, supervising a place of eternal torment, as some mistakenly think and preach. In a literal passage, Heb. 2:14, it is stated very plainly that Jesus will “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” the word destroy here is from the Greek katargeo, which means to annihilate (comp. Rom. 6:6; 1 Cor. 15:24, 26; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13, 14; 2 Thes. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:10).
In other Scriptures Satan’s destruction is likewise shown. In Ezek. 28:19, after in vs. 11-18 treating of Satan as the king of Tyre (“the god of this world—2 Cor. 4:4), who was once “perfect in beauty” and had been in “Eden the garden of God,” it is clearly stated, “thou shalt be a terror [comp. Isa. 14:16, 17], and never shalt thou be any more.” In Isa. 14:12-14, Satan, before his fall, is called “Lucifer [light-bearer], son of the morning.” His overleaping ambition is shown (“I will be like the most High”), and his destruction—“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [sheol, the unconscious condition of the death state, which in his case will be eternal, “the second death,” for he will never be brought back from it after his destruction at the end of the “little season” after the thousand years—Rev. 20:3, 7-9], to the sides of the pit.”
Satan with the symbolic “beast” and the symbolic “false prophet” will be cast into the symbolic “lake of fire and brimstone” (which, properly interpreted, is “the second death”—Rev. 20:14; 21:8), and shall be tormented [the Greek verb basanizo should be translated, not torment, but test or examine—see the Hell of the Bible, p. 86] day and night for ever and ever [eternally the perfect minds of God’s creatures, found worthy of eternal life, will examine the nature, character, fruits and history of the Devil, Beast and False Prophet, and as often as they examine them, will draw the true conclusion that they were deservedly cast into the symbolic lake of fire, i.e., ‘the second death’—destruction, annihilation; compare Isa. 14:16, 17]” (Rev. 20:10).
We see, then, that the “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” is not a literal, but is symbolic of the utter, complete and eternal annihilation that will be visited upon all the wicked “Destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity” (Prov. 10:29; 21:15); “All the wicked will God destroy” (Psa. 145:20); “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thes. 1:9); and in the thousand-year Judgment Day, “every soul [the goat class of the parable] which will not hear that prophet [the Christ, Head and Body] shall be destroyed” (Acts 3:23). For a fuller explanation of the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, see B.S. No. 294—a copy free on request. ’65-46; ’77-15
Fire—“Coals Of Fire On His Head” (Rom. 12:20).
Question (1965)—What is meant by Rom. 12:20: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”?
Answer.—Here again fire is used as a symbol of destruction, even as is the case in Mal. 3:2; 4:1; Heb. 12:29; Lam. 4:11; Zeph. 3:8, 9; Matt. 3:10-12; Luke 12:49; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; James 3:6; 2 Pet. 3:7, 12; Jude 7; Rev. 17:16; 20:9, etc. The story is told of a woman who took this text literally. Her husband was suing for a divorce. He gave as one of his complaints that his wife on occasions refused to prepare his meals and treated him cruelly. The judge, wishing to restore peace and harmony between them, asked the wife, “Why don’t you do like the Bible says; “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head’?” To which the woman replied, “That wouldn’t do any good, your honor; I tried hot water, and it didn’t help a bit.”
The context helps us to understand the meaning of this text. The Christian is to bless those who persecute him (v. 14), is to be sympathetic (v. 15), is to be humble (v. 16), not vindictive, but honest (v. 17), living peaceably with others, in harmony with good principles (v. 18), not avenging self, but rather, whenever he can do so without compromising principle, getting out of the way of adversaries and their wrath (v. 19), and is not to allow evil to rule in his heart and mind, but is to overcome evil and evildoers with good (v. 21). And accordingly, if you return good for evil, feeding your enemy when hungry, giving him drink when thirsty, or showing him other kindnesses, you will make him ashamed of his own conduct in contrast with yours; he will see that you have only good will toward him, that you are not his enemy, but his friend; and thus “in so doing” you will figuratively “heap coals of fire on his head”—burning out (destroying) his animosity. You are not really his enemy; he just thinks you are. Your acts of kindness will get him to think more correctly and may turn your enemy into a friend. ’65-46
Flying Saucers—Beware Of “Space People.”
Question (1959)—It is reported that in a recent convention of “Flying Saucers” enthusiasts in California, two individuals claimed that they were “space people” from another planet, What is your thought as to these and other self-proclaimed “space people”?
Answer.—We have discussed “space people” and related matters in these columns in the past. In our No. 266 issue, we mentioned Enid Brady’s alleged contacts with “space people,” showing that they are demons that infest earth’s atmosphere. In No. 212 (a copy free on request) we gave an account of some of the “doings” and spirit communications received in the Mojave Desert, in California, at Giant Rock, the “Mecca” of Flying Saucer” enthusiasts. See also our “Flying Saucers” tract.
According to newspaper reports, in the recent convention of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America, at Los Angeles, which was attended by about 2,000 people, two individuals created quite a sensation by announcing themselves as “space people.” as “Prince Neasom” and “Princess Nagoona” of the planet “Tythan,” which they said was 8 1/2 light years from earth, and by claiming that they were 251 and 241 years old respectively and had been “transplanted” from “Tythan” to earth 31 years ago, but that they had been “married” in Tythan”!
Our thought is that such self-proclaimed “space people” are probably either individuals obsessed by demons, or else publicity seekers, endeavoring to cause a sensation by telling “tall stories.” A number of those attending the Los Angeles, “Flying Saucers” convention claimed to be “contactees.” Some of them claimed to have had rides in space ships and to have visited other planets, some even claiming to have met “space women”—“real beauties“! It would seem that those who are thus “taken for a ride” in “flying saucers” are (if they are not manufacturing their stories) bewitched or under a spell of hypnosis, and under these influences are given hallucinations which to them may seem so real that later they recount them as actual facts. Some of the “contactees” are actually spirit mediums under a new (and to some a more attractive) designation, for, like Enid Brady, they claim to contact and receive messages from “space people.”
We know from the Scriptures (e.g., 2 Thes. 2:9: 1 Tim. 4:1) that Satan’s working, especially here at the end of the Gospel Age, is “with all power and signs and lying wonders” and that in these “latter times” the “seducing spirits” are especially active. Since the evil angels, that sinned before the Flood (Gen. 6), were restrained under darkness until the time of their special judgment here in the end of the Age (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), we are not to think it strange that they are now having more liberties than formerly. And since space travel, “flying saucers,” hypnotism, reincarnation, “age regression beyond birth,” etc., are now so prominent before people’s minds, it is not surprising that the demons try to attract attention to themselves and their “messages” through such media. For an expose’ of the dangers in hypnotism, the reincarnation theory, etc., please see our “Faith Healing” booklet—a copy free on request. ’59-94
Free Moral Agents—Is Man Since The Adamic Fall.
Question (1955)—Has man been a free moral agent since the Adamic fall?
Answer.—There are two ways of viewing this subject, and the answers accordingly would be opposites.
(1) If by “free moral agent” is meant freedom of will in respect to moral questions, we would answer, yes. Undoubtedly man is free to will as he may please on moral questions, although he may not be able to carry out this will or volition in all affairs of life, by reason of the weakness of his flesh or by reason of circumstances and conditions of others with whom he is in contact. Thus the Apostle Paul says, “To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18).
(2) If by “free moral agent” is meant one who is not influenced or restricted by his environment, the answer should unquestionably be, No; because we are all born in a certain measure of slavery to ignorance, superstition and weakness, the results of the fall (Job 14:4; Psa. 51:5). Whoever is thus bound may indeed seem to have full liberty to do right as easily as to do wrong, but in reality he has no such liberty, by reason of his own depravity and that of others who influence him, especially “the prince of this world,” who blinds the minds of them that believe not (John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4).
If all men had absolute freedom from the condemnation of the curse, the present would be the time of the world’s trial; but because such conditions do not prevail, therefore God has appointed a “day” (the coming Millennial Age) in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that “man” who He hath ordained—the Christ (Acts 17:31). When that appointed Day shall come, the ignorance now enslaving mankind will be dissipated before the Sun of Righteousness, the unfavorable surroundings will be largely corrected by the great Prince of “the world [Age] to come” (Heb. 2:5; 2 Pet. 3:13), our Lord Jesus (Isa. 9:6); and such blemishes as may be connected with the imperfection of the flesh of those on trial or judgment will be offset according to the gracious provisions of the New Covenant, under which their trial will take place.
With the Church, whose trial or judgment takes place during this Gospel Age (1 Pet. 4:17), the case is somewhat similar. These are specially justified by faith, their unintentional blemishes and weaknesses all being offset by the great Sin-offering, and their knowledge being granted by special illumination of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures. Only such as are thus made free by the Son are free indeed (John 8:36),—“free moral agents” in this sense and use of the expression. ’55-39, ’60-79
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