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VOL. III. PITTSBURGH, PA., JUNE, 1882. NO. 12
HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE
101 Fifth Ave., PITTSBURGH, PA.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he can not and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
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N.B.—This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord’s poor who will send a card yearly requesting it.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
The view is encouraging. The realization of our hopes seems to draw on apace with the gloom and perplexity of earth. Statesmen are alarmed at the fearlessness of anarchists. The representatives of Great Britain have been butchered in daylight in Ireland. In Russia the Nihilists are so bold and so numerous that the coronation of the present Czar has been postponed until now, and only with the greatest caution, are the arrangements now being made. Two attempts on the Czar’s life have already been discovered and frustrated, one being to cause an explosion by use of electricity, and another prepared caps filled with explosives to be worn by Nihilists and thrown at the Czar during applause. The persecution of the Jews still continues in Russia and they are fleeing the country. The government has neglected to interfere boldly, probably because it hopes to thus appease the restless element of the population.
Prussia which only a few years ago expelled the Bishops of Papacy, now feels the restlessness of socialism among her people, and is receiving back the Church of Rome with open arms, hoping thereby to maintain a stronger hold upon the people.
France is threatened with serious difficulties through strikes—capital and labor coming more into conflict than heretofore.
In this land, free from the extravagance and oppression of kings, there is no little trouble and perplexity. Capital and Labor are daily arraying themselves against each other more decidedly. Men of low estate, view with suspicion the rapid growth of large corporations and monopolies. Strikes are the order of the day and capitalists are sore distressed. Used to large incomes and intent on wealth and luxury, they feel that they cannot yield the laborer a larger share of the profits. Workmen covet a larger share of luxury and are groaning for what they cannot get until „Gentile Times” have ended and the kingdom of Christ is established in the earth. Yes, „the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” … „waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God”—waiting until the „little flock” is glorified and shall deliver them from the bondage of sin and death, into the liberty of sons of God. (Rom. 8:19-22.)
We can sympathize with all these troubled classes—with kings in their supposed divine right to rule; with the restless peoples in their desires for liberty; with capitalists in their desires to have all the advantages which their wealth gives, and in their endeavor to maintain a superior social standing; and we can sympathize with the mechanic in his belief that all men are created free and with equal rights to the blessings of heaven; we can but agree to his logic also, that to obtain his rights from the world, he must insist on them.
But while selfishness is the controlling motive among men, their different interests must necessarily conflict; and not until the kingdom of God is established can the rights of men be properly adjusted.
The Church—both Papal and Protestant—is largely controlled by the influence of governments and wealthy men. It will rapidly become the tool and mouthpiece of these, and they all will go down together, fighting against God and liberty. (Rev. 19:19-20.)
When these things now beginning to come to pass were published by us in 1876, men scoffed and asked if we were prophets. We answered no, but that God’s Word as a telescope showed all these things and more, to the eye of faith. At the same time we showed that God’s special favor was due to pass away from the nominal
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Gospel Church though it would still continue to really consecrated individuals; and that the favor would return again in some form to the Jew in 1878 as foretold by Paul and the Prophets. (Rom. 11:25, Jer. 16:13,14.) At God’s appointed time a Jew happened to be Premier of England; the famous Berlin conference happened to take place in that very year; and it happened that by that conference, Palestine was put under the protection of Great Britain; and since then it has been free to the Jew so that he may be a land-owner. Thus in the very year, it happened (?) that privileges and favors came to the Jew which he had not enjoyed for over 1800 years. Now they are being persecuted and driven out by various peoples, and many will go and are going to Palestine.
Yet bear in mind, „Gentile Times” do not fully end as scripturally shown until 1914 A.D.; consequently their overthrow may be less rapid than would now seem probable. The trouble may be expected as birth pangs to a mother—each succeeding one more severe until full deliverance. This is Paul’s illustration of it. (1 Thes. 5:3) It is in fact the birth of a new era or age; and its birth involves pain and death to the present age and its corrupt systems and customs.
Let us remember, too, the words of Jesus, that „Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Hence, if Gentile Times end in 1914, the Jews will not have an independent national existence before then. This furnishes ample time for their regathering and Jerusalem’s rebuilding on her old heaps.
As it has always been, so now the teachings of God’s Word are not recognized even when thus strikingly fulfilled, except by those „taught of God.” How true today—”Who hath believed our report (doctrine—teaching) and to whom is the arm (power) of the Lord revealed?” Only to a few—a little flock—his special favored friends, have the plans of the Great Architect been shown.
As we look inward at the progress of truth, we find much to encourage and strengthen us. Among the hundreds of letters recently received one from the West tells how, from a torn fragment of ZION’S WATCH TOWER found wrapping a store parcel, nourishment and strength was gained, and an appetite for more produced—how by and by a letter from a friend in Massachusetts mentioned the same and gave our address. Now, they in turn have some to loan to neighbors. So it seems with all, who now hear the „glad tidings.” Just as with the early church, all love to tell the story. It so warms and fills our own hearts that it becomes our greatest privilege and chief employ to—
„Tell the whole world the blessed tidings,
Speak of the time of rest that nears;
Tell the oppressed of every nation,
Jubilee lasts a thousand years.”
It is wonderful, too, how ripe some seem to be for the message, by their promptness and obedience quite putting to shame some who have had far more instruction and privilege. We recall two instances of this sort reporting this month, the prompt obedience of whom, we can only attribute to full consecration to GOD. One brother in Texas, a Steward and Class-Leader in the M.E. Church, says he received and read „Food” very carefully. He felt convinced as to his duty, and had already resigned his connection with the church and become a free man in Christ, stepping out from the barriers of creeds to study the Word of God unbiased by human traditions.
The other was a minister in the M.E. Church: He writes that he had received from some one, and read, the December and January numbers of the WATCH TOWER. Careful study of those papers and his Bible, convinced him that „the dear old Methodist Church is a part of the ‚Image of the Beast;'” and while he loved it much, he loved Christ Jesus more and must obey God rather than men. He has cancelled his obligations to the M.E. Church and engaged as a servant (minister) of the Church „whose names are written in heaven.” He says that Satan suggested that he retain his „parchment” as evidence of authority and right as a minister, but he gained the victory and concluded that a commission from the Lord was of superior value.
Our efforts being mainly directed to the feeding of the sheep and lambs (those already in the fold—starving) we seldom learn of the effects of this „strong meat” upon the worldly. Three notable cases we might mention: One wrote to us from England, how, having lost all confidence in religious professors, he had become a scoffer and was on the downward grade. He received a copy of „Food,” and became enraptured with the real beauties of God’s character and plan. He donated $25 to the tract fund and has given and loaned many of the pamphlets to others where he feels sure they will do good. Two of other cases report this month; one had been, he writes, profane and unbelieving but the reading of „Food” had been greatly blessed to him and he will henceforth be a reformed man. We make an extract from the letter of the other.
Reports from the brethren laboring in a public way, are encouraging. Bro. Sunderlin reports interesting meetings near Arlington, N.Y. Bros. Leigh and Spears have started on a trip down the Ohio river in a small boat belonging to the latter. They purpose (D.V.) to visit all the river towns between here and Cincinnati or St. Louis, spending about a week at each. This will require all summer or longer. The Lord bless them and their hearers, as also all the brethren holding forth the word of life—the glad tidings of great joy. We subjoin extracts from a few letters.
NOTTINGHAM, ENG., April 13, 1882.
MY DEAR SIR:—I should esteem it a favor if you would send me a dozen copies of „Food for Thinking Christians” and about the same number of „Tabernacle Teachings.” Eternity alone will reveal the good these books are doing, and several of my friends here are hungering for more information upon these great themes.
I lend my WATCH TOWER every
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month, and look eagerly for each new one. May God continue to bless the work. Yours in Him,
__________. (A Minister.)
DEAR BROTHER:—I received the book safely. I am very glad to say that I am very much interested in the truth, and I feel thankful that it has been placed within my reach. I call you brethren because I feel you are such. These glorious teachings have brought me from the broad road to destruction and have placed me on the road that leads to life. I have been for a few years back a poor drunkard and a profane swearer, till about a year and a half ago, when, through God’s loving kindness Bro. Keith came here and declared the glorious teachings of God’s Word. And I thank God that I now have been begotten of the spirit; and I am willing to present this life and this body a living sacrifice to God. I am willing to give my all for Jesus and the glad tidings. I thank God that I am what I am and he is helping me to understand His Word.
With kind wishes, your brother, __________.
MY DEAR BROTHER:—I sincerely thank you for advice and encouragement in your last letter. My deepest gratitude, however, I owe to our Heavenly Father, for I begin to realize how he uses his agencies in the manifestation of his love. If Jesus condescends to recognize so unworthy an object as me, I will rejoice and continue to strive, so to run, as to obtain the prize of the high calling.
The „Tabernacle Tract” and January number of ZION’S WATCH TOWER were rich feasts of spiritual food to my hungry soul. My feelings can best be described by the language of the two Apostles, who unknowingly had talked with Jesus, on their way to Emmaus after his resurrection: „Did not our hearts burn within us.” Oh what joy to the Christians’ heart, is the hope that we shall reign with Jesus evermore. All the Tracts and papers you sent me I have tried to loan judiciously. The Tabernacle tract and January number of TOWER are so excellent, I want you to send me some of each; also about ten copies more of „Food.” Enclosed find ($10.00) ten dollars to be added to the Tract Fund. May the Lord greatly magnify your efforts for good, and lead all his children to an action of duty, through the spirit of love and obedience. Hoping and striving for increased light and knowledge of the Scriptures and to be aided by your efforts, I remain your brother, through fellowship in the Spirit. __________.
The colored minister who desired a Diaglott has been supplied. Four persons sent pay for him. We like this; it is the right spirit. As requested, the overplus was added to the tract fund.
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„CHANGE YOUR MINDS”
(See Young’s Concordance under word repent.)
Stability of character and purpose are qualities which we all admire. We like the man upon whom we can depend. To know that a man is what is commonly termed fickle, is to make us distrustful; for the course which he will pursue to-day, is not an index of what he will be or do tomorrow. With such a man we cannot do business with pleasure, and so will have no more to do with him than we are obliged to. Of such a man it is said, „He has no mind of his own,” he has no settled character; he is driven hither and thither by circumstances, so takes no root and withers away. Such a man has not much influence, because people do not know where to find him, nor what to expect of him.
Again, the man who never changes is a hard man to deal with; you know where to find him always, to be sure; he is fixed; he has a purpose of his own, and if it is not like yours, the reason, in his mind, is, that yours is good for nothing. You need not undertake to move him, he is settled, he is established, he has become fossilized. The world moves on and leaves him behind. You may go to the spot where you left him, though it be a decade after, and there you will find him glorying in his unchangeable nature. „He is wise in his own conceit.” Not willing to „receive instruction,” he is not bothered with having to change his mind; such a man will have to learn by some other mode than precept. Let us be glad that our Heavenly Father has provided more than one mode of instruction.
Now, both these characters are wrong, they are extremes, and it is hard to tell which is the most to be shunned; perhaps the latter, for he may be always wrong, while the former will be right at least part of the time; but a not over sanguine temperament would better comport with limited knowledge, and a sufficient
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amount of firmness would meet and repel evil assault.
Change of mind is a necessary operation with all finite creatures, so far as we know, because their knowledge is imperfect. An important part of man’s work in this world should be, at proper times, to change his mind. Show us a man who never changes his mind, and we will show you a man who never makes any additions to his knowledge, or else is a bigot, which is usually about the same.
There is but one character in the universe who never changes his mind, i.e., the Almighty, Allwise, and Eternal God. Because his knowledge is perfect he need not change his mind, or perhaps more properly, he need not change. „But,” says some one, „the Bible says he repented because he had made man. How is that?” Though that is a little irrelevant, we will stop a moment to consider it, as it is often brought up by skeptics. How could God’s change of conduct toward man be expressed to him, in the childhood of the race, in other and better language? Some have said in explanation that it meant that he changed his purpose; but this answer was not satisfactory for the reason that it did not change the meaning, but only the word.
Let us use an illustration; our Heavenly Father provides them in abundance. Suppose that a little boy having no knowledge of horticulture should see his father planting apple-seeds, and after awhile should see him trans-planting the young trees; he might inquire, Father, what made you plant your apple-seeds there? Why didn’t you plant them where you wanted them to remain? The father might reply, I did want them there then, but now I do not; I have changed my mind; now I want them to stand where they will have more room, etc. It would be difficult to explain to the child-mind the broad plan of the father, but he can be made to see clearly that there has been a change. In this illustration the father changed one part of his plan as it related to another part of the same plan, i.e., there was, to one not understanding his plan, an apparent change of purpose, and one, too, not in harmony with the original design, and yet it was all in the mind and design of the father from the first. So with our Heavenly Father. He communicates with us according to our understanding, and if our hearts were right, we should not so readily misunderstand him. He speaks of things as they seem to us, and not always as they really are, and we do the same, and think it all right enough when we do it. He speaks to us of the sun’s rising and setting, and we do too, whereas we know that it is only apparent; let us reason the same with this word repent, and we shall have no further trouble. So we increase in knowledge and grace, we shall understand him better, and in just the proportion that we grow in knowledge, we change our minds, or „repent”; at least that is what we should do. By this we do not wish to be understood as saying that we should ignore all that we have passed over, or that a change of mind involves a condemnation of all our former opinions, but that our minds should change something as the trees change from small to large, from a few to many branches, and from blossom to fruit; and in doing this we gradually put away the former things; for the tree had to pass through its sappling condition, before it could extend its far-reaching branches. So we pass through the transitions of mind and character.
There are special seasons when important changes should take place both in the physical and moral world. This time in which John was speaking was one of those seasons. The fullness of time had come and God had sent his Son into the world to realize to the world the signification of the „types and shadows” of the Jewish ceremonial. For many centuries these shadows had been indicating „good things to come”; but now they were to be lost in the glory of the brighter and better day.
He whom they pointed to was present. The passover lamb was to be superseded by the lamb of God, of whom the former was but the figure.
At the time John made the proclamation above referred to, the Jewish church were more strict to observe every particular of the ceremonial law than perhaps at any time in their history; they were scrupulous to pay tithe of mint and anise, plants like or identical with our dill and caraway; when we consider that their tithe was a tenth part, we can see how nice they were to observe the letter of the law where it did not so directly affect the heart and life. They could be strictly scrupulous in regard to the slightest ritual performances, while having but little remorse for the grossest immoralities. It is not at all likely that they understood the deep spiritual import of most of the forms that Paul calls „shadows of good things to come.” At this juncture John makes his appearance and exhorts them to „repent (change their minds; see Young’s Concordance, and Emphatic Diaglott, reform) because the royal majesty of the heavens has approached.” In these forms, or in the observance of them, they thought they had eternal life; (John 5:39) but now he who was to bring light and immortality to light had come; now John had given them more definite instruction upon these weighty matters, and with increase of knowledge there should be a corresponding change of mind, so he makes the announcement in accordance with the facts.
We think the nominal Christian church of to-day occupies, in many respects, a similar position; each different section or sect being very strict to observe the letter of their law, and thinking that in them they have eternal life; but that law, or those laws, instead of being God’s requirements, are the formulated laws of the leaders of the various societies, supposed to be based upon God’s law or word; they have built upon this foundation, but with hay, wood, and stubble. (1 Cor. 3:12.)
Now some seem to think when you speak to them about this matter, that it is of no particular consequence if they are only upon the right foundation. Jesus showed that it was important to be founded upon a rock (Matt. 7:24,25), and Paul shows that it is important also to build with good material. Some seem to think that if they are only saved, that is enough, but would not reason so about their earthly matters; though they might think it fortunate to escape from their burning house, yet they would think it better to have a house that would not have taken fire; thus showing that „the children of this world are wiser in their GENERATION.” If a member of any one of these societies should be arraigned for misdemeanor, the law of that society („Discipline,” „Regulations,” or whatever) is the standard by which the misdemeanor is measured and weighed.
During the time of the church’s wanderings, through the dark ages, while walking in adulterous union with the world, the light that was in it „became darkness,” and how great was that darkness. Man came to use the word of God as a medium of worldly gain, and when once begun, there seemed to be no limit to which the enemy would lead in distorting the truth, for the truth had to be the means of giving acceptability to the counterfeit. So now the nominal Christian church is in a condition strikingly similar to that of the Jewish church then, i.e., „rich and increased in goods, and having need of nothing,” according to their opinion, but as the Lord sees, „poor and blind and naked,” and their doing similar to that described in Mal. 1:13.
So the proclamation of John comes with equal if not greater force”: „change your minds,” „reform because the royal majesty of the heavens has approached.”
But, says some one, what has our church to repent of? Do we not teach that men must repent of their sins to be saved? Yes, but what idea do you give them of salvation, and of their friends who do not obtain the salvation which they are told about? Is not the salvation which you tell them of, embraced in the idea of songs of praise to God, and word-worship and glorification of his wondrous majesty, and possibly some idea of learning more of his glorious attributes? All this is included in the „great salvation,” but it is a meagre representation of it from the Bible standpoint as we (we say it humbly) view it. Then those who do not attain to this salvation, it is said, God will miserably torment without end of duration.
Now we cry aloud that the effulgent glory shed abroad by the approach of „the royal majesty of the heavens,” throws such light upon his word, that we repent, and call upon all who hold such ideas of God and salvation to „change their minds” and actions accordingly.
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
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OUR PATH TO GLORY
We journey through a desert drear and wild,
Yet are our hearts by such sweet thoughts beguiled
Of Him on whom we lean, our strength and stay,
We scarcely note the sorrows of the way.
Thoughts of his glory—on the prize we gaze,
And in it see the hope of coming days;
Beacon of hope, which, lifted up on high,
Illumes with heavenly light the tear-dimm’d eye.
Thoughts of our gathering—of that joyful day,
In patient hope we tread the narrow way;
The dawn draws nigh, and from the watch-tower see
Millennial day dawn—and the shadows flee.
Thus while we journey on, our Lord to greet,
Our thoughts and meditations are so sweet
Of Him on whom we lean, our strength and stay,
We scarcely note the sorrows of the way.
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THE SEVEN CHURCHES
THE MESSAGE TO PERGAMOS
„And to the messenger of the Assembly at Pergamos write.” Rev. 2:12
Per is an article of emphasis, frequently equivalent to very. Ga or gee [g hard] is earthy. Thus the name Perga [Acts 13:13] very earthy. Pergamos means earthy height or elevation. It was the name given to the citadel of Troy.
The Pergamos of John’s day, and to which literally the message is addressed, was a celebrated city of the Roman province of Asia. Here parchment was first perfected. It had a library of 200,000 volumes; also a famous temple of Esculapius, the mythological deity who presided over medicine.
The Pergamos period dates from the time that Constantine professedly embraced Christianity; which, being thus popularized, soon became the nominal religion of the people. The church of this period was exceedingly exalted, but only from an earthly point of view; she was „exalted in the earth.”
Persecution having ceased, the policy of the Emperor became the policy of both priests and people; and the nominal Christian church soon filled with the popular time-serving crowd. Masheim tells us that while the great zeal of many good men, the purity of their lives, the many translations and expositions of the Scriptures made at this time, and the intrinsic beauty and value of Christianity as contrasted with Paganism must have had their influence; yet it is evident that a desire to please the great emperor and his successors, and to be on the popular side, were the chief reasons for the sudden and great increase of the nominal church.
Many pagan philosophers finding that it would be policy to join the ranks of the rising religion, set about paving an easy way to it by trying to discover correspondencies between Christianity and Paganism, and so to blend the two together. They succeeded only too well. Many sought „to form to themselves a middle kind of religion, between the ancient theology and the new doctrine that was now propagated in the empire; and they persuaded themselves that the same truths which Christ taught had been for a long time concealed by the priests of the gods under the veil of ceremonies, fables, and allegorical representations.” [Masheim.] As the old theology had a number of chief gods, with many demi-gods of both sexes, the Pago-christians [if we may coin a word] set themselves to reconstruct the list for the new theology. At this time, therefore, the doctrine of three Gods was invented—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Also the Goddess Mary. To make the list as respectable in numbers as the long line of pagan deities, they canonized the dead apostles and an unlimited number of martyrs, angels, etc., real or imaginary.
Masheim says of this period: „The public processions and supplications by which the Pagans endeavored to appease their gods, were now adopted into the Christian worship, and celebrated in many places with great pomp and magnificence. The virtues which had formerly been ascribed to the heathen temples, to their lustrations [ceremonial cleansings by water, etc.], to the statues of their gods and heroes, were now attributed to Christian churches—to water consecrated by certain forms of prayer, and to the images of holy men.”
„The propensity of rude and uneducated converts [?] from Paganism to cling to the festal rites of their forefathers proved to be invincible, so that it seemed to be necessary to adopt the old usages to the new worship, rather than to abolish them altogether.” [Encyc. Brit.]
We feel safe in asserting that all the vile doctrines that have saturated the papal church, and that still permeate Protestantism had at least their origin in this period.
The philosophy of Plato was engrafted, a parasite upon the Scriptural stock. This vile fungus, planted by Satan in Eden [Gen. 3:4], watered by the Egyptians, and brought to an increase by a pseudo-christianity, has borne an abundant harvest of errors, and exhaled an influence more deadly than the repas tree. Purgatory, Eternal Sin, Eternal Torment, Mariolatry, Saint Worship, Transmigration, Mohammedanism, Swedenborgianism, and Mormonism are some of its legitimate fruits, which could not have existed without it.
The Pergamos message opens in the words, „These things saith He who hath the sharp sword with two edges.” The speaker is Christ himself. It seems as if the little company of faithful ones, beset on every side by the enemy, were earnestly looking amid all the noise and strife for their Leader, when, suddenly, the great Captain appears by their side, and waiving his sword on high, shouts, Attention! Company!
The two-edged sword is the Word of God. [Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12.] This weapon is formed both for offensive and defensive warfare. It is sharp, and while one edge is presented toward the enemy, there is another toward him who wields it. Christ has given it to the church to be used in his service: woe to him who handles it unskillfully. Our Lord’s words are a warning to those of that age who were exercising this spiritual weapon.
„I know thy works.” They were many. The faithful of this period were very zealous, and were hard workers against much opposition. „And where thou dwellest, where Satan’s seat is.” The home and stronghold of Paganism; which, in course of time, with a change of little else than name and names was rechristened Papacy. „Thou holdest fast MY NAME, and hast not denied my faith.” Their fidelity is more particularly noted because of their adverse surroundings. At this time there were many teachers, and more controversy than ever before. Light was darkened by words, and truth with sophistry. During this period also arose the old dispute of „who should be greatest?” The bishops, or Patriarchs, as they preferred to be called, of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, had acquired a degree of pre-eminence over the others, and there was a long-continued rivalry between them; the supremacy being finally divided between Rome and Constantinople. The nominal church was split in two, chiefly over the question of image-worship; the idolaters ranging under the bishop of Rome, who received the name of Pope [Latin, papa—the father], while the image-breakers, as they were called, formed the Greek Church under the Patriarch [chief father] of Constantinople. A remembrance of this controversy will help us to understand the passage which follows:
„Thou holdest fast MY NAME … even in those days in which ANTIPAS was my faithful witness; who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” Anti, in Greek, means opposite or against; papas is father. In the usual manner of forming words, Anti-pas would evidently mean against the father, or opposed to the Pope or Patriarch; as we use the name anti-christ, the opponent of Christ. It is clear, then, that our Lord here commends the faithful hand who, „holding fast” the endearing name of our „Father,” in obedience to the command, „Call no man Father,” opposed the development and establishment of the Papacy, with its attendant heresies of a class of holy [?] and Rev. [?] fathers [Matt. 23:9], who, being called by the church—or the almighty dollar—or the love of honor and ease, as the case may be, profess a superior sanctity, privilege, and authority for the exposition of God’s Word. „But I have a few things against thee. Thou hast there them that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things offered to idols, and to commit fornication.”
Num. 22 and onward tells the story of Balaam. The kings of Midian and Balak, king of Moab, found themselves unable by force of arms to subdue Israel. They hired Balaam to curse God’s people. He found it impossible, but knowing why they had the Lord’s favor and protection, he advised Balak to lead them into sin; which succeeding, brought upon them a plague which destroyed 24,000 of them.
From what has been said, the spiritual meaning of the Balaam teaching should be easily seen. The blasphemous doctrines of eternal torment, and the endless existence of sin and sinners; also the fiction of the short line from the death-bed to heaven, and kindred fancies, have always been a „stumbling-block” to the church. The homage given to pagan rites, ceremonies, festivals, etc., Christianized [?] such as prayers to the dead, sacred places, days, and persons; union with earthly powers and with those who do such things, would in our opinion be Baal-am service.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, noticed in the Ephesus message, found its development in this age; and has been a burden to the church ever since. Nicolas means a conqueror of the people. In the church of Rome the laity or people are as much the subjects of the Pope, both in spiritual and temporal things, as any of earth’s conquerors ever dreamed of demanding. This, in the face of Christ’s plain statement that there is but one Lord, one Master, one Father, „and all ye are brethren.” [Matt. 23:8-12.] The command „Search the Scriptures,” was intended for every one; the commission to „preach the good news” to all who have received the Spirit; and if any one has not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His, and can only be a blind leader of the blind. „Repent, or else I will come unto THEE quickly, and will fight against THEM with the sword of my mouth.” Notice thee and them in this passage. The words are evidently used like you and them in 1 Thes. 5:1-4. The Lord speaks directly to his church as thou or you; but of the world, as they or them. He came to his own, and
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in a sense delivered them out of Babylon; bearing them up on eagles’ wings [Rev. 12:14], and carrying them into the wilderness; „into her place, where she is nourished.” … from the face of the serpent, Satan. To them—Babylon, he comes with the sword, and by the sword they are cut into two—the Roman and Greek churches. „He that hath an ear, let HIM hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” „To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna.” The manna recalls the story of Israel in the wilderness. Hidden would point as an index finger to the golden bowl full of manna laid away in the Ark of the Covenant as a memorial of the faithfulness of Jehovah, who led and „nourished” his people in the wilderness. It is a pledge to the Pergamos church that he who watched over literal Israel in their journeyings would care for them in the weary march that was about to begin.
The manna, of course, typifies spiritual food, the word of God. Perhaps some were enabled to see a deeper meaning, that it referred not only to the written word, but to the living Word; the true Bread of Life who came down from heaven to give life to the world. [John 6:47-51.]
It was a promise in the face of desolation and death, of a life that should be hid—from all the power of persecution—with Christ, in God. „I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name engraved, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it.”
What a blessed assurance to the church during those 1260 years of trial, outcasts from the world, branded as heretics by the church, to realize that God’s seal was upon them; to remember that „the Lord knoweth them that are his.”
The signet or seal—evidently referred to—was the emblem of authority. See Gen. 41:41-42; 1 Kings 21:8; Esther 3:10-12; 8:2-8, etc. To present any one with the signet ring was to invest them with all the power and authority of him who owned it. This is, therefore, one of the exceeding great and precious promises of joint heirship with Christ, given only to the overcomers.
The color of the stone would indicate the purity of the reign. „A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” However precious the jewel, it was made much more so on account of its use; it was therefore the symbol of that which was most highly esteemed. See Haggai 2:23; Sol. Song 8:5-6.
The name on the seal is significant. We believe it is the name assured by our Lord on taking unto him his great power and beginning his reign. A name now revealed to the members of his body, since the reign has begun. [See article of Bro. Jones in March No. ZION’S WATCH TOWER, page 4.] A name peculiarly comforting to the persecuted saints during the reign of Anti-christ—the name of our beloved KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. W. I. M.
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„For since through a man there is death, through a man also there is a resurrection (anastasis) of the dead; for as by ADAM all die, so by the ANOINTED also, will all be restored to life.” 1 Cor. 15:21,22. Diaglott.
Recognizing death as a reality, we have long seen, and often pointed out, that a resurrection of dead ones, is God’s remedy for the removal of this sin-curse. Not until very recently, however, did we recognize the full force and deep scope of the word resurrection.
We have been accustomed to regard it as meaning the giving to a dead person of a spark of life—the very faintest spark of life, such as the act of Elijah to the widow’s son, (1 Kings 17:22) or the act of Paul to the young man who fell from a window, (Acts 20:9,10) or the act of Jesus to Jairus’ daughter, to the son of the widow of Nain and to Lazarus. (Mark 5:41,42, Luke 7:14,15, John 11:43,44.) We had considered and called these, resurrections of the dead. But an examination proves that these restorations of a faint spark of life, are never called a resurrection in Scripture. An examination of the Greek word from which resurrection is translated (Anastasis) proves that its meaning is broader and fuller than we had supposed, and that we have been in the habit of misusing it, when applying it to such partial restorations of life as above mentioned.
Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon defines the word anastasis to mean—”a setting up again”—”REBUILDING”—”RESTORATION.” Let us then look at the resurrection in the light of this standard definition, and also, in the light of our text.
Mankind is the subject of Paul’s discourse. Mankind as a race, had forfeited all right to life by the disobedience of Adam. The existence forfeited, was the one given by God to our representative, Adam. It was a perfect being or existence, and all the imperfections under which we as a race now labor, have come as a result of sin, and are a part of the death penalty. We are now, and have been for 6,000 years a dying race, growing weaker and weaker and dropping faster and faster into the tomb. Adam in his perfection did not lose the last spark of life for 930 years. We, less perfect, are born with but a spark, the average duration of which is 30 years. This condition in which we now are, is Scripturally called death, even before we enter the tomb. We are all walking in the valley of the shadow of death and are now far down below the mountain tops of life and perfection. (Psa. 23:4; Matt. 8:22; 2 Cor. 5:14.)
Now let us ask the question—Where was our race when it began to fall—when death began to oppress, degrade and conquer? The answer is: Man was perfect, on the mountain tops of life, and not at all in the valley of death; not only perfect in being but in full communion with his maker who considered his handiwork „very good.” Then as death means a falling from all this perfection, resurrection means „a setting up again„— „rebuilding„—”restoring” of humanity from every vestige of death to the perfection of their nature as represented by their head, Adam.
Now notice our text closely, and see the second clause, explaining the first, defines resurrection (anastasis) to mean restored: „Through a man there is death”—”by Adam all die.” Then it states the remedy provided: „Through a man also (Jesus) there is a resurrection of the dead”—”by the anointed will all be restored to life.” To restore life means to give back, or offer a thing which was lost or taken away. The thing lost by our race was perfect being.
But while resurrection means to restore, there is nothing connected with this word which limits it in time. All of the race shall be resurrected, but not necessarily all in a moment; on the contrary Scripture teaches us, that there are „times (years) of restitution,” and another shows us that it will be the work of a thousand years. It will be seen then that the resurrection („rebuilding—setting up again —restoring„) of humanity will be in process, but will not be complete until the thousand years are ended. [This may furnish another explanation of the first clause of Rev. 20:5, to those who think there is a shadow of proof of that clause being genuine; and not as we believe an interpolation.]
But Paul proceeds in the consideration of the anastasis—restoring, upbuilding, perfecting; he explains that there are two conditions of perfected ones. In answer to the question—With what body do they come to life again?—he explains (vss. 36-38) that as with the development of grain, so with mankind, the body sown is not the identical thing which springs up, though the same nature will be found in that which springs up, and the same identical personality, able to recall its former degraded condition, (Psa. 22:27; Ezek. 16:61; Zech. 12:10.) and to glorify God for the blessed change. But we inquire; will there be any difference in the resurrection—will all be raised alike? Paul replies that there will be a difference: As in the sowing there are different kinds of seed, so in the resurrection there will be different kinds of bodies, just as we see it illustrated in nature; when we sow wheat we expect wheat to spring up and so will every seed develop its own kind. The large majority of the race are sown (die) human seed; a few—”a little flock” have changed their nature, been begotten of God. They are sown spiritual seed, and in the resurrection, God will give „to every seed its own body as it hath pleased him.” (vs. 38.) The human seed will have a human body, but the spiritual seed will have a spiritual body; „as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (vs. 48.)
According to the illustration given, the human being will rise in a body like that which went into decay and death, but not formed of the very same atoms of matter that composed it. (vs. 37,) „Thou sowest not that body that shall be.” But to those begotten of God—of the spiritual seed, Paul says, „as we have borne the image of the earthy, (human nature—but having given that up to become ‚new creatures’) we shall (when born in the resurrection) bear the image of the heavenly”—the spiritual body.
Again some inquire, what is a spiritual or heavenly body like? It doth not yet appear what we shall be (like), but we know that … we shall be like
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him (Jesus; not as he was, but as he is) „for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2.)
We can form a tolerably clear idea of what the race in general will be when perfected (resurrected), knowing by experience that were it not for the imperfection it would be „very good.”
And though we cannot fully comprehend what the new creature shall be when perfected (resurrected), because „it doth not yet appear, what we shall be” in all particulars, yet our Father’s word informs us of some of the qualities of those „new creatures” „of the Divine nature” when perfected. He says: „It is sown in corruption, it is raised in INCORRUPTION; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in GLORY; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in POWER; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY.” [vss. 42-44, Diaglott.] Thus we get a very meagre view of the excellent glory of the new creatures—like Christ Jesus, the express image of the Father’s person; „whom no man hath seen nor can see.” (1 Tim. 6:16.) No wonder Paul said it doth not yet appear; no wonder God has not given us a more full account of the future glory; with the little glimpse we have, it almost over-awes us. We ask ourselves how searching must be our trial, if we would be accounted worthy of such divine honors? „What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and God-likeness”—”He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.”
This perfecting, Paul shows, is not what the world is to get, but is a special thing. In vs. 42 he says, before giving the foregoing description—”Thus is THE resurrection of THE dead” i.e. the CHIEF perfecting of the CHIEF class of the dead. This CHIEF resurrection (anastasis—perfecting) began with Jesus, the head of the church which is his body—the head of THE CHRIST. Having proved himself worthy of this great glory by obedience even unto death, he was made perfect—MADE PERFECT through (by or on account of the) suffering” of death. (Heb. 2:10.) Jesus’ resurrection was the first, no one before him had ever been raised completely out of death’s control into perfection either of human or divine nature. He was „a first-fruit of those having fallen asleep.” (vs. 20.) This is called „His (Jesus’) resurrection,” because if members of his body we shall share the same with our head. It is Scripturally illustrated by natural birth; Our head was born—delivered over 1800 years ago; the body is not yet fully delivered. We, „the feet of him,” are still in the condition in which we „groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption” in full of the entire body of the Christ. (Rom. 8:23.) (Will God cause to come to birth and not deliver? Will he deliver the head and not complete the work? (See Isa. 66:9.) The „little flock” of overcomers of the world—the blessed who shall „have part in the first (chief) resurrection” (anastasis—lifting up to perfection) and who shall „reign with him a thousand years,” (Rev. 20:6.) will have part in „His resurrection” and experience the same changes and perfecting which he underwent, when God highly exalted him above the angels next to himself in power and glory—”the right hand of power.”
Such is our, and such was Paul’s hope. For it we suffer the loss of all things and do count them but dross that we may win Christ and be found in Him (as members of the body of Christ) … that we may know him (fully) and the POWER of HIS RESURRECTION.” This desirable sharing in the power of HIS anastasis—raising to perfection, we hope to attain by sharing „the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means, (by all these earthly sacrifices) we might attain unto the EX-anastasis (the out-resurrection) from the dead”—the chief perfecting. Phil. 3:8-11.
Let us consider next, the
ORDER OF RESURRECTIONS
We have already seen that the best or chief perfecting—that of the Christ, comes first, and the bringing of mankind to human perfection follows during the Millennial age: But let us follow Paul’s argument on this point and note that this is his argument exactly. After telling in the words of our text that „by Adam all die, so by the Anointed also will all be restored to life,” he adds—”But each one in his OWN rank; Christ a first-fruit, afterwards those who are Christ’s at his parousia (presence).” Here are two ranks, or orders of anastasis, Christ (the anointed head and body) first. Theirs, as we have seen, is the first and chief anastasis, the first to come to perfection and that the Divine perfection. Afterwards, during his presence, another class or order will be perfected. His presence will continue during the Millennial age, for he comes to reign and to put down all authority, all opposition to right and to bring all things into harmony with God and His laws. Then „he must reign”—must be present until all of this work is accomplished; and he shall reign a thousand years. (Rev. 20:6.) consequently that entire age is the time of His presence. During his presence he shall bless mankind with truth and knowledge and restore all things. Then all, who during that blessed reign, will, may come into harmony with him and „Hail Him Lord of all,” thus becoming His. This class we understand to be referred to by Paul when he says—”afterwards those who are Christ’s at (during) his presence.” These shall be raised up to the perfection of their (human) nature.
The raising up, the perfecting, may be either an instantaneous, or gradual work so far as the meaning of the word anastasis is concerned. We have seen that the perfecting, or the raising of the world in general to full perfect human being, will require a long period. During that period they will learn valuable and lasting lessons in overcoming evil under the superintendence of able helpers and teachers. But there are two general exceptions to this rule; these two have learned these lessons in the present life under the dominion of evil. They have been made perfect through discipline endured here, and being thus prepared, are counted worthy to attain their perfect condition in the instant of return to life.
The first of these classes and the chief, are the members of the body of Christ, who have fought a good fight and finished their course of training and work of sacrifice, by obedience even unto death, and there is prepared for such, a crown of righteousness—the reward. The anastasis (raising up to perfection) of this class, though not coming to all of them at the same instant, will be an instantaneous perfecting to each one. The dead in Christ shall rise, be perfected, first; then we which are alive and remain, shall share in the same anastasis, the same perfecting, without sleeping for a single moment in death.
We shall be changed or translated in a single moment, lifted in the twinkling of an eye, instantly, out of the earthly tabernacle or house (which will dissolve in death) into our house (body) from heaven—our glorious spiritual bodies, whose glory doth not yet appear. But both the raising of those who sleep in Jesus, and the
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changing of the living members into new conditions, as well as the resurrection of Jesus, together constitute the first (chief) anastasis. „Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the chief, first resurrection—perfecting; on such the second death hath no power, but THEY shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6.)
The second class, though less notable are highly esteemed of God, and in their sphere were overcomers and fought the good fight though a different one from ours of this Gospel age. We refer to the Prophets and Patriarchs of preceeding ages. Though they never had our „heavenly”—”high calling”—though never invited to change their nature from human to Divine, yet they were faithful and laid hold of the earthly promises set before them. Moses verily was faithful as a servant over all his house (of servants) but Christ was faithful as a Son over his own house, whose house are we, if—(Heb. 3:6.)
All those ancient worthy faithful ones, died in faith without receiving a fulfillment of the promises made them, yet were confident to the end of life, trusting God to give them at some time the things promised them. [Abraham had been promised all the land of Canaan, but had never received so much as to set his foot on, yet he died trusting God for what he had promised. Acts 7:5.] Instead of at once giving to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Prophets the earthly kingdom and dominion promised them, God let them rest; they „fell on sleep,” while he developed the Gospel Church through the „better promises,” even the heavenly—that it should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. (Jas. 1:18.) Hence Paul, referring to these ancient worthies, states that God having provided some better thing for us, (the Christ) they without us (our instrumentality) shall not be made perfect. (Heb. 11:39,40.)
The anastasis of the Christ must take precedence to that of all others, because it is through The Christ that all things are to be restored. We believe, however, that the anastasis or perfecting of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Prophets and overcomers of past ages, will be a rapid or instantaneous perfecting of the human nature. And we understand that it is as perfected men ruling over imperfect men, that these of the fleshly seed, will bless all the families of the earth as the agents of the spiritual SEED which is Christ—the express image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.) Through the Christ primarily, the blessing of restoration comes.
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It is the theory of a large number in the nominal church, that the Millennium of peace, when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more, is drawing near, and is to be brought about by present christianizing influences. We also claim it „nigh, even at the doors,” but to be accomplished by a totally different process, viz: by the setting up of that kingdom for which we were ever taught to pray, „Thy kingdom come (that) thy will may be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.” We believe also, that the setting up of the kingdom, involves first, the presence and exaltation of the new King (the Christ complete, who will dethrone and bind the former Prince of the power of the air—Satan, and accomplish the final overturning (Rev. 20:2; Psa. 149:8; Ezek. 21:27.) and the complete destruction of the present evil, unjust and oppressive governments and institutions. By the tumult of contending factions, he will dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel. Psa. 2:9; Jer. 13:14.
We seldom mention the outward evidences which support our views, and expectations. It has been our desire to direct your attention not so much to „the things which are seen,” but mainly to „the things which are not seen” by the natural eye but discernable only by the eye of faith—in the Word of God. This knowledge it is, which enables us to see things which are coming to pass, but which are not yet discernable by the world. It was this favor of seeing further into the future than the world could look, which Jesus referred to, saying that the spirit of truth would guide us into truth and show us things to come. (John 16:13.) It is both a comfort and a strengthener of faith, to see how Scripture is being gradually accomplished. Therefore we give below some interesting and carefully collected facts regarding the present condition of European nations.
The peace footing of the standing armies of Europe, is as follows: Russia 715,000, France 498,483, Germany 427,274, Austria-Hungary 252,535, Italy 202,271. Those of the lesser powers, Turkey, Spain, Norway, etc., etc., aggregate 643,000 and Great Britain has an army of about 250,000 men. Thus it will be seen that Europe has a standing army of about 3,000,000 men, besides a navy which numbers 250 iron-clad and several hundred wooden vessels.
In addition to these regular armies there are reserve forces of drilled men, ready for immediate call in case of war, as follows: In Russia 2,252,126, Germany 1,500,000, France 1,230,000, Austria-Hungary (army and navy) 1,220,000, Italy 664,105. Great Britain and smaller powers about 2,500,000. This gives the enormous army of over 12,000,000 men ready for immediate action, composed only of trained soldiers in the prime of life. Truly it has been said „Europe is a huge standing camp.” „All Europe stands ready for war.”
How dreadful, how heart sickening the sight; 12,000,000 men trained in the use of the most devilish instruments of death, stand prepared to slaughter one another at the beck and nod of Emperors, Czars and Kings.
And yet it seems that in our Father’s sight,
‚Tis well that men should learn the evils now of
[war by bitter taste;
That when hath been o’erturned these governments
[of evil men,
All then might come to love the peaceful reign,
Of Him who’s called „the Prince of Peace.”
And yet some tell us that these are Christian governments; and all their Kings claim the right to rule—to be of God’s authority and appointment. This idea of God’s appointment was given by Papacy. Papacy placed in power the ancestors of most of those now reigning; Papacy claimed that in so doing it represented God, and that in fact it was „the Kingdom of God” and had the power and right to appoint the rulers of earth. The earthly governments still cling to the claim of divine appointment and use it as a mighty chain to bind the people under them. Their proclamations are signed, as for instance, King William of Prussia „By the grace of God.”
Papacy, claiming infallibility, cannot but sustain the general principle of their appointment, and being now without temporal power, dare not offend one of these rulers.
Protestants unthinkingly and ignorantly uphold the decisions of Papacy on this matter, not seeing that thereby, they acknowledge the anti-Christ. This is just as the Word of God foretells—viz: That in the struggle between the people and their Papal appointed rulers just at hand, while the people will be struggling for freedom and their God given rights, the nominal churches will unite with the governments which they appointed and recognize, to help keep the people in thraldom. (Rev. 19:19-20.)
How absurd anyhow to say that the present governments are of God’s appointment, or christian governments in any sense. Surely everything indicates, that they are Satan’s governments—appointed and sustained by their prince „The prince of this world.” (John 14:30 and 12:31.) This their actions clearly demonstrate. Being the Kingdoms of Satan, they must be demolished to give place to the Kingdom of God. How great will be the change, when these, give place to a righteous pure government under the true prince—the „Prince of peace.” „In his day the righteous shall flourish.” (Psa. 72:7.)
Mankind now groans under these evils, Satan and Anti-Christ appointed governments; but the groaning will soon be over. Satan will soon be bound; (Rev. 20:2) his earthly empires overturned (Ezek. 21:27.) and the kingdom will be given unto the people of the saints of the Most High under Christ. (Dan. 7:27.) The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now—waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:22,19.)
The church now is commanded to be subject to the powers that be for „The powers that be are ordained of God.” (Rom. 13:1.) Yes, God, during the „present evil world” (age) not only permits Satan to be its prince, (John 14:30) but also permits the earthly governments of his appointing. He leaves his church and all men for a time under their control, assuring us through His word that shortly the prince of this world shall be bound, and „the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his anointed”—during the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet. (Rev. 20:2 and 11:15.)
The Church must not resist the powers that be except in matters of conscience. But now that „Gentile Times” have nearly run their ordained course, their overthrow is at hand. To this end God is raising up His great army, the masses of the world, to overturn all forms of evil and oppression. His army here, as in the overthrow of Jerusalem A.D. 70, will know not God, yet will fulfill His purposes. (Rev. 19:19.) God’s army is now being marshalled and His church should stand aloof from both the governments that be, and their opposers. We should remember that „we are not of this world”—”our citizenship is in heaven.” (John 17:16. Phil. 3:20.)
The time for the fulfilment of Joel 3:10-16 is nigh at hand and the sooner it comes the sooner will another (Isa. 2:2-4) be accomplished. But first look not for these. First must be gathered from the earthly plane—the little flock—the bride of Christ. And in this gathering of the little flock from out the mass—the mass called by men the church, there will be a shaking, rooting and complete overturning of that mass so full of tares—corrupt with worldly pride. Thus saith the word of God: Judgment must begin at the house of God.
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„THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH”
How clear and simple is this statement. How strange it is that so many who profess to receive the Bible as the Word of God persist in contradicting this positive statement, and affirm that they believe, and that the Bible teaches, that the wages of sin is everlasting life in torment.
They realize that this is an awful thought, and affects the interests of every human being—because all have sinned and come short. Yet it is what they have been taught from infancy. It is what their church creed still teaches, and they are taught that it is one of the first steps to infidelity and perdition to doubt the eternal torment of all who are not true Christians. They suppose that, since their church creed teaches it, it must be one of the fundamental teachings of Scripture.
A very large majority of Christians (We say it with sorrow and shame) have never searched the Scriptures which are able to make them wise. (2 Tim. 3:15.) They have merely learned a few texts, which, construed in the light of their church creeds and instructions, tend to convince them that those creeds are in harmony with the Bible, and that eternal agony awaits a large majority of our race, foreseen and foreknown and pre-arranged by our Creator and Father, who, despite this terrible plan, they must call a God of love—who, despite his malevolence, must be worshiped and adored as the benevolent, loving One, the Author of every good and perfect gift. This One they must thus worship and try, or pretend, to love, lest they be of that eternally tormented multitude. No wonder so many draw near to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. No wonder that some who come to lose the fear of such torment, become blasphemous infidels, denying all things sacred, and regarding all religion as fraudulent, when they lose their dread of this fundamental teaching of the religion of to-day.
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The difficulty is that the traditions of men are given the authority which belongs only to the Word of God. God says that he gave us our existence, and has the power to deprive us of it if we do not use it properly; (Ezek. 18:4; Eccl. 9:5,10; Psa. 145:20; and 146:4,) that the wages which he will pay to sinners will be DEATH—the extinction of life; and the wages he will pay to those who use life in harmony with his will, will be, everlasting life—life unceasingly. „The soul (being) that sinneth it shall die,” but none other. (Ezek. 18:20.) Again we read, „I have set before you life and death”—blessing and cursing; „therefore choose life.” (Deut. 30:19.) Choose it by complying with the condition, on which God says we may have it. „I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn ye and live.” (Ezek. 18:32.)
Nor can any one find a reasonable objection to death—EXTINCTION of being—as the punishment for sin. Man (as a perfect being when created) was capable of appreciating good and evil, and of developing a character in harmony with the one he chose. God gave him this free agency, telling him which is His will, and which is best, and what the consequences of his choice will be to himself. He said to Adam regarding a forbidden thing, „In the day thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt DIE.” (Gen. 2:17, margin.) So he tells us that the wages of sin is death; that we must shun sin if we would avoid its penalty.
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All of God’s plans and laws are the very best, and any other course than obedience is sure to bring some evil consequence. The interests of humanity are so much in common, that evil and its consequences in one member produces more or less evil and distress to others. It is a wise and blessed provision God has made, that none will be allowed to live whose misuse of life would be an injury and source of misery to themselves and others. And who would not admit that God’s dealings with the sinner as thus explained by His Word, are not only Just, but Merciful?
One cause of much of the confusion on this subject, arises from the fact that death happens alike to saint and sinner, hence many conclude—It must be some other kind of death than the death of the individual as we see it all about us, that the Scriptures refer to as the wages of sin. And giving their imaginations full play, they conclude that the DEATH which is the wages of sin, must be a life in torment, or, as some describe it—a death that never dies. In attempting to explain this, modern theologians fall into grievous errors, and begin to talk mysteriously about a number and variety of deaths. They must find as many beings to die as they find deaths. Hence, they not only tell us that there are many deaths, but that man is a combination of a number of beings. They explain that what God said to Adam, and what happened to him when he had sinned, was spiritual death; that nine hundred and thirty years after was physical death, and that then he was liable to eternal death—a condition of torture—a death that never dies.
We will first state our objection to this theological division of death into three, and proceed to explain the question under discussion from our standpoint. We object first to the division of a man into three parts—spiritual man, physical man, and something after which survives both of the former. The supposition that man could lose spiritual being arises from a confusion of thought concerning human and spiritual beings. Scripture teaches us that human beings and spiritual beings are different orders of beings, there being far more difference between a man and spiritual beings (angels, etc.), than between a fish and a horse. Adam, as a human being, was „of the earth, earthy.” (1 Cor. 15:47.) And this was God’s design in his creation—viz.: to make a different order of beings from angels—spiritual beings, which he had already created—an order of beings adapted to the earth by nature. That God had succeeded in making man different from angels—spiritual beings—is evident from the fact that he called him „very good,” and gave him dominion over earth and all earthly things. (Gen. 1:26; Psa. 8:6.)
If, then, Adam was human and not spiritual by nature, he could not lose spiritual nature or spiritual life; and those who hold that he did lose it, are unable to point to a single Scripture which so declares. We suggest to make it forcible to your minds, that it would be as reasonable and as sensible to talk of a fish dying to a horse’s life or nature, as to say that man died to a nature totally different from his own.
Adam died only as a man. From the time he sinned and was driven from the Garden of Eden, he gradually began to die as a man; he began to lose those grand perfections of mind and body which constituted him the superior and ruler of the lower animals. This dying process continued by reason of his strength and perfection for a long time—930 years—then the dying process was complete—Adam was dead—lifeless. So far as he knows or feels he is „as though he had not been” created.
Thus, in him was illustrated God’s word—the wages of sin is death.
But the query comes—would not Adam have died anyhow, whether he had sinned or not?—if not, how could he ever go to heaven? We reply, no; if Adam had not sinned, he had not died, but would have lived on, on earth. God never promised anywhere in his Word to take Adam to heaven. Adam had no such hope or desire. His desire was in harmony with his earthly or human nature—to live on the earth and to enjoy it. And this, as we have shown, was God’s will also—to make an earth to be inhabited, and to make a creature to inhabit and use and rule it in harmony with God’s will.
It should be clearly held in mind, that while God does purpose and is to accomplish the lifting of a „little flock” of humanity from the human nature to a spiritual—the Divine nature,—as new creatures—yet this is not a change of God’s original plan, when he said let us make MAN. God’s plan relative to having the earth peopled with a race of perfect MEN, still continues, and will, ere long, be accomplished. It is only during this Gospel Age since Jesus was (at resurrection) highly exalted to the DIVINE PLANE of being, that God is calling out from among men, some to become partakers of the Divine nature, and sharers of glory as spiritual beings—joint heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. The condition upon which we may claim those promises as ours, is, that becoming dead to earthly aims, hopes, motives, and pleasures, we render the human nature (not its sins) a living sacrifice.
But another inquires—if Adam would not have died had he not sinned, does it not prove that he possessed immortality? Not at all, (You will see the distinction between immortality and everlasting or continuous life by reading „Food,” pp. 11 and 134,) his life would have been continued by allowing him to continue to feed on the trees of life in the Garden of Eden. There was nourishment in their fruit which sustained human life. God executed the penalty, death, by separating man from those nourishing trees; Adam’s life forces were exhausted in labor, and the products of the cursed earth were insufficient to supply the waste. The earth was cursed for man’s sake—that it might not sustain his life.
But now the previous question. If physical death is the penalty or wages of sin, why is it that all—saints and sinners alike—die? We answer in the words of the apostle, death is passed upon all men in that all have sinned. The reason you die is because you are a sinner—you were born a sinner. It was not your fault that you were thus born, but it resulted from a law which God established in the creation of the race to which we belong. It was a part of his law or plan that this race should propagate its species. Thus Adam was to multiply and fill the earth with beings perfect and sinless like himself—in God’s sight „very good” men. But when Adam began to decay and to lose his grand perfections as a part of the penalty of disobedience—dying—he began to lose the ability to produce sinless and perfect offspring. A pure, perfect and sinless race could not come from a sinful and decaying head, and thus when Adam sinned, all his unborn posterity partook of the evils or wages of sin—death.
At first glance it seems unjust and harsh that we should be condemned and punished for an act in which individually we had no share. But when we take God’s explanation of it, all is clear and satisfactory: He condemned all through, or on account of one man’s sin, in order that he might have mercy upon all and redeem all by one sacrifice, which he had purposed in himself, before the foundation of the world. (Rom. 5:18,19; and 11:32.)
As we have before shown, had each man been given a trial, such as Adam had, the probabilities are, that more than half of the billions of his children would have done just as he did. And each one who did so, would have been condemned to death, and to redeem them all, would have made necessary the death of just as many substitutes or ransoms; causing pain and death to as many sinless (willing) redeemers. All of these redeemers must have first come down to earthly conditions, and become men, that they might taste death for the sinner and pay his penalty.
But how much wiser and better was the plan which God took. He condemned all through one representative, that he might justify through another—a representative redeemer. „Oh, the depths of the riches, both of the knowledge and wisdom of God.”
The reason, then, that all die, is, that by nature all are sinners. And, though the ransom of believers has been paid by the death of Jesus, yet those believers are not yet saved from
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the penalty of sin (death), but are merely assured by God’s promises that their ransom has been paid, and in His due time, they will be saved out of death by a resurrection.
The advantages which now accrue to believers are not actual for they share the miseries of the curse with the world, but they are by faith, „For we are saved by hope” only, and not in fact. (Rom. 8:23,24.) We have a basis of hope for future life, in God’s promise of a resurrection, which none but believers in those promises can have. Thus we have hope as an anchor which keeps us from the drifting doubts of the world. We have more also as believers in the efficacy of Jesus’ ransom. We realize that while before as sinners, God could not recognize us at all, now as those whose sins have been paid and canceled by Jesus’ death, we can come to God as sinless—”justified from all things.” (Acts 13:39.) We can again, as Adam did before sin, call God Father, and be recognized by him as human sons. (Luke 3:38.)
But, as we have seen, the penalty of sin—death—is allowed to continue until the full close of this Gospel or Sacrificing Age. During this age so many of the believers as desire may join themselves to Christ in sacrificing their humanity, and become thereby sharers with him of Divinity. When this work shall be accomplished—which pays in full the ransom price of the world—then comes the time for SALVATION in the actual sense. The church—the new creatures—will be the first to be saved from death. Theirs is called the first (chief) resurrection, because they are raised to the divine—spiritual plane. Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the first (chief) resurrection. This first (chief resurrection) began with our head, Jesus, and will be completed in raising to the same condition the church, which is his body. As Paul aimed, so we also aim to have a part in that chief resurrection, for only the „little flock”—his body—are of it. (Phil. 3:8-11.)
Then will follow the actual SALVATION of the world from death, by a resurrection. (See article „Resurrection.”) So we see that death is not complex but a simple thing. The man died, and God’s plan is to save him from death by paying his ransom, and then giving him back his life, in hope, that being better able to appreciate its value, he will „choose life and live” in harmony with God’s laws.
At some future time we will answer and explain the various passages supposed to conflict with the above explanation of sin’s wages.
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THEORETICAL vs. PRACTICAL CREEDS
Who has not been struck with the difference between the practice and theory of those who adhere to the creeds of the various sects. They preach positively and repeatedly that crimes and sins will be surely punished in everlasting torture from which there is no chance of escape, and no hope of mercy or pity ever helping them. They preach that „Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,”—and that therefore, the great mass of mankind are on the broad road, which they say, leads to the irrevocable doom of eternal torture.
And yet those who profess this, contradict it by their acts. Parents whose children are walking any but the narrow way, are careless and seemingly indifferent. Ministers who preach thus, eat, drink and are merry, and feel content to preach on „The beauties of nature”—”Anti Mormonism,” or „Longfellow our great poet”—all of which seems very inconsistent with their professed belief. But they all have a way of solacing their minds by saying: God will do right; he will have mercy on my sons and my daughters, and all my relatives and my friends. The great centre of hope seems to be that sometime, perhaps just the moment of death, they will say or think—may God forgive my life of sin.
A forcible example of this was recently furnished in the case of „Jesse James,” the notorious outlaw, robber and murderer, who, for a number of years, at the head of a band of his kind, has been the terror of Missouri. He was very recently shot, and it is said never after spoke and was conscious but a short time. He was buried from a Presbyterian Church, three ministers officiating. They detailed some of his honorable and manly (?) traits of character, and hoped that God would have mercy upon him—for possibly in his conscious moments after being shot, he might perchance have said, „God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Now we object, not to the benevolence which could desire for Jesse a place more tolerable than that the church has drawn and painted for the sinner, but we do ask in the name of common sense—Where is the consistency of such conduct?
We see their difficulty to be an endeavor to make peace and harmony, between the traditions of men framed into church creeds in the dark ages, and enlightened common sense and reason of to-day. But how sadly they fail to reach any reasonable conclusion. If they could but leave human creeds and take God’s Word, allowing it to interpret itself, how it would all become clear and plain, and grandly harmonious and consistent.
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HUMAN TEACHERS NECESSARY
„He gave indeed the Apostles and the Prophets, and the Evangelists, and Shepherds, and Teachers, for the complete qualification of the Saints for the work of service; in order to the building up of the body of the Anointed one; till we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a full grown man (till the body is complete)—to the measure of the full stature of the Anointed one.” Eph. 4:11-13.
This teaches us that we may be saints (consecrated ones) before we have come to full harmony with God’s plans, or reached our full development in knowledge and faith. It also shows us that it is the will of God that we should not continue babes in Christ but should „grow in grace and knowledge, growing up (as members) into him in all things, who is the head of the body, even Christ; (Eph. 4:15,) striving and aiming continually for the perfection of knowledge and faith-stature of the anointed pattern, our head. This increase and growth must not stop until we ALL (the entire body) have been thus schooled „for the work of service.”
To assist us, God has provided helpers—Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers. Those whom God selected for these positions in the primitive Church, were not selected because of their learning or worldly wisdom, nor because of their natural gifts; but evidently, largely because of their entire consecration to his will and service.
In selecting his ministers, Jesus passed by the „Theological Seminaries”—their „Schools of the Prophets,” and their Doctors of Divinity, and their students too, and chose unpretentious „Israelites indeed.” Among those chosen, being some rather illiterate fishermen. Thus he has ever chosen the weak things to confound the mighty. „Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” It should be remembered too, that God has always provided his church with ministers and helpers. It may help us also, to remember that Jesus always gives his ministers their commission, which may be known and read of all the saints—viz. His spirit of self sacrifice for the sheep, and ability to feed them by expounding to them the Scriptures harmoniously.
That God does set apart or raise up teachers for the Church, is not only evident from the Scripture (1 Cor. 12:27-31 and 2 Tim. 2:2.) but also from his dealings. It is a fact that during this Gospel age, it has pleased God to make use of some men far more than others in the work of teaching and edifying the body of Christ. Jesus was a teacher sent of God. The disciples were sent to preach and teach and baptize. And while we believe that every consecrated member of the body of Christ is a MINISTER in some sense, and all are „anointed to preach the glad tidings,” yet there are various members adapted to different parts of the work, just as there are different members and offices in the human body, which Scripturally is used to illustrate the body of Christ—the Church.
The head of the body is gone from earthly to spiritual conditions. In him centres all the knowledge and wisdom which must direct the affairs of (his flesh) the members on the earthly plane. This is accomplished by delegating various qualities of the head to some members of the body. The highest offices entrusted by our head to members of the body for the use of the entire body, are the qualities of the Eye, the Ear and the Mouth. The two former are channels of information, and the latter of expression. These correspond with certain of the chief offices in the church. First the Eye to see: John and Paul were two members of the church, who enjoyed more than any others perhaps, this grand quality of the head. It was a gift in which they greatly rejoiced. Jesus received a wonderful revelation from the Father relative to coming events (Rev. 1:1.) and true to his body, he sent and signified it to John who thus stood as the eye of the Church and through him we can see as fast as due, the unfoldings of that revelation. Paul too, had this gift or office in a remarkable
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degree, being in visions and revelations of the Lord more abundant than they all. (2 Cor. 12:2-4. Gal. 1:12; 2:2.)
Paul is the clearest eye the Church has ever had. Though he was not permitted to make known what he so clearly saw, (2 Cor. 12:4) yet it is evident that the things seen, so deepened and widened his own knowledge of God’s plan and love as related to the past, present, and „ages to come,” that his writings have a rich depth, fullness, and golden coloring, possessed by no other New Testament writer. He seems to come to the very verge of those glorious revelations while explaining Rom. 11:25-33, concerning the plan of God relative to the casting off of fleshly Israel and their future restoration to his favor through the agency of the church—when the church is complete—when they shall obtain mercy through your mercy. How anxious he seems to tell plainly all about those future dealings—what was not due to be clearly known until now. „O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.”
Note again the value of the sights shown to that celebrated eye of the church—concerning the development of the body of Christ and its future work in coming ages—Eph. 2:6,7 and 3:3-6. Yes looking through those Apostolic eyes of the body (church) we can see wonderful things.
But several „gifts” were bestowed upon some of the Apostles: The ear quality was another gift less honorable than the eye, yet very desirable. This gift was possessed to some extent by nearly all the Apostles, and by some of the members of the body throughout this age. It is the gift or quality of understanding and appreciating the Word and plan of God. It was by the exercise of this gift that Paul, Peter and the others were able to point out the fulfillment of Prophecies, and to have understanding of the deep things of God.
The mouth (utterance) is another quality belonging to the head which is delegated to members, for the benefit of the body. This gift though possessed by perhaps all of the Apostles, was specially notable in Peter and James. Paul, though a great reasoner and possessed of the eye and ear qualities was inferior to Appollos and some others in oratory. (See 1 Cor. 14:3; Acts 18:24; 2 Cor. 11:6.)
These qualities belonging to the head, are still in and with the true members of the true body of Christ. God is still pleased to use some such channels through whom the whole body is to be blessed and edified; yet we should always remember that their honor consists in doing greater service for the body and head than other members. Now, as in Paul’s day, „to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for the benefit of ALL,” (1 Cor. 12:7) and not alone for themselves individually. And, as even Paul, who possessed the chiefest gifts in chief measure, guarded himself, lest after having preached to others, he himself should be a „castaway” from the high calling; so now, it is no positive assurance of our final victory, that we have been used as ministers of the body.
But there are other good positions with honor, in the body of Christ. There are members which belong properly to the body and not to the head, viz: the hands and the feet etc. The feet make progress and represent the mission work of Evangelists. The hands care for, protect, assist, and feed the body, and thus answer to the work of Pastors; then the trunk of a human body represents the mass of the church. The working together of the whole system is to build itself up and to strengthen the laborers—the hands and feet, and to prepare the entire body for the doing of the will of the head. So the entire body of Christ builds itself up and grows strong by the use of the spiritual food; and it imparts its force and strength to those members which minister to it—viz: Prophets, Teachers, Evangelists, and Pastors.
This Scriptural insight into the proper condition and active office of the various members of the body of Christ, forces the conclusion that the real members of the real body are very few. That it was the design of our Father that the body should be formed of such real members, and that every member should contribute to the upbuilding of all, is very clear. And it is none the less clear, that all the real members are thus performing their part, as fast as they perceive their ability and privilege.
God is not merely expressing how he would like to have the body grow, but how it must grow, and is growing up to the full stature of the anointed one. It behooves us each then, to examine ourselves, and thus see if we are abiding in the anointed body, and as active living members, contributing to the general health and activity of the body.
The great worldly organizations, claiming the name of Christ, yet refusing his headship, leading and control, and the teachings of his word, has nothing in common with the real followers in Jesus’ footsteps. They have their heads and prophets and pastors, but not the true (Isa. 9:15; 29:9-13 and Jer. 23:16-32.) They have large flocks but they are not all sheep. They have their teachers, but the time has come when these great flocks of nominal sheep will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own desires, they gather to themselves teachers having itching ears (for the world’s applause) and they turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4:3-4.) But let us watch that we be not deceived by all their form of Godliness, lacking the power, (2 Tim. 3:5) which if possible would deceive the very elect. But let us faithfully endure afflictions and fully accomplish our service.
The true body of Christ is indeed a mystery from the world’s standpoint—a visible company with no visible head; a company bound and cemented to each other by no visible bond or interest, but by the invisible spirit (mind) of their head, which unites them in a labor of self-sacrifice, each member doing according to his ability to bless and benefit the body and honor the invisible head.
In this body are still to be found the representative qualities of the head. They have eyes, for they look through the eyes of the Apostles at the plans and works of God, and have not left these for the traditions of men. The true church has ears; it is still being blessed with members specially used to unfold to it the prophecies and dark-sayings, and to direct it to the „meat in due season.” It still has those who esteem it a privilege to serve, and feed, and care for the body as pastors. And it still has faithful ones (and equally members of the body and beloved of the head) who, though not thus special workers, are nevertheless, strengthening the hands and the knees and glorifying the head by supporting these by their means and by their prayers, and by their influence.
Oh that each might fully value his privilege and opportunities as body members. All cannot be the eye, nor all the ear, nor all hands nor feet. Some are honored with one service, and some with another; (1 Cor. 12:14-20.) yet let us each remember to seek earnestly the best gifts, but rather that we may prophecy—expound the Word. (1 Cor. 14:3.)
Let us remember that the basis of all promotion from a lesser to a higher opportunity of work in the body, will be the faithfulness with which we use our present abilities. Again let none despise his office of Steward of this world’s goods. If this is your opportunity use well your office, and perhaps you will be promoted by our head and become a dispenser of spiritual things. [We commend the plan suggested by Paul to all, even the very poorest; those who have never learned to give, have failed to rightly appreciate one of our choice privileges and pleasures. Read 1 Cor. 16:2, and 2 Cor. 8:1-8; and 9:1-9.]
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A CRITICISM CRITICISED
A gentleman who read in „Food” concerning the first clause of Rev. 20:5.—”The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”—that this passage is spurious, and not found in any MSS. written previous to the fifth century—possibly questioning the correctness of our statement, or at least desiring to have additional testimony, wrote to the „Bible Banner,” a Second-Advent publication, inquiring the correctness of this statement.
In reply Eld. D. T. Taylor published the following in the „Banner” of May 4th, 1882:
The words, „But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” Rev. 20:5, are omitted, and not found in the Sinaitic Codex, which was probably made A.D. 331-350. It is the oldest N.T. MSS. known. But Tischendorf says its omission is „a mere error.” The Alexandrine MSS., written about A.D. 450, has the text, and merely omits the words „but” and „again.” The Vatican MSS., made about A.D. 350, omits no part, but contains the entire text, as now in our Bibles. Hence it is not true, as some writer has said in the „Banner,” that this verse „is not found in any MSS. written previous to the fifth century.
We must answer this, and if we answer it satisfactorily we hope our opponent will give a proper retraction to his remarks above quoted, at an early date.
First then, the brother says: „The Alexandrine MS.—A.D. 450—has the text.” We reply, that any one understanding the subject, knows that
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the fifth century commenced with the year 401, and ended with the year 500. Just so the fourth century began with the year 301 and ended with the year 400. So too, we say since 1801 that we are now living in the nineteenth century and may properly use the expression until the end of the year 1900. Now we admit freely that the text is found in
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the Alexandrine MS., but we still claim, and every scholar will support us in it, that if the Alexandrine MS. was written in A.D. 450, or any time after the year 400, it was not written previous to the fifth century.
But it is claimed, that the passage is found in the Vatican MS. of about the year 350. This we most positively deny. Every authority on the subject bears witness that this Vatican MS. supposed to have been written about the middle of the fourth century, contains the New Testament only so far as Heb. 9:14, „from which verse to the end of the New Testament it is deficient; so that not only the last chapters of the Hebrews, but the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, as well as the Revelation are missing.” [We quote from C. Tischendoerf, perhaps the best of all authorities on ancient MSS of N.T.]
While the above mentioned is the MS., which is generally understood by the name „Vatican MS.,” yet as a matter of fact there was more than one MS. of the New Testament in the Vatican Library; but none but the one above, is sufficiently ancient to constitute it an authority. The Emphatic Diaglott is principally compared with the „Vatican MS. No. 1209,” the ancient copy; but for the lacking book of Revelation the Vatican MS. No. 1160 is used, the author giving it a preference over the „Alexandrine MS.,” though it was written about the eleventh century. (See „Diaglott” note to Rev. 1:1.)
But even if brother Taylor got mixed on the two Vatican MSS., he is still at fault, for Vat. MS. 1160 does not contain the disputed clause. See Diaglott note on Rev. 20:5.
But it is claimed that Tischendoerf, the finder and translator of the very ancient and most authentic of all Greek MSS., excuses the fact that this clause does not appear in his „Sinaitic MS.” by saying that it is doubtless „a mere error.” To this we reply that we fail to see what weight this has on the subject. The finder of a book knows no more than any one else about whether or not the omission of this clause was a „mere error.” We claim again, that the absence of this clause from all MSS. written prior to the fifth century, as well as the fact that it would contradict other Scriptures, which teach that the „Restitution of all things” is due at the coming of Jesus and before he shall finish his reign—prove the disputed clause to be spurious—an interpolation. (Acts 3:21.)
The Syriac-Peshito version of the New Testament (the mother tongue of Jesus and the Apostles) was written in the latter part of the first or early part of the second century, and is therefore of earlier date than any Greek MS. extant. This most venerable authority, also repudiates the disputed first clause of Rev. 20:5.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Ques. Do those who die in childhood ever obtain spiritual bodies?
Ans. If the child was begotten of the spirit it will be in the resurrection, born of the spirit to perfect spiritual being. If not, it still retains the human nature, and in due time will have a part in the restitution of all things and may with all mankind, if it will, reach full human perfection.
Since the begetting of the spirit is through the word of truth, (James 1:18.) it follows that children who cannot understand at least the first principles of the doctrines of Christ, could not be begotten by those principles, or influenced to a consecration—sacrifice of their human nature.
Ques. Does not the „Greek Church” as well as the Church of Rome have a place in prophecy?
Ans. God of course could have given us a history of all the governments of earth. Yet as a matter of fact he has confined his prophetic declarations to a few—as outlined in Daniel’s image and four great beasts. The declarations relative to present governments being almost exclusively confined to the nations of Europe—the remnants of the Roman Empire.
Probably for similar reasons God has measurably confined those prophetic utterances which apply to religious systems, to that system which was given the seat of the beast (Rev. 13:2.)—The Church of Rome and her daughters (Rev. 17:5.) and passed by almost unmentioned, the other, and some of them larger, religious systems, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism and the Greek Church.
Ques. Please explain Rom. 6:10. „He died unto sin once.”
Ans. The Diaglott reads „by sin;” Murdoch’s Syriac „for sin.” We think the signification is that Jesus died for, or on account of, or by reason of sin. So it is also with those who as members of the body of Christ, are sharing in his death. (vs. 11.) With the body as with the head, it is not a dying to sin in the sense of presenting cut off sins as a sacrifice to our Father. No, Jesus „knew no sin” and his death was a sacrifice, giving up, not of sins, but of a sinless nature for the sins of others. So too with his body—we were sinners even as others, but we were redeemed, bought with a price, even his precious blood (life); and now with every sin stain cancelled, we as he did—present a sinless offering. (In God’s estimation sinless and it should be so esteemed by us.) We present this sinless nature to share in his death—thus having fellowship in his sufferings and death which fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, and complete the World’s ransom price.
Read succeeding vs. 11-13. Reckon that the dead or sinful nature was buried when Christ died for your sins; reckon that as justified human beings you became alive when he rose; but go further and as justified beings present yourselves to God (living sacrifices) and yield your members to God as his instruments in doing all of his good work.
Ques. Please explain Phil. 3:21. „Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Does not this Scripture contradict the thought which you have so often expressed, viz: that the bodies of saints will be in the resurrection spiritual bodies, and totally „new creatures„—not formed in part by and out of the earthly bodies of the human nature? Does not this Scripture positively assert that the new body will be merely this vile body changed?
Ans. The body to be changed, here mentioned, does not refer to our personal bodies, for then it should read „change our vile bodies that they &c.” But it is our vile body; one body (the body of Christ) composed of many members that is spoken of.
It will help, in this as in every case if we examine the context. Paul is drawing a contrast between two classes claiming to be Christians. He sets himself as at the head of those who are living properly, and exhorts all true followers of Jesus running for the prize to follow and imitate him, and concludes by saying, „Brethren be followers together of me,” vss. 15-17. This company constitute members of the true body of Christ, because they follow in his footsteps of self-denial.
On the other hand he mentions the false ones saying, vss. 18 and 19, „For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly (appetite) and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”
Now contrast with this body which falsely claimed to be a body of Christ, but which sought and gloried in and minded the very earthly things to which Jesus was crucified—contrast these, I say, with the aims, joys, and mind of the true body. Paul details the experiences, &c., of the true body in vss. 7-15. (Read carefully.) He says that the true body instead of glorying in earthly things and pampering earthly desires, counts all earthly glories and honors and gains as loss and dross, and casts them away as detestable compared to the glories and joys anticipated in the future with its head. Then he concludes his argument by assuring them that though this true body of Christ has become very poor, miserable, outcast, and vile, from a human standpoint, yet the time is coming when they will be owned and accepted to a condition of glory as his body by the true head. In consideration of this coming change from a condition of degradation to glory, he exhorts „Therefore my brethren … so stand fast in the Lord my dearly beloved.” (Ch. 4:1.)
We give here, Murdoch’s translation from the „Syriac,” „Our concern (interest) is with heaven; [We are not minding earthly things,] and from thence we expect our vivifier, our Lord, Jesus the Messiah; who will change the body of our abasement that it may have the likeness of the body of His glory.”
Ques. Please explain 1 Kings 17:22.
Ans. The Hebrew word here translated soul, is nephesh; it signifies being, or life, or existence. Now read it: „the child’s life came into it again”; and all is clear. The word soul has been shrouded in mystery by theologians, and helps to deceive themselves and others with the idea that it is an intelligent person which lives in a man. There is no excuse however for any one who has even a slight knowledge of the Hebrew, or is possessed of any of the „helps” of our day—there is no excuse for such persons making this mistake, as this same word nephesh, is repeatedly used with reference to the lower animals and fish, &c. But this is hidden from the general reader by the English translation. The translators, when nephesh is used in referring to fish and lower animals, generally translate it „breath” or „life,” and sometimes where nothing else will make sense they translate it „breath„
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or „life” in connection with mankind. But wherever the mystifying word soul can be used to give seeming support to the teachings of theology, it has the preference.
Ques. What about baptism now; should it still be performed?
Ans. Baptism into Christ, we regard as no longer possible since Oct. ’81. All however who previous to that time had performed the real baptism into death; (consecration) we would still urge to perform the outward illustration of it, i.e., immersion into water.
It should, however, be remembered that the „Baptism of John” was an outward sign of repentance and turning (being converted) to God. This symbol of sin washing, may still be performed on any who desire it. This last form is all that is generally recognized by christian professors of today—”Knowing only the baptism of John.” Very few know of the higher baptism into Christ’s death, and thus into membership in his body.
Ques. If God never cursed man for sin, why was it necessary for Jesus to die?
Ans. God did curse man. The words of the curse were: „Dying, thou shalt die.” We cannot make this subject more plain than we have done in „Why evil was permitted.” Read it again. Those who are so anxious for truth as to be willing to sacrifice other things to get it, are the ones for whom God prepared it. If thou searchest for her as men search for silver, then shalt thou find the knowledge of God and his plans. (Prov. 2:2-11.)
Ques. Isa. 13:9-13. This will be answered with other similar statements in „Millennial Day Dawn.”
Ques. Relative to explanation of Matt. 25:46 in March WATCH TOWER, permit me to inquire the Greek word there translated punishment and its critical definition.
Ans. The word is kolasis. Young defines it to mean restraint; Liddell and Scott say it means pruning, and B. Wilson in the Diaglott renders it „cutting-off.” These are the best authorities on Greek. Thus it is clearly evident that the punishment referred to is—everlasting restraint or cutting off from life, of which they had proved themselves unworthy.
As to when this destruction is due, read more particularly March number and see it to be at the close of the Millennial age.
Ques. Do you claim that the Bible does not teach that there are three persons in one God?
Ans. Yes: On the contrary, it does tell us that there is one God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom are all things (or who created all things). We believe then in One God and Father, and also in one Lord Jesus Christ whom God hath highly exalted, and given a name above every name. But these are two and not one being. They are one only in the sense of being in harmony. We believe also in a spirit of God called also the spirit of Christ and spirit of truth. But it is no more a person than is the spirit of devils and the spirit of the World and the spirit of Anti-Christ. The one represents the influence or power or will of God, and the other the power or influence or will of Satan and of the World. The biased views of the New Testament translators has led them to translate it when they could, as though it were a person. More on this again.