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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
“ELSE WERE YOUR CHILDREN UNHOLY”
Question: The Apostle says in I Cor. 7:13 that “the believing husband sanctifieth the unbelieving wife; likewise the believing wife sanctifieth the unbelieving husband; else were your children unholy, but now are they holy.” (1) In what sense of the word does the believing one sanctify the unbeliever? Is it not the truth that sanctifies? and is it not God who sanctifies through the truth? and is it not ourselves he sanctifies, in the sense of setting apart to the Lord and to his service? What does the Apostle mean by a different statement? (2) In what sense are the children holy in this text? Is there any imputed holiness? Can they be said to be partakers of the divine nature through their parents? What does the Apostle mean?
Answer: The words “sanctify” and “holy,” as used in this text, do not have at all the same signification that is properly attached to them elsewhere in the Scriptures. The Apostle is discussing the fact that amongst the consecrated of the Lord’s people were some unequally yoked with unbelievers—married to unbelievers before receiving the truth and coming under the enlightening influence of the spirit of truth and counsel from above through the Word.
The question discussed is respecting the holiness of the children born of mixed (believing and unbelieving) parentage. Would such children be counted strangers, aliens and foreigners to God and his favor, because of the unbelieving parent, or would they occupy the relationship of favor with God through the believing parent? This important question is not so clearly discerned today as it was in the days of the apostles, when people knew from the Jewish pattern that all the posterity of Adam shared in his fall and in the condemnation which came upon all through him, and that all by nature were “children of wrath.” (Eph. 2:3.) They perceived that Israel had been lifted out from amongst the nations by the Lord through a Law Covenant, and that all born into that nation were born under the terms of that covenant, while all born outside of it were strangers and aliens and foreigners to God and his provisions. Now they understood that a New Covenant had been introduced, taking the place of the Law Covenant; but they could readily discern that as it requires some means of coming under the Law Covenant in order to be recipients of its favors, so now it requires some process to come under the terms of favor represented in the New Covenant. They could see that the believing husband or the believing wife would be under the New Covenant, but they could see equally that the unbelieving husband or unbelieving wife would have neither part nor lot in the matter. The query which the Apostle is answering may be stated thus: How about our children? Must we wait until they come to years of discretion before we can introduce them to the Lord, and consider them to be under his protection, if they then accept him? or is there any way in which children might be brought under the terms of the New Covenant? The Apostle’s answer is that God counts the children as belonging to whichever parent belongs to him; and thus counting the children, they are reckonedly treated of him, not as sinners, but as without sin, that is, justified.
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As the unjustified state is a state of sin, so the justified state is one of removal or covering or passing over of sin, and hence one of holiness—though not what is generally represented as holiness in the Scriptures, through an entire consecration to the Lord as living sacrifices. Such children partaking of the justification of their parents, might properly be considered as belonging to the “household of faith,” altho they had not in any sense of the word become saints, by a presentation of themselves as living sacrifices. Hence also they could not in any sense of the word be considered “members of the body of Christ,” nor as being begotten of the spirit of adoption to the spiritual nature.
As respects the sense in which the believing husband or wife sanctifies the unbelieving one: The thought is that in the exercise of the procreative powers the Lord’s favor upon his consecrated child extends, to this necessary degree, to the partner in life—so that the children shall not be counted as partially the Lord’s and partially children of wrath; but shall be counted as entirely the Lord’s and as under his protection and care during the period of infancy, to the same extent as is the believing parent.
IF ANY MAN DRAW BACK
Question: A brother who has manifested considerable interest in present truth in the past, seems to have lost it to some extent, and has re-united with the denominational sect he withdrew from previously. In what position would you think such a course places an individual? What is the right and wrong involved in such conduct?
Answer: (1st) While we may safely reckon that many members of denominations are properly true children of God, and may properly fellowship them as brethren in Christ, notwithstanding the fact that that they are still in Babylon, and blind to the harvest message, yet the case seems quite different when we apply it to those who by God’s grace have once been delivered out of Babylon, and who return thither “as a dog to his vomit, as a sow that was washed to wallowing again in the mire,” of sectarianism and blasphemy against God. I think this is a case such as the Apostle Peter mentions, where “it would have been better for them that they had never known the way or righteousness, than that they should know it and turn again from the holy commandment.”—2 Pet. 2:21,22.
(2) However, on the question of right, I suggest that it is all right that those who are not appreciative of the light should go into the outer darkness. It is all right, because it is the divine arrangement, that those who have tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and have not appreciated them, should lose them. We are not saying that they lose them forever; that is not for us to decide, but for ourselves we safely can say,
“My soul, be on thy guard:
Ten thousand foes arise.
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the prize.
“Ne’er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous work will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown.”
— April 1, 1902 —