"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings (gospel) unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year (time) of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God." Isa. 61:1.
This prophecy Jesus quoted (Luke 4:18) and applied to himself and his work. We found that he was thus anointed when, at 30 years of age he had reached the perfection of manhood, having presented himself to his Father—a living sacrifice; indicating his surrender or death by being baptised of John in Jordan, and symbolizing his faith in the power and will of God to raise him from the tomb to newness of life—as a spiritual being. It was because John had been a witness of this anointing of Jesus, that he bore record, saying—"And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." John 1:32-34.
We next inquire—Of what value to Jesus was this anointing?—and find answer that it was of the utmost importance: though he had been a spiritual being yet he had given that up when he took our nature, which is not spiritual, but human; consequently he no longer had a spiritual body, but a human or fleshly body—in fashion as a man. Understand us; we believe that there was no sham or pretention in this matter—no false pretence on the part of the Father and Jesus: We believe that Jesus actually gave up entirely and forever, his existence as a spiritual or heavenly being, changing or transferring it for a human or earthly existence. We state the matter thus plainly because so many have the idea that Jesus retained his spiritual being, merely covered, or concealed under the guise or pretence (deception we should call it) that he was a man. Such are continually in trouble and difficulty to explain away the statement that "He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," and the temptation of the devil in the wilderness, etc.
Now, if he really took a human nature and became a man, we can understand how he that was rich (in a better state or condition), for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might become rich. If he merely left his riches for a few years to return again, and never really gave up his right or claim to them, then he did not become poor, but only appeared or pretended to do so.
But we prefer to take it as it says, and believe that God is true, though it contradict a great many men's theories—He who was rich, became poor—He who was a spiritual being, became a human or earthly being; not a depraved and death-condemned human being. No; having done no sin, it would have been unjust in the Father to have placed him under sin's penalty—"the bondage of corruption"—death. No; though of our own nature, he was the perfection of it, and stood on precisely the same plane that Adam occupied before sin, abundant arrangement being made for this in his miraculous birth.
When he had reached the perfection of manhood (thirty years), knowing why he had taken that nature—that it was not because he wanted to be a man and live on earth, rather than be a spiritual being and live in heavenly conditions—but that he might carry out the Father's plans, and redeem mankind from death, by giving himself a ransom for them, that, "as by man came death, by a man also, came [the right of] resurrection of the dead"—that "as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (man) shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:19.
This was necessary, for according to God's own arrangement of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life, none but a human being could redeem or pay the ransom for humanity, and hence the necessity that he who was rich should become poor.
As we have seen, Jesus understood the object of his having become a man, and hastened at once to fulfill it, saying, in the language of the prophet, "Lo, I come! In the volume of the book it is written of me to do thy will, O God." The Father's will was that that perfect being should freely deliver himself up to death as a ransom for us all. Did Jesus do this? Yes, everything was consecrated—a living sacrifice, there at Jordan—in the symbolic water baptism. Earthly life was henceforth to be surrendered and spent daily and hourly until it would ALL be gone—swallowed up of death—a ransom for many.
But, having given up his life, unless it was a mere sham and pretence, his existence must have forever ended, says some one. We answer, yes; he gave all that he had. (Matt. 13:44.) But the Father's promise, which he well understood, was that if he were obedient in this matter, "even unto death," He, the Father, would create him again—a new creation, different from the human creatures, and though spiritual also, yet different from and higher than the angelic creatures; in a word, he would highly exalt him—though before he became a man he had been the chief of all God's creation—"the beginning of the creation of God." Yet if thus obedient unto death, he was to be exalted far above all, and to a higher position and condition than he himself had previously enjoyed—to become a partaker of the DIVINE NATURE, a sharer of the Divine Glory, Honor and Immortality.
The value then of the anointing, was, that by it the Father gave witness that the sacrifice was accepted; it was the seal or evidence to him that the Father would give him the promised DIVINE NATURE when he had finished and fulfilled the covenant there made, when he had actually given his life. And it was more, it was the power of God, which dwelling in him, enabled him not only to know [R240 : page 2] the Father's will, but also to do it. Thus, because he had entirely laid aside his own will, the Father worked in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure, so that he could and did say, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
It was of this indwelling spirit or power of God, that Jesus spoke, when he said: "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 14:10.) And it was not merely because he was a perfect man, while all others were imperfect, but also because his words were indited of the indwelling Spirit of the Father, that men said of him: "Never man spake like this man."
Does any one question this? We refer to Peter's words (Acts 10:37-39) "That word ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power, [thus constituting him Jesus the Christ, which means Jesus the anointed,] who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him, and we are witnesses."
To him who so loved the world as to surrender his life for them, it must have been a great pleasure to be permitted to declare to the ones being redeemed, the good news of the blessing to result to them, and so Jesus preached.
We next inquire as to the exact doctrines which Jesus was anointed to preach, assured that if we can understand it we shall get the cream of all true doctrine and the essence of all correct preaching. Was he anointed to preach that every one who did not believe in the "shorter catechism" and the eternal torment of nine-tenths of the human race, would himself be condemned to never-ending torments? No. Was he anointed to preach such a torment as being the doom of any of God's creatures, no matter how wicked, no matter against how much light they had sinned? No, the prophet knew nothing about such preaching commission. Where then did the preachers of to-day get the authority to preach these doctrines, and to make them the back-bone of all their teachings? Not from the Law or the Prophets, or the Gospel (good news) of Jesus and his Apostles, we are sure:—probably from the "tradition of the elders," and the creeds formed in the "dark ages," when God's people began to get free from what Luther called "the dung-hill of Romish decretals." But what, according to the prophet, was Jesus anointed to preach? The prophet answers us: "To preach the good news to the meek." What is the "good news?" It is "Liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
How singular—did Jesus tell of the emancipation of slaves—of the freedom of the serfs of Russia, or the negroes of America? And did he preach that there would be a general discharge of all culprits in states prisons? Surely this last would not be "good news."
Ah no my brother; it was slaves—bondmen and bond-women of another sort whose freedom he proclaimed. All mankind are slaves to sin, bound and crippled by the various maladies which sin brought upon them; and millions had gone down into the great prison house—the tomb. These were the captives and this the prison, and of no others did Jesus preach. But did he in his preaching ever refer to these and preach the deliverance of these captives? Yes, oh yes, repeatedly; hear him: "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in [R241 : page 2] the graves shall hear his (Jesus') voice and shall come forth." "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of man and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25,28.) Again, "I am the resurrection and the life."
As Jesus preached freedom from evil maladies, and death, he exemplified the power and authority of his preaching by "healing all manner of diseases," raising the dead to life, and turning sadness and mourning into gladness and joy, giving "beauty for ashes." And all of those miracles and all of Jesus' preaching was but the proof or exemplification of the power by which the great work, not yet commenced should finally be accomplished. The apostle indicates this when he says concerning Jesus' miracles—"These things did Jesus and manifested forth [before the time—the Millennial age] his glory." (John 2:11.) Thus did Jesus preach by word and illustration the coming emancipation of mankind from the thraldom of disease and death—"liberty to the captives and opening of the prison to them that are bound."
But while Jesus had this general proclamation of deliverance for the world he had a special message to some—viz.: an invitation to those who would, to enter in at the strait gate and the narrow (difficult) way, and become with him joint heirs to "Glory, Honor and Immortality." Of this way he truly said—"Few there be that find it." And foreknowing that few would take up their cross and follow him, he called those who would do so and thereby become heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised, a little flock—saying: "Fear not little flock it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." And this feature of Jesus' preaching is mentioned by the prophet—"To appoint [promise] unto them that mourn in Zion [the repentant] to give unto them...the oil of joy for the spirit of mourning; (this is the promise of the spirit to all who truly turn to God. Oil, is a symbol of the spirit. Thus the "little flock" is promised a share of the same anointing as their head—Jesus,) that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.
Thus did Jesus preach the "good news" in two parts—First to the world a restitution of all things by a resurrection—illustrated by his miracles; and second—the great prize and blessing obtainable by those who will now walk in "the narrow way" illustrated in his own person, for he set us an example that we should walk in his footsteps.
The anointing spirit power which came first upon the head was due and did in due time (Pentecost) come upon the church which is his body. And the anointing which she there received abideth in her. (1 Jno. 2:27.) Why was the church anointed? The word answers—that she might share with her Lord in the present time the dishonor and sacrifice and in the coming age of glory be joined with him in glory and power. And more—as he was "anointed to preach the good news" so must we, his body, be anointed to preach the same gospel with its same two parts—viz.: that for the world—freedom—restitution through ransom and a resurrection; and for the little flock who follow the Lamb—the kingdom, through the ransom and consecration.
This is all of it, just what it is called—"good news." It is what the apostles preached—"that there shall be a resurrection of the dead both of the just and unjust." (Acts 24:15.) They "preached through Jesus (because of the ransom he had paid) the resurrection from the dead." (Acts 4:2 and 17; 17:32; and 23:6.)
The news was so new to them and so good that the Pharisees and religious teachers could not believe it to be true; they had become so accustomed to binding on mankind burdens which they did not help to remove, (Matt. 23:4) that though the common people "wondered at the gracious words (words of love and promises of release from death,) which proceeded out of his mouth," the church authorities were "grieved." Thus it still is and ever will be—the preaching of the cross and its value as the price of the peace of all sinners, has always been to all but those anointed to preach it—"foolishness."
We answer all who receive of the anointing spirit and are thus recognized as members of the body of Christ (the anointed.) Of each member it is true as of the head—"He hath anointed me to preach the gospel." We have each gifts and talents differing from the other and none of us are like our head, perfect, but each is responsible for such and so much preaching as he can do. Some can preach to multitudes; others to the twos and threes; others from house to house; others can drop a word in season; others can distribute tracts; others can give of the consecrated money entrusted to their stewardship to help others preach. Some can do several of these things, and some can do all of them, and all can and should preach by their life and customs the power of the good news to transform, for we are all living epistles, known and read of all men.
Are you preaching? We believe that none will be of the little flock except preachers. Are you preaching with all your talents and all your might? If so, you will by-and-by hear the words: "Well done good and faithful!" If not, begin now; remember that you consecrated your all before you were anointed, and now you cannot be an overcomer and keep back part of the price. (Acts 5:4.) Paul says: "Ye know your calling, brethren." Yes, we were called to suffer with him and to proclaim the good news now, that in due time we might be glorified and perform the things now preached. We were not called, nor anointed to receive honor and amass wealth, but to spend and be spent, and to preach the good news. Let us give all diligence to make our calling sure and to perform that for which we were anointed.
If Jesus was anointed of the Spirit to preach coming blessings and freedom to Death's captives, tell me was his preaching (and ours) true? Will there ever be such a wholesale release? Yes, oh yes. "As in Adam all die, even so (unconditionally so far as they are concerned) in (or by) Christ, shall all be made alive." But the preaching of the good news comes before the performance of the blessings promised. Now the preaching is going on "to the meek"—those willing and able to hear, in order to develop from among them the body of Christ, the joint heirs.
This work is almost finished, and soon the actual blessing (instead of the promise) will be given. Then we shall have Jesus' words fulfilled: "Greater works than these shall ye do." The works which Jesus did were raising the dead, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, etc., and none of the disciples ever did greater works, hence the application of this language applies to the Millennial Age, and the great works there to be performed, of which Jesus' miracles were but illustrations of a less important character. The work of the coming Glory Age, opening the eyes of men's understanding, that they may understand the truth; the unstopping of the deaf ears that they may hear and know of "the love of God which passeth all understanding;" the making whole of the sin-sick, and the healing of the morally lame and crooked, are surely far, far greater things than the temporary healings which Jesus accomplished and which served only to show forth his (coming) glory.
The acceptable time is this Gospel Age, during which, if any man hear the good news and fully consecrate himself to God, a living sacrifice, he will be accepted and made a joint heir with Jesus Christ our Lord. It is an acceptable time in that, during this age, God accepts of all such sacrifices. And it ends with this age because the "little flock" will be complete, and no more will be accepted to the DIVINE NATURE.
The day of vengeance of our God is the time of fire, or purifying trouble, in which the world and all the church, except the "little flock," are to be tried and purged, and made ready for the blessings of the Millennial Age. [It is this Day of the Lord," in which, from prophetic evidences, we believe we have been, since 1874, and which we believe will continue with increasing severity—first, on nominal Zion, and secondly, upon the world, until 1914, the first seven years of which, as heretofore shown, are years of favor and end in October of this year.]
Jesus, in applying this prophecy to himself, stopped in the middle of this paragraph, and said nothing relative to the "Day of Vengeance," because it was not then due. The Spirit, through the Word, now shows it to be due. We believe, and therefore now declare it.
How intimate a relationship this shows between Him, as head, and us as the body of the Lord's anointed. The special work of announcing this "Day of the Lord"—"Day of Vengeance," being done now, because now due, is mentioned as being part of the good news proclaimed by the Lord's anointed. It is good news only as we are able to recognize the blessed results God intends shall follow afterward.
God having called us to preach the Good News, let us see to it that we do his will, and with Paul, we should feel, "woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." But if you are filled with the subject this privilege will be your greatest pleasure and chiefest joy, and you can truly say: