Ques. Please permit me two questionsIf the door to the High calling closed in 1881, how is it that conversions still take place? Again, the Sanctification movement among Methodists still progressesis this not the same that we term the "High calling?"
Ans. (No. 1.) We never claimed that conversions would cease with Oct. '81. On the contrary we have claimed that the conversion of the World in general, is a special work of the incoming Millennial age.
What is conversion? It is a turning from one thing to another. To convert a good man would be to make him a bad man. To convert an unbelieving transgressor, is to make him a believing servant. Of the world in general it is true that they are the servants of sin, and to convert them is to make them servants of righteousness. It is in order that all men may be converted to God (become his servants) that Jesus died and that the glad tidings are to be testified to all men in due time. Therefore conversions do not belong to the Gospel age alone, nor can the door to conversion close before the end of the Millennial Age. The nominal church because lacking in truth and abundant in error is losing its power over the world, even to convert to morality. Almost all the recent additions to the nominal churches, are Sunday School children.
Conversion, not only is not the door but it has nothing to do with our "High Calling" except that it is a necessary step which each sinner and unbeliever must take before he can enter the "strait gate" and "narrow way" to the great prize, offered during this Gospel age. Thus we read "Repent and be converted (turned) that your sins may be blotted out." (Acts 3:19.) After you are freed from your sins"justified by faith" from all things, then you are on the sinless platform and so long as the narrow way and gate were open, you might enter and run for the prize to which it leads. That narrow gate might be entered (while open) by any one who having been made free from sin by faith in Jesus' ransom, would present himself "a living sacrifice" to God.
The first to enter this gate and run the race was our Leader and ForerunnerJesus. He needed not to wait for a ransom for his sins, being "Holy, harmless and separate from sinners""In him was no sin." Jesus entered the gate to run for the same prize, when he consecrated himself a living sacrifice to God, at Baptism. That narrow way stood open ever since, till Oct. 1881, and every justified believer has had the invitation to come take up his cross and follow the Leadershare his sufferings and be made conformable unto his death. "Few there be that find it," because (through lack of study or faith in the Word) few appreciate the grand prize so highly, as to be willing to share the cross despising the shame and contempt of the World.
Our understanding is, that all justified believers who had, prior to Oct. '81 consecrated their all, of mind and body to God, are on "the narrow way" and should continue to "so run (according to their covenant) as to obtain" the prize. It is for this perfecting of the members of the body now in the narrow way that we wait in our present humiliated condition, expecting that when the trial is finished, the Lord our head will glorify his BODY. To thus perfect us and ripen us rapidly, the light of truth [the harvest Sun] shines brighter than ever before. [See Jan. No., page 5.]
Ans. (No. 2.) Sanctification means, set apart or separated. There are many and various ideas on the subject of sanctification. One trouble is that many are sanctified to error and almost destitute of truth. They are set apart to carry out some plan or scheme of their own, begotten through the traditions of men.
The only sanctification recognized in Scripture as the good, acceptable and perfect will of God, is a Sanctification of the spirit (mind) through the belief of the truth. (2 Thes. 2:13.) That was Paul's inspired idea of sanctification. Jesus taught the same truth, praying: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth." (John 17:17.) James taught the same. Jas. 1:18.
We conclude then, that there is much spurious Sanctification. Some, we doubt not, are sanctified through less truth than we have received; but if children, it is only reasonable to suppose that the Father will provide such with the "meat in due season." One thing seems sure, that all consecrated ones who have any measure of the spirit of truth, will feel and manifest a desire for, rather than an opposition to, more advanced truths.
To such as have been sanctified through a little truth and have truly given their minds and bodies to God's service, we, as his ambassadors urge, that they gird up the loins of their minds (Being girt about with truth,) and run with fresh vigor the race for the prize of our high callingthat they throw off all entanglements of earthly organizations, and run as Christ's free men. But while we still would urge justified believers (who have never yet consecrated) to now consecrate their time and powers to God's service, we cannot hold out as a hope, the heavenly prize. We point such to the same prize for which Abraham and all prior to Jesus ran, viz: future earthly blessings.
Ques. (No. 2.) You say that Luther's 27th Thesis showed that he did not believe in man's natural or inherent immortality. I have looked up the 27th Thesis of the Lutheran Church and find no such thing.
Ans. The Lutheran Church has changed those Theses, and though they have a 27th, it is not Luther's 27th. They dropped his out, because it taught just as we said, that man by nature is not immortal. Immortality is promised only to overcomers. See "LUTHER'S WORKS," vol. 2, pp. 106 and 107.His defense of his XXVII. Thesis.
Ans. We think that it is similar to the title"The Everlasting Father." As we have heretofore seen, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath begotten us," who constitute the members in particular of Christ's body (1 Pet. 1:3); consequently, we are members of the body of that "Everlasting Father" or life giver to the world. So also with the title Immanuel. Like these, is another title, "The Prince of Peace"we are members in particular of the body of that Princejoint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord and Head, if so be that we suffer with him.