Question.—Does the Jewish Law Covenant still exist? or was it fully terminated at the introduction of the New Covenant sealed by our Lord's death? If it still exists as a covenant, are all Jews now living still under and bound by that Sinaitic covenant? and if so, is the offer to the Jew still good that if he can still fulfil his part of that Law Covenant, he may have eternal life as a reward therefor aside from Christ?
Answer.—The Law Covenant was an agreement between God and the nation of Israel by which God pledged himself to give certain rewards to that nation if obedient; and Israel in turn bound itself to keep that law, and consented in event of failure to do so, that they had no claim upon the promises, but that they would justly come under divine sentence afresh. That covenant ceased, so far as God was concerned, when that nation was rejected at the time they rejected Jesus, and their rejection was noted in our Lord's words, "Your house is left unto you desolate." The rewards of the law were, nevertheless, secured by one Jew; namely, our Lord Jesus, because of his perfect obedience—even unto death. To him therefore, legally went all the blessings and privileges contained in and implied by the Law Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant, to which it was merely "added." Thus we see that from God's standpoint the covenant arrangements have been fulfilled in Jesus, the faithful Jew, and that its provisions, therefore, cannot in any manner be extended to others now—nor could others ever hope to claim its provisions, even if they were open now.
However, while God has thus accomplished his side of the covenant, the Jews have never accomplished their side. Every circumcised Jew comes under the provisions of the Law Covenant and is subject to all its conditions, and can escape those conditions only in the divinely appointed way—by accepting Jesus as his Savior, the curse of the law: for he is the end of the law for righteousness [righteously] to every one that believeth (Rom. 10:4), but not to others. A believing Jew, in accepting Christ, ceases to be a Jew and becomes a Christian. Consequently all Jews not thus believing are still under the Law Covenant to which they have subscribed and to which they are bound by their own covenant or engagement; and there is no way for them to get free from their obligation to keep the whole law, except by believing into Jesus and thus in his sacrifice, having the righteousness of the law fulfilled in them. (Rom. 8:4.) The curse which they brought upon their own heads remains with them. "His blood be upon us and our children." (Matt. 27:25.) They can only escape the curse of the law and the additional curse of this gross violation of it, by having the merit of his [R3062 : page 252] blood, his sacrifice, imputed to them, as a sin sacrifice, the atonement of their guilt.
Question.—There is a difference of opinion amongst us respecting your meaning in the article "A Comparative Estimate of the Election," page 26, in Jan. 15, 1902 number of the WATCH TOWER, hence I inquire, Is it your thought that the consecrated number includes only those who have come to a knowledge of present truth? If so, are we to understand that for every one who now comes into fellowship in the light of present truth, some other one has gone out of this light into darkness?
Answer.—Quite to the contrary. We understand that consecration to the Lord is necessary in every case before there will be a proper ability to receive the truth in the love of it—the truth respecting the deep things of God. It is our thought that of the suggested 31,500 already consecrated in 1881, scarcely any had any knowledge of what we term "present truth." Our thought is that a knowledge of present truth will be brought to all of these consecrated ones and will constitute a test of their consecration, of their sincerity; just as at the first advent our Lord offered himself not to the Gentiles, the unconsecrated, but to Israel the consecrated, typical people. The offering constituted a test to the Israelites; such as were meek and lowly of heart were the better prepared to receive the Messiah; such as were proud, vain-glorious either of their own persons or of their sects or parties, were thereby blinded and stumbled and hindered from accepting the truth. So it is today; the meek, the humble, the lowly of heart who are following the Lord implicitly have much advantage every way over the majority of God's consecrated people now, beset by worldliness and personal or sectarian pride and ambition. Nevertheless, having made a consecration and having been accepted of the Lord, a reasonable time should properly be granted to such to make their calling and election sure, to learn life's lessons respecting the emptiness of pride and ambition, and the fact that the true peace and joy in the Lord are to be found in humility of heart and closeness to the Master. We believe that in the Lord's providence "present truth" has been presented time and again to many of these consecrated ones and that some were ready and received it the first time, while to others it came two, three, four times before they had learned their lessons properly so as to be able to discern the emptiness of sectarianism and the bitterness and nausea of human creeds and theories in order that they might be able to appreciate the good tidings of the Word and plan of God. Others failing to profit by experiences granted them will, we believe, be rejected from the "overcomers" class.
In all reason we must expect that the period of favor with many of these is expired and that the crowns apportioned to them at the time of their consecration are no longer held for them, but will be granted to others who will take their places; and that their names will no longer be written amongst the victors, but will be blotted out from that glorious place, though not blotted out of God's memory, nor blotted out of existence, but rather that they may be re-entered as members of another class, the "Great Company," who shall pass through the great tribulation which, peradventure, may work in them blessings which they were not prepared otherwise to receive.
We are not to expect that the Lord would wait until these names began to be stricken from the list before he would begin to prepare others for their places: rather we are to presume that he would have in training a considerable number already consecrated but not accepted to the high calling (because the general call has ceased) and therefore not at once made acquainted with present truth. As vacancies shall occur amongst the accepted, or "elect" class because of failure to fulfil consecration vows, it will open the way for these later consecrated ones to be accepted to the "high calling" and then it will be proper for them to come to an appreciation of present truth, and to discern clearly the prize of our high-calling, the race course leading to it and the requirements of every faithful runner. That this has been the Lord's method since 1881 is evidenced very clearly by the fact that now at the time when we would expect that a good many names would be blotted from the roll as having failed to be victors, there are, we find, a considerable number consecrated since 1881, ready to receive the truth. And so deep is their consecration and earnestness and zeal that once they come into contact with the truth they assimilate it quickly, with understanding and appreciation, and make rapid progress in the race course toward the mark of the prize—perfect love.
Of course we must expect that some, even after receiving the light of present truth, will prove unfaithful to it and go out into the "outer darkness" of the world, where shortly, in the great time of trouble, they will share in the predicted "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" and we must expect that the going out of the race by these will be followed by the letting of others into the race course as well as in case of those who were consecrated prior to 1881, and whose testing largely consists in their coming into contact with the light of present truth. However, those who have come into the light of present truth under consecration made since October, 1881, will be much less likely to be [R3063 : page 252] finally rejected than those who were consecrated prior to 1881; because the receiving of the light of present truth constitutes one trial or sifting in every case, and this test is already past by those now being accepted.
Question.—In explaining the resurrection of the dead, in I Cor. 15:36-38, the Apostle uses the illustration of wheat, or any kind of grain, saying, "That which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain," "but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him." My question is respecting this latter part of the text—"giveth it a body." Would not this seem to imply that as in a grain of wheat or corn there is a germ which survives the death of the remainder of the kernel, so in mankind there must be something to survive the death of the body—some kind of an "it" to which the Lord will give a body in the resurrection? What is this "it" in humanity?
Answer.—If we say that the "it" represents the soul we state the matter truthfully, but in a manner liable to be misunderstood by the average reader or hearer, because very few seem to understand what a [R3063 : page 253] soul is, according to the Bible usage. There are any number of views and theories respecting what a soul is, yet all of them, except the Scriptural definition, are vague, indefinite, inconsistent, unreasonable. According to the Scriptures the word "soul" is the equivalent of the word "being;" and stands for the intelligent person or "sentient being." The body is not the soul, though there could be no soul without a body; and the breath of life or spirit of life is not the soul, though there can be no soul without the spirit of life. As elsewhere explained,* when a body has been organized and infused with the spirit or energy of life, so that intelligence and thought result, that resultant condition is sentient being, or soul condition.
God's sentence of death as the wages of sin is against the soul: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And this sentence is executed through the deterioration of the body, either by sickness or otherwise, snapping the golden cord of life, causing the spirit or energy of life to break its union with the body. The result we call death, even before the putrefaction sets in which destroys the body. It is the death of the soul, the cessation of being, which has occurred.
In the divine arrangement God has provided in the death of our Lord Jesus a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:5,6),—all the souls of the human family—for Adam and Eve, and all the souls begotten, generated, by them. Consequently, although the divine sentence is upon every soul of man unto death, in view of this atonement which God has provided we who have faith in the efficacy of the atonement and in the ultimate carrying out of the divine plan are permitted to speak of these dead souls as though they were not dead, but merely asleep—"them that sleep in Jesus." (I Thess. 4:13,14.) All who were dead in Adam, having been bought by Jesus are not yet made alive by him, nor even in any measure resuscitated, but are spoken of as no longer extinct but reckonedly sleeping—waiting for the Millennial morning, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth again to being and to the opportunities of a raising up, or restoration to all that was lost—the process of raising up being betokened by the judgments of the Millennial age—rewards for those who will do well, chastisements for those who do ill, destruction if they persevere in ill doing. This judgment, in our common version Bible, is mistranslated "damnation."—John 5:29.
The "it" in the case of the world is the soul, or being which became extinct in death, but which was redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and is to be the subject of restitution power at his second advent. Each "it," each soul, each sentient being of the human family, redeemed by our Lord, was designed to have a body. Indeed, it cannot awake or come into being at all without a body. It will be necessary that the body shall be produced, created, and that, so far as the brain at least is concerned, identical with the body that perished when the soul fell asleep. Thus for the world the Lord will give "it" a body of its own kind;—human kind—a body which can go onward and upward to restitution and full human perfection, if the mind, the will, the soul, governing it, shall become obedient to the great Prophet, Priest and King, the glorified Christ, during the Millennial age; otherwise it will be cut off in the Second Death, and that without hope of recovery.—Acts 3:21-23.
In the case of the Church, a justification by faith is granted to believers, by which they are accounted free from the sentence of death, and permitted to consecrate their justified lives as sacrifices in the Lord's service—joint-sacrificers with their Lord, in whose foot-steps they are called to follow. These, in their consecration, are reckoned as dying to the human nature entirely, and their new minds are reckoned as having been transformed, as being no longer human minds or wills, but spiritual minds or wills—"We have the mind of Christ." This will, still exercised through a human body, is by the Lord and by his children accounted as the beginning of the new nature, the nucleus or new will of the "new creature." This new creature, however, has no suitable spirit body at the present time, but tabernacles in the earthly, dying body—which indeed perishes as the new creature develops. The faithful of this class will constitute the first resurrection, described by the Apostle. (I Cor. 15:42-44.) The new mind is the "it" in this case; no longer a human mind or will or spirit, but a new spiritual one, changed; and in the resurrection God will give "it," this embryo new creature, a spiritual body, as he has promised, and as it hath pleased him.