ANSWER.—This, I think: The Lord's people in the third chapter of Revelation are exhorted to keep their garments lest they walk naked. The garment that the Lord gives us does not refer to our earthly garment, it refers to the garment of His righteousness, our robe of righteousness, that which, if we keep it and embroider it, becomes our wedding garment; this is the garment we receive of the Lord, the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness; the imputed righteousness of Christ, covering our blemishes, our justification. Now, we are to keep our garment unspotted from the world; that is to say, we are to do all in our power to maintain this attitude of heart and this relationship with the Lord that will keep us in this pure and holy relationship with the Father and with the Son, not in our righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. We are to keep this from becoming contaminated with the world. We are in the world but we are not of the world, and we are to watch our garment, and the statement is, if they are not careful of their garments they will get them spotted and they will have to wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. The exhortation to you and me is that there might be danger that we, through contact with the world, might in some careless moment become contaminated with sin, by word, or thought, or action, and that this would constitute a spot or blemish on the garment. How could any of us be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing as respects our garment? How could any Christian live for years in the world, where there are all kinds of evil—pitch-black evil—and keep his garment unspotted? I answer: It is not the thought of the Scriptures that any will ever be able to pass through this world without a spot or wrinkle upon his garments. But, suppose we find we have gotten a spot? Then those who are in the right attitude of heart, those who find they have transgressed the divine law, will hasten to the blood again which makes them clean. If you have ever made a mistake, go to the Lord in prayer, confess it and seek to undo that which was wrong and you have the assurance of the Lord's Word that He is pleased to have you come in this attitude, and that He will cleanse you from all sin. These sins should be less numerous as we go on. Years should bring wisdom as to how to avoid evil in the world, so that the Christian of years could find fewer spots on the garment, and have fewer needs of going to the Lord to confess his faults and to ask their forgiveness and to be cleansed. But, dear friends whether you have had many or few, the only right position for any of us to be in is this: to remember that with these spots on our garments, with these responsibilities for some wrong doing, or wrong thinking, or what not, we cannot have the proper fellowship with God. They will serve to come between [Page Q284] you and the Lord. There are those who become careless. First of all, it would be one spot and they would say, "Oh, I have gotten a spot on my robe," and they feel much hurt about it; but when there are thirty, forty, fifty or sixty, they say, "Oh, I know they are there; I do not like them, they will come, you know." They get used to it, dear friends. You do not want to do that. You want to be on guard against that very spirit. Those who have this spirit will be the ones who will constitute the great company who will be obliged to go through the time of trouble and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. If we are in the right attitude of heart, the very first spot would cause us pain and sorrow, and we should go to the Lord, and nothing should keep us from going to Him—go the same day, do not let sleep come across your eyes until you have made the whole matter right with the Lord, until He has cleansed you from the responsibility of the matter, and start each new day with fresh resolutions that, by the grace of God, you will watch and keep your garments unspotted from the world—un-spotted from its selfishness, from its meanness, from its lying spirit; unspotted from all the contaminating influences of the world, the flesh and the adversary, that you may thus be more pleasing to the Lord and walk closer to Him. The more you look, the more you will find that with any sin there will be a disposition on the part of anyone, everyone, not to go to the Lord in the matter. "I cannot go to the Lord tonight in prayer; I feel there is a cloud coming between the Lord and me, and I cannot go tonight." Well, you had better watch out; if you cannot go that night, it will be worse the next night, and it will be still worse the night after. It will keep on getting worse, and the spots will keep on increasing in number until bye and bye you will find yourself far away from the Lord. My advice to all of the Lord's people is, to watch, keep your garments. Do it intently every day. See at the conclusion of each day what you have to say to the Lord on the subject; see how your account stands, and keep close account. He is willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You see that does not refer to the original sin. He has indeed done that; it is referring to those sins that have come to us after we were cleansed, and after we become His. He is willing to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, from everything that you did that was not just right. Mark again, He may cause that you have some pain, or trouble, or some difficulty in getting rid of the matter; if you have been careless, you will probably have His face withdrawn from you in order that you may have the more care in respect to the matter on another occasion. Do not think that you may sin with impunity and go to the priest and have it all blotted out instantly, and go out and sin again? That is not the style. Our Lord's method of cleansing from sin is different from that. You will find that with the sin would come alienation. According to the poet, and in harmony with all your sentiments, I trust, and mine:
Q285:1 QUESTION (1910-Z)—1—Was there any significance in the fact that the High Priest, after having performed the services of the Day of Atonement, took off his linen garments in the Holy and left them there and put on garments of glory and beauty when he came forth to bless the people?
ANSWER.—The High Priest all through this Gospel Age is carrying on the work of sacrifice; it was not only when He offered up himself, but during all this age he continues to be the sacrificing Priest, and although he has passed beyond the vail, he is still, so to speak, in the linen garments of sacrifice; and his secondary offering, that of the antitypical goat, will be accomplished in the linen garments, when he will enter in beyond the vail and present the blood of his Body, which is the Church, at the close of this antitypical Atonement Day, when the Church shall have filled up its share of the sacrifice of Christ. Our Lord, the high Priest, will then, the second time, sprinkle the blood, the merit, upon the mercy-seat, thereby sealing the New Covenant and applying his merit on "behalf of all the people."
Having done this he will come forth to bless the people; but he will not again appear in the linen garments of sacrifice. The change will be made unseen to the world. The last they will see will be the going in of the priests after the sacrificial work of the present time, the Gospel Age, and the first they will see in the New Dispensation will be the appearance of the great Priest in glory and beauty—in "the glorious garments." Not that they will see these with their natural eye; but his glory shall be revealed through the ministration of the New Covenant blessings to Israel and the world, and this revelation of all the glorious things represented in the various garments of the High Priest will he a manifestation that will last all through the Millennial Age—the various robes, the ephod, etc., will all have their fulfillment then in the glorious work of the Anointed One.
The beginning of this manifestation in glory will be in the time of trouble, of which time we read: "All shall wail because of him." It is his manifestation in power, the breaking in pieces of things of this present order of affairs, that will cause the great time of trouble that the Scriptures announce will be the conclusion of this Age and the inauguration of the Millennial Age. Thus the appearing in glory will have various stages, but all will be on the glorious plane; none will be again on the sacrificial plane of the present age.
In this picture of the robes of the Priest, we understand that the High Priest typified the entire Priesthood, the Under-Priests as well as the Head; that the Head did not need the covering, but that the covering of the linen garments represented the merit of Christ imputed to us, the members of his Body, whom the Father accepts and justifies and whose imperfections are covered through him. We understand that the white robe represents especially our share in the picture; that the High Priest going forth in glory typifies in large measure the glory of the Church in connection with her Head, as we read: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that [Page Q286] when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Another Scripture declares that we shall be his glorious Body, or his Body in glory, and that "we shall be glorified together with him."
Q286:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—If a Gentile became a Jew under the Mosaic law, would he then be freed from the Adamic condemnation? If so, how would he be under the two condemnations, after transgressing the Mosaic law?
ANSWER.—I do not understand the question, but I will make another question in my mind and answer it. Any Gentile might under the law, became a Jew. There was a specified way in which they became Jews. There were some Gentiles who did become Jews. There is a record of them in the Scriptures—numerous places. When they became Jews, they had all the rights and privileges of Jews, as far as we have any knowledge.
ANSWER.—I think there is. There are many elements of God-likeness, but the one particular element of character, so far as I am able to discern, that God operates upon when He draws us is first of all, that of HONESTY. If a man is not honest with himself, he is not to be called at all, to my understanding, and if perchance he hears a little, he will not stay very long under the influence. Whoever has an honest heart or mind has much advantage every way in the drawing and influencing of this present time.
ANSWER.—No, I do not think that the Golden Rule hinders you from doing more than the rule requires. If you are a Christian, you ought to do more. The Golden Rule applies to everybody, but the Christian has another rule. As Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you," not to the world, nor to the Jews, but to His disciples, "That you love one another as I have loved you." If Jesus had loved us just according to the Golden Rule, He would not have died for us, but He did more, and He requires that you and I as His followers should do more for each other.
ANSWER.—I think this would depend a little bit upon each individual's judgment. The Lord has not said what goods He refers to, and therefore leaves it with you and me for each one of the Lord's people, for the church to decide what kind of goods is meant. If the Lord had said, we would have no liberty in the matter; that would settle it. But since He has not told us, we have a good chance to speculate on what we think about it. Each one is entitled to his own opinion about the matter.
ANSWER.—For 1600 or more years the Lord had a message for the Jews—this gospel or message was declared only to the Jews. After our Lord's first advent there came a time when He said to the Jewish nation: "Your house is left unto you desolate." After the conversion of Cornelius, this message was no longer restriced to the Jews—it was preached for "every creature"—whoever has an ear to hear. Will the others never have a chance? Oh, yes. Will they ever see and hear? Oh, yes. All the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears unstopped. Paul was a minister of this gospel. "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you"—Paul was glad that he was a minister of this gospel message. He knew that only those who were favored of the Lord were thus privileged. He said: "I am glad to fill up some of the afflictions of Christ." You and I have the same privilege. We have not the high position the Apostle Paul had. Today we read his words. The example and words of Paul bring great consolation to us. Unless we drink of this cup we cannot he His disciple. You and I will be glad to do all we can.
Q287:2 QUESTION (1911)—2—"For this cause was the Gospel also preached to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to man in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit?" Please explain?
ANSWER.—Who are the dead referred to in the question? They are the same kind of dead ones that Jesus referred to when one came to him and said, "When my father is dead I will become your disciple." Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead; go thou and preach the Gospel." What does that mean? That means that all mankind, from God's standpoint, being under the sentence of death, are counted as dead. Unless you have the Son of God you have no life in you. No one has even reckoned life unless he is in conjunction with the Lord Jesus as the great giver of life. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." So then, the whole world is dead in this way, and the Apostle says, For this cause was the Gospel preached to those dead ones that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. That is to say! that you and I, although we are dead with the world by nature, are counted alive, reckoned as having passed from death unto life, and then have our trial here for life everlasting. How would we have a trial? According to men, they would think we were still in the flesh, hut according to God, we would be considered as new creatures. And so we recognize each other. But the world knows us not, and the world still thinks of us as a part of the world, and still judge us according to the flesh, but we are judged by the Lord according to the spirit. Now, says the Apostle, that is the reason the Gospel is preached to those dead ones that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Q288:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—2 Cor. 6:1: "We, then, as workers together with him, beseech you also, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." What grace or favor is meant, and how could it be received in vain?
ANSWER.—Since the apostle is here addressing Christians, we would understand he meant that some who had already made their consecration and had been begotten of the Holy Spirit, might still receive God's grace in vain.
Now the grace of God was with a view to this high calling, and whoever goes into second death under present conditions surely has received God's favor, or grace, in vain; and it would also be true that any who fail to run as they should do, would be receiving the favor, or privilege, of joint-heirship with Christ in vain; because they would fail to get that great blessing; even though they get a secondary blessing, they have failed to get the blessing to which they were called. Of course, it would also be true that those who have heard anything at all, received that degree of knowledge, or faith, or favor, of God, in vain. Any who are drawn or called of God and who do not accept him, receive it in vain, since they get no fruitage from it; no results or blessings from it they merely come in with the remainder of the world and get no special blessings in the present time.
Q288:2 QUESTION (1912-Z)—2—What is meant by the Scripture which says that if one who has been righteous shall depart from his righteousness, his former righteousness shall not count, but that he shall die for his sin? And also the statement that one who was unrighteous and turned from his unrighteousness shall be saved ?—Ezek. 33:13-16.
ANSWER.—This Scripture emphatically contradicts a doctrine held by some Christian people, "Once in grace, always in grace"; or that one who has been favored of God can never lose His favor. The principle of this Scripture applies, at the present time, to those who pass from death unto life as New Creatures. They are on trial for life or death. Adamic sin no longer counts in their cases. If they remain faithful to the Lord they will get the blessing of eternal life if unfaithful, they will die. If one should make a covenant with God and then fail to keep that covenant, he would lose his covenant-relationship with God as soon as he abrogated the contract. If we are faithful, He will be faithful in giving us life eternal.
But this Scripture specially applies to the Millennial Age; for at that time all are to be brought to an opportunity for life everlasting. People will then realize that "the wages of sin is death." Then it will no longer be a proverb that the parents have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge, but each "shall die for his own iniquity." (Jer. 31:29; Ezek. 18:2.) There will be a test for life or death, just as there is now with the Church. Only those who are faithful in their trial will be granted everlasting life, in either case. All others will be cut off in death.
ANSWER.—No, we answer, it was not the first resurrection. Why? The words here used are used in this connection: We read there was a great earthquake, and many of the bodies of the saints that slept arose and came into the holy city after Christ's resurrection. The account is not very explicit, but any who arose there could not have experienced the first resurrection for several reasons: First, that Christ himself was the first that should arise from the dead; no one had a resurrection before Jesus. He was the first-born from the dead. Why, did not Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Oh, no. Lazarus was still in the condition of death after he was awakened. None were raised completely out of death. They were awakened for a little time, and again lapsed into death. They did not have a resurrection. A resurrection is a complete lifting out of death, and Jesus was the first that should arise; he was the first one lifted out of death to the perfection of life. Those, then, that were awakened at this time could not have been such, because the earthquake took place at the time of our Lord's death, and it was not for nearly three days after that Jesus arose from the dead. But anyway, the second ones that are to have a resurrection from the dead are the church. Jesus' resurrection to the spirit plane was the beginning of the church's resurrection. The apostle says, it was his resurrection, and says, "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his death." In other words, the resurrection of Jesus is the only resurrection for all of these 1800 years. But the church, the Body of Christ, is to share his resurrection, and there can be no blessings come to anybody except after that. So in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we read of the ancient worthies, who died in faith not having received the things promised them, God having provided some better thing for us—the church—that they without us should not be made perfect; they cannot get their resurrection until we get ours. So the very most that could have taken place at that time would have been that some might have been awakened in just the same sense that Lazarus was awakened, and not in any other sense.
ANSWER.—I answer that nearly all the Scriptural pictures with reference to the Great Company would indicate that the special time for their tribulation would be at the close of this age—apparently just after the Church will all be [Page Q290]gathered,—as, for instance, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. We remember that when the wise virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and the wise virgins had all gone in, then came also the foolish virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and they were told that the Lord would not recognize them as the Bride Class, and that they would go into tribulation. That seems to indicate that the special tribulation upon the Great Company class will be after all the Little Flock have gone in beyond the vail into the Most Holy. Now that is only a parable, of course, and we are building as wisely as we know how on that parable. Then in Leviticus it shows us the place where the Scape-goat is dealt with after the Lord's goat has been dealt with, but that is not proof positive that it will be entirely after the Lord's goat has been slain, and after its blood has been offered, because these types could not all take place at the same time, and there would naturally be an order for it,—this first, and that second, and so on, but the fact that the bullock is dealt with first, and that the Lord's goat is dealt with second, and then the scape-goat is dealt with thirdly, seems to imply that the tribulation of this class will come more specially at the end of the Gospel Age, after all of the elect shall have gone in, notwithstanding we think there is room in the Scriptures to suppose that there have been some of this Great Tribulation class all through the ages, while the great mass of them probably belong in this end, because of the peculiar circumstances now prevailing. Someone perhaps will say, what are the peculiar circumstances now that would cause a larger class of the Great Company living today than at any previous time? The conditions that are favorable to them now are, that Christianity now is in a measure popular, and a great many people have heard of Christ and made a kind of a consecration to the Lord, and there is not that open persecution now which is sharp and distinctive; so that people are more likely to make a full consecration to the Lord now and suppose that it is an easy thing and when they get inside and find that it is not so easy as they thought, some of them are disposed to hold back a little, and these will become of the Great Company, whereas in the past times when things were more turbulent and more sharply defined, it took more to make a decision. As our Lord mentioned, they sat down and counted the cost. In our day, they are not disposed to count the cost. They hear the preachers telling them that it is an easy thing. They say, in effect, come now, and you can have everything in a few minutes. You will be more prosperous in business, and get rich faster, and have better houses, more respect of your neighbors, etc. So, it is a time of enticing now, and these people are being enticed by these misrepresentations of the narrow way, and after they get in, they find it to be a narrow way, as the Lord will show them by and by, and so there is a larger number of this class today than in the past.
Now as to the marriage supper of the Lamb, we find the Lord picturing the Great Company Class. They say, "Let us be glad and rejoice for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready." She was ready and went in to the marriage, and we are left out, is the [Page Q291] thought. Then they say, "Let us be glad and rejoice." Why should they rejoice? Why, by that time, their eyes are really opened, and they see Babylon as they never saw her before, and they see God's Plan as they never saw it before. They were not in the right attitude of heart to have a hearing ear and an appreciative heart, and therefore could not see the deep things, for God only gives us a deeper understanding of His Word as we come into the right condition of heart.
Now then, those of the Great Company in Rev. 19, are pictured as saying, Let us be glad and rejoice for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife hath made herself ready, and they are glad of it all, and then they go on to say, Babylon is fallen, rejoice, rejoice, ye heavens, in her fall, etc. They are glad that Babylon has gone down when they come to see what it really was and how much they were bound by it, and they did not realize how much blinding influence was coming from that source.
I want to say now, because some might not have taken this view yet, or have seen it in this light. So far as my observation and experience would go, the greatest hindrance to the work of God in the present time—now mark you, to the work of God at the present time—is what is known as the "Christian Ministry." Why, someone says, Brother Russell, you do not believe that? Yes, I do believe that. Why, are they not doing thus and so, preaching a good deal of morality? Yes, but that is not the work of God for this present time. The work of God during this age is the taking out of a people for His name; finding the wheat is the particular work of God at the present time. Now they are doing a work that will be good in its way, and I admit that a great many of them are benevolent works, and I appreciate it all just as much as anybody does, and I am glad to see them doing that rather than doing wickedness, and I congratulate them on that. Nevertheless, you will find nearly all the obstructions to present truth is coming from the ministry. If it were not for the ministers in all the denominations over the civilized world, the truth would spread among God's people like wild-fire. It is just as it was at the first advent. Who was it that hindered the people from believing in the Lord Jesus in that day? Why, it was the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said to them, "You shut up the kingdom against yourselves, and you will neither enter in yourselves, nor permit those who are entering to go in—you have taken away the key of knowledge from the people." So it is with the ministers of today, dear friends. It is just a parallel of 1800 years ago. They are standing in the way. They do not fully realize this, I am glad to say, and they are not as responsible as though they did realize it fully. I do not think they are without responsibility entirely. I do not think that men who have had an education and know about sheol, and hades, and who are allowing the people to sit under their preaching year after year, and suppose that they believe in eternal torment, fire, etc., when they believe nothing of the kind, and allowing these absurd doctrines which hinder the people from rightly worshiping God, are inexcusable. But then, it is with their own consciences and with the Lord, and I have no fight to make against them. I am merely suggesting to you more than I would say to them; [Page Q292] because, why should we offend anybody needlessly? I should say to a brother who was in a right condition of heart, "Brother, if you are doing your duty, don't you think you ought to be setting forth the words of truth and righteousness, and the real character of God? Don't you think that is your privilege?" That is the way I would speak to anyone with whom I could speak in that way. But while they hold you at arm's length in their personification of dignity, if you were to ask any questions, you would find they could not answer the questions. They can hardly answer any Scriptural question properly. You try one and see.
I think of a brother who came to me and said, "Brother Russell, I think I have been doing wrong. I have accepted these doctrines of present truth and believe them, but I did not go to any of the ministers of the churches to ask them about them, and I think I should have done so. I think I have heen doing wrong, because I am not a Greek and Hebrew scholar, and have not a great education, and here are these men with whom I am well acquainted, and who are learned and good men; I am well acquainted right here in this city of Pittshurg and Allegheny with some of the leading ministers, especially in the United Presbyterian denomination because I have myself been working in all their different Sunday Schools, organizing temperance armies, and they all know me very well, and I know them to be fine men. Now then, my conscience has been telling me that I did not do right; I should have gone to them and said, Now, Doctor So-and-So, can you tell me about this matter, is it true or not? What do you think, Brother Russell?"
"I will tell you what I think would be the proper manner; when you go to the residence, for instance, of Dr. A., you ring the bell and ask to see him, and when he comes to the door and you have your usual greetings, you say something like this to him: Doctor, I have some matters of a doctrinal nature that have heen perplexing me and I thought I would like to ask your advice about them sometime when you have the time: I do not want to trouble you now, you may he busy, and it will take an hour, and I want to come sometime when you have time to spare. Would you appoint me sometime? He will likely say, come right in, brother, this will do me just as well."
I said, "This is the reason: if you do not take that method to get him to say he will give you an hour, you would find that by the time you had told him what your question was, he would say, Well, brother, there is a sick sister that I must go to see, please excuse me and come in some time again."
"Yes, I know those gentlemen more or less, and admit that they are above the average, but Brother, you do not [Page Q293] know the difficulty they have when you ask one of these questions; they have a proposition before them they have never met before in their lives, and they do not know what to say, and that is the easiest way for them to get out of it. Of course there is in every large congregation one or two sick brothers or sisters at any time and they can truthfully say, I ought to call and see them,—and they know they ought to get away from you, and from your questions. They think they are doing good to you for they know they cannot answer the question, and they think that is the quickest and best way to do it, and they think you will never get a chance again, for they will dodge you every time."
"I do, brother, but you do not understand the situation, and I do. But, the minister will say, Yes, I can give you an hour now, come right in and sit down in the study. And you go in and he says, "Well now, what is your question?" I said to him, "What were you going to ask them?" And he said, "Well, I thought to ask him one question specially that I was interested in, that one about Restitution, where the Apostle Peter said, Restitution shall come from the presence of the Lord, etc. Now, that is the question I thought I would ask them." I said, "That is a very good question, you just stick to that question. But, when you get in and sit down and he says, What is your question, and you tell him the text of Scripture, you will have to be on your guard, for that man will say to himself, My conscience! That question, why, I do not know any more about the answer to that question than I would know how to jump over the moon. What will I do? I have told this man that he could have an hour. My conscience! what will I do? Well, what will he do? I will tell you what he will do, brother: He will say to himself, I have just got to mix this man up so that he will not know which end is to. I will razzle-dazzle his mind and confuse him all over—body, soul and spirit, hell, hades, sheol. I can do that. He does not know much, I know he is not an educated man.
"Brother, I know they will do that because that is the only thing they could do. They would either do that, or else they would come out flat-footed and say Brother that is a Scripture that I do not understand. I wish I did, and if you ever find the interpretation of it, bring it to me. If they were thoroughly honest, that is what they would do. But after some large institution has said to them, 'You are a doctor of divinity, you are fit to doctor even divinity now'—when they have got all of that, then, for a little man to come in and say, here is a plain question to answer, and they cannot do anything with it, it requires a great deal of humility to acknowledge the fact.
I said to him, "Now, when he begins to talk this way, and tries to mix you up and ask you about so and so, and tries to confuse you, you say, 'O doctor, I do not seem to have stated my question properly.' Put the blame on yourself, you can do that honestly, you know, because you are not bound to suppose that he is trying to evade your question; you have just as much right to say to him—I have not stated my question properly. Say to him, 'Doctor, I do not [Page Q294] seem to have stated my question properly; that is not the question you are answering. The question I wanted to ask you was about the times of restitution of all things; what does that mean?' You must bring him back to that; and he will try again to get you mixed up. But you say, 'O Doctor, I do not get my question straight; I wish I knew how to state my question properly. I want to know ahout the times of restitution.' You hold him right down to that, brother, and there is not a doctor of divinity in this country or state that can match you with the knowledge of the Word of God, and you have heen only three months in the truth."
I said, "No, brother, you have not the idea; you will have to try to hold them down to the question, because they cannot answer it, and they know they cannot, and they will try to get you mixed up. And they will not admit that they cannot answer it.
And this reminds me of another gentleman. As I was going down the street near the Bible House, walking a little more rapidly than usual, I passed him. I suppose he recognized me and said, Brother Russell, a moment. And he caught up with me. He was a man that I had never spoken with in my life. He was a very nice-looking gentleman, well dressed. I did not know who he was. He gave me his name, but I have forgotten it. He said, "I wanted to ask you a question about a parable." I thought that was very queer for a man to meet you on the street and ask you that kind of a question. I said, "What parable is it, brother?" He told me—I have forgotten now which one it was—but it was a very simple, plain parable, and I answered the question and explained it very easily, I think, in about two minutes' time. "Why," he said, "that is very simple, very satisfactory," and repeated, "very satisfactory."
I said, "How does it come you are so agitated about so small a matter as this?" He said, "I wonder why it is my preacher cannot tell me that. I belong to Dr. Kennedy's church, just opposite the Bible House—the principal Presbyterian church in Allegheny—and I have gone to him and asked him that very question."
"Now," he said, "you would have thought I was the most stupid man on earth, and he practically told me, why, you have not sense enough to understand it if I were to explain it to you. He made me feel like a very small potato. I have never thought that I was a great man, but I thought I was deserving at least of reasonable treatment, that he might have tried to tell me, and then if I could not understand it, it would have been my fault. He just sat down on me instead of telling me; he did not tell me anything about it. Now, what do you suppose was the reason for that?"
We know, dear friends, those of us who have had such an experience, that that was just the difficulty. Dr. Kennedy [Page Q295] is a very able man, a very fine man in many respects; I am not speaking to his discredit as a man, or saying a word against his character; for as far as I know, he is a well educated minister, and he must know about a great many things. He knows what sheol is—at least I cannot suppose that he is stupid and ignorant enough not to know, after all the opportunities he has had to know.
But coming back to Rev. 19, where it says, "Let us be glad and give honor to God, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, etc." They were glad when they found out the true situation, that God had delivered them, and that the institution was a hindrance to God's plan in many respects. While they do good in the way of building hospitals perhaps, and inculcating some morals, and keeping some people out of the saloons, and sometimes getting up a saloon law, and sometimes an underground saloon so as to keep people from going to a saloon of a worse class, sometimes having a bowling alley to keep people from going to bowling alleys where they get whiskey,—with all of this they are trying to act in a moral way. I give them credit, I think, for all they claim themselves, but as for teaching sanctification of the spirit and faith in the precious blood of Christ, I do not think many of them pretend to be doing that; I do not think many would say that was their true mission, and what they are trying to do. On the contrary, they would say that they must go after the people, save the masses, and in trying to save the masses from something, without having their hearts changed, they are neglecting the true people of God who need to have the feeding, as God tells us, "Feed My sheep." Our Lord when He spoke to the Apostle Peter did not say anything about going out and catching some wolves and putting sheep's hair on them, and finding some rattlesnakes and fixing them up and making them look like sheep. You take care of the sheep, and the lambs, and the Lord will take care of how they got to be sheep and lambs. He is to do the drawing. It is whosoever the Father draweth that comes to Him. "Whosoever cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out." You and I are not to try to smash people's hearts, or their heads either. Let the providences of God do all of the breaking of hearts. The Gospel He has given to us is to bind up the broken hearted, and take hold of the sheep and lambs and feed them; that is God's proposition. We want to stand by the Lord's Word. We have not the confidence in our own hearts that we are wiser than the Lord; we would not take a bundle of bramble bushes and tie a few bunches of grapes on them and say, these are genuine grape vines.
But these will find that the fall of Babylon, the complete overthrow of the human systems, has really worked a [Page Q296] good. Then they are represented as getting a special message from God, saying "Blessed is he that is called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." Now there is a difference between being at the marriage, and eating of the marriage supper,—that which is accomplished when the wise virgins go in and the door is shut, is the marriage, but the marriage supper did not take place for a little while after that. The marriage supper, of course, is just a grand picture before our minds. There is really no sitting down to eat or drink, but it is merely a picture of the joyous occasion that will follow. And to these great festivities, the Great Company are invited to come and share. They were not loyal enough to lay down their lives, but they had loyalty, because they would not deny the precious name and blood, and therefore the Lord would not deny them, and there would be a place for them; they would have an opportunity to come in to the marriage supper and have a share in the rejoicing. Just as in the 45th Psalm it is pictured, the Bride is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework—representing the Church all going into the Father's presence at the end of this age, and then we read in the next verse, "The virgins, her companions that followed her." These were the foolish virgins. They are virgins, nevertheless, that follow her. They also shall be brought into the presence of the King. We are glad for them also. There is no selfishness in the love of God. We are glad to see what the Lord has arranged for the Little Flock, the Great Company, and the Ancient Worthies, and for all the world of mankind—for all who desire to be in harmony with Him when they come to a knowledge of the truth.
ANSWER.—I answer that, according to our understanding, there have been some of this class all the way down through the Gospel Age, yet the most of this class are living at the present time. There are reasons why, in the past, there would not be nearly so many. For instance, when there was a sharp persecution against all who named the name of Christ, it was quite a test, and not so many were ready to make a full consecration of themselves. As a consequence, those who did make a consecration were the class more earnest and willing to carry it out. But today, we are living in a time when everything is more favorable outwardly, and a good many people want to say they are Christians, whether they are or not. It is rather popular today. So some people have no doubt made a consecration under the present favorable conditions who would not have made it in the past. So a great many, we believe, are in this condition that they have made a consecration to the Lord, but because of the favorable conditions in another sense of the word, they are not living up to their consecration; they are not becoming overcomers; they are bound in Babylon. And so, this is the time when the Great Company ones are specially prominent. We are not competent to say who in all these various churches belong to this class, but we see that a large[Page Q297] proportion of this class belongs in our day. Down through the age we would understand there were some who were unfaithful in a degree, in that they did not voluntarily and gladly and willingly lay themselves down after they had agreed to do so. We can see how the Lord might have allowed some of them to go through the persecutions, the thumb-screw and rack, and how they may have come through great tribulations then. I have no idea at all that all those people who suffered by being burned at the stake, etc., were saints. I am not judging them, but reading between the lines of history, I would infer that a good many of them were not saints in the highest sense of the word as we understand the Scriptures to imply.
ANSWER.—Yes, they receive life direct in that they have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, and when they are begotten they are just the same way as the little flock, because we are all called in the one hope of our calling. They do not make their calling and election sure, but not being worthy of second death, they therefore receive life on the spirit plane.
ANSWER.—Not the Lord Jesus, but the Heavenly Father. Ye are begotten of the Holy Spirit of the Father in this present age. That is what the Lord Jesus and the Apostles tell us. Our Lord Jesus has only restitution life to give, and He gives now to only those who come in under the Father's drawing, to be members of the Lord's Body; they and they only receive the Holy Spirit begetting to this new life. The world is not dealt with at all—restitution is not yet offered. The only restitution offered now is that of justification by faith, with the understanding that it will be laid down.
If you are unfaithful, after you have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, there will be no other life for you. Having been begotten of the Holy Spirit, you have come to the place where you are a new creature. If you fail to go on, you are still new creatures even if you go into the Great Company class; they are all spirit beings, because begotten of the Father for the Father is doing all the begetting.
ANSWER.—We have already pointed out that God does not make very particular mention of the Great Company in the Bible, and we have found out the reason for this; namely, that if the Great Company were treated on the same plane and with the same degree of interest and explicitness as the Little Flock, it would imply that God had offered both and said, Here they are, take your choice. But that is not so; the Lord's statement is, "Ye are all called in the one hope of your calling," to be members of the Body of the Anointed. Thus the Scriptures merely give the hint that there will be some who will constitute the Great Company, who will get [Page Q298] a great blessing, to which there was never an invitation. This is rather than that they should be destroyed in the second death. Every one of that Great Company receives the grace of God in just the same way as the Little Flock, but not using it in the proper way, which was to lay down their lives with the Lord Jesus, for in carrying out the Plan it must all be laid down in death, all be given to seal the New Covenant. So, then, with the Great Company, it is a question whether they are copies of the Lord Jesus, or whether they come through great tribulation and eventually get spirit life.
ANSWER.—The Great Company has nothing to do with it, neither has the Little Flock anything to do with the cancellation of sin. It is the High Priest that does that work. He may use various things for the basis of His various steps, but He is the one that makes the application, and neither the Great Company nor the Little Flock do anything in the cancellation.
We have suggested in the Tabernacle Shadows, and still agree to it, that the scapegoat represents the Great Company. Many say, well, the Great Company or the scapegoat do not go into the Holy. I answer that neither does the bullock or the Lord's Goat. What did go in there? The blood of the bullock and of the Lord's goat, representing the value of the sacrifice, was taken in to make atonement. The blood of the bullock was to make atonement for the sins of the Tribe of Levi, including the priests, called the body or house of the High Priest, the priestly family, and the blood of the bullock settled for the sins of all of those, the body members, or under priests. Then the blood of the goat was taken, which represented the under priests. The blood of the goat was not sprinkled by the goat, but by the High Priest, and it was applied for all the people. It is the High Priest who had the whole thing to do, and we would not be properly holding the Head, if we thought we had anything to do with it—it is merely as members of His Body that we are counted in at all.
Since the blood of the bullock cancelled the sins of the household of faith, and the blood of the goat cancelled the sins of all those outside, what sins, then, are left in connection with the scapegoat? The answer is that the High Priest took the sins of the congregations, and confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat. What sins are those besides the ones already mentioned, for which the blood has been applied? I answer that those sins for which atonement was made in the Holy and Most Holy were original sins which come because of Adam, and the imperfections inherited from him. Christ's merit passing through His Body is applied for all these sins. What other sins are there? They are the ones which are not due to Adamic weakness. The world is not doing the best it can and therefore they commit many sins that are not due to Adamic weakness. Some men's sins go before and some follow after, but the Lord will see to it that all sins are settled for. Every intelligent sin is a sin of this kind, and these are the ones that are confessed upon [Page Q299] the head of the scapegoat. We will give you an illustration: You remember reading, "Of this generation shall be required all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias," etc. What righteous blood is referred to? Evidently the wrong deeds done by mankind not due to Adamic weakness. The Lord sees some way in which the intelligent sins of humanity may be cancelled, and when you and I see the philosophy, we will say that it is all right. So the Scriptures seem to indicate that there is to be another accounting with the world. You remember the Scripture which speaks of the souls under the altar crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The Lord has an accurate system of bookkeeping, and He will reward each one and punish each one according to what they did that was right or wrong. Those who have sinned intelligently will have a certain punishment coming to them which must come before the books are squared. In view of the fact that we are living here and looking back upon the "dark ages," we are to acquiesce in the things that come to pass. At all events, there is a great time of trouble coming at the end of this age, and they are to be allowed to share in that trouble. They are to be permitted to share in this to the extent of laying down their lives, because if they do not die, they cannot have a share in the spiritual blessings.
Q299:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—Will the Great Company participate in the marriage of the Lamb when we are told that the Bride will be complete sometime before? Is the marriage of the Lamb a particular event?
ANSWER.—I answer that the marriage of the Lamb is a particular event and that our marriage custom of today does not properly illustrate the matter, but the marriage custom which prevailed amongst the Jews does properly represent the matter, and we should therefore look there for the illustration as it has come down through history.
A marriage contract was entered into, a marriage vow, usually in the form of a written contract between the one who was to be the bridegroom and the one who was to be the bride, and thus these two were both espoused or betrothed, and this usually lasted for about a year; and this was as binding as though they were actually married, and any impropriety on the part of either would be considered the same as though they had been married. During that year, she was known as the betrothed, and properly so. At the end of the year the man would come and receive her to himself, and from that time, she was his wife. Next followed a sumptuous feast that might last a considerable length of time, and that was not known as the marriage, but the celebration of the marriage, the marriage feast. The Lord's dealings with the Church is along these lines: First of all, 1800 years the Church was betrothed to God's Son, and then He went into a far country. He first promised that when He came back again He would receive His betrothed Church to Himself. All during this Gospel Age the Church has been waiting for Him, and has had the mark of her espousal, the Holy Spirit. When He comes and receives her to Himself, [Page Q300] she will be the wife, just as in the type—there is no ceremony needed.
What is the antitype? We understand that at the second coming of the Lord, the faithful ones of the Church who had died were raised and were at once received of the Lord, so that that portion of the Church is married to the Lord just as soon as they are received by Him. They were merely betrothed before, but now He has received them to Himself. We are going in and are being changed in the twinkling of an eye. This was represented by the five wise virgins; they did not all go in at the same instant, but followed one another. So with us, we shall be changed in the moment of our dying, we shall be changed in a moment and so we will be forever with the Lord. That will be the marriage with the Lamb. It is after that that the Lord sends the message to the Great Company, saying: Blessed is he who is called or invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. It may take several days or weeks, or a year or more for this sumptuous feast. At that marriage feast will be the Great Company, the virgins which followed her, as we read in the 45th Psalm.
ANSWER.Well, I answer, the Great Company class are not the Great Company class until they are put out of the Holy. You see what I mean. All those who receive the Holy Spirit during this Age receive it because they make the consecration unto death, and that admits them as if they were going to be priests. Jesus admits them, but if they fail to comply with the conditions, they will not be worthy to remain as priests. They are cast out and they go out into the court. So, when one comes to the place where he must be of the Great Company class and not of the Royal priesthood, that means that he is out of the Holy. But at first when he made his consecration, he consecrated to be a priest and to all intents and purposes was treated the same as the others up to the time he failed to make good in his consecration.
ANSWER.—There were two sons of Aaron, and we read that they served in the office of priests, and we read that they offered strange fire before the Lord. Nothing more than that is said and we have to guess as to what is meant. Nobody knows, but we believe it to be a type; for, as Aaron was a type of our Lord Jesus, so the under-priests were a type of the Church. So these two who offered strange fire and perished in so doing would seem to represent a class. Whether a class going into second death, I do not know; or whether one stands as a representative of that class, and one for another class, I do not know. There was a time when I thought that the two could not stand for those going into the second death. Why? That would be two-fifths of all the priesthood, and would imply that two-fifths of God's consecrated people would fail and go into the second death. But, dear friends, I have been thinking lately that perhaps [Page Q301] I did not take the right view of that matter. There may be a great many more going into second death than I had supposed. I remember I congratulated myself about the sheep and goats representing classes of people—sheep His people, and goats the others. I was glad there were so few goats. But when I was over in Palestine and looking over the flocks noticed nearly as many goats as sheep, I felt rather dubious about this illustration holding out.
My thought now is that none can be of the royal priesthood or get eternal life at all unless he shall have the perfect law of God, loving God with all his soul, mind and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. And a new command give I unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you, etc. If this is the requirement, and it is, I really wonder how many will come up to that requirement. I have felt like being very careful myself, saying, "My soul, be on thy guard." Whether these two represent those who go into second death, it will not hurt you to be on your guard. Be not satisfied with anything short of the divine standard for your own heart and life.
ANSWER.—I do not get that question. I do not know of any who will be in the Great Company but those who fail to keep their consecration vow, which is a vow to voluntarily lay down our human life, and if anyone will not do this voluntarily, the life will have to be taken away.
Did you notice this morning that we pointed out how our Lord ascended up on high, gave to the household of faith the human rights which He had purchased, and that He gave them under the terms and conditions that they would lay them down? Yes. Well, they that do so voluntarily and are of a good heart and earnest, they are the more than conquerors. And the others, what? It will have to be taken from them, because it must be passed on to seal the New Covenant, but they will fail to get the high reward.
ANSWER.—My answer would be, lack of zeal, lack of love for God, lack of love for the brethren. That is to say, the coolness on the part of your heart. But, to answer and go more specifically to the root of the question, would be this: Little sins on your own part would be the things most likely to separate you from the little flock and give you your portion with the Great Company. The thought is given in Revelation, where it says, "These are they which came up out of great tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white." Now that washing of the robes gives the clew. Why did they need washing? Because they were soiled, etc. The Scriptures tell us that we should keep our robes unspotted, that we might be presented without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Here is the difference: The little flock will be the class without spot, etc., while the Great Company will be the class whose robes are spotted, and wrinkled and not fit to be of the Bride class. Let us apply this personally to [Page Q302] your affairs and to mine. Is it possible for any Christian person to so live as not to get a spot on the robe, and is that the teaching of the Bible? No, that is not the teaching of the Bible. Having an imperfect body, you, as a new creature, loyal to God, desirous of doing his will, find that you cannot do all the things that you would do, and therefore you will have occasionally a spot or wrinkle come to your white garment, that was given to you when God accepted you as a new creature in Christ. You cannot keep from having some spots or blemishes, because of the imperfection, because you must use this imperfect body. You must use the one you have and so you are sure to do those things which you would not desire to do; or as our Episcopal friends say, and very properly, "We have done those things which we ought not to have done, and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and there is no help in us." That is true, I believe, of every one of us. We cannot do all that we would do. We all know it, but there is no excuse for our not making the effort. God is going to watch the effort, and it is according to the effort that he is going to judge you. He is judging the new mind, not the flesh, for it is the new mind that is on trial. Now, then, suppose that because of flesh or ignorance, you are overtaken in a fault, you get a spot, what are you going to do? That is the question. Well, here the Lord has made a provision, there is a cleansing fluid, and if applied it maketh clean, as we sometimes sing, "His blood avails for me." So the Scriptures state, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." He is not speaking of the original sin, you did not get to be of the "us" class until you had come under the blood, and it had purged the responsibility for original sin. After you had received the robe of Christ's righteousness, then what? If you get a spot we are immediately to come to the Advocate, as we read, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous." We have no Mediator with the Father, there is not a word about that in the whole Bible. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We are to come to the Father through him, entreating him for the forgiveness of this sin.
This Advocate is our Advocate, by virtue of his having a merit of his own that he can apply for us, applying it first for the sins that are past, and as he has applied it also for every weakness and imperfection that is present, that he may present us holy and spotless before the Father. But it will be this class, you see. This class, that want to have their robes cleansed, that deplore even one spot upon the robe. That is the class for whom the Advocate will do the work of cleansing.
Now let me refer to your own experience. When you go to the Advocate with the matter, you say, Lord, Lord, through weakness or imperfection I have failed in this point, I am sorry, and ask for forgiveness, and ask that it be not charged up against me, because my real intention is right, and I really desire to do thy will in my heart. You ask forgiveness for this, and he forgives. You say, Lord, I will never do this again. Then perhaps a little while after, it may he a year or six months, you do the same again. You say, O, I said the other time I would never do it again, and [Page Q303] now I am ashamed to go to the Lord and tell him I am negligent. What shall I do? Only one thing to do, that is to be so anxious for the Lord's favor and smile, that you will go to the throne of grace to obtain mercy. But there are some who do not. They say, O, not tonight, not tonight, I cannot pray tonight. Then they get into bed and sleep. The next day it is very much the same. They are a little farther from the Lord, the cloud is a little larger, and they say, I will try not to think of it at all. So there becomes an accumulation of spots, and at first they deplored them, hut now they do not. Then they say, I guess I was taking the matter too seriously at first, I find everybody has those spots. We do not like them and so they get to living a careless life, they are getting ready for the Great Company. You see they will have to wash those robes before they will be accepted to the heavenly condition. If you do not keep yours clean by constant application to the throne of heavenly grace, the spots will accumulate, and the only way to wash your robes will be in the great tribulation.
Q303:1 QUESTION (1910)—1—Tabernacle Shadows, page 69, states that the Great Company class cut themselves off from Christ. John 15:2, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh it away," seems to indicate some additional act on God's part. Please define the two acts.
ANSWER—Well, God acts only because the others act. For instance, Jesus says, "I am the Vine, ye are the branches; every branch in me that beareth fruit my Father purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." This pruning we see to be the trials and difficulties of life, but these are only for such as are branches in Christ. Now how do they get into Christ? By making consecration. And what was the legitimate intent or purpose of your consecration? That you might be a fruit-bearer. That is the very object of your coming into the membership of the Vine, the Body of Christ. Therefore if you do not bear fruit, if you do not cultivate the fruits of the spirit, you are marking yourself off, or cutting yourself off, for your failure to bring forth the fruitage God is requiring. Then he would separate those from his Church of the elect—the elect Body of Christ.
Q303:2 QUESTION (1910)—2—June 15 Watch Tower makes a distinction between the world and the people. Are we to understand that the Great Company suffer only for the sins of the people, or do the Great Company suffer for the sins of the world?
ANSWER—The Watch Tower did not know it was making any such distinction. I understand the people mentioned in the Scriptures to refer to the world, so if we made a distinction of that kind it was unintentional. It is very difficult to write and keep from tramping over somewhere in your writing and to remember all the different attitudes of mind, and how someone may look at it from this standpoint, and some from that, and some from another. You will have to read more carefully and I will have to write more carefully; so we will both take a share.
ANSWER.—1—I do not know what the reference is. The questions should always be independent of anything, then if the Tower is out of harmony you will notice it. But I will answer the question without reference to the Tower—"Is the Great Company class a part of the spiritual seed of Abraham?" I answer, Yes, to my understanding they are, but there are two ways of viewing the matter. The type of the spiritual seed of Abraham was Isaac and Rebecca, Isaac representing the Lord and Rebecca representing the Church, the Bride class, the Little Flock; and then in the account of how Rebecca was called, you remember we read that certain maid-servants were given to her and they went with her. These maid-servants, you see, represent the Great Company class. They traveled right along with Rebecca; they were not the Bride, but "The virgins, her companions," that went with her. So it was customary in all incidents of the Old Testament, that wherever the bride is mentioned, there is mention also of a maid as going along. There were the wives of Jacob, and each one of them had a maid. It was a custom of the times. So we read that Rebecca had at least two if not more. In the 45th Psalm, picturing the Church as the Bride of Christ, we read that the Bride is all glorious within; that she shall be brought unto the King in raiment of fine needlework. Then we read of the virgins, her companions, that follow her. These companions of the Bride are a part of the household. So the Great Company class is a part of the household. But take another picture that is given, the tribe of Levi. Go back and see where it came from. You remember the Passover night. In that night the Lord passed over the first-born of Israel. Then you remember that subsequently the Lord said to Moses, I have passed over and spared the first-borns of Israel, but now exchange these for the tribe of Levi. Thenceforth the tribe of Levi represented all of that first-born class, and that first-born class represented the Church, for ours is called the Church of the First-born whose names are written in Heaven. Now the whole Levite house, you see, was representative of this first-born class, this Church of the First-born. But among these Levites there were two classes. There was selected from the Levites a little flock of Priests—Aaron, and his family—and the remainder were the servants of this priestly family. Here we have another picture of the general fact that the household of faith includes Jesus, and the elect Bride class, and the Great Company class, and they are all the Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in Heaven, and they are all of those who are spared or passed over in this night time—in the present time before the Millennial morning begins. That night takes in the whole Gospel Age, and all of those who are spared in that night were represented in the whole tribe of Levi. Therefore the whole tribe of Levi represents the Church of the First-born, and these two classes are the elect Body of Christ, or Bride of Christ; and on the other hand the spiritual servants of the Church, the Great Company class.
Q305:1 QUESTION (1910)—1—Do you anticipate an outward separation of the Great Company from the Little Flock, or merely a separation in spirit, and a general affiliation of both classes in one assembly to the end of the harvest period.?
ANSWER—I know of nothing to indicate that the Lord will make a separation between the Little Flock and the Great Company, as far as separating them into parties is concerned. You remember we pointed out in the Scripture Studies that Elijah was a type of the Church and that possibly Elisha was a type of the Great Company class, and subsequently of the Ancient Worthy class. We are not so sure about Elisha, but we are sure about Elijah, because we have positive proof in Revelation that Elijah was a type of the Church class; but if Elisha was a type of the Great Company class, then that type would seem to prove that there will be no separation, because there were frequent offers to separate as representing the trials and testings that would tend to turn them aside. As, for instance, Elijah said to Elisha, Now you tarry here, the Lord has sent me thus and so. But no, says Elisha, I will not stay; wherever you go I will go with you. So he went. Then presently another time Elijah said, Tarry here, the Lord hath sent me to so and so. But Elisha went with him everywhere. And finally Elijah acknowledged to Elisha that his getting a special blessing would depend upon his being with him down to the last. Elisha asked to have a special blessing—Cannot I have a special blessing, give me your blessing? Elijah answered, If you are with me when I am taken, then you shall have a blessing. In other words, if you continue steadfast and follow on and are not separated by the trials by the way, you will get a special blessing after the Elijah class is gone. And that is just what we would expect. You remember then the picture that when Elijah was taken up, his mantle fell from him for Elisha and Elisha went and got the mantle. The mantle is a symbol of power. You remember Elisha put on the mantle of Elijah and had some of the powers of Elijah. When he came to Jordan he smote the river with the mantle and it divided so he could cross over dry shod. All of which would be symbolical of the death of the Great Company class—that they would pass through death, which is symbolized by Jordan, victoriously, after they had the mantle of Elijah with them. Anything that happens beyond the crossing of the Jordan we would understand, if this be a type at all, to be typical of what the Ancient Worthies would do when their time would come after the Great Company had passed through the Jordan of death.
ANSWER—I think he could; I think he could not only fall back into the Great Company, but I think it would be possible for him to fall away entirely. That if he had reached the mark of perfect love, and been a teacher of others, he might be a castaway himself if he did not maintain his standing and relationship to the Lord.
ANSWER—No, they are not priests. They were accepted as priests. The picture is a double one. But the priesthood God is providing is one that belongs to the future, that is, the spiritual priesthood; the Royal Priesthood is future. We now speak of ourselves as members of the Royal Priesthood, but not in the actual sense; you are now probationary members to see whether or not you will be worthy of being members of the Royal Priesthood. The members of the Royal Priesthood will be those who will share with Jesus in his resurrection, the first resurrection. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." But the Great Company are those that after having consecrated and proposed to take the proper steps to which they were called as priests fail to take the steps and therefore they will not be priests in the future. They are now in with us, and it is not for you and for me to determine who are the priests, and who are performing their sacrifices properly; that is for the Lord to determine. In this company there may be some who will be Priests and some who will be Levites, and will not attain to worthiness for the priesthood. But it is not for me or for you to make a distinction and say, You are not a Priest, but you are a Levite. The Lord did not give us any such authority. So we now speak of ourselves together. You consecrated and are going on but I don't know whether you are making your sacrifice properly or not, and you do not know about mine.
ANSWER—I answer that there is no Great Company class in the beginning. Nobody was received as a member of the Great Company. He was received as a consecrating priest, and everyone is elect at the time of consecration. A crown was apportioned to such one. The object in inviting him at all was that he might have a crown. But the question is, Will he maintain his right to that crown by being an overcomer? If he does that will mean that he continues to be one of the priestly class to which he was invited, for we are all called in one hope of our calling. But if he fails to be an overcomer, then he ceases to be of that Body of Christ class, the Little Flock class, and by ceasing to be of that class forfeits his right to a crown. But the crown was there when he consecrated for no one is accepted but to a crown.
Q306:3 QUESTION (l910)—3—Is it your understanding that since 1878 all the consecrated who are faithful pass immediately at death to the spiritual plane beyond, and would this include any of the Great Company? And do you understand that any of those of the Great Company who died previous to the present harvest-time [Page Q307] were awakened at that date.? And if this is true, how would it harmonize with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins?
ANSWER—I answer: I do not know anything in the Scripture that would give us a proper ground for reaching a conclusion, and I do not know that it is very important that you should reach a conclusion. The conclusion that you and I want to settle is that we make our calling and election sure, and that we try to keep out of the Great Company class, and try to get into the Little Flock. I can see no difference to any of us as to whether the Great Company were awakened in 1878 or not. That is our understanding respecting the Little Flock, that from that date, all those who were members of the Body of Christ experienced a change; but as for the Great Company, we would not undertake to answer. We do not know. We are rather inclined to think not, but we have no ground on which to answer.
ANSWER—We answer yes; to our understanding they will all be in this class—all those who started out to run. Some of them may only have run one step or two, but the running for the prize seems to me to begin right at the gate. Just the minute we enter the gate we begin running; you are on the race course and they are all running from that point. Whether you run fast or slow, you are on the race course and all enter by the same gate. As the apostle says, "We are all called in one hope of our calling." God did not call anybody to be of the great company class. Everybody that is called in this age is called to be of the little flock class. All of those go into the great company class; there will be those who having started to be of the consecrated class, and having consecrated to give up all, having made that much of a start in the race course, then fail, they must either then go into the great company class, or worse, into the second death.
Q307:3 QUESTION (1911)—3—Is it correct to say that the great company class is begotten to the divine nature, seeing that only the little flock are born as divine, of the immortal nature? Please explain the Scriptural teachings on the begetting of the Holy Spirit.
ANSWER—I would think it entirely right to use that expression, "begotten to the divine nature." I did change it however, in "The Dawn," to read: "begotten to the Spirit nature," but I did that, not because I thought it as necessary to do so, but because I thought to make it easier for some to grasp the thought. The begetting is to a certain nature, just the same as we are all called in one hope of our calling. [Page Q308] The begetting of the Holy Sprit is the same begetting in every case, but if it has one turn, or development, the result will be the divine nature, and if it takes the other turn, or development, the result will be the nature like unto the angels. We think it is well illustrated by the fact that those who are begotten of the flesh may be born either male or female. The same begetting may result in the child being born male or female; so it does not follow, then, we must say that one is begotten to be a female or begotten to be a male. The begetting is the same in every case. So, with the Holy Spirit's begetting; they are all of one begetting, all by one Father, and all of the same kind. But as certain things in the human tend to determine whether it will be a male or whether it will be a female, after the begetting process is ended, just so with the spiritual; after the begetting of the spirit has been accomplished, certain conditions, etc., tend to determine whether the one will be born from the dead to the divine nature, or to the spirit nature like unto the angels, and that determining factor we find plainly stated in the Scriptures is with ourselves. In proportion as you and I are faithful to him who called us, and to the terms and conditions, we will make our calling and election sure. That calling, that election, that begetting, which we are to make sure, is to the divine nature. If we fail to make it sure in the highest sense of the word, there is still a possibility of a birth to a lower nature by the same Spirit begetting; or there is still a possibility of being utterly cast away into second death.
Another illustration you remember, brought to our attention in the Watch Tower, is that of bees. In bee culture it seems there are three classes of bees; there is the worker, and the drone, and the queen bee, and these are all begotten alike originally; but whether the cell shall turn out the one or the other depends upon certain subsequent treatment. When the bees desire to make a queen bee they apparently feed that larva more and more nourishing food until it becomes a queen bee, of larger size, distinct entirely from the other bees. I think perhaps we may learn a lesson there; that those who feed most upon the spiritual food have the best chance of getting to the royal position.
The Lord has given us plenty, and we are all called to be of this king bee and queen bee, class—the queen class rather suits us pretty well, since the Lord himself is king. We are to be his queen. So whether we shall be of that class depends largely on how we shall assimilate the truths that the Lord has given us, and the assimilation includes also our use of the blessings and favors that are coming to us. So all having one begetting, much will depend on ourselves as to how we use the varied opportunities and blessings.
ANSWER—Those in the First Resurrection will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4,6.) Therefore those of the Great Company will have no part whatever in the First Resurrection. The Apostle Paul speaks of Christ's Resurrection—"That I might know Him and the [Page Q309] power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." (Phil. 3:10.) This is the First Resurrection.
There are, however, two other Scriptures which include the Great Company: Heb. 12:23, where the Apostle speaks of the Church of the First-borns whose names are written in heaven, and Rev. 2:27, where mention is made of those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. All will attain life on the spirit plane, whose names are written in the Book of the Lamb, and the Lord said that He would not blot out the names of any overcomers.—Rev. 3:5.
Do the Great Company overcome? Yes. God has no blessings to give to those who are not overcomers. What is the difference between the Great Company and the Little Flock? The difference is that the Little Flock are those who are more than loyal to God. The Great Company will be loyal to God in that they will not withhold their lives when the test shall come. They will perish rather than deny the Lord; and thus they will experience the destruction of the flesh. But they did not go forth with sufficient zeal to carry out their consecration. They were loyal to God, but they did no more than maintain their loyalty.
Then we have our Lord's statement as recorded in John 5:28,29: "For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life." This will include both the Little Flock and the Great Company; both classes will get eternal life. If this statement includes the Ancient Worthies, then it means three classes: the Little Flock, the Great Company and the Ancient Worthies, though there will be different planes of perfection—human perfection, the perfection that will be like that of the angels, and lastly the perfection that will come to those who shall be like Christ, namely, that of the Divine nature.
Q309:1 QUESTION (1912-Z)—1—Is there nothing in the Great Pyramid to represent the Great Company—the Bride's virgin companions, who will follow her? (Psa. 45:14.) We understand your interpretation to teach that the Queen's Chamber symbolically represents those who will attain perfection on the human plane, and that the King's Chamber symbolically represents those who will attain to the divine nature. Is the Great Company not shown in the Pyramid or have you merely neglected to call attention to the feature which symbolizes it?
ANSWER—God, during this Gospel Age of nearly nineteen centuries, has been calling the Church to glory honor and immortality. During the next Age, under Messiah's Kingdom, He will open up a way of Restitution and return to earthly perfection for all the willing and obedient of mankind. God did not call any to be of the Great Company Class. Those who will ultimately be of that class, "saved as by fire," will get a reward to which they were never called or invited. There is but one call during this age; as we read, "Ye are called in one hope of your calling." (Eph. 4:4.) That call was to self-sacrifice—to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Only by making that covenant of sacrifice were any of us accepted or begotten of the Holy Spirit [Page Q310] or privileged to call ourselves the elect of God.
The ante-chamber, as we have already pointed out, marks the experiences of the Church in the School of Christ, which are necessary before any could pass, by the power of the First Resurrection, into the divine perfection symbolized by the King's Chamber. We may, therefore, assume that the Great Company class all come into this Ante-Chamber, or School, but that only the "faithful unto death" pass beyond it under the granite leaf into the King's Chamber.
ANSWER—In the Tabernacle the Court represents a condition which is not yet complete or perfect at the present time. Let me illustrate the matter in our spiritual experience. We will suppose that we belong to the Camp, and over yonder in the background is the Tabernacle with its curtains and everything else which I need not describe to a class of Bible Students. We would, before long, say to ourselves that we had the desire to go across, and we learn that there are those who are special servants in there, and we wish ere long to become one of the servants of God in connection with the Tabernacle. We realize, however, that we are sinners and so imperfect, but still we turn to God, and we walk toward the Tabernacle and our Justification may be said to have its beginning from that very moment we turned toward the Tabernacle. We are enjoined to seek "that which is right" and it is right and just that we should have this attitude towards God, therefore we are taking the right course or the course of Justification. There are many people in the world saying that God is not far from everyone of us, but the inspired writer said that there are many who are "feeling after God, if haply they might find Him." Those who leave the Camp to come into the Court of the Tabernacle are feeling after God with the desire to find Him. When they come up to the Tabernacle enclosure they find that there is only one entrance (Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ), and that that one way is the only way of approaching the Tabernacle. They enter, and as they enter they must pass the Brazen Altar of Sacrifice before they have gone very far within the enclosure. The person who sees that much sees more than ever before of the matter. But he or she is not yet at the Tabernacle proper. Those who have come thus far must remember that they have still to go on for a bit more yet. At that Altar they have seen the fact that God has provided a way from sin. Recognizing this, they may stop there for a longer or shorter period. A danger is that some are so pleased with that portion that they would sit down there content with that. It is good that we thank God for having made that provision for salvation, but there must be a going forward for a distance yet. What is there after seeing this Altar and its meaning? The next step is to yonder Laver, and towards yonder Laver they go next. What do they find? Water! This surely means Cleansing. O! to put away the filth of this flesh and make myself—or rather [Page Q311] allow myself to be made—as nearly as possible right with God! Have I wronged anybody? Such questions as that must be asked of ourselves and answered by ourselves. This is the attitude of those who have reached the Laver for cleansing. We may cleanse ourselves at the Laver, but still we have not fully come to God. Is there not something I can do? That is the next question which turns up in the mind of those who have reached the Laver. We remain in a justified condition so long as we keep forward in our way, and we become more right with God and more justified, if we might say so, every step of the way onward. Now we come to the Door of the Tabernacle and we present ourselves as Sacrifices as represented by the Goat for instance. "Present your bodies" is the injunction which comes to us now. When we have done that, we have done everything in our power to do. There is nothing more we can possibly do after that presentation of our bodies as Sacrifices in that sense. But we are not justified by that action. Nothing of ourselves can justify us for our justification is not of works. "It is God that justifies." And there is only one way, namely, that way through HIM who is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. He must be our Advocate. When we present ourselves at the Door of the Tabernacle, and say: "Here, Lord, I give myself," then is the time for God to put into operation the gracious arrangement He has made previously, and there and then the High Priest becomes our Advocate. When He applies His Merit the sacrifice is accepted. That moment we are justified, and then, as a consequence, the Heavenly Father receives us through the Holy Spirit and we are begotten of that Holy Spirit as New Creatures. The New Creatures are now in the Tabernacle; have passed under that first vail, and they should enjoy the light from the Candle Stick and the Shew Bread and the Golden Altar, and then at the close of life should pass beyond that Second Vail—the Resurrection, and should land on the other side of that Vail in safety. It is all in this present life. Whoever is coming near to God by believing in the work of Jesus, and who trusts in the precious sacrifice, these are in a tentatively justified position, but justified only as they have made a full consecration to the Lord. They are justified to the privilege of approaching, but they are not privileged to be Priests, and they cannot come into God's full favor without going on and still on. Suppose anyone went as far as the Laver and then began to reason that he was advancing too rapidly, and then stands still arguing that he must stop this rapid progress by taking matters slowly and wishing to remain here for some time before going on to the Priesthood, that one never has his Justification completed. His Justification is never fully completed because he never takes the final step by which that Justification is vitalized. That is the step of FULL CONSECRATION. After wandering around in this way for a length of time without any sign of going on in the way, some grow cold and get out of the way, and perhaps out of the Court altogether. That represents the use of the Court at the present time. When it comes to the end of this Age and to the perfection of the saints at that time, those who were approaching unto God sincerely during this Age, and who have come all the way there will be accepted. The remainder will no longer be justified in this way, but will be [Page Q312] with the rest of the world waiting for the blessings of the next age. The Court will be emptied, so to speak, and all those who have entered fully into the Most Holy will then remain as the Members of the Body of the Christ. At the end of that time a distinction will be made between those who have been found worthy and those who have not been found worthy. Those who are found worthy shall pass into the Most Holy to be there forever with the Lord, but the others who are not found worthy will be excluded from that and they will belong to the second company. They still have Justification. They got it the moment they passed the First Vail of Consecration—the moment Jesus Christ became Surety for them. They cannot be of the Elect. They are of the Levites. These positions represent the attitude of the two classes. All the Levite Class represents the Court condition; all the Priest Class, the Elect condition.
ANSWER—This shows a misunderstanding—the Great Company are not in the Court. The only ones in the Court now are those in a tentatively justified condition'—the Great Company are not in the Court. At the close of this Age there will no longer be a tentative justification. There will be nobody in the Court condition, except the actually justified. If the Great Company will be excluded from the glory of the priestly office, at the end of this age, then it will be theirs to serve in the Court, as the Levites of the next age. But those in the Court now, during this age, are only those in a tentatively justified condition.
ANSWER—No, they could not be of the Great Company class, unless they had gotten into the Tabernacle—only those who make the consecration and those consecrations have been accepted, are tentatively counted as members of the Body of Christ. If, after entering the Holy they fail to have the Spirit of Christ, fail to be exercised by His Spirit, the end will show that they have not retained their position in the Body of Christ, but no one is competent to decide that point now. The resurrection will reveal the Master's decision.
Q312:3 QUESTION (1913)—3—While we realize that fear is of the Adversary, would it be improper to expect that we would have some sure indication in our own hearts, that we have lapsed into the Great Company class, or made our calling and election sure in this late time of the harvest?
ANSWER.—My thought would be that your head is poor and imperfect, and so is mine, too; that you would not be able to juggle all your thoughts sufficiently to know where you stood. If you attempt any such hair splitting with yourself the best thing is to say, I know the terms and conditions, am I [Page Q313] living up to the best of my ability to these terms? If you can say to yourself, I am doing all I can in the fulfillment of my consecration vow, you could not do any more, so do that much and let it go there. Say to yourself, "faithful is he that called us who will also do his part;" If you do your part the Lord will do His part—that is the end of it, it is no use arguing any more. If you were in the Great Company class you probably would not realize it at all. I would say simply this: did you make a consecration to the Lord? Yes; are you doing your best? Yes; do you think you could do any better? Yes; well, try and do a bit better.
ANSWER—We have already answered that in the Studies in the Scriptures, and perhaps a second reading will give better light. The fact is, the Great Company is not to be known to you, or me, or any other individual. There will be no such class until the Lord shall make the decision as represented in the parable. He is represented as having given certain talents to his servants, and upon His return He reckons with the servants, and that means the church. Some will be in one class, and others in another. That classification will affect the dead as well as the living. In God's providence, some may have been experiencing the tribulation which belongs to the secondary class, during the Gospel Age. We cannot determine who are of the little flock.
ANSWER—I do not know, and my think or guess, would not be of any value. I think the less guessing we do the better. As respects 1914, we have some reasons for believing that to be a very important year. We have never set forth anything to indicate that our view in the matter was infallible. I do not know positively that the times of the Gentiles will end in October, 1914, or at any other particular time. We think there is strong reason for believing that the Gentile Times will end in October, 1914. We give it as our opinion, and set before you the Scriptural reason. Some may believe and some not. This is our thought and if it is correct, about that time, or shortly thereafter, a great time of trouble will come upon the world. Not a burning of literal fire, but a symbolic fire, in that the world will pass through fiery experiences, in the midst of which Messiah's kingdom will be established.
Q313:3 QUESTION (1913)—Is it your thought that the Great Company expiate for the partially wilful sins committed against the Church so far as justice is concerned, in order that they may come from the tomb?
ANSWER—I would not put it in that form. I would put it in the form it is in the WATCH TOWER or DAWNS; I think that is better. This brother may be all right, but I do not like the way of stating it. If you will read over again what is in the WATCH TOWER, that is what I prefer. On [Page Q314] most of these doctrinal questions I prefer not to say either at conventions or in private letters anything else than what is in the WATCH TOWER because I find that some of the dear friends are inclined to say, Oh, well, that is what Brother Russell used to believe, that is what is in the DAWNS and in the WATCH TOWER, I know, but since then he has changed his mind; he wrote me a special letter, but I heard him say at the convention this year so and so. I understand that even one of the Pilgrims has been telling what Brother Russell changed his mind about. I want to say that when Brother Russell changes his mind, he is going to put it in the WATCH TOWER; he wants you all to know. You just take it from the WATCH TOWER. I will make it as plain as possible there, and, if I cannot make it plain enough there, I am afraid I would not do so here.
ANSWER — Do we understand that those of the Great Company class are changed at the moment of their dying? I think not. To my understanding, the Little Flock class will constitute the first resurrection; as we read, Blessed and holy are all of those who have part in the first resurrection: they shall he kings and priests unto God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. I would understand the Great Company class will not he changed until after the Church class, the Little Flock company, is all completed on the other side of the vail.
ANSWER—I think shortly after the Little Flock has been glorified, and the great time of trouble has come upon the world in general in which the Great Company class will be amongst the first to share and that after they have all finished they shall he glorified and brought into the presence of the great King, as described in the 46th Psalm.
ANSWER—We tried to say last evening there is no separation, no two classes at the present time, and it would be quite improper for you or I or any others of God's people to try to say, This one belongs to the Great Company and that one to the Little Flock. No one decides that but the Lord Himself, and that apparently is left to the very close, therefore we think it would be quite improper to speak of two classes in the Church. "All ye are brethren." All come under one name. Seek to make your calling and election sure. No man can know nor say how well you are running in the race. Only God and you know how loyal you are, and the Apostle intimates that we might ourselves be fully confident as to how well we are doing. You remember he says, It is a light thing that I should be judged of you or any man. Yea, I judge not mine own self. I might pass a wrong judgment on myself and say, You do not belong to the Little Flock, or say, Surely you do belong to the Little Flock. So it [Page Q315] would be a small thing that we should be judged of each other or by our own selves. There is one that judgeth, even God, and He will decide the matter. No one else is competent to do so. We do well to avoid any such judging. Help one another, encourage one another, point out the conditions and terms and all that, but do not judge one another.
ANSWER—This question we had earlier in our service. It does include, as we then showed, the Great Company class, and it applies at the present time. That is to say, the Apostle is telling about the gathering of the Church. The General Assembly, we believe, is going on now; just the same as this convention has been going on now for two days; some came on Saturday morning, some in the evening and some have just come in. I saw some coming in with their valises just now. So there is a gathering here and it has been coming together gradually. Just so God is gathering in the first resurrection, the Church of the Firstborns. The Firstborn of the Church, Jesus the head, went to glory 1,800 years ago, but the gathering of the Church which is His Body we understand takes place during this harvest time. Those who sleep in Jesus will be the first to be changed, then we which are alive and remain are to be changed gradually, each one in his own order, until all the church will have experienced the change. And this same process of gathering the Church of the Firstborn will include the Great Company class, and all of those will come in as part of the gathering together of the General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in Heaven. Their names are not all written in the Lamb's Book of Life, because those whose names are written are the special class, the Bride class. Their names are written from the time they first made their consecration, and the Lord said He would not blot out their names unless they would prove renegade—unless they would turn against him and His arrangements. So we see that the Lord is dealing very graciously and even will bring some through great tribulation.
Q315:2 QUESTION (1913)—2—On the chart the Great Company is represented above plane M of spirit begetting, yet we are told in the finished picture in the Tabernacle type they will be in the court condition below the spirit begetting. Please harmonize this.
ANSWER—The chart is a picture of the progress of the Church upward to the attainment of the High Calling, and then in the large pyramid at the end of the chart the different relationships of these the one to the other is pictured. We cannot say that we can harmonize it to everybody's mind. Take as much of it as you can and leave the rest. Some can get more nutriment out of a slice of bread than another can, so we cannot hinder the one that gets only a little nutriment from eating the bread, and, if he need it, eats more.
Q315:3 QUESTION (1915)—3—Cannot Rev. 7:9-17 be applied [Page Q316] to the saved world of mankind, rather than to a Great Company class? Is there not a very serious danger in teaching that there is to be a great company on the spirit Plane and that those who lack a thorough appreciation of the high calling, and a consecration thereto, will be saved notwithstanding?
ANSWER—It would he very dangerous for any person who does not see a thing to presume to teach it. The questioner evidently does not understand this subject, and that cuts the answer short. When we leave a subject as the Lord puts it, we have it right. "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully." "We speak that we do know." This is the privilege that we intend to have until we die. Is it not?
ANSWER—I think not. I think the Kingdom will be set up before the Great Company is taken. I believe that after the Kingdom is set up and after the Time of Trouble is fully on the Great Company will wash their robes and will finish their course, during the period of anarchy, and will then be present at the Marriage Supper. They will not be a part of the Bride, but may nevertheless have the honor of being at the great Feast and have association with the Bride, become her honored servants—her bridesmaids so to speak.
ANSWER—There are no Scriptures to prove that the great company will get the Divine nature, and there are many scriptures to prove that they will not get the Divine nature, because the Scriptures say that the Divine nature will be given only to those who are more than conquerors. The great company will finally be conquerors, but the Little Flock class will he more than conquerors and will consist of those who gain a great victory in that they fully follow the Lamb. Jesus went on voluntarily presenting His body as a living sacrifice. The little flock will be voluntary sacrifices, whereas the great company will not be voluntary sacrifices. They will therefore be sent forth into the wilderness of the tribulation for the destruction of their flesh. Only those sacrificers who cooperate willingly and gladly with the sacrificing Priest, the Lord Jesus, will be members of the bride class and become partakers of the Divine nature—glory, honor and immortality. At first the Father only, had immortality, afterwards the Son received this as a reward for His faithfulness, and then the bride class will sit with Him on His throne and share His glory. St. Peter says He has given us exceeding great and precious promises that, by these (working in our minds and hearts) we might become partakers of the Divine nature. He speaks to the little flock class, and not to the great company class. Why not? Because the Word of the Lord is not for the great company. They refuse to go faithfully forward until death, so the Word of the Lord is not sent unto them. They will have [Page Q317] to be pushed in, you see; but those who will be willing to go in by the Word, they will share the Divine nature. St. Paul speaks of those who seek glory, honor and immortality as gaining this eternal life, but they must seek for it. It is something to be done. The worthy ones are those who seek for it. We must first apply that promise by entering into the covenant by sacrifice, and then, if we will run properly, we will attain unto that prize. Others will receive a lesser reward.
ANSWER—In the very nature of things there are some things that it would be impossible for God, the great Creator, to do. Our infidel friends say that it would be impossible for God to create two hills without a valley; however, we believe this could easily be accomplished by putting one hill on top of the other.
The Bible itself tells of some things beyond the range of Divine possibilities. For instance, the Apostle Paul (Heb. 6:13) says that God could "swear by no other greater than Himself." Since the Lord God is the Supreme Being of the universe and none therefore greater than He, the truth of the Apostle's words is evident. Again we are informed that "He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). Because of His immutability or unchangeableness (Jam. 1:17) it would be impossible for the Lord God to deny Himself, or to do any wrong in any sense. The Divine character of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power could never be altered or swayed in the slightest degree. This gives us confidence indeed that all of the Divine purposes will be accomplished exactly as prearranged from before the foundation of the earth. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18.)
ANSWER—The Land of Canaan belonged to the Israelites as it had been given to Abraham and promised to his seed as an everlasting possession. The Philistines, Amorites and others who inhabited the land at the time when Moses under Divine direction led the Israelites out of Egypt, were a semi-barbarous race whose sins and iniquities had come to the full. It was because they had become so depraved that the Lord saw that it would be best to destroy them. Let us suppose that a people, occupying the land of Canaan [Page Q780]today, were to become so degraded and corrupt that they were a menace to civilization, robbing and massacring innocent people, and in all ways being obnoxious both to themselves and to other nations. Would it be thought an unwise, unjust, or unloving arrangement for the Lord to cause their removal and entire destruction in order to make way for the establishment of the Israelites in their own land? Many of the prophecies of the Scriptures clearly indicate that we may expect within the next few years just such a development of affairs, and that the Israelites will be gathered back into their own country from the uttermost parts of the earth. (See Jer.32:36-44.) Reverting to the question: we see women and children, young and old, dying off in multitudes every day with but very little evidence of the Lord's love in any direction. However, the Lord has arranged in His plan of salvation a time and a way when all the race shall be delivered from the death conditions—Isa. 35:8-10; Rev. 21:3-5.
ANSWER—Four hundred years ago North America was a vast wilderness inhabited by roving bands of savages who warred with one another and practiced all kinds of barbarities. Today, in place of the scattered tribes of murderous Indians, there are millions of civilized and enlightened people who are engaged in developing the higher and nobler qualities of mind and heart and cultivating the arts and sciences and the various branches of industry. Which of these two arrangements is the best? Was the Lord unjust or unloving in overruling the affairs of earth so that the Indians should practically be destroyed root and branch in order to make way for civilization? We think not. The same conditions prevailed in the land of Canaan. The Philistines, Amorites, etc., who occupied the land were practically savages, as they engaged in all forms of idolatrous worship, offering up human sacrifices in connection therewith. It was because their wickedness and depravity had reached to such a stage that God, in His wisdom and justice, saw that it would be best to destroy them and to place in the land a people, who, under His instructions, attained to a high degree of civilization. When the Jews were about to enter the land the Lord established a system of laws with them with the assurance that if they obeyed the Law they would be marvelously blest, and if disobedient they would be severely punished.
ANSWER—The first expression should be understood in the concrete sense. No mortal being could see the Lord God [Page Q781] and live—"Whom no man hath seen, nor can see." The last expression, to be understood in harmony with the first, should be considered in the abstract. As it was impossible for the Lord's followers to actually see God, the Heavenly Father, the only way then in which they could see God was in the representative sense. Our Lord Jesus, fully and perfectly represented the Father. He was God manifested in the flesh. The Father's love, and mercy, justice, and wisdom, were all manifest in the Life and teachings of the Lord Jesus. Those then, who became acquainted with the Lord Jesus, were made acquainted with the Father. The Lord Jesus never claimed to be the Heavenly Father personally; but always taught that He was the Son of God. The Scriptures declare that God sent His only begotten Son into the world. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself in the same sense in which He will be "all in all" when the Son shall have delivered up the Kingdom to the Father at the close of Christ's millennial reign.—1 Cor. 15:17,28.
Q781:1 QUESTION—"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart; and the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth." If God is omniscient, knowing the end from the beginning, how could He REPENT of His course in creating man?
ANSWER—The word "repent" means "To change the mind, or course of conduct, on account of regret or dissatisfaction with what has occurred." The question then is, Did God change His mind (plan) or His course of conduct? We claim that, knowing the end from the beginning, God's mind could not be changed; hence "repent" in this text must signify change of conduct. That is, God did change His course of dealing with man because of man's wickedness, which grieved Him, but He did not change His mind or plans, because these plans had from the very first recognized the corrupting and degrading tendency of sin, and provided (in purpose of mind) the Lamb of God—"slain from the foundation of the world"—as the redemption price. (Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8.)
Q781:2 QUESTION—Please explain why the Scriptures refer to God's special care over the fatherless and the widow and says nothing about the widower and the motherless? It seems to me that where the wife and mother is taken away it is much sadder than where the husband and father is removed from the family circle.
ANSWER—In many places in the Scriptures the expression "fatherless," in the original language in which the Bible was written, has the significance of bereaved or orphans. The thought is that the Lord's special care and compassion are over the weak, helpless and the bereaved ones, and not that He has less consideration for the motherless [Page Q782] than for the fatherless. We read "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works. The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous, and preserveth the stranger; He relieveth the fatherless and widow; but the way of the wicked He turneth upside down"—Psa. 145:9,10; Psa. 146:8,9.
Again we read "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." (Psa. 51:17.) All those who are mourning and sorrowful, who will draw nigh unto God through Christ, will be comforted whether they are motherless or fatherless; widowers or widows.
ANSWER—The word gospel signifies a message of glad tidings. Preaching the Gospel means proclaiming the good tidings, or massage of gladness, to others. When the Lord Jesus came He declared, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek." During the three and a half years of His ministry He preached the good news of the coming Kingdom and the blessings it is to bring to the human race. He commissioned His true followers to do the same thing, and those who have been telling others of the redemptive work of Christ and the blessings of His coming Kingdom have thus been preaching the Gospel. In these modern times the public press has become the most effective way of getting great truths before the people and the Gospel is being preached through the press wheresoever the glad tidings of Messiah's Kingdom is being published. From this it will be seen that much that is preached is mislabeled "Gospel." All sorts of bad tidings of great misery are many times improperly styled "Gospel."