"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God."—Rom. 13:1,2.
ANSWER—These Scriptures are in harmony with other statements of Scripture. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, for instance, after he had been seven years insane, lying amongst the beasts of the field, his reason returned to him and he extolled the God of Heaven, acknowledging that God setteth up those whom He will and putteth down those whom He will. We understand that God's dealing with King Nebuchadnezzar was prophetic.
In the case of Israel God had very particular oversight of their affairs, and dealt with their rulers. David was anointed when he was a youth, to be king in due time instead of Saul. So with several others of their kings—the Lord had them anointed in advance. It might be said of Israel, that whoever sat upon the throne was there as the Lord's representative. We remember also that on one occasion the Prophet of God was sent to anoint one of the kings of Syria and to give him a prophecy respecting himself, that he should take the throne.
Looking back, we see that in the case of Pharaoh, the perverse king of Egypt, God declared, "For this very purpose I raised thee up, that I might show forth My Power in thee." God did not approve of Pharaoh, but used him to show forth His own glory. God also used King Cyrus of Persia as a servant to perform His bidding.GOD'S SUPERVISION OF CURRENT EVENTS
All of these recorded instances show a vital interest on God's part as to who shall come forward and who shall be retarded when these matters would affect His own Plan. We are not to understand that these different kings represented God's choice as respects their loyalty to Him, but that these were the ones through whom the Divine Plan in operation could be signally manifested and outworked. And so it is today. The Lord knows which of the men running for the office of President of the United States in the fall of 1912 would be the most suitable—the one who would most fully cooperate in the carrying out of the very conditions which He is pleased to permit to come to pass at this time.
The Lord guides in the affairs of nations now, only in so far as such oversight will promote the fulfillment of His own purposes. When the monarchs of various countries declare themselves "King by the grace of God," we do not agree to the thought they have in mind in making such claim. They are expressing the thought which has prevailed throughout Christendom for centuries—that they reign as representatives of the Kingdom of God, and by His special favor. And likewise the Catholic Church: When the Pope claims that he is the head of the Church of Christ, claims that he is Christ's Vice-regent, he thus claims that Christ has set up His Kingdom, and that the Pope reigns in His stead.
After the Papal power waned in Europe, and the Protestants came into power, the Protestant rulers claimed the same right that the Catholics had claimed—to rule as the Lord's special representatives. And it is from this standpoint that kings maintain that they reign "by the grace of God," that the Kingdom of God is set up, and that they are reigning in God's Kingdoms. We do not understand this to be the right thought, but that in God's providence He permits these to occupy the thrones of the world for the time being. We understand that God does exercise a supervisory oversight in respect to them—not that He has authorized them to represent Him, or that He is responsible for their deeds and acts, but that He is so controlling matters as to cause them to outwork His own arrangements.
God will not convert a king in order to do this; He will not make him a saint. But He can allow or hinder events without interfering with the free will of any individual, and without becoming responsible for his government.
We may assume that this supervision of Divine Power is for the ultimate interest of mankind. We remember that there is a Prince of Darkness, who is seeking to do violence to humanity. Our thought is that the Divine Power hinders or restrains, so that the worst things cannot come to pass until His due time, and He overrules to bring those into power who will have the disposition to do what He purposes to permit when His due time has arrived. However, since the Lord does not explain to us just how He does this, it would be wise for us not to be too emphatic in our statements.
Q502:1 QUESTION (1915)—1—Does not the attainment of the Divine nature mean attainment to the image of God in which man in the beginning was created? Does not the word nature here have the significance of disposition, character?
ANSWER—It does not! Man never had the divine nature. The Apostle Paul points out, in discussing this subject of natures, in connection with the resurrection, that there is one flesh of fish, another of beasts, another of birds, and another of men. The fish does not have the same kind of flesh the bird has. We all know the difference. The flesh of fish, and of birds, and of beasts, is all different.
Then comes man, the highest of all the earthly beings. The Apostle calls our attention to the higher forms of existence; he calls attention to another plane of life. He shows that man, the highest of the earthly creatures, is lower than the lowest of the spiritual beings. He tells us about angels, principalities, powers, and the divine nature, the highest of all. The perfect human being is God manifest in the flesh. It is as close to the divine nature as the flesh could come. It represents the divine nature as nearly as is possible for a human being. The angels are also in God's image or likeness; the cherubim and seraphim as well, although on a higher scale than man. The highest of all is the divine nature. That nature only God had originally. And that kind of spirit nature which God has He gave to Jesus at His resurrection, as a reward for His faithfulness. Jesus did not have it before He became a man; but as the Father has inherent life, I.e., life in Himself, not a life [Page Q503]derived from food and water, "So hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." We cannot understand that kind of life. I cannot imagine how God could give a life that has no need of anything to sustain it. You never had any experience along that line. I never had. We would have been as great as God is to fully comprehend Him.
We see the difference between apprehending and comprehending. To comprehend is to take in fully. To apprehend is to touch, or lay hold upon. You and I can apprehend, or lay hold of God, but not very clearly, because we are so little and He is so great. We cannot comprehend God. We can simply touch Him, or apprehend Him.
The Apostle dwelt upon this matter; he was apprehending, or touching God, as God had apprehended or touched him. God has laid hold of us, come in touch with us. We do not come in touch with God and say, "We will have Him for our God." He laid hold upon us and told us about His arrangement for us. We were responsive to it; we thought how wonderful that He would thus take notice of us. So we are seeking to apprehend that for which we are apprehended of God. Man was not created in God's image in the sense that he is of the divine nature, which is far above cherubim and seraphim, while man is a little lower than even angels.
ANSWER—I have no private information from Nero, my dear friends. I merely know what the Bible says. It says that Nero is in hell—the Bible hell, not in the hell of Dante, which is quite a different matter. Dante, you know, had a large imagination and he pictured purgatory and described how he went with an angel and looked into different places. He saw some with their heads down in the fire and their feet up being roasted; others had their feet down and the flames were coming up around their bodies; others were being rained upon with molten fire; others were being chased by devils with pitchforks, and still others were being frozen. People living in cold countries are supposed to like heat, and therefore Dante imagined that in purgatory they would be frozen. All this is imagination. As for hell, Dante did not dare to describe it. He went to the door and said, "He who enters here abandons hope," and did not enter.
The soul of Nero is where other souls are—it is dead. There was no fake about it. The devil is wrong in saying he is more alive than when he lived. He will stay dead until the time when the great Life-Giver will call him forth, as the Master said, John 5:28,29: "Marvel not, the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth; they who have done good (the saintly class, having divine approval) unto the resurrection of life." They will have the perfect life, "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." As the Apostle says, "Every man will come forth in his own order," in his own band, or company. How many bands there will [Page Q504] be I do not know, as God has not revealed it. I know not in which of these bands Nero shall come forth. I know they shall come forth. Jesus says, "They shall come forth unto a resurrection of damnation." Yes, my brother, the word damnation is there, but it is a very unfortunate translation, which has confused a great many of God's people. This is an illustration of how the human mind works when it is twisted by false doctrine. The translators, having in mind the eternal torment of the wicked, when they came to this word translated it damnation, whereas, had their minds not been beclouded they would not have so translated it. It does not mean eternal torment any more than it means potatoes. It means crisis, it means decision. They will come forth to demonstrate fully whether they will come into harmony with God and prove worthy of life, or not. The test now is not such a test. We are having our crisis now. If we have heard his voice, accepted his terms and entered into a covenant of sacrifice, then, having bound ourselves by this covenant to be his disciples and walk in his footsteps, our crisis will begin there, and continue through the remainder of our lives to determine whether we will obtain the prize of the high calling.
When the world will come forth from the tomb they will come forth to a crisis; not damnation at all. The same word occurs five times in the same chapter and in only one other place is it mistranslated damnation. We see the meaning of the word crisis. The sense of the Greek word has come into the English word also. We have incorporated words from various languages, and we use the word in the English in exactly the proper way. As for instance: If the doctor comes to a home and some one has a fever. We ask, "Is it a serious case?" He says, "I cannot tell until the crisis." What does he mean? The turning point, or point of decision, which will be the seventh, fourteenth, or twenty first day, as the case may be; it will always come on a seven, and when that is reached there will be a change for the better or worse. That is the meaning of the word crisis. If the doctor would come in and, after examining the patient you would ask him as to the outlook, and he would say, "I cannot tell until the damnation," what would you think of that? That would be the translation given in John 5:28,19, and it is equally absurd there.
The dead shall come forth to a resurrection of judgment, of testing, a crisis will be reached in their affairs. From that time they will not be allowed to do as they please. They will be compelled to be obedient to the rules of the kingdom, or receive stripes. If they resist far enough they will die the second death. If they respond to the opportunities they will be raised up to perfection, and by obedience to God they may have everlasting life.
ANSWER—Yes, it would be right, because the New Covenant does not mean another covenant. It will be another covenant for those who were under a previous one, but "new" and "another" have not the same significance. The Lord says, "After those days I will make a new covenant[Page Q505] with the house of Israel and the house of Judah," etc. In stating this matter respecting the new covenant, if we were to follow the connection it might seem at first as though it referred only to the Jews, but we are to remember that the Jewish people were a typical people. And just so if we read about the day of Atonement in the Law, you will find that the sin offering was made for the tribe of Levi, and then the second part of the sin offering for all the remainder of Israel. Now, where would you apply it? The Apostle applies it to every creature. In other words, all Israel means every creature in the outcome. In the type it was simply done with Israel, Israel as a nation being representative of the whole world in that atonement sacrifice. That is to say, all of God's provisions are for those who will ultimately become Israelites indeed. There will not be any provision for any who are aliens and strangers and foreigners. But now there is reason why people are aliens from God—the great adversary blinds their minds. All people who will come into harmony with God's plan through Christ, the great son of Abraham, will become thereby the children of Abraham, and thus will be a part of the "all Israel," who will have this new covenant confirmed with them and have the blessings and privileges included in it.
ANSWER—I presume the brother means in the moment of the acceptance of our consecration. It is one thing for us to consecrate, and another thing for the Lord to accept the consecration. I understand the point of this question to be on the word "actual." Are we actually new creatures, or are we merely reckoned new creatures, is the thought. I think persons might, with equal sincerity, state the matter both ways, and have different thoughts. Actually I am a man, physically I have a human body, a human brain, etc., but the Lord tells me to reckon myself dead. Now I reckon myself dead. He tells me to reckon that I have passed from death unto life, and that I am now alive. But my human being, and human life, and human rights have been sacrificed, and I am now a new creature; I am to reckon that so. He tells me that He reckons it so. That is to say, He is going to deal with me from the standpoint as though I were a new creature, with whom old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
So you see it depends on how we are thinking of the matter, when stating these things. Words are only vehicles for conveying thoughts. It is the right thought we want to get, and use the most reasonable words we know how to express it. So I can see how some words say we are not actually new creatures, but only reckonedly new creatures, and that we will be actually new creatures when we enter into the full perfection of the new nature in the resurrection; and yet I can see how the other might be stated also, and say that actually we have something new, that we are new as compared with what we were before, in the sense that we have the new mind, and that God is dealing with the new mind, rather than with the body, and since He is dealing with the new mind, it is an actual new mind, a new will, a new purpose, a new intention. So you see the answer [Page Q506] to this question just depends on which way you are viewing it.
ANSWER—No, not at all. Sometimes people tell me secrets of their past life that are very profound, and this is one of the things that I have aimed to show them from the Scriptures, that from the time they have made their consecration God through Christ made up to them all their insufficiency, and then they were new creatures, and nothing of the past was held against them as new creatures on account of what they may have done as old creatures before they were accepted of the Lord.
The new creature, let me say, has only the earthly body through which to act at the present time; therefore, as the Apostle says, we may will, it may be our intention to do so and so, yet we may find ourselves not able to perform. However, as a new creature, you must will to do perfectly. God knows that you have only the earthen vessel and is not expecting you to do more than you can, only all that you can do. Bring every power of the body into subjection. In the 8th chapter of Romans he speaks of the spirit of Christ dwelling in you. Think what a power that is! Why, that power was able to raise Jesus from the dead. Is not that a wonderful power? Yes. Well, now, if you have received the holy Spirit of God and that was sufficient to raise Jesus from the dead, do you not think that will enable us to do considerable? Well, the Apostle says, let that spirit come more and more into the control of your mortal bodies. If you are new creatures, then as such you will bring your flesh as nearly as possible up to that standard every day.
I have found some dear friends troubled in spirit, because they have tried and failed or because someone else has done better than they could do. So I think of one brother in the Truth who said, Brother Russell, I wish I could do that the way you do. Well, I said, My brother, if you could do that as well as I can I would be ashamed. I was a Christian before you were born, and if you could do as well without my practice it would be a great shame to me. He said, Well, now, I never thought of it in that way.
Q506:2 QUESTION (1912-Z)—2—"If any man be in Christ, he is a New Creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17.) Are we to understand from this Scripture that The Christ, Head and Body, is the New Creature, or should we understand that this term, New Creature, applies to the individual members of the Church?
ANSWER—Undoubtedly this is an individual matter. Individually we make consecration of our human nature in likeness to our Lord's consecration of His flesh. Individually we are begotten of the Holy Spirit. Individually we are on trial for everlasting life or everlasting death. Individually we must make our calling and election sure, or fail. Individually we must be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Individually, as we have borne the [Page Q507]image of the earthly one, we shall bear the image of the heavenly.
Moreover, this New Creation includes not only our Lord, its Head, and the Church, His Bride, but also the equally spirit-begotten. They, too, will belong to this New Creation because they will no longer be members of the human family. This New Creation embraces all who belong to "the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in heaven." (Heb. 12:23.) The chiefest in this glorious Church will be the Royal Priesthood. The lesser brethren on the spirit plane will be the antitypical Levites, the Great Company class.
ANSWER—The New Creature's proper body is the Spirit body of the First Resurrection. But before getting it he is placed on probation and given his old human body to practice with. The New Creature cannot make the old body obey him perfectly. But he can develop strength in his endeavors to bring words, actions and thoughts into perfect accord with the perfect Law of God—Love.
The imperfections of the flesh to which the new mind does not consent are all of heredity—all from Adamic weakness—all, therefore, forgivable by the Redeemer, who merely needs to be appealed to as the great Advocate. But every transgression of the flesh is charged to the New Creature, who owns the flesh and is using it. This obligates repentance, prayer, etc., and means the greater blessing to the New Creature. To whatever extent the New Creature gives consent or sympathy to the sin of his flesh he is worthy of "stripes," which correctively will assist in his character development. "What son is he whom his Father chasteneth not?"
The New Creature only is given the wedding robe, the robe of Christ's righteousness, as a covering for his imperfect flesh. It represents his justification as a New Creature. It shows him as in Divine sight, holy, harmless, undefiled, through the merit of Jesus his Advocate and Redeemer.
ANSWER—Yes! and No! The Apostle says, "He cannot sin, for his seed remaineth in him." (1 John 3:9.) That is to say, so long as any New Creature continues to possess the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, he cannot consent wilfully to do sin. If one Spirit-begotten does sin wilfully it implies that prior to that wilful sin' he parted with his spirit of holiness (lost the seed of his begetting) and got instead a spirit of sin, the spirit of the Adversary. In other words, a holy person, possessing God's Spirit of begetting, cannot wilfully and intentionally do that which he knows to be unholy and displeasing to God. He cannot take pleasure in sin. He once died to it, and to have it revive means a return to wallowing in the mire—"twice dead, plucked up by the roots"; ready to be taken and destroyed as a brute beast—Jude 12; 2 Pet. 2:12.
ANSWER—Yes and no. It is not a part of the New Creature because the New Creature is spiritual, and the new body, which belongs to the New Creature he has not yet received, but he is hoping to receive it according to the Lord's promise, when he shall have demonstrated his loyalty—in his resurrection. We have this treasure (the New Creature, the new will, the new mind) in an earthen vessel. The earthen vessel is not the New Creature. But on the contrary we might properly say that the body belongs to the New Creature; in the same sense that your dog belongs to you. Your dog represents you or is you to such an extent that you would be held responsible for what he does. You would be liable for damage which he might do. So as a New Creature, he must keep the mortal body muzzled, and keep it from doing harm in the world. It is yours to use. But, you as a New Creature, will prosper and develop and become more and more established in the Lord in proportion as the Old Creature becomes more and more dead. The Apostle tells us, "Reckon ye yourselves dead to sin, but alive to righteousness." He tells us that the spirit of Christ operating in us should quicken or energize our mortal bodies in the service of the Lord, as the servants of the New Creature. Draft the mortal body into the service of the Great King as alive from the dead—that is the thought.
ANSWER—The New Creature is begotten to the divine nature. The intention of begetting was to bring these new creatures to the divine plane or nature. "We are all called in the one hope of our calling." St. Peter tells us that God gave "the great and precious promises, that we might become partakers of the divine nature. We were begotten of the Holy Spirit with this end in view. Then, properly, the question might come in, Will all who are begotten of the Holy Spirit attain to the divine nature? We answer, No. Some, according to the Scriptures, begotten of the Holy Spirit, will go into the Second Death, and not attain to any nature. Others begotten of the Holy Spirit will not attain to the divine nature, but attain to a spirit nature, lower than the divine. How this will be has been illustrated in the WATCH TOWER, but we will repeat some of the illustrations. For instance, among the bees: All bees are begotten in just the same way, whether they turn out to be a drone, queen bee or worker. There are three kinds, and the begetting is the same in every case. The after treatment causes the difference. One larvae becomes the queen simply because supplied a greater abundance of food and not because of any different begetting. So with the Church, begotten of the Holy Spirit. God provides the nourishment, and if you and I appropriate this and use it, it will build us up, and we will become the Queen, the Lord's Bride. Otherwise we may develop into the Great Company class or fail altogether in the Second Death.
ANSWER—The New Creature is real, so real that the New Creature can die the second death. If it were only a reckoned matter it would not be so serious, but the whole proposition is carried out, to my understanding, on a real basis; that we must really, not reckonedly, come and present ourselves a living sacrifice. Christ needed to have really died before He could impute His merit to us. If it were merely a reckoned matter, God could have dealt with the lackings we have, but Jesus really ascended up on high and presented the merit of His sacrifice on our behalf. Not until that moment could God grant the Holy Spirit to the waiting disciples, and that Holy Spirit came to them as a real begetting to the new nature, "old things have passed away and all things have become new;" very positively so, in my judgment.
ANSWER—The New Creature is begotten of incorruptible seed in the sense that this seed will not become unholy. It will not be corrupted. Therefore, the Apostle argues, if any of God's people, after receiving the holy Spirit, if they turn away from that holy Spirit, they are losing it entirely, that they are dying to it, that God's Spirit cannot be corrupted. You may give your will or consent to God's Spirit and then you may afterward take your will away from God's Spirit of begetting; but the Spirit of God always stays pure, holy, incorruptible, but that Spirit in you is the begettal or the energy of God working in you and to bring you to that incorruptible condition, if you allow that holy Spirit in you to do God's good pleasure, and then eventually, by the change of resurrection by God's favor you would be an incorruptible being beyond the veil. It is the holy Spirit that is incorruptible. It is the holy Spirit that cannot be perverted, and it will not stoop to corruption. As long, therefore, as we have this spirit energizing us and actuating us, we are incorruptible, but as soon as we renounce that, we do not change God's Spirit, but we become corrupted ourselves, and will die the second death, as St. Paul explains.
Q509:3 QUESTION (1911)—3—Please comment on Luke 15:7; "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance." Who are the ninety and nine, and who is the sinner?
ANSWER—This being a parabolic statement, it is not proper that we or anyone else should speak dogmatically. Neither the Lord nor the apostles have given us the interpretation. We must merely give you our guess; and our broad guess would be that the Lord here means to teach that there is great sympathy in heaven for all of those who have fallen in sin and who will be recovered out of it. Any sinner recovered from his sin would be a source of joy and rejoicing amongst the holy ones among the angels—more [Page Q510] joy over the returning of a sinner from his way than from the fact that a great many angels never sinned at all, and never left the right way, and never did therefore, return to it. As for man, there are no just men that need no repentance. There never have been. Adam was the only just, perfect man who ever lived, and by the deeds of the law none were justified. And as the apostle says, "There is none righteous; no, not one." Then anybody repenting would be one who had been an unjust person, and all the world had been unjust. All mankind, therefore, in coming back to God must come back repentedly, and there is joy in heaven over all the human family as they come back in harmony with God and in harmony with righteousness. We are not to think that the angels would despise those who come back, nor that the heavenly Father would despise them, but rather, there would be great joy in the recovery of each one from his fallen and sinful state, whether he come back now under the condition of the Gospel call, or whether he shall come back in the under Messiah's kingdom—no matter, there will always be joy in heaven over everyone who comes back into harmony with God. And whoever these just persons are, who need no repentance, they are not on earth, as far as we know. The angels of heaven, alone, would seem to me to fit this description, as being just persons who need no repentance. They never fell from their obedience to God, and never needed to be redeemed, or repent. Christ never died for their sins, for they have no sins. These great things God has done and Christ has done for sinners. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. That was for you and for me, and we were not just persons, nor anybody of the human kind.
Q510:1 QUESTION (1910)—1—In view of the fact that several dear brethren are coming into the truth, would the suggestion in a recent Tower of visiting the nominal churches apply to congregations of "Holy Rollers," etc.? Do you approve of visiting such meetings, under any circumstances?
ANSWER—Our suggestion in the Watch Tower was to the effect that it should not be considered as a sinful thing for us to visit some of the nominal churches. I have found some dear brethren and sisters who seem to feel that if they would even go into a nominal church they would commit a sin. I think they are making a mistake; and that mistake would quite likely crop out somewhere in their experiences with others and be injurious to the cause and to themselves. Therefore, this answer in the Watch Tower was to the effect that if there were no other meetings we could attend, and no other service would be neglected by our attending these, it might not be amiss sometimes to go to some nominal church meeting, and to take part, for instance, in a testimony meeting, using our opportunity with the others either to give a testimony or to offer a prayer and to join with them in singing. I could go into nearly any Methodist or Presbyterian congregation and feel sure I could have a good time with them. I believe many of them are well meaning. The fact that they are not as far advanced in Bible study as ourselves and do not see the divine plan as clearly as we do need not hinder us from having good fellowship with them to the extent they do see. If they love God, if they revere the name [Page Q511] of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if they are seeking to walk honestly, and soberly, and decently, let us be glad to give them recognition to that extent. Now, I do not wish to be understood as advising anybody to neglect meetings where they could go to still more spiritual advantage. As the Apostle says, Forget not the assembling of yourselves together. It is still better if you can meet with those who are advanced in the truth, and who could help you and to whom you in turn could be of special help. That certainly should be your course and certainly would be what you should do.
Then in respect to the meetings with Seventh Day Adventists, and Holy Rollers, Christian Scientists, and Spiritualists-I do not know how many the brother included in his question, but I would advise you to stay just as far away from all such people as you can; not because they are out of the general run, but because they seem to be, to our judgment, seriously out of the way. I cannot imagine, for instance, that we could be of any good or get any good in a Christian Science meeting. I feel sure that, for my own part, I would be doing wrong, and that I would be giving my influence to something that would be really pernicious, injurious. I would feel different in going amongst Methodists, and Presbyterians, and Baptists, and Episcopalians; I would feel that I was not doing any serious injury, and perhaps might have an opportunity of doing some good.
As for Spiritualists, I would not meet with them under any consideration, would not attend a seance if you would pay me a thousand dollars for it. Why? Because I thoroughly believe it is of the adversary, and I would think that I was putting myself in the way of evil, and that quite possibly some injury would come to me, I would not know how. If I did not know better the matter would be quite different, but since I do know better I am responsible for what I do know; and, similarly, with those who do not know better about Christian Science. No doubt honest people are amongst them, and honest people commingle with them. But, to my understanding, both Spiritualists and Christian Scientists deny the very fundamentals of Christianity.
Now, about the Holy Rollers. I have no doubt that some of them mean very well, and are deluded of the adversary, and I am sorry for them. But that would not mean that I should in any manner encourage them, or take any part with them; my conscience would not permit it. I would feel that I was dishonoring the Lord and that I was doing injury to them by being with them and seeming to give any measure of consent. But now these matters are for each one's own conscience and if anybody thinks differently, God bless him, let him follow his own conscience.
ANSWER—The word "Divine" signifies "the nature of God." The Creator, God, is a Spirit Being glorious and immortal, dwelling in light that is inaccessible to mortal man. One possessing the Divine, immortal nature could never die. The human nature is the highest form of the earthly or fleshly nature. The Divine nature is the highest form of the spirit nature. The spiritual nature is one thing and the fleshly nature is another thing. (1 Cor. 15: 44-46.) The blending of the two natures would produce a hybrid nature or being. As to which nature Christ possessed while in the flesh, let the scriptures speak: "The [Page Q808] Word (Logos, Jesus) was made flesh." (John 1:14.) "Christ. . . being indeed put to death (A Divine being could not die) in the flesh, but made alive in spirit." (1 Pet. 3:18.) "Since then the children have one common nature of flesh and blood. He also in like manner partook of these; in order that by means of His death He might vanquish him that hath the power of death." (Heb. 2:14; see also Heb. 2:6,7,9.) From the Scriptures it is apparent that the Lord Jesus left His spiritual nature and condition when He became the "Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all." At His resurrection He received the Divine nature and honor and glory as a reward for His obedience to the Father's will even unto death. Nature is simply organism, and varies according to the form or quality of the organism. The element of life is always the same.
ANSWER—Our Lord gives a clear answer to this question in Luke 10:29-37. He describes a man in distress and need. A priest came along and seeing the man passed by on the other side as if he were afraid he would be contaminated by even paying attention to the sufferer. A Levite did likewise. Then came a Samaritan (Samaritans were a mixed people, common and despised by the priestly class of Jews), and ministered unto the wants of the sufferer. The principle here taught is, that every man is your neighbor and should be treated kindly, generously, according to the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "Love your neighbors as yourself" and show that you do love them by dealing with all honestly, fairly and exactly as you would like others to deal with you. The Apostle Paul announces the proper principle saying, "Do good unto all men as you have opportunity." (Gal. 6:10.)
ANSWER—A better translation from the original Greek manuscripts renders the passage thus: "No one who has been begotten by God practices sin; because His Seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten by God." This begetting takes place at the time of the receiving of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is the beginning of the new spiritual life, the living of the Christlike life. This "new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17) is in an embryotic state or condition while in the flesh and will be born of the spirit in the resurrection. The spirit of the Lord God is the power or influence exerted upon the minds and hearts of those who have surrendered their own wills and are obedient to the Divine will. This holy power of the Lord gradually transforms the mind of the Christian, shaping [Page Q809] the mental faculties so that earthly hopes, desires and ambitions die, while heavenly spiritual ones are developed. The spirit-begotten New Creature becomes spiritually minded, develops a new mind; his mind is renewed for so states the Apostle: "Be not conformed to the things of this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds." (Rom. 12:2.) Because of the weakness and the imperfections of the flesh we sin almost constantly, not willfully; the new mind, the mind of Christ cannot sin. All who are honest with themselves will acknowledge that they are imperfect and cannot do the things that they would, perfectly. (See 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:1.) The embryotic New Creature (the mind of Christ dominated by the Holy Spirit) cannot sin (willfully) as long as "His Seed (the spirit) remaineth in him."
But one instance of straying from the path of rectitude and sobriety in a long life of fidelity to the principles of righteousness will stand out with startling distinctness and will be the subject of more consideration than all of the individual's noble acts and traits combined. However, we shall not leave Noah defenseless, but will call attention to the fact that his intoxication was after the flood and was wholly unintentional. The flood wrought great changes in the atmospheric conditions of our earth. To our understanding the deluge was produced by the precipitation to the earth of an immense quantity of water which previously had surrounded the earth at a distance as a cloudy canopy. The dissolution of this canopy or envelope of water not only produced the flood, but altered the conditions of nature so that storms, rains, etc., resulted—things which had never been before. (Gen. 2:5,6.) Another result, we believe, was the development of an acidulous condition of the atmosphere tending to produce ferment, which directly affected human longevity, so that according to the Scriptures the average of human life decreased from eight and nine hundred years to one hundred. This ferment from the changed atmosphere, affecting the grape, generated "mold," and hence the alcoholic condition which produces drunkenness. According to the record, Noah's drunkenness was the result of the first vintage of grapes after the flood, and it evidently was contrary to all of his experiences preceding the flood. We are justified, therefore, in supposing that this one instance of Noah's having been intoxicated was the result of ignorance respecting the changed character of the grape product fermented.
Q809:2 QUESTION—I am a young married man and my wife and I desire to be good Christian people. We think we ought to go [Page Q810] to church and worship God, but as there are ten different churches in our neighborhood, I am at a loss to know which to make our church home. I have attended each one several times, and none of them seems to satisfy our minds and hearts. In one church it is all formality and dress; in another it is a continual plea for money; in another the Bible is seldom referred to, but it is all Higher Criticism and Evolution. I am almost disgusted and would like to know if my wife and I cannot remain at home and read our Bible and be good Christians without supporting with our time and money what appears to me as being "clubs" instead of churches. (Candid.)
ANSWER—It is true that we can worship the Lord at home, and unless we do worship the Lord at home, our church worship would be of little benefit. Worship is not a mere form but devotion of the heart. However, we are admonished of the Lord to "forsake not the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. 10:25), and we should look carefully for a gathering of the Lord's people, however small in number. True Christians may be readily recognized by the test which the Master Himself instituted, "by their fruits ye shall know them."
Q810:1 QUESTION—In the parable of the vine and the branches given by the Lord Jesus (John 15:1-8), are we to understand that the branches would represent the different churches and denominations? (S. S. Scholar.)
ANSWER—A critical examination of the parable should thoroughly convince any Bible student that the "branches" could in no way represent the five-or six-hundred different religious denominations of Christendom. At the time the parable was given, there were no denominations, and none were organized until several centuries afterward. The Lord never authorized the formation of these denominational systems, and furthermore, He has never recognized them as His representatives. If anything, they are of the "vine of the earth" (Rev. 14:18) for they are of an earthly or human origin. It is very evident that this fact is coming more and more to be recognized even by the representatives of the various religious bodies as, in general, they are advocating a federation of all the churches, and the eradication of denominational lines. See what the Apostle has to say about denominationalism, 1 Cor. 3:3,4. The Master was addressing His disciples and telling them that they were the branches. His language is, "I am the true vine, ye are the branches." It becomes more apparent that He was referring to the individual when in the fifth verse, He says, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch." This same intimate relationship existing between the Lord and His faithful followers is pictured by the Apostle when he uses the illustration of the natural body to show how the brethren in Christ are members in particular of the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:14-27.