Q607:2 QUESTION (1909)—2—Please give a few moments to explain why we keep the first day of the week instead of the seventh. I had always been taught to keep the first day. Within a short time I have been told that I was not right.
ANSWER—The best answer I could give would be to refer this dear sister to what I have written. God gave to Israel a command that one-seventh of their time belonged to Him. The seventh day of the week was set apart as holy to the Lord—a day of rest from all labor—they were not allowed to do any work on this day. You remember [Page Q608] the account of the man who was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. It required work in those days to build a fire. In our day we turn on the gas and rub a stick with a little sulphur on the end of it and we have a light. The Lord didn't make this arrangement of keeping the Sabbath with us. You will remember also that in our Lord's day they made objections because the disciples passed through a wheat field and gathered some of the wheat and blew away the chaff and ate the wheat. In that day it was lawful for any person in passing through anybody's vineyard or field to eat all they wished of the product. On what ground then did they find fault with the Apostles? On the ground of working on the Sabbath—of threshing the wheat—rubbing it in their hands. They said, "You have broken the Sabbath day." That was the absurd degree to which they went. That seventh day was given to the Jew in an appropriate sense because it was intended as a type of the great seventh day of a thousand years' duration in which the whole world will have rest from sin. The human family will be greatly blessed on that seventh day. The Jewish Sabbath prefigured this day. But you say, "What day did He give to the Church?" He gave us all the time. We rest according to the antitypical meaning. We are resting today—we rested yesterday and we will rest tomorrow. How? We rest with God through the finished work of Christ. We are resting from our own works and our attempts to justify ourselves. This is the antitypical rest—the rest of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I am resting the most when I am working the hardest. This is the rest God has given to us, the Church—not the typical rest, but the antitypical. The peace of God that passeth all understanding has come to us. There is still another rest—a rest that remains for the people of God. But, you say, "What about keeping the first day of the week? There is no Scriptural command to keep any day." We can keep Wednesday or Monday or Thursday, but I think we will do better to keep all the days. We want to rest every day, and He will give us the desire of our hearts,—our good intentions. But how about the first day of the week? It is kept by some because they imagine God said they must keep the first day. You remember after our Lord's crucifixion that He appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week—while they were in the room with closed doors He suddenly appeared in their midst. "Oh," they said, "this is very wonderful." On the first day of the next week they were again together and He appeared again to them. So they got to coming together every first day in the week, and called it the Lord's day. They had breaking of bread together on that day—but this was not the Lord's supper. You remember how He appeared to two of them on the way to Emmaus—this was on the first day of the week. The first day of the week represents something now. In the Scriptures seven represents completion. During this Gospel Age it is very appropriate that we should celebrate the new beginning of new things. I shouldn't wonder if during the Millennial Age there would be some days set apart for the world to observe and it wouldn't surprise me if they kept the seventh day. He has suggested to us the specially appropriate day of the first.
ANSWER—I do not know whether the Lord told them that they should bring such offerings to the Lord or not. If God had not told them in so many words, we may reason that he told them in some other way. God's law was originally written in their hearts. They had at the top of their heads the organ of veneration which may have said to them, You ought to worship the great God who made the universe, you ought to bring something which would represent your desire to be in harmony with Him. This may have been the only thing, or He may have told them directly and definitely. But when they came with their offerings, and when they found that one was accepted and the other was not, Cain, finding that his was not acceptable, should have promptly withdrawn and gone and gotten one that was acceptable. He should have said, "Abel, I see that God has accepted your sacrifice and not mine, I will trade with you. Give me the finest animal you have and I will exchange for it all the fruit of the ground that I have." Then the Lord would have had respect for his offering. God wanted to teach that the only way in which divine justice would be propitiated would be by the sacrifice of life. God thus early began to give experimentally an observation lesson that a Savior would be at the cost of the life forfeited—the "Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world." Cain's manner shows that he did not have the proper respect for God.
ANSWER—From the Scriptures it is evident that during the Millennial Age the world of mankind will be privileged to offer themselves to God as gifts, but not as sacrifices. Hence, during the Millennial Age part of the work of the great High Priest will be to accept these gifts and to make them acceptable to God through His own merit and rights as the Melchizedek Priest. We can, however, apply this text very properly to the present time. The Apostle puts the word gifts first. We may, therefore, look to see whether there is not some way in which the High Priest offers gifts now. Surely our Lord's consecration of His own life was a gift on His part. The Father accepted that gift and ultimately permitted our Lord's gift to constitute a Sin-Offering for others. Likewise, throughout this Gospel Age, the "brethren" are invited to present their bodies living sacrifices—to give themselves to God—Rom. 12:1,2.
When we thus make a present of ourselves to God, we are not making a Sin-Offering to God; for this we could not do. But the Divine arrangement for accepting our gift is that each gift will be acceptable through the merit of Christ; and that then, later on, these gifts will, according to the same Divine arrangement, constitute the great Sin-Offering which the High Priest gives for the world. Thus the High Priest is ordained to make the ultimate offering of that gift as the Sin-Offering for the world.
Amongst those who served in the office of typical high [Page Q610] priest, says the Apostle, the uniform custom was that they should offer both gifts and sacrifices to God. Hence, he proceeds to point out that Jesus, as the Antitype of those priests, must have something to offer. He also must offer both gifts and sacrifices, in order to fulfil His priesthood. He presented Himself without spot unto God; and, by virtue of that presentation, He is a Sin-Offering unto God; and, through His merit, He makes the same true of His Church, who voluntarily give themselves to God.
Q610:1 QUESTION (1911-Z)—l—What is the object of having any sacrifices on the altar? Why is the Church on the altar with her Lord, as expressed by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 12:1), "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service." Why does God invite us to be living sacrifices with Christ, since Christ is sufficient as a ransom-price for the sins of the whole world"?
ANSWER—It is that the Father invites us to come in and be partakers of the sufferings of Christ in order that we may also be sharers of His glory; for it is only "if we suffer with Him that we may reign with Him—if we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him."
As our Lord was called to sacrifice, so the Church is also called. If He would be found worthy, if He would have the Father's highest approval, He must leave the glory which He had with the Father and must do all the Father might require of Him. And only by so doing would He gain the reward offered. During the Gospel Age the Church is invited to enter into that covenant with Him. We who are by nature sinners, "children of wrath, even as others," are justified through His merit in order to permit us to have a share in His suffering, in His sacrifice.
What is the use of all this? Why should this be done? That is the only way that we could be with Him on the spirit plane. If we retain the human nature we can never get to heaven. None can ever go to heaven except those of the sacrificial class. Those not begotten from above will never get a share in the heavenly blessing, but will get an earthly blessing, if they get any. They will keep their earthly nature and will in due time be made perfect. But those who are now invited to become the Bride of Christ are invited to join with Him in sacrifice. Our Lord sacrificed the earthly nature and its rights. All those who wish to belong to this Bride class must sacrifice the flesh, the earthly nature and its rights, etc., that they may be sharers with Him in the Heavenly, the divine nature.
Q610:2 QUESTION (1912)—2—Does the sacrifice of the Church cost Jesus anything? Is it in the sense of GIVING UP something that He is said to sacrifice it, or is it the WORK of sacrifice merely, as the High Priest OFFERED the sacrifices brought to Him?
ANSWER—It is not costing Jesus anything to receive us. His cost is all paid and the price fully laid down. There is no additional cost whatever. His one sacrifice is the basis for everything, and that is past long ago. As He receives us He takes us in the capacity of High Priest and we are the sacrifices. It costs Him something sympathetically, we might [Page Q611]say, but we are not able to appreciate the meaning of that. We cannot think of our Redeemer being grieved in any way. We have a merciful High Priest, able to be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. He is able to appreciate our infirmities and so to be long suffering towards us. We know that He knows what is the matter with us, because of His full sympathy. We have His full sympathy and thus we know that it is all right.
ANSWER—"Language is a medium for the communication of thought," and one person might use certain language to give expression to a thought, and another use different language to express the same thought. To say that we forego our restitution rights, is proper. To say that we sacrifice our restitution rights is equally proper. I would just as soon use one today and the other tomorrow.
ANSWER—In any translation from one language to another there is always danger of failing to express the original thought in its simplicity, and so in this case. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire." What is the thought there? Why, it is this: that although God desired and intended the establishment of the law covenant, the law arrangement with the people of Israel, that was not the full completeness of God's intention or desire. What He meant was that that should be the typical sacrifice, foreshadowing the antitypical sacrifice. These that He ordained or authorized for the time being were not what He meant eventually, were not the end or completion of God's purpose or desire in respect to sacrifice for sin. They were merely typical of that great desire which would be fulfilled in Christ. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, that is to say, was not all that God meant. He did accept this sacrifice and He did grant the Jews year by year a national forgiveness, and an opportunity to try again if they could meet the law; but these things were not the end of God's desire or intention. He had in mind the better sacrifices, the sacrifice of Christ, the great Redeemer, and then the better sacrifices of the church, the body of Christ, joined to His sacrifice. This is what God had as His great purpose, and that other was merely the typical, the foreshadowing of it.
ANSWER—There are certain rights and privileges which belong to all human beings. There are tastes and desires that are not sinful. It is not sinful to eat and enjoy that which is wholesome and nutritious; not sinful to have preferences as to what one shall eat. It is not sinful for one to have strawberries in the winter when that fruit is expensive, if one has the money to buy them and if he obtained the money rightfully. It would not be sinful to pay fifty [Page Q612] cents or a dollar for a box of them. It is no crime to have a fine house, servants, a pleasure yacht, an automobile, etc. If there are entertainments, concerts, operas, and these are of good moral tone, one has a perfect right to engage a seat for the same at five dollars, and to employ a taxicab in going. One as a natural man has a perfect right, if he is able, to any of these things, which are not sinful in themselves. Things that are sinful should, of course, always be avoided.
But when one undertakes to become a follower of Christ he accepts instead of his own will the will of God. And as Christ pleased not Himself, but used His time, His influence, His life, for the good of others, so those who become His disciples will forego their rights and privileges, whenever these would conflict with their service to God. The Christian could not reason the same as he did before he made his consecration. He could not say, I will spend five dollars to go to the opera; but he will be obliged to say, My means are consecrated to the Lord. The same principle will control his judgment as to whether he shall have an automobile or not; whether he shall have a fine house or shall own any house; whether he shall have the finest food; whether he shall wear fine clothing, or plainer clothing, etc. It will control his judgment as to his use of consecrated time.
But no one is to judge another in regard to the use of money or time in his possession as the Lord's steward. It is for the individual himself to decide how he will use these. And it is the Lord who will decide whether he has been a faithful steward or an unfaithful one. The Lord will decide that those who, like Jesus, shall sacrifice the enjoyable earthly things, that thereby they may the better glorify God, shall have the more than compensating spiritual blessings, and shall receive the reward of the Kingdom and its positions of honor.
ANSWER—The last part of this question has an important bearing upon the whole question—"in a New Creature." We are not to suppose that the New Creature does the sacrificing; for this is done before any of us become New Creatures. After we, as old creatures, reach the point where we desire to become God's people, we devote our lives to the Lord and ask that He accept us. Thus we bring ourselves to the great High Priest whom God has appointed, and offer ourselves to Him.
The Bible makes a limitation as to what constitutes sacrifice, and shows that only a priest can offer sacrifices lawfully. Since we come as sinners, not priests, we can only offer ourselves to the great High Priest, Jesus. He accepts us, justifies us through His own merit, and thus makes us acceptable to the Father. It is our earthly nature, our human nature, and all that pertains to it that is sacrificed. We simply offer it to the Lord; and He as our great High Priest imputes to it of His own merit and presents it to the Father, who accepts it and begets us by His Holy Spirit as New Creatures. This sacrifice of our human nature with all its rights and privileges is made once and forever. Thenceforth we are counted dead as human beings, but alive as New [Page Q613] Creatures. This New Creature is to grow in grace, in knowledge, in love. It is not to be sacrificed.
What, then, is to be sacrificed after we become New Creatures? We reply: The old creature is counted dead, both by God and by ourselves; but although reckoned dead, it is actually alive. Therefore it is the New Creature's business to keep the old nature on the altar, upon which the great High Priest has put it. In other words, the New Creature must keep the old nature dead, hold it in subjection. When our flesh is brought into contact with the fires of experience for its consumption, it is the old creature that weeps, not the New Creature. Let the goat weep if it will. The New Creature will rejoice in the Lord and in His providential care, as daily it grows in grace and in knowledge. When the old creature is knocked out, or brow-beaten, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 9:27), it will groan; but the New Creature will be glad and rejoice in the Lord.
We recall with comfort and encouragement the case of St. Paul and Silas in prison at Philippi. While their flesh was lacerated with the whipping they had received, yet they rejoiced in spirit and were able to sing praises to God. (Acts 16:26.) Thus should it be with us as New Creatures. While the flesh suffers, the spirit should rejoice always, as saith the Word of God. (Philippians 4:4.) We rejoice because God's favor and blessing are with us as New Creatures.
We should endeavor to forget earthly things. To enable us to do this, we should not dwell too much upon them; for it is only the flesh that suffers, and the Apostle intimates that it must suffer until it dies. Therefore do not make too much of the sufferings of the flesh. Do not talk too much about your painful experiences and about the things of the present. "Forget the things that are behind." Think mostly about the blessings of the Heavenly Father and of the glorious hope which is held out for us in the future; and let the old nature with all its interests, die daily.
Of course, there are times in the Testimony Meetings when it would be proper to tell how the Lord has brought us out of our difficulties, trials and sufferings; but our effort should be to forget these sufferings of the flesh. If we dwell upon them and talk too much about them, we are in danger of developing spiritual pride. Speaking about his own sufferings on one occasion, the Apostle Paul said, "I speak as a fool." (2 Cor. 11:23.) But if he had not told us something about his sufferings, we would not know that he had the trials and difficulties which he enumerates. There is a right way to relate such things, and there is a wrong way. The Apostle was narrating his experiences for our benefit, not as a matter of boasting. We are to do likewise. We might be excusable in raking up some past experience and relating it, if thereby we might do good to someone. Otherwise we had better bury it, let it remain hidden from sight forever. "Ye are dead, and your lives are hid with Christ in God."—Col. 3:3.
ANSWER—In one sense of the word, no one does any sacrificing except the great High Priest. What we do is [Page Q614] to consecrate our wills, and present our bodies that they may be living sacrifices, that the great High Priest may make sacrifices of them. It should be easily discerned that merely killing an animal is not sacrificing it. The Jews killed thousands of animals for food, just as we do today; but these animals were not sacrificed by merely being killed. No sacrifice can be offered except by an arrangement with God; and He has arranged that sacrificing must be done by a priest. The priest that sacrificed under the Jewish Law was the high priest, the others being his assistants, and taking his place in case of death. The high priest was the one who typified Jesus; and Jesus alone is the One who is able to offer up the antitypical sacrifices. All that the followers of Jesus do, therefore, is to present themselves.
This presentation in the type was pictured by the goat's being tied at the door of the Tabernacle. In other words, this class devote, set apart, consecrate themselves as human beings. It is after Jesus lays hold of this individual, accepts his consecration, imputes His own merit, and offers him to the Father, that the Father's acceptance is manifested through the Son, the great High Priest, by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Thenceforth such an one is a member of the Body of Christ, and his name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, from which it will not be blotted out if he maintains his faithfulness.
ANSWER—The sacrifice we have to offer is as the Apostle expresses it in Rom. 12:1. Your sacrifice would not be holy and acceptable, but it is made holy and acceptable as such by the Advocate imputing of his merit to cover your sacrifice. Present your bodies. What does that include? It includes all you have, your thoughts, your words and your doings. Present the whole thing to God and henceforth you are to do the best of your ability, whether making shoes, washing dishes or clothes, sawing wood—whatever you may be doing, seek to do all things to the glory of God, that you may glorify him in spirit and mind which are his. In your mind you ought to be glorifying him by singing and making melody. In your body, serving him in some way, by doing whatever you do as unto the Lord. If your business is not glorifying the Lord, ask the Lord to help you, and look about to see what you can do to serve him. If your business is taking all of your time, you can look about and see what you can cut off, or burn up a lot of your bric-a-brac. I can see those nice things any day by walking down the street. I can see all I want in the show windows. As I go along the street I look at them, and enjoy them. They are kept all ready in the windows so I can see them, and it leaves me free to do something else. With the pen, write letters to your friends, sending them tracts, or engaging in volunteer work, or colporteur work, whatever it may be. Ask the Lord to permit you to be used in the service, telling him that you have made your consecration to that end; that it was not formality, and you want to carry it out. Then keep your eyes open. If you sit in a street car, have a tract with you, and judge to whom and which one you should give it. "A word in season, fitly spoken, how good it is." Put in the right [Page Q615] word at the right time. You can do ten times as much with a good word at the right time as you can with the right word at the wrong time. This is glorifying the Lord in your body; it is the least you can do. When we think of the fact that our great Lord and Redeemer, as well as our heavenly Father, has made this wonderful proposition, that he proposes to give us a share in the heavenly kingdom, and that he is now waiting to see if we have the right spirit in the matter, it is conditioned upon our manifesting his spirit, which is something that we did not have by nature. This is one of the things that belong to the fallen nature—me, my, ours, the somebody class. God bless me and my wife, and my son John and his wife; us four and no more. Not many pray that way. When we give ourselves we give our lives, our time, talent, money—everything goes. Now the Lord said, when you gave it to me you surrendered it. All Lord? Yes. I would not think of deceiving you. David said, Try and prove me and see if there is anything wicked in me, and if there is, take it away, etc. So, then, that is properly our attitude of mind. Let us see. We say, Now, Lord, you are going to demand the things I gave you? No. How is that? I am going to make you steward. What do you mean? I am going to leave all my things in your care, all your time, influence, money, everything, I am going to prove you by leaving them in your hands. I am not going to take them from you, for I do not need them. Why, all the gold and silver, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, belong to me. I will see what you will do—that is what the parable represents. He spoke of a nobleman who went into a far country and the Lord used this nobleman to represent himself. Before going he called his servants and distributed his goods to everybody and gave them the pounds and talents. He said, now, look here, trade with these until I return. When he returned he did not call the whole world, but his servants, all to whom he gave anything. Well, you say, he did not give me anything. Yes he did. When you consecrated you gave whatever you had, one, two or five talents, and he put it into your hands and made you a steward. Now a steward is one who has full control, without any restrictions. Now, what have you done, are you one of my servants? Yes. Have you anything of mine? Yes, all that I have is yours. Render up an account. Here are the facts—he is looking for returns, he will see what you have done, and your reward will be according to your faithfulness, and according to your work, and now if you have been careful and tried to do your best, he will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many, have dominion over two, five cities, etc."
You and I are now living in the very time he is about to establish the kingdom over the world, and he is present, investigating, examining, calling you and me to render up an account. I am glad there are a few days left; we want to trade with our capital a little more here, until our talent increases, etc. Only a little time, and we want to hear what the Master has to say.
Q615:1 QUESTION (l910)—l—Could a consecrated member of the Little Flock have an evil influence cast over him by someone [Page Q616] else, so he would not be responsible for his acts or his misunderstanding of doctrinal points?
ANSWER—I think so. I think of the case of Judas. He had an evil influence cast over him; as we read, "Satan entered into him and he went and sold the Master." But the question is, How could Satan enter into one who was consecrated? Because that consecrated one did not live his consecrated life. If Judas had maintained an attitude of consecration to the Master, Satan would never have had the opportunity; it was because he was at heart disloyal. In John's Gospel it reads as though he were a deliberate thief. He seems not to have had an interest in the Lord's work from the right standpoint. Six days before Jesus was crucified, when the Lord had been telling them that he would be crucified, Judas was thinking at the time about the money, so that when Mary poured out the ointment upon the Lord and anointed him, as the Scriptures say, for his burial, Judas thought to himself, Wrong, wrong, that money should have been put in my bag. There are the poor; I am the poor one. He was the one who wanted the money. He lost the spirit of discipleship, and he was ready to sell his Master for money. I believe it is possible for any consecrated one to let himself go on and allow wrong suggestions and motives to rule in his heart, and get further and further from the Lord, until he is ready for the Adversary to take possession. I do not think this is possible for anyone who is loyal to the Lord.
I might remark that there are a great many others who can tell you more about 1910, 1911, 1912,1913 and 1914 than I can. I am not to judge them for what they know. I merely tell you that I do not know, except what is already presented in the Watch Tower and Scripture Studies, viz.: that our understanding is that the harvest began in the autumn of 1874, that there an important point was marked; also by the spring of 1878; and another in the fall of 1881, and that there is no time mentioned that I know of in the Bible, from 1881 to October, 1914.
In the 3rd Volume of Scripture Studies, in connection with the Pyramid, we suggested a certain measurement into the upper step of the Grand Gallery, but we did not know that it meant anything, and do not today. It will not hurt you to be watching every day and every year, but I would advise you not to place any confidence in what anybody tells you is going to take place in between now and 1914. They may feel sure they know. I do not feel sure that they know. I do feel sure that I do not know.
ANSWER—We would not address the saints because there is no necessity for addressing them. To address the saints would be to cast indignity upon our Lord. God has provided that we shall have an Advocate, and to go aside from that Advocate and address somebody else would be to do dishonor to the Advocate, and to the one who appointed him as Advocate. Therefore I would not think of addressing them. They do not in any sense stand between my soul and the Lord Jesus; I do not need them at all. I want to go directly, as God said I may, to him in the name of Jesus, by using Jesus as my Advocate—"We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." We have no other advocate, and anyone who goes in any other way is taking a sidetrack, and will never reach the destination, but is led off in another direction. We think our Catholic friends make a great mistake in addressing any others than the Advocate whom God appointed.
ANSWER—I am not wise enough to answer. I think no one is. We had thought so. We had supposed that all the saints would be beyond the vail before the Times of the Gentiles ended. God did not say they would be, but we inferred so, and you know our inferences may prove wrong, and in this case did prove wrong. We were not taken. The Times of the Gentiles have ended and we are still here. So we do not know just when our time will come. To say that we will all be taken before the Time of Trouble is ended, would be to say what I believe. There is one thing I think we will all agree upon—that we believe we will all be taken before the "Armageddon" feature. You know the Bible gives us the symbols of the loosing of the "winds," which is this great war. Then comes the "earthquake," which is the great Revolution to follow. Then comes the "fire," the Anarchy—Armageddon experiences. I think the Church, the Bride class, will be gone before that Armageddon experience, but cannot be sure. We will leave the subject there.
Q617:3 QUESTION (1909)—3—A saloon keeper coming into the Truth in a state where liquor selling is a legal business, would you consider his license, lease and stock, property that he might sell, or should he simply abandon the business?
ANSWER—I think he should follow his own conscience, but I think my conscience would not permit me to sell liquor for intoxicating purposes. As for the license, I do not suppose he could sell it for anything. I think I would destroy it. As for the place of business, I would not risk setting it on fire, but I think I would try to dispose of the house and throw away or destroy the liquor. I would not be a party in the liquor business or anything else that would injure my neighbor, but the party must use his own conscience and judgment.
Q617:4 QUESTION (1910)—4—Please explain [Page Q618] Mark 9:49,50, "For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its saltiness wherewith shall ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."
ANSWER—We have offered some suggestions as to what these verses mean, what the salt signifies, that it signifies a purifying quality, it gives flavor to whatever it is attached to, and seems to signify a preservative quality that is a detriment to corruption, and the Lord expresses it, saying, the Church is the salt of the earth, implying that if the earth were to lose the Church it would lose that which gives it flavor and puts zest into life and helps to keep things in a right condition. So if we should lose our saltness, it would seem to mean that if we lost the quality of being separate from the world and have the spirit of pride, we would lose our Christianity, and cease to be the Lord's representatives. If the saltness were once lost by us there would not be any way it could be restored by us. There is no way to restore saltness to salt when once it has gone. So if we lose the holy Spirit there is no way by which we could be renewed again.
ANSWER—The saluting of people by the way is a very common custom in Palestine, even yet. People seldom pass one another without saluting and discussing the news of the day; a function now supplied by the telephones, telegraph and newspapers. Jesus was sending out his disciples with a special message, and he did not wish them to spend time on the way discussing ordinary matters. They were bearers of the divine message. We are not to suppose that they could not salute by a wave of the hand or a word of greeting; but they were not to stop to enter into the ordinary salutations and conversations. Their business was to go to the various cities and towns, and there tell the people that the kingdom of Heaven was at hand; that he of whom Moses wrote had come. The seventy went out with a special message and were to appreciate it. "This one thing I do"—preach the Gospel—wrote St. Paul in the same spirit. Oh, that we all as followers of Jesus could realize such a devotion to the interests of the kingdom! Less time would be spent in news reading and gossip.
Q618:2 QUESTION (1916)—2—Please explain how to apply the words "Salute one another with a holy kiss" found in Romans 16:16, and also "Greet one another with a holy kiss" found in 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, and also "Greet the brethren with a kiss of charity," 1 Pet. 5:14?
ANSWER—In European countries, especially in the east, it is frequently the custom for men to kiss one another. I have seen men over there frequently hug and kiss each other—Jews, Greeks, Syrians, Arabians, etc.—they would hug and kiss each other when they met, in a way that you would never see here or in most parts of Europe. I suppose this was the custom in the Apostles' day. There was no intimation that the brethren should kiss the sisters or the sisters kiss the brethren. The sex dividing line was very strict in [Page Q619] olden times so that there was no indiscriminate kissing among them, neither should there be among the friends now. There would be nothing wrong in a kiss of love. My father once kissed me that way, so did a brother in the truth, and so also did one of the Pilgrim brethren one time. So, you see, I have had experience.
Q619:1 QUESTION (1905)—1—Is not our "common salvation" the salvation of all from the Adamic death? Am I right in understanding that while it relates to both the heavenly and earthly phases it will also continue the common and only salvation of the world, while the church is to share the "great salvation"?
ANSWER—Well, I know that the apostle uses the words "our common salvation" and he also speaks of the "great salvation" when he says, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by our Lord?" We can realize in our minds that there is a salvation by justification through faith, which is the common salvation, which will apply to all the world in due time. Then again, there is this wonderful blessing the privilege of being joint-heirs with God's Son. These statements can be taken in either way.
Q619:2 QUESTION (1909)—2—Please explain the words of the Apostle, "Work out your own salvation, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure." What is the force of the argument "for" in the passage?
ANSWER—I would understand it to be this: Work out your own salvation. That is to say, God has placed you in the school of Christ, and gives you certain knowledge and helps that are for the Church, and all these are for the edifying of the Saints and for building up in the most holy faith, until we all come to the full stature of Christ Jesus, the Head, and the Church the Body. Now, you have to do with this work of becoming a member of the Body of Christ. It depends upon how you receive of His spirit, and how you receive the truth into good and honest hearts, how you allow it to permeate and work in your character.
What has the "for" to do with it? "For it is God that worketh." If you thought of doing it from the standpoint of working it yourself, you would say, How helpless I am I have tried it and gone under at the same point over and over again. I get so discouraged and don't know what to do. Remember that it is God that is working with you. Is God working for you or against you? He is working for you, dear brother, with you, for you. What does He wish to do for you? He wishes to bring you off more than conqueror, a member of the Body of Christ, and therefore gives us His exceeding great and precious promises whereby we might become partakers of the Divine nature.
ANSWER—Whichever way you choose to express it. He does not save you from dying. The power of death is on us all now, and that power is gradually crushing us as the days go by, until it will have us down altogether. And [Page Q620] then the Lord will not only rescue those who are under the power or dominion of death, and who are going down towards the pit, down towards the grave, but will also rescue those who have gone down completely into death. They will all come forth. "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth."
ANSWER—We have funny kinds of brains, dear friends, and we have to have sympathy with each other, too. I am not laughing at our dear brother's question, and you are not, but it made me think how unsatisfactory our reasoning faculties are. The way in which God saves us by grace is not against our wills. He makes the provision for our salvation. He is making provision for the salvation of every member of our race. Is not that grace? Is not that favor? Favor means grace and grace means favor. Is it not a great favor then that God has provided a way by which you and I may escape, and everybody else may escape the death penalty, and may come back to eternal life and divine favor? Is not that a great blessing? Yes, indeed. Now then, whoever will be saved at any time will be saved by grace; but will God ever save any person against that person's will, and co-operation? Never. Not one will ever be saved except as he accepts God's favor and co-operates with the divine favor and blessing. So that God's grace or favor provides a whole salvation, everything connected with it is provided, and then it is for you and me and each other person as he hears and comes to an understanding and opportunity, to avail himself of this, and if he does not avail himself of it, then he receives the grace of God in vain and will not profit by it whatever.
Q620:2 QUESTION (1910)—2—Please explain 1 Cor. 6:11, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
ANSWER—Well, we answer, that is very plain. You were sinners, but you have turned from your sins. If you have not, then Jesus would not have received you and acted as your Advocate. If the whole world would turn from sin and desire to walk in his steps, don't you suppose he would be willing to act as their Advocate also? Surely. But the whole world has not turned from their sin. They love sin. When you loved sin, if that ever was your experience, you were aliens from God and he had nothing to do with you. It was after you turned from sin that God could deal with you. You drew nigh to him and he drew nigh to you, and you were brought into the position of a son.
ANSWER—That is more than I know. I take it for granted, dear friends, that the word Satan, here in Rev. 20, is the one referred to and that the chain is a symbolic one, a power, a restraining power. "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him (with a chain Rev 20:1) for a thousand years." [Page Q621] We might conjecture what influences are represented by the chain, etc. To my understanding these terms—devil, serpent, satan, etc.,—not only include Satan himself, but all the evil institutions as well. It means restraining the evil in general, probably by the institution of laws of righteousness. I would think it would be after 1914. "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants thereof will learn righteousness." As an illustration of how it may be, suppose a man tried to pick somebody's pocket; his hand might become paralyzed. After a while he might recover the use of his hand and then try it again, but with the same result. He would soon realize that he had better get into a different business. Also if a man were to try to burglarize a store and just as he was about to use the key he would go blind. He would soon find that the business did not pay as well as it used to before 1914. In that time they shall not judge by the hearing of the ear, or seeing of the eye; it will be known by the mind.
Q621:1 QUESTION (1908)—l—Does Satan understand the Plan of God? If spiritual things are not discerned except by the spiritual minded, it looks as if Satan is not privileged to understand as much as is the begotten Church.
ANSWER—We answer, that is so. We have brought that to notice in the Dawns and Towers both, that Satan is not acquainted with the Divine Plan, except as he can find it out from the people of God. And I should not wonder if some of his messengers were present now to see what we have on this subject. He is very well acquainted with certain features of the Plan, but he knows that he does not know the secret of the Lord, for "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his covenant." We think that Satan is shrewd enough to have some general idea as to who those are that are in the secret of the Lord, and quite likely draws information sometimes from them; but we may be sure that he will not be able to get any information that will interfere with our great heavenly Father's plan. If the good man of the house—or bad man—had known of the hour the thief should come, he would have watched and not have suffered his house to be broken into, is our Lord's statement; and he is here evidently representing Satan as the good man, or master of the present institutions, of the present evil world, the prince of this world, and had he understood the divine plan, he would have tried to make it very difficult for the thing to come about in the divine way. But the Lord has such a mastery of the whole situation that all the wisdom of the worldly wise is foolishness, and also the wisdom of the great adversary is foolishness as respects His divine plan or any attempt to overthrow the same.
ANSWER—I answer, no. The binding of Satan is not the giving of health. Satan here merely means that adverse influence, putting darkness for light and vice versa. That influence will be completely bound as the light of truth displaces the darkness.
But, as for giving health and stopping disease and death, my understanding is that it will all be done under God's arrangement under the New Covenant, and that that New Covenant will be made with the nation of Israel, and that only those of a right heart amongst Israel will get blessings from it. As Israel will more and more get the blessings, the other nations will see their blessings and prosperity and they will say: "Let us go up to the mountain of the house of the Lord and we will walk in His paths." He is going to make all of His blessings go through this New Covenant and through Israel, so that all the nations may come in. The prophet said of those nations that would not come up to Jerusalem, that upon them should come no rain. Whether you use "rain" as literal rain or as blessings, we know that He is going to let it rain until all the earth is filled ocean deep. These blessings are to be with only those who are in harmony with Him, and with the New Covenant. Whoever ignores God's arrangement suffers for it, and he will not have God's blessing. When they see the prosperity of Israel they will all want to join with them, and every individual who wants God's blessings will come into this New Covenant with Israel, as we read: "I have constituted thee a father of many nations." Here the many nations will be the children of Abraham. All will have to join the natural stock of Israel, just as foreigners who come to this country become naturalized when they take out their papers of citizenship they are then known as Americans, or citizens of the United States. So it will be then, for it will be under Israel's New Covenant that all the world will be blessed. I remind you of the 16th chapter of Ezekiel, (Eze.16:20) "When I bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of the captives in the midst of them . . . and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant." Not by the Old Covenant, "I will make a New Covenant," and they will come in under this arrangement. Our Lord is there pointing out the restitution blessings.
ANSWER—I would understand that Satan has not deteriorated in any physical sense, but has the same power, and that all the fallen angels have the same power they always had; that there was no death sentence upon them; that they have not degenerated as men have. Whatever change has come to them has been merely in their own attitude—at least they have developed a devilish spirit among them, and we suppose to suit their purposes they could simulate righteousness. As, for instance, there was a woman came to me here at the theater this afternoon and told me that perhaps I did not know it, but Christ had come the second time in her person, and she had the evidences and proofs of it in her own person; that she was possessed by Christ and he was acting through her. I tried to tell her she was probably under the deception of the Adversary, that he was misrepresenting it to be the power of Christ moving in her, but she would not hear that at all, she knew what she had. So I would think it quite possible for Satan to transform himself into a minister of righteousness. The Apostle used these words, they are not original with me. I do not have anything original. Mine is all copied, and is what I find the Apostles and Jesus said, I hope I never shall be original.
ANSWER—I do not know. There is a good deal of satanic power still exercised. If he is bound I am sure the others are loose. My thought is that there will be a still further letting loose of the powers of the air in the near future and that probably is what is signified in the Scriptures in the statement in Revelation that the four angels upon the four points of the compass will be commanded to let loose the winds just as soon as the number of elect have been sealed in their foreheads. And this will probably signify not merely a letting loose of many false doctrines, symbolically represented by winds, but also much of this satanic power, power of the demons represented by the power of the air of which Satan is the prince.
ANSWER—These that die the second death are not counted as enemies at all, Satan or anybody else; that is to say, their death. They are enemies but their death is not an enemy. Death reigning over them is not an enemy to righteousness, it is a friend to righteousness in that case. The first death is against us; it is an enemy.
Q623:4 QUESTION (1911)—4—Should we understand that Satan was bound at the beginning of the seventh thousand-year period, namely, in 1874? or should we expect that he will be bound in 1915, the end of the Times of the Gentiles?
ANSWER—Well, if Satan personally is bound, there are a good many that have his spirit who are still loose—in Winnipeg, Brooklyn and other places. I think I would not lay too much stress on Satan's having been bound in 1874. If I should find out afterwards that he was bound then, I would say, "Well, I did not notice it very much." I think l would not worry myself any on that subject. We have plenty of evidence of the reign of sin going on, whether Satan has suffered any personal defeat or not; I doubt if anybody else knows.
ANSWER—I can think of no Scriptures either confirming or denying that proposition. In my own judgment the indications of everything in the Scriptures I can think of would lead me to conclude that Satan is able to read our thoughts, but if he be able to read our thoughts we think there is a limitation, and he is not able to inject his thoughts. [Page Q624] We thank God for that. But we do think he is very ready to take advantage of any little slip that we may make, or opportunity we might give to intrude upon our minds. We do know some who have been God's people, who are God's people now, who are being intruded upon by evil spirits. They, at one time, had something to do with spiritism, and every now and again they are approached with further suggestions. One sister told me that she used to be a writing medium; the power would grip her hand, and if she would just yield it would guide her hand and thus write off the messages. Any time it indicated it had a message to write she would say, "I wonder what the spirits have to say." After she found what the spirits really are, that they are not the dead wishing to speak to the human beings, but evil spirits, fallen angels, she would not have anything to do with them. She has come into the Truth, and this is not an exceptional case. Another sister had been at one time misled into having a planchette and used it with her family, thinking that the writing was caused by some electrical power; she never thought evil spirits' power had any connection with the matter, but merely some electrical energy. She thus got more or less acquainted with these things and of late has had a second attack of these spirits, coming to her house. They will come in—she can hear them come in—and hear footsteps in the hall. This happens at a certain hour every day.
The only effective relief I know is to command them in the name of the Lord Jesus to depart. I know of certain cases where that has been successful and the friends have been relieved. In every case, however, the attack of the spirits was directed upon those who had been indiscreet enough to have something to do with them before. It seems that once having yielded to their power gives them liberty to intrude on future occasions. Some people are subject to hearing things which others cannot hear. The things they hear are sometimes terrible and profane, and at other times the voices will talk to them about very nice things. One man told me about how God spoke to him; he said I know it is God; He tells me thus and so, and how I should pray more. I said, God is not speaking to us now in these last days, but has spoken to us through His Son and the Apostles, and we have the words of Jesus and the Apostles; this is God's Word. Therefore, we should not give heed to these voices which are the voices of evil spirits. By and by he said, These things do look that way; I seem to hear two or three voices all speaking at the same time as on a telephone. I told him he should be careful, or he would become insane.
In the case of the sister who mentioned hearing spirits come every night, she said, "My little boy will say, 'has the ghost come in yet?'" Are they not afraid, we asked? "No," she said, "they see I am not afraid. The Lord is able to take care of us, and the children see I am not afraid of it." The world is in ignorance on the matter, and the whole [Page Q625] world is therefore in a condition to be led captive by Satan at his will.
ANSWER—We do not know of any Scripture which tells us this. We do not know that any such Scripture should be in the Bible. The Bible does not tell us everything of that kind, dear brethren. But we have good reason for thinking that Satan can read our thoughts. Your own experiences lead you to think that he has often read your thoughts (laughter), and we think it is just as well to imagine that he can, and then see that they are the kind of thoughts he wouldn't like (laughter).
ANSWER—I think that Satan is being bound. It would not look well to be too dogmatic on such a figurative expression; but as I look over the world, I see that those things mentioned in the Bible as emanating from Satan, the Adversary of God and Truth, are being bound every day. For instance, Satan's influence in the liquor traffic is being bound. I am glad to see this. Some take a different view, but I think that they are taking the wrong view. Some think that we are opposed to the temperance movement because we do not go into it; but we are in sympathy with everything that is good. The reason why I am not going into it is that I think the Lord has something more important for me to do. But this does not mean that I am opposed to that movement. We ought to have sympathy with everything in the way of reform in earth. Everything that will help others in any way we ought to be in sympathy with.
For myself, I feel like going right out and having a share in all these good works; but the Lord has given me plenty to do without them—so much so that I have no time for anything beyond the commission which He has given me for the Household of Faith, and not for the world. My commission keeps me busy. This present Age is the time which He has devoted to the Church. We ought to be in sympathy with every good work of men, and to forbid no good work, but to be glad that people are doing good. I may be sorry that they are not doing it in the right way; but still I am in sympathy with the motive, with the intention. We should not hinder any good work; but as the Scriptures say, "We ought to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially unto the Household of Faith."
Satan's influence, as I understand it, is being bound through this prohibition movement, through other similar movements and through everything which tends to enlighten the minds of men and give them a better understanding of conditions. I think that certain things will shortly be revealed in Europe concerning those governments which claim to be the Kingdoms of Christ, and, as the people's eyes become opened to the Truth on this and kindred subjects, the chains of ignorance and error will be broken. Satan's influence comes largely through error, and is maintained through vari- [Page Q626] various instrumentalities. He is being bound in proportion as the Truth becomes known; for thus his liberties are restrained.
This binding process must go on to a considerable extent before the great Time of Trouble shall come. The Strong Man of the House must be bound before his goods can be spoiled. All the present institutions of the world are Satan's goods and arrangements. These will be spoiled in the great time of anarchy which will make ready for the establishment of the Kingdom of Messiah. Before anarchy comes Satan must be bound. How will it come then, if he be bound? The collapse of Babylon will indicate that Satan has been quite fully bound. He is working very hard with ecclesiastical systems and false doctrines. Their collapse will mean his binding.
When will this be? Not right away. It is identified with the smiting of the river Jordan; but before the river will be smitten the war will come to an end. After the war, the church systems will have a great deal of prosperity for a while. The depleted kingdoms of the earth will feel the need of these denominational supports, and they will get it. The preachers are now working to get men to go to the front. In Great Britain and Australia, ministers of the Gospel of Christ, go out and do recruiting. They are doing what they can to encourage and aid the war. Sometimes they even preach in their pulpits with their uniforms on. The governments like this.
The church and the state are getting pretty well welded together. They depend upon each other, and will get pretty closely united in the time of need. Then these nominal churches will become quite prominent, and churchianity will be given great power. At that time one who does not go in with them will be considered an anarchist. They will inquire, "Why do you not get into the ranks as others do?" and their conclusion will be, "Oh, you are an anarchist!" Then they will be disposed to look with disfavor upon every one who will not go in with the general run, and will be inclined to regard him as an enemy. As the education of the people along the lines of Truth increases, the people will see the Truth more and more. Consequently, and eventually, there will come a division of the people and the fall of great Babylon. The people will come to see that it represents mere morality, not real Christianity. One can see this going on now in the world, to some extent.
Real Christianity is not being rightly appreciated except by a few. But through the spread of the Truth and the consequent division of the waters, churchianity will collapse. A little later on we may expect a separation of the two classes in the church. This will mean persecution. Then the Great Company, not willing to share the persecution, will, because of it, fall away; but the Little Flock Class will not be ashamed of persecution. After the Church has thus been separated by persecution, then the Little Flock will, by and by, be taken away entirely by the whirlwind. They will thus be taken into Heaven. It might be through anarchy about the time when Great Babylon will collapse. The division of the people will come first, followed by the persecution of the Church. Then comes the fall of Babylon, after which the great anarchy and trouble will come on the world. Babylon will fall before the kingdoms will fall; for in the Book of [Page Q627] Revelation we read that the kings of the earth will stand afar off when they behold Babylon fall, and see the smoke of her burning. That means that they will not come in to help her. They will perceive that the masses of the people have turned against churchianity. At that time, no doubt, the people will be in such a humor they will be glad to get rid of us also. Shortly after Babylon goes down, the great conflagration will reach the whole world.—Rev. 18:1-20.
ANSWER—Not with handcuffs. Just how, we do not know. The great and important thought is that he shall be bound. Whether this shall be accomplished by the Word or by some other power, let us not worry about that! The Word says that he will be bound for a thousand years. That is enough. If the Lord had cared to give us more information on this point He would have done so, and we are therefore content with what we have. I suppose as the light increases the prince of darkness will thus be restrained of his liberties. I do not give this out as an interpretation. The Bible does not tell us how this will be accomplished and therefore it is enough for us to know that it is written "Satan shall be bound for a thousand years."
ANSWER—There are two questions. We will take the last one first. I think Satan's Empire is in process of destruction. I think that every ray of light that shines out on any subject to that extent is Satan's empire every moment, being broken. I see in the great wave of prohibition a certain breaking of the power of Satan that I rejoice in. I see this also in the light of truth going forth from the Divine Plan that we are all engaged in, shining forth to all who have hearing ears. I believe that this is not only affecting God's people, but I think worldly people are beginning to see things, as well. Worldly people frequently meet me on the street and tell me that they understand a great deal. We do not expect them to understand the deep things because the natural mind receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But they can understand a great deal. They can see where they were in darkness and error before. In Duluth at the close of the public meeting one man came to me and said, "I have enjoyed this night very much," and that is a great deal for a Roman Catholic to say. He was beginning to see some light upon things which had been dark heretofore; and so also the Presbyterians or Methodists will sometimes say to me, "I am with you so far as the shackles of ignorance and superstition are concerned." So Satan's empire is being shaken, but it has not gone yet. Satan is not by any means dead or bound, though.
Q628:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—"And I heard the number of them which were sealed, and there were sealed 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel." Does this mean that that is all there will be saved?
ANSWER—No, there are some to be saved that are not sealed. To our understanding, that 144,000 exactly corresponds to this man we have just had in a previous question.* God is raising up the great man, this anti-type of Moses, or has been in the process of raising him up—or, in other words, this 144,000, the spiritual seed of Abraham, of whom the Apostle Paul says, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs, according to the promise"—these are the seed of Abraham that will be as the stars of heaven in contrast with the earthly seed of Abraham which will be as the sand of the sea shore, and which eventually will include all nations, peoples, kindred's and tongues; as it is written of Abraham, "I have constituted thee a father of many nations"—not merely father of the Jewish nation, but father of many nations. So all the nations eventually to be saved will come in under Israel's New Covenant, and all become children of Abraham through faith and through obedience. But now in the mean time, and before that blessing comes to Israel in the flesh, and before it comes through Israel in the flesh to all the other nations, God is first gathering out this spiritual class, this 144,000. And so you will find in the book of Revelation, this 144,000 is said to have been gathered or sealed, out of the twelve tribes of Israel—12,000 out of each tribe sealed. That is to say, God planned the entire matter as though he would get the whole number of Abraham's spiritual seed out of the twelve tribes of Israel—he planned it on that basis. Then he proceed to get just as many of the children of Israel according to the flesh as were worthy of a place in that spiritual class, to bring to that sealed class, sealed of the Holy Spirit. We know, for instance, this much about the matter, that Jesus during his ministry, gathered some 500 brethren, as Saint Paul calls them. We know also on the day of Pentecost there were several thousand more that were indicated as being worthy, and that were sealed, and then later on several thousand more of Jews. And then we know that the work of the ministry was consigned to the Jewish nation exclusively for three and a half years after the death of Jesus. And then after that again they had the same opportunity with the Gentiles exactly, and a better opportunity than the Gentiles, as far as the conditions were concerned, for the remainder of the Jewish age, and up to the time that the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70. Now in all of that time then, God was finding literal Jews belonging to the twelve tribes, some of them belonging to Asher—those that were in Palestine represented the twelve tribes, though mostly they were of the tribe of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, and the tribe of Levi—those were the principal ones, but there were others of different tribes, as the Scriptures remark, and all the twelve tribes were represented there and some in the outlying districts in Asia Minor, and also in Greece and Rome, and to all of these, wherever
[Page Q629] the apostles went, as, for instance, when they went first to Rome, Saint Paul first called for the Jews of the synagogue and explained to them the situation, and gave them still the first opportunity and said it was necessary, it was appropriate, that the Gospel should be first preached to you. That was God's program; He was going to get from amongst the Jews as many belonging to those various tribes as could be found—and then what? Suppose now we had twelve bushel measures here which would each hold twelve thousand peas; and here is one measure representing the tribe of Judah, another measure representing the tribe of Benjamin, and another the tribe of Issachar, Asher, Zebulon, etc., and some of them have more and some of them have less peas in them, but all of them have peas in them in varying amounts. Now when all of the Jews who were fit for this place of being the spiritual seed of Abraham were gathered and sealed, then the Gospel message went to the Gentiles. What for? To fill up the measure of these twelve tribes. What tribe do I belong to? I suppose, I hope, I belong to one of those measures, and I hope you belong to another, or to the same; but whatever one it will be, it will be one needing more to fill it up. As, for instance, just the same as the United States government has certain troops in the Philippine Islands, and suppose there was the 97th Regiment of New York there, and certain other regiments from Missouri were there, and another regiment from Pennsylvania, and another from Maryland, and those different regiments had their regular names; but suppose for some reason, either by sickness or discharge or what not, these regiments were depleted in number, so they were not up to the normal standard of a thousand men, or whatever constitutes a regiment, and the government would say, "Fill up all those regiments." They might start a recruiting office here in St. Louis, and the men that would be recruited in St. Louis might go to fill up a New York regiment, or a Pennsylvania regiment, as the case might be. Now just so God is filling up this number. He started the whole thing on the basis of Israel first, and these various tribes of Israel were counted as having so many apportioned to each, and when they got as many as were fit and ready to be sealed in this way, then they were filled up from amongst Gentiles. So the Apostle Paul, in Rom. 11 says, you remember, that when the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, then the blindness shall be turned away from Israel. As soon as God shall have a sufficient number to fill up this 144,000 all the work of this Gospel age will terminate quickly. It will all be at an end, because the spiritual seed of Abraham will be complete and there will never be another one added to it; there will neither be one short nor one too many; and just as soon as that is accomplished, then would come, you see, the glorification of this 144,000 as the spiritual kingdom and then would come the blessing of natural Israel! as Saint Paul says, "All Israel shall be blessed, all Israel shall be saved, all Israel shall be brought back into divine favor, and harmony, and through Israel, then, the blessing shall extend to all the nations, for the due time for scattering the blessings of God amongst mankind will have come; the time will have come for the blessing of all the families of the earth through natural Israel," under this superior and spiritual Israel, the 144,000. [Page Q630] And that 144,000 are composed of those who have been Jews, English, Irish, Welsh, and all others. So then instead of this 144,000 being the end, or completion of the matter, dear friends, it is only the beginning of God's salvation. This is the special salvation, this is the elect class, this is the Messianic class of which Jesus is the head—and it merely means a beginning. Following that will go out a general salvation for mankind at large. But these are saved to the heavenly conditions while mankind at large are to have the offer and opportunity of salvation in the flesh, coming to human perfection and to everlasting life as human beings and to a full restored earthly dominion—all that was lost in Eden to be restored through that great Messiah.
ANSWER—Why certainly he could be a complete Savior. Suppose now there were ten men here drowning in the water, and suppose I had life buoys with ropes on them, and threw them in and said, "See that? Catch hold of that and I will pull you up! Catch hold! Catch hold!" They were all there invited to catch hold and they would be pulled up. Now then if one rejects this means of salvation after he knows what it is, and has heard what was said, knows he is able to grasp the rope, and has hands to catch it with, has all the power to get hold of it and come up out of the water, if he rejects it, the person that has done this work has nevertheless been the Savior of all those persons. He has recovered them all, because if after they were thus saved in the sense of salvation or recovery being cast to them, they then willfully rejected it, it is just as though they had jumped in the water after they were on top again.
ANSWER—The bullock did not go into the Holy or the Most Holy, nor did the Lord's goat; and similarly the scapegoat did not go into the Holy or the Most Holy. If the fact that the scapegoat did not go into the Holy and the Most Holy were to be considered a proof that the class represented by the scapegoat was not to be spirit-begotten, the same argument would hold against those who are of the Lord's goat class, and the same argument would hold against our Lord Himself, represented by the bullock. It was the blood that was to be taken in, and that was all. Those who are represented by the scapegoat are represented for the time being in the body of the High Priest, as for instance, Jesus the High Priest first of all, in His first offering of the blood of the bullock, as the High Priest represented himself in taking the blood in himself individually. You and I were not in that at all. He went into the Most Holy on our behalf, and made reconciliation for our sins. Then he came out and offered the goat of the sin-offering, the Lord's goat, and took of the blood of it. Now then, he was representing in that goat, you see, the members of his body, and he went in with the blood of that goat. But the goat itself was represented in the priest. The bullock was represented in the [Page Q631]priest and now similarly the goat is represented in the priest, and he makes the offering there. The scapegoat class are for the time being represented in the body of the High Priest. That is to say, when they made their consecration, they were counted as members of the Body of Christ, for the time being, and it was only after they failed to continue in His way, failed to go on and complete their sacrifice, that they were eliminated and no longer counted as members of the Body of Christ, but thereby becoming a secondary company, or a company not found worthy of places in the Body of Christ.
ANSWER—The Scapegoat did not get the light, because it did not get into the Holy. Neither did the Lord's goat, nor the bullock. It is not everybody, apparently, that can understand these types. If you are one of these, don't worry about it, for you have plenty that you can understand, and thank God for. The Lord's goat outside represented one class, and the Scapegoat represented another class, and the Bullock represented the Lord Jesus. In the Court condition, the Bullock represented Jesus, when He was in that condition; the Lord's Goat represented one class of His followers when they were in this Court condition, and the Scapegoat represented another class of the consecrated when they were in the Court condition— not after they passed into the Holy. No goat or bullock ever went into the Holy. All who enter the antitypical Holy become members of the High Priest. When the bullock was slain the change took place. Outside the curtain the High Priest was symbolized by the bullock; inside he was the High Priest.
Also with the Lord's goat—outside it represented the human nature of those accepted as members of Christ; but inside it represented the Body of Christ, spiritual, the Church. So it is the Priest inside the vail that sees the light from the golden candlestick, eats the shew bread—not the bullock nor the goat.
The question before the mind of the questioner, I presume, is this: Could those who have ever gone into the Holy get out again? And the answer is this: That so far as you and I are concerned, all that you and I know about the matter, is that every person who makes a consecration enters into the Holy and becomes a member of the Body of Christ, which, is the Church.
Suppose twelve hundred persons were here. Suppose all, had consecrated themselves to the Lord, and had been begotten by the Holy Spirit. Where would they be represented in this Tabernacle type? I answer, They would be represented inside, not outside the Holy. They went inside, for they were begotten in the one hope of their calling. Those in the Holy become two classes. They all see more or less of the light, eat more or less of the shew-bread, and more or less approach and appreciate the Golden Altar. But one class approaches and eats in a way that the other class does not. One class appreciates the light and uses it more [Page Q632] thoroughly than the other. One class goes more particularly to the Altar of Incense.
What will happen to those failing to make their calling and election sure? In the end of this age their portion will be assigned in the Court condition—but they are not in the Court condition now. The holy represents all those who have made acceptable consecration. All the worthy will eventually pass beyond, into the Most Holy. Those who fail to make their calling and election sure, though still spiritual, will be remanded to the Court condition, justified fully with God, but on a different plane from those fulfilling their covenant of sacrifice—followers in the footsteps of Jesus.
The Great Company, antitypically Levites will be the servants of the Royal Priesthood. Although on the Spirit plane and having no inheritance in the land—no part or lot with humanity—nevertheless, they will have to do with the earth in their spiritual service.
Whilst the work of restitution will be in progress for a thousand years and mankind will be gradually nearing perfection, these antitypical Levites will have an important service to render to men. In order that nothing may hurt, injure or destroy in all that holy Kingdom a great Company of spiritual guardians will be required. Their work will no doubt correspond to the service now rendered by the angels to the Elect Church. "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation?"
ANSWER—The scapegoat has no part. The scapegoat was not offered at all. It failed to be offered. Two goats were presented as offerings, but the lot fell only on the Lord's goat, and that one was the sin-offering. So we have the bullock and the one goat for the sin-offering, and the other goat was not sacrificed at all. Hence it could not be a sin-offering (Lev. 16:7-10). But in God's economy this scapegoat class will have a secondary part in the expiation of sin by having their sufferings applied as atonement, or expiation, for certain willful sins of the world—not Adamic sin.
Q632:1 QUESTION (1911)—2—Do you know that the science of geology and archaeology, prove absolutely and conclusively that this earth is not only six thousand years old, but millions of years old; that man's remains have been traced back even beyond the glacial period, which is not less than one hundred and fifty thousand years, and that animal life can be traced back through all periods of time?
ANSWER—I do not know anything of the kind, and I do not believe anything of the kind. I know that some gentlemen are in the habit of taking a little hammer, and knocking a corner off of a rock, and then spitting on the ground two or three times without saying anything, but looking wise, and guessing several large guesses. The one who guesses the [Page Q633] largest is the biggest professor. That is the science some people are following, and the apostle Paul speaks of such as "Science falsely so called." That is just what I think it is, too. Science has some basis, not mere guess work. One man might have better opportunities of guessing on a subject than another, yet at the same time a guess is not to be set down as scientific truth. We know, for instance, that we are able to make stone in a very few hours; we are making it every day in concrete work, it is being done all over the world. It was supposed at one time that stone could not be made except in a long period of time; that it would require millions of years. Now we can make it ourselves in a few hours. And those various theories respecting man and his period of time on the earth, I think are not well gauged.
We have set forth in the chapter I refer to in the sixth volume of Scripture Studies, our thought, which we believe to be the Scriptural one, that each of these ages of creation are periods of seven thousand years, and that the whole period of creation up to the time of man was six periods, or days, of seven thousand years each, or 42,000 years; and we have had six thousand years more of the seventh day period. Man was created in the beginning of the seventh day, and we have been in this period for six thousand years, and another thousand years remains to complete the seventh, and then we will have a complete cycle of seven times seven thousand years, forty-nine thousand years from the beginning of the creative work, and bringing us to the grand jubilee of fifty thousand years in the period of the world's history. In speaking of these creative days, let us remember that the Bible does not pretend to tell what condition the world was in when this creative period began. In Genesis we are not told when God began to make the earth; we are simply told that "the earth was," but we are not told how long it was, and we have no guess on the subject; but we are told that the earth was, and that it was without form, void, and darkness was on the face of the earth, and God began to order the earth or bring it into condition for man. Now, we are not to know any more than that. There was no man on the earth before that, and no beast before that, but there was a planet here; but how long it had been a planet we do not know.
Q633:1 QUESTION (1911) 1 Do you not know as a historical fact that Moses lived in an age at least five hundred years before the Pentateuch was compiled, or that writing, except in Egyptian hieroglyphics, was unknown, and that it would have been a physical impossibility for him to have written it? Is it not a fact that Ezra, and perhaps Nehemiah, are responsible for all the writings attributed to Moses?
ANSWER—I think not. I do not know the writer of the question, but I prefer to take some better authority. Jesus said, "Moses wrote of me." I prefer to take Jesus. I have not had anything to disprove it to my mind yet. I am not ready to throw away my Bible; it is getting better to me every day.
ANSWER—It is time to cross the bridge and worry when we get to it. Our Lord said, "Be careful for nothing, but in everything give thanks." Give thanks that you have an opportunity now and do not worry about tomorrow or next year. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Sufficient also is the guidance of the Lord, and we are to wait and watch for it.
Q634:1 QUESTION (l913) 1—We are sometimes asked why the author's name is not given in the Studies of the Scriptures. We are assured in our own mind that your reason is a good one, but we would like to have a definite personal answer from yourself to give to all enquirers.
ANSWER—Well, a number of reasons could be assigned and any one of them be true enough. I do not know of any particular reason why the name might not appear there; I do not know whether it would be to advantage or not. The "Studies in the Scriptures" are given forth not merely as representing something of a personal kind, but something as representing teaching, and the teaching is supposed to stand on its own basis by the reference to the Bible, rather than upon the authority, or word, or name of any individual. The book is really less sectarian, if we wish to use that expression, by reason of not having the name, but I could not have any particular objection, and if anyone would like the name, kindly write it in for them.
ANSWER—My thought is this, as expressed in the Dawn Scripture Studies, that at the time of our consecration, if that consecration be accepted of the Lord, we are begotten of the Holy Spirit, and this begetting work may progress more or less slowly, and that the sealing condition would come at the time when we would say we were quickened, and that the quickening condition would be at the time when we have come into harmony with the arrangements of the Lord, so as to see that the law of this new life is the law of love, and have come to the place where we have nothing in our hearts against God, the brethren, our neighbors, our enemies if we have had any, or against any one in the world, and we have come to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. From that time we are quickened and our life begins to manifest itself in what we say and do. To my understanding the sealing very considerably corresponds to the quickening, and is not an instantaneous work, but is a gradual or progressive work. When your heart has become tender toward the Lord, the Holy Spirit begins to impress upon you the character likeness of God, and that is the sealing of the Holy Spirit. It has fire, of course, and pressure, and becomes more and more effective, and continues all through your lifetime, and you are not to get rid of it, but obtain the full character likeness.
ANSWER—If the Apostles sometimes spoke by the spirit of prophecy, as well as the prophets of the Old Testament, I know of no reason why our Lord Jesus might not similarly have spoken by the spirit of prophecy. We have to take His own word for it. He says He will raise it up on the third day. We know that He did not raise up the Church, the Temple of His Body, on the third literal day, nor did He raise it upon any third day we know of, except the third day of this great dispensational period, in which the world's history is divided, six of which have already passed and in the seventh of which we are now living—the fifth in which He was speaking, and the seventh would be the third therefore from his standpoint of time—on the third day He would raise it up. That is the only interpretation we know how to apply to His word. How much of His words were prophetical I do not know, or to what extent He was speaking prophetically I do not know, but we do know He Himself said respecting the day and hour of His second coming that no man knoweth, neither the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. We would be obliged to suppose that our Lord either spoke prophetically about the third day, or else he would know of it as the third day, the three thousand year period, but did not know what day and hour in that three thousand year period He would be present and the work begin.
Q635:1 QUESTION (1908)—1—"And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding; that when He cometh and knocketh they may open unto Him immiediately." (Luke 12:36.) It seems evident from the text that our Lord is to return to the "little flock" from the wedding feast; so our Lord emphasizes that attitude on the part of the "little flock" when He returns from preparing the feast. "I go to prepare a place." So would this text indicate a return from an actual wedding to those who follow after,—the foolish virgins?
ANSWER—I answer, neither. To my understanding, the Lord merely meant this: My disciples, you are aware that in any well regulated household the servants are always expected to do their duty, but you well know that there is one time, one particular season, in which more is expected of them than at any other time, and such an occasion is when the master of the house has wedded, and is about to bring in the bride. You know that is the time when the servants, above all other times, are expected to be faithful and obedient, and be awake, ready, and attentive. Now, let that illustrate to you the attitude all of my disciples should be in—just like men who wait for their master with a bride returning from the nuptial feast, that they may open to him immediately. Now it does not mean that he will come to us from the nuptial feast, or that He will come to the great company from the nuptial feast, but we are to be in that prompt attitude that the very first indication of the Lord's presence will be heard by us; that we will be on the alert, as it were. And so, you remember, the next verse of the parable says—proving that it belongs to us at the present time,—"Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He[Page Q636] cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." We have had this fulfilled with us, dear friends. To such as were on the alert to hear the knock of the divine word, the testimony of God as to the presence of our Lord, and opened their hearts immediately, and were in the right attitude to receive the Lord, He did come, and He has been feeding us, and bringing forth things new and old, and causing us to rejoice greatly.
Q636:1 QUESTION (1910)—1—"And ye yourselves, be ye like unto men who wait for their Lord when he returns from the wedding." Does not this seem to teach that when our Lord would return the wedding would already have taken place?
ANSWER—It might seem to teach that from some view point, but not from the proper viewpoint, which is this: A man who is an householder and has servants, would expect from them very special attention on the night of his marriage, when he was bringing home his wife. This night above all, then, they should be very much alert. This is, I think, the thought the Lord wanted to present. You know how alert they should be on such a night? Yes. Well, be ye so alert, so attentive, that when the knock is heard, there will be no delay, don't wait to wake up then, but be awake. That, I think, applies to us as the Church living in this particular time. We are expecting the Bridegroom to come and he is about to receive his Bride, and we are to be like those servants, to hear the first intimation that the Master has arrived.
Q636:1 QUESTION (1911)—2—In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, Christ tells his disciples of many signs of his second coming, and in the thirty-fourth verse, says, "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." How is this statement reconciled with the belief that his second coming has not yet occurred?
ANSWER—A full answer of this will be found in the fourth volume of Scripture Studies. If my memory serves me right, there are about eighty pages on that one subject, and anyone interested would do well to read it very carefully. Briefly answering the question as it is here, we would say that Jesus in the narrative carries the mind of his hearers down from the day in which they were to the time when these things will happen, and when these will happen, and these, and so on, pointing clear down to the end of the age, and then indicating that the generation that would see these signs down in the end of the age would not have fully passed away before the consummation of this age. Not the generation he was talking to, surely, but the generation respecting which he was talking, the generation that would see these signs when they would be fulfilled—that generation would not pass away, it would not be a long enough time to be more than a generation from the time certain things would be seen until the full consummation of the age.
ANSWER—The Apostle is here (Heb. 9:28) tracing the work of Christ as the great High Priest. He represents our Lord as having offered the Sin-offering, on the Day of Atonement, in its two parts—the bullock and the goat—and as being now in the Most Holy. When He has accomplished His work, He will appear the second time—not to repeat any of the offerings of the Gospel Age, not as a Sin-offering—but He shall appear unto salvation, to all those who look for Him. We can see that His words might apply to the Church. They will know of His second appearance. They will have an appreciation of that fact before He will be revealed to the world. He will appear to them that look for Him.
But we are to remember that our Lord's going into the Most Holy at the close of the antitypical Day of Atonement with the blood of the Lord's goat class, would indicate the death of that goat. The under priests will be with Him, as members of Himself. Then He shall come forth the second time, after this second presentation of the blood, not to offer a sacrifice—for the sacrificing will all be finished—but to bless the people.
Who then are these who look for Him and to whom He will appear the second time, unto salvation? We answer that in the Time of Trouble, and subsequently, the whole world will begin to look for the Deliverer. All nations will be desiring Him—not as a Sin-offering again, but for their salvation. As mankind will get their eyes open to their need of salvation, they will be looking for this deliverance by The Christ in glory. They will never see Him with their natural eyes. But they will look for Him in the same sense that we now see Jesus—they will see Him with the eye of faith.
At that time many nations shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord's House. He will show us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths." (Isa. 2:3.) Another Scripture assures us that, when He shall appear, we also, the Bride class, shall appear with Him in glory. It is after the sacrificing is all finished and the Church glorified that He comes forth the second time unto salvation, saving and blessing all the people. The high priest in the type did not return into the Most Holy again, but lifted up his hands and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people, and the people gave a great shout and fell upon their faces. (Lev. 9:23,24.) So the people of the world will prostrate themselves before the great Messiah. And this will be the work of Christ during the thousand years—uplifting mankind and giving them the benefit of the Atonement Sacrifice.
ANSWER—That questioner had a bank of fog in his mind. It will take him about a month's reading to get even a glimpse of this subject. I could hardly hope to make an indenture now, and so will not try.
ANSWER—It would depend upon what time this question would apply. If Jesus at thirty years of age had said to Himself, I will not sacrifice my life, I will live strictly in accordance with the divine law, I understand that he could have maintained his life. Nothing in God's law would have demanded his life. But at thirty years of age, he made a consecration and gave up everything earthly. After he made that covenant with God, for him then to have drawn back would have been sin and would have meant second death.
ANSWER—We answer that sin unto death is a sin against light and knowledge. No man can sin the sin unto death unless he has knowledge. It is not a sin of ignorance; it is a wilful, intentional sin against light, and therefore is called sin against the Holy Spirit, sin against the Spirit of Truth. Now then, is it possible for any except the spirit-begotten to commit the sin unto death? I answer that only those who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit have a knowledge of the deep things of God, and therefore only these have the responsibility of that great knowledge; that the world in general, not having been begotten of the Holy Spirit, and not having a knowledge of the deep things of God, and not grasping the truth of God, clearly are not responsible to that extent. The responsibilities are with you and me because we have tasted and know, therefore we are responsible and we could sin the sin unto death, whereas the world could not so sin. Well now, a question: How much knowledge is necessary before we could commit this sin unto death? I answer, to my understanding it would not require a great deal of knowledge. The Apostle says that if we sin wilfully after we have received a knowledge of the truth. What kind of truth did he mean? Did he mean knowledge that we had come to as to the end of chronology? Oh no, for then all of those who went before us would not have had knowledge enough to go into the second death, because they did not know much about chronology. Does it mean those who understand about the parallel dispensations? No, because plenty of people never knew anything about the parallel dispensations. Does it mean only those who know about the Jubilee? No, for plenty of Christians lived and died without knowing about the Jubilee,- -as in our Apostles' day, for instance. What does it mean then, what kind of truth and how much truth must we have? I answer, dear friends, the truth is that even grander truth, which Christians have had all during the Gospel age; for instance, the great truth that, "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." That is the great truth, and people who have believed that great truth, and in whom it has exercised the proper power, have been turned from sin to righteousness, and from darkness to light. There is the truth that would sanctify. Now, then, if any has come to a clear knowledge of the truth of God's love, and of God's requirement of righteousness, and of our Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, he has come to a responsible position. Has[Page Q639] not the world a knowledge of that? No. The world has heard hymns such as "The Ninety and Nine," etc., and they have heard about theology, but I do not think the world is responsible to this degree. They have not comprehended the Word of God; they have not comprehended the provision God has made for our sins, for our reconciliation with Him, therefore the world could not commit this sin unto death. But those who have been once enlightened, and tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come—the restitution powers;—we are partakers of these in that we are justified by faith, and justification by faith is the power of the world to come, and as we now enjoy it in advance of the world—and been made partaker of the Holy Spirit, these are the ones that might sin the sin unto death.
Then the second question here, "Please explain the case of Judas." I answer, Judas was one of those who accompanied with our Lord, who was a witness of His mighty works and was made partaker of the power of the age to come; he had justification through faith; he had accepted the Lord as the Messiah; he called him his Master, and he received the Holy Spirit in this special sense, that he was one of those commissioned, and on whom our Lord breathed and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," and he was one of those whom the Lord sent out to exercise this holy power. He was one of those who cast out devils; he healed the sick and did many mighty and wonderful works in the name of our Lord. And he knew these were not frauds; he knew they were genuine; he had a share in the matter himself; he had so much light and so much knowledge, more than other people at that time, that our Lord could say of him, and did say of him, "It were better for that man that he had never been born." And that would not be true of any man who could pass through even a threshing machine experience in the present life if he had the glorious opportunities of the Millennial age. It would not be better for him if he had not been born.
ANSWER—I do not know what to think of that parable, my friends, if it was intended to bear at all on the question of numbers. I used to take a great deal of satisfaction with this thought, that where it speaks of the sheep and the goats, I would say to myself, Well the number of sheep is much greater than the number of the goats, and I am very glad this is so. But when I was in Palestine, to my surprise I found the flocks over there were about half and half. Now I do not know what to think; I am going to try to keep amongst the sheep, and so will you, I trust.
Q639:2 QUESTION (1911)—2—"But the fearful, and unbelieving and abominable and the murderers * * * shall have their part in the lake witch burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." Please explain.
Q640:1 QUESTION (1912-Z)—l—"For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared. He hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." (Isa. 30:33.) Who is the king for whom Tophet is prepared?
ANSWER—Tophet was a name given to the Valley of Hinnom, which is symbolically a representation of the Second Death, and the Lord is intimating that He has plenty of fire and fuel to accomplish all this destruction and that the Spirit of the Lord will set it afire and cause it to burn to the complete destruction. The king for whom it is prepared is the Devil, with his messengers. He is the instigator of evil, whose destruction is already ordained. First, however, in the Divine providence, before he shall be destroyed, the glorious reign of Messiah is arranged for, during which all of mankind shall be brought to a full knowledge of the Truth, and to a full opportunity of coming into harmony with God, and of demonstrating whether they have the disposition of God or the disposition of the Adversary, Satan. When the choice of each shall have been fully determined, the Second Death shall swallow up all for whom it has been prepared. Such as demonstrate their sympathy with evil will be counted as the messengers of Satan, and will have a share with him in the Second Death.
Q640:2 QUESTION (1912-Z)—2—To whom do the words in Heb. 6:4-6 apply—"It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world (Age) to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance?"
ANSWER—The conditions mentioned in the passage above quoted are all more or less intertwined. That is to say, the one who has been made partaker of the heavenly gift of justification is sanctified, begotten of the Holy Spirit; for only in that way can he get God's evidence respecting his justification. No one is justified by merely believing that Jesus lived or that Jesus died. In order to come to the point of justification and have the merit of Christ imputed, he must previously have presented his body a living sacrifice; and faith in the Lord Jesus must accompany this presentation.
Anyone having done all in his power—having turned from sin, having believed in Jesus as the Redeemer, and having presented his body a living sacrifice—must next receive the imputation of Jesus' merit to make up his shortcomings, to cover his blemishes, in order that the Heavenly Father may be able to accept the sacrifice: for no imperfect thing can come upon the altar of the Lord. It requires the merit of Christ to make good what is lacking in the one who presents himself in sacrifice; and only those who thus believe and present their bodies in sacrifice are the recipients of Christ's merit by imputation; and only such are begotten of the Holy Spirit. God's arrangement is that no one can be justified unless he has made a full consecration, after having already turned from sin. Christ would not impute [Page Q641] His merit to any except such as make this full consecration; and the Father would not accept by begetting with the Holy Spirit any others than those who have done so.
Those who have received justification have at the same time received the begetting of the Holy Spirit, which is "the power of the Age to come." The falling away of such, the Apostle says, would mean that they could never be renewed again. Why? Because they have had their share of the blessing of Christ. Christ's death was to bring a blessing—and only one- -to every member of Adam's race—one full blessing, a complete blessing, such a blessing as will enable every member of the race—if he will, when he understands it-to come fully and completely into harmony with God and thus to have eternal life. But after he has received his full blessing and then has rejected it, there is no hope in his case. He can never justify himself. He has had the merit of Christ and has repudiated it. There is no hope of renewing such a one, says the Apostle. The fate of such would not, of course, be eternal torment, but destruction—the Second Death.
Q641:1 QUESTION (1915)—1—Do you know with certainty whether there are any in this Age or will be in the next Age who will go into the Second Death because they do not help themselves, no matter how hard they tried, and God could do nothing for them? (Laughter).
ANSWER—God has provided every individual with a will. If there is anybody who has no will, he is not an individual, he is an idiot. (Laughter). We do not know much about idiots, but we know they are all redeemed as well as the remainder of the world, even though they may not now have any will. A part of the future work of the Church will be to bring such persons out of the idiotic condition. But as soon as such a one gets an intelligent will he will be required to exercise it. During Messiah's Kingdom Reign anybody who wills to will shall have the opportunity of raising up to absolute perfection, and will be given all necessary assistance. So then, to sum up, there is no individual of Adam's race but has or will have the fullest opportunity of attaining everlasting life; and whoever dies the Second Death, it will be because of his own will, because of intelligently refusing to accept God's wonderful and generous terms of salvation in Christ.
ANSWER—Our thought would be that discerning the presence of the Lord would not necessarily have anything to do with the matter. That is merely one element of knowledge, and it would be an evidence that that person had made a certain degree of progress in knowledge and therefore had progressed a considerable degree in the Lord's instruction. But whether it was there, or wherever he might fail to develop the spirit of obedience in laying down his life, zeal for the Lord, for the truth and for the brethren, it would mean that he would fail to get into the little flock class, and that [Page Q642] would mean that he would get a share in the great company class—unless he should deny the Lord, turning his back upon the whole proposition.
Q642:1 QUESTION (1911)—2—"Therefore it is by faith that it might be of grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but that also which is of the faith of Abraham." What is meant by the expression, "all the seed," and what law is referred to?
ANSWER.—This text is from Rom. 4:16. We understand the apostle here refers to the fact that Abraham has two seeds, as God said to him, "Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the seashore." Here, first of all, is the heavenly seed of Abraham, and subsequently the spiritual or natural seed of Abraham. God is first selecting the spiritual seed, and the apostle tells us that we are now privileged to be part of that spiritual seed. I will remind you of where he says, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs of the promise." Then in the eleventh chapter of Romans, after telling about the development of this spiritual seed, the apostle uses these words, "I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant concerning this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; how that blindness in part has happened unto Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." He means that blindness has happened to the natural seed of Abraham until the full number of the spiritual seed shall be gathered in to complete the number from amongst the Gentiles, and then all Israel will be saved—all natural Israel will have its blindness turned away, the light of knowledge of God's glory will fill the whole earth, and all blind eyes be opened—Israel first. The apostle then says, "Thus it is written, there shall come out of Zion a deliverer who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." This deliverer that comes from Zion is the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus, the head, and the church, his body. This is the great deliverer. It has taken over eighteen hundred years for Zion to travail and bring forth these First-born, but the spiritual seed of Abraham is about to be delivered, and just as soon as that is accomplished, then this great deliverer, Christ the head, and the church his body, shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant, says God, when I shall take away their sin. These, then, are the two seeds of Abraham, first spiritual, and afterwards the natural.
ANSWER—The difference is that in the case of the Lord speaking to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and the serpent, when pronouncing the sentence upon them for sin, He said the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. This represents a class of persons or personages who would become superior to the serpent, and therefore have power to crush out evil. I do not know whether this refers to a number of individuals. Presumably it refers to a number, because in the epistle to the Romans, I believe in the sixteenth chapter, we read, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." That shows who the seed of the [Page Q643] woman is. Of course it is not the church without the head. When we look at other statements about the seed of Abraham we find it to be the same class, because his seed is Christ. If you and I are Christ's we are members of His body. So the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham are different ways of referring to Christ and the church.
ANSWER—The above text illustrates a principle to which we have frequently called attention. We find what we seek! Those who approach the Bible with earnest desire to find in it God's Message, will be guided of the Lord. As it is written, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness (Truth), for they shall be filled."—Matt. 5:6.
On the other hand, those who approach the Bible from the standpoint of cavil, unbelief, antagonism, are equally sure to find what they seek—flaws, contradictions, etc. Note how Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll illustrated this principle; and compare their experiences and findings with the blessedness of those who feast upon the Bible as the Lord's bountifully spread table of good things—"Meat in due season" for "the household of faith."—Luke 12:42.
The same principle holds true with the Scripture Studies. As those who so desire can pick flaws with the Bible and turn and twist its statements into unreason, so the same class would surely be successful in similarly picking to pieces "The Divine Plan of the Ages."
ANSWER—Every thought should be challenged; for if an evil thought or a selfish thought or a mean thought, a depraved thought, be admitted, it will germinate and bring forth a great defilement, which will affect our words and our conduct, and will extend to others. We may learn to do the challenging readily, even along the comprehensive lines which the Apostle lays down in this lesson. What at first may require considerable time for decision will bye and bye be decided almost instantly:
(1) Is the thought which is seeking consideration in our mind an honorable one? If so, it may pass in and be entertained. If not, it should be immediately resented and driven out from the mind as an evil influence.
(2) Is the thought suggested a pure one—not sensual, not selfish? If so, if it pass these examinations, it may pass on for further consideration. If by these it fails to prove its purity it should be immediately resented as a thought likely to do great harm—as would the entrance into our home of things infected with a plague.
(3) Is tile thought lovely Does it appertain to things that are lovable? Does it excite lovable influences, or is it identified more or less with hate, resentment, anger, malice? If lovely? it may pass on. If not, it must be immediately expelled, not permitted to go further, to do harm to ourselves and to others.
(4) Is it reputable? This cannot mean: Is the thing [Page Q644] well spoken of by the world? For the Apostle himself and our Lord Jesus were reviled by the world, who said all manner of evil against them falsely. The word reputable here must be taken to mean that which would be thought well of by all reputable people, if they knew and understood everything connected with the thought.
(5) Has the thought any virtue, or is it in any sense of the word praiseworthy? If so, it may be admitted. If not, it should be repelled; for even if it be blameless otherwise, the fact that it is not of any value is a reason for its rejection. We have no time and no place for things that are merely not bad. We desire to have in our hearts and our minds things that are positively good, helpful, beneficial in some way. Otherwise, the thought should be repelled as a mere cumberer of the ground of our hearts, of our minds, needed for profitable things. Much novel reading is of this character—not evil, but not advantageous, not upbuilding.
Whatever we may be naturally, the people of God who follow the instructions of the Divine Word surely become noble people, helpful people, possessed of the spirit of a sound mind; and these things will be only a part of their preparation for the Kingdom and for the great work then to be entrusted to them as the servants of God under their Redeemer and Head.
ANSWER—As far as I know nearly all the talk about "that servant" has been by my enemies. I have nothing to say about this subject. What I would say would not change matters anyway. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. In the fourth chapter of the sixth volume of "Millennial Dawn," this Scripture is brought to your attention. That is all that I have ever written on the subject.
ANSWER—The Bible says that we should "do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the Household of Faith." (Gal. 6:10). Therefore we should do good to our Roman Catholic neighbors, our Methodist neighbors, and all other neighbors. We should be glad to do good to every one. But if we have the choice of doing something for the saints or for a neighbor, then we should give the preference to the Lord's saints, whether they be Presbyterian saints or what not. That would include whoever is a son of God. We are the children of God, and we are glad to serve any other child of God, though we would be glad to see them all enjoying the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, not being entangled in any yoke of sectarian bondage. If the Son makes us free, then are we free indeed—Gal. 5:1.
Q644:3 QUESTION (1910)—3—Please explain why you are not [Page Q645]keeping the seventh day as the day of rest, but the first day, when the Scriptures say, Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the day of rest.? Is it typical?
ANSWER—Yes, my dear friends, it is typical, and in order to answer this question properly, it would take at least an hour of good hard talking, because the subject is so misunderstood. We will not therefore tax those who do understand the question, and will refer the questioner to a chapter of this subject which takes it up in full and deals with it in a very elaborate manner in the sixth volume of the Scripture Studies, to which we kindly refer the questioner as being for his own good as well as for the advantage of all. The answer there we feel sure will be satisfactory.
Q645:1 QUESTION (l909)—1—Rev. 13:18 "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six thousand three score and six." What does this mean?
ANSWER—You will have to ask me something easier. I do not know, my dear friends, and I am not nearly as good a guesser as some of the rest of you. You can write that to some of the other friends and get an answer right off. I do not know. I do not think it is the Seventh Volume. The Photo Drama Scenario is a nice volume and tells the plan of the ages. I am waiting for the Seventh Volume also. Waiting until it gets off the press—but I will tell you privately, it is not on the press yet.
Q645:3 QUESTION (1916)—3—Since Revelation was discussed according to the program yesterday, are we to understand that the time has come for Revelation to be understood? If so, please explain Rev. 20:10: "And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are the beast and the false prophet, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." Of what does the torment consist? Who does the tormenting?
ANSWER—The fact that we discussed certain features of Revelation yesterday does not imply that all the speakers understood everything written in the Book of Revelation. So far as these seven Churches are concerned, we have written about them in The Watch Tower in 1880 and 1882. The seven Churches were then mentioned, and those features were discussed from time to time. But there are certain things in Revelation which I do not understand, and for this reason I do not write the Seventh Volume. Therein I do not wish to give any guesses. Whenever I write the Seventh Volume on the Book of Revelation, I will have a satisfactory understanding of the teachings of that Book. Until then, I will not write it. With respect to my understanding of Rev. 20:10, I think you will find a satisfactory dissertation upon this text in the "Hell Tower." You all have the Hell Tower; and if you have not you can use the Fifth Volume, in which this text is treated quite fully. In this [Page Q646] way you will find a much better treatment of this text than I could give you at this time.
ANSWER—We have no time to go into that. The seventh volume is not off the press yet, and I will just say, while it is not on the press yet—all that I will say, is, that this is all past now. This revelation is past. That part is past and gone. We had something to say in this connection in the June Watch Tower, and the comments have a little on it also. We will leave that until God shall give us some further light on the book of Revelation, and we will try then to explain the book as a whole. We think that the book of Revelation is important, and we would therefore love very much to write on it, but, because it is not yet clear as a whole, and I do not wish to put any speculation or guessing into it, therefore do not wish to write anything until the Lord shall make it all plain so far as the Bible is concerned and its interpretation. Therefore we are waiting—waiting on the Lord. In due time I believe He will give up the Key that will unlock the book. Until then we will rest. You will get it just as soon as He gives the explanation. If the Lord shall give it through somebody else alright but I will not give anything until I am sure.
Q646:4 QUESTION (1914)—4—Does not the scriptural statement that there is neither male nor female but that we are all one in Christ Jesus, indicate that those who have come into Christ, especially after they have developed to a considerable degree the mind of Christ, will be FREE to exercise more LIBERTY in their relations with those of the opposite sex than formerly would have ordinarily been considered expedient?
ANSWER—It is wonderful how much we can twist language. Now language should not be considered as cast iron of course. That would not be best at all. Nor should it be rubber that you can pull out of shape. And the language as used here is very plain so far as God is concerned and so far as our relationship to the Lord is concerned, there is neither black nor white, rich or poor, male or female or any differences among God's people. However, there are still rich and poor, black and white, male and female, but these qualities are not to be considered as making them inferior in God's sight. God, nevertheless, through the same Apostle, [Page Q647] has pointed out certain things that would not be proper for a sister to do, but would be more proper for the brethren. Jesus indicated this same thing in His teaching and by His actions. He did not choose His own mother, a disciple or any of the Mary's relatives whom He loved so much. God did make the difference between the male and female. This did not mean that the sisters were inferior, or ignorant, but so far as the preaching was concerned, it was given into the hands of the men, representing the Christ portion, and the women, the Church.
As to familiarity between the sexes, I believe my dear friends, that the Vow is one of the very best safeguards that you can set up, and that makes quite a distinction between male and female. Your spiritual interests and everybody's will be the better conserved by watching carefully, and those who know there are weaknesses of the flesh strive to live purely one with another and with the Lord.
ANSWER—I have just answered this. I suppose the brother means 1915. Some things in the Scriptures imply that it might last for seven years, and others one year, but there is nothing definite. Adamic death, sickness, pain and suffering will last until the individual accepts Christ—there is no life outside of Christ. It shall be made known to every creature, and this knowledge and blessing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall go to Israel and gradually to the whole world, to all families, and they will recognize the Mediator and the Covenant and the channel of God's providences to Israel in the flesh, and see the earthly kingdom established, and as they come into harmony with this, sin and death will gradually fade away, and they will live. He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son shall not see life, he shall still continue in death.
ANSWER—A widow, if she uses her own name, for instance, if she wants to say, "Mrs. Grace Smith," had better put the "Mrs." in parenthesis, but if she wished to write "Grace Smith," she has a perfect right to do so, her husband being dead; "Mrs. John Smith;" but I should think that all the sisters ought to determine what way they are going to write their names when they write to the Watch Tower. When they write one time as Mrs. Joseph Gordon, and another time as Jane Gordon, we do not know whether it is another Sister Gordon, or who it may be. You should use uniformity, so that we can always know who it is.
ANSWER—I am not sure. It seems to me it is a little different with men from what it is with these fallen spirits. I should suppose they could, especially if they were used by the Adversary, simulate holiness and talk from that [Page Q648] standpoint to some extent. But my experience with people is that when once they leave the truth, the difference of character is so manifest you can very generally see what spirit they are of, that it is not the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love, but is the spirit of anger, malice, hatred, strife, and envy. And that is generally the sign. I rather think they cannot help it that they do not really know to what extent they have changed. I think the Lord gives us ground for supposing that is so when he tells us, you remember, that we are not capable of reading the heart, but we may read the outward life. "By their fruits ye shall know them." If they have a wicked spirit, a malicious tongue, and take pleasure in doing unrighteousness, contrary to the Word of God, then it betokens a change of heart, a change of spirit ; that they have not the holy Spirit governing them as they once had.
ANSWER—I would say that there might be various forms of presumptuous sin. It signifies the sin of presuming. Some presume to make themselves very great, and do not appreciate the necessity for the precious blood of Christ. It is presumptuous to think that we could appear in the presence of God in the filthy rags of our own unrighteousness. Then we might see a beginning of this presumptuous condition. It begins with some, perhaps, in a small way; then they presume a little more, and presume over the brethren and lord it over them; it is a growing thing, and they finally get so presumptuous that they are in a condition where the Lord cannot deal with them or use them in any sense.
ANSWER—We have suggested through the Watch Tower publications and Dawn Studies that sins that are common to the Lord's people are of two general kinds. There are certain sins that are committed through weakness or ignorance. You and I commit trespasses many times against the divine will that we are not aware of, and the Lord does not count those against us. But suppose you subsequently ascertain that those sins were wrong? Then go to the Lord, make your apologies, ask His forgiveness and realize His forgiveness.
Then there are other things along the line of the weaknesses of the flesh, when we know they are not satisfactory to ourselves, and not in harmony with the divine will, and yet they are things that we cannot help. Your will was not sufficiently strong. Because it had in it a measure of wilfulness and weakness, for that reason, and in that proportion, that sin is forgivable. Christ died for our sins, not only for the sins that are past, original sins, those that were yours before you knew the Lord, not only those, but additionally, the Lord provided for all those weaknesses and imperfections which would be yours, that you could not help or avoid, because of your nature, heredity or whatever it might be. He made provision for those, but He never made provision [Page Q649] for wilful sin, and there is nothing in the redemption of Christ that covers a fully wilful sin for anyone as a New Creature. When we speak of a mixed sin, we are speaking of what must represent the most serious sin that the New Creature could commit, for the Apostle explains that we cannot sin, because His seed remains in us. What does he mean by that? He means this, that, being begotten of the Heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit, we are New Creatures, and the flesh from this standpoint is counted out of the way, and the New Creature is the only one that God is dealing with. You are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you. What do you mean by the New Creature sinning?
He cannot wilfully and deliberately sin; it would be a sign that the seed did not remain in him; it would be a sign that the seed, the holy Spirit had perished, and that you were not a New Creature, if you sinned wilfully, intelligently, with premeditatin. The Holy Spirit would not be there, and you would not be a New Creature at all. The Apostle says that from this standpoint that wicked one toucheth us not. If it could sin wilfully, it would work death to the New Creature instantly. However, the New Creature has this mortal body as its agent, and it is not always able to control it, so the Apostle says that, "We (the New Creature) cannot do the things that we would do." It is because we have this treasure in earthen vessels, and sometimes it will influence our best endeavors and hinder us from doing that which we would like as New Creatures to do. Does the Lord count it as a sin of the New Creature? No. The New Creature is the one that is anxious and desires to serve the Lord with all its being, might and power, loving our neighbors, laying down life for the brethren, and loving our enemies. The New Creature finds that the old nature balks, and gives a lot of trouble, so that the Apostle said, "Keep your bodies under." It could not be a New Creature and not be alright. It is the old creature which is wrong, and it is the New Creature who restrains or holds control of the old, just as a driver would hold or control a horse which was running or plunging. If the driver drives over a precipice, then we know that the driver has gone insane. So if you drive the old creature over the precipice, it shows that the New Creature is dead. If the New Creature, as represented by the driver, should at any time manifest weakness in dealing with the horses, and should allow them to run away, he might be culpable because he failed to show good judgment, and he may receive discipline because of his carelessness. That is the way you have found yourself sometimes, you have let the lines down, and before you could get them again, you find that the old creature nearly got away from you.
How can these sins be corrected? The proper course is to go to the One whose blood cleanses from all sin. It could not refer to the sins that are past, because they have been cleansed away. It is referring to sins that have been committed after we became Christians. In other words, they are the sins referred to in our Lord's prayer, where we are told to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, etc." The only way that original sin can be cleansed is through faith in the work [Page Q650] that Christ did for us. What are these trespasses? They are the imperfections of which we have just spoken—they are the spots and wrinkles. When you get any of these, you should go immediately to the great Redeemer, whose precious blood is able to cleanse us from all sin. The proper course is to go every day, the middle of the day or any time, not wait until night, don't allow yourself to rest a moment. Otherwise you will get used to them, and when your attention is called to them, you will say, Oh, I know it, and I don't like them, but, you know, everybody has them, and as a result a great many accumulate, and it would take a lifetime to get rid of them. This represents an unfavorable condition of heart from the Lord's standpoint, a lack of zeal, and such will be obliged to go through the great time of trouble as the Great Company, and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, just as they should have done all the way down.
Another thought: To what extent are these sins forgivable when we do take them to the Lord in prayer; how does He forgive them, and if so, how does it cause so much chastisement to follow? I answer, the two things are quite in harmony. We might illustrate it this way: You might say to your child. You have done wrong and I must punish you, and the punishment will be that you shall have no dessert for dinner. If the child be of the right attitude of mind and be properly trained, as he should have been trained, the child will feel the disapproval of the parent more than the denial of the dessert. While the denial of the dessert is the real stipulation, the properly trained child will realize the frown of the parent more than the lack of the dessert. Therefore the child will say, Forgive me. The parent might answer, If I forgive you, you cannot have the dessert. Well, he might reply, I am not thinking of that, but I am thinking of how I have hurt you. In restoring the favor of your countenance you might say, Well, my dear, you are entirely forgiven, and you might give him the kiss of approval, but you can't have the dessert. Alright, he would reply. That is an illustration of how the Lord's people should be in their relation with the Heavenly Father.
ANSWER—I suppose the brother means that, if I did wrong, if I recognized it, and asked forgiveness, should I expect chastisements? Yes and no, according to circumstances. The degree of intelligence would determine. If there was knowledge of it, the Lord would exact certain penalties, even though you asked for forgiveness. Just as in the case of a child. You might say to it, "You shall have no dinner today if you do that." He may do it and then ask your forgiveness, saying that he is sorry. You would forgive him, but would say, "While I forgive you, I will have to do as I said and punish you; you must go without your dinner." So our Lord may bring us back into fellowship and we may have forgiveness, and at the same time, He may allow some chastisement to follow.
ANSWER—The Apostle, of course, is using figurative language just as we do sometimes when we speak of the man of sin. It does not mean a single man, but a great institution, that which is contrary to the divine law; and so here, a different figure is used: he speaks of the body of sin in contrast with the body of righteousness. How large is the body of sin? Satan was the first sinner and he deceived and led astray our first parents who were sold under sin, as we read, and they became enslaved to Satan and became his followers—not intentionally, but by reason of delusion, ignorance and weakness—they came under the slavery of sin and death. The body of sin represents all the sin in the world—all in whom sin is in the whole world. The body of sin represents all the sin in the race, all that came from Satan, all under condemnation. We who have heard of God's plan, we who have turned our hearts away from sin have heard that there is a way of enlisting under the banner of Jesus, that we might be soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb, we have enlisted under the banner of Jesus as the Captain of our salvation for a certain purpose, and that purpose is the same as His, viz., the destruction of the body of sin. This means the destruction of everything that is sinful. Is it so sweeping as that? you inquire. Yes; no sin is going to be allowed to remain. All must be destroyed. Every sinner is going to have an opportunity to make a change, but if he will not change and be begotten again, then he will lose the favor, miss life, because the determination of God is that all sin and all sinners will be wiped out. The body of sin will be destroyed root and branch—every part of it. It is not our business to seek to do this now. God's time has not yet come. We will judge the world in due time. "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" This will continue for one thousand years to come, so as to give every member of the Adamic race an opportunity to decide whether he will be on the side of Satan, on the side of sin and wrong and error, or else on the other side, and if he decides for Satan, this will determine his future. If he decides for God, then all these Judges will be helping him back to the image of God, and if, on the other hand, he decides to take his stand with the Adversary and oppose that which is right, then the wrath of God will abide upon him, and his punishment will mean his destruction in the second death. But this is not the case now. "God has appointed a day"—a thousand-year day; that will be the time that we will have to do with them; not now, for we are admonished to "Judge nothing before the time." We are not at the present time to try to straighten out everything by force. This force will be operating during the time of crisis or decision in the Millennial Age. The special message of the gospel is now going out to the effect that every one who has a hearing ear may turn himself about and become a follower of Jesus and a soldier of the cross. But what will these soldiers of the cross fight against? The time for the destruction of all evil will be in the future, as we read in the 11th chapter of Revelation, "We give Thee thanks, 0 Lord God, the Almighty, which art and which wast; because Thou has taken Thy great power, and didst reign. And the nations [Page Q652] were wroth, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear Thy name, the small and the great (all the sheep class during the Millennium), and to destroy them which destroy the earth"—(everything that pertains to the body of sin). But now, many in this body of sin do not fully appreciate what righteousness is, and consequently the provision of the Millennial Age has been made that the knowledge of God and of His gracious arrangements shall become known to all, with which knowledge will come the responsibility that will determine which of our race belong to the body of sin to be destroyed, and which of them, under a favorable opportunity will join the body of righteousness and be granted everlasting life. What then, can we do now? Our chief work now is in ourselves. What are we doing there? We are fighting to overcome our weaknesses and to keep down the elements of sin and of unrighteousness intrenched in our mortal bodies. But are we not to rebuke, and rule, and harass the class? No! Harass and rule yourself. Fight yourself all you please, but do not fight the class. Mind your own business! There is more trouble awakened by busy-bodying in other people's affairs than in any other way. It takes some time to know just where your business comes in, where the class's business comes in, and where everybody's business comes in. So, we are to fight against the body of sin in ourselves. The only body of righteousness is the true church of Christ. All the rest of the world are a part of the body of sin. These saints have engaged to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, and this great battle is waged in themselves. The more successful one may be in this combat, the more that one may be able to assist others needing his assistance. The more one cultivates the spirit of gentleness, kindness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness and love in oneself, the more will that one be able to help others out of their wrong condition. These saints, then, are the only present members of the body of righteousness, and by and by they are to be associated with Jesus in the coming Kingdom in destroying this entire body of sin.
ANSWER—Yes, there are many unpardonable sins. The word "unpardonable" is used in more than one way in the Bible. I presume the questioner refers to the sin unto death. There is only one sin unto death, but there are many unpardonable sins. For instance, you may do something after you have become a Christian that is partly wilful, and partly through failure to exercise the proper self-control that you might have exercised. To that extent it was your will that sinned; to that degree it was a wilful sin; to that degree it was an unpardonable sin. And what would that mean? That would mean that you would need to receive some chastisement, or stripes, for that sin. It will not be pardoned. You cannot say, "Lord, take it all away, please." It is all very proper to go to the Lord and ask him to forgive the sin. That is, to take away the feature of it that would come between you and the Lord and hinder you from enjoying his favor, but you must still expect that even if he restores you to the light of his countenance that there would be some [Page Q653] stripes in proportion as there was any measure of wilfulness connected with the sin. In that degree, you see, it is unpardonable, but is one that might be expiated in that degree. Now when we speak of expiation of sin we do not mean the original sin ; the original is entirely expiated, and you can do nothing to get rid of it, but after you have gotten rid of original sin, and after you have become God's child, after you become a new creature, then you are on trial, and then in proportion as you my have wilfulness, in that proportion you will have stripes; and so the Lord said, some will be beaten with many stripes, and some with fewer stripes, in proportion to their knowledge, etc.
But there is a sin that is unto death. No amount of stripes will come in. No amount of stripes will be satisfactory. The individual committing that sin will die the second death. As the apostle says, "There is a sin unto death; I do not say that you shall pray for it." There would be no use to pray for it. The sin that is unto death is a wilful sin, deliberate sin, intentional sin. The apostle describes this sin unto death in the sixth and tenth chapters of Hebrews, and describes those who fall away, who renounce the Lord. Saint Peter says, speaking of some of those, that they turned like the sow to wallowing in the mire, and like a dog to his vomit. Such a person, sinning wilfully against light and knowledge, there is no more sacrifice for his sins; he has had his share of Christ's sacrifice and has misused it, and there is none remaining for him. There is a share in the sacrifice for Adam and all his children, every one of them, and they must all get their share; but whoever gets his share and then misuses it, there is nothing remaining, and his wilfully turning away and counting the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified a common thing, will mean his utter rejection by the Lord.
ANSWER—In reading this text and many other Scriptures we need continually to keep in mind the fact that those who are accepted of God as His children, as members of the Body of Christ, begotten of the Holy Spirit, are all classed as New Creatures and not as men. The New Creature, therefore, in this text, would be the ye—"that ye sin not," as though the Apostle said, "The object of my writing is that you might realize the responsibility of abstaining from sin and continuing in God's love." Then he informs us how this is to be accomplished. In this as in other respects he shows that the New Creature is responsible for the body. Anyone who would say that he was perfect and without flaw, would he deceiving himself. Nevertheless, these flaws are not of the New Creature, but chargeable to the flesh. If the New Creature should sin wilfully it would cease to be the New Creature because the New Creature is begotten of the Spirit, [Page Q654] has joined in the warfare against sin, and is facing in the very opposite direction from sin.
But if any man sin, let him not, cast away his confidence in God, but let him remember that the Father, foreknowing that the New Creature could not control every thought and word and act of the flesh, has made provision for these, and has provided for us an Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He has appeared on our behalf—appeared before the Father and made satisfaction for us.—Heb. 9:24.
Remembering this, if we find that through lack of faith, or weakness of the flesh, a step has been taken which is contrary to the Lord's will and our best spiritual interests, no time should be lost in retracing the step and in calling upon the Lord. We have an altar consecrated with the precious blood of Christ, far superior in every way to that altar which Abraham consecrated with the blood of typical animals, and the Apostle exhorts us, "Let us, therefore, come boldly courageously—full of faith onto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. "—Heb. 4:16.
ANSWER—The New Creature certainly can sin, for if it could not it could not die the second death, but if the New Creature sins, it means the second death, the penalty is death. The New Creature represents the mind of the Lord that has been received after the consecration has been made and the Lord grants us His Spirit. That person, thus receiving the Spirit of the Lord, is counted a New Creature in Christ Jesus. That New Creature, as long as it remains a New Creature, will not sin. There may be imperfections, but these imperfections will not be disloyalty of the New Creature. How could we be holy, representing God's Spirit, and be imperfect willingly, intentionally? Impossible. But the New Creature is a treasure in an earthen vessel, as the Apostle expresses it, and the earthen vessel has its weakness and is liable to temptation; the earthly body may make slips and mistakes, it may be even entrapped into serious sin, but it is not necessarily the New Creature which has sinned; the New Creature may possibly very much bemoan the sin; it should not be the New Creature. Whatever the nature of sin in you or me, it should be the unintentional weakness of the flesh which comes upon us in an unguarded moment. But the Lord assures us that even with these His grace will be sufficient for us and in His strength we will be made perfect, and manifestly so, in our weakness. But if the New Creature sins it ceases to be a New Creature. We cannot say the New Creature is a sinner. As soon as you receive the mind of the Lord you became a New Creature and as soon as you willingly do something which would be unholy and contrary to that, that moment you cease to be a New Creature, and so the New Creature could not sin wilfully, for this is contrary to the new nature, and if we sin under these circumstances it would be under penalty of the second death. The New Creature sometimes becomes, as it were entrapped and, in a measure, co-operate with the flesh, the flesh perhaps entrapping the New Creature so that it cannot really escape. The New Creature is in a measure guilty of willingness, and if [Page Q655] that be so we may surely expect that the New Creature will receive some chastisement from the Lord for any measure of willfulness in the matter, and, indeed, we are held responsible for the weakness of the flesh even where the New Creature does not agree at all. We have undertaken the matter of controlling these mortal bodies, and the Lord has provided the necessary assistance. If we fail to manage these bodies it must be because of more or less carelessness. He holds us responsible but "He knoweth our frame, He knoweth we are dust," and has provided a way of escape; He has provided that if any man be overtaken in a fault He will reprove him and help him out of the difficulty, help him to see as a New Creature where he was wrong. Where it has been wholly or nearly wholly a weakness of the flesh it will be forgiven, but we must go to the throne of Heavenly grace that we may obtain mercy and grace for every time of need. The Lord desires His people to come to the throne of grace for forgiveness of their sins; it keeps us humble and helps to show us how weak and little we are and how much we are dependent upon the great High Priest for the assistance necessary to become final overcomers.
ANSWER—Our Lord died for the sin of Adam—for just the one original sin, and all sins which grew out of that original sin. This sin of Adam affected the body, mind and morals of all the race. Therefore we each have not only our own inherited imperfections to contend with, but also the imperfections of all those around us
From the time that any one is begotten of the Holy Spirit all things become new. The members of the Little Flock class have no record whatever of condemnation against them; all that condemnation is completely eliminated. The imputation of Christ's merit to their flesh made them perfect in God's sight, and they were brought forth as New Creatures.
These New Creatures have entered into a Covenant with God to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In the present time, as the Apostle says, we have this treasure of the new nature in an earthen vessel; that is, we have it under unfavorable conditions. We have also basements from those around us and from the Adversary to oppose us. All sins, then, that are the result of these adverse conditions, and to which our will does not consent, are coverable by the merit of Christ. If any of these New Creatures unwittingly do that which is contrary to the Divine will, they need not remain in a condemned condition. The Word instructs us that we should go immediately to the Throne of Heavenly Grace and obtain mercy and forgiveness, and help for every time of need.
But suppose that the sin is not merely one of temptation—suppose there is a measure of wilfulness or a measure of slackness, so that the child of God is thus far responsible, what then? We answer that he may still go to the Throne of Heavenly Grace, and the portion of his sin which was unwilling will be covered by the merit of Christ. Whatever portion of the sin is wilful is deserving of punishment, stripes; and these stripes he will surely get. The Father will not allow His children to wander away without help. The stripes [Page Q656]complete the expiation of that sin; and it will be canceled from the record. Justice has no longer any charge against him.
But the Scriptures clearly tell us that if any consecrated child of God should sin with full wilfulness there would be no forgiveness whatever for that sin, and it could not be expiated by stripes. The penalty would be death—the Second Death. If he sins with no wilfulness, in full ignorance, entirely without intention, the sin is entirely forgivable, by application for the merit of the precious blood. If he sins with partial ignorance and partial wilfulness, there is a portion that would be forgiven and a portion that must be expiated.
The Apostle Paul declares that if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged of the Lord; but that when we are judged of the Lord we are chastened, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. 11:31,32.) And this chastening that comes upon us is the proper penalty for our degree of wilfulness. The object of the Lord in meting out this chastisement is that we shall learn the needed lesson, and be more watchful.
Q656:1 QUESTION (1916—1—We read: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Is there a difference between forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness?
ANSWER—Notice, first of all, that this text does not refer to original sin, Adamic sin, because it says, "us," and "our sins," referring to the Church. The Church's Adamic sin has already been put out of the way before we were accepted into the Body of Christ, by our great advocate. This text refers to trespasses, as mentioned in the Lord's prayer. A trespass is not necessarily a sin. You may trespass upon some person's rights unintentionally. For instance, you might step in the way of some person unintentionally, or hump into some one, and say, "Excuse me." This implies that there has been a trespass, and that there was occasion for asking to be excused; something was done not quite right. This matter of asking to be forgiven for a trespass means, to those who have come into God's family, that one has not done as well as he might have done. He is to go to the Lord and seek forgiveness, and to assure God of his intention to do better in the future. We must acknowledge the right and get the lesson that the failure would teach. The Lord desires us to notice every little thing we do that is wrong. He wishes us to acknowledge the wrong. It will do us good. If it has not been intentional He will freely forgive it. If we have been careless, chastisement as well as forgiveness may be necessary.
The matter of cleansing from all unrighteousness is not merely the setting aside of our sins and trespasses in a legal way. To cleanse us from unrighteousness means to purify us. The cleansing is a gradual process, accomplished often through tears and tribulations. Water out of the faucet does not cleanse us the moment it touches. We use soap and do special rubbing on the places most soiled. Being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit is also a gradual work, going on through all of our lives, and it will doubtless continue to the end. The old creature is more or less unclean from the beginning, and we will never get the old creature clean. But we are not old creatures, we are [Page Q657] new creatures, "holy and acceptable to God." But so long as we tabernacle in the flesh the cleansing of the flesh will be in order. Our minds must be cleansed, because our wills are clean : "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
ANSWER—We answer that it depends upon what thought is behind the expression " add to the Sin Offering." The Sin-Offering needed no addition. The sinner was a man—Adam. Our Lord left His glory and became a man in order that He might redeem man. When a perfect man's life was given for the other perfect man who sinned, it constituted a sufficiency, or as the Scriptures express it, a Ransom-Price.
This word "Ransom" (1 Tim. 2:6), in the Greek (antilutron) signifies a price, as an equivalent; a satisfactory price. Consequently there is no addition needed to the Ransom which our Lord gave and nothing could be added to it, for we cannot add to that which is already complete. If the price of an article is $1 and you add $25 to it, you are not really adding anything to the price, for the price is only $1, and the other dollars added on neither affect the price nor are necessary, in any sense of the word.
There is another sense, however, in which the Church has a share with her Lord; namely, Not only was our Lord Himself the Ransom-Price for the world, but in order that He might be highly exalted and receive the reward of the divine nature, it was necessary that He should die. So, then, the death of Christ effected two things; first, it was the Ransom-Price for mankind; second, it was the condition upon which He would obtain his glorious reward—the divine nature. If He had not been obedient even unto death, then He would not have been highly exalted.
As the Apostle says, "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore On which account God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a Name which is above every name." (Phil. 2:8,9.) He could not, therefore, have been exalted to that high position except by obedience unto death—obedience to his covenant. Had He failed to carry out His covenant of sacrifice, He would have failed to gain his glorious reward, and also failed to be satisfactory price for mankind. But He did not fail. He attained the prize of the "high calling" to the divine nature.
There is, however, an arrangement in God's Plan that takes in the Church as well as Jesus; the Head of the Body, the head of the Church ; and so the Apostle says that God foreknew us also by Jesus. (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4,9-12.) Not that he foreknew you and me as individuals, necessarily, but that He foreknew a Church, a class; He had fore-intended the gathering of such a class, or Church, from the beginning. It is just as much a part of the Divine Plan that the Church, the Body of Christ, should be called to walk in His steps, to be dead with Him, to present their bodies living sacrifices, as it was a part of the Divine Plan from the beginning that Jesus should do these things. The difference between Jesus and the Church is that He was perfect, holy, harmless, undefiled, [Page Q658]separate from sinners; and therefore, His death could be in the nature of a ransom-price—all that was necessary. We have no such perfection of our own; and therefore, in order to be permitted to sacrifice at all, we must first have His merit imputed to us, that we might be acceptable sacrifices on the Lord's altar.
ANSWER—The Merit of Christ consisted in His keeping of the Law and in His obedience to the Father in the laying down of His life. That life which He laid down was the price. It was placed in the hands of Justice when He died—"Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit." All passed into the hands of the Father and it remains in the hands of the Father—a Ransom-price. When God raised our Lord from the dead He did not raise Him a human being, but a being of the highest order.
As the Scriptures declare of the Church, so it is true of the Head of the Church, for we follow in His footsteps. Of the Church it is written, "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:42-45.) Our Lord was raised a quickening, a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Pet. 3:18.) It was a man who forfeited his life; it was a man also who gave Himself a price in offset. (1 Cor. 15:21,22.) The sacrifice of our Lord's human nature remained a sacrifice on behalf of the world. Has He given it to the world yet? No. What has He done with it? Merely committed it to the Father. To whose credit is it now? To our Lord's credit. Where? In the hands of Divine Justice. For what object? That it may be applied. How applied?
First of all, in an imputative sense, in this Gospel Age, it is applied to all those who come unto the Father through Him. He imputes it to these after they have turned to the Father in faith and have come to the point where they can say, "I present my body a living sacrifice;" "Here, Lord, I give myself away." There the great Advocate, the future Mediator for the world, imputes to them enough of His merit to make their sacrifice good. They, of themselves, have nothing to offer that God could accept; for, "There is none righteous; no, not one."—Rom. 3:10.
Here the great Advocate applies, or imputes, a sufficiency of His merit, already in the hands of Justice, to make these perfect in the sight of Justice. Divine Justice can then accept the sacrifice; and the acceptance of the sacrifice is manifested by the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the begetting of the Spirit; and that which is begotten of the Spirit will, in the resurrection, be born of the Spirit, unless in the meantime there be something to paralyze, or vitiate, the condition. If one thus begotten of the Spirit lose the spirit, become dead to spiritual things, then he is indeed "twice dead," as the Apostle says.—Jude 12.
But now, in the case of those who are thus accepted of Christ, what have they to do with the Sin-Offering? We answer that we should not know what they have to do if God did not show us; but God first makes a picture of the matter in the Old Testament. He made, with the Jews, a [Page Q659] typical Day of Atonement, which prefigured what will be done during this Gospel Age and during the period of Messiah's reign. What is this? It is the work of reconciliation between God and men. How did the type show this? The Day of Atonement had various features. It began with the offering of a bullock; and that bullock represented the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of the Church. The blood of the bullock was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat for the household of faith.
These goats represented you and me and all of God's people who have offered their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. (Rom. 12:1,2; Heb. 13:11-13.) Only one of these goats became a follower of the bullock and had experiences exactly the same as the experiences of the bullock. This goat represents that class of believers who daily follow in the footsteps of Jesus and who are partakers with Him of His sufferings at the present time and will have a share with him in the glory to follow.
The other goat represents the class which does not go voluntarily to sacrifice, but which, without turning to sin, fails to make a willing sacrifice. Therefore this class is treated as the "scapegoat" and dealt with accordingly, being driven into the wilderness condition for tribulation. The Apostle seems to refer to this class when he says that some are thus dealt with "that their spirits may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5.) These are not the Bride class, but a servant class.
In the 45th Psalm we have the picture of the Heavenly Bridegroom and can see how He introduces His Bride to the Heavenly Father, the great King. Next follows the picture of the Bride, who is described as "all glorious within," and who is to be brought unto the Heavenly King in fine needlework and wrought gold. Then we have a third picture, "The virgins, her companions that follow her," and who also shall be brought unto the King. These represent the other class, the "scapegoat" class, who do not voluntarily go into death, into sacrifice, and who, consequently, cannot be counted in as members of the Bride.
Because the Scriptures show this Sin-Offering, therefore, we believe in the Sin-Offering: and because the Scriptures tell us that we are to be sharers in this matter, therefore we believe it. Where does the Apostle so state? We answer that he says to us, addressing us as the "Lord's goat" class, "Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing the reproach with Him." He also says that the bodies of those beasts whose blood was brought into the Most Holy to make atonement for sin, were all burned outside the camp. (Heb. 13:11-13.) What beasts were those? Only the two. The bullock and the Lord's goat were the only ones. The Apostle urges that we were represented by this goat. "Let us, therefore, go forth unto Him without the camp." All that was done with the bullock was done with the goat. Let us, then, if we would walk in His steps, share with Him in His sacrifice—"Go to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach with Him;" for "If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him;" we shall be glorified together.—2 Tim. 2:11,12.
ANSWER—The animal to be the sin-offering was selected and brought to the door of the Tabernacle for this purpose; but it became the sin-offering the moment when the high priest laid his hands upon it and slew it. The sin-offering, according to the type, was composed of two parts—a bullock and a goat. The slaying of the bullock did not finish the sin-offering; for in the Divine Purpose and arrangement, the great High Priest, Jesus, was to offer two sacrifices—the Lord's goat class as well as the antitypical bullock. The goat in the type, we understand, represented the followers of Jesus, as the bullock represented Jesus Himself. In the type, therefore, the killing of the sin-offering was not ended until the goat of the sin-offering was slain. There it was that the sin-offering in the sense of sacrifice was finished. There was to be no more sacrificing. But the word sin-offering has a still broader meaning than this. It included in the type also the presentation of the blood of these animals to Jehovah God, as shown by the high priest's taking first the blood of the bullock, and afterwards the blood of the Lord's goat, into the Most Holy, and sprinkling the blood upon the Mercy Seat and before the Mercy Seat eastward. When this had been accomplished, the sin-offering was ended.
ANSWER—In the antitype, the Offering for sin began when Jesus presented Himself at Jordan in compliance with the arrangement already entered into with the Father. There, according to the statement of the Apostle, our Lord gave Himself, surrendered Himself, made Himself an Offering for sin. He has continued the work during this Gospel Age, offering up those who accept His merit and who voluntarily become His footstep followers, surrendering their wills to him. He offers these as a part of His own sacrifice.
After Jesus had finished offering His own personal sacrifice, He ascended up on high, and there made a presentation of His sacrificial merit to the Heavenly Father on behalf of the Church class, as symbolized by the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle, for the high priest and his house. He will ultimately finish the work of sacrifice when the last member of the Body of Christ shall have tasted death and shall have passed beyond the veil. Then it will remain for the High Priest to complete this matter by offering the Sin-offering "for all the people," by presenting the merit of the "better sacrifices" to Jehovah God, the actual merit being in Jesus alone.
ANSWER—What do the Scriptures say? The Apostle says that the sisters took part in prayer. "If the sisters pray with uncovered heads they dishonor the head." You will not find me taking away any power from the sisters that the Scriptures recognize.
Q660:1 QUESTION (1910)—3—We should be glad to know if the restriction put upon the sisters in Volume Six has reference to [Page Q661] Bible studies, where brethren are present. Kindly tell us to which meetings these restrictions are applicable.
ANSWER—It is, of course, dear friends, rather conjectural just what the Apostle had in mind when he referred to these. What we believe to be a reasonable interpretation of the word, is that he refers to meetings of a public nature, not those of the character of the Scripture studies. Our thought is that he has reference particularly to public, rather than to private or semi-private meetings. At the same time, if I were a sister in a Bible class, if it were a small one, I should feel free to ask any question as any opportunity came, and if any question before the class was not thoroughly stated in my judgment, I would feel free to express myself upon the subject in an indirect manner by saying something like this: How would this answer, how would this thought agree with such and such a question? Thus I should think I would be doing just as much as if I made a whole discourse upon it, and thus throw it open to others by asking a question. I do not understand that the apostolic restrictions were to asking questions. If I were a sister I should feel free to ask questions and I should conserve my influence, and feel that I were using it to good advantage in putting it in such a form rather than in saying, I do not agree, I think it is so and so. I would ask the question, How does it agree with this and that? If not fairly stated, I would say, How does it agree with such and such? If people would allow me to ask questions, I could go into all the churches and soon have them upside down. To my understanding it is no special restriction, but it is really in some respects to the advantage of the sisters, in putting them into this ladylike position.
ANSWER—Well, suppose I were a sister and moved into a neighborhood and desired to exercise my influence in scattering pamphlets, etc., and suppose some of my neighbors got together and said, I wish you would tell us more of this, I would understand that it would be the Lord's will for me to tell all I knew, but as modestly as possible, which is appropriate for a brother also. I would try to bring out all the truth and facts that I was familiar with, and the fact that some of those in the neighborhood who had no knowledge of the truth were males, would not hinder me if they requested me to explain the matter. I would think it entirely proper.
Q661:1 QUESTION (1910)—2—Similarly, what shall we do at the home table in asking blessing upon the food? Perhaps the father would never think of asking a blessing. I, the wife, have been in the habit of asking the blessing. Should I continue to ask the blessing?
ANSWER—You should continue if he is in sympathy, if he is agreeable to it. So I would say to the husband, shall I ask the blessing, is it agreeable to you? If the husband is not a Christian I would still recognize him as the head of the family, and as such I believe that instead of saying, I will ask a blessing and you can't say anything about that, [Page Q662] I would think the other way would be better—Husband, have you any objection to it? Or if he said, I approve of it, then you have authority and you are not assuming authority in any sense of the word.
ANSWER—If you find anything in the Sixth Volume that covers this point, I know of no change in my mind as written there. I would suppose that the general sentiment behind the Apostle's instructions seems to be this, that in the Church the male represents the Head and therefore is a type of Christ, who is the Head of the Church. Now the Church is not to teach Christ, but Christ is to teach the Church, so in connection with the picture of the male and female, it would not be for the woman to teach the man. That seems to be what the Apostle suggests. It would be a mistake to go to the extreme, as some of the friends, who say this refers to teaching in schools, or what not. The Apostle is speaking of the Church and not of the family. It is right that the mother should instruct the family, and it should be maintained and nothing that the Apostle says, to my mind, bears any contradiction, but in the Church "let your women keep silent," the Apostle says. I am not saying it. Some of the friends think that I am saying it. I want you to know I am not. I think I would rather have been inclined to have gone to the extreme, to have given them too much liberty. I am not left to choose in the matter, neither are you, my brother or sister. If I were in the place of a sister, I would like to do his will and he would be pleased if I did his will. Therefore I think that in the more public meetings in the Church, that the sisters would do well to take a secondary place and be comparatively quiet. I would understand that in a small meeting where questions were being passed around it would not be wrong for a sister to ask a question. I think that if I were a sister and were allowed to ask a question, if I had any truth to bring out, I would not have much trouble in asking such questions as would bring it out. If our friends of the various denominations would allow you and me to go to some of their meetings and we were allowed to ask them some questions, we would get a lot of theology in very quickly.
ANSWER—The Scriptures do not give sisters the same prominence in public worship that they do the brethren. The woman represents the church, while the man represents Christ; as the Apostle says, "The head of the woman is man, the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God." In this order, therefore, the Scriptures teach that woman as representing the church should hear the Lord. In other words, the least prominent place should be taken by the sisters in public service. This does not, to my understanding, mean that a sister should not engage in prayer. I would think that in a public meeting like this, it would be very improper for a sister to lead in prayer. If it were a cottage meeting, or a small meeting, a little circle, or [Page Q663] a family circle, and she were asked to lead in prayer, I would understand that it would be entirely proper; and if I were asked any question then as to whether she should have her head covered, I would say that the apostle says "yes"—that if she engages in prayer, she should wear a covering on her head—"not merely her hair," as the apostle says, but if she wears a covering of hair that she also wear an additional covering. This, he says, is to indicate that she recognizes she is not the head, and in this sense of the word she is representing the church, which does not pretend to speak, but rather to hear, the Lord.
ANSWER—My thought would be that this is not teaching. To answer a question in a Berean Study is not teaching. If any of the class in a school were to give an answer to the teacher, that scholar does not become the teacher, does he? It shows how very clearly he has understood his lessons. In this matter of the Berean Studies it would be entirely proper for every one of the friends present to take part. Some of the answers of the sisters are indeed very good. If we do some thinking on the lesson we will have an answer, and why keep it whether the one having the answer be a brother or a sister?
ANSWER—Well, I would think that each one in the class has a right to his judgment, and if the whole class by majority vote decided that way then I would have nothing to say; but before they took their vote on the matter I would say that I think the first chapter of the sixth volume is one of the best in the book. But I always submit to what the class says. I think that is a good spirit for every elder and deacon to have in mind—the class by its vote represents the Lord. The elder is the representative of the Lord through the class.
Q663:1 QUESTION (1911)—3—"Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober; for they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk are drunken in the night." What class would represent those who sleep, and those who would be drunken?
ANSWER—The apostle is here using an illustration, and he informs us that much of the drunkenness of that time was in the night. We know that much of the sleeping is done at night, and he tells us that drunkenness was common in the night. And he tells us that we are children of the day, and that while this is night time, and we are obliged to walk in this night time, we are not to be asleep with the world; we are to be awake; we are the children of the morning, children of light—not children of darkness. Therefore, let us not be stupefied, let us not be intoxicated with the spirit of this world. You remember, in Revelation we read that the harlot woman who sat on the beast had in her hand a [Page Q664] cup, with which she had made drunk all the nations of the earth. Thus cup, we understand to be a cup of false doctrines, misrepresentations and misunderstandings of the divine teaching, and that the whole world has been intoxicated by these false doctrines.
ANSWER—We answer that he was always the only begotten Son of God. And all things were made by him- -God's power operating through him. He, therefore, is the one whom the Father begat, and the only one whom the Father begat; all the others were created by and through his power, he being the agent of divine power in all creation.
ANSWER—Well, I think we speak from both standpoints, dear friends. We speak of having been adopted into God's family. We can already speak in that way. Even our flesh is adopted by Him, because it belongs to us. Even our children are adopted in the sense of being brought under the supervision of His divine care. When God accepts us, he begets us of the Holy Spirit as New Creatures, and calls us sons of God, and we are thus really sons of God—real sons of God begotten of the Holy Spirit—under present conditions, when it has not yet been determined whether we shall make a failure of it; and he now speaks of us as being adopted into His family. We are adopted under certain conditions, with certain promises. So the thing is not settled with you whether you are going to be a son of God or whether you may die the second death; that depends on how you are going to do. But from the one standpoint it would be especially proper to speak of ourselves that we are adopted and that might include our flesh and all our earthly interests. God has adopted us, he has taken us just as we are—not for worthiness of our own, but because we have come in His appointed way, with a heart's desire of being in harmony with Him; but the New Creature which would be the real son of God is not yet fully developed. A child that is merely begotten is not a son in one sense of the word, you see, and so we will not be sons of God in the full sense of the word until our resurrection birth, as Jesus was the first that was born from the dead. So we also are to be born from the dead and have our resurrection birth, or change, or completion of our New Nature, as sons of God. In substance, then, condensing the matter, we are now said to be adopted into God's family, and conditionally treated as His sons just as though the whole matter were finished; but the reality of our sonship and the finishing of the matter will be when we shall have passed beyond the vail, having heard his "Well done."
ANSWER—Consecrated believers are actually sons of God. The Scriptures so state the matter. "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2.) Old things have passed away and all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17.) Either you are a son of God or you are not a son of God. If you have made the proper consecration and God has begotten you of the Holy Spirit, you are a son of God. It is just as well, dear friends, that we have this matter clearly before our minds.
In England a business man said to us after one of the great Albert Hall Meetings, "I was out to hear you at Albert hall, and you discouraged me very much." At first we did not know what he meant. As he proceeded we found out. He said, "I had been thinking that I was a good Episcopalian, and that if God had anything good to give away I should be sure to get it if any one would. From the way you talk I see you think there is only a 'little flock' which gets these good things which the Father has. You have quite upset my faith."
When we came to understand what the gentleman meant we told him that we were very glad, for we wanted to wake him up before he should die with such a misunderstanding of God's terms. God is not calling people who say, "I would rather serve You than go to hell, but that is all the interest I have in you." God is calling those people who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Of that kind He is getting the number He wants for his special place—to be joint-heirs with His Son. He is not calling the remainder of mankind. After this Gospel Age will be the time for those on the earthly plane to receive their blessing, to reach human perfection.
But the only ones which will ever get the spiritual or high calling are those who are saints. How can we suppose that God will exalt to association with Jesus, as members of His Body, any who are not saints at heart, pure in their intentions, especially pure—loyal to God to the very core? Would you expect Him to take any others? You would not even respect the Government of God if you knew He would have all sorts of people in highly exalted places and give them the divine nature. If you believed such to be the case you must lose all respect for the Almighty's Government. But when He tells you that all those who will be highly exalted to association with Jesus will be copies of His Son, you will say, "That sounds right." It is right. The Lord's ways are just and righteous altogether. If we should never make our calling and election sure we would say, "True and righteous are Thy ways, Lord God Almighty."
But we could never count it right if anyone should be roasted through all eternity in Purgatory for a time. We could never agree to the righteousness of that. Such ways would be most unjust. There is no one who for his shortcomings could ever warrant the sentence of eternal torment, or even one hundred years of torment, or even one year of torment. It could not be right for poor, imperfect human beings to be held responsible for perfection and to be tormented because of coming short of it. But you know, and everybody knows, that to whatever extent you co-operate with [Page Q666] evil, to that extent you will bring upon yourself degradation mental, moral and physical; and every step you go downward must be retraced, if you attain to anything good in this life or in the life to come. There is a righteous recompense of reward as the Scriptures say, to the righteous as well as to the evildoers.
ANSWER—I am not sure they typify anybody. It is unnecessary to think that everything is a type, you know. But if they are types at all, they would seem to he types of religious people who were living at that time, who would not be identified either with the Elijah class, the little flock class, or with the Elisha class, but others who would he outside, who would be more or less interested in everything that would be going on. There are today many people in the world who are very nice people, very much interested in religious things, but who do not belong to either the Elijah class or the Elisha class. As we understand it, these people will get a blessing, will have the favor of God in a certain sense, and yet not have either of these special favors represented in these two classes.
ANSWER—I do not recall the connection. We have spoken of the sons of the prophets many times in the Watch Tower. I presume that the reference might be to that passage in second Kings in which we have described to us how Elijah and Elisha went from one place to another until they came to Jordan, and these sons of the prophets at different places said to Elisha, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" and after the two prophets had crossed over Jordan, Elijah had been translated and Elisha returned and recrossed the Jordan, these sons of the prophets recognized Elisha as having his master's mantle, but wondered where the Lord had taken Elijah and afterwards sent messengers to hunt for him. Elijah represented the Little Flock and Elisha the great company who are also the Lord's people, and to some extent associated with them but are not so zealous for the Truth as the Little Flock, and these sons of the prophets have more or less interest in both the others. This picture seems to indicate that, after the separation has taken place between the little flock and great company, there will be still another class of righteous people more or less connected with the Lord's people who are included neither in the one class or the other—neither the Elijah nor the Elisha class—but who are posted somewhat, and who will be saying thus and so.
ANSWER—This is a large question for a question meeting. It would take an hour to discuss the soul properly. I will tell you what a Methodist bishop said, and perhaps that will be of great value to some. He was asked to give a definition and said, "A soul is without body, shape or parts; it has [Page Q667] neither interior nor exterior, and you could put a million of them in a nut-shell." He might equally as well have said a billion, or a thousand million, because the bishop merely described nothing. Without interior nor exterior—that is nothing. Without body, shape or parts—that is nothing. How can you fill a nut-shell full of all kinds of nothing?
According to the Bible the soul is a very different matter. We find that people, in discussing these matters, use soul and spirit interchangeably, sometimes one and sometimes another. But the Bible distinguishes, and we are not to mix these terms. You know what the body is, and what the spirit of life it is. The body of Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground. That was his form, his shape. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives (plural), the breath common to every living creature. The difference between Adam and the other creatures was not in the breath, or spirit of lives. Man had the same kind of spirit of life. The difference was that man had a finer organism. How do we know? Stand a man alongside of a dog. Look at their heads. The one slopes back; there is no place for the intellectual qualities at all, or at least a very small place for the thinking apparatus man has. He has more brain than the dog. If we could make a dog with the same head as a man, he would think the same as a man. But God did not endow the dog, or any other brute, with the same capacity as man. He was in God's likeness, because he gave him the superior mental powers. When the breath of life entered the organism man began to move his arms and hands, his brain began to work, he began to think. The Bible calls that the being, the individual; not the body, not the life, but the thing that results from these, the soul. The Bible always addresses the soul, not the body. You would never think of talking to my hand. You would think, "What does the hand know about it?" You do not address my brain, but my intellect. The brain is the centre of the intellectual power. It is that power you are addressing, not the matter of the brain. You are addressing me, a thinking personality.
As soon as the breath of life leaves, the body would be as before. The spark of life having gone there would be no soul. Where does the soul go? It would not go anywhere. We have a candle. You blow out the light (not out of the window), I mean you extinguish it. It does not go to some other place, but is simply extinguished. So with man. When the spark of life is extinguished the soul is dead. The Bible says the soul is asleep, using a very beautiful figure of speech. God has provided for a future life. We say in one breath that the man is dead and in another we say he is merely asleep, because God has promised that he shall be awakened. It is not the body that shall be awakened; it shall return to the dust, and the spirit shall return to the God who gave it. But how could the spirit return to God unless it wiggles off in some way? The spirit of life is the privilege or power of life. This privilege was granted to Father Adam under certain conditions. As soon as he violated the conditions he forfeited the privilege. He did not die that minute. God allowed him to hold on to the spark of life as long as he could and fight the thorns and thistles, but when he died it was his no longer. It was in God's hands, as you might give a man an option on something. Suppose I give you an option [Page Q668] on my coat until to-morrow morning. Then I would say, the option is out; the privilege is broken. So man was given the privilege of living if he would continue in harmony with the Creator. That right which was given him passed to God when he died; it was no longer his right. When Adam's children were born they had only the spark of life which he had given them. When they died their right to life returned to the giver of life.
How can they ever get life? Another way has been provided, through the great love of God; and it is only by appreciating the very great love of God that anyone will ever have life again. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life. The whole arrangement is bound up in Christ. When Christ shall come to establish His kingdom, and the time for the awakening of the dead shall come, all shall come forth from death. Not that the body will be awakened; its elements may be scattered over the earth. What the Bible says is that God shall restore that soul. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol." God raised Jesus from the dead; He did not leave His soul in death. So every human soul shall be raised, but not the body.
An infidel propounded the question. A man died and was buried at the foot of a large tree. Years afterward they had occasion to dig down at the base of that tree, and they found that the roots had absorbed the body, and had taken the shape of the man's body. The tree had been used for various purposes ; some had been shipped to different parts of the country, and how could that man get his body back? How could God resurrect that body? He was stumbling over thoughts which God never put in the Bible. The Scriptures inform us that God will give that man a body as it pleaseth Him. Those who are of the church will have spirit bodies, and the world will have human bodies. What the Lord guarantees is that the soul, the being, shall come back. God will see to it that the body produced will be a perfect counterpart of the one that went into the tomb.
ANSWER—God's word is spirit in the sense of its being a power or influence. You can have the power of the spirit. Spirit and influence are powers that are not visible, like wind. The thoughts in the Bible are God's word, not simply the ink marks. What goes into a man from God's word is nothing that can be seen. God's word is the spirit of truth—a power.
ANSWER—The kind that our Heavenly Father has and the kind that our Lord Jesus now has, since he is a life-giving or quickening spirit. It does not yet appear what we shall be. We have a general knowledge that it is not a fleshly body, but we cannot say that it is thus and so. There are two kinds of bodies, and if we are faithful we will get the heavenly or spiritual one.
ANSWER—When our Lord used these words he was appearing in the flesh, otherwise, to have appeared as a spirit being would not have served his purpose as well. Paul fell down as dead when given a glimpse of our Lord's spiritual body. Suppose all the apostles had fallen down as dead? What proof would that have been that it was Jesus? Appearing as he did proved two things: first, that he was no longer dead, and second, that he was changed from what he was when they knew him before. They were not yet begotten of the Holy Spirit, and he needed to bring the matter down to their comprehension; also to show them that their ministry must be a different ministry.
ANSWER—It does not dwell in us. What can dwell in us is the spirit of God. This is treated at length in the fifth volume of Millennial Dawn, which please read. The spirit of God may dwell in us richly in the sense of the mind of God dwelling in us.
ANSWER—Yes, I think so. We are quickened by the spirit and receive the spirit of the Truth through the Word. We see the Lord's directing influence in our affairs in his providential care over us and in our experiences of life in those things which others would say were accidental. We can receive the Holy Spirit through intercourse with the brethren, whether through the printed page of Bible or "Watch Tower," or hymn book. It is the Holy Spirit and influence of God and he has provided these various instruments. "When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men." These the Apostle specifies: "And He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers"—the holy spirit comes through these several ways to the building up of the Church in His most Holy faith, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
ANSWER—It takes place wherever you happen to be when you give yourself to the Lord and He accepts your consecration. If He accepts your consecration He will give His spirit, which marks the acceptance.
If that be the thought, my answer would be that it is shown by his passing under the First Vail. The person who is spirit-begotten is the one living by faith whose human will died. Only such are accepted at all of God, and such are immediately inside the First Vail.
ANSWER—There might be worse questions than that. That is a Scriptural question anyway. It is a very good question, and I am glad that it comes up. The spirits in prison St. Peter mentions, and he does not tell us that they are human spirits in prison; he does not say a word about their being human spirits; he says they were spirits that suffered in the days of Noah when the ark was preparing—these were the spirits to whom Jesus preached when he died and rose. What spirits are they? Those are some of the same spirits that the apostle Peter and the apostle Jude both mention. Those spirits who kept not their first estate. God cast down to Tartarus and restrained them in chains of darkness until the judgment day. They are mentioned in the fifth and sixth verses of Genesis, where we read, "God saw that the whole earth had become corrupt, and the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and took to themselves wives of such as they would. They were the angels before the flood. At that time the angels had the power of materialization as more recently the holy angels have been privliged to manifest themselves. For instance, the angel of the Lord appeared to the mother of Samson. They thought they were talking to a man, but it was an angel, because he ascended in the flame of the altar, and disappeared. So again, we read, when Abraham was dwelling in the plains of Mamre he lifted up his eyes and beheld three men coming unto him, and he received them, he made them welcome, and prepared a dinner, and they ate and talked with Abraham. Paul mentioning them, said, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." He is referring exactly to what Abraham did when he entertained those angels unawares. They appeared as men, and they were men to all intents and purposes until they had performed their work, and then they dissolved and became spirit beings again. Of those who came to Abraham, we read that one was the Lord before he became a man at all. He was a spirit being at that time, and had power to appear as a man, or in any other way, just the same as an angel could, and the other two were angels who went down to Sodom, and delivered Lot and his family before the city was destroyed by fire. So, as the holy angels thus appeared to Abraham, and ate with him, and talked with him, and had all the functions of a man, just so with the angels prior to the flood. All the angels had this power, and not merely the good angels, for they were all originally good, but at that time, they had that privilege when they had the work before them of trying to help man out of his trouble and degradation. Instead of helping mankind back to perfection the sin amongst mankind drew some of these angels from their former estate, from their original love for the spiritual plane, and they preferred not only to take the human form to appear to man, but preferred to live as human beings; and they left their habitation, the heavenly or spiritual condition, and lived as men in the world, and they had wives, and raised families, and their children were men of renown; they were gigantic in size. God beheld that the whole earth [Page Q671]had become corrupt; the influence of those demons among men had a corrupting influence in the whole world, and the imagination of the human mind was evil, and only evil, and that continually; and God said: "I will destroy man from the face of the earth." And he brought the flood of water on the earth and destroyed these giants as well as mankind that were imperfect. Now, how long that was going on we are not told, but we have reason to believe that it was going on for at least one or two centuries. Why? Because at that time no one was counted a man until he was a hundred years of age. Adam's children were nearly always a hundred or more before they had any posterity of their own. They did not reach manhood's estate until they were about one hundred. And their posterity were men of renown, they were giants. That signifies to my mind that this condition of things had prevailed at least one hundred years previously. Now Noah was perfect in his generation; there was nothing impure, there was no corruption from the angels in Noah's stock, as indicated, nor in his family, and these were the only ones in the whole world. At least we do not know of any others. All the rest were drowned in the flood, and these only were carried over; and they were declared to be perfect in their generation- -generated perfectly. Now these angels that fell at that time, the apostle Peter says, and also the apostle Jude, that God sentenced them, restrained them in chains—not literal chains, but chains of darkness, so that they could not materialize, so that they could not come out into the light. They were restrained until the judgment of the great day. There is rather an intimation there as we get nearer to the judgment of the great day. The Lord may permit these angels to break over those chains of darkness, and I believe that is the teaching of the Word, and we may expect these demons to give us a terrible time in the world, and that will be a part of the great time of trouble that is coming. That is my firm belief. There is more or less of speculation about that, but I wish to differentiate it from other things on which I do not speculate. You remember in our Lord's time he cast out these demons. They could not materialize, so the next best thing was to try to get possession of human bodies, and they would possess a human being. They would get into him, and so anxious were they to do so, that we read on one occasion there was a legion of them in one man. They said, "Our name is legion." God has given us a will whereby we can resist this intrusion, and I would warn everybody against these evil demons. They are still working at the present time. They represent themselves as being the dead, and all spirit mediums are really mediums of these spirit demons. The demons know about your dead friends, and they can answer all the questions about them.
So during all this time, some of these angels may long to be back in the fellowship with God. I always find, my dear friends, that if you put bad people together, they are unhappy, and I imagine that when all of these demons were cut off from the fellowship with God they wanted to get mixed up with humanity to get a little comfort and variety. They did not know what God was going to do with them; they believed they were to be destroyed, and they understood that to be the end of everything out of harmony with God; but they were waiting in this uncertain way. Then came [Page Q672]the time when they beheld Jesus when he left the glory he had with the Father, that he had humbled himself and become a man, that he had died, the just for the unjust, then they saw that, in obedience to the Father he had died, and then that the Father had raised him from the dead, and it spoke a great sermon to these fallen angels; it was a wonderful sermon he was preaching, not by words, but by actions; he preached by obedience to the Father's will. Then again, when he was exalted above angels and principalities and powers, it was another lesson to them, for they saw that God had rewarded him for obedience, and realized that God had punished them for their disobedience—Now if God is doing all this for the redemption of mankind, it may be our great God will have some compassion upon us and perhaps he will do something for us. So, it became a sermon for them, and there is an intimation in the Bible that God may do something for them. That intimation is given by the apostle when he says that not only will the church judge mankind, but also, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge angels?" We are not going to judge the holy angels; they will not need any judging; the angels that will need judging will be the fallen angels. Just how we will do it I do not know, but the apostle's words are there, and I take it for granted they mean something; and I believe something in their lives demonstrates whether or not they might be granted some future opportunity to show that they had learned a great lesson from their sins. But we have no reason to think that many of them are in this condition of repentance; no reason to think that many of them received or accepted any message of grace, because all through this Gospel age these demons have been fighting hard, and the apostle charges up against them those doctrines of devils, doctrines of demons, that have so troubled you and me and the whole Christian world. You will find they have given all these devilish doctrines to the heathen. Go to any heathen nation and you will find that they all believe practically the same thing, that the devil told us, only he made it worse with us, and he got us more fooled than even the heathen have been with respect to the future. No heathen man believes as badly of his creator, of the great God, as we Protestant nations have believed.
ANSWER—I suppose the reference here is to the statement of the Scripture that we are to keep our garments unspotted from the world. We answer that the garment itself we must first see to be the robe of Christ's righteousness, our justification, granted to us or imputed to us as a covering for the blemishes of our flesh. What would be implied, then, in keeping the robe unspotted. What kind of spots might get on it? Well, it is a figure of speech, you see. Suppose a lady had on a white dress, and she was very careful of that dress. She would know that an ink spot, or a grease spot, or anything of that kind, would spoil it, and make it unsuitable for general wear. So she would be very careful. And that is the way the Lord would have us to do. He says, "There is your robe, clean linen, pure and white, representing the righteousness of the saints, the imputed righteousness [Page Q673] of Christ covering all your blemishes," Now, in what way could we blemish it? By saying or doing something that would be wrong. A sin would be a spot, or a sin would be a wrinkle is the thought. And the person that would be without spot, without blemish, and without wrinkle in his robe, would be one who was in full accord with the Lord and pleasing to him. Nobody can go into the wedding with a spotted robe, but the Lord has made a gracious provision that if a spot gets on your robe, you may apply the precious blood of Christ, by asking the Lord to remove the spot, that the robe may be in His sight spotless.
Q673:2 QUESTION (1910)—2—Suppose that I own the equity in property amounting to $5,000. Does the Lord expect me, as as wise steward, to turn this amount into the harvest work, when, in order to continue in my business, it would necessitate selling the property and paying rent?
ANSWER—Now the dear brother writing this question is the only person that has the right to decide it. It is not for me to decide what he should do, for I do not know all the circumstances; and even if I did know them all, it would not be for me to tell him what he must do. It must be his own voluntary act, whatever it is, and his own judgment must be used. I have already expressed what would be my judgment, that a man should look out for his wife and children and any others who are closely related to him and properly dependent on him for support, and he should not denude himself of property so that he would bring either himself or any of those dependent upon him into reasonable danger of requiring private charity. I do not know how to state the matter more clearly than that. You see you might imagine a case in answer to this question in which the brother would have nothing probably in the way of an encumbrance at all, and it might perhaps be a wise thing for him to sell his property, clear it off and rent a store. It does not always follow that it is to the best advantage to own property. Sometimes it is just as well to have rented property. He must decide the case.
Q673:3 QUESTION (1910)—3—In order to be a faithful steward and complete one's consecration, do you think the Lord expects one to sell the roof from over his head, or will the Lord show the faithful steward just how and when to proceed?
ANSWER—Well, it is pretty hard to answer this question just the way it is written, so I will not attempt to do that; but I will tell you what my thought is, in a general way, along this line. The Lord has given you certain talents and powers, and among these is so much money, and he expects you to use the money. You consecrated to him all of it when you gave yourself and all you had. It included every penny that you have, and now when he hands it back to you he says, I will make you a steward and I will see how you use this, and I will judge how much more I can entrust to you [Page Q674] for the future by the way in which you show your faithfulness in the using of this little amount which is now at your disposal. It would seem to me, then, that if I had only five dollars to my name—roof over my head or no roof over my head—I would consider the five dollars a stewardship; and if it were five thousand dollars I would still consider it a stewardship; and if it were five millions, I would still consider it a stewardship; and according to the amount of opportunity that I had, and the responsibilities that were upon me, I would want to use whatever I had in the way that I thought would be pleasing to the Lord. For instance, if I had a family and they were dependent upon me and there were young children, I would think that it would be God's will, and that I would be acting as a proper steward, if I would make a reasonable provision for these children—not that if I had five million dollars I would think that they must all he rich and have a million apiece. I would not understand anything of the kind, but would understand that they would probably do a great deal better for themselves and for the Lord's glory if they did not have very much. And yet, if I had $5,000,000 I would feel that I ought to give more to my sons and daughters than if I had only fifty dollars or if I had only $5,000. I would think it would be a reasonable consideration to be held in mind, and I think probably if I had five million, I would give them $50,000 apiece, I don't know. I think I should be about that generous. I don't think I would be any more generous than that. And if there were any of them I thought would be specially injured by giving them that much, I would cut it down. But in everything, your responsibility is the thing that is before you—how does God wish you to do? Do according to what you think would be pleasing to the Lord. It is your stewardship, not mine. But remember, that if you are thinking more of your children in respect to your stewardship than you are thinking respecting the Lord's children and the Lord's work, it shows that you have not the proper respect for him and his work. You are, therefore, to take all of these things into consideration when you decide how you shall use whatever is in your hands. If I had a wife and family; I certainly would not think of selling the roof from over our heads, unless it would be a very fine roof to get a cheaper one, the fine one not being so necessary. But I would certainly think of keeping a roof for my family I would think it part of my duty as a father and husband to provide for necessities in that manner. I wish that all of God's people had roofs over their heads—not extravagant roofs, not very elaborate houses, necessarily, but that they all had some little place they could call home. It is true, Jesus did not have a home of his own, but it is also true that John, his disciple, did have a home, as we read of Jesus when dying commending Mary, his mother, to that disciple whom he loved. That disciple whom Jesus loved took Mary to his own house. He had a house.
ANSWER—It is pretty hard to know just what the [Page Q675]questioner had in his mind about going in his own strength—physical strength to work for the Lord, or what you mean I do not know surely. I will be obliged to answer at random—make a guess. I should say, however, that to go in one's own strength would be known to him by his discernment as he would criticize himself as to whether or not he is inclined to go about some matter and be doing it very busily and had forgotten perhaps to make it a subject of prayer and to think and study out whether it was the Lord's will or not. That would be a sign that you were neglecting to look to the Lord for strength and guidance. That would be a sign that you are in danger on that line and you should be more careful. Afterwards if you see it is the Lord's way according to His Word, make a prayer on the subject and act according to your best judgment, then you will be sure that you are walking in the strength of the Lord.
ANSWER—I do not think I could say anything on such a subject different from what I have already said in regard to the matter in the 6th Volume of Studies in the Scriptures. I think a good many of the friends have not read the six volumes for quite a while, and I think they had better read them over again. I remind you of how it is possible to read the entire six volumes through in one year by reading twelve pages a day. And I believe those following that plan are getting a blessing, and have answers to questions they would not have if not following that plan, or that they could have in any other way. Because all our minds are leaky. I receive letters almost every day, I might say, and very frequently while giving a kind of answer by letter we will try to refer the friends to the volumes, because there these subjects are treated much more satisfactory than in a letter. We would not like to be discourteous and say, "See such a page." Therefore, we put in a partial answer, but the volume would be better.
Now, in this question we have suggested in the sixth volume that the Lord's people are in our judgment at liberty to join such an arrangement as a business matter. If it is a carpenters' union, a bricklayers' union, locomotive engineers' union, if it is necessary for the maintenance of their job or occupation, to join, we see nothing in the Word of God to contradict that thought. "But would you prefer that?" No. I would prefer to stand fast in full liberty. "But would you sacrifice liberty in Christ?" No. It would not have to be sacrificing liberty in Christ because I would still be at liberty, if they do anything criminal or illegal, I would say,"Brethren of the Bricklayers' Union, or Brethren of the Locomotive Engineers' Union, I am sorry to tell you I cannot agree with this course you are taking, and while trying to be loyal in every way, yet I am drawing the line because of this principle I think is involved." But I do not see why there might be very many things to find fault with. It seems to me if it were not for just such arrangements as these unions have made that wages and conditions of labor would not be so good as they are. And if God has been pleased to allow these men [Page Q676] to make such arrangements as a power for their own uplift out of degradation, I say I am well pleased with what God has permitted. To whatever extent any of these unions may extend to anything illegal or do harm to some non-union man, to that extent you and I as followers of Jesus could not be in harmony with them, and if any union plotted to blow up buildings or destroy life or produce riots, you and I would be bound to say, "Brethren, we cannot stand with you. We stand for righteousness and truth. We must withdraw." And there is no need so far as I can see unless they do something of that kind. Merely for them to order all the locomotive engineers to go on strike would not mean they are going to do violence to the life of any man. Not at all. So far as I can see, however, this railroad strike is likely to be settled in an amicable way. I think it will be. I am not a prophet. It looks to me as though it would be.
Q676:1 QUESTION (l909)—1—Col. 1:24: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake." Did Paul and does the Church now suffer for the sins of the world?
ANSWER—A good deal depends upon the way a thought enters and proceeds through the mind. What does the questioner mean? What had the questioner in mind? Words are poor vehicles to express thoughts. This is what I understand to be the question, or at least I will answer it in this broad way, which I trust will cover it.
Paul recognized that he had been invited to become a joint sacrificer with Jesus and to fill up that which was behind of Christ's afflictions. What did Christ suffer for? Whatever Christ suffered for was what Paul wanted to share in; he was going to fill up that which remained behind. Now, what did Christ suffer for? "He suffered the just for the unjust." He died for our sins; He died as a sin offering. Did Paul, and do we die that way also? I answer, certainly. Is this shown in the Scriptures? It is most clearly shown—it could not be more clearly shown. Then why did the Apostle state, "for his body's sake, which is the Church?" I answer, that is the way Jesus laid down His life. Jesus did not suffer for the Gentiles and wicked people; He gave it all to the service of the Church. The way you spend your life, and the value of your sacrifice are two different things. He was to lay down His life sacrificially, no matter how; He was laying down His right to life, His earthly life rights; these became an asset, a valuable thing in His hands, to be applied for somebody else's benefit, and when He ascended up on High, He applied it for the Church. We see that it will pass through the Church to Israel, and through them to the world—all the families of the earth. But, mark you, while that was the way He was offering Himself in the Most Holy, the value of His offering was another thing. The thing to do while on earth was to lay down His life. Well, He could have laid it down in sawing wood or in a hundred ways. What did He choose to do? He chose to use it as wisely and profitably as He could. He laid it down for the poor and needy, the sick, the lame and the blind, giving them vitality from Himself, as He found opportunity. But the way He used His strength has nothing to do with the value of the blood offered. KEEP THE TWO THOUGHTS IN MIND. [Page Q677] The one is the sacrifice of earthly rights, which are to be applied for us; and the other the way in which He would die, use up His strength, etc. He might have spent all His time in antagonizing the Pharisees and they might have crucified Him just the same. But if so, He would not have done it in the wisest way. He laid down His life for the Church, the 500 He met after His resurrection were the ones He specially served.
So then with you and with me, so far as you and I are concerned, it is not enough for us to say, I consecrate my life to the temperance work, or to serving my family, or to serving one of the nominal churches—it is not for you to decide your course, how you will spend this day, tomorrow, etc. Give all to the Lord, and then He tells us here, through the Apostle, that it would be best to lay down our life for Jesus' sake, and He gives us an example of how He spent His life. You understand that His life was consecrated to the Lord and that He should serve the Church, and so with us. But the value of the sacrifice is one part, and the way it will be applied is another matter altogether.
SIN-OFFERING: You remember the day of atonement which came to the Jewish nation once a year, about the 10th day of the seventh month, they were told to afflict their souls, etc. So all the Jews to this day, although they have no priest now, and cannot properly observe this atonement day, yet on the 10th day of the seventh month they afflict their souls in the sense that they fast and deny themselves. What they did originally was this: When this atonement day came, the High Priest first went out, took a young bullock which was for himself. He did not take it from the congregation; it was the High Priest's bullock, which represented himself, and after offering it, he took the blood into the Holy and Most Holy and sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat to make an atonement, to make satisfaction for sin. You remember the Mercy Seat was the propitiatory, which signifies the place of propitiation, or place of satisfaction. Now whose sins was atonement made for by the blood of the bullock? For the sins of himself, his body and his household, the house of Levi—they were his house. He was the head of that tribe. What do they represent? The Body of Christ, which is the Church. When He, Jesus, made an atonement for Himself, He made atonement for us, His Body, who are His house, the house of Levi, the household of faith—all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have turned from sin and are seeking to serve the Lord. Was that sufficient, or did they need any more? That was sufficient for them. Did it go out beyond them? No. Then what next? He went out and laid hold upon one of the goats at the door of the Tabernacle, and slew it, and offered it, as He slew the bullock, for a sin offering. (By the way, He did not provide the goat, but it was taken from the congregation of the people, representing the Church taken out of the world.) He slew the goat, and the goat represents those who are the members of His Body, and when He had slain it, the body was burned without the camp, and the blood was sprinkled just as he sprinkled the blood of the bullock, but not for the same people, but to make atonement for all the other tribes outside the tribe of Levi. Paul and you and I can have part in this secondary part, as the antitypical goat.[Page Q678] We offer ourselves at the door of the Tabernacle, then He makes us representatives of Himself, then our sufferings are the sufferings of Christ after that. Because God has accepted you through Christ, your sufferings are counted as a part of His sufferings; you are suffering with Him and for the same thing as He suffered, and thereafter you are no longer a goat. Did the goat go into the Most Holy? No, neither did the bullock; both perished outside the camp, representing the earthly or fleshly conditions. Neither of these went into the Most Holy. What goes into the Most Holy? Why our Lord Jesus Himself individually as a New Creature, begotten of the Holy Spirit, goes into the Holy, and you and I also when we are begotten of the Holy Spirit.
So, then, you see, Paul was a member of the Body of His sacrifice, but as a Royal Priest, he was a member of the Body of Christ. In one sense of the word you are earthly and are dying, and in another sense you are a New Creature, a Member of the Body of Christ, seated in the Holy, eating of the shew-bread, having the light of the golden candlestick, and offering incense upon the golden altar.
The Apostle speaks of this goat or Church class when he says: "Let us go to him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Remember, as the Apostle said, "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp." No other sacrifices were burned without the camp, only the sin-offering. "Let us go to him," or be a part of the sin-offering. THAT IS OUR PRIVILEGE, IF WE CAN SEE IT.
ANSWER—This is another of those questions which depend upon which standpoint you take when asking or answering the question. So far as the body of the new creature is concerned, it never suffers anything, for the reason that you have no body. So far as the mind of the old creature is concerned, it does not suffer, because if you are a new creature, you have no old mind. What have you? You have a new mind in an earthen vessel, and both in the same service. The new mind has its own tribulations, and the old flesh has its tribulations, don't it?
ANSWER—Our different casts of mind, (for no two are alike), cause us to make use of different language and to give it different weight. Just what do we mean by suffering? The Scriptures certainly do speak of God as though He did suffer and as though He was sorry, yet you and I do find a difficulty in imaging how God could suffer in the ordinary way, to have pain. To have pain means to have something wrong with the organism. For instance, if you have your proper functions, and some one should pinch you, you have pain because there would be a certain amount of destruction because of the pinching. If you have sorrow of heart you have pain. For instance, you say: Oh, I am so sorry, I was so pained in the matter. From that standpoint we cannot understand[Page Q679] how God can suffer since God is immortal, unchangeable, and therefore cannot suffer in any degree. If He could have some derangement of His system then He could suffer. Why, then, does the Bible speak of His having sorrow? We answer, for two reasons. (1) He wishes us to know what is to His pleasing and what is not to His pleasing. (2) He is coming down to our comprehension so that we may understand, so that we may form some reasonable conception of what would be displeasing to Him.
The question seems to imply something respecting our Lord Jesus. Did the Father suffer a great deal when He gave His Son, as some say that the Father suffered more than the Son did? I do not think so, dear friends. Knowing the end from the beginning, I think the Father was pleased to do what He did, and He knew how every feature would result; I think the Father was pleased and happy over the sacrifice of His Son, and was willing, and had the full consent of His own will and judgment, otherwise He never would have done anything of the kind—He was not caught in a trap and had to do something, but known unto Him was the end from the beginning. Therefore, in our sense of suffering, of pain, disintegration of nerve and vital powers, our Heavenly Father has no such suffering, neither could He but in the sense of having sympathy for His Son and for us, for He wishes us to know that He is not cold like a stone, having no sympathy, but that He is sympathetic and in His heart of sympathy and love He sympathized with our Lord Jesus. We do not want to lose sight of the sympathy of the Father. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him."
Q679:1 QUESTION (1915)—1—(Rom. 8:18:) "I reckon that sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. "How do we suffer with Christ? And who suffers, the old creature or the new?
ANSWER—From the Bible viewpoint the old creature is dead from the time we come into God's family. That is the only condition upon which we are received into God's family. If any offer to God one-half, nine-tenths, or ninety-nine-one-hundredths, he would not be accepted. The only condition upon which we are accepted of the Lord is a full surrender of our wills. And this surrender of the will is reckoned as the death of the will—the old will. Since the will carries your pocketbook, etc. everything—then your own will is dead. And when you accept the Lord's will instead, the Bible very properly says, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).
Now it is this New Creature, this new being, that is to suffer with Jesus, to share in the sufferings of Christ. These New Creatures are members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. And as members of the Body of Christ all are to suffer with the Head. When your finger suffers, it is a part of your body that suffers. So when you suffer, it is a part of the Body of Christ that suffers. Any sufferings that we have because of our membership in His Body are a part of the Sufferings of Christ. Whatever it has cost you, therefore, to give up your own will, to keep your will submissive [Page Q680] to God, to be faithful to the principles for which Christ stands, all that is part of the sufferings of Christ.
It is the New Creature that does this suffering, because the New Creature has the personality. There is no longer a personality to the old creature. Yet the New Creature does not suffer as a New Creature, but through the flesh.
You ask, "Has the New Creature flesh?" Yes, the Apostle answers. While we were reckoned dead according to the flesh, yet our reckonedly dead flesh has been quickened through the power of God to serve Him; for we are risen with Christ to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:11). But our flesh is now counted as the body of the New Creature, and the Lord deals with us only as New Creatures.
Why do we have this fleshly body? Because if we didn't have it we would not have any at all. The time for getting the new body is the time of our resurrection. We shall then have our "change" and receive spiritual bodies; but the only body we can have now is the present fleshly body. So then, this body is reckoned dead, and then reckoned as risen with Christ; and this flesh of ours that is suffering now belongs to the New Creature. The New Creature suffers through its earthly tabernacle, the flesh. So it was with Jesus. He gave up His earthly life; He was reckoned dead the moment He made the consecration at Jordan. Then for three and one-half years His flesh was suffering the actual death which was reckoned to Him at the beginning. The sufferings of Jesus, therefore, were sufferings in the flesh, for He had not yet received His new body.
The new body will not suffer, but so long as we are in the flesh we will have this suffering, because it is through the sufferings of the flesh that the new mind is tried and tested as to our loyalty to God; and at the cost of the flesh we are proving ourselves worthy of the High Calling with which we have been called. If any draw back from the sufferings, then he will also be drawing back from the crown of glory, and he shall not reign with Christ (Heb. 10:38).
ANSWER—I do not know what the questioner has in mind. The question seems to imply that he refers to a class already Christians. If that is his thought, and he refers to the sufferings we have as Christians before we receive the light of Present Truth, I would say, "Yes." All the sufferings of a Christian are under Divine supervision, and many of us, I believe, before coming into Present Truth, had certain experiences of trials and difficulties that worked out for us a great blessing, and prepared us to receive the Truth. I have known many who have given me their experiences along this line. They were so engrossed in business that they would not have taken the time to study the Truth.
I knew a gentleman in the grocery business, for instance. He was a Christian, and had purchased the six volumes of the Studies in the Scriptures. But he could not take time to study them. He did not realize that the greatest business in the world is the Lord's business. The grocery business was his greatest business for the time being. The Lord very graciously let him break his leg. He had to remain quiet [Page Q681]until the bones were knit. He told me afterwards that his enforced vacation was the best time in his life; for he read the six volumes. Before that he never had time; after that he always had time.
It is the same with a certain sister. This sister said to me one day, "I wondered at one time very much why the Lord let my hands get all crippled up with rheumatism. I had always been very active up to that time, knitting or sewing or doing something else. Then my hands became all knotted up with rheumatism, as you see them. I could not sew or knit or do anything else; my hands were useless. Finally, I found that by trying, I could manage to turn over the leaves of a book; and I began to read. After reading awhile, the thought came to me, God let your hands twist up like that so you could read."
These are some of the ways in which various ones of the Lord's people were blessed and helped to come into Present Truth. God has a way of dealing with His children. If we are His, then the next thing is to be fully submissive to His will and to be glad to follow His providences.
ANSWER—No, the death of Jesus was for the original sin. The original sin was the thing that came upon us through Father Adam, and all of their latter sins, many of them come from imperfections of the flesh which are inherited because of the original sin, and to whatever extent your weakness and mine are results of the original sin to that extent all such sins are included because they are a part of the original sin and not part of the sin on your own account. The sin of the world,—of that John the Baptist says "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." This sin of the world is the sin which came through Adam and which has been distributed among his children. All those sins which are from Adam's weakness, inherited through Adam, can be forgiven, but those willful on our part will have to receive stripes.
ANSWER—The theory that suicides are hopelessly lost was formulated during the Dark Ages. The thought was that self-murder, being a sin committed as a last act, indicated a mind and heart out of accord with God's arrangement to the last moment of life. The thought that death ends all hope clinched the theory that eternal torment is the wages of suicide. This, we believe, is thoroughly wrong in every way. The proper view according to the Bible is this;
(1) Adam was disobedient, was sentenced to death. Thus his race was born under unfavorable conditions, mental, moral, and physical; in degeneracy, some more, some less; some in very poor physical health, some of very low moral status, some with very weak mental powers. A suicide often has all three of these inducing causes as provocations to such an act. Surely he was either mentally weak or uninformed, [Page Q682]ignorant; else he would not take his own life. His trouble, then, was weakness of mind and judgment caused by Adam's transgression. He was a sharer of Adam's penalty—the death penalty; and when he died—no matter how—he came fully under the effect of that penalty—nothing more. Eternal torment is not in any way intimated in the death penalty. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
(2) God had mercy upon Adam, not in the way of abrogating the decision of the Divine Court and clearing the guilty one, but in another way—by providing redemption through the death of Christ. Jesus' death, by Divine appointment, is to cover the sin of Adam—not only his original transgression and its penalty, but all the transgressions of his children, the world, which have resulted from his mental, moral and physical impairment.
(4) The redemption of the world implies its eventual release from the condemnation of death. The time Divinely appointed for the release of all is the thousand years of Christ's Reign—the Millennium. All mankind will then be liberated from the original condemnation, and will be granted a full opportunity for the recovery of all that was lost. The mentally sick, the morally sick, and the physically decrepit—all will have opportunity for a full return to human perfection.
(5) The only exceptions to this rule of restoration to Adam's original perfection will be those who during this Gospel Age—from the death of Christ to His Second Coming—are called out of the world, invited to become New Creatures in Christ, and made associates with Jesus, sharers in His exaltation to the Divine nature and in His office. These are justified (reckoned perfect) by faith in Christ's redemptive sacrifice, and then given the opportunity to present themselves as living sacrifices.—Rom. 12:1.
(6) As Christians, during this Gospel Age, might sin wilfully and thus forfeit all relationship to God and die the Second Death, so in the coming Age, during the Millennium, the world in general, after having been brought to an accurate knowledge of the Truth, may by willful sin forfeit all relationship to God, and die the Second Death.
(7) In thus declaring that not only the sins of the Church class, but the sins of the whole world, are covered by God's arrangement through the sacrifice of Christ, we are not to be understood as meaning that the sinner is exempted from all punishment. On the contrary, each one has a responsibility for his own actions, even if he has but imperfect knowledge. His responsibility, as Jesus pointed out, is in proportion to his knowledge.
The Master declared that he that knows his Master's will, and does it not, shall be punished with many stripes—severe punishment; and he who knows less of his Master's will, and does it not, shall be punished with fewer stripes—less punishment. Sometimes those stripes, or punishments, come in the present life. With the Church class it is uniformly so. But often the punishments are not meted out in the present life; however, they will be administered justly in the life to come. So the Apostle declares, "Some men's [Page Q683] sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some they follow after."—Tim. 5:24.
(8) Along the above lines, we would not be inclined to hope that any suicide could be a member of the glorified Church of Christ, but, at most, a part of the world—to have trial with the remainder of the world for life or death everlasting under the favorable conditions of Messiah's Kingdom. However, even upon this point we may not dogmatize, remembering that some, apparently saintly, have been permitted of the Lord to lose their reason to a greater extent than some of the world who have committed suicide.
ANSWER—I cannot remember what is written on the page mentioned, but I think it is all right there, and I think I will say the same now. I think we would be perfectly justified in presenting the truth to anybody anywhere, if the Lord gives us the opportunity, if we do it understandingly and above board. As, for instance, when the Apostle Paul was permitted to go into the synagogues and preach Christ; he preached fully and did not put his light under a bushel, but wherever he let his light shine, they put him out, and so it is now. If that is the best form of service you know how to render, and if the dear friends of that congregation are pleased to have you serve as a teacher, then by all means use the opportunity, but do not put your light under a measure, but let your light shine, that they may see your good work. If, bye and bye, they say, "We are tired of having you teach this class," you should say, "All right, I have no desire to remain if I cannot teach what the Lord has to say." But if the class should be of children of tender years and if I thought they could not receive any portion of the glad tidings, I would imagine that you could find better use for your time. God is not calling the children specially. We are glad, indeed, however, that some of tender years do hear the message. Aside from special things, I would not think it wise to spend the time teaching a Sunday School class when others could teach them and tell them that there is going to be a picnic, etc., etc. You have something better to spend your time on than to amuse a lot of children. You might think of Mrs. Smith, or Mrs. Brown, who seem to be grand characters, and you might make a call upon them and leave them a tract, etc. I believe you would be using your time to better advantage.
Q683:2 QUESTION (1910)—2—I am a Sunday School superintendent of a class of children; they love me and I greatly love them, and although I am greatly interested in the truth, I do not feel called upon to give the work up. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Methodist church in shepherding me while young, and I wish to feed the lambs, as Christ did. Do the Scriptures teach otherwise?
ANSWER—Well, I would say that if I were in your place I would not so much feel a debt of gratitude to the Methodist church as I would feel a debt of gratitude to the Lord, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. Therefore if you [Page Q684] are a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church, or any other which gives you a measure of light and truth, be thankful for it, but let the chief gratitude go out to God. If you are thoroughly the Lord's you will belong to him, as we sing, "I Belong to Christ, My Lord." So I would give up any thought of special indebtedness, or of belonging to anybody. I do not think we want to belong to anybody except the Lord. We belong to him and we cannot have two masters, and we had better make up our mind which we are going to serve and settle that part first. Who is the master? I know a great many people who belong to the Presbyterian church, others to the Episcopal church, others that belong to the Methodist church, and they would of course not deny that they belong to the Lord, yet here is an acknowledgment of belonging to two masters. There is something wrong. The Methodist friends may have given you a great deal of light and truth, for many of them have not much left.
Now, as to the obligations of the Sunday School class. If your consecration was of the proper kind, it would mean the giving up of yourself to the Lord in the words of Jesus when he made his consecration, "Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written, to do thy will. I delight to do THY will." Not the Methodist, Presbyterian, or the will of any other church or system, but what you understand to be God's will. Now in the matter of this class, is it God's will that you should continue to teach this class of 125? Well, of course, I do not know who the person is; if it is a lady, I would think that there would be difference then. As a teacher of children I would think she had an opportunity of teaching the children some truth. But if she is bound so that she cannot teach the children the Truth, then I would think that she was doing them an injury instead of setting them at liberty. But if the church is not one that is very careful in such matters and they say, We wish to give the children some instruction and training; we know that you do not believe according to the Wesleyan Methodist church doctrines, but try to follow the Bible and you are living according to the light of your conscience, we are glad to have you stay and teach those children and tell them what you think is the Truth. Then I would think I would keep that class, unless it interfered with some of my home duties. If I were neglecting my own children or husband I would think there was something wrong. I would not neglect those in my own home to teach other people's children.
I think of one very fine Christian lady and she had quite a fine Bible class, but her own son was neglected and grew up to be an infidel. I thought many times afterward that she would have done a great deal better if she had looked after the care the Lord put in her own charge—her own children.
Then, on the other hand, if this were a man, I would think he could find a better opportunity. Since there are 125 in the class, there are probably some in the infant class. If it were a brother he might find some older children to teach the younger ones, to tell them stories and keep them interested and out of mischief.
ANSWER—Usually sisters are better teachers of the young than are brethren. Nothing in the Scriptures forbids their teaching such classes. The Apostle's words are: "I suffer not a woman to teach or to usurp authority over a man." His words apply specially to the Church.
We still believe that God holds the Christian parents responsible for the spiritual education of their children, and that they get a special blessing in fulfilling his requirement. If Sunday Schools are ever advisable, we believe they would be only for orphans or worldlings, or for children already taught at home.
ANSWER—My thought is this, brethren: The Lord has not told me to fight against Sunday Schools. I was to preach the Gospel. However, I may state that Sunday Schools were not organized by the Lord Jesus or the Apostles. The first Sunday School was organized in London for ragged children and poor street waifs. These schools were for the teaching of sewing and knitting and writing and such like subjects as that. We have better schools now established for these subjects. The first of these schools were held on Sunday because the teachers had no other time free, but we have the same kind of schools every day now, and we have put them upon a better basis under the state and government. We have pointed out in the Scripture Studies that God has laid the responsibility on the parents to teach their children. I do not intend to give the Lord any pointer in the matter. I say again that there were no Sunday Schools organized by the Lord or by His Apostles. There may be reasons for having them which you may think good, but that is not my business. If you think that there are good reasons for having them, well then, all I would say is: Brother Russell is not to find any objections. God has a liberal way of dealing with us and we are free to choose—guided by God's word. There are principles in the Scriptures. Follow these loosely or closely, as you care. The Lord leaves that liberty, and who has a right to put bonds where they are not?
ANSWER—Circumstances vary. Sometimes the husband will be in the truth and the wife may be equally in earnest and not have seen the truth, and the husband in such a case would like the children to be instructed in respect to the Divine Plan of the Ages and the wife would like them instructed along another line. In such a case I think the best way would be to compromise and do to your partner in the matter as you would have her do to you. For the [Page Q686]husband to assert his authority as the head of the family and to demand that the children might not go to Sunday School would be to ignore his wife entirely. Some might say it would be right. I am inclined to think it would not be wise. I think the wiser course would be to say, "My dear, since you think that is best I will agree to it that they go to Sunday School, but in order to fulfill my obligations to the children, I will have every Sunday a Sunday School class also and so the children will get a double chance at Sunday School, and we hope a double blessing. They will get all you would have them get and the best I can give them too." The wife would see that the husband was considerate, and that always has a good influence. There is a great difference, but in most cases the children would get no harm even if they got no good.
Q686:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—We understand in symbolical language that a day means a year, a month thirty years, and a year 360 years. Since this same manner of figuring time is used in the book of Revelation, why is the period of Christ's reign for blessing all the families of the earth called one thousand years when by the same process of figuring it would be 360,000 years?
ANSWER—Well, any who prefer to count it 360,000 have my full consent. I think I cannot be more liberal than that. I would say, however, dear friends, to my understanding some of the numbers in Revelation are symbolical and some are not; and I am inclined to think, for instance, that the 144,000 sealed ones is a literal number, and so I understand this 1,000 of the book of Revelation repeated over and over, refers to a thousand years literally. I understand it is the same day of Christ that the Apostle speaks of. What kind of a day? Not a day for a year—a year day, but a thousand-year day, the seventh great day, the six days of evil of a thousand years each, six thousand years reign of sin and death, then comes the seventh, or Sabbath day. And so some of our Jewish friends are in the habit of counting this very same way. I found one recently inquired something along the subject of the time in which he expected the Messiah and the party said to him, "Do think it is soon?" He hesitated a little while, then looked cautiously around and whispered, "We are in Friday night." Friday night to the Jews would mean the end of the six days, because Saturday with them is the seventh day. So he meant that we are near the beginning of the thousand years in which the Messiah is to reign. This thousand years of Christ's reign agrees with the day of Adam, or Adam's day, a thousand year day, 930 years of which was accomplished in his own dying processes, and Christ's day, being a thousand years in which the world will be raised out of sin, and this to my mind seems a very reasonable, rational period of time to consider. It would seem very strange to my reasoning faculties if it were necessary for Christ to take 360,000 years to get mankind out of the sin and death that they got into during 6,000 years; and none of them ever lived out 1,000 years, except Enoch. The majority of us have only lived less than a century and how we could get an amount of sin loaded onto us in a century such that it would take 360,000 years for [Page Q687] the Lord to get wiped out, or eradicated, would not fit with anything in my head.
ANSWER—Well, I do not know, dear friends, that we need to go into any great particularity in a question like that—to decide it, I mean, or have any difference with anybody. In my judgment there were a great many who were really in sympathy with Jesus at the time of his offering himself to the Jews at the end of their age. You remember how, on various occasions, the multitude wished to take him by force, and make him a king, showing that his teachings were very popular amongst a certain class at that time. And so it might be here that some might become very deeply interested in the truth after that superficial manner, some interested in it in an outward way from the worldly standpoint. They would say, "I think that is reasonable, that is the most logical thing I ever heard," etc., and yet it would be with them, probably, just the same as with some of the similar class in our Lord's day. Those very ones who rejoiced and took palm branches and said, "Hail Jesus, son of David," kept very quiet when the Pharisees and Doctors of the Law put up some others to cry out "Crucify him, crucify him"—these kept very quiet; they said nothing about "Hail Jesus, son of David," etc. So I should not wonder that a great many worldly people, when everything is favorable, say "That looks very nice," and if somebody said "boo" they would say nothing, but get very quiet. They have not enough stamina in them, or they would want to make a full consecration of themselves; and that lack of stamina would likely manifest itself if any opposition would arise; it is only what we might expect.
ANSWER—It would depend upon the religious belief of the one who asks the question. To the Jew the seventh day (Saturday) is the one to be observed, as it was commanded in the Law that was given to the Israelites that they should keep the seventh day as a holy day. That Law is still binding upon the Jews. If a Seventh Day Adventist, then let him keep the seventh day, for he believes that he is under the Law, and with that belief he certainly should keep the seventh day. To those who are members of some one of the various Protestant Churches, or of the Roman Catholic Church, let them observe the first day (Sunday) as the day of rest, as they believe that it is so commanded, and surely it would not be right for them to violate their conscience by doing otherwise. To the true Christian, the consecrated child of God, let these keep every day holy unto the Lord and not merely one day in seven. And let these enjoy a rest by faith in the Lord and in His sure promises. Let no one attempt to judge another in respect to this matter of[Page Q824] observing the sabbath or holy days. No one has the right to judge his fellowman in this regard; but let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Rom. 14:4,5). If any one presumes to judge another in these matters, he is violating a direct command of the Lord as expressed by one of His inspired Apostles (Col. 2:16). If any one should say that we are not saved and that we are lost because we do not observe some special day, ask him gently but firmly—"Who made thee a judge?"
ANSWER—God will have all men to be saved (from the death conditions that came upon all because of father Adam's disobedience; just as the whole race is in a dying condition with the vast majority in the tomb, so the Lord will have "all," "every man," saved from this condition of death) and to come to the knowledge of the truth (in order to bring the race—all men—to the knowledge of the truth it would be necessary to resurrect them from the grave, for very few members of the race have come to the knowledge of the truth in this present life, as the Lord Jesus Himself stated on one occasion, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it"), for there is one God (not three Gods nor many), and one Mediator (go-between), the Man Christ Jesus, who (will satisfy the claims of Divine Justice and bring about the atonement or reconciliation between God and men, because, by the grace of God, He) gave Himself a ransom for all ("every man," which truth; or fact is), to be testified (to all) in due time, when all have come forth from the tomb.
Q824:2 QUESTION—Would you please explain what is meant by John's Gospel, sixth chapter and forty fourth verse; and does this harmonize with Rev. 22:17—"Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely"? (H.B.M.)
ANSWER—Jesus' words, "No man can come to Me except the Father which sent Me draw him," have long perplexed Bible scholars and Christian people in general. The thought usually is that the Lord is desirous that all mankind should be saved in this present Christian Era. And if this be so, then why does the Father "draw" so few to Christ? Why does He not draw all men unto Him? The difficulty is that many have failed to note the Scripture teachings concerning the Divine purpose. All Bible scholars recognize that the doctrine of "election" is taught in the Scriptures. And nearly all are aware that "free grace" is likewise set forth. In attempting to apply both these Bible teachings to the present Era, confusion has resulted. God is now drawing to Christ such as He desires shall be members of His Church, the Bride of Christ. In other words, God is "calling" or inviting a few—"the elect"—to be joint-heirs with His Son in the glories of the Kingdom. When this election is completed, then God's free grace will be extended to all the world of mankind.
Q825:1 QUESTION—Is it true that the "Highway of Holiness" is opened up now and that the way of salvation is so plain that a "wayfaring man though a fool shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8-10)? If the way is so plain and clear and simple that a foolish person need make no mistake about it, then why is there so much confusion among the learned clergymen, Doctors of Divinity, etc., as to the proper methods of salvation, some teaching one thing and some another? As an honest skeptic and one seeking to know the way of salvation, can you direct me to this "Highway"?
ANSWER—We are not surprised that you have failed to find the "Highway." The Lord Jesus referring to the conditions of salvation during this present Gospel Age, declares that "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." As a matter of fact, the Scriptures point out three ways:—"The broadway, leading to destruction," "The narrow way to life," and the "Highway of Holiness." (Mat. 7:13,17; Isa. 35:9.) It is very evident from the conditions which you mention that the latter of these ways has not been in existence thus far, but as the Scriptures affirm, it will be opened up for the world at the time of our Lord's second coming. Then when Satan, that old "lion" (1 Pet. 5:8), is bound (Rev. 20:2) the Prophet's words shall be fulfilled. "No lion shall be there," and "the redeemed of the Lord (the world of mankind) shall go up thereon with everlasting joy and singing upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Q825:2 QUESTION—Can you explain the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:14), "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the (believing) wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the (believing) husband; else were your children unclean (sinners under condemnation, unjustified, unrelated to God, aliens from His care and blessing), but now are they holy"?
ANSWER—As the disobedience and alienation of Adam and Eve from the Heavenly Father brought alienation to all their offspring, so the reconciliation of the Lord's people through the merits of the great atonement, not only brings them back to harmony with God, but their children as well are counted as justified through their parents, and on account of their parents, up to such a time as the child shall have an intelligence and will of its own. The question is more complex, however, when one parent is the Lord's and the other is a stranger and an alien from Him; but the Apostle assures us that in such a case God counts the child as His, through whichever one of its parents is the Lord's disciple. The standing of the believing parent, is counted as offsetting and overruling the standing of the unconsecrated parent, so far as the child is concerned.
ANSWER—According to the Bible, Satan, of his own [Page Q826] volition, became the adversary of God. Originally, as God created him, he was holy, pure, grand of character and of a high order of angelic nature, a "covering cherub" (Eze. 28:16). He transformed himself from the loyal, glorious servant of God, to a bitter enemy and opponent. The Scriptures tell us what constituted this transforming work—that it was an evil thought, a disloyal thought, an ambitious thought. The angel Lucifer—signifying "bright morning star"—said within himself, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God (the other angels) . . . I will be like the Most High (Isa. 14:12-14). As God is the Emperor of the entire Universe, I should like to be the Emperor of some quarter of it where I might reign supreme and work out my own schemes and plans." Lucifer's opportune moment came when our first parents were created. Perceiving that they had procreative powers, he seized upon the thought that by alienating them from God, he could wield an influence over them and eventually have an earthly dominion of his own. God has permitted him to carry out much of his scheme, while he was, at the same time, unconsciously working out a part of the Divine Program. It is not to be understood that Satan has in any sense thwarted the Divine Program; on the contrary it has been a part of God's great plan to permit evil to reign for 6,000 years and then to bind Satan and establish righteousness.
ANSWER—The first part of the text relates to the time following the Lord's resurrection. Jesus had been put to death as a human being, a perfect man, and was raised a glorious spirit being of the highest order, of the Divine nature. In His highly exalted spiritual state, endowed with glory, honor and immortality, it was appropriate that the Lord should manifest a greater measure of dignity, in order to impress upon the minds of His followers the change that had taken place. He who had been the meek and lowly Nazarene, so poor that He had not where to lay His head, after His resurrection would be so no longer, but the all-powerful Divine Lord, next to the Heavenly Father in power and authority. During the forty days from the time of His resurrection to the time of His ascension into Heaven, he manifested Himself and talked very rarely with His disciples. The "prince of this world," Satan, was coming in the sense that he would triumph over the world of mankind and bring it into subjection to his own evil sway and dominion until the time for the Lord to set up His own Kingdom at His second coming.—2 Cor. 4:4.
ANSWER—There are three great ages or dispensations of time outlined in the Bible. The first of these is referred to as "the world that was," and the second as "the world [Page Q827]that now is," and the last as the "world to come wherein dwelleth righteousness." The "world that now is," or "this present evil world," is the one over which Satan is the "Prince" or ruler. The Apostle elsewhere refers to Satan as "the god of this world." (2 Cor. 4:4.) It is because Satan is the ruler over this present order of things during this dispensation that it is termed an "evil world." All will agree that evil is very much in evidence, and that the influences of the past and present are universally inclined towards sin and unrighteousness. How difficult it is to do right now; and how easy it is to take the downward way! Our Lord is not ruling over the nations now, and will not until the appointed time for Him to take unto Himself His great power and authority and establish His own Kingdom in the earth. Then, as the Scriptures declare, "the kingdoms of this world will become our Lord's and His Christ's and He shall reign for the Ages of the Ages." This agrees with the Savior's words when He said, "My Kingdom is not of this world."
Q827:1 QUESTION—If Satan (the Devil) is the grand general supervisor over the lower regions, and he is to be destroyed, as we read in the Scriptures—(Heb. 2:14) who will be appointed to look after the interests of his department after his demise? (Q.E.D.)
ANSWER—Not only will Satan be destroyed, but we read also that "hell," the place of supposed fire and brimstone, is to deliver up all the dead that are there and then the place itself destroyed—(Rev. 21:13,14). The "lake of fire and brimstone," as all Bible scholars now know, is the symbolic expression denoting destruction, annihilation, or extinction of being. Death and hellbeing cast into this "lake," would, therefore, signify their destruction, or termination. Demonstrating the truth of this interpretation of the symbols, we find it stated in the 22nd chapter and the 4th verse that "there shall be no more death"—it having been destroyed in the "lake of fire and brimstone." Satan will have no successor, and the fire-proof demons will join the army of unemployed!
Q827:2 QUESTION—Since Jesus is to reign until all enemies are put under His feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:25,26) would it not prove that Satan and his hosts would be destroyed before death is destroyed, and that both would be destroyed during the reign of Jesus?
ANSWER—The Apostle's argument is so clear and convincing in this fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians relative to the reign of our Lord Jesus and the object or purpose to be accomplished by that reign, that there is but one answer to the question and that one in the affirmative. It is apparent to all thinking minds that Christ's reign has not yet begun, for the Scriptures declare that during the reign of the Lord, the great adversary of the race, Satan, will be bound, and that in the close of that reign he will be loosed for a little season. A single glance over the conditions [Page Q828] existing in the world will serve to convince anyone that Satan is still a very active personality. However, conditions in the next Age, the period of Christ's reign, will experience a radical change as gradually the evil, selfish elements are eliminated. The last of the evil things that have so long afflicted the race, death, "and him that had the power of death" shall be destroyed (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 21:4).
Q828:1 QUESTION—It is claimed by scientists that the earth's motion upon its axis has not varied a second for thousands of years. In view of this how shall we account for the statement of Joshua 10:13, "The sun and moon stood still and the sun hasted not to go down about a whole day." Does this record imply that the earth's motion upon its axis was stopped or its velocity lessened? (J.W.A.)
ANSWER—A critical examination of this passage in the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was written, discloses the fact that Joshua never requested the Lord to cause the sun and moon to stand still. His request was that the sunlight and the moonlight might be restrained, or prevented from shining through the dark clouds of the storm mentioned in verse 11, in which great hailstones had been formed, and doubtless were accompanied by thunder and lightning, all of which would strike terror into the hearts of the Amorites. Had the dark clouds rolled away and the sun shone forth, the enemies of Israel, who were sun worshippers, would have plucked up courage and resisted the onslaughts of Joshua and his army. So the sunlight and the moonlight remained dim (Hebrew, dum) about a whole day, "until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." The scientists are right and in harmony with the Scriptures, for the earth did not cease to revolve upon its axis, but continued to pursue the even tenor of its way. The Bible rightly interpreted and understood is consistent with reason and with facts.
Q828:2 QUESTION—Are there not remains of buried cities in Egypt containing evidence, pictorial drawings, hieroglyphics, etc., which antiquarians are in general agreed evidence a civilized, prosperous, and opulent people living about 7,000 years before the Christian era? And how many more thousands of years must it have taken for these to rise from conditions of barbarism—the universally conceded, primitive state of the entire human race? (R.J.S.)
ANSWER—It is passing strange that antiquarians which acknowledging the skill, ingenuity and wisdom of the ancients, evidencing a degree of civilization far in advance of any other prior to that of the present day, persist in calling the earlier peoples of the earth, "barbarous" and "primitive." The Egyptian ruins have been and are the marvels of modern times. Engineers and architects who have examined those mighty monuments of a former age, have declared that with all of our boasted civilization and enlightenment, it is doubtful if there is sufficient wisdom and knowledge in the world today to even duplicate those wondrous structures. [Page Q829] The oldest building in Egypt is conceded by all recognized authorities to be the Great Pyramid, and the date of this construction is well established, about 2170 B.C. It is still the wonder of the world as it was in ancient times, when placed by the Greeks at the head of the list of the "Seven Wonders of the World." The seven thousand years antiquity of the buried cities of Egypt, has long been recognized as being fictitious, as pictorial representations of the Pyramid have been discovered in all of those ruins showing that they were erected after the Great Pyramid had been built. Therefore, there is nothing in Egypt to disprove the Bible chronology, to the effect that the race had its origin 4128 B.C.
ANSWER—The study of the Scriptures, as with all other lines of investigation, must be conducted systematically, else confusion results. The Apostle Paul counsels us along this line saying, "Study to show thyself approved unto God (not unto men), rightly dividing the word of truth." Many have erred in failing to follow this rule. For instance, in reading Rev. 19:20, some have insisted that the lake of fire and literal brimstone is a real lake filled with brimstone and fire. A mere novice should recognize the passage as highly figurative, especially in view of the fact that it states that a beast and a false prophet are to be cast into it. No thoughtful person would conclude that a real beast and false prophet are meant. Many Bible students have entirely overlooked the importance of "rightly dividing the Word." The Apostle shows that the Divine arrangement, as thus far revealed, is divided into three great dispensations or ages, referred toin our Bibles as "Worlds" (See 2 Peter 3). The major portion of the prophecies relate to the world or age to come, and when we strive to make them fit present evil conditions, confusion results. To illustrate: If we apply the prophecy of Isa. 35:8-10, to the past or present, it is meaningless, whereas it is in exact harmony with the glorious reign of the Messiah, which we all know to be future. As corroborative of this manner of dividing the Word, we see that our Lord (Matt.7:13,14) speaks of the present evil world as "a broad way leading to destruction" and the way to life through Christ as "a strait and narrow way," while in his great prophecy in Matt. 25:31-46, He confirms the prophetic statement of Isaiah.
Q829:2 QUESTION—Please explain 2 Pet. 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."
ANSWER—From the reading of this chapter, it is evident that "these things," referred to by the Apostle, are the things relating to the three worlds and the three heavens of which he was writing. In 2 Cor. 12:1-4, [Page Q830] the Apostle Paul relates how that special visions and revelations had been given him by the Lord, and among these was a view of the "third heaven," and of "paradise." This was a glimpse of "the new heavens and the new earth" mentioned in the 13th verse of this chapter. St. Paul was not permitted to give the details of what had been revealed to him, nevertheless, these revelations influenced all of his writings and caused him to give such expressions as were hard to be understood, but which, in the light of subsequent events, are now being clearly revealed to the sincere and earnest student of the Scriptures. It is now seen that the "unlearned and unstable" have wrested many of the Apostle's statements from their true connection and significance, Scriptures that apply to "the new heavens and the new earth" have been variously warped and twisted from their true application and forcibly assigned to "the heavens that are now" and "this present evil world." As an illustration of this: the Apostle explains that "God has appointed a day (a thousand-year day—2 Pet. 3:8) in the which He will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), yet many have misapplied this statement and have declared that the world is on trial (being judged) at present.
ANSWER—The first death came upon Adam because of sin, and death has been reigning in the earth since, and men have died because of inherited sin. Death is spoken of in the Scriptures as a great enemy. Under the reign of Christ the dead shall return from the land of the enemy, the tomb, the death condition. (Jer. 31:15-17; John 5:28,29). All those who have become Christ's in this life receive their trial now. Those who have had no opportunity to accept the Lord will be given a trial then, and if obedient will be rewarded with eternal life on the earth. The reign of Christ is for the purpose of restoring all that was lost in Adam (Acts 3:19-22) and as the Scriptures declare: "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:25,26). In the Scripture quoted in your question, "hell" is from the Greek word "Hades," meaning the tomb. Death means the result of the curse that came upon Adam. The words used by our Lord were figurative. The "lake of fire" is a symbol of complete destruction, here called the "second death," therefore the second death refers to that death from which there will be no resurrection.
ANSWER—The first death, the death which came upon the human family through the disobedience of Father Adam, extended to every member of the human race. But according to God's providence, foreknown and fully declared, Christ died for the sins of the whole world; and in due time every member of Adam's race is to be recovered from that sin and from its death penalty, which for six thousand [Page Q831] years has been upon the race. In other words, as Adam brought mankind under the first death penalty, so Christ will release all mankind from that death penalty and give every member of the race a full and fair opportunity to attain perfection and eternal life. Whoever refuses that favor and opportunity—whoever sins willfully and deliberately against that light, will come under the sentence of death again; and this time it will not be Adamic death, but Second Death. And the difference between the two deaths is that the latter will know no revocation—there will be no redemption from it and no resurrection.
ANSWER—All Bible students recognize that the expressions of this chapter and verse are highly figurative. Where it is stated that a "beast and false prophet" are to be cast into the "lake of fire and brimstone," no reasoning mind would say that literal beast, or a literal false prophet were meant; but that these were symbols, and represent false and beastly systems. And if not an actual beast is meant, so also with the "lake of fire and brimstone." This lake would fittingly symbolize absolute destruction, for whatever is cast into fire and brimstone, the two most destructive agencies known to mankind, is immediately destroyed and not preserved in any sense. As stated in the 14th verse, it is the "second death"—annihilation. To our understanding, the "devil" here mentioned is not Satan himself, but is an evil system—a devilish power. These evil systems—false civil and ecclesiastical powers—in the end of the Age are to be "tormented day and night," as long as they last, with financial, social, and religious difficulties and pains. "Forever and ever" is from the Greek aionion which signifies lasting. The "torment" will last until these Satanic systems are consumed.
ANSWER—The Genesis account of the seduction of our first parents by Satan is very brief. There is just a sufficient amount of detail given to show how sin entered into the world and death by sin. The Bible is the only book in all the world that goes back to the beginning and logically and consistently sets forth the origin of sin and death. After concisely stating the facts, it does not ramble all around the point by bringing in a mass of unnecessary detail. It was not written to amuse, charm, or satisfy curiosity. In the first three chapters of the Bible the origin, fall and death of the race are described; and in the last three chapters of the Bible, the elimination of sin and death, and the uplifting and blessing of mankind are set forth. From the brief account given of the tragedy that occurred in the Garden of Eden, we might surmise that the serpent was merely one of the number that were in existence at that [Page Q832] time and that Satan, a powerful spirit being, controlled, or obsessed it and caused it to act and to speak in a manner such as would deceive mother Eve. Inasmuch as the Bible does not furnish the particulars, it would be impossible for anyone to set forth all the facts.
ANSWER—While it is not stated in the Scriptural account that the Lord did not wish the Israelites to be numbered, yet we are convinced from the reading of these chapters, particularly verses one and eight of 1st Chronicles, 21st chapter, that such was the case and that He had given instructions to that effect. In the third verse of this same chapter, we find Job, David's chief officer, protesting against this action of the King; saying that it would be "a cause of trespass to Israel." We may reason, too, that as David sat upon "the throne of the Lord" (1 Chron. 29:23) as the Lord's representative, he was acting without instructions and due authority in taking the census of the people and was therefore presumptuous in the matter, and deserving of punishment as a rebuke in not first ascertaining the Divine will of God, the true King of Israel. There is a valuable lesson here for all who profess to be God's people, and that is, to first seek the Lord's instruction and guidance in life's affairs and not to lean to their own understanding and natural preferences. The reasoning faculties of all are more or less unbalanced; no one has a perfectly balanced mind, and hence it would be the part of true wisdom to follow the instructions of the Lord.
Q832:2 QUESTION—If a person has led a sinful life and has been instrumental in causing others to sin, would it be possible for such a one to be fully forgiven and all their past sins cancelled if they should repent and ask the Lord to forgive them?
ANSWER—There should be no question in the mind of any one on this point. The Scriptures abound with expressions in which the Divine love and compassion of God, the Heavenly Father, are set forth. The great Creator of the Universe sacrificed His well-beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem the world and to reconcile it to Himself. Those, therefore, who will accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior, believing that He by the grace of God tasted death for every man—these are freely forgiven all their past iniquities. The Apostle Paul, before his conversion to Christianity, was bitterly opposed to the cause of Christ and went about persecuting the followers of the Master—putting them in prison and arranging that some should be put to death. We remember that he consented to the death of Stephen, the first martyr. Yet with all this, the Lord freely forgave him. Note the following Scriptures as evidencing the full and complete forgiveness of all those who are truly repentant and who desire to draw nigh to God through Christ (Isa. 1:18; Psa. 103:10-14; Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). [Page Q833]
ANSWER—The unpardonable sin is a sin which God declines to pardon or forgive—a sin, therefore, which must be punished, must be expiated by the sinner. There may be said to be different degrees of unpardonable sin, however. An unpardonable sin is one that is committed against light and knowledge. All sins of weakness and ignorance are pardonable, because God has made provision for the pardon of these in the death of Christ. Since all of our weakness and ignorance came to us through the fault of our Father Adam, and since Jesus redeemed the world from that transgression and all of its hereditary taint, therefore, every sin attributed to that fall alone is a pardonable sin. There are, however, what might be termed mixed sins in which a measure of wilfulness, knowledge and intelligence combine with a certain measure of ignorance and weakness. For such sins there would be forgiveness to the extent of the weakness and ignorance, but punishment would be required to the extent of the knowledge and wilfulness. A wilful sin against full light and knowledge would be a sin against the holy spirit of God. Such, knowingly committed, would bring the sinner under the sentence of the sin namely, the Second Death.
Q833:2 QUESTION—To my mind, the following text of Scripture is one of the most puzzling to be found in the Bible—"Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after."—1 Tim. 5:24. (C.M.)
ANSWER—The Scriptures point out two spiritual classes among the Lord's people, one class of which will be kings and priests unto God, and will be seated upon the throne of Divine authority and power. This is a comparatively small class, and is called the "Little Flock," the "very elect," "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," etc. The other class is comparatively large, and is called the "great multitude which no man can number," and are represented as being before the throne, as servants and messengers. (Rev. 7:9-15.) These two classes are referred to in the parable of the "Wise and Foolish Virgins." The first class, "the very elect," have all their sins up for judgment beforehand, before the general judgment time for the world. They are on trial in this present time and have all their sins atoned for and expiated. The other class, "the great company," will have its sins up for judgment following after the judgment of the "Little Flock," having "come up through great tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The Apostle's letter was addressed to Timothy, a child of God, and his instructions relate to the worldly ones outside of the Church of Christ. Indeed, the world's sins, both Adamic and willful, are all fully atoned for by the above two classes in association with the Lord Jesus Christ as the "sin-offerings" of this great Atonement Day.
Q833:3 QUESTION—We read in the Bible that as Lot and his wife were fleeing from Sodom, his wife looked back at the [Page Q834] city and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt; can that be literally true?
ANSWER—We see no reason for thinking otherwise than that the statement with reference to Lot's wife is a literal one. We can conceive of no reason why the record should be otherwise than literal. The Great Master, Himself, referred to the incident and made no criticism of the narrative (Luke 17:32). Why then should we criticize it? The Scriptures show that the Angels of the Lord had warned Lot to take his wife and daughters and flee out of the City of Sodom, and they started in their flight, but instead of keeping steadily on after once starting, Lot's wife turned to look back—evidently desiring the things left behind—and she was turned into a pillar of salt. The Apostle shows us that these lessons or examples were for the benefit of others. In other words, types and shadows of greater things. Space does not here permit us to discuss the type and anti-type.
Q834:1 QUESTION—Can the soul die? I read in the Bible such expressions as these, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Eze. 18:4), "Every soul that will not hear the voice of that Prophet shall be DESTROYED from amongst the people (Acts 3:23), etc., yet on every hand the doctrine of "The Immortality of the soul" is being taught and nearly every one believes that the soul cannot die, but is doomed to live on forever. I am much confused in regard to this matter.
ANSWER—Some years ago this question was discussed by theologians and others, and at that time, having the general thought or teaching in mind, which was supposed to be the truth, many were led to investigate along this line and were vastly surprised to find that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is entirely of heathen origin and nowhere taught in the Bible. Under the glare of the increasing light of our day, many ministers have come to a recognition of this fact and are now engaged in preaching that which the Scriptures teach, viz., that it is the soul (the living, intelligent being) which enters into death. The soul is "asleep," "dead" and will remain in that condition of unconsciousness until resuscitated at the time of the resurrection of the dead. Immortality is conditional. By examining the following Scriptures, it will he seen at once that immortality is a reward that will be conferred upon those who are faithful and obedient to the commands of the Lord and who prove their worthiness to receive this "Crown of Life" (Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:53,54). See also 1 Tim. 6:15,16.
ANSWER—Various have been the theories as to the condition of the soul after death. The Bible teaching regarding this much discussed question is very clear and simple, and there need be no confusion of mind at all if we are willing to accept what the Scriptures teach. In the case of [Page Q835] the first man who sinned, let us see what it was that sinned, and what it was that suffered the penalty for disobedience. The account of the creation of man mentions three things—body, soul, and spirit. The body was formed of the dust of the ground. God breathed into its nostrils "the breath (spirit) of life, and man became a living soul." Man did not receive a soul, but he became a soul." The union of the life or energizing principle, the breath with the body, produced the living intelligent being—the soul. What was it that sinned? Surely it was not so much dust, the body. Neither was it the "breath of life" that disobeyed, but it was the soul, the living being, Adam, that sinned against the Lord. Then what was it that died? Hear what the Scriptures declare—"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Eze. 18:4.) It is, therefore, according to the highest authority in all the Universe, the soul that sinks into unconsciousness at death is to awaken on the resurrection morning.
ANSWER—As the Scriptures are silent on this subject, and as much as the gentler and fairer sex is to be admired, to be in harmony with the Bible, and to answer the question therefrom (however painful it may be to state the fact) it is necessary to set forth the awful truth that women do not have souls! But what is still more painful to relate, according to the Bible, man does not possess a soul, either! Some good, well-meaning people who have read their Bibles, but not with careful thought, have been rather careless in the use of language when referring to Scriptural matters. No one has a soul; but every living, breathing creature is a soul. In the quotation above it is stated that "man became a living soul" and not that he was given a soul. The breath of life, the energizing principle imparted to the body alone is the soul. It was the union of the two, the life and the body, which produced the intelligent creature—the soul. Woman, therefore, is as much a soul as man.
ANSWER—For Ages, one of the most momentous questions, and one most frequently propounded has been "What is the soul?" The Bible answers the question so directly and simply that students of the Scriptures are now marvelling that this question should ever have perplexed any in the past. The life-giving quality, the energizing principle, in union with the organism, or body, forms the living, intelligent being. This being, whether sheep, elephant, horse, man, angel, or devil, is the soul. For proof of this in the Scriptures, carefully note the following citations, the first two in the marginal readings of the Authorized Version. (Gen. 1:20,30; Gen 2:7.) The word soul in this connection, [Page Q836] is from the Hebrew nephesh which means literally "a breathing creature." Man does not possess a soul, but he is a soul. The entire being is the soul. Job's expression must be understood in the poetic sense, and signifies that man would suffer and mourn from his inmost being, "from the bottom of his soul," as is sometimes said in the vernacular. Statements have appeared in the public press from time to time, emanating from some reputed authorities, to the effect that the "soul" has been weighed and photographed. This can easily be accomplished by any amateur photographer equipped with a camera and a pair of freight scales!
ANSWER—The Bible gives the correct definition to your question. We read, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul." (Gen.2:7.) God did not give a soul to man, but He created man a soul or being. The word soul is translated from the Hebrew word "nephesh," which means "a breathing, sentient being." That is to say, God formed Adam of the dust of the ground, the body was not the soul; neither was the breath of life which God breathed, or blew into his nostrils the breath of life and the result was a living, breathing, animate being, then for the first time properly termed a soul. The word soul is not applied to man only. Animals are souls. In the first, second, and ninth chapters of Genesis, the words "living soul" are applied in the Hebrew language to the lower animals nine times. Man as a soul is different from the lower animals or souls by reason of his higher organism; he has superior mental endowments. He is the highest order of animal creation.
Q836:2 QUESTION—What becomes of the soul at death? Is it put into the grave with the body, or does it fly away in a disembodied state, and go soaring around through space, waiting and longing for the time to come when it can get back into its body (put on its clothes again, so to speak) at the resurrection? (J.A.G.)
ANSWER—There is much confusion of thought regarding this matter. Many are disposed to express the matter wrongly by saying that they have a soul in place of saying that they are a soul. There is considerable difference in having a cow and being a cow! All living beings are souls from the Scriptural standpoint. (Gen. 1:20-30. Margin.) When father Adam disobeyed the Lord, it was not his body, the dust of the ground that sinned. Neither was it the energizing principle, the breath of life, that sinned. But it was Adam himself, the living intelligent being, the soul, that sinned. Therefore, it was the soul that died, as the Scriptures declare, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Eze. 18:4). In the resurrection, it is the soul that is to be resuscitated. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades—the tomb"—was spoken of our Lord Jesus.
ANSWER—In his prayer, St. Paul evidently distinguishes between spirit, soul, and body. We should bear in mind that his letter was addressed to the Church collectively, and not so much to individuals. We can be quite sure that the Apostle did not refer to individuals, for whatever interpretation we may put upon "soul and spirit," we are in the singular, not the plural number. St. Paul expresses his earnest desire that until the Lord's return the Church might be preserved entire, without schism, in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. In Acts 4:32, we read that "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul," and in Eph. 4:4, the Apostle points out that there is one BODY AND ONE SPIRIT. As in the creation of Adam, with the entrance of the breath of life, man became a living soul, an intelligent, sentient being, so with the New Creation. Inspired with the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the members of the Church, which is His Body, should work in unity and harmony in doing the will of the Lord and witnessing to the truth of the Gospel.
Q837:2 QUESTION—Do you mean to say that the spirit of the Thief, who died upon the cross when the Lord Jesus was crucified, remained in the grave with his body? If so, do the spirits of our dear friends, who turned to Christ in this life, remain with their bodies in the grave until the Lord's return? (D.D.)
ANSWER—The inspired writers of the Bible tell us just what became of the spirit of the thief who died upon the cross. And they also tell us what becomes of the spirits of those who were devoted followers of Christ and were faithful even unto death. It would not do for us to say what became of these spirits. Too many so-called leaders of religious thought have theorized and speculated as to what became of the spirits of the departed dead and have set forth the results of their vain imaginings. Let us not add to the awful confusion by presenting ideas of our own, but let us hear what the Scriptures declare, recognizing that the Lord God is surely able to guide us into the knowledge of the Truth. We read, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." (Eccl. 12:7.) This text reminds us of the original sentence of death pronounced upon Adam for disobedience. He had been formed of the dust and therefore he should forfeit his life and return unto dust. He died. The breath of life (the spirit), the energizing of life principle, was removed from the body and returned to God, who is the source or fountain of all life. The living soul, the intelligent being, died. As the Bible says, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." (Eze. 18:4.) From these scriptures it is evident that the spirit of the thief and of all who die returns to God. This animating principle [Page Q838] (spirit), called life, is to be given to all of the faithful and obedient in the resurrection.
ANSWER—The Spirit clearly refers to Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom. His Bride is to be the Church glorified. (See Rev. 21:9; Rev.19:7-9.) The marriage, or union, referred to in the last Scripture, takes place at the second coming of Christ (John 14:3). The reign of Christ (Bride and Bridegroom) follows, and then the message will go forth to the world, inviting all to come and obey Christ and receive eternal life; and the obedient shall live. And the obedient will be privileged to repeat the invitation to others, that "whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely." The Church of Christ in its present condition of development is referred to by the Apostle as "the chaste virgin, espoused to one Husband" (2 Cor. 11:2). She will not become the Bride of Christ until at the time of the Bridegroom's presence, when the marriage of the Lamb shall take place and the marriage supper shall follow (Rev. 19:9). Evidently, from the fore-going, it is manifest that the expression "whosoever will" does, not apply to all at this time, and will not be true until the wedding is consummated.
ANSWER—According to the Scriptures, it is a creature, or personality, inhabiting the spiritual plane of existence, a higher plane than that of the human or earthly creatures. Just as the Divine nature, the nature of God, is the highest order of the spiritual realm, so man is of the highest order of the animal or earthly existence. Angels are spirit beings (Psa. 104:4) and we read that man was created "a little lower than the angels." (Psa. 8:5.) A change of nature is promised to all of those who will be of the Church of Christ; those who "make their calling and election sure" and who eventually will be associated with their Lord and Savior in the glories of the Kingdom as His "joint-heirs." This "change" of nature is wonderfully described by the Apostle in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Cor. 15:42-52. Those who will experience this transformation of nature are said to be "born of the spirit" and this will take place in the resurrection. These then will be powerful, and invisible to mortal eye, just as the angels are all around and Jehovah's messengers in past ages, yet unseen. Jesus described this matter of the "wind" to picture the condition of those who shall be born of the spirit in the resurrection morning, John 3:6-8.
ANSWER—The value of Spiritism to the world is summed up in the words of a well-known author as follows: "According to the theory of Spiritualists there are a hundred[Page Q839] times as many disembodied spirits about us as there are men in the flesh. Among them are all the poets, authors, orators, musicians and inventors of past ages. They know all they ever knew when they were in the flesh, and have been learning a great deal more since; and with their added powers and extended experience they should be able to do what mortals have never done before. They have had free access to the public mind and public press, with no end of mediums ready to receive their communications and thousands and thousands of anxious inquirers who have questioned them, and earnestly desired to obtain information from them. They have talked and rapped, they have tipped and rattled, they have fiddled and scribbled, they have materialized and dematerialized, they have entranced and exhibited; they have told us many things which we knew before; many things which we do not know yet; and many other things which it was no matter whether we knew or not; but when we come to real instruction, reliable information, or profitable and valuable knowledge, Spiritualism is as barren as Sahara, as empty as a hollow gourd."
ANSWER—Spiritualism is a rapidly growing movement, numbering several millions of people, among which are some of the brightest minds of the day. There is no question as to many of the facts clearly established in the rites and ceremonies of Spiritism. Many of the phenomena produced, with the aid of spirit mediums, have been pronounced as beyond all controversy supernatural. The Bible tells us exactly to what these phenomena may be attributed. A clear account is given of the fall of some of the angels from Divine grace because of disobedience. These are restrained "in chains of darkness" (the darkness of the night—manifestations can take place only in the dark), until the judgment time. These demons or fallen angels have impersonated the dead and represented that they wished to communicate with their friends through the aid of mediums. Evidently it is displeasing to the Lord for any of His people to communicate with these demons. (See Isa. 8:19,20). The Superintendent of one of the largest insane asylums stated recently that fully one half of the insane patients were obsessed by evil spirits.
Q839:2 QUESTION—"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."—Exo. 22:18. From this expression would we not understand that the writers of the Scriptures believed in the existence of witches? What is a witch? (F.C.)
ANSWER—Throughout the world today there are thousands and millions of people who firmly believe in what is known as "Spiritism." Among those who thus believe are some of the brightest minds of the day—doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, etc., a class of people who would not be deceived by mere sleight-of-hand performances, or by hallucinations. These know that it is possible to communicate with beings of the spiritual realm, through the aid of [Page Q840] spirit mediums, clairaudiants, clairvoyants, and the like—the modern wizards and witches. Few recognize that every one of these spirit beings who thus communicate with members of the race of mankind are of the demons, or fallen angels—evil spirits—whose sole aim and purpose is to deceive the members of the race by impersonating the dead, and representing that they are the spirits of the departed ones. The Sacred Writers certainly recognized the existence of the demons, and of the witches (spirit mediums) of their day.
ANSWER—The "familiar spirits" are the demons that infest earth's atmosphere, and who are busily engaged in impersonating the dead, representing that they are the spirits of the departed ones, and thus confusing and deceiving many, who have not given heed to the instructions of the Scriptures to the effect that the dead are dead, and will not be alive or conscious until the awakening time in the resurrection. The "wizards" are the mediums who act as the agents of these and mutter and work mysteriously in the dark, in place of working out in the open where all may be clear and plain. The powers of righteousness do not have to labor in the dark and in an underhand way, as they have nothing to conceal. The "hungry" ones are those who have neglected "the law and the testimony"—God's Word—and are giving heed to the doctrines of demons. They are dissatisfied and suffer the pangs of regret and remorse, because there is nothing to satisfy their cravings in the direction in which they are seeking to be enlightened. Theirs is a deplorable condition of darkness and anguish of mind, as they have neglected the only real source of comfort and consolation—the Scriptures.
ANSWER—The "spirits" or spirit beings, are the ones referred to by the Apostle in the following verse as having been disobedient during the antediluvian period of time, in the days of Noah. Turning back to the early records of the Scriptures, we find that in Gen. 6:1-4, it is narrated how and in what manner these spirit beings disobeyed, and why they were cast into prison. Note the contrast in the expression, "The sons of God (the angels—Job 2:1) saw the daughters of men." These spiritual sons of God left their habitation, the spiritual realm, and materializing as human beings, took unto them wives of the daughters of men. In this way the "men of renown," "the mighty men," the "giants in the earth," were brought into existence. This was contrary to the Lord's arrangements, and therefore we read that those angels were deprived of their liberties under certain limitations: "And the angels which kept not their first estate (their spiritual state) but left their own[Page Q841] lasting chains, under darkness (the darkness of the night, for they can operate only under the cover of the night or conditions of darkness), unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6.) The Apostle Peter also refers to them when he says, "God spared not the angels who sinned, but degraded them, and delivered them into chains of darkness."—Corrected Translation. (2 Pet. 2:4.) All history, both sacred and secular, is replete with instances of obsession, or demonizations, by these demons, or fallen angels. It was to these "spirits" that our Lord, by His death and resurrection, Preached a powerful sermon in pantomime.
ANSWER—Evidently the Prophet is using highly symbolic language to convey his thoughts. The larger portion of the prophecies of the Bible are put forth in figurative expressions and in parables and dark sayings, for they were not intended of the Lord to be understood until at the time of their fulfillment. The "heavens" would symbolize the powers of ecclesiasticism and the "fountains" would symbolize the truth, the Lord's word. The time would come, therefore, as foretold by the Prophet, when the Lord's professing "people," Christians, would forsake the Lord and His Word, and would "hew" out or fashion for themselves "cisterns" or receptacles to hold the muddy waters of the traditions of men. The creeds and religious systems are in a very dilapidated and broken state and wholly incapable of holding the waters of the truth. The old effete systems of the past are breaking up and are absolutely useless so far as holding the waters of the truth are concerned.
ANSWER—The murmuring of the rising wind is distinctly audible to the ear. The sea and the waves of the troubled masses of humanity are already beginning to heave and toss and foam. The increasing winds of strife are driving the great sea of mankind into a frenzied state of revolt against the present social order—"the world that now is"—wave on wave, mounting higher and higher and rolling in upon the rocks and cliffs. The sullen thunder and roar of the sea as it breaks in ever increasing fury upon the shore, jarring and shaking the mountains to their center, forecasts only too well the on-coming of the cataclysm that is foreordained to overwhelm the entire world. The "earth" (society) and the "mountains" (kingdoms and governments) will be removed and carried into the midst of the sea (the turbulent and raging masses of humanity). (Psa. 46:2,3.) The great "waves" (nihilism, communism, socialism, and anarchism) are sweeping with irresistible force against the bulwarks of present institutions. Habitation (the spiritual realm), He hath reserved in age...
ANSWER—In the Scriptures the word "sea" is used, not merely as a name for a body of water, but also symbolically, as representing lawless, restless, dissatisfied, discontented humanity. In His great prophecy (Luke 21:5-36) our Lord tells us that in the time of trouble, with which the Millennial Age will be introduced, the sea and the waves will roar; and in Psa. 46:1-3, is pictured, that the symbolic mountains, or kingdoms, of earth will go down, overwhelmed by the symbolic sea, in an anarchistic storm. When once the Messiah's Kingdom shall have brought order out of the present confusion, after it shall have established the world's interests upon a proper basis of equity, there will be "no more sea," in the sense that there will no longer be a restless, dissatisfied element amongst the masses of mankind. But while many of the prophecies have had both a literal and a symbolic fulfillment, yet we are not wise enough to say whether or not this one will have a literal fulfillment. We feel sure, however, that it will have a symbolic fulfillment as already suggested. Even if the literal sea should continue, we know of no reason why the continents of earth might not be united by the raising of submerged lands to connect them. However, it is best for us not to indulge in speculation along this line, of which we have no absolute knowledge.
Q842:2 QUESTION—Will you kindly explain the seemingly harsh Bible statement, the expression of the Savior, as given in the 24th chapter of Matthew, the 19th verse—"And woe be unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days?" (J.G.D.)
ANSWER—This expression is a portion of our Lord's great prophecy relating to events and conditions that would develop in the last days of the Christian dispensation. As with all prophetic expressions it is in highly figurative language. The clue to the understanding of this prophecy is found elsewhere in the Scriptures. A woman is used as symbolical representation of the church. Thus the true Church of Christ is referred to as the "chaste virgin" and also in another picture as the "Bride the Lamb's wife" (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:9). The false churches are represented as corrupt and debauched women (Rev. 17:1-5), compare these five verses with Rev. 21:9-11. The "mother church" is represented as a lewd woman, and also as the great mystical city of Babylon. Her daughters, the ecclesiastical systems that are the offspring of the parent system, are likewise represented as being babes both embryonic and new-born. They have need of the milk of the Word as the Apostle says (Heb. 5:12-14) they are not sufficiently developed in knowledge and grace to assimilate the strong and important doctrines. It will be a special time of sorrow for the false religious systems in that day, "those who are with child," and also to those who are dispensing the milk—in other words "giving suck.