Q722:3 QUESTION (1913)—3—It is claimed that unbelief and lack of faith is sin, and is the sin spoken of by the Apostle Paul [Page Q723] in Heb. 12:1, the sin which doth so easily beset us. Is this the proper view?
ANSWER—I think that is not the proper view of the Apostle's language. I think the Apostle has in mind that there may be one sin or weakness that would especially beset you; there might be another one which would especially beset your brother or sister. There might be still another one that would beset me. Whatever sin it is that would easily beset you, and is, therefore, close to you, ever present with you, and always seeking to trammel you, cast it aside; it is your special danger. Be sure to lay it aside and run with patience the race set before us.
Q723:1 QUESTION (1908)—1—Please harmonize 1 Cor. 1:10: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing." Please harmonize this with this other Scripture: "For there must also be heresies, sects, divisions, among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."
ANSWER—I think in the first Scripture the Apostle is speaking of the ideal condition for which we should strive; namely, that all who are truly the Lord's people ought to try to get the mind of Christ, and we ought to know that it will not be contradictory; that if you and I have different theories, there is something wrong, and we should not be satisfied to have anything wrong. There is only one way that is right, and we ought to be anxious to have that one way. If we all have the mind of Christ, we would all have the same mind; and if God has given us His Word, He has given it with that in view, that you might lay aside your personal views, and various peculiarities and tendencies of reasoning, and I might lay aside mine, and that all others might do the same, and take His Word. As I look over this congregation, and see how many different shaped heads there are, and the many different peculiarities of character there are, I might say, You people could not agree on anything; you have different kinds of heads altogether. But you see we can be all of one heart and of one mind, because whatever the processes of your natural brain organs are, you have agreed that you do not know anything about it, and that He knows all about it, and you will take His Word for it. And the other one agrees to the same, and I have agreed to the same; so now we all come together, and we have one common basis from which to work, and we ought to be able, by the grace of God, to do right. Our heads ought to be able to be in reasonable harmony on the Word of God. Let this be so, and let us strive to this end. Now it is possible, in fact it is probable, that amongst the Lord's people, as Apostle says, Grievous wolves will come in amongst you, and even among your own selves will some arise to draw away disciples after them, having a certain amount of pride and ambition. If this is so, what can you expect? Can you have one mind, one heart, one thought, under those conditions? No. Then it will be necessary for something to come in order that there may be a division, or that the wrong may be manifested. And there may be such a separation, because it will be better if there are any of that class in, that they should be out. So there are two Scriptures: the [Page Q724] one shows the ideal condition, and the other shows the actual working out of it. Sometimes these wrong conditions will come in, and it is God's will that there shall be an outworking, so that there will be a gradual separation, that that which is true and loyal to the Lord, and approved by Him, may be made manifest among you, that you may be able to see which is the wrong.
ANSWER—I believe that the world was universally lost through Adam. I believe in a universal redemption, that Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. I believe in a universal opportunity, for this is the very reason that God gave His son to die for the world, and all, whoever will have it on God's terms of a perfect heart and love for God and man, may have it. Whoever will not have it on God's terms cannot have it at all, but will be destroyed from the presence of the people.
ANSWER—A question like this shows that the one asking it has not thoroughly grasped the situation. We have been told if a person heard a church bell ring, or saw a Bible, it meant that he was in danger of going to heaven. Many people sell and handle Bibles who never knew what they teach. You see that the wilful sinners are not only those who have a will, but those who have it enlightened. Those who get the true light are those who have their eyes of understanding open. God is going to bless all the eyes soon so that they shall all see, for "All the blind eyes shall he opened and the deaf ears unstopped." Wilful wrongdoing will mean second death.
ANSWER—I presume it would depend upon the kind of logic that was used. I think that one way of reasoning on the subject, this might be true, but I presume that our Universalist friends would not so think, and would have a different logic.
ANSWER—The Lord gave this parable in the hearing of his disciples, and also in the hearing of the Pharisees. He tells about a certain man who had been a steward and to whose care goods had been intrusted with all the responsibility and privilege that belonged to a steward of olden times. A steward in olden times was fully authorized to do with the goods just the same as the master himself would have done; he represented the master, fully and completely. This unjust steward had been reported to his master as having been unjust and not satisfactory. And he understood that [Page Q725] he was to be called to an account for the injustices of the past, and he said, "In view of this matter that I am about to be put out of this stewardship, I will make good use of the time I have left and the opportunity that is left to me." So he called his master's debtors, and said, "How much do you owe?"
And so he did with several of those who were debtors to his master, and his master said, "That is a cunning, wise steward that I have. He saw that I was about to put him out of office, and he made good use of his time to 'feather his nest' and make things right, so that when he would be put out of the stewardship, he would have some friends amongst those people; because he did them kindness and reduced their accounts, they would think very kindly toward him." His master commended him. And then our Lord said that there was something of this kind that was due to be understood and appreciated in his time. So likewise those to whom he was speaking should have this same thought in mind. How is that? The Pharisees were the representatives of Moses, and as Jesus had said, the Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. They therefore were the exponents of Moses, the exponents of the law, and when any of the people came to them, it was with them to say whether this thing should be a very severe application of the law, or a very slack application of the law; and Jesus said they went to the extreme of exacting the very last item and exaggerating the law to the people.
How did they do this? Well, Jesus said they would bind heavy burdens on the poor people without sympathy for them—burdens that they themselves were unable to carry, that they would not pretend to carry for themselves; but they would bind these burdens on the poor Jewish people. And the intimation of Jesus in this parable is, that those Scribes and Pharisees who have taken a different course and instead of trying to make out that the law was so very severe, they should have been making some sympathetic allowances for the people and should have been saying to the people, "Now you cannot keep that perfect law: I know that you cannot keep that perfect law, but now how nearly can you keep that law?"
But instead of doing that, these Scribes and Pharisees were inclined to say, "If you do not live up to the very scratch you are no good. We Pharisees and Scribes live up to the scratch." Jesus made fun of them, saying, "You are hypocrites; you know that you do not keep that law any [Page Q726] more than those people do; you know you are just as bad as they are, and in the sense of being hypocritical, you are worse off than they are."
Now Jesus was telling them that the end of their age was at hand, and whatever they had been doing in the past, the time was here when they ought to be making friends instead of turning the people against them; they should be coming into the sympathy of the people instead of casting off the masses of the people saying, "You are sinners, we would not eat with you, or have anything to do with you." They should have been sympathetic, and trying to help the people, and saying, "Do the best you can; this law of God is a perfect law, and no man can keep it absolutely, but come in and try to do the best you can and God's blessing will be with you proportionately. You see, there was one lesson to the Scribes and Pharisees of what they should do in view of the fact that they were about to be put out of the stewardship. The law dispensation was about to come to an end, that is one reason why they should have been coming down and doing the very best that they could to be sympathetic with the people. But turning to his disciples, he gave a lesson to them, and to you and to me, saying, "make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness." You have some of what may be termed the mammon of unrighteousness in your possession—that is, some of the things that are prized by the world in this present time, and where ever you can use earthly blessings, money, influence or anything else, to make friends, do so; do not try to make enemies out of the people in general. The very one lesson that you as my disciples should have in your minds, is, that you want to do good to the people and you want to bring, as my disciples, my message to all the people possible. Therefore, use every other thing as subordinate to this that you may have more power and influence and accomplish more good along this line. Count your earthly interests as secondary in every way and if by sacrificing a dollar, or a hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars, you can thus increase your influence and ability to serve the Lord and righteousness, be very glad of the opportunity. You are to seek, in the first place, chiefly, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and leave all those other things, all your earthly interests, to God to take care of, and do not worship mammon, do not worship money, do not worship earthly interests, but worship God and his righteousness, and these things will take care of themselves.
ANSWER—I would take that expression to be a very broad one, and that it would mean to have a knowledge of the truth that we did not live up to. Everyone is responsible for whatever degree he possesses. There is a degree of knowledge, such as we had in the Nominal church, to the extent that Christ died for our sins, even though we did not understand the philosophy of it. Now, not to live according to that truth would be to hold it in unrighteousness. Then we see, the sacrifice and therefore have an increase of [Page Q727]responsibility, and so every additional feature the truth brings will increase our responsibilities. From my point of view, all of us here who have been favored with the light of present truth have the greatest responsibility of any people in the world and therefore our lives should be according to the best standard of righteousness. That does NOT mean that we, by reason of truth, have a body made perfect, so that it would be possible for us to live more nearly perfect than the people of the world. There are some very fine people naturally that do not have the same degree of light, and they might be naturally more nearly righteous than those who have been blessed by the light. Often men like Robert Ingersoll are naturally very fine men. I did not know him personally, but I have heard that he was well born and naturally had the advantage over others. Sometimes among the Lord's people there are those who are naturally very mean. Some time ago (1898, page 179), we published an article in the Tower on the subject of "Mean Christians and Noble Unbelievers." How does the Lord view it? According to the thoughts and intent of the heart. Men are prone to judge by the outward appearance, but God by the heart. God's scale is 100 points of character—a perfect man. None have 100 points. See Rom. 3:10,23. Some may have as high as 50 points, others 40, 38, 35, 30, 25, 20, or even only 10 points of character. To judge them according to the flesh they would all fall short. How does God judge them? He does not judge them as coming under His notice at all until they come under Christ. The world has no standing at the present time. God has provided a redemption price and is going to let the world know about it in "due time." Until then they have neither part nor lot in the matter and are not counted at all. If Ingersoll was the finest man on earth God is having nothing to do with him at all. Reason would say that all the fine people would become the Lord's people, but the Scriptures say, "Not many wise, not many noble, chiefly the mean things of the world," mainly the mean things. God has made a plan and arrangements, and he is judging those who come into harmony with those arrangements, and it is chiefly the mean ones that come into harmony with him. Why is it? Because those naturally well born and having high ideals, etc., see others mean and contemptible, they say they are on a lower plane. They begin to say he is a mean fellow and needs a Savior, but God needs me, he needs a few such persons as I am to grace his place. But the Father will not let any come except by Jesus, which means coming by the cross, realizing that he is a sinner and needs the cross to pay the price of the sin. Stuck up people do not like to take something for nothing. The best man in the world is not worthy of everlasting life; there is only one way, and the best man in the world needs to come by that way as well as does the worst man. Referring to the 100-point scale. What is our hope if 100 points are needed? The 10-point brother might think that the 50-point brother had a better chance than he had, but the 50-point man, if he looked at the matter right, would realize that he cannot of himself reach the 100-point mark, and that he will need to apply the merit of Christ. God's plan is elastic enough to suit each one of these. Well, the 50-point man might ask, Is God going to give the 10-point [Page Q728] man more than he does me? Yes, the meaner the man the more the Lord will make up to him. He has arranged for the meanest one as well as for the others. "Where sin abounds there grace abounds the more." How does the Lord accomplish this? Does he just turn the matter over to us? Not exactly. One hundred points—the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who are walking not after the flesh but after the spirit. They cannot walk up to the mark, but they can walk after it, walk in the direction of it, to the best of their ability. That does not take in the world because they are walking after the flesh. God counts us according to the intention of our minds on the 100 points, and Christ's death makes good to us the difference.
ANSWER—Nobody knows exactly how this was done. The breastplate of the high-priest, which bore twelve precious stones, the name of each tribe on a stone, it is supposed, was taken by the High Priest into the Most Holy when some question was to be asked. For instance: Shall we go out to war, or refrain from war? Shall we do this, or the other? It is supposed that something in the Most Holy indicated the answer on this breastplate, either by making certain of the stone to shine with special brilliancy, or something of that kind; but it is all guesswork, nobody knows anything about it. It was supposed to be a yes or no. If it would be dark it would be no; if it would be light it would be yes, to whatever question was asked. If it was with reference to one particular tribe, the stone which represented such a tribe would either be light or dark in connection with that particular tribe. But it is all guesswork.
ANSWER—I think this question might he viewed from two standpoints. If we were speaking of the Great Company and those who during this age go into the second death, we might say they went out from us before they had known of us. They certainly were of us or otherwise they could not have gone into the second death, but they were not of the very elect class that God foreknew.
Again, we would say of the Great Company. They are not of us. Well, they were of us, because we were all called in the one hope of our calling, and they failed to make good their High Calling, and therefore got into the Great Company, but they are not of us in the sense that they are not of the class that will attain unto the kingdom that God foreknew and foreordained as the elect, for He foreordained, as the Apostle said, only those who shall become copies of His Son. Therefore, the others are not of us if we are of those who are of the "us" class. It is merely according to the way you use the word.