VOL. XXI April, 1938 No. 4
ye see these things come to pass,
BISHOP William T. Manning, an
outstanding Protestant, and head of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York, in a
recent lengthy newspaper article makes a vigorous appeal to all churches, regardless of
denomination, for united action to combat the rule by
We quote in part:
"We are living in fateful and momentous days. We are witnessing in a large part of the world the abolition of liberty and a movement backward to despotism such as none of us ever expected to see, or believed to be possible. All over the world we see signs of this movement toward dictatorship, and there is no country which is not, to some extent, endangered by it. . Communism, Nazi-ism, and Fascism, all alike, stand for the extinction of liberty. They are all dictatorships. They all represent a godless and ruthless totalitarian state which denies to its people the very elements of personal freedom. . . . We are living in a world that is distraught, dismayed, and threatened with catastrophe. The whole fabric of civilized life is shaken. In nation after nation, we see both civil and religious liberties assailed and overthrown, the ideals and teachings of Christ rejected. And men, in their desperation, turning backward to some form of tyranny and dictatorship in the vain hope, that this might save them. In a -large part of the world we see war or conditions which gravely threaten war; we see the deliberate propagation of class hatred and race antagonism; we see racial and religious persecutions such as we thought could never reappear. These are reversions taking place to old and worn out philosophies. Attempts are being made at economic reconstruction which take into consideration nothing but the material. There are movements to rob men of their religion and their faith in God."
Yea, verily, "men's hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of the heaven shall be shaken." Would that the good bishop and all his readers might understand the meaning of these fateful times and the proximity of the "desire of all nations"; but "as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth."
And what is the Bishop's remedy? Again we quote:
"Why should there not be now in our land a great free uprising of our youth for the upholding of those things upon which our life as a nation and the progress of mankind depends, for the upholding of faith in God, for the spirit of Christ in the ranks of both labor and industry, for the strengthening of the spiritual power and influence of the church? It is the church -- all churches -- which must call the youth of our great land to this service. And if the church will call them with clear voice and with full faith in Christ, they will respond. Are we making them see that Christ is the one answer to this world's need and that their fellowship in Christ gives them fellowship with all men everywhere? Let it be our prayer that by the power of the Holy Spirit we ourselves may be so aroused that with a new power we may call our young people, and our older people also, to awake to their great responsibilities as citizens of this land and believers in democracy and liberty -- and by their active witness, fellowship, and service in the church, to have their part -- their real part -- in helping forward the Kingdom of Christ. This is a time for the church to take the spiritual and moral leadership which belongs to it and for which it is sent by Christ Himself. We need today a great strengthening of religion: a great renewal all over our land of faith in Almighty God."
While indeed sympathizing with Bishop Manning on many points, we cannot but foresee disappointment in all efforts which lean on the "arm of flesh." No coalition of peoples, Christian or otherwise, will avail in stemming the rise of the new powers whose destiny as the destroyers of "Babylon" is now being gradually discerned in God's marvelous Book of foretold history, Revelation. The Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 9:12, 13) advises, "Say ye not; a confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, a confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread." We believe the Bishop misapprehends the mission of the Church now and hold that the true Church (whose members' names are "written in heaven") is not some earthly organization, but the faithful footstep followers of the Master, called during the entire Gospel Age from all peoples and nations and whose number is now almost complete. They shall indeed take the moral and spiritual leadership in the near future together with their blessed Head, Christ Himself, and shall reign on this earth during the thousand years of blessing all the families of the earth. The very signs in the earth, which are causing the Bishop (and rightfully so) fear and trepidation, do but presage the nearness of God's Kingdom, "even at the doors." (Matt. 24:33; Luke 21:31.) To all apprehensive but God-fearing peoples, we would give the comforting message of Zephaniah the Prophet (2:3): "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger."
Further Persecutions in Germany
The Chicago Tribune of February 26th quotes a news dispatch from Berlin:
"Christian Science, which in recent years has developed into a strong religious organization in Germany and built and opened its own church in Berlin during the last year, was attacked violently today by the official Nazi news service. The service branded Christian Science as a 'substitute for religion.' A number of Nazis were convinced that the attack forecast the Nazi prohibition of Christian Science in Germany. . . . The official news agency tried to convey the impression that Christian Science belongs in the same category as the Earnest Bible Students, an organization forbidden in Germany because it was opposed, allegedly, to the Nazi state."
And thus does still another religious group come under the ban of Nazi Germany which seems fast approaching a paganized state. One wonders just who these "Earnest Bible Students" are and also how our own brethren are faring in that turbulent country. May the prayers of Christians dwelling in this religiously tolerant nation ascend for our fellow Christians who may be undergoing harrowing experiences as a result of steadfastly clinging to mankind's only hope, the hope of the Bible, that eventually, and now from all indications so near to be realized, God's Kingdom shall come and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. - Contributed.
IT WAS a summer evening in 1937. Several friends sat watching two small boys engaged in digging themselves a paddling pool at the edge of the sea. With youthful enthusiasm they excavated a shallow depression and banked it round with walls of sand; then came the task of making a channel to lead the waters of the incoming tide to their excavation. The work was at length finished, and with excited shouts the two youngsters splashed and paddled as the sea came rushing into their pool, a swirling, muddy stream. For a while their contentment was complete, but then with alarm one noticed that the rising tide was threatening their walls. The sand was giving way -- there was danger of all their work being ruined; and so with tremendous energy they sought to repair the damage, with fresh shovelfuls of sand. To, no avail, the remorseless sea came on. Then, with the necessity for desperate measures becoming evident, they fetched great stones, dug out of the beach, to reinforce the bulwarks. Still the waves battered down the defenses, washing over the sandy rocks and leaving them clean and white, until at length, with cries of defeat, the two small boys abandoned their stronghold and made for the wider spaces of the open sea.
The watchers looked again, and now there was nothing to be seen of the fenced pool with its muddy water, but in its place a broad expanse of billowing waves sweeping ever forward and upward.
A parable in action. How many a time and oft have the angels looked down upon just such a scene as this. We who come to the feet of Him to learn stand'-aghast at the limitless expanse of the sea of divine truth;, and in our littleness feel inspired at once to, build ourselves a little enclosure where the revelation of. truth can be kept within bounds and the waters be calm and still; and in our inexperience we discern not and care not that those imprisoned waters cannot but 1 e muddied with some effects of human tradition and misconceptions inherited from the past. And perhaps it may well be that in such a placid and circumscribed place we are enabled as babes in Christ to learn to keep our balance in the water and become adapted to this strange new medium of life.
It is when the onward sweep of "truth now due" demands that the "traditions of men" be swept away and that we enter into a "cleansed sanctuary" that fear comes in to say we have not confidence or strength to receive this divine revelation; or love for the work of our hands proves stronger than our love for the truth which it was built to serve. And then with impetuous haste there comes that frantic effort to build up the walls in order to keep out that very life-giving influence which they were first erected to admit and retain. Even as the small boys dug rocks from the sand to reinforce their structure so do some worthy souls resurrect the partial truths of past ages to buttress their already tottering defenses, not realizing that the light of present truth sweeps over and reveals those same teachings in nobler guise.
And it is all of no avail. As soon endeavor to emulate King Canute and command the tide to come no farther than to try and stem the- power of divine truth. All our little castles, our mediums of service and organizations, can be used in the service of God only whilst they are acting as inlets for the waters of truth. When once that purpose has ceased, and the seas are attacking their ramparts, -- we but beat the air in defying the influence which is at work "teaching all things, yea, the deep things of God."
The scope of the divine Plan and depth of its teaching are, like the sea, immeasurable. We do well to build with our hands booths, temporary abiding places, where in quietness and in fellowship we can learn of each other -but we must expect the pillar of fire to be lifted up ever and again from the tabernacle, that we may proceed stage upon stage in our journey, ever through new experiences, that we may at last, appear before God in Zion.
-Bible Students Monthly, London.
NO EVENT in history has been of greater significance or importance to mankind than the resurrection of Christ. Paul says (1 Cor. 15:12-20), "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God;' because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept."
The resurrection of the dead, in its -direct and simple meaning, is peculiarly a Bible teaching. Other religions hold forth various theories of life and the hereafter, such as transmigration of souls, inherent immortality, differing spheres of activity; in fact everything but actual death and the need of a resurrection.
Due to the prevalence of such theories God's children are subject to opposition from all sides, and their only hope of maintaining belief in this simple Bible teaching is to be fully convinced in mind and heart that God, through inspiration of His Holy Spirit, is the author of the Bible and its preserver from contamination and destruction.
The confusion in the minds of most people who claim relationship with Christ. has come about through the introduction of heathen philosophies; this has been possible because ignorance of God's Word and indifference to its teachings have permitted hireling shepherds, wolves in sheep's clothing, and unbelievers to foist these human theories upon their unsuspecting dupes. From the very beginning, Satan has sought to deceive mankind; he is the fountain of error. The lie which he told to deceive mother Eve, "Ye shall not surely die," was a direct contradiction of what God had told Adam; and Satan and his emissaries have continued to promulgate this lie in one form or another from then until now. The inherent immortality of the soul or the undying spirit is the most familiar form of this life at the present time.
Man is a Soul
The Scriptural declaration in Gen. 2:7 that man is a soul is a very simple statement. We read there that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives [plural] and man became a living soul." If men's minds were not so warped by Satan's deceptive propaganda, they would have no difficulty in understanding this plain statement of Scripture. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:45 that "the first Adam was made a living soul." The bringing together of the "body of dust" with the "breath of lives" produced a "living soul," a sentient being.
The life principle called "breath of lives" which God breathed into Adam's nostrils differs in no way from the life principle that animates the animals. The wise man, speaking of the quality of this life principle in Eccl. 3:19, says that "man hath no pre-eminence above the beast"; "as the one dieth so dieth the other, yea they have all one breath." The Hebrew word "ruach," here translated "breath," is more often translated by the word "spirit." So when we read concerning the death of man, as in Eccl. 12:7, that "the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit [ruach] returneth unto God who gave it," we do not want to be misled into thinking that the Prophet is here speaking of some divine spark in us that goes to a heavenly sphere; all he is saying is, that in death the body returns to dust from which it was made, and the "breath of life" (spirit), the right or power to live, returns to God who bestowed it on condition -of obedience. The same thought is expressed in Psa. 104:29, where we read: "Thou takest away their breath [ruach], they die, and return to their dust." Again in Psa. 146:4 we read that "His [man's] spirit [ruach] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."
Man (Soul) Dies
Man is a soul. As a soul he was caused to exist when the body of dust was made to function by being energized with the breath (spirit or power) of life; when the breath of life leaves the body and the body returns to -dust, man ceases to exist; the soul is dead. There is no text of Scripture to prove that the soul (man) is immortal or undying. On the contrary, the Scriptures declare that "the soul that sinneth it shall die." Of Jesus it is written: "He poured out His soul unto death"; and again we read: "Who can save his soul from death?" In Acts 3:23, the Apostle Peter says: "It shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear [obey] that Prophet [Jesus] shall be destroyed from among the people."
Some quibble over this matter by saying that "death does not mean death" and thereby -deceive themselves. They say, and we agree, that death does not destroy or obliterate the elements that go to make up man, therefore they reason that man does not really die. How foolish! It would be just as reasonable to say that your house stands when, after being burned to the ground, all that is left is ashes and gases. True, you have not destroyed the elements from which the house was mad, but as a house it no longer exists.
Life and Death
Life, as originally enjoyed by Adam and Eve, meant the perfect functioning of the being or soul-'the full and untiring use of the senses, enabling them to be fully cognizant of their own existence, and of their contact with their Creator and all He had made. Life means existence. Death, on the -other hand, means non-existence-that the soul or being has ceased to function and the senses no longer operate.
The death state into which all go, good and bad, is declared to be a state in which there is no consciousness or memory, device, knowledge, wisdom, or work. This state, in the Old Testament, is indicated by the word "sheol," and in the New Testament by the word "hades." These words are identical in their meaning. Sometimes they are translated "grave" and sometimes "hell," but their real meaning is "the death state" or tomb. In Eccl. 9:5 we are told that "the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything"; and in the 10th verse we are told to "do with thy might what thy hands find to do, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in sheol, whither thou goest." Whatever, therefore, we might like to believe as regards the condition of our beloved dead, we must face the fact that, according to the Scriptures, they are dead, non-existent; they have "gone down into silence." This fact being established, we can now see a reason for the hope that is held out to us by the Scriptures, namely, ''a resurrection of the dead." It would be foolish to talk of the resurrection of the dead if there were no dead.
The fact that there is to be a resurrection is the reason that the Scriptures speak of death as "sleep." We read that "Abraham slept with his fathers"; that "David slept with his fathers"; that Stephen, the first Christian martyr, "fell asleep." Jesus also said of his dead friend Lazarus, "He sleepeth"; and then because the disciples misunderstood, He said plainly, "Lazarus is dead," and "I go, that I may awake him." The condition of sleep is a very good illustration of death and the resurrection. In deep sleep we are unconscious of existence, or of the passing of time. So in death there is no realization of the lapse of time; whether it be a minute, a year or a thousand years, it is all the same; the moment of awakening will seem a continuation of the last conscious thought before death.
Just and Unjust Resurrected
The Scriptures declare that there will be "a resurrection both of the just and the unjust"; and in Daniel we read that "all that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." Our Lord says in harmony with this (John 5:28, 29) that "all in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth." All men will be given the opportunity of benefiting by the ransom which Jesus gave. Death is an enemy, not a friend. In 1 Cor. 15:26 we read: "He [Jesus] must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
The grave, or Bible hell, is sometimes called the prison or prison-house; , therefore it is written of Jesus (Isa. 61:1), that He would be sent "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Again through the Prophet Hosea, chapter 13, verse 14, the Lord declares, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave [hell, sheol], I will be thy destruction."
The Ransom provided by our Lord, the Word, and. the Justice of Jehovah God, are the guarantees that an opportunity for full resurrection will be given eventually to every child -of Adam. Paul says (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), "There is one God, and. one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified [to all] in due time." Many have believed and taught that those who have died in ignorance of this offer of salvation would never receive the testimony, and that the sins of the Church alone would be propitiated; but 1 John 2:2 says, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
All men are subject to the outworkings of the death sentence; even those we count as living are in the process of dying, for no one escapes death. Every imperfection of mind and body, every ill and every pain, are signs of death's presence. The sentence was "dying thou shalt die." Death, therefore, means any or every stage in the destruction of soul or being; and death will not be "destroyed" until all the dying process is done away with.
Come Forth "to" Resurrection
Resurrection means the complete eradication of death. Most people think of resurrection as being merely the awakening or bringing of the body out of the grave, but this is only the first step. Resurrection from the Scriptural standpoint means a full raising up to perfection of being. As long as any of the effects of sin and imperfection remain, resurrection will be incomplete. If the awakening or coming forth from the grave were the resurrection, then the Scripture which declares that our Lord was the first to be resurrected would not be true, for both the Old and New Testaments record instances of men and women awakened from the sleep of death, and our Lord raised Lazarus who was not only dead 'but buried. Our Lord's words in John 5:28, 29 are very clear on this point. He says: "All that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come' forth; they that have done good, unto [in order to obtain] the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto [in order to obtain] a resurrection by judgment." It is manifest here that the coming forth from the grave does not constitute the resurrection but is merely the first step toward obtaining a resurrection. The meaning of the word resurrection is the same as the thought underlying the word regeneration; as used by our Lord in Matt. 19:28; regeneration means "to give life again." Adam and Eve generated the race, gave it life; but Christ, the second Adam and His Bride, the Church, will re-generate the race, give it life a second time.
If now we have an understanding of the meaning of death and the resurrection, we are in a position to understand just what it is that will be raised. Those who think that the soul or spirit does not die are forced to conclude that it is the body that will be raised, and so one error leads to another. Scientists tell us that this material 'body of ours is continually changing, and that the elements composing it may, in the changes resulting from death and the growth of vegetable life, be absorbed into other human bodies. Evidently then, the identical bodies consigned to the grave at death could not all be restored. But if, as the Scriptures state, it is the soul that dies, then it must be the soul that will be restored to life in the resurrection; if in death the soul or being ceases to function, then in resurrection it must be made to function again. Note how the Scriptures confirm this thought:
"He [God] restoreth my soul." (Psa. 23:3.) "Men are appointed as a flock for sheol; death shall be 'their shepherd: but the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; their form shall be for the grave to consume, that there be no habitation for it. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave." (Psa. 49:14, 15.) Again, in Psalm 16:10: "Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell [sheol, the grave]." Peter quotes this prophecy in Acts 2:27, saying, "David foreseeing this, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul should not be left in sheol."
That it is the soul or being that will be restored and not the identical body is further confirmed by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:35. 'There he says, "Some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? . . Thou sowest not that body that shall be, . . . but God giveth it [the soul or being] a body as it bath pleased Him." Paul tells us here that the Church, the ones to whom he refers in this Scripture, will be given spirit bodies in the resurrection, for they are to be like their Lord and inherit with Him the spirit realm; but the promises to mankind in general are earthly; they will be given bodies similar to the ones possessed at death.
Time of Resurrection
The resurrection had its beginning in the raising of Christ our Lord; but the saints and the world do not experience their resurrection until, what is Scripturally spoken of as "that day," "the last day," "the day of Christ," "the judgment day." Jesus says (John 6:44) "No man can come to Me except the Father which sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Paul did not expect to receive his reward at death, but tells Timothy that, having kept the faith and finished his course, "henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day." With Paul as with Job, it was true to say: "If I wait, the, grave is mine house."
We have already called attention to the fact that our Lord declares in John 5:29 that it is during the time of judgment that the dead will be called forth from the grave to experience the resurrection to perfection of being. In harmony with this we read in 2 Tim. 4:1 that Christ will "judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom"; and through Isaiah the Lord tells us that "when the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." This is the Kingdom and the time for which our Lord taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Both Daniel and our Lord tell us that the nearness of the Kingdom would be marked by an "increase of knowledge," by a "running to and fro in the earth," by a great "time of trouble," and by the "tumult and strife of angry nations." It is at this time, we are told, that .the Lord's people will be delivered, and "all that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." This will be the time foretold for the dead to be judged, the time for the Prophets and saints to be rewarded; the time when all who fear (reverence) Christ's name will be blessed. The world of mankind will experience its resurrection through the judgments of the Lord; and for this reason the Prophet declares: "The judgments of the Lord are greatly to be desired."
The Church is called a "first-fruits unto God" of His creatures, and Christ Jesus was the first of the first-fruits. The order in which the resurrection occurs is stated in 1 Cor. 15:20: Now is "Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order [band]; Christ [Jesus and the Church] the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's, at [during] His presence." The Church, the Body of Christ, are told that they shall share in His resurrection, that they are "a first-fruits unto God of His creatures" and will "have part in the first resurrection." The fact that the Church is called a "first-fruits" is proof that they shall be followed in resurrection by others for whom Christ died.
-Christ will be prophet, priest, and king, and all must bow down before Him. Associated with Christ in His Kingdom will be the Church, which then will be designated as "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." Of that time we read, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come . . . and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." But we are also warned in the Word that "whosoever will not hear [obey] that Prophet [the Christ] shall be destroyed from among the people."
There is hope for all who will learn obedience when Christ calls them forth from the grave; for the judgments of the Lord will be administered to the intent that the people may be made perfect through resurrection processes. Isaiah says, "the ransomed of the Lord shall return." Who are the ransomed? "Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." But whence do they return? Where have they gone? They return from the prison-house of death, the Bible hell: "All that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth." And to what place do they return? They return to conscious existence here upon earth, for this is where they were before death. They come forth (return) to a resurrection by judgment, and Isaiah says that "they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
The hope of every man is in "the resurrection of the dead": first, in the resurrection of Jesus, whose sacrifice was thereby proved acceptable; and second, in their own, return from the tomb at the command of our Lord -- some to experience a resurrection to life immediately; others gradually, by the judgments of the Lord.
"The Lord is ris'n indeed;
"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's
"HEIRS OF God, and joint-heirs with Christ" -- how can such an honor be ours? Surely, none of us are to be considered as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ! But, wonder of wonders, God, Himself, has not only promised it, but has also made it more sure to our otherwise unbelieving hearts by confirming it with an oath.
Let us open our Bibles, and carefully follow the Apostle through the third chapter of Galatians, and find just how it is possible that we "who were dead in trespasses and sins," can be owned of God; is His children and heirs.
In the Galatian Church there were Jewish disciples who were tending to lapse back again to the observance of some of the ordinances of the Mosaic Law, particularly the rite of circumcision. (Gal. 5:1, 2.) "This only would I learn of you," writes Paul, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" And the answer is so palpably plain that it needs no reply. No one received the Spirit under the law dispensation as a result of keeping the law. And these of the early Church were not so far removed from the phenomenon of Pentecost that they were not well aware of that ;outpouring. So the Apostle propounds another question: "He that ministers to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Again the answer is evident: Most assuredly, it was "by the hearing of faith." "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
The record is that Abraham was counted righteous without works. Abraham, being old and without offspring, had inquired of God regarding his heir and seed. God had told Abraham to count the stars for multitude; "so shall thy seed be." (Gen. 15:1-6.) Impossible as it seemed of fulfillment, Abraham "considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb; he staggered not at unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:19-22.) "Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith the same are the children of Abraham."
The question naturally arises: In what sense is Abraham the father of those who are of faith? Let us consider:
God in creating the first parents, created them perfect, with all the faculties perfectly blended so as to enjoy a perfect existence. God was under obligation to this first pair, in that having thus created them He must place them in an environment perfectly adapted to their nature and constitutional make-up. God's sense of justice would demand this of Him. And it was so; for "all God's works are perfect." But when man had sinned and broken this covenant that existed between himself and God, he came under the just penalty of "dying thou shalt die." God is no longer obligated to Adam nor to any of his offspring, except to see to it that man shall pay the penalty for disobedience, and not live out 'his "day. True, God did give an indefinite prophecy that "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head"; yet there was no definite promise in this -- only a vague hope to sustain them in their misery.
Some two thousand years pass. Sin, and death by sin, or, as a result of sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:23) reigns in the race. One great civilization has been judged and swept away by the Deluge. A new dispensation has come. Still sin and death are rampant, evidencing the unchangeableness of God's decree, "dying thou shalt die." But now God is ready to take a definite step towards man's salvation, and He "'preached the good news to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
God is not responsible for the sinful, dying condition of the race; and is under no just obligation to do anything for it. But the time has. arrived in His plans and purposes when God is to obligate Himself. To the human race? No, never. To Abraham? Again, no. Then to what? To Abraham's faith in His (God's) own word.
What is this quality of faith? It is the "confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1.) God saw in Abraham one who could act upon God's own word in confidence that that would be fulfilled. And so it was that "by faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." (Heb. 11:8.) He obeyed with increasingly growing confidence that what God had spoken would surely be fulfilled. "Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude." (Heb. 11:12.) Abraham trusted in God's promise, and God must fulfill His own promise, for He cannot lie; He cannot deny Himself.
It was a great trial of faith to Abraham to leave his, father's house and kindred; but it was a greater test of faith for 'him to cast off Ishmael after having considered him as the heir for so many years. God had confirmed Sarah's request, "Cast off the bondwoman and her son; this shall not be heir with the son of the free woman; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." (The Seed must be of promise.) Yet another test of faith remains, and "God did tempt Abraham and said, Take thy son, thine only son Isaac," (note that Ishmael is not reckoned in sonship), "whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Did Abraham hesitate? He "rose up early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him."
How Abraham's faith in God's promise shines out in his instructions to his attendants: "Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." It was "by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and' he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten of whom it was said That in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." - Heb. 11:17-19.
The Secret of Obedience
Abram, whose name had been changed to Abraham, was not yet the father of many nations; and if his seed was to be as "the stars of heaven and as the sand upon the seashore for multitude" and that seed was to be in Isaac, and if in him all nations were to be blessed, God must raise Isaac again from the dead after the sacrifice. So was Abraham's confidence in God's promises; and in this supreme confidence that what God had promised He would fulfill, even though events present seemed so contrary to it, "Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. What a faith! "And the angel of the Lord called out of heaven a second time, . . . By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed . . . and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice."
Here we have the secret. Because Abraham had believed God, had firm confidence in His word, he was enabled to proceed in implicit obedience to that word. And God, who had given the promise to Abraham, was now obligated to fulfill that word -- "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" -- or else deny Himself, which is impossible. Bearing in. mind that God was under no just obligation to the human race, we now see how God has placed Himself under obligation to Abraham's faith in that promise to bless all the families of the earth in his seed. And not only under obligations to Abraham's faith, but through that to all who are of faith. "So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."
This blessing could not possibly come by the law; for the law demanded that all blessings must be merited; "for it is written, The man that doeth them shall live by them." And failure to keep the law brought a curse; for again, "It is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them." The blessings of Abraham certainly could not come on any who were under this curse, so "God set Christ forth to be a propitiatory through faith in His blood" (Rom. 3:25) -- made Christ a curse for us "that the blessing of Abraham might come through Him; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
"Brethren, I speak after the manner of men, though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannuleth, or addeth thereto." That is, even among men generally, this principle is recognized that where an agreement or contract is entered into and has been sworn to (or as we sometimes say, "signed and sealed") the contract is valid, and its conditions cannot be modified, either to add to or disannul any of the specifications of the contract. And so it is with God: having made a promise to Abraham and to his seed, and having confirmed it with an oath, God cannot add to this agreement nor take from it. Should He do so, it would make the promise of none effect. This will never be, for God is not changeable; He cannot deny Himself. His promise, and His oath, both unsolicited, are verities.
"Wherefore then serves the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made."
Twofold Purpose of ''the Law
In Rom. 4:15 we read: "Where no law is, there is no transgression"; and in 1 John 3:4: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." From the transgression in Eden until the giving of the law by Moses, "sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed [as a transgression] when there is no law." (Rom. 5:12-14.) We see this paralleled in the forming of our own code of laws in the State: A man does some act which works ill to his neighbor, or that is injurious to the public, but there is found to be no law dealing with his particular case; a law is therefore framed forbidding such an act and carrying with it a penalty for violation. So with the law given at Sinai; it was added to the Abrahamic promise to give to sin the nature of transgression. This served a twofold purpose: first, it pointed out that Israel was not the seed of promise-indeed it placed them under a curse-and, second, it pointed out Christ as the Seed "to whom the promise was made." The very law which concluded all others under sin, pointed out Christ as the sinless One; for while it measured and condemned all others, it could only commend Him for continuing in all things which were written in the law to do them;-and this under the most trying, adverse conditions. His deeds of the law indicated Him as One who had Life, the very thing which all the families of the earth lack; the blessing which all need.
The terms of the law covenant as it was suggested to Israel were these: "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine. And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." (Exod. 19:5, 6.) Israel, not understanding, entered into a solemn covenant to merit being kings and priests unto God to bring blessings to all the families of the earth.
Note particularly the words of the Apostle: "The law was ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one, but God is one." The law covenant was not made directly with Israel. God delegated angels to institute this covenant, indeed; but there was a mediating agency-Moses. When God made promise to Abraham, there was no mediating agency. This law covenant with Israel was much inferior to the covenant with Abraham in this respect.
We hear much in these days of bi-lateral and multi-lateral treaties between nations. Now the law covenant was bi-lateral: two parties obligated themselves -- God and Israel. But the Abrahamic covenant was unilateral; only one party is obligated -- God. And God not only gave His word, but His oath also. For whose sake? Abraham's? Abraham did not need the oath; he obeyed God, exercised faith in God without the oath; the oath being given after He had to all intents and purposes offered up Isaac. Then why was the oath given? For the seed's sake; "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things [His word and His oath], in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." - Heb. 6:17, 18.
"Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law served its purpose; it kept those under it strictly accountable to its demands, according to the agreement entered into at Sinai-"all that the Lord our God hath said we will do," - even as a child was strictly accountable to the pedagogue into whose charge he had been given. It must be remembered that although Christ being obedient to the law, inherited all the promises of the law, yet the law never gave Him righteousness, life. "In Him was life." (John 1:14.) He came by promise; "God sent His Son into the world." The law only singled Him out from among all others as the One who had life; the law was the measure of the Messiah, and Christ was the One found to measure up to its requirements, as it is written, "The man that doeth them shall live in them." In other words, the law was not against the promises of God; rather it served to point out the Promised of God, Christ. "Wherefore the law was our pedagogue to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
"But after faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue. For ye are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
"The simplicity of the Gospel"! Abraham's receiving the fulfillment of the promises of God was contingent upon his faith in the reality of those promises; and as we have seen, his thus exercising such faith obligates God to fulfill those promises: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called," and "In thee and thy seed shall all nations be blessed." The promises are all to faith; and so it still is that the exercise of faith in God's word obligates God to fulfill that word to the seed. "According to your faith be it unto you." "So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.'
"'Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ ... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." - Contributed.
Due to be Held June 4, 1938
Members of the Pastoral Bible Institute are hereby reminded of the privilege which is theirs of nominating in the pages of this Journal the brethren they wish to elect as directors for the fiscal year 1938-1939. While the attention of new members is especially drawn to this matter, we desire to emphasize in the minds of old members also, not only the privilege, but also the responsibility which continued association with this ministry brings.
All should be aware of the fact that the affairs of this Institute are in the hands of seven brethren who are elected from the Institute's membership to serve for a period of one year or until their successors are elected. In accordance with the by-laws the next annual meeting is due to be held Saturday, June 4, 1938, at 2 p. m., in the parlors of the Institute, 177 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The seven brothers whose term of service will expire next June are:
The brethren named above are pleased to report that a spirit of Christian love and harmony exists in their midst; and they have reason to believe that the Lord has seen fit, to bless their association in this ministry. The pleasures of this service they would gladly continue, sharing its joys and responsibilities if that be the Lord's will; and they earnestly pray that His will may be expressed in the vote of the members the present directors realize that those carrying on any work often fail to see opportunities for improvement and expansion apparent to others not charged with such responsibility. For this reason changes in office not, infrequently have beneficial effects. They desire above all things that the work of the Lord (for the furtherance of which this Institute was formed) be prosecuted with the greatest possible efficiency, and to this end are ready cheerfully to step aside for others whom the membership believe to be fitted for the work. They therefore urge upon all the members of our Institute that they make this a special occasion of prayer.
If after prayerful meditation are led of the Lord to nominate other brethren and will forward the names and addresses of such brethren so as to reach this office on or before April 15, 1938, such names will be published in the May issue of the "Herald," that all members may have an opportunity of voting for them.
"Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
THE BEAUTIES of the established Kingdom of God as thus prayed for are of course beyond the conception of the natural man, for man has no knowledge of perfection in any single experience of life. All things are under the curse. There has not yet entered into the heart of man the most remote idea of what God has prepared for them that wait for Him. To the heirs according to the promise, and to them alone, is it given in any degree to know the mysteries of the Kingdom, for these things are spiritually discerned; and while we know that we shall be like Him, we do not know what that shall be. But again, we know of that blessed assurance, "We shall see Him as He is," because, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise."
Who among men can have any understanding of the thought, that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb," or that the world "shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord and their offspring with them"? What meaning to the natural man has the thought that "in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness," or that "the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel"? The Prophet gives the answer and the reason. "They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord bath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed." - Isa. 29:8-12.
Let us thank God humbly for the promise that it is "yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest," and "they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and shall fear the God of Israel." "They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." - Isa. 29:17, 23, 24.
The Apostle Paul has written much whereby many features of the Plan of God may be discerned, when approached in a proper spirit and with such helps as may be given by those whom God has used as finger boards from time to time in the Church's history, to point out the various features of His Plan as such features became due for understanding. These servants of God have shown themselves workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Their workmanship was under the ministration of the Holy Spirit, whose function among other things is to lead into all truth.
It is incumbent upon all who may be seeking a closer walk with God to come to His Word in meekness and humility for enlightenment, for "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, - for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3:16, 17.) How often do the children of God need these things-the doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, that they may continue thoroughly furnished and thus be able to walk in the light of the Lord, because they have His Spirit and may expect Him to show them plainly of the Father. "At that day ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God." - John 16:26, 27.
"That day" referred to by the Master may well be, in the case of the individual followers, the time when he has come completely under the influence of the Holy Spirit, emptied of self and sanctified through His truth, and when His prayer to the Father may be answered "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." "My little children, -of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you," is still the Apostle's appeal to the consecrated of the Lord.
To those who are thus consecrated and emptied of self, God has given confirmation of the various features of His Plan, not only in the life of Abraham and his family, but also in His dealing with the nation of Israel in using them, their laws, and ceremonies, as types and shadows of better things to come. To the consecrated alone the deeper and spiritual things are made plain. To these alone comes an understanding of the things of the Holy and the Most Holy. The sympathizer, the tentatively justified, may have an intellectual understanding, but he cannot know that deep, personal experience until it can be said of him "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you." - John 15:16.
These are the ones who have passed under the veil, stooped low and risen in the Holy, in the presence of the typical golden altar, the golden candlestick, and the table of shewbread. The two handfuls of incense beaten fine are placed upon 'the coals' on the incense altar by the High Priest, and its smoke fills the Holy and passes into the Most
Holy, where it is a sweet smelling savor in the nostrils of Jehovah, representing the heart condition, the inner life of those who sacrifice upon the altar and who go forth therefore unto Him with out the camp, bearing His reproach, because He suffered without the gate that He might sanctify the people with His own blood.
To these are given the "exceeding great and precious promises." These are the sons of God for whose manifestation the whole creation is waiting -"groaning and travailing in pain" -- waiting for the Kingdom so long promised when all the families of the earth shall be blessed.