XLIX March/April 1966 No. 2
"The desire of all nations shall come."- Haggai 2:7.
NO ONE will question that amidst all the clanging and the clashing of a world in arms, most men of every nation earnestly desire nothing so much as peace. If, therefore, the promise of our text is to meet fulfillment, wars must cease. Indeed, it seems axiomatic that, when God's will is done in earth as it is done in heaven, wars will no longer take place.
Not all men however, (not all good, sincere, consecrated Christian men), share our belief and hopes. Indeed, we were forcibly reminded of this when, on glancing at the newspaper report of an address by a prominent religious leader before a Reformation Day gathering of some 8,000 people, we read the following words:
"The New Testament has given us no hope that all men will eventually come to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why, I suppose, there will be wars and rumors of wars to the end of time."
The view here expressed is so different from what we personally believe, that our first thought was that the speaker had not been correctly reported. Inquiry, however, disclosed the fact that the newspaper had quoted the speaker accurately.
WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES?
That wars and rumors of wars will not continue to the end of time is, we submit, the united testimony of both Old and New Testaments.
In the Old Testament, from amongst many verses, may be cited these three: (1) Isaiah 2:4; (2) Micah 4:3; (3) Psalms 46:9.
In the first two of these verses the prophetic spirit speaks of a time ("the last days") when, "having beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
In the other verse the inspired prediction is also precisely to the point: "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth."
When we turn to the New Testament we find passages equally clear. According to the Revelator a time is coming when "there shall be no more death" (whether resulting from wars, accidents, disease, or old age). These words, moreover (including their blessed context that God will "wipe away all tears"; and that there shall be "neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain"), are specifically declared to be "true and faithful." (Rev. 21:1-5.) In full agreement the Apostle Paul declares in 1 Cor. 15:26 that "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Again, the statement that "The New Testament has given us no hope that all men will eventually come to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ," is very difficult to harmonize with the words of the Apostle in 1 Tim. 2:4, where it is said that God, our Savior, "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." In the context (verse 6) we learn that it was for "all" that Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom"-not for a chosen few. It was for "every man" that he "tasted death." (Heb. 2:9.) In 1 John 2:2 the statement appears: "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Those who hold the views to which we here take exception, sometimes explain their position as follows:
"The statement in 1 Tim. 2:4, that 'God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,' merely means that this is God's universal will for mankind. His will only underlines the fact that God cannot be blamed when men reject his truth. Jesus Christ certainly did die for all. It is not Jesus Christ's responsibility that some men have rejected his great redemption. The farthest that the Scriptures go in this direction is to state that 'this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.' - Matt. 24:14."
We quite agree with the statement "that God cannot be blamed when men reject his truth"; and with the further statement that "It is not Jesus Christ's responsibility that some men have rejected his great redemption."
WHAT OF THE HEATHEN?
There is, however, a very important question in connection with 1 Timothy 2:4 which, if candidly considered, and given proper weight, must affect one's understanding of this text. We refer to the fate of those members of Adam's family who have lived and died without either accepting or rejecting the great redemption provided by our Lord. These, by the way, constituted the great majority of Adam's race. At no time in their lives did they so much as hear the name of Jesus mentioned, much less did they reject the salvation to be had only through him. Their opportunity "to come unto the knowledge of the truth"; their opportunity to accept Christ, therefore, must be in the future or never. It cannot be never, or 1 Timothy 2:4 would prove false. It must, therefore, be future.
Confusion of thought sometimes results from a misunderstanding of the word "saved" in 1 Timothy 2:4, where it says: "God will have all men to be saved." Here the reference is not to the eternal salvation which will be the final reward of believers -- of those who accept our Lord's great redemption. Rather it is salvation from the condemnation to death which passed upon Adam and all his race as the result of his disobedience. (Rom. 5:12.) From this Adamic death sentence God will have all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. This is not a pious wish on God's part, uncertain of fulfillment because contingent on man's performance. It is a vital part of God's plan and sure to take place. (Isa. 46:10.) In the Age to follow the Gospel Age, all these members of Adam's race above mentioned, who died in ignorance of our Lord, will be raised from the dead (John 5:28, 29) and be given every opportunity to develop characters and to conduct themselves in harmony with the righteous laws of Christ's Kingdom then in operation. Having been required (willynilly) to share in the death sentence which passed upon Adam because of his transgression, and having been required (willy-nilly) to share in the ransom provided for Adam, they will be put on trial to test their fitness for everlasting life. In that day it shall not be said (as today it may truthfully be said) "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." Instead it shall be said: "The soul that sinneth, it [not its children] shall die." (Ezek. 18:1-4.) They will not be tried again in Adam, the federal head of the race; neither will they be tried nationally. The trial will be an individual matter. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
With the experience of the past six thousand years of sin and death conditions, they will be much better equipped (than was Adam) to choose righteousness. They will know by experience (something Adam lacked) the bitter fruit of sin and, with the stumbling stones taken out of their way (Isa. 57:14), should find it easy to choose righteousness. Under the favorable conditions of Christ's Kingdom (as contrasted with the unfavorable conditions of this and prior ages) all mankind will be required (no longer requested, but required) to make progress in the knowledge of the Lord and in the bringing of their own hearts and lives into accord with his law of love. In that day it will no longer be necessary for any one to undertake the instruction of another concerning the glorious character, plan, and purpose of God, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest; the knowledge of the Lord will then fill the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep. (Jer. 31:34; Isa. 11:9.) It is reasonable to suppose that most people when put on final test under such favorable conditions, would choose Christ and righteousness. However, the Scriptures do show that not all will do so. The wicked, God will destroy. (Psa. 145:20.) Since those destroyed (in the Second Death - Rev. 21:8) will have previously demonstrated, individually, that under the most favorable conditions they prove incorrigible, and always prefer unrighteousness, no useful purpose would be served by granting them any further trial. Consequently we are not surprised to find that the Scriptures hold out no hope of a resurrection from the Second Death.
THE END OF TIME
In the newspaper report previously mentioned, reference is made to "the end of time." As we understand it, time will never come to an end. At least, such a thing as the beginning or ending of time is beyond mankind's comprehension.
In regard to Matthew 24:14 the words of our Lord have no reference to "the end of time," but refer to the end of the Gospel Age. They are quite evidently in reply to the question raised by the disciples in verse 3: Tell us, what shall be the sign of thy (second) presence (mistranslated "coming") and of the end of the Age (mistranslated "world")?
How does our Lord reply to this question? He does so in verse 14 by telling them that his second presence would not occur, and the end of the Age (the Age in which they then were, the Gospel Age) would not come, until the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.
We fully agree with the thought that this text contains no suggestion that all men would accept the message. As a matter of fact there is in this text no hint that before the end of the Gospel Age it would be preached to every individual within all nations. It merely says that the end of the Age would not be reached until that witness had been given unto all nations. Again: Not the end of time, but the end of the age is under discussion.
It is of more than ordinary interest to note that since Christ uttered these words, the Gospel has been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. Consequently, if we are to accept our Lord's words, as accept them we surely must, the end of the Age has been reached, as has also the time for our Lord's Second Presence. Not too soon, either, if we are to judge by today's headlines! Unless we greatly err, "the days are at hand, and the effect of every vision" -- particularly that vision for which Christians everywhere have long prayed: "Thy Kingdom come." (Ezek. 12:23; Matt. 6:10.) Yes -- unless all signs fail, "one like the Son of Man" is about due to receive at the hand of the "Ancient of Days . . . dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." - Dan. 7:13, 14.
These "times of restitution of all things," due to commence at the Second Advent of Christ, so clearly predicted by the Prophet Daniel, were not foretold by him only, but, according to a New Testament writer, were "spoken by the mouth of all God's holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:21.) Yes, the day is not far off when "the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called . . . the Prince of Peace." - Isa. 9:6.
- Condensed from "The Herald," July, 1951.
"This do in remembrance of me." - Luke 22:19.
Christians should commemorate with deep devotion the anniversary of our Lord's
death.* To those who have been taught the deep things of God there is more than
the remembrance of
*The 14th of Nisan this year, as previously announced, falls on Sunday, April 3, beginning at sundown, at which time it is appropriate to keep the Memorial. - Ed. Com.
An important event in the history of the Israelites was memorialized by some outward ceremony or ritual. This was intended to deepen the impression and to prevent the occurrence from fading from the memory. Too often and too soon the freshness of an experience fades from the mind. This can happen to the actual participants. How much more readily will it happen to nonparticipants!
It is God's intention that events that will establish in the minds of his people his name and his attributes shall not be forgotten. Accordingly he has issued instructions that will not permit of such forgetfulness. Forgetfulness and ingratitude seem to be marked features of his natural people. Many, many times God rebuked his people through the Prophets for these lapses. He repeatedly declared that they had forgotten him and his ways, and that they were bent on backsliding from him. For this reason God saw the necessity for constant reminders by outward observance to instill in the minds of the people any prominent feature of his eternal purpose.
THE PASSOVER AS A MEMORIAL
The feast of the Passover was instituted on such a basis. Here was a mighty and most striking deliverance of God's people by God's power. They must not forget it. (Exodus 12:24.) An annual ceremony must be established. Thus was the feast of the Passover most carefully outlined by the Creator, together with specific instructions that it should be perpetuated.
Obviously as time passed this feast became a reminder only of some act in remote, history. But always linked with this reminder was the name of Jehovah - his greatness and his watchful care for his own. Jehovah's name and his greatness were inseparable from this feast.
"I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."
This and similar exhortations were "that they might observe his statutes and keep his laws." -Psalm 105:45.
With God there is no hidden future -- all is known to him. He saw his Son Jesus as the great Passover Lamb. His Plan included that greatest of all deliverances followed by the blessing of all the families of the earth. The human family was to be freed from sin and all its concomitants terminating in death. What a deliverance! Abraham saw it by faith and rejoiced. Joseph, the husband of Mary, had just a glimpse when he was told by God that the child should be named Savior.
THE ATTITUDE OF THE DISCIPLES
Jesus himself knew that he was the great Passover Lamb for the world. He tried to convey this thought to his disciples but they were so trammeled with earthly ideas of a kingdom with great pomp, power, and glory that they heeded not his words. Here is a lesson for us. Are we so attached to the affairs of this life that we fail to appreciate all that our Heavenly Father would have us know concerning the Memorial?
When the disciples inquired of the Master where they were to keep the annual Passover, he gave them instructions and on the Day of Preparation they had carried out his orders. No other thought, so far as we can gather, was in their minds but the partaking of the legal Passover. Jesus had other intentions. He was about to leave them. He wished to have an intimate, loving, farewell Supper --something for them to remember; something for them to look forward to. They were not aware that they were on the threshold of the greatest event in human history! Illimitable results would follow this act.
Do we see any parallel today to this? Are we ignorant of what our Heavenly Father has stated of our relationship to him and to his dear Son? Is it possible that we see only a reminder of a past event, of the great Gift and the great Sacrifice? If the Memorial is only a reminder of the past and not a stimulus to the future, then we are as the disciples at the First Advent.
WHO CAN UNDERSTAND?
We believe we are nearing the end of this Age. All the called, chosen and faithful of the Lord should be enjoying a deeper insight into the meaning and import of this last meal of our Redeemer with his loved ones. Jesus knew that his disciples would not be able to understand the deep things that he knew and had in his mind. But he longed to convey as much as possible at that time. Symbolism is a powerful means of conveying a profound thought. He must convey to them the understanding that they were to have a share with him in a great undertaking to establish his Father's name in the earth, and to have a part in the great work of blessing all the families of the earth. Further, he must convey to them the fact that to reign with him they must suffer with him. His pathway must be their pathway, his suffering must be the precursor of their suffering; his glory would include their ultimate glorification. No human mind can grasp this. Only those begotten of God can do so. This act of begettal, is entirely the result of the work of God, consequently it may be said that only those to whom the Father reveals the great truth contained in the Memorial can fully and really enter into its height and depth, its length and breadth.
JESUS THE PASSOVER LAMB
It should be understood that the meal partaken of by the Lord and his disciples was not the Passover Feast, for it was yet the 14th day of Nisan.**
** The Passover lamb was eaten on the 14th; the Feast of the Passover commenced on the 15th and continued until the 21st. - Ed. Com.
Feast day was the 15th. It is not reasonable to think that Jesus would break the Law. Luke records that Jesus definitely stated that he would "not eat thereof." If it was not the Passover Feast, what was it? Jesus saw himself as the lamb to be slain. Within a few hours he was to die, therefore he instituted a simple ceremony that would live in their minds because it was of the deepest significance to them. He was chosen and begotten of God; they were chosen, and later to be begotten of God. He was the Son of God; they were chosen and privileged to be sons of God. They were his brethren; he was their elder Brother. How his heart must have yearned over them! How great his desire to do all that he could to help them.
Surely we can see what a very intimate, family atmosphere must have pervaded that sacred, very private, but very far-reaching event. He was to leave them; but he would see them again. A place in heaven he would prepare for them and eventually spend eternity with them. All that he thought and did for them, he thinks and does for us.
When he broke the bread and said, "This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me"; and when, after pouring the wine, he said further: "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you," he uttered great truths that they did not yet understand. The word "remembrance" that he used conveys the thought of "waiting for." What were they to wait for? Soon they would know, and then they would continue the Memorial feast annually "until he come." This the faithful followers of the Lord do, and have done for the last nineteen hundred years. Now our hopes are high, for we are nearing the time for his glorious return in power, and his first act is to gather together all those who are the chosen and begotten of his Father. In all conditions and circumstances; in peril and in danger; in sickness and in health, this simple feast has been kept.
Very soon our Heavenly Father rewarded the faithful followers of the Lord by giving a deeper insight into the real significance of the bread and wine. It was the privilege of that faithful servant Paul to reveal the hidden meaning of the symbol used at the Lord's last Supper.
There is no evidence that Jesus ate of the bread or drank of the wine -rather the words go to show that he would wait for the time of the establishment of the Kingdom. In simple and expressive language, but with impelling force and power, the Apostle demonstrates that we enter into that breaking. When we partake and assimilate the bread, and it becomes part of us, this symbolizes that we are one with our Head and united to all other members of that Body. Paul in essence says, here is a mystery kept hid from the ages, that Christ is not composed of one person but is composed of many, all of whom become one! Christ is one, but comprises many members. - 1 Cor. 12:12.
Evidently the great Apostle found it necessary to give the foundation of his interpretation of the symbol used in the Memorial and we find him saying, "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you." Paul was anxious that his fellow-members should see and know that the partaking of the emblems was more than a reminder of a sacrificial life and work finished at Calvary. For him, for them, and similarly for us it is an entering into a covenant or agreement with the Lord Jesus and with his Father. Note the words of Jesus and see what a flood of light is thrown upon them by this understanding.
"And I covenant for you, even as my Father has covenanted for me, a Kingdom" (Luke 22:29, Diaglott).
Here was a loving intimacy, a sweet fellowship that had never before been extended to members of the human family. Did the disciples appreciate these words when they were spoken? Have we appreciated them as much in the past as we do now? A greater knowledge of our loving Heavenly Father, accompanied by a wider experience of his purpose and way should endear this ceremony to us more and more. Our relationship to our Heavenly Father and to the Lord should be quickened and enhanced.
Our Father, at this Memorial season, would have us carefully and prayerfully examine our relationship with him and his purpose. Frequently we quote, "Now are we sons of God." How have we become sons? Could we take this relationship of our own volition? Can we attain to this position by a demonstration of faith or of works? Is it a natural growth or development? John declares it to be a privilege or position given by God. (John 1:12.) Paul asserts that only those led by the spirit of God are his sons. To all those who have the assurance of being sons of God, what an intimate, reverential, homely feeling becomes associated with the partaking of the feast. Our Heavenly Father has invited us to enter into a Divine arrangement; he has provided all that is necessary to enable us to keep ourselves in his love, and guarantees to us that we shall be with him and with our Lord for ever. How hallowed then is this time of remembrance! How grateful we should be to him who has kept us from falling and promises to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy!
This knowledge that, by the grace of God, we are in a special relationship to him; that he has undertaken all on our behalf; that he will never leave us nor forsake us, will not puff us up. If rightly exercised we shall approach this Memorial with the deepest gratitude, with the truest humility, and with the sincerest honesty of heart. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me."
"Cleanse thou me from secret faults."
"Therefore if a man purge himself from these things [dishonoring to God] he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, fit for the Master's use, prepared for every good work."
If this be the attitude of our heart toward God, towards this time of the Memorial, happy will be our lot! Further, if we fully apprehend what our Father has done for us through the gift of his dear Son, and with faith and with gratitude live in harmony with his definite promises, how blessed we shall be as we once more partake of the emblems so lovingly introduced and used by our Head and Elder Brother.
"For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
- A. J. Lodge, Eng.
"Now is the judgment of
this world: now shall the prince of this world
According to at least seven translations, verse 32 reads "when I am lifted up," in place of the words "if I be lifted up," and the best Greek texts show that the word "men" is not in the original Greek. Because of this the question is asked: May we not understand that the drawing was consummated by the cross and that it involved not merely men but the drawing of all things to himself -to, his possession (Psalm 2:8, Matt. 11:27); an Adamic world purchase -- dispossessing Satan of his possession (Matt. 4:9), rather than as a drawing to salvation which is the exclusive work of the Father during the Gospel Age (John 6:44)? Jesus well said with the cross in view "Now is there a judging [crisis or decisive moment] of this world." "Now the prince [or ruler] of this world shall be cast out." (Cast out by the judgment or decision of the cross as to who is the rightful ruler -- who shall possess this world.)
In studying this question we find that, in their translations, some scholars retain "if" and some "when." Weymouth, who retains "if" in the text, gives "when" in the margin. It is the same word as in John 14:3 ("If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again"). Here also Weymouth retains "if" in the text and "when" in the margin. However, in a footnote he points out that "the 'if' does not indicate any uncertainty."
Again, as all may see for themselves, the word "men" is shown, in the King James Version, in italics which indicates that there is no corresponding word in the Greek. It has been supplied by the English translators.
We would agree, then, that there could be no valid objection to a translation reading: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself."
Next we inquire: Does the word "all" refer to mankind, or to things, or to both mankind and things? We reply: According to our understanding of the passage it refers to mankind. It is mankind who are to be drawn. This word "drawn" could hardly be used, appropriately, of inanimate things. Inanimate things might be drawn, indeed, by a rope, or by a steam engine -- never by the cords of love.
However, it is true that when the whole race of mankind has been drawn to Christ and fully restored, such restitution will be accompanied by the "restitution of all things." The whole earth will then be as was the Garden of Eden. - Acts 3:21; Ephes. 1:14; Isa. 60:13; Isa. 66:1; Isa. 51:3.
Again, in the question, reference is made to John 6:44 and the point made that the drawing of men to salvation during the Gospel Age is the exclusive work of the Father. With this we agree. However, we think the drawing by Jesus, mentioned in John 12:32, relates not to the Gospel Age but to the Millennial Age.
It is a rewarding study to note the relationship which this text bears to its context. It is part of a brief summary of the Gospel which our Lord gave his disciples just two days before his crucifixion, immediately following his interview with certain well-disposed Greeks (John 12:20).
This Gospel summary contained first a parable -- about a corn of wheat which, unless it die, must abide alone, but which, if it were to die, would bring forth much fruit; -- a parable which, he well knew, could find its fulfillment and which he was determined should find its fulfillment only in himself (John 12:24).
It included also a paradox about losing one's life to save it, which his disciples were to understand was to apply to them, as well as to him, if after Pentecost they would, in very truth, be his followers (John 12:25).
This Gospel summary continued with a promise - nay, a double promise: Part (1) "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be"; Part (2) "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor" (John 12:26).
And then, to parable, paradox and promise he adds the remarkable prediction found in the two verses quoted at the beginning of this article (John 12:31, 32). These verses form, moreover, not a single prophecy but a four-fold prediction.
(1) The words predict, first of all, his death on the cross, as St. John himself observes: "This he [Jesus] said, signifying by what manner of death he should die" (John 12:33).
(2) Nor was it only his crucifixion the words foretold. Behind and beyond that shameful elevation he saw a glorious ascension into heaven. Literally rendered, his words would read, not when I am lifted up "from" the earth, but when I am lifted up "out of" or "above" the earth. The Diaglott renders the words: "And I, if I be raised on high from the earth, will draw all to myself;" and in this peculiar phrase, whatever its first intention may have been, most expositors find a reference to his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of God, as well as to the special manner of the death by which he was to glorify God.
(3) Next our Lord proceeds to tell the results of his death and of his triumph over death, the results of his being lifted up "from" the earth and of his being lifted up "out of" and beyond the earth.
One result, he tells us, will be that he will draw all men unto himself -- all men, that is to say, without distinction of race -- both the Jews who had rejected him and the Gentiles who are ignorant of him. And what could have seemed more improbable, more incredible than that? Who but he could have seen that his crucifixion would start a religious revolution which would spread throughout the world and lift and bind its scattered and hostile races into one new and perfect manhood? For two thousand years the whole course of history had been against any such idea. Through all those centuries God had had an elect people to whom, and to whom exclusively, he had confined the direct and immediate disclosures of his will. Was this divine procedure to be changed all in a moment? Could it be that the unique grace so long shown to the Jews was now to be extended to all mankind? True, God had elected Israel only that Israel might be his minister to mankind, but in the pride of its election Israel had long forgotten the end for which it was elected.
Well, the divine procedure was, indeed, to be changed, although not all in a moment. First would come the call of the Church, which would occupy a brief space (two thousand years as we count time but only a couple of days from God's standpoint). During that period the Father would draw to Jesus those who would constitute his Bride. Then, with her at his side, Jesus would proceed, through the Millennial Age, to draw all men to himself.
(4) Even yet, however, we have not exhausted this marvelous prediction -- have not followed it out to its full scope. For, just as behind the death of the cross Jesus saw the resurrection and ascension into heaven, so behind and beyond the call of the Gospel Age Church, and after his own "drawing" power had been exercised during the Millennial Age, he foresaw and foretold the final triumph of good over evil.
Part of our question may be condensed, as follows: May we not understand that Satan, the prince or ruler of this world, is to be cast out, as the result of the judgment or decision of the cross; that is to say, cast out from such rulership? To this we reply: Yes, that is the proper thought; that is precisely what we are to understand from this passage.
In this connection, notice especially the force of the solemn and picturesque phrase: "The prince of this world shall be cast out." Our Lord who before had seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven now predicts that he is to be cast out from the earth. And this phrase "cast out" is very suggestive, for it is the technical phrase for excommunication, for the solemn and formal expulsion of one who has sinned against the light of a synagogue, a temple -- of any holy place or community. To affirm, therefore, that Satan is to be cast out of the world implies that he has no right in it. It implies that the world is (or is to become) a holy place (may God hasten the day), a place sanctified by the divine presence, and therefore a place for which Satan is unfit, in which his presence is a usurpation and an offense, from which he is to be solemnly and forever expelled.
As yet, indeed, we see not that he has been expelled from the world or even from the Church. But he who came to destroy the works of the devil, he who is able to measure all spiritual forces with a precision to which we cannot pretend, and to calculate the issue between good and evil with an infallible prescience -- he it is who here assures us that as the result of his coming into the world, his death for the world's sin, and his judgment or rule of the world, the power of evil is to be broken, that the supreme representative of evil is to be overcome, dethroned, driven out. He pronounces the issue certain, however long the conflict, the campaign, may last. He affirms that the temple of the world (God give us faith to believe that this world is yet to be a temple) is to be purged from whatsoever offendeth, or loveth or maketh a lie. The prince of this world has been judged, self-judged and self-condemned, in that he stirred up men to reject their wisest and best, set himself and tempted them to set themselves against the supreme revelation of the righteousness and love of God. Sentence has gone forth against him, and in due time that sentence will infallibly be carried out. Oh! it is a great promise, alive with the inspirations of courage and hope, and may well nerve us to carry on the conflict with evil in ourselves and in the world around us, which often looks so hopeless that we grow weary and faint in our minds. Failure is impossible, however imminent it may seem. Victory is certain, however improbable it may appear, however distant it may be.
But though he is to displace the prince of this world, our Lord will not be, as the Jews expected him to be, only another and a better prince of this world. He is to be lifted up, lifted out of and above the world. To him the elevation of the cross, the throne of love, is but an emblem of his elevation to heaven, the throne of power. From thence he will draw men-draw them by the sweet and healthful influences, by the gentle compulsions of the love he has shown for them and revealed to them, until at last they shall all come to him -- all, that is to say, who do not willfully resist him, -- and be changed into his image, clothed with righteousness, crowned with the glory and honor of perfection; some, the Church, to share even in his nature and throne; all to partake of eternal life, made possible through his sacrifice.
The scope, then, of this prediction is very wide. It is charged with the music of a hope that reaches beyond this present life. It presses on through century after century, unfulfilled or fulfilled only in part, and will never tire nor rest until it shall close in the complete fulfillment of a redeemed race, dwelling in an earth from which the curse has been removed. It conducts us from the travail of the cross to that supreme moment when, seated on the throne of universal dominion, Christ shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; when, having subdued all things unto himself, he shall deliver up the Kingdom to God even the Father, that God may be all in all.
- P. L. Read
"The Lord is risen indeed." - Luke 24:34.
THE STORY of our Lord's resurrection is one of exquisite pathos and beauty. His crucifixion had created despair-had smitten the Shepherd and scattered the sheep. In loving secrecy and weeping silence the faithful few had removed the body from the cross and laid it in the new tomb of Joseph. The great feast came, and while Jerusalem kept holy-day, the disciples had to bear, as best they might, their !bitter shame and ruined hopes. But the women could not forget the marred visage, now rigid in death, but once so expressive of holy and beautiful life, and with characteristic devotion, waited to seize the earliest moment to look upon it once more before the effacing fingers of decay had swept the lines of its lingering beauty, and in the little ministrations of tender regretful affection at once express and relieve the sorrow that !burdened their hearts. So, in the dim dawn of the morning after the sabbath, they stole to the tomb,. only to find in it no buried Lord. The thought of a resurrection did not occur to them; they thought only that the grave had been rifled. One of them, Mary of Magdala, fled, in an anguished woman's way, blind to everything but her awful loss, crying: "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." But the angels within the tomb, and the Lord without, made the tear-blinded women awake to the strange glad truth: "He is risen, as He said."
Begotten Again unto a Hope of Life by His Resurrection
Before this truth was brought home to them they were in despair. Their hopes were buried in His grave. They had trusted in Jesus, and had entertained high hopes, but now, since Jesus had died, they were sad, their hopes having withered. How different with them when the fact of His resurrection was made known to them! What joy displaced their dejection! It became true of them then, as it has of us who have believed since-they were, and we have been, begotten again unto a hope of life, by His resurrection. Because He lives we have grounds for hoping that we shall live also. In His resurrection lies our assurance.
It is an interesting study to trace in the Gospel narratives and in the Epistles, the harmony which obtains in the various references to the appearances of our Lord. Matthew, Mark and Luke, Peter, John and Paul all make mention of His resurrection. Each account is different, depending upon the point of view of the writer, but they are unanimous in affirming the fundamental fact that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Moreover it is not difficult to combine all these various appearances now distributed amongst the Gospel writers and in the Epistles, and arrange them into one complete and connected picture.. By so doing we perceive that our Lord's first work was that of consoling and encouraging. To Mary Magdalene and the other women He first appeared, turning their sorrow into joy. This was early in the morning on the very day He arose. That same day, in the afternoon, those two downcast disciples who were on their way to Emmaus found their hearts burning within them as a Stranger talked with them and finally revealed Himself as their Lord. Unable to contain themselves, although the hour was late, they hastened back to Jerusalem to tell the good news. But the Lord was traveling faster than they knew. Before they got there He had appeared to another; doubtless before He had appeared to themselves, even. There was one of His disciples whose heart was breaking-one who in an evil moment had denied His Lord. What passed 'between our Lord and Peter we do not know; however, we who are in any measure acquainted with Jesus and know something of His grace can well understand the peace and comfort which possessed Peter after that meeting. At all events, Peter had not been slow to tell the good news, for when the Emmaus disciples came breathlessly with their story they were told: "The Lord is risen indeed, and bath appeared unto Simon." Then, once again, in the late evening of that wonderful resurrection day, while they were rehearsing their own experiences to the Apostles, and how Jesus had been known of them by the old familiar habit of His, of first blessing and then breaking the bread, He once more appeared in their midst, saying, "Peace be unto you."
That Glad Resurrection Day
On the very day of His resurrection, then, first to the women, then to Peter, next to the Emmaus disciples, lastly to the Eleven -- four times in all -- Jesus appeared, each time bringing a sense of peace and comfort, hope and joy. What a day to be remembered for all time!
A week later He appeared to the disciples again, this time for the special benefit of Thomas, who had been absent on the previous occasion, and who had doubted.
Some time later, just when we may not know precisely, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, no doubt taking His last leave of the collective Church then. His next appearance seems to have been to James, His "brother," or "kinsman," as the word more exactly means. This appearance is mentioned by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, although it is not mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. St. Paul, we know, had become personally acquainted with James at Jerusalem, and no doubt learned about this appearance of Jesus from James himself.
Still another appearance to His disciples is recounted 'by the Apostle John, in the last chapter of his Gospel. Seven of the disciples had gone fishing. Perhaps they had grown weary with waiting for the Lord to manifest Himself again. We do not know. At all events they had toiled all night and caught nothing. And, it will be remembered, Jesus revealed Himself to them by telling them where to cast their net to secure a big catch of fish. Finally He took His last leave of them, just before His ascension, leading them out as far as Bethany, appointing them to be His witnesses --witnesses not only of all the wondrous things He had done and taught in their midst during His ministry; witnesses not only of the fact that He had been crucified and buried; but witnesses especially of His resurrection.
Have I Not Seen Jesus Christ Our Lord?
And yet once more, in order that he, too, might qualify as a witness, Paul was given a glimpse of the resurrected Lord in that never-to-be-forgotten journey on the Damascus road.
St. Paul never forgot this commission. In all his Epistles he speaks of the resurrection of Christ. And when, at the close of his life, the Apostle writes to his son in the faith, Timothy, he reiterates the matter in these words: "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my Gospel. But while he mentions the resurrection in all his Epistles, there is one Epistle in which he undertakes to expound the matter in great detail. It is his first letter to the Corinthians. There, in the fifteenth chapter, he unfolds the subject at length, affirming his faith, first, in the resurrection of Jesus; second, in that of the world of mankind as a whole; and third (third in point of mention, though second in order of accomplishment), in that of the Church. Most of the discussion we hope to present in the remainder of this series of meditations will be drawn from this heaven-sent exposition by "our beloved brother" Paul. However, for this meditation let us content ourselves with reviewing the ground already covered.
How Firm a Foundation is Laid for Our Faith!
The doctrine of the resurrection is so fundamental to our faith that all Christians should be thoroughly established therein -- "able to give a reason" for their own hope, and their hopes on behalf of others. Junior students of the Scriptures, especially, and all newly consecrated ones, are urged to become very familiar with all the Bible has to say on this most important subject; while those who have been long in the way will, if they join us in these meditations, experience once again the comfort to be derived from a consideration of "these words." (1 Thess. 4:18.) For example, in the previous paragraphs we have listed all the recorded appearances of our Lord. Let each ask himself the question: Do I know how many there were? To whom they were vouchsafed? In what order they occurred? Where they took place?' What the total period of time was during which they all happened? -- all, that is to say, except that to Paul. To get the most out of this first meditation the reader will do well to trace in his own Bible the ten appearances mentioned, and to prayerfully ponder the related contexts of each. Those who do so for the first time will be astonished to find how firm a foundation is laid for their faith; that to the Apostles our Lord showed Himself alive after His passion by "many infallible proofs, being seen of them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." - Acts 1:3.
Our Lord Showed Himself Alive
To assist the student to accomplish, with the minimum effort, the searching of the Scriptures suggested in the previous paragraph we submit the following brief summary:
"This Jesus Hath God Raised Up"
It is strengthening, too, to faith and consecration, to trace in the Acts of the Apostles how our Lord's chosen "witnesses," -- witnesses of His resurrection -- (John 15:27; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8, 22) -- proceeded to carry out their commission. Our Lord had said: "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." But first they were to receive "power." "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem," was His word, "until ye be endued with power from on High." (Luke 24:49.) Accordingly we find them waiting at Jerusalem in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14), until they had received the promise of the Father. Then commenced the work of witnessing, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4.) One cannot but be impressed with the prominence given to the "resurrection of Jesus" in this, their first witness given under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit:
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth . . . by wicked hands have crucified .and slain; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains ["grip," Fenton] of death; because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." - Acts 2:22-24.
"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." - Acts 2:32.
"They taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." - Acts 4:2.
"Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole." - Acts 4:10.
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew." - Acts 5:30.
Thus it was that at Jerusalem "with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all." - Acts 4:33.
- P. L. Read
"We thy people, and
sheep of thy pasture, will give thee thanks forever:
WE ALL know what mirrors are, for we use them every day to reflect our image. But how many of us realize to what extent we ourselves are mirrors, receiving and reflecting either God's glory or the negative of that glory.
The Psalm from which the above verse is quoted is mostly a lament over the condition of natural Israel in subjection to her foes, and a prayer of supplication by its author that God would glorify his own name in bringing about a deliverance, and punishment upon those who defied him in their treatment of Israel. If this prayer is answered, the promise is given that they, the people of God, will render due thanks and show forth God's praise forever. This Psalm had its direct application to natural Israel, but antitypically no doubt to spiritual Israel. "We will show forth Thy praise to all generations," or in other words, the Psalmist here declares that God's people will mirror his glory.
THE MAJESTY ON HIGH
Apparently there was a time when God was alone. Such a state is beyond our comprehension, but we must come to this conclusion if we accept the Bible statement that Jesus in his pre-human state was "the beginning of the creation of God."
If there was a beginning to creation, and if Jesus was that beginning, instead of being a third part of a Trinity as some say, then God must have been alone-nothing but God -- no opportunity or possibility for the exercise of his attributes of wisdom, justice, love, and power -- nothing but himself -- nothing to reflect his glory. How wholly inadequate our minds are to grasp or fathom God and eternity!
Certain philosophers claim that what we call time came into existence with the creation of the material universe, and that the past, present, and future are all in the present with God. All that has occurred in the past and all that will occur in the future is before him now. The findings of science and certain Scriptures seem to support this view. For example, Acts 15:18 declares that "known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." In Romans 4:17 it is written: "I have made thee [Abraham] a father of many nations, like unto him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." At the time this statement was made to Abraham, as we view things, he was not the father of many nations, but in God's sight the thing was accomplished.
An illustration that has been given to show how things past and future to us, are in the present with God, is that of two men, one walking along a country road, and the other flying high overhead. To the man walking along the road the farmhouse a mile back and the stream
and footbridge just beyond the next hill are things of the past and future in his sight and experience, but to the man high overhead they are open to view and are in the present. This is a crude illustration, but gives some idea of how things or events which are in the past and future, so far as our experience goes, may stand revealed in the sight of God.
THE AORIST TENSE
In this connection it is of interest to note the use of the aorist tense in the New Testament Greek. Scholars tell us that this tense has no equivalent in the English language, for it seems to combine past, present, future, and perfect.
The translator of the Interlinear New Testament says: "This tense [aorist] of the Greek verb has been at all times the most difficult to deal with, being translated in the Authorized Version (and by others) sometimes by the present, sometimes by the past, sometimes by the future, and sometimes by the perfect. Grammarians say that in the main, 'it is the indefinite past.' For example: to say, 'He has cleansed me,' is more than saying, 'He cleansed me,' because the first expression implies a continuance of the act or its effect to the present time; whereas the latter expression speaks of an act at some time in the past, without anything being implied as to its continuance."
In 2 Timothy 2:19 we read (Authorized Version): "The Lord knoweth them that are his." The verb "knoweth" is from the Greek aorist. In this case the English tense is a fairly good rendition. The Lord knoweth those that are his, whether in the past, present, or future.
The verbs in John 3:16 are also in the aorist tense. Our common version reads: "God so loved [past tense] the world that he gave [past tense] his only begotten Son." The Newberry and Concordant Versions translate the text: "God so loves the world that he gives his only begotten Son." It is hard to give the correct thought in English, for the aorist tense in which the original Greek is couched includes past, present, and future.
It is somewhat like the name God gave to Moses in answer to his inquiry as to what he should tell the children of Israel when they asked who said they were to do certain things. God said to Moses: "I am that I am." The name suggests eternity.
GOD'S GLORY REFLECTED IN CREATION
Isaiah 43:7 tells us that all things were created for God's own glory. All things were intended to mirror the glory of God in some way pleasing to God. Think what that glory must be that requires all of creation to reflect it! Think of the wisdom and power revealed in creation-no two things exactly alike--each grain of sand, each atom and ion in that grain, reflecting in some degree and some special sense all its own, the glory of God! As the Psalmist declares, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard."
"HE THAT HATH SEEN ME HATH SEEN THE FATHER"
The first creation to manifest God's glory was the Logos. John's Gospel, first verse, says: "In a beginning was the Logos [Word] and the Logos was with the God, and a God was the Logos. The same was in a beginning with the God." This translation harmonizes with the statement of Rev. 3:14 which calls Jesus the "Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God."
John 1:3 continues by saying: "All things were made by him [the Logos] and without him was not anything made that was made." This agrees with the statement of Paul who said "All things are of the Father, but by [or through] the Son."
The Son of God, called the Logos in his pre-human state, manifests God more fully than any other creation. To begin with, he was the only direct creation of the Father; all the rest were of the Father but by him. In Proverbs, eighth chapter, he is described as the personification of wisdom. He is recorded as saying: "Jehovah formed me in the beginning of his way, before [or the first of] his works of old. Then was I by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."
The Son was always God's right-hand and honored agent; and after his resurrection and exaltation to the divine nature he is described as being the express or exact image of the Father's person-the most complete mirror of God's glory.
EXCEEDING JOY TO BE OURS WHEN WE REFLECT PERFECTLY
Jesus was a perfect manifestation of God in the flesh, and if we bear fruit, as is intended of us, then we manifest God also--at the present time, it is true, through imperfect, tarnished reflectors, but in the resurrection the medium of reflection will be perfect.
Paul makes this plain in 1 Cor. 13:12, where he says: "For now we see through a glass dimly." A footnote in the Diaglott states that in olden times they did not have clear glass, but had to use substances such as horn, oiled parchment, etc., in their windows. These admitted the light, but revealed objects very dimly. We are like that. This earthly body through which we receive and reflect is very tarnished, so we see and know but in part, and so reflect imperfectly. But then, when we are resurrected with perfect spirit bodies, we will see and know face to face. Our medium for reflecting will not only be perfect, but will be of super-spirit quality, the Divine nature.
What a delight, what a joy it will be, when we can glorify God perfectly! At the present time our efforts are a mixture of joy and chagrin because we reflect so imperfectly. It is human nature to enjoy most those things we do well, and to neglect the things we find difficult. All creatures are happy in doing the things they are fitted to do. Fortunately our new minds dwell on a plane that delights to do the will of God, and so we find pleasure in reflecting his glory, even though our mirrors are tarnished. It makes us happy when we realize that we have in some small way conducted ourselves in a manner pleasing unto God; and if this makes us happy, what will be our reaction when we can perfectly reflect that glory? That will be exceeding joy, the Apostle tells us.
In nearly every place where this phrase "exceeding joy" is used, it is connected with the completed work of transformation in our mirrors or characters. Jude says, verse 24, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever." In being made faultless (no tarnish or flaw in our mirror), we must pass through trials and testings; and if we could not by faith look ahead to the finished work, we might become discouraged and quit. But Peter says: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Pet. 4:12, 13). Here again, we see the "exceeding joy" linked with the completed work of transformation. Paul, also, links the two in 2 Cor. 4:14-18 - "He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall also raise us up by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not. But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things that are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
"IF ANY MAN DRAW BACK"
If any man draw back from this process of being made meet for the inheritance in glory, God's Word tells us that he will have no pleasure in that man, but will cut him off from life; for nothing will be permitted to exist that does not in its own station perfectly fulfill its Creator's will.
James says, "If any one be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he resembles a man viewing his natural face in a mirror; for he viewed himself and went away, and immediately forgot what kind of person he was. But he who looks intently into that which is the perfect law of freedom and continues in it, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of its work, this man will be blessed in his deed." (James 1:23-25.) His contemplation of the perfect character reflected in the perfect law of freedom has a transforming effect upon his own character.
The Scriptures indicate that God has had the new creation in mind from the beginning of his work; he did not, however, see fit to create it outright as he did the various orders of angels and mankind, but has proceeded in the strange and mysterious manner of taking imperfect human beings, the lowest order of beings formed in his image, and is making them over into the image of his Son. The Son, we are told, is the express image of God, having life in himself, even as the Father bath life in himself. This whole matter has been a mystery all down through the ages, and is still a mystery to all except the little flock, the ones who are being transformed.
THE CREATION OF THE NEW CREATION
No other creation has known anything about its own creation before it began to function as a completed being, reflecting in some degree God's glory. But the new creation, including its Head, is made fully aware of what is happening unto it; and what is still more strange, is invited, yea, even expected, to cooperate to the extent of its ability in bringing about its own perfection, and any who will not cooperate are cast aside as unfit.
Nothing like this has ever occurred before, nor, as far 'as we know, will ever occur again. God has followed this course, we understand, because of the very exalted position this class will occupy when completed. These are free moral agents; it is left to their own volition as to whether they will be made to reflect God's glory or not. God will not need to test this new creation after it has been perfected, as he has tested all other free moral agents; because this class has been fully tested in the process of making it meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, where it will be crowned with immortality.
"IF I IN THY LIKENESS, O LORD, MAY AWAKE"
It is-believed by many that once God has given any one the divine nature, even he himself could not destroy that one. Whether this be true or not, the course God has followed in his development of this class has obviated such a contingency, because the ones that are given the divine nature will have proved beyond all possibility of doubt that they will forever remain loyal to God and his will.
We now have the opportunity of demonstrating our loyalty to God and the principles of righteousness, and should rejoice in any test he sees fit to permit. "Count it all joy," says the Apostle (James 1:2-4), "when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience; but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
It rests with us whether we will let God work in us both to will and to do his good pleasure. "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). It rests with us whether we will "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in order that he may exalt us in due time."
In the 43rd chapter of Isaiah we read: "Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.... I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise." They shall mirror or reflect my glory.
"Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can show forth [mirror] all his praise?" "We thy people, and sheep of thy pasture, will give thee thanks forever; we will show forth [mirror] thy praise to all generations."
- J. T. Read
"Whosoever abideth in him [Christ] sinneth not." - 1 John 3:6.
Will you please harmonize this statement with the position taken by the Apostle in chapter 1 John 1:8-10, and in 1 John 2:1, 2? In these two passages he repudiates the idea that any one, in this life, may truthfully claim to be sinless, and shows how, when Christians do sin, a remedy has been provided. This bring the case, how are we to understand his apparently conflicting statement in 1 John 3:6, that whosoever abideth in him sinneth not?
Scholars have pointed out that the difficulty is removed by observing a distinction of tenses in the Greek. In 1 John 2:1 the verb twice translated "sin" is in the aorist, and indicates a single act, or occasional acts, of sin. In 1 John 3:6 the corresponding word is from a Greek imperfect participle. This expression, therefore, refers, not to a single or an occasional act, but to habitual sin, or a continuous sinful state.
The apparently conflicting passages may be seen to be in harmony if we understand the Apostle to be affirming, not that the Christian cannot possibly commit a sin, but to be saying that it is impossible to conceive of a child of God being habitually sinful (1 John 3:6); while it remains possible for him to fall, once and again, into a single act of sin (1 John 2:1), although, of course, he ought not to do so, and should earnestly strive not to. In other words, the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:1, 2) consequent upon our acceptance of the Gospel and consecration to God, has the effect of turning our entire subsequent lives away from sin. Thenceforth our normal condition should be one of sinlessness. However, it may happen that, under stress of temptation, we commit a sinful act. In that case we need not despair (although we should be grieved). Instead, we should lose no time in having the dark stain removed, by fleeing at once to God, who, by virtue of the sacrifice and intercession of our great Advocate, will cleanse us, restoring us to our normal condition of sinlessness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
In Rev. 1:3 we read "Blessed is he that readeth." In view of the fact that printing was not invented until about 1400 A.D. (by John Gutenberg), and that before that time books were costly and rare, and few were able to read, how are we to understand these words?
They probably refer to the custom, an example of which appears in Luke 4:16-20. (See also Acts 13:15.) Mofatt translates: "Blessed is he who reads aloud." In all translations available to me there is only one person who reads ("Blessed is he [singular] that readeth"), whereas the hearing, and the keeping of the things read, is done by "they," "those" (plural). Thus there was a blessing promised to the reader and to his hearers.
In Revelation 14:14-16 we read of the "harvest of the earth," which many of us believe has been in progress for years. Does the work of harvest mean the separation of true Christians from one or more sects and gathering them into another sect or organization?
No! -- although many have thought so, and still do. The harvest is a separation of the Lord's people from sectarianism unto the Lord; first, in the spirit of their minds, while they are still on this side the veil; and secondly, into the heavenly garner, on the other side the veil. In this life, it means coming, not into another place, but into another condition -- a condition in which true Christian liberty is enjoyed. In such a condition, one Christian requires nothing more, and nothing less, of another Christian, for admission into full fellowship, than adherence to those truths that alone are necessary to constitute them true Christians, members of the Body of Christ; members of the one true Church. Writing on this subject in his exposition of the Revelation,. Brother Streeter, in Vol. II, pages 216, 217 observes: "Such was the Church Christ established, in which all were accounted free to study his Word, and obtain a knowledge of the same according to their mental ability to grasp; and thus to grow in both knowledge and grace. Such a liberty enjoyed will of necessity willingly consent that other Christians may hold and express opinions with which we disagree, until they are convinced by reason and Scripture that these opinions are untrue."
In 2 Tim. 2:21, we read these words: "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
I understand that the phrase, "every good work," in this text, may be understood as having reference to the various works of each member of the Church, which will be performed subsequent to their glorification; i.e., after they have attained the divine nature. Is this true?
To my mind the context has nothing in it to support this view. The Apostle is here and throughout the Epistle, counseling Timothy how to live as a faithful pastor should live -- not "up there" but "down here."
The context brings to view "a great house" in which some of the vessels are "to honor" and some "to dishonor." (Mofatt translates, "some for noble, some for menial service"; Weymouth, "some are for specially honorable, and others for common use.")
How to become a vessel "for noble use" is clearly disclosed. It results from a purging or separation from certain evil things mentioned (the profane and vain babblings of verse 16 and the cankerous word of verse 17). If a man does in fact thus separate himself, he becomes, not in the Age to come, but here and now, such a vessel.
However, regardless of when or where, it is not the vessel but the Master of the great house who does the work. Finding us properly prepared (by the separating process above described), right in the very place, and in the very condition, in which he can use us, he does so, employing us in whatever way he may choose, in his work.
Again, in an earthly "great house" its Master would not think of using a plate as he would a cup or a knife. Neither does the Master of our "great house" do so. He uses us each for the particular task or tasks for which we are fitted. For example: He has often used Brother John to give the friends a great uplift with his "special music"; that he would use Brother Percy -- in such a capacity could not be supposed, unless he were to first perform a most unlikely miracle. Brother Russell, we agree, was a vessel prepared for a "specially honorable use." Others, doubtless, have had aspirations to be similarly used, which could not be gratified. "The wise steward will seek always to cultivate along the lines of his natural abilities." - See Manna Feb. 6, Nov. 26, Dec. 22.
"Kept for the Master's use" is the title of a poem by Frances Ridley Havergal. Its every line has to do with life here on earth. You may perhaps recall it.
You will, of course, have noted the parallel passage, 2 Timothy 3:17 (Diaglott); which could refer only to life "down here"; and also the language employed in 1 Timothy 5:10 and Titus 3:1.
Continuing with one more thought from the context: Note how the Apostle is still talking about things down here on this earth, with "young Timothy," as Brother Streeter used to refer to him. After purging himself "from these" (evils of 2 Tim. 3:16-17) and after thus becoming here and now a vessel "meet for the Master's use," he is to "flee also youthful lusts"; and "avoid foolish and unlearned questions." (2 Tim. 3:22, 23.) Failing to do so, he would soon cease to be a vessel fit for the Master to use in any service, noble or common. He would be cast aside as altogether useless.
- P. L. Read.
All should be aware of the fact that the affairs of our Institute are in the hands of seven brethren who are elected from its membership to serve for a period of one year or until their successors are elected.
Last year our Annual Meeting was held in September at Atlantic City. This year our directors have given favorable consideration to the suggestion that the meeting be scheduled for the usual date (first Saturday in June) but that it be held in the Middle West again, as was the case in 1961 and 1964.
When the Cicero, Illinois, Ecclesia heard of our discussions, they were prompt to offer us the use of their own church facilities. Not only so, but they expressed the desire to cooperate further, by having their Accommodations Secretary handle all Room and Meal arrangements for friends coming from a distance. Furthermore, they said they would plan a one-day Convention for the next day (Sunday, June 5) about which you will no doubt hear in a forthcoming issue of their "Berean News." Needless to say, our directors were very glad to accept their kind invitation. Accordingly the next Annual Meeting of the Institute will be held (D.V.) Saturday, June 4, at 2:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Berean Bible Students Church, 5930 West 28th Street, Cicero, Illinois 60650.
Membership in the Pastoral Bible Institute is, and always has been, open to any consecrated brother or sister who "is in full harmony with the purpose, spirit, and policy of the Institute," and who intends to support it "in all reasonable ways as he or she shall deem to be the Lord's will."
As stated in its charter, the purpose for which the Institute was formed, is "the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers, and other religious documents, and by the use of all other lawful means which its Board of Directors, duly constituted, shall deem expedient for the furtherance of the purposes stated."
The membership fee is five dollars ($5.00) which should accompany the application. If an applicant lacks the membership fee, but is otherwise acceptable, the fee will be paid out of a special fund provided for that purpose.
In order to participate in the election of directors at the next annual meeting, any one, not already a member, who desires to apply for membership should do so promptly as, according to our bylaws, "the registration of such membership must be made twenty days prior to the election."
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 1966-67.
The brethren whose term of service will expire are: F. A. Essler, J. C. Jordan, A. L. Muir, J. T. Read, P.. L. Read, W. J. Siekman, and P. E. Thomson.
The brethren named above are pleased to report that a spirit of Christian love and harmony exists in their midst; and they have every reason to believe that the Lord has seen fit to bless their association in this ministry. They realize, however, that those carrying on any work may fail to see opportunities for improvement and expansion apparent to others not charged with such responsibility, and that for this reason changes in office sometimes have beneficial effects. They therefore urge upon all the members of our Institute that they make this a special occasion for prayer, that our Father's will may be expressed in the vote of the members. If after prayerful meditation any are led of the Lord to nominate brethren, and will forward the names and addresses of such brethren so as to reach this office on or before April 10, 1966, such names will be published in the May-June issue of the "Herald," that all members may have an opportunity of voting for them.