Pittsburgh Gazette, December 30, 1906


Pastor Russell addressed the Bible House congregation in Carnegie Music Hall today from the text, "He that sat upon the throne said, behold I make all things new. And he said unto me, write; for these words are true and faithful." (Rev. 21:5.) The address follows:

On the threshold of the New Year thousands in all parts of the world are probably taking account of stock in their affairs, mental, physical, moral, financial and religious. Many no doubt are looking back to the beginning of the year, to the resolutions then made, and feeling more or less of disappointments, if not shame, in connection with the results. Indeed it is safe to assume that whoever is thoroughly satisfied with his attainments and victories during the past twelve months has either too high an estimate of his own victories or else at the beginning of the year he did not place the mark, the standard sufficiently high. As we are on the threshold of a New Year it is important for us that we be not discouraged with the past, whatever it may have been; but that as we turn over a new leaf we make fresh resolves respecting fidelity to God and the principles of righteousness of which he is the representative; that we make fresh resolves in respect to our relationship to our fellows, that more and more throughout the year we will strive, not only to be just toward them, but, more than this, to be generous, forgiving, kind, patient, loving. Let us look into the Lord's word for encouragement along these lines, which are recognized to be proper ones.

Our text seems to contain some suggestive thoughts that should be helpful to us all. It implies that in some sense of the word God is proposing on man's behalf a new order, a new dispensation, with fresh help and assistances for the groaning creation, Adam's posterity. Looking about us we find on the pages of history records of the endeavors of noble-minded men and women for the past six thousand years to stem the tide of sin, depravity, imperfection, dying, mental, moral and physical decrepitude, dying, death. Contemplating all these endeavors and combinations, we are obliged to say, in the language of one of old, "We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth." (Isa. 26:18) we have been unsuccessful in saving the world from sin and its imperfections.

We sometimes endeavor to persuade ourselves that the world is growing purer and holier, more full of faith toward God, more full of the fruits and graces of the spirit of God, more free from selfishness, and crime on account of selfishness; but as we scrutinize, carefully and honestly, we must confess that the world is far from the divine standard. And, sure enough, our conclusions are fully corroborated by the prophetical writings of God's word, which directly state that "evil men and leaders astray will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" down to the very consummation of this age, down to the time when it shall give place to the new order of things mentioned in our text. (2 Tim. 3:13) We note also the suggestion of our Lord's words addressed to his church, which assure them that in the end of the age the deceptions will be so strong that "if it were possible they would deceive the very elect," and we appreciate the inference of his words, "When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth." Luke 18:8


It should be noticed that our text does not say that God will make all new things, but that he will make old things new he will take hold of the old things and renovate them. Before examining what things are to be renovated we call to mind that the scriptures do, however, speak of a "New Creation" they do tell us that the church, the elect, are "New Creatures in Christ Jesus." Not these, therefore, are referred to in our text. This work of God in respect to the church which he has been calling out of the world since the day of Pentecost is distinctively separate from his work in other directions and in other classes. The church is to be a new creation in the sense that it will be changed to a new nature. By nature the elect were children of wrath even as others of human nature and depravity. By God's grace they were not only redeemed, but through [HGL349] faith were justified. Then as they followed on to know the Lord and hearken to his word they were called to be special disciples, a little flock of the Lord Jesus.

When they accepted this call and made full consecration to the Lord they received a begetting of the holy spirit to a new nature the spiritual nature. Then their instruction and disciplining and testing proceeds, so that at the close of their sacrificial life they might be counted of the Lord as "fit for the kingdom." These in the first, the chief resurrection are to be made like their Lord, "changed in a moment," sharers of his glory and "partakers of the Divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4) This is the new creation; nothing in the Divine statement respecting the church implies that they are to be renewed or made over again as perfect men. Theirs is indeed a change, because, as the apostle explains, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," and these have been called to be God's kingdom class, in association with their Redeemer, our Lord Jesus.

Neither must we confound the statement of our text respecting the renewing of old things with the statement of the first verse in the same chapter which says, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Nothing in this verse implies that it refers to the same thing mentioned by our text; on the contrary, the one is a renewing, the other distinctly states that it is a new creation and that the former passed away.


While passing, and to keep our minds clear on the subject, let us briefly notice the signification of this symbolical statement respecting the new heaven and new earth. It does not mean that the heaven of God's residence has become dilapidated and unfit for his service. The figures here used, heaven, earth, sea, are symbols common to the entire scriptures and refer to humanity. The heavens represent the ecclesiastical influences and powers of control, the earth represents organized society, while the restless sea symbolizes the uncivilized and anarchistic masses of mankind.

To our understanding of the scriptures, as already set forth and well known to many of you, the time for this great change of religious, social and political institutions is right at hand the change from the one to the other to be accomplished by the disintegration of the present heavens and earth in the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, as Daniel the prophet tells us. Then, after that awful cataclysm of anarchy and disruption which will utterly overthrow present institutions, the Lord promises that he will establish the new and the better institutions. The present heavens and earth are scripturally represented as being largely under the control or influence of the "prince of this world," whom the scriptures declare is to be bound or restrained at the close of this dispensation.

The new dispensation is, on the contrary, to be under the control of Messiah, the glorified Christ Jesus and His bride, the elect church, which will then be complete. The heavens, or religious spiritual powers of control will be new in that they will be in the hands of the glorified Christ, who will then, as the scriptures declare, take unto Himself His great power and reign a power possessed ever since His resurrection but not to be exercised until now, the Father's due time. The new earth will be the new organization, social and political, constructed on the lines of justice and love and under heavenly guidance. No wonder then we have the assurance that the sea class will be no more, for we are assured that this new order of things will be the "desire of all peoples," and that to the new king of the world every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father.


Having seen what our text does not mean we are the better prepared to note what is signified by the expression, "Behold I make all things new." The preceding context pictures the glorified kingdom of the glorified Christ as the New Jerusalem come down from heaven to earth, in harmony with our prayer, "Thy kingdom come." Elsewhere we are specifically told about this New Jerusalem whose symbolical foundations bear the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. There can be no doubt that it signifies the kingdom of Christ and His glorified bride, the kingdom that the Lord promised to His faithful, saying, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I have overcome and am set down with My Father in His throne." The next chapter explains that from that New Jerusalem, from that new government that will then be established in the world, there will proceed a symbolical river of life, clear as crystal without impurity of any kind and to that water of life, to the truths which will then in their purity be dispensed to all the families of the earth.

The glorious results of the establishment of this heavenly city or dominion amongst men is thus told: "I heard a great voice out of the throne, saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men; He will dwell with them and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.'" The thought here is most clear and explicit: the scene belongs to the Millennial age after the New Jerusalem, the heavenly government, shall have been established amongst men.

It will represent God amongst men, for God will dwell in the glorified church and all of His powers and gracious characteristics will be manifested in it most thoroughly. But someone will say, Has not God been dwelling with mankind for all the past six thousand years? Why should this represent God's dwelling place with man as being a matter of the future and not of the present?

We reply, No! God has not dwelt with man in any sense of the word. On the contrary He has reprobated and condemned mankind on account of sin, and the apostle tells us that the whole world as a consequence are aliens, strangers and foreigners from God and His promises. He did indeed favor Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then all of Jacob's posterity called the nation of Israel. With these in this nation He made pictures and types of the blessings which He intended ultimately to accomplish for mankind through Messiah. Their covenant of the law represented in an imperfect manner the new covenant of the future with the world, Moses, their mediator representing imperfectly the mediator of the new covenant'the Christ, head and body, Jesus the head, and the church His body, His bride. Their sacrifices represented the better sacrifices now being [HGL350] offered by the mediator himself first and chiefly, and secondly those whom He accepts as members of His body, and who, under His guidance and direction, suffer with Him that they may also be glorified together as members of the world's mediator in the kingdom.

The blessing of the Lord's presence in the future was fore-shadowed in the arrangements made with the typical nation of Israel. (1) In their tabernacle, or moveable representation of the heavenlies, the Lord appeared in the most holy, represented by the shekinah glory within and the pillar of smoke without. When later on, under the Lord's direction, the temple was built at Jerusalem, it represented the perfect established kingdom, Messiah's kingdom, the Millennial kingdom of the new heavens and new earth, and in it also the Lord is represented in the most holy by the shekinah glory. This representing of God's dwelling in the midst of Israel was a foreshadowing of the coming blessing to the world during the Millennial age referred to in our context, when the tabernacle of God will be with men. We have already seen that God will not meet with men in an earthly temple, but, as the apostle explains, He has during this gospel age been preparing a spiritual temple the church. The Apostle Peter assures us that the elect are the living stones in process of preparation for the glorious temple of God of the future. This is the explanation which the scriptures give of the trials and sufferings, the testings and provings which the Lord permits to come upon His ever elect which are to chasten and polish them and make them fit to be members in the spiritual temple of the future, to be the tabernacle of God, the dwelling place of God amongst men God's representatives to the world the meeting place from which God's representatives to the world the meeting place from which God's mercy shall be disseminated and to which the world will approach for the blessings provided.


We see, then, that God's proposition is that through the glorified Christ (Jesus, the head and His body the church) He will return to mankind and accept the whole world through the merit of Christ, and deal with them for their enlightenment and blessing and uplifting out of sin and sorrow, pain and death mental, moral and physical. This will be the making of all things new. Thus we see God proposes not to make a new race, but to renew Adam and his race, and the channel or agency through which this renewing or restitution work shall be accomplished will be the new creation the "church of the first born" the "Christ."

The work of God through the Christ is beautifully set forth under the figure of "wiping all tears from all faces." This is the same figure the Lord used through the prophet Isaiah (25:8), and all the conditions are in harmony. Through Isaiah the Lord informs us that these blessings will proceed from His mountain or kingdom, which He will establish in the end of this age "under the whole heavens," the mountain of the Lord the kingdom of the Lord Messiah's kingdom. The prophet declares that God will, in or through this mountain or kingdom, destroy the obscuring vail of ignorance and death which now covers all people, and that He will make for all a feast of fat things in this mountain, in this kingdom, whose controlling blessing is to be under the whole heavens. The result is also declared, "He will swallow up death in victory."

Ah, yes! While the race has been under condemnation for 6,000 years, the divine favor and presence withdrawn from it, sin and death have reigned and have swallowed up the human family. But with the return of divine favor at the second advent of Christ, and the establishment of "Thy kingdom come," everything will be reversed, with the result that death will be swallowed up in victory, all people shall be delivered from the power of death the resurrection of the dead shall prevail under the guidance and control of him who declared that all in their graves should hear His voice and should come forth. Not only will they come forth to consciousness, but to an opportunity of being raised up or restored, renewed a resurrection process which will culminate, if they are willing and obedient, in a full and complete raising out of every element of sin and imperfection and death to the full image and likeness of God and all that was lost in Eden.

How grand is the message of God's word then, that when His tabernacle, His glorified temple, shall be established in the earth as the kingdom of God, it will mean victory for mankind over sin and death at the hands of the Lord's anointed, the world's great mediator. Ah! Indeed there is force and meaning in the expression, "God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces." The poetic expression speaks volumes for the blessing and comforting and assuaging of the griefs and sorrows of the world.


The statement that God will wipe away all tears is explained, signify that there should be no more death. Death has reigned because of the sentence, the curse upon Adam's disobedience; but as the result of the atonement for Adam's sin, the right, the power, the authority of death to reign is broken, and instead the Redeemer becomes the life-giver of the world to revive the dying and awaken the dead.

That there may be no misunderstanding the Lord continues to explain that the wiping away of tears signifies, not only that death will be no more, but that this will include no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain forever. O, glorious picture! How it shows us the great plan of our God, by which present evil conditions will be utterly eradicated, and by which mankind will be lifted out of all his troubles by the loving hands of his Redeemer who died, the just for the unjust, that He might have this right, this opportunity of bringing the unjust back into harmony and acceptableness with God. Yes, indeed! Jesus was the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins (the church's sins), and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Thank God for such lengths, and breadths, and heights, and depths of His love, which indeed, passes all understanding! As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways and plans higher than man could have conceived they are marvelous in the eyes of His people.


In explanation of these great changes, which are surely to be introduced and under which God will make all things [HGL351] new under which he will restore mankind from his fallen, degraded condition back to Divine favor and back to the original perfection the explanation of all this is summed up in the few words, "For the former things are passed away." What were these former things? and why and how did they pass away? Man as God originally created him was very good. It was the introduction of sin that caused the difficulty, as the Apostle Paul explains, "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world and death as a result of sin, and thus death passed upon all men because all are sinners." (Rom. 5:12.) It is for this reason that the whole creation if groaning and travailing in pain together, and this condition obtains because of divine justice and the execution of the divine sentence against sin- "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Awful as the condition under sin, and death as its penalty, has been, it was of God's infliction not of eternal torment, but nevertheless an experiencing on the part of the race of the "exceeding sinfulness of sin" and the full meaning of "dying thou shalt die."

But if these things of God in the sense of being His infliction, how and why can He ever set them aside or abolish them, so that He can subsequently speak to them as the "former things that pass away?" In other words, how could God set aside the curse or sentence of death? The answer to this question is the center of the gospel hope, briefly stated in scriptural language: the present evil conditions are all to be set aside because God has had mercy upon our race; not that He manifested His mercy by overthrowing the sentence of His own court against sin, but that He has met the requirements of His own decision, His own verdict has met the death penalty for the race through the death of His son, a "ransom for all" a corresponding price for the world's sin.


While the opening of the new year brings a measure of fresh hope and courage to mankind in general, with usually fresh resolves for a more noble stand for righteousness, nevertheless life is a humdrum affair to the vast majority of our race, and ignoble and sinful excesses are frequently indulged in with a view to breaking this monotony. It is, therefore, desirable that the world, having nothing better, should have business ambitions to very fully absorb their time and energy. But how superior is the position of the Christian, who has in the Lord's word not only the promise of the life which now is, but also of that which is to come. To see the purpose of life, why we are here to see the scriptural incentive to right living that to those now called according to God's purpose to be of the elect church, and by and by to be the glorious new Jerusalem government or kingdom of God to bless and uplift the world of mankind this is our hope, and a blessed hope it is. It gives us new aims, new ambitions, new energy and strengthens every good resolve in a manner nothing else could do. The apostle declares, "He that hath this hope purifieth himself even as he is pure." The trouble with the majority of Christians is that they have not this scriptural hope, but vain hopes and imaginings not real, and built not upon the word of God, but upon the theories, creeds and traditions of the elders handed down from the "dark ages." Let us go to the fountain head, and have God's message of love and mercy from His own word, through His inspired son and His apostles and the prophets.

Even to those who hear Him who are of the world, who have not yet given their hearts to the Lord and not yet become identified with His called ones, there is a message of encouragement in the scriptures in the glorious promise of the coming time in which God will wipe away all tears from off all faces and there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying. Realizing this in any degree it becomes an encouragement to the extent that their faith can grasp it. It helps such to fight against the allurements of the world, the flesh and the adversary, by assuring them that every good impulse and noble effort now made brings corresponding peace and refreshment of heart in the present time, and helps them to reach the future life with its hopes on a higher plane than if they now yielded to sin and Satan.

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