San Francisco, Cal., July 7, 1907


Pastor C T Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., delivered several addresses at the Bible Students' convention being held here. One of these, delivered today, we report in full. It was from the text, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).

Man is so constituted, veneration being one of the very highest organs of his constitution, that it may be said to be natural to most men to render homage to their Creator especially if they do not have a large development of the organ of self-esteem. However, in our busy day of push and rush, telegraph and express, there are so many things to engage the time and thought of the majority that they do not exercise properly this natural highest tendency of their natures; and by reason of disuse it becomes with many comparatively dormant, dead, until some calamity or trouble [HGL381] comes to waken it. The Psalmist's expression, "Before I was afflicted I went astray," would certainly be appropriate to many. Not a few of God's most earnest children owe much to his providential care of their interests to his permitting of adversity as a part of their experience. As the darkness of trouble encompasses the soul, and human succor is slow or vain, the heart turns instinctively to the higher power and appeals to its Creator and this is prayer. But with most who have become developed Christians the privilege of prayer is so highly appreciated as a channel of blessing that it becomes a fixed feature of daily life, and one of the most pleasurable and most profitable of all their religious experiences.

To such it is a pleasure upon awakening in the morning to recognize the blessing enjoyed in rest and sleep, to give thanks for the same, and to look for divine providential care and overruling in the affairs and interests of the day beginning. To the same class it is a pleasure also to join in family worship every morning, if conditions will permit; to the same class it is a privilege before every meal to return thanks in acknowledgement that God is the giver of every good gift, whether directly or indirectly received. To these the food tastes better because of this acknowledgement, and because the heart, the mind, is faced in the proper direction to receive God's mercies with thankfulness; and to those whose minds are thus at peace, at rest, proportionately more refreshment will be received from the food. At the close of the day this same class has pleasure in thinking over its blessings and privileges enjoyed, in making note of its own progress in the love and service of the Creator, and in giving thanks for all these, even while at the same time perhaps craving divine clemency because of blemishes and imperfections of thought, word or deed, not approved because disapproved of the Lord. The prayers of such go out to the Lord for further strength and help by the way, in the development of the perfect character most pleasing in his sight.


Should or should we not urge men everywhere to pray? We answer, No. God has commanded all men everywhere to repent, but he has not commanded all men to pray; more than this he declines the prayers of those who are not his saying, "Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee" (Psa. 50:16-17). This is a very different view from the ordinary one. It is customary for the majority of Christian people to urge everybody to pray, but they do this from a lack of knowledge a lack of appreciation of the statements of God's word. Our Lord tells us that the Father seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). The inference clearly is that he seeks not the worship of others. It seems strange indeed that the average man or woman, living practically without God, should suppose that he could suddenly, in a moment of trouble or fear, rush into the divine presence and implore divine aid in extrication.

This false idea, that sinners may come to God in prayer without conversion, without turning to the Lord Jesus, without accepting him, is a growing error. The so-called "new thought" of our day, which is gaining ground in various directions, helps along in this delusion, assuring all mankind that they are children of God, whereas our Lord Jesus said to some, "Ye are of your father, the devil, for his works ye do" (John 8:44). The new thought teachers as well as many others ignore the scriptural proposition that faith in Christ is the only door of access to divine mercy, that "no man cometh unto the Father but by me (Jesus)," that "there is none other name given under heaven and amongst men whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus." Everything not built upon his scriptural foundation must of necessity be false and hence injurious. The injurious effect is to hinder the sinner from realizing his guilt, his unworthiness of divine favor, and to lead him to think that conversion is obsolete, the twaddle of the past; that each one should think of himself as the son of God, an heir of heaven, and feel the dignity of all this and act it out praying to God and believing that he hears, and acting along the line of that mischief strong in the error, encased in the delusion, and thus specially barred and hindered from coming to God in the only right, true, acceptable way the way of the cross, the way of faith in Jesus.


Our Lord not only declares that "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me," but He also declared that He is the door to the sheepfold the only door. Whoever, therefore, attempts to come to God otherwise than through faith in the precious blood of Christ is a thief and a robber is attempting to grasp illegitimately a blessing and privilege. The fact that he cannot grasp these does not affect the case; his intentions are fraudulent, wrong.

We may divide mankind into three general classes: (1) The masses who know not God, including not only the heathen, but those who are living in sin, whose mental eyes are closed to holy things, and who are looking in the opposite direction for selfish gratification. (2) A class of believers who have recognized the undesirableness of sin, who have recognized Jesus as the door, the way to God, and who are trusting that ultimately somehow they will choose that way, which they have not yet chosen because of its narrowness and the sacrifice which it would cost at the present time. (3) A proportionately small number of the believing class who have heard and accepted Jesus, have renounced sin in toto, and, more than this, have made a full consecration of their hearts and live to the divine service, with full agreement and desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.


Of these three classes be it noted that the last mentioned alone, and they a comparatively small number of the whole, have the divine promise that their prayers shall be heard. The first class has no promise whatever, as we have already seen they have no access to the ear of God; they are, as the apostle describes, "without God, having no hope in the world." (Eph. 2:12.) True, the scriptures show a future hope for this class during the Millennial age, when they shall all be brought to a knowledge of the truth and to [HGL382] an opportunity for a full reconciliation with the Lord. But their time is not now. If they do not now hear of the Lord's grace and respond thereto, and come within the invitation of the Lord Jesus, they have no "access into the grace wherein we now stand and rejoice." (Rom. 5:2) True, our Lord said that "men ought always to pray and not to faint," not to get discouraged; but we must remember that He was speaking not of mankind in general, but of the Jewish nation, which had been selected, separated from the world as God's peculiar people, believers in Him and typical of spiritual Israel. In this class the Lord especially addressed those whom he elsewhere designated Israelites, indeed, in whom there was no guile.

The second class mentioned above has indeed some liberties as respects prayer particularly at the beginning of their experiences, when first they turned from sin to serve the living God, when first they began to exercise faith in Christ and to seek to know the will of God. Their faith, we are told, is accounted to them for righteousness; they are reckoned as justified from sin, and as thus at peace with God no longer at war with Him either through wicked works nor antagonistic minds. The apostle says of such, we have joy and peace through believing. This class includes not only those who have repented of sin and approached God through the door of faith, but it includes also the children of believers, who are reckoned as justified and as in the same relationship with God. We can readily understand that the mercy of God would be extended to this class, to the extent of permitting them to come to God in prayer as believers in Him, and as those desirous of knowing God's will and doing it. But they cannot forever remain in this attitude, because their prayer for knowledge and for divine instruction being answered brings to them responsibilities, and the Lord addressing this class says, "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Luke 6:46

If they continue in this attitude of failing to heed the word of the Lord, they gradually lose their standing with Him lose their justification, and become like the remainder of the world without special divine favor. The reason for this is that God in the present time, during this Gospel age, is not seeking to bring all men to a knowledge of Himself He is not now exhausting His mercies and blessings and instructions, but is merely seeking for a special elect class, a little flock, who will not only rejoice in the privilege of abandoning sin, but rejoice also in the privilege of following in the footsteps of the Lord in opposition to sin, to the extent of laying down their lives with Him in the service of righteousness. This is the third class mentioned above the elect. It is for this class that the blessings and privileges and favors of the throne of the heavenly grace are especially offered. It is this class that the apostle addressed, saying, "Having therefore courage, brethren, by the blood of Jesus, to enter into the holiest. . . . Let us draw near with a true heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from a consciousness of evil and our bodies washed with pure water" In the sense that they have been cleansed or justified through faith in the Redeemer; and in addition to this sprinkling and washing they have become members of the royal priesthood by a consecration of themselves, a covenant of sacrifice even unto death, and as such under-priests they are permitted to come into that condition symbolized by the first holy of the Tabernacle and the temple, wherein was the candlestick and the table of shewbread and the golden altar of incense the latter symbolizing specially the privilege of prayer, for, as the scriptures explain, the incense from the altar represents the prayers of the saints. Rev. 8:3, 4


Note particularly that this is the thought of our text. It is not addressed to everybody not even addressed to all believers; but merely to those believers who have come into Christ, into membership in His body, His church, whose names are written in heaven. Our introduction into the body of Christ is not at the moment of our turning from sin to righteousness, it is not at the moment of our accepting Christ by faith as our redeemer, it is not at the moment of our joy and peace in Him through believing. No, it is subsequent to all this, at the moment when we have presented our bodies living sacrifices and receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit to a new nature. These are styled new creatures in Christ Jesus, respecting whom we are told, "Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world; I have chosen you out of the world." Again we are told, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things have passed away and all things have become new." But it is not sufficient that we thus begin a new life which under one figure is represented as a begetting to the spirit nature which will be attained in the first resurrection as a birth from the dead and which in another illustration is represented as a birth in the present life, the apostle saying, "As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby." It is after we have become such spirit begotten ones, new creatures, new born babes, members of the royal priesthood of which Jesus is the great high priest, members of the anointed body of which He is the glorious head then it will be necessary for us to abide in Him. How long is not stated before we may apply to ourselves the gracious promise of our text. But here we notice another condition, namely,


The first restriction as to the privileges of our text seems to limit it to a very small number indeed to those only who have come into membership in Christ and are abiding in him. But now this second limitation makes the matter still more exclusive, for in addition to becoming abiding members, loyal, we must have the Lord's Word abiding richly in us before we can claim this promise. What does this mean? It surely signifies that we must pass from the infantile stage of "babes in Christ," desiring the sincere milk of the Word, and must become users of its strong meat before we can have a full right to apply this text to ourselves. The Apostle Paul assures us that milk is for babes, but strong meat for those who are more matured and who have their senses exercised by reason of use.

Here then we see a part of the difficulty why so many Christian people make fruitless prayers, as, for illustration, when President Garfield lay dying millions joined in prayer for his recovery without avail; when President McKinley [HGL383] lay dying millions again joined in prayer without result. What was the difficulty that these prayers were not heard and answered? Perhaps it was in line with the Apostle Paul's statement, "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss" (Jas. 4:3) in harmony with your own desires. And are there not hundreds of thousands of prayers offered daily similarly without avail and for the same reason because those who utter the prayers are not in Christ, not abiding in him, and because his Word is not abiding in them. We are not disputing that some real Christians joined in those prayers; we are not disputing that some joined in them who were abiding in Christ; but we do question if many joined in those petitions for Garfield and McKinley in whose hearts the Lord's Word abode.

The difficulty with the majority of those in Christ seems to be that they are "babes," with little knowledge of the "strong meat" of the divine Word, little relish for it and little ability for its digestion. And as for "the milk of the Word," the majority of them have had it so diluted with the traditions of men and the impurities of false doctrine that they are weaklings in respect to knowledge of God and of his plan. His Word does not dwell in them richly and abound (Col. 3:16), as we are assured it should do with all who are the Lord's and making proper progress in the good way, in the footsteps of Jesus. Alas, that we must speak thus in a day when Bibles are published by the million and to be found in nearly every home! Alas, that in this day of Sunday schools, international lessons, etc., it should be true, as foretold by the Lord through the prophet, "My people perish for lack of knowledge." There is a famine in the land, not for bread, nor for water, but for the hearing of the Word of the Lord. Ministers of Christ who have vowed to preach his Gospel are otherwise engaged, some preaching capitalism, some preaching socialism,

some preaching science and some preaching bosh and nonsense; some preaching evolution, some preaching higher criticism few preaching Christ, the only door into the sheepfold, the only way to God, the only channel of prayer and divine blessing.

Describing the proper attitude of the Lord's true sheep at this time, the prophet says, "Thy Word was found and I did eat it." (Jer. 15:16.) There is an abundance indeed of the good Word of the Lord, but false doctrines, the traditions of the "dark ages," have so covered and hidden the precious message of divine love and grace that the latter is discredited, and those who take the Word of God seriously are counted as fools for his sake, but now as ever the people who do know God shall be strong and do exploits. (Dan. 11:32.) Now more than ever those whose eyes have been opened and whose ears are unstopped, and who have by the grace of God entered into covenant relationship to him through faith in the Redeemer, these are now being fed, strengthened as never before by the message of grace and truth. "Helping hands" and "Bible Keys" are ready for these, that they may enter fully into the precious things of the divine provision and feast thereon and grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. It is to these that the words of our text are specially applicable.


Having found the class addressed by our Savior we rejoice with them in the grand scope of his promise this class may have whatever they wish. God's Word is the guarantee! How could a richer promise be given? Let us see what they will ask for and how greatly they will be prospered by reason of the privilege granted them.

Will they ask for earthly riches and become millionaires? No; they will remember that they exchanged earthly blessings for heavenly ones in their consecration vow, when they presented their bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, their reasonable service. They therefore cannot ask for earthly riches, blessings they cannot pray to become millionaires.

Can they not petition for honor and power for themselves? No; for the Master himself said that if any man will become his disciple he must take up his cross and follow him, and that the disciple cannot be above his Lord, and if they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, still more may they be expected to say respecting his inferior servants. They therefore cannot pray for earthly name or fame. But may they not pray for the temporal prosperity of the Lord's work, the building of churches and the removal of debt encumbrances, etc? We answer, No; they have no authority in the words of Jesus to thus pray nor indeed to contract any debts in his name.

May they then pray for physical health for healing from disease especially that they may be strong physically to do much service for the Lord and his cause? No; because nothing in the Master's words has given them authority thus to pray nor right to thus expect. The Master healed not himself neither did he heal any of his disciples of physical ills, nor were the gifts of the spirit conferred upon some in the early church, so far as we have any record, not used upon the apostles or any of the church, but merely upon the world and this as a sign or evidence of divine power a prophecy of the coming blessing of restitution of all things during the Millennium. (Acts 3:19.) But some may inquire, even though Jesus did not specifically say that we should pray for physical health and did not heal any of his disciples, and although the apostles healed none of the brethren but merely counseled them to diet themselves. (1 Tim. 5:23) in cases of illness, is there anything that would forbid us to take such a position today forbid us to pray for physical healing? Did the Lord ever utter a word to the effect that his disciples ought not to pray? We answer that although he did not specify that we might not pray, in so many words, his general teaching was to the contrary that he who seeketh to live, preserve his life, shall lose it; and that he who is willing to lose, to sacrifice, his life as one of his disciples, walking in his footsteps, shall find it shall gain eternal life.

This, we note, is the very essence of the covenant that all of the Lord's disciples are invited to make in order to become members of his body. Our Lord's words are, whosoever will be my disciple, let him take up his cross, deny himself and follow me present his body a living sacrifice. As then our bodies by covenant are sacrificed, where would be the privilege of soliciting in prayer a divine [HGL384] interposition to hinder the sacrifice from being accepted? Let us not forget the words of our Lord respecting the work accomplished at the second coming, "Gather my saints together unto me, saith the Lord, they that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." And not merely those who have made the covenant to sacrifice, but particularly those who to the extent of their ability have kept that covenant by sacrificing. It is of this class that our Lord declares, "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels." Mal. 3:17.

Of the Lord it is declared that his victory was attained through the things which he suffered and it is also declared that our final victory depends upon our suffering with him, "for if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." Rom. 8:17.


The apostle remarks that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (Jas. 5:16.) The only righteous ones there are from the divine standpoint are those mentioned in our text, namely, those who are abiding in Christ. They are reckoned as righteous, as perfect, because their blemishes are all covered by the robe of Christ's merit. Their effectual and fervent prayers must be in accord with the limitations of our text, namely, in accord with the words of our Lord otherwise they would not avail much. So now our query is, "For what may these special ones of this little flock ask the Father, with the full assurance of faith that they shall have it?"

Ah, we reply, those who reach this glorious station reach a place where they have little confidence in their own judgment of what would be for their highest welfare or for the highest welfare of their friends, or of the greatest service to the Lord's cause. Hence, in their humility and appreciation of their own unwisdom, they would be disposed rather to prefer that the divine will should be done, and not to interfere with the operation thereof. Those who attain this position of abiding in Christ and having his word abide richly in them are surely in a position in which they have a clearer conception than others of what God has done in the past and is doing now and purposes yet to accomplish in his own due time. And as they get glimpses of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love and mercy of God toward themselves, their families, their neighbors, yea all the families of the earth, they wonder and adore; and instead of feeling desirous of instructing the Lord to do further along lines of their ideas, they feel so humble and so full of reverence toward Him that they can only praise Him for His loving kindness and gratefully accept His provisions neither could they ask for more. They have already received more than they could have asked or thought, and they perceived that the divine plan is so comprehensive as to be beyond the power of improvement by them. And as for themselves, they learn to have the Lord choose their inheritance for them and choose the way in which they should go most safely, most securely, most swiftly, to obtain all the riches of His grace and the glorious provision that is made for their eternal future as well as for the present life and promised them in the future more than they could have asked, according to the richness of his grace and loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

However, the attainment of this the Christian's ideal condition as outlined by the Master's words of our text does not mean that they will not have further need or desire to use the throne of the heavenly grace. They will have such need, but they will use it chiefly as a place to offer incense of thankfulness to the Lord for what he has already done for them, a place to leave their purposes great and small, realizing that the "Father himself loveth them," cares for their interests, and is according to his gracious promise making all things work together for good to them that love him. Their songs and prayers take on continually more and more of the quality of thankfulness, praise, faith, hope, confidence and less and less do they have desire to ask for earthly things or to in any measure seek to move the divine arm, which already is actively engaged in the deliverance of his people and all the families of the earth from the bondage of sin and death. Wondering and adoring, thanking and praising, we fear to touch matters that involve so much.


The apostle here expresses the sentiment, the spirit, the disposition of the class addressed in our text. Their whole lives become a psalm of thankfulness to the Lord, every word, every act of life is so intimately associated with the Lord and his will and so thoroughly submitted to the divine will, as to be a part of the general prayer which from these is continually ascending, that the Lord's will may be done in their hearts, and that his kingdom may come throughout the world.

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