Pittsburgh Gazette, April 1, 1906


Pastor C T Russell preached to a large congregation here this afternoon from the text, "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." -John 1:29.

The speaker said:

Our text refers not to the sins of the world in the plural, but to the sin of the world in the singular. From the Divine standpoint sin had its beginning in one act of disobedience on the part of our first parents; but the sentence of that sin falling upon them, a death sentence, has gradually affected and undermined their powers, mental, moral and physical, until as a result imperfection, weakness, depravity, sin, is somehow associated with almost every word and deed of the children of men. In some measure the world is responsible for this general depravity but in the general sense it is not responsible, because these tendencies toward sin were inherited.

Mark the apostle's words on the subject- "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death as the result of sin; and thus death has pawed upon all men because all are sinners." (Rom. 5:12.) Note again the statement of scripture that we are "born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive us." (Psa. 51:5.) We are not responsible therefore for the general fact that we have inherited these blemishes, but we are responsible to the extent we may have cooperated with sin, and intensified its blight in our own persons and in our children.

Thank God that the light of Divine truth, which came into the world with the presence of our Savior, which set up a standard amongst the people, has had the effect of blessing in proportion as its influence has been accepted, and these lighter portions of the earth we call civilization. But, alas, how unsatisfactory our civilization is! How far from purity our types of Christianization! How few there are today who could say with the apostle, brethren, be ye followers of us, even as we are followers of the Lord Jesus (I Cor. 11:1.) How few there are even reckonedly, in the spirit of their minds, in their daily life, in their daily course, walking not after the flesh but after the spirit.


Thus we discern that there is a general sin in the world, that it is in our blood, in our organization from birth, and the child of but a day is a participant in this sin, in this sinful condition that God disapproves and has declared to be unworthy of eternal life-worthy of death. In other words, our race is not worthy of perpetuation, is the Divine decree. The general penalty against this universal condition of sin is the one originally pronounced against father Adam, and still resting upon the world of mankind in general- "Dying thou shalt die." Death is upon all because all arc sinners under this general sentence pronounced in Eden. [HGL884] As already intimated, it is possible for the individuals of the race to either strive against this downward tendency in which they were born or to fall in line with it, and hurry down the broad road of destruction more rapidly. For such as run in the way of sin, practicing iniquity, the Lord declares there is additional responsibility-they are worthy of stripes. Some evil-doers get thew stripes, chastisements, in the present life through the natural course of affairs. Sowing to the flesh they reap the rewards of their wrong course under what we sometimes term natural laws. As, for instance, the libertine in many instances brings upon himself temporal and distressing sickness, which hastens his death and increases his sorrows and troubles.

In many other instances, however, the innocent suffer through laws of heredity as much as do the willful transgressors, and hence there could be no evening up of matters to an exact point of justice were there no provision for a future life, a future probation. The infant of a day suffering from some loathsome disease unjustly shares with its parents the penalty upon wrong-doing. The divine law might have left us in this position as a race and have done nothing for us. justice could offer no plea on behalf of the suffering infant or other innocents, because the decree of justice against Adam and all of his posterity is that by disobedience and by inherited blemishes they are found unworthy of everlasting life-worthy of death. Hence justice decrees that any and everything which tends to hasten death amongst mankind is working out the sentence of justice, "Dying thou shalt die."


We will notice presently in what way the Lord takes away the sin of the church-the sins of believers in Jesus; but now we call attention to the fact that our text does not discuss this matter, but on the contrary deals with sin as a whole and the world of sinners as a whole. It points us to the fact that our Lord's mission is to take away the sin of the world-to take away the general blight and curse of death which came upon all mankind through Adam's disobedience. To accomplish this work two steps were necessary: (I)Justice must be satisfied, a legal redemption must be effected. When we look out over the world and note the 600,000,000 living today, and reckon up the thousands of millions who have died, our hearts would fail us as we would think of how a recompense could be made to Justice which would offset the obligation, the sins of all these.

But man's extremity is God's opportunity. As we look into the word of God we find that divine wisdom had foreseen the entire matter and had arranged for it in advance. If each individual of our race had been personally sentenced for his own misdeeds, his own shortcomings, then indeed it would have required as a corresponding price that some one should die for each individual in order to release that one from death. This would be an awful proposition-that twenty thousand millions of perfect men must die as redeemers for 20,000,000,000 of sinners. Where would such redeemers be found? Nowhere. Not a man on earth was found perfect, or capable of being his brother's redeemer. As we read, "Them is none righteous, no not one;" and again, "all have sinned and come short;" "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." (Rom. 3:10, 23; Psa. 49:7.) Where, we ask, is the remedy, the hope?

Ah, we must look to God! Hearkening to the Divine message, we hear its statement that all mankind were tried and condemned with Father Adam, the payment of his death sentence, would not only redeem him from the curse, but likewise redeem all who are in him when he came under that death sentence. How amazing the Divine wisdom! This very fact, that once in our blindness we supposed was injustice toward us, is really an evidence of Divine foreknowledge and Divine mercy. God condemned the race as a whole that he might have mercy upon the race as a whole. "As by man came death, so also by man came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor. 15:21, 22.)

The meaning is very plain, very simple. We know how we all inherit sin and death conditions through Father Adam. We see the imperfections all about us, we feel many of them in us; and now we learn that as we have thus inherited blemishes and sins and imperfections and death, another one has acted on our behalf, has paid the penalty; and that by coming into relationship with him, by being regenerated, begotten again, born again, we may inherit eternal life through him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood.


From the foregoing we perceive that there are two steps necessary to the release of humanity from its present thraldom to sin and death: (1) It was necessary that the penalty against Father Adam should be paid to justice. (2) It is necessary that Adam and any of his posterity to be blessed must come into relationship to the Redeemer-must be regenerated, obtain a new life. The first father or life- giver, Adam, not only failed to keep the life bestowed upon him in his creation but failed to hand it down to his posterity. His children have been produced under sin-and-death conditions, suffering and dying.

The scriptures tell us that this satisfaction of Justice for the sin of the world was somehow connected with the death of our Lord Jesus Christ-that, "he died the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God." (I Pet. 3:18.) He has died, yet the world has not yet been brought to God. Indeed, amazing as the proposition may seem, the world as a whole gets farther away from God day by day. Counting all the population of civilized lands as though they were Christians-though many of them are really as much without God as the poor, ignorant ones whom we designate heathen-we find that those who are put down in statistics as the heathen people of the world are twice as many as they were a century ago, although the past century has been the most remarkable of all the world's history in the endeavor to carry the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth. How shall we understand this matter? Is the Divine plan miscarrying?

No, we answer. Other scriptures must be allowed to assist in clarifying our views of how the great plan of God is outworking. Other scriptures assure us that before the times of restitution of all things, before the time of the blotting out of the curse, when "there shall be no mom curse, no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying" [HGL885] before that time shall come, God proposes the election or selection of a little flock, a kingly class, a royal priesthood, associated with the Redeemer in His work of glory during the millennial age. These very properly in the scriptures are called both a "peculiar people" and a "little flock." (Titus 2:14; Luke 12:32.) The work of their selection began with our Lord's ministry, and especially at Pentecost.


The selecting work has since progressed, and we have reason for believing that the number of the elect is almost complete, that the time of the permission of evil for their testing in faith and obedience is nearly at an end. When completed the church as the bride of Christ will be glorified with Him, to sit upon His throne.

We see, then, that it is the Divine purpose that this elect class, now being selected from amongst the world shall have the spirit of Christ-the spirit of self-sacrifice, the spirit of love for righteousness, the spirit of hatred for sin-to such an extent that they will rejoice to lay down their lives with their Master, in his cause, in cooperating with Him, under His direction and guid-ance. Thus we see that while the merit was in our Lord and in His sacrifice for sins nevertheless the world is waiting for the finding of the elect and for their glorification as the sons of God. Before they can be glorified they must be proven, they must be tested, they must be sacrificers.

In harmony with this is the scriptural exhortation, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God (in providing the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, including your sins, and in giving you a knowledge of His grace in advance of the world), that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God and your reasonable service."


While the sin of the world will be legally cancelled as soon as the great Redeemer shall make the application of His sacrifice to that end, and while this will be an instantaneous work, nevertheless the applying of the benefits of that work to mankind will be gradual, and will require all of the thousand years of the millennial reign of Christ and His church. Some grasp the one part of this work, some grasp the other feature, but few seem to see the absolute necessity of both features-the redemption of the world by the payment of the price, the death of Jesus and the restoration of the world, its uplifting. Respecting the first of these many scriptures could be cited, but we merely quote you one. The Apostle says, speaking of our Lord and His sacrifice, "Now once in the end of this age hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Heb. 9:26.) The sin of the world is not yet put away, but we are nearing the time therefor. The Apostle tells us that in the end of this age our Lord will appear a second time, not as a sin offering but unto salvation-first for the salvation of the church, the bride, to glorify her with Himself, and secondly for the salvation of the world. As at the first advent the sacrifice for sins was made, at the second advent the putting away of the sins will be accomplished. This putting away, as we have already seen, is first a judicial putting away, or a Divine acceptance of Christ's sacrifice and the approval of the introduction of the Millennial Reign of Christ for the world's uplift out of sin and death.

Notice that the Apostle describes this and tells of the time when sins will be blotted out-that it will be at the second coming of Christ-that it will be during the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began-that it will be a time of refreshing from God's presence. (Acts 3:19 -23.) Now not even the church's sins are blotted out, merely, as the Apostle declares, the sins of believers are covered, the merit of Christ's righteousness is imputed to them as a robe of righteousness, a wedding garment covers the blemishes of the flesh, their hearts being true and loyal to the Lord. But when that which is perfect is come there will be no need of such a covering; and the perfect will come at the second coming of our Lord, when in the first resurrection the Father shall raise us by His power to glory, honor, immortality, in association with our Redeemer.


But the instantaneous work of the first resurrection, by which the church will be made like her Lord in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, does not appertain to the world in general nor to the sins of the world. The sins of the world are not covered by Christ's robe now, for to those whom He accepts as His faithful He declares, "Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world, for I have chosen you out of the world." (John 17:16; 15:19.) The world is still in its sins, but as soon as the church shall have been glorified the Great Redeemer will make general application of the merit of His sacrifice for the whole world, and the sins of the world will be judiciously cancelled in that moment in that instant. Thereafter there will be nothing to hinder the restitution of any who will to all the perfections and blessings which God is pleased to bestow upon those who are in His favor.


A few moments ago we noticed that had not the Divine plan made provision for a resurrection of the dead, there would have been no evening up of accounts as between those who in the present life have sought to live justly and honorably and those who on the contrary have deliberately violated right principles. But in the arrangement which we find scripturally set forth there is a provision whereby those who now seek to walk in the ways of righteousness will then find their blessing for having so done, while those who have wilfully transgressed will now find a retribution. Not merely believers in Christ and consecrated followers in his footsteps have sought to stem the downward tendencies of the fallen flesh and to rise to higher and nobler conditions of mind and deed. Yet only the church, the sanctified believers, get the blessing for which the Lord is now calling the little flock, the peculiar people.

Even amongst the heathen there have been some wonderfully noble characters- Confucius, for instance, as an illustration, an example. Likewise in civilized lands many noble people have never seen with clearness the reasonableness of a full faith in and a full consecration to the service of the Lord Jesus. Such, having sought to live justly and honorably in the world, will be advantaged in the coming [HGL886] age; they will come forth on a higher plane proportionately; mentally, morally, every way they will be superior to what they would have been had they not put forth efforts for righteousness. It still shall be required of them that they go on to perfection, but they will have fewer rungs of the ladder to climb than if they had misused their opportunities and privileges. Similarly those in the present life who have misused their opportunities, and degraded themselves and brought degradation upon others, in proportion as they knew better they will undoubtedly, as the Master declared, receive stripes or punishments. That is to say, they will find themselves that much nearer the foot of the ladder, and with that many more efforts necessary to be put forth to gain its topmost round, eternal life, perfection.

How much mom reasonable this scriptural view is than would be any of the usual thoughts on this subject amongst Christians. Roman Catholics, with their view of purgatory and varying terms of incarceration and varying degrees of suffering, have gone outside of anything that is set forth as a basis of faith in God's word. Besides, their thought that the saying of prayers will relieve from these and cancel years of suffering is inconsistent with anything found in the scriptures. Protestant views, that only those fit for heaven go to heaven and that all others go to an eternity of woe, are thoroughly inconsistent, especially when they claim that there is no hope of relief, no hope of mitigation. If only those who are fit for heaven are received there, how few will enter in! It will be a little flock indeed.

Contrast such unreasonable propositions with the simplicity of the divine plan: The church, the sacrificers, the bride of Christ, glorified with him in his kingdom, rewarded for all their sufferings and self-denials, exceedingly and abundantly more than they could have asked or thought. The world, coming forth to a fair and equitable trial, in which the conduct of the present life will have its weight and bearing on the advantages of the future life, and all with the prospect, if they will, of reaching life eternal through the merit of him who, as the Lamb of God, died for the cancellation of their guilt, and shall at his second coming under the blessed influences of His kingdom, lift them out of sin and degradation and death conditions up to full human perfection, restoring to them the Edenic home and utterly destroying in the second death such as will not hear and obey the laws of His kingdom.


It is not the sacrificing of the church that takes away the sin of the world. We have nothing to sacrifice that would be acceptable at the bar of justice except those blessings which are counted ours through faith in Christ. Our sacrificing therefore, is merely a test of our loyalty and devotion; the merit of the sacrifice for sins is all in the Lamb of God-all in our Lord Jesus. And so the scriptures everywhere differentiate between the Lord and His perfection and the Church, which comes into Divine favor through Christ's robe of righteousness, under His merit. The highest honor declared respecting the church is that she shall occupy a position which figuratively is described as that of a bride and joint heir. She is to be "the bride, the Lamb's wife." Having attested her loyalty to principles of righteousness by suffering with her Master now in the present time, she shall be counted worthy to share with him the honors of his throne, as he declared, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." 'Rev. 3:21.

The expression, "Lamb of God," is a very forceful one. Man would not choose such a symbol as Divine inspiration has chosen. Look at all the emblems of heraldry and note how various ferocious beasts and birds are used as symbols of the earthly great; some have the lion, some the unicorn, some have dragons, others eagles, others foxes, others wolves, tiger's heads, etc., emblems indicating the ferociousness and rapaciousness of the character behind, when it even did not intend to tell of its ungainly qualities, but sought rather to glorify itself. But look at our Lord's emblem, a meek, innocent, gentle lamb. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, tells us that he was specially commissioned of God to bear this witness at the beginning of Jesus' ministry-that Jesus was the "Lamb of God," that he was the gentle, patient, unmurmuring one who would die on our behalf, that we by his stripes might be healed; that through his paying for us the death penalty, ultimately the whole world of mankind would be released from death, and so many of them as will would be brought up out of sin and death conditions to the full perfection of life everlasting.

John cried, "Behold the Lamb of God." Let us behold him-not as the Pharisees and Scribes did with eyes of malice and envy and hatred. Let us look at him in the light of the Divine revelation, and perceive that he was without spot or blemish- that "in him was no sin" -that "he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." How came it that all this perfection should be found in Jesus?

The scriptures answer our query, and assure us that he was not born like others of the race-that while he received his human organization from his mother, the life principle was from above, and that by the selective processes of perfection even in his embryo condition he maintained himself in mind and every attribute perfectly. The scriptures tell us that he was thus born of a woman, separate from sinners, was previously with the Father, from before the foundation of the world- indeed that he had been the Father's special representative in the creative work, as it is written, "All things were made by him, and without him was not one thing made that was made."

The more we look into the Divine word the more astonished are we with the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love and wisdom, justice and power of God which are being revealed to us through his Son and through the great plan of salvation. It will do us good, dear brethren and sisters, not only for the week beginning, I trust, but for the remainder of life, to frequently hearken to thew words of the prophet, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Day by day we may behold him, more hilly more completely, as the eyes of our understanding open more and more widely and as we become more and more informed respecting the Divine plan of which he is the hub, the very center. And as we learn of him. and come more to admire him, let us not forget that all who are to be members of his bride clan, joint-heirs with him in the kingdom, must in order to attain this position, become copies of God's dear Son.

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