The National Labor Tribune June 17, 1906


Cleveland, O., June 17 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today to large and attentive audiences of Bible students. One of his discourses was a defence of the Bible entitled, "To Hell and Back."

The other which we here report, was based upon the text, "For this cause he is the Mediator of the New Covenant." Heb. 9:15

On the last Lord's Day we considered the picture of our Lord Jesus as the Church's Advocate, "He ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us" – for consecrated believers. Today we examine another picture, representing our Lord's glory and work – that of the Mediator between God and man – "the Mediator of the New Covenant."

Our Lord Jesus has already begun this work as a Mediator between God and man, but only begun it. The great bulk of the work of mediation lies in the future and will be accomplished during the Millennial age. The two parties to be mediated, harmonized, are God and man.

God, the righteous Judge, condemned our first parents to death as unworthy to be the divine representatives in the earth because of their disobedience to his command, which was no direct promise of any mercy, but dropped a hint merely when pronouncing the "curse," in the suggestion that ultimately the seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head. For two thousand years no direct promise was made. The first positive statement of divine mercy toward humanity was made to Abraham, and the Apostle calls this the first preaching of the Gospel – the good tidings of salvation. He says, "God preached the Gospel to Abraham in advance, saying, In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Gen. 22:18


This the Apostle refers to as the "everlasting" Covenant, because it is one that could not fail or pass away without absolute fulfilment. It contains no conditions or limitations which might fail. On the contrary it was doubly assured by the fact that the Lord made oath to it, that by two unfailing testimonies, the divine word and the divine oath, God's people from that day to the present time might have absolute confidence that in God's due time that promise, that Covenant, will be absolutely and most literally fulfilled.

God himself undertook to find for Abraham a seed, and guaranteed the competency and success of that seed and its ability and power in blessing all nations. This left nothing for Abraham to do but to thank God and take courage, and seek to show throughout the remainder of his life his appreciation of the grace of God. Similarly all of the Lord's faithful people from that day until the present may trust this Oath-Bound Covenant.

Although the nearly 4,000 years intervening may seem to us a long period, nevertheless faith is to firmly trust that when God's due time shall come all of his good purposes shall be accomplished. This first great Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, is not the one several times referred to in the Scriptures as being found unprofitable and passing away and being superseded by the New Covenant. No! No! This Abrahamic Covenant had no mediator, as the Apostle pointed out (Gal. 3:17-20), because it had no conditions. It was merely a one-sided statement on God's part – it bound him and him alone. Hence the appointment of a mediator to see to the carrying out of the provisions of that Covenant would have been inconsistent. Wherever, therefore, the Covenant with a Mediator is referred to in the Scriptures, the Abrahamic Covenant is surely not meant.


The Hebrew people were rather inclined to forget and ignore the Abrahamic Covenant because of the impression which they had that the Law Covenant instituted at Sinai, with Moses as its mediator and with the nation of Israel as its beneficiaries, had superseded or included all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Hence they were continually looking to Moses and the Law and endeavoring to keep the Law. Without finding fault with their so doing, the Apostle points out that God's purpose in the matter was entirely misapprehended by the Jews. God knew that the Law Covenant, which offered life to any one who would keep the Law, would fail to bless the Jews; and the Apostle points out that the design of the Law Covenant was something else entirely, namely, to show the Jews and to show all mankind the impossibility of fallen man so keeping the divine Law perfectly as to be worthy of everlasting life under its provisions – "The man [NS361] which doeth these things shall live by them." Rom. 10:5

Hence the Apostle argues that just as all the remainder of the world realized that they were blemished and imperfect, that they did not come up to their own highest standards of righteousness even, but found their consciences sometimes accusing and sometimes endeavoring to excuse them, so the Jew found that the Law given to him at Sinai did not justify him before God but condemned him.

Thus, the Apostle argues, the entire world stands before the Lord condemned, the Jews with their written Law, condemned because they did not and could not keep it – the Gentiles without a written Law, but with a sufficiency of light, of intelligence, to condemn them all, acknowledge themselves imperfect sinners and hence unworthy of life everlasting. Thus, says the Apostle, God's arrangement with every nation is such that their mouths might be stopped and all the world be recognized as guilty before God and unworthy of everlasting life. Why did God wish thus to convict the whole world of unrighteousness and of inability to lift themselves out of the horrible pit and miry clay of sin?

He did this as a lesson preparatory to his manifestation to the world of his grace, his mercy, in the forgiveness of sins to those who will accept divine forgiveness and reconciliation when made available. So then the Apostle argues that the Law Covenant made nothing perfect, but merely served as a mirror to display to the best of the Israelites their own weaknesses and imperfections, and the fact that their sole reliance must be upon the Lord's mercy – that they must not hope to justify themselves in God's sight by works of the Law, but be prepared to receive everlasting life as a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. But while the Law condemned Jews in general and justified none of them, it did serve another purpose, namely, as a test for the Lord Jesus, for he was born under the Law, was required to keep its every injunction, was found thoroughly obedient to its most exacting demands, and was thus demonstrated to be not only the perfect one but loyal in perfection even unto death.


The Apostle shows, that whereas the Hebrews thought that their Law Covenant was a blessing to them, it really brought upon them a second curse or condemnation. As members of the race of Adam they were already under Adamic condemnation, but by reason of this Law Covenant, made with that nation only at Sinai, they came under a second sentence, as it is written, "Cursed (condemned to death) is every one that continueth not in all the words of this Law to do them."

This "curse of the Law" (Gal. 3:10-13), therefore, would seem to put the Hebrews at a disadvantage as a doubly condemned people, and hence the Apostle pointed out that it was necessary on this account that our Lord Jesus should be born a Jew, born under the Law, that he might redeem Adam and all who shared his death sentence. (Gal. 4:4, 5)

So then by reason of God's arrangement the Jews had the special tuition of the Law Covenant, and were made a spectacle to angels and to men in their endeavors to keep the Law and in their failure, and yet in God's providence they will suffer no loss eventually from this. Why should the Law Covenant be made at all, since it did not give eternal life to the Jews, and God fore-knew that it would not do so? We answer that the Law was a schoolmaster to prepare the Jews for Christ and his message. (Gal. 3:24, 25)

The Apostle assures us that although the Law Covenant did not give eternal life to any Jew, nevertheless it was of much advantage to them everyway, chiefly because it committed to their care the divine oracles – the writings of the Law, the typical services of the Tabernacle and Temple, and the messages of God through the prophets. True, these prophecies were not for them but for Spiritual Israelites later, as the Apostle Peter, declares, "Not unto themselves but unto us did they minister the things now freely reported unto us by the holy Spirit from heaven." (1 Pet. 1:12)

Spiritual Israel is blessed by the meaning of those types and shadows of the past, and by an understanding of the mystery of the divine plan presented in those types and prophecies. But Natural Israel obtained a great blessing in connection with the handling of those things, the perpetuation of the types, etc., etc.


The Apostle assures us that the death of Christ for the redemption of them that were under that Law Covenant released them from its thralldom. Hence every Jewish believer might properly sing: "Free from the law, O happy condition! Jesus, our Lord, has purchased remission."

The Apostle tells us that the Law Covenant terminated at the cross so far as concerned every Jew who accepted Christ as the end of the Law. (Rom. 10:4)

The other Jews who did not accept Christ will not be free from their Law Covenant until they do accept him and confess him. As for those of us who were not Jews by nature but Gentiles, we never were under the Law Covenant, and hence were never redeemed from its curse or sentence, but we are under the Adamic condemnation, and the same sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary "once for all people" was a divine arrangement. It settles the Adamic condemnation for us who believe, as it settled [NS362] the Adamic condemnation and also the Mosaic condemnation for every Jew that believes. The question then arises, If the Law Covenant has ceased for the Jew, and if no covenant was ever made with the Gentiles, where do we stand today? Under what covenant do Christians rest their hope? On what foundation do they base their faith? We reply in the language of the Apostle that the Law Covenant was added (to the Abrahamic Covenant) until the promised seed should come. Since Christ nailed the Law Covenant to the cross, having fulfilled it, there remains merely the one, the Abrahamic Covenant. It can never pass away, it is the Oath-Bound Covenant, the "Everlasting Covenant."

Our Lord's sacrifice is referred to by the Apostle as the "blood of the everlasting Covenant." (Heb. 13:20)

It was in view of our Lord's sacrificial death as a sin offering that Jehovah God made that Oath-Bound Covenant with Abraham, saying, "In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed." [Gen. 22:18]

When our Lord Jesus proved himself loyal and faithful even unto death, "even the death of the cross," his blood, his sacrifice, in obedience to the divine Law, constituted him the seed of Abraham, and the Father raised him up on the third day and highly exalted him, giving him a name above every name, and fully empowering him to carry out all the provisions of that Abrahamic Covenant – to "bless all the families of the earth." [Gen. 12:3]

We who are received of the Lord as the Spiritual Israelites through faith and consecration base our faith upon that original Abrahamic Covenant. It is true that many today, like the Jews of old, suppose another Covenant necessary in order to make the Abrahamic Covenant effective. The Abrahamic Covenant was effective and a blessing to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before the Law Covenant was given to all, and the Law Covenant, as we have just seen, condemned instead of justifying. The Apostle tells us that it was 430 years afterward that the Law Covenant was added to the Abrahamic Covenant. (Gal. 3:17)

Similarly now we are not under the New Covenant, but we are better off because we are not under it. In due time, during the Millennial age, the New Covenant will be in effect, but in the interim of this Gospel age the Spiritual Israelites are justified through faith and not through works of the Law. The Apostle explains this whole matter in Galations 3, vs. 10-12, which show that every Jew was under a special curse or sentence because of failure to live up to the terms of the Law Covenant. V. 13 shows how Christ was made a curse, or subjected to a special ignominy for the Jew.

V. 14 points out that as through Christ's death Gentiles were permitted to come under this Abrahamic Covenant, so also the Jews are permitted to rise to a higher plane than being merely the natural seed of Abraham and to become spiritua1 Israelites. Then the Apostle proceeds (vs. 15-29) to show that God's provision now is that all who reclaim Christ by faith and who by consecration become reckonedly members of his body – all these, whether by nature Jews or Gentiles – are now one in Christ Jesus, and constitute together the seed of Abraham mentioned in the Abrahamic Covenant – the seed in which all the families of the earth are, in due time, to receive a blessing.


The picture presented in the Scriptures is that our Lord Jesus is the heir of all things under that Abrahamic Covenant – nothing remains under it for the Jew, nor for us Christians, nor for anybody else. Christ has fulfilled the Law and he personally is the seed of Abraham, and in him alone center all of God's promises for the blessing of the world. However, in the divine plan, during this Gospel age, a call has been sent out first amongst the Jews and subsequently amongst all nations to gather a "little flock" – not many great, not many wise, not many learned, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, to constitute what the Scriptures figuratively call the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heirs. If under this call of the Gospel age we become the Bride of Christ and if joint-heirs, then, as the Apostle declares, we will be heirs with Jesus of the Abrahamic Covenant – associated with him in the great work of carrying out that covenant in the blessing of all the families of the earth. The Apostle's words are, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29

The condition upon which the Lord is now selecting the Bride class is that the acceptable ones must exercise the faith, and that to such an extent that they will gladly consecrate their lives to the Lord's service and in opposition to sin. Of these consecrated ones the Apostle declares that they are "heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, if so be we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together." (Rom. 8:17)

They are called during the time when Satan is the prince of this world, and sin abounds, in order that they make the demonstration of their loyalty and zeal, fighting the good fight of faith under the care and protection and provision and assistance of the Heavenly Bridegroom. These are all volunteers whose Sacrifice and sacrifices are proved by love. "The love of Christ constraineth us." [2 Cor. 5:14]


Now we come to consider the New Covenant, its teaching and those to whom it's given and to whom it will be extended when the proper time comes. To the natural seed to whom God gave the Law Covenant through which they could have obtained eternal life and the Kingdom on earth, God made the promise of a [NS363] better Covenant than they had been under, and which resulted in condemnation. They needed a redemption. The Apostle reasons that when the Lord designated this future blessing a New Covenant, it implied that the former one, the Law Covenant, would be found unprofitable, and would hence be set aside or "vanish away," giving place to a new and better one. The Apostle declares also that this New Covenant is a "better Covenant," and adds, "For if that first (previous or Law) Covenant had been faultless, then would no place have been sought for a second. For finding fault with them, he said, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and house of Judah: not according to the (Law) Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt. ... This is the Covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their minds and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord:' for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Heb. 8:6-12

This detailed statement respecting the New Covenant to be made with Israel "after those days" – after the Gospel age has intervened, between their casting off and their being received again – is quoted from the prophecies. (See Jer. 31:31; Zech. 8:8; Isa. 54:13)

All of these prophecies belong to the Millennial age, none of them to the present age. It is not true now, and has not been true at any time during this Gospel age, either of the Jews or of the Christians, that the divine law was so written in their hearts that they needed not to teach one another and to be taught "Know thou the Lord."

On the contrary, this has been the lesson of the entire Gospel age – to know the Father and the Son, whom to know is life everlasting. The New Covenant, therefore, clearly belongs to the future.


In full accord with the foregoing is the Apostle's picture of the installation of the New Covenant, as set forth in Heb. 12:18-28. The Apostle here uses the marching of the firstborn out of Egypt, accompanied by all the remainder of Israel, and their gradual approach to Mount Sinai, where the Law Covenant was inaugurated at the hands of Moses, as a type or picture of how the Church of the First Born, delivered from the power of Satan, the antitype of Pharoah, and followed by all who desire to recognize the true God and to engage in his service, have been for 1,800 years approaching the antitype of Mount Sinai, namely, Mount Zion, the Kingdom of God's Son. Our Lord Jesus, the antitype of Moses, is the Mediator of this New Covenant. He has led us from Egypt and will lead us eventually to Mount Zion, the Heavenly Kingdom for which he has taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." [Matt. 6:10]

His work is not merely for the Church of the First-Born, the Royal Priesthood, or, in another figure the Bride of Christ, or, underpriests, the members of his Body. These with Jesus their Head, constitute unitedly the great antitypical Prophet, Priest and King, the Mediator of the New Covenant, that is to bless and uplift the world during the Millennial age. At the appropriate time Mount Zion, the Kingdom condition, will be reached and all of the Mediator class will ascend to the Kingdom – be changed to spirit nature. In the type this was shown by Moses going up alone into a mountain. Joshua, his servant, who subsequently joined him, may be here representative of the Great Company class, the tribulation saints of Revelation 7.

Later Moses came down to the people, but covered with a vail. And similarly, after the glorification of the Church and an intermediate period of trouble, the Lord and the Church will be present amongst men, be vailed from human sight, spirit beings, present but invisible to humanity, for their instruction and uplifting. The Apostle shows the intensity of distress amongst men that may be expected at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, the reaching of the Mount Zion condition, the Kingdom condition. This coming trouble, he tells us, was typified in the symbolical lightning and thundering and shaking at Mount Sinai. The shaking of the earth then will have an antitypical fulfilment by the trouble here, by the shaking of society or unsettling of all the institutions of this world, financial, social and religious, a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, is the description given by the Prophet Daniel. (Dan. 12:1)

In that terrible shaking time the Apostle assures us that everything will be shaken that needs shaking, everything that is wrong, contrary to righteousness – only that which is established can stand. The Apostle assures us that we who receive this Zion Kingdom or Millennial Kingdom and become joint-heirs with Christ in it shall receive one which will be unshakable. The entire description reminds us of the words of the poet, – "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."


The message of the Gospel during this Gospel age attracts only a limited number of mankind, who incline to love righteousness, and it is amongst these that the elect are found. But the vast majority of our race, not only in heathen lands but also in civilized lands, do not love righteousness and hate iniquity so as to be ready to [NS364] die for the right, as is required of those who walk in the narrow way. On the contrary, the vast majority are ready to take that which is most congenial to their flesh, and really walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. They are, therefore, in a condition of alienation and rebellion against God, and the Mediator, Jesus the Head, and the Church, are appointed to the very work of reconciling the world to the Father. There are two steps to this work of reconciliation. One side has already been made sure by the death of Christ.

Our Lord's sacrifice met the demands of justice, and removed every barrier to man's reconciliation so far as God is concerned. But even though men know of God's willingness to receive them back again, the majority are not anxious to return to God's favor at the appointment of the Mediator during the thousand years in which he will do his work of subduing mankind, bringing the world to its senses, giving all an experience with righteousness, a full, clear knowledge respecting the divine character and plan that they may seek the Lord and receive his pardon and blessing.

The entire work of reconciliation is committed to the Mediator, who, by a system of rewards and punishments, will throughout the Millennial age not only cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess, but also search the hearts of all, to the intent that ultimately only those who have love for righteousness will be in his favor and get eternal life, and only those who have love for unrighteousness will be in disfavor and die the Second Death. How great, dear friends, is the privilege now accorded us of coming into harmony with God as members of the body of the world's great Mediator!

How great is our privilege in being adopted into God's family and made joint heirs with his Son, his Bride and joint-heir. Surely for such a grand opportunity of fellowship with the Lord now in the sufferings incidental to his cause in the present time, and the prospect of the coming glory and great work of blessing mankind, we may well lay aside every weight and every besetting sin and run with patience the race set before us.

The National Labor Tribune, June 24, 1906


Springfield, Ill., June 24 – Pastor C. T. Russell addressed large and intelligent audiences here today. In the afternoon he delivered his discourse in defense of the Bible entitled, "To Hell and Back."

In the evening his address, which we here report, was on the text, "We are ambassadors, therefore, on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: We beseech you in Christ's name, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Cor. 5:20

To every thinking person it must appear strange that the great Creator and Upholder of the universe, possessing all power in heaven and in earth, should in any sense of the word countenance sin and rebellion in any part of his dominion. It seems strange, too, that instead of exercising force and power to put down the sin, the omnipotent one should use what the Apostle terms, "The foolishness of preaching," as his agency for appealing to the rebels – the sinners. There is a reason for this apparent inconsistent conduct, and it is fully stated and explained in the Scriptures, which assure us also that it will not always be thus – that by and by the Lord will take control of the world in a different manner, and instead of appealing to mankind through preaching will send forth his commands, with penalties attached thereto for disobedience and rewards for obedience.

We are encouraged in Scriptures to look forward to that new order of things, to expect its inauguration at the second coming of Christ and the establishment of his Millennial Kingdom. We are assured that, as the great King over the earth, in that day he will lay righteousness to the line and justice to the plummet, restrain Satan the great Adversary, fill the earth with a knowledge of the glory of God, and hold every member of the race responsible for a proper use of that knowledge. We are assured that in his day the righteous will flourish and will attain to everlasting life in the glorious Paradise of God, and that evil doers will be cut off in the Second Death. Isa. 28:17; 11:9; Rev. 20:2; Psa. 72:7

However, that statement respecting the future, although so reasonable, causes the Lord's present method of dealing with the world and with the Church to seem more unreasonable. Why does the Almighty permit the "prince of this world," the "god of this world," Satan, to now rule amongst mankind and to hold the control of the vast majority through the power of ignorance, superstition and inherited weaknesses? Why does he use the apparently unwise method of merely appealing through the preaching of his Word to the few who have the hearing ears and understanding hearts? He assures us that he knows and that these are a comparatively small proportion of the human family, "a little flock."

Nevertheless 6000 years have passed since the fall, and the preaching of a coming good time, a coming time of retribution, a coming time of rewards for the righteous and of punishment for the wicked, is all we have yet. This preaching appeals only to those who have some measure of knowledge and of faith, the remainder of the world being unable to profit thereby for lack of these. Why is it thus? persistently follows us. Inquiring for an answer which can come from God alone and which he has given us in the Bible, his inspired Revelation of his [NS365] character and plan, let us hearken for the explanation.


Increasingly large numbers in civilized lands are adopting the theory of the general fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. They assume, contrary to the Scriptures, that man is an evolution from a beast, that God is accountable for his blemishes in that he did not make him perfect, but merely one remove above a monkey, etc., etc.; but this entire theory is so contrary to the Scriptures that those who hold it should make no claim on being Christians. A Christian is one who accepts the Scriptural teaching that man was created in the mental and moral image of God; that he fell therefrom by disobedience to the divine command, that this disobedience and fall made necessary the coming of our Lord Jesus in the flesh to be man's Redeemer, to give his life as a ransom price; that Christ did die, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; that we are "reconciled to God through the death of his Son." [Rom. 5:10]

From this the Scriptural standpoint then we see that it is a mistake to interpret the divine attitude toward man as being a coaxing, pleading one, as though the Father were pleading with his Son, were pleading with us and all the followers of Christ, pleading with the world of mankind. Such a course persisted in for sinners would seem to imply that it was the only course open to the Almighty, that it was this course or none, and if that were the case it would leave us without hope, for do we not know from statistics that there are twice as many heathen in the world today as there were a century ago? and that the proportion of those reconciled to God as compared with those unreconciled is growing continually, a small proportion, a small percentage of the whole? The Scriptural statement of the proposition is the very reverse of all this.

The Bible clearly tells us that God created man in his own image and likeness, forewarning him that disobedience would mean the loss of divine favor and the death of the sinner. We perceive that the race has lost much of the original likeness of the Creator that many of the higher graces of the mind have become impoverished and depleted until man can no longer be called the image of God – indeed in many cases the outlines of the original character have been blurred so that some are almost totally destroyed. All about us we see the prevalence of his degradation, more pronounced amongst some of the descendants of Adam than amongst others but all sadly deficient in true manhood, the earthly image of the Creator. We see this death penalty working in the entire race affecting all mentally, morally and physically.


For over 4000 years God allowed the death penalty, "Dying thou shalt die" to cover the situation without sending to the world a single offer of reconciliation and indeed only vaguely and to the few did the Lord intimate that he would ever offer reconciliation. The one little nation of Israel was favored with special information not granted to the other nations of the world, as the Apostle declares, "What advantage hath the Jew? Much every way, because to them were committed the oracles of God." (Rom. 3:2)

But even the Jews were not offered a full, complete reconciliation, but merely a typical one, foreshadowing the better things that were to come with the Messiah. The Apostle assures us that the Law made nothing perfect, that it was merely a shadow of good things coming afterward, that by the deeds of the Law no flesh could be justified in God's sight. (Rom. 3:20)

But the sacrifices of bulls and goats yearly never took away sin, but merely in a typical manner pointed forward to the "better sacrifices," by which in God's due time he would actually take away sin – the sins of the whole world. Heb. 9:23; 1 John 2:2

True the Apostle declares that the Gospel was preached in advance to Abraham, but it was an indistinct statement and not intended for the world in general – intended for Abraham and his natural seed merely, to the intent that they would be able to exercise faith in the promise. There was no promulgation of the Gospel to the world of mankind until after Jesus had died and risen again and ascended up on high and appeared in the presence of God on our behalf – on behalf of believers.


From that time onward the apostles and all believers were commissioned to be ambassadors for God – to tell whoever had the ear to hear it that Christ had died for our sins, that our Creator was operating in and through him with a view to the ultimate reconciling of the world unto himself, and that now therefore the door of return to divine favor was opened and made accessible to all those that desire this favor – to all who desire to return unto God and be abundantly pardoned and received back into fellowship divine, into the relationship of sons. Question, What took place in connection with the death of Jesus which made this Gospel message possible after his ascension, whereas it was not possible and not given before the death of Jesus? The Scriptures answer that "We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (Rom. 5:10)

The meaning of this statement is that by the death of his Son, God made arrangement or provision by which he could be reconciled to those who desire reconciliation with him. The death of Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God when presented to justice was a sufficient offset to Adam's sin and its death penalty, to work a cancellation of that sin and penalty in the divine reckoning not [NS366] only as the sin and penalty affected Adam, the original transgressor, but also as it affected all of his descendants. Thus again we read, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." 2 Cor. 5:19

Reconciliation between God and man signifies that both parties must be satisfied or reconciled. The Scriptures above quoted could not apply to mankind in general, because many of them were dead already and could not be reconciled to God, and many of us were not yet born and we could not therefore have been reconciled to God at the time his Son died. To apply those Scriptures to man, to have them signify that man experienced reconciliation to God by the death of his Son, would be absurd, because of all the thousands of millions of the race only a small proportion were then living, and only about five hundred had in any sense of the word accepted the Son or come into reconciliation condition through faith in him.

It follows, therefore, that the reconciling that was accomplished by the death of Christ was not the reconciliation of man but the reconciliation of the Father. We have already seen that reconciliation with the Father was necessary, because man had been justly sentenced to death and the sentence of justice is irrevocable – justice requiring to be satisfied before Adam and his race could go free from the penalty. Justice stands as the representative of the divine character, because every divine regulation and operation is along the lines of justice. But there are other divine attributes; one of these is love which cooperated with the divine attribute of justice and provided the man Christ Jesus as a redeemer of the man Adam and the race of human beings which lost life and divine favor through him.


It follows then that divine justice needed to be met first of all before there could be any message of reconciliation sent to the world of mankind – before any invitations could be extended to the fallen race to return unto the Lord that he might abundantly pardon them. This is what the Apostle declares, that Christ died "The just for the unjust that he might bring us to God" – that having satisfied divine justice, having made a reconciliation for our sins so far as God and his justice and sentence were concerned, he might justify believers, he might make known to the world this fact of the removal of the divine sentence, the restoration to divine favor to all those who would approach the Father through the Son, recognizing the merit of his sacrifice as the only basis of reconciliation.

The Father as we have seen held the world at arm's length, figuratively speaking, executing upon them the death sentence, "The wrath of God is revealed" – in the sicknesses, pains, sorrows and all the death-dealing conditions of this present time. The only ones who can have comfort under this arrangement are those who can exercise faith in the promises of God's Word. Those who do exercise faith are called believers, and the measure of their joy and peace under these death-dealing conditions is according to their faith.

Those who can exercise much faith can have much joy and peace and blessing; those who can exercise only a little can have proportionately less; and those who either through ignorance or other depravity of the mind can not exercise faith at all can not have now any of the blessings, because they are exclusively by faith and to the faithful. These see what others do not see because they have the eye of faith – the eyes of their understanding are opened, they accept the Scriptural declaration that "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." [2 Cor. 5:19]

By faith they realize the mercy of God in Christ and apply to themselves their individual share as members of the fallen race, saying with the Apostle, "We were children of wrath even as others," but now we are reconciled, we are brought nigh to God, we are no longer strangers, aliens and foreigners, but of the household of faith and family of God and heirs according to his promises.


The Scriptures assure us that all who have this hearing ear, all who accept this reconciliation with God by faith in the redemptive work of Jesus, are privileged to tell it out to others – it is no longer confined to any one nation or people, but whoever has an ear may hear. It is a fact, nevertheless, that only a few in any nation or kindred or tongue have the hearing ear; it is a fact therefore that only a small number believe, for, as the Apostle declares, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." 2 Cor. 4:4

All these who have been reconciled are commanded, as our text tells us, to be ambassadors on behalf of Christ – to represent Christ, to tell forth to others as he told forth to the apostles the privilege of reconciliation with the Father. As our Lord Jesus told us of the Father's love for mankind, which sent his Son to be our Redeemer, so we may tell of the Father's love; as the Son represented the Father in the message of reconciliation so we are the representatives of the Son in the promulgation of the same message to all who have the hearing ear. We therefore are represented in the Scriptures as being the members of his body – as though Christ were still in the world and still promulgating the message which he declared while he was in the flesh, saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and [NS367] ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matt. 11:28-30

But as Jesus did not convert the whole Jewish nation by his preaching of the good tidings of reconciliation, so his followers, the members of his body, need not expect to convert the whole world with this Gospel message – these good tidings that Jesus has died for our sins, and the original penalty, therefore, in due time shall be rolled away, and that those who know this now and who desire to seek the Father's face may come nigh the throne of heavenly grace through faith in the precious blood. This preaching of the Gospel of reconciliation to God, effected by the blood of the cross, has from the first been to the Greeks foolishness and to the Jews a stumbling block, but only to us who believe in this message the power of God unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16)

These few who are now able to hear, to receive, to appreciate, to enjoy this message, have indeed a peace, a joy, a blessing that is a pearl of great price. Blessed are their ears for they hear, blessed are their eyes for they see! But what about the great majority of mankind, blinded by the god of this world, and who can not come into reconciliation with God at the present time because of their blindness, because of their ignorance, because of their unbelief, because of their inability to believe – What about these? When is it purposed to have their reconciliation effected?


We answer that only the household of faith has experienced this reconciliation with God in the present time. God has left the matter in its present form for the very purpose of selecting this certain class who have the eye of faith and the ears of faith and the obedience of faith. He seeks a peculiar people, a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation. But while God seeketh no others in the present time, the world still has a place in the divine plan. Jesus through his death was a propitiation, a satisfaction for our sins, the Church's sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Hence the time must come when the whole world will receive a blessing through that sacrifice of reconciliation. What the world would consider the foolish way of preaching the Gospel instead of using force, is the divine plan because the Lord seeketh now those who at heart are loyal to the principles of righteousness, and who, when they see the possibility of reconciliation with God, gladly avail themselves of the privilege to lay aside every weight and every besetment of the flesh that they may patiently run the race, endure the tests and enjoy the reconciliation with the Father now. They consider it a privilege to have this reconciliation in the present time even though it cost them the disfellowship, the disfavor of the blinded world.

They are glad at any cost to be on the Lord's side, on the side of truth and righteousness, in opposition to sin in themselves and everywhere. These have the promise not only of the life that now is but of that which is to come. They have greater joys, deeper and purer pleasures than others, and in the world to come are to have glory, honor and immortality and association with their Lord and Redeemer in the work of blessing and uplifting the world of mankind. These who now have the ministry of reconciliation committed unto them find that not many great, not many wise, not many learned, have the hearing ear, and instead of receiving a blessing for their ministry of the truth the world hates them, says all manner of evil against them falsely and opposes them.

Nevertheless they rejoice to be counted worthy, realizing that such experiences are the very ones which the Master had and which he forewarned them to expect. The unfaithful will neglect this opportunity of the ministry of reconciliation and ambassadorship for Christ, and thus will bury their talent in the earth and fail to get the great blessing that will be given to those who have and use these privileges.

By and by the Redeemer and the faithful little flock of his Church, now being selected from amongst men, will be exalted by the Heavenly Father to Kingdom honor, glory, dominion, and power, and it will be then that, under the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be bound, the world will be enlightened as with the Sun of Righteousness and help will be granted to all mankind to return unto God's favor, to be reconciled to him; and it will be then that it will come to pass that whosoever will not obey the mandates of the Kingdom will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death (Acts 3:23), while all the obedient will be perfect, restored to all that was lost in Adam, mental, moral and physical perfection, fellowship with God and life everlasting in an Edenic home.


Some who are reading these discourses weekly in the public prints give evidence of feeling after the true God that they might know him more particularly. Some of these are already Christians – believers in the Calvary sacrifice for sins, and are now coming to a clearer conception of the divine character and plan, and are desirous of entering fully into his favor and thus of making their calling end election sure to a place in the glorified Church as members of the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Others evidently have never yet come to God in the true Scriptural sense and are inquiring the way. This discourse is intended as a partial reply to these queries. As ambassadors for Christ we issue his call in his [NS368] name, and assure all who have an ear to hear that the satisfaction of justice is already assured by the death of God's dear Son, the Just for the unjust, and that whoever wills may now return to the Father and find him merciful, but that no man can come unto the Father except by the son – by accepting and appreciating the great sacrifice for sins.

To desire to be reconciled to God means a desire to turn away from sin and to be in harmony with righteousness, with justice. Whoever has not this desire for righteousness yet says that he desires to be reconciled to God, understands not his own heart and words. God, justice, righteousness, love, goodness and all the fruits of the Spirit are on one side – sin, injustice, unrighteousness, selfishness, and the various works of the flesh and the devil are on the opposite side. No man can be on both sides; he can not serve God and Mammon; his servants we are to whom we render service.

If our lives are in harmony with sin and unrighteousness we are not on the Lord's side but on the devil's side – we are not ambassadors for Christ, but lending our influence in opposition to him and his cause. Let no man deceive himself; he surely can not deceive God. He who serves sin, whose heart and will are on that side of the question, is an enemy to God, unreconciled. He whose heart is given to the Lord and is on the side of righteousness is of necessity an opponent of sin. Hence the Scriptures set forth that repentance, reformation of life, a turning away of the will from the ways of sin, is the first step towards God.

The second step is the acceptance of Christ as our Redeemer, and the acceptance by faith of the merit of his sacrifice as cleansing away our sins. The third step is an approach to the Father, not in our own merit, but in the merit of Jesus, realizing the efficacy of his sacrifice as respects the sins that are past, and its efficacy also as concerns the imperfections and blemishes of our flesh, which necessarily will render imperfect our best endeavors in the future. We are to come to the Father realizing that he has provided Christ as our sufficiency, that our sins were imputed to him and paid for by his death, and that his righteousness is imputed to us as a robe which covers our own unwilling blemishes and imperfections. Thus clothed with the robe of Christ we have a work before us as New Creatures, a work of battling with sin – chiefly within ourselves – and thereby the development of character, Godlikeness, in the fruits and graces of the Spirit.

These are the reconciled ones, these are the heirs of the glory, honor and immortality which God has in reservation for them that love him. These only may now discern the deep things of God's plan which are hidden from the world; these may have the encouragements and precious promises which assure them that all things favorable and unfavorable are working together for their good, their development as New Creatures, their preparation for the Kingdom of glory and its grand work of blessing and uplifting mankind. These may and will delight to be ambassadors for Christ, to tell all who have the hearing ear of the great Savior they have found, and of the blessings of heart and life resulting from obedience to his Word – from becoming his disciples, his followers in the narrow way.

July 1, 1906 Republished from The National Labor Tribune, July 4, 1918


ALLEGHENY, PA., July 1, 1906 – Pastor C. T. Russell preached in Carnegie Music Hall, Allegheny, to an attentive audience from the text, "There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect." (Matt. 24:24)

The discourse follows: Some of the very best people in the world are inclined to dispute and antagonize the doctrine of the divine election, which the Scriptures declare is now in progress. It can not be denied that the Bible mentions the "elect," and the "very elect," and "his own elect," but the good hearts to whom we refer, while still desirous of holding to the Bible as the inspired Word of God, find great difficulty in reconciling this doctrine of election with their own predilections – with their own conceptions of justice and love. The difficulty lies in their attempt to harmonize the Bible with certain false teachings, "traditions of men," which have come down to us from the "dark ages."

The Bible teaching on the subject of election is very clear, very simple, very beautiful, very just, and very loving, when rightly discerned, as we hope to unfold it this afternoon. The whole difficulty is occasioned by the erroneous theory that the non-elect are all to be everlastingly tortured. We must rid our minds of that tradition, which has no foundation in the Bible – not a text from Genesis to Revelation in its support. When thinking of the election of the Bible, of the little flock, of the elect and the great mass of mankind, non-elect, let us remember the political elections with which we are familiar, and apply our knowledge of these to the heavenly election. Congress, for instance, represents one election by the people of these United States; those [NS369] few men are the elect for that station, all others are non-elect, or, to use the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the remainder of mankind are "passed by" – not elected. Another elect class, for instance, is the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania; other citizens of this Commonwealth are here also "passed by," non-elect. Altogether these two elections to Congress and to the Legislature embrace but small proportions of the citizens, the remainder being "passed by."

So God has had two elections: First, there was the elect nation of Israel, which occupied a favorable place in divine providence, and, as the Apostle declares, those elect people, Israel, had much advantage every way over the remainder of mankind, because to them were committed the oracles of God, the Law, the types, the symbols, the prophecies. From amongst that elect and favored nation God made still further selection of faithful ones for his purpose, as outlined by the Apostle in Hebrews 11. Those overcomers who pleased God constituted the very elect of that dispensation, and in the resurrection they are to have a special reward, as we read, they endured many of their sufferings, and trials faithfully, hoping for a "better resurrection."


Similarly during this Gospel age the Lord has been making an election according to favor. Not all the nations of the world have been equally favored by the Lord with the light of divine truth and revelation. Europe and America have been especially regarded while the great bulk of mankind residing in other lands have been proportionately disregarded. It is true that in the most favored lands there is great darkness, great ignorance, great superstition; but all these are deeply accentuated in heathen lands, as it is written, "Darkness covers the earth, gross darkness the heathen." (Isa. 60:2)

The lands that have been favored with the light of the knowledge of Christ have a rich blessing therefrom, and apparently the Lord himself and not any accidental circumstances created the conditions by which this light of revelation and this knowledge of the Word of God have reached these favored lands and have passed by the more densely settled but less enlightened ones. We see how the Son of God and his Gospel message were cradled in Palestine, from which the knowledge and blessing might have gone southward through Africa or eastward through India or Asia with their teeming millions; but contrariwise, under the Lord's providence, this blessing was sent to the barbarians of Europe, who, under the influence of this light, have become in many respects the most civilized and enlightened.

This is an election which corresponds well to the election of the twelve tribes of Israel to be the special recipients of God's messages through the Law and the Prophets. But as God did not expect all of natural Israel to be the very elect of that age, so now he is not expecting all Christendom to be the very elect, but has been selecting out from the favored nations those individuals who have manifested their faith, loyalty and love for him and for the truth and righteousness. This class, then, constitutes the very elect of this Gospel age. Turning to the last two verses of Hebrews 11, we see these two elect classes particularly mentioned – the very elect of the Jewish age and the very elect of this Gospel age, separate and distinct.

The Apostle shows this distinction saying of the worthy ones of the Jewish age, "These all having obtained a good report through faith received not the promise, God having reserved some better thing for us (the very elect of this Gospel age), that they (the very elect of the previous dispensation) without us (the very elect of this Gospel dispensation) should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:39, 40

It is a great mistake that some make, to confuse these two different elections and to ignore the distinctions which the Scriptures everywhere set up, differentiating the overcomers of this Gospel age from other overcomers of a previous time. Failure to distinguish between these two classes of elect ones has brought much confusion to many minds as they endeavor to draw comparisons between the spirit-begotten overcomers of this Gospel age on the higher plane and the faithful ones of previous times who lived and were called and tested before the outpouring of the holy Spirit at Pentecost – before the special privileges and opportunities of the heavenly calling.

As illustrating the difference between the two classes of elect, notice the Master's words respecting John the Baptist, whom he so highly esteemed, and his contrast of John's relationship to himself with that of his accepted disciples. John belonged to the Jewish dispensation, and was indeed the last of the prophets, the last of that election; while on the other hand the disciples, called under the higher election, were begotten to the still higher nature, hopes and promises at Pentecost. Mark the Lord's words, "Verily I say unto you, there hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist; Yet I say unto you that the least one in the Kingdom of heaven (the election of this Gospel age) is greater than he (greater than John the Baptist – will occupy a higher station if he becomes one of the very elect of this Gospel age)." Matt. 11:11


Glancing backward into the past let us notice that those whom the Apostle mentions as the overcomers of previous times, the "ancient worthies," were few indeed in comparison to the nominal whole. Not only was the Jewish nation a small nation amongst the others, but [NS370] the "very elect" out of that nation was a very small proportion of the whole, illustrating our Lord's words, "Many are called but few chosen." (Matt. 20:16)

The nations of the world in general were not called of God into the relationship of the Law Covenant as the nation of Israel was called; the other nations were "passed by," and had neither part nor lot in the commonwealth of Israel, as the Apostle declared. (Eph. 2:12)

Did this mean that all the other nations were going into eternal torment because they had neither part nor lot with Israel? Nay, verily! God's promise to Abraham, in which Israel hoped, read, "In thy seed (Israel) shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:18)

So far, then, from the election of Israel to divine favor meaning an injury to the other nations or heathen world in general, it means the reverse – it means their ultimate blessing. Similarly in the nation of Israel the millions of that nation who were favored with a call but who did not make their election sure – who were not counted worthy of a place in the list of ancient worthies recited by the Apostle (Heb. 11) – were not on that account damned to an eternity of torture; not a text of Scripture says anything to this effect.

When speaking of the fate of fleshly, nominal Israel, the Apostle points out that when their election period terminated at the coming of Jesus those who "received him not" were rejected – not cast into eternal torment, but rejected from the special favor which they had previously enjoyed as inheritors of the Abrahamic blessing.

The Apostle tells us that the Israelites were specially blinded of God; and if we look about us we will see on every hand that as a nation, as a people, they are indeed amongst the most blind in respect to the real interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, which they handled and handed down to us who have become Spiritual Israelites, the favored of God during this Gospel age. Neither does the Apostle leave the matter here.

Under divine inspiration he tells us that the non-elect of that people – who were blinded, turned aside, disfavored – are ultimately to receive the great blessing and reinstatement into divine favor. Mark the terseness of his expressions on this subject. He declares to Spiritual Israel that, as we in times past did not believe God, yet have now obtained mercy through Natural Israel's unbelief and casting off, so likewise in due time Natural Israel shall obtain mercy through our mercy – that is to say, eventually "the very elect" of this Gospel age are to be used of God in bestowing blessings upon Natural Israel.

The Apostle proceeds to show that this is God's covenant with Natural Israel, which still holds, although they have rejected Jesus for these nineteen centuries. Nevertheless that whole people are the heirs of certain promises of God which have not yet been fulfilled, but which must be fulfilled, because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The Apostle points out, however, that in the divine plan this blessing can not come to Natural Israel until the full completion of this Gospel age – until the full number, the very elect, of Spiritual Israel shall have been completed – have made their calling and election sure. Then all Natural Israel shall be blessed, their blindness shall be turned away, their eyes of understanding shall be opened. They will receive their blessing through Spiritual Israel, is the Apostle's assurance. These matters are fully set forth by the Apostle in most explicit terms in Rom. 11:25-33


During this Gospel age there is a large class of non-elect as we may readily see: The Jewish nation, cast off from God's favor with our Lord's words, "Your house is left unto you desolate; and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Luke 13:35)

These are the ones who the Apostle says, count themselves unworthy of the grace of God, the ones who God blinded and turned aside during the full period of this Gospel age, during the period of the gathering of the elect of this Gospel age. The Jewish nation certainly should be reckoned amongst the non-elect nations as respects this Gospel age favor with China, India, Africa, the great masses of the world of mankind unfavored of the Lord, and who as people know him not – the non-elect nations.

True, a few out of every nation, kindred, people and tongue have heard the voice speaking from heaven and have responded, but these exceptions to the rule only prove its generality. In the largest possible sense of computing those who have a knowledge of the Lord throughout the whole world, all who in any sense are recognized as Christians would not be one-fourth of the whole number. Those ignorant peoples, therefore, are all properly recognized as non-elect nations – "passed by" as respects divine favor and opportunity and privilege – not granted the same great favors, knowledge and opportunity that are granted to us of Christian lands. Are all those heathen people passed by, not elected, with a view to their ultimate torment? We answer, No, and will show presently what constitutes the divine arrangement on their behalf. Meantime we look at the reputed four hundred millions of nominal Christendom, described by a prominent Methodist Bishop as "white and black, ring-streaked and speckled sheep of the Lord's flock."

We fear that we must agree with the Bishop that the white-sheep who "keep their garments unspotted from the world," who shall walk with the Lord in white, who shall sit with him in his throne, who shall constitute his "very elect," are very few indeed, a mere handful out of [NS371] the four hundred millions of nominal professors. What about the remainder, who fail to make good use of their privileges and opportunities? What shall become of this great mass who have had some enlightenment, some blessing of the Lord, but of whom only a very small fragment will attain the blessing and be not only "called" but "faithful and chosen"? We answer that there is hope for these non-elect of Christendom, of Spiritual Israel, but that no blessing can come to them nor to any until the "very elect" of this Gospel age shall have been completed.

These very elect of this age, whose head and leader is Christ Jesus, our Lord, these must first be glorified before even the elect ancient worthies of the past can receive their blessing on a lower plane of human perfection, and both must be blessed before the blessing of the Lord can be extended to mankind in general.


The elect "little flock" of this Gospel age, which alone will constitute the Bride class, otherwise called the "body of Christ," and which is to share with the Lord the Kingdom honors and glories, is made so prominent in the Scriptures that the two other classes of elect ones are in comparison not very conspicuous. For instance, the elect class already referred to, developed before the Gospel age, may be easily lost sight of in the glare of the brightness of the divine promises which shine upon the little flock of this Gospel age. Similarly a secondary class of the elect of this age are comparatively hidden from view by the effulgence of glory connected with the little flock of the very elect who are styled "more than conquerors." [Rom. 8:37]

This second class of the elect of this age are in the New Testament referred to as the "Great Company," in comparison with the still more select class of their still more faithful brethren who shall sit with Jesus in his throne. The Scriptures point out most distinctly that there is only one call of God during this Gospel age. Similarly there is only one election, as we read, 'Ye are all called in one hope of your calling." (Eph. 4:4)

The only call issued during the Gospel age is to membership in the Bride of Christ – the body of Christ, the Church, the "Little flock."

The acceptance of this call includes not only faith in the Lord and in his promises, but also obedience – full consecration. The whole number of persons, however, who have ever made an entire consecration of time, talent, strength, influence, life, everything to the Lord and to his cause is very small in proportion to the whole number who have been privileged so to do through a knowledge of the grace of God. Yet only these consecrated ones have in any sense of the word entered the list or become even in a general way God's elect. But to be enrolled of the Lord and counted in as "his people," his elect, his favored ones over whom he has supervision, does not mean ultimate success. Those who are outside, who have never made a consecration, who have never entered the lists, have no opportunity whatever of attaining anything offered to the elect. Others get a blessing through the elect in due time, but none can have the blessings of the elect except they become of that class through faith and a full consecration.

These are said to be in the school of Christ, receiving discipline, learning lessons, being taught of God, being fitted and prepared for their grand position of usefulness in the Kingdom during the Millennial age. These consecrated ones are addressed by the Apostle, and urged not to hold back but to go forward in harmony with their consecration, and to "Present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God and your reasonable service." [Rom. 12:1]

Again he urges upon them all to lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and to run patiently the race set before them in the good tidings. Heb. 12:1

But the Apostle points out that not all who run in a race win the prize, but those who run according to the terms and conditions covering it. Hence he exhorts us to "so run as to obtain" the great prize – which great prize is the Kingdom honors and glories in joint-heir-ship with Jesus.

The Scriptures clearly point out that any laxity on the part of these who have been called and have been accepted might mean their rejection from that high position, or might mean their ultimate destruction in the Second Death if they wilfully and intentionally turn from the Lord and from righteousness and truth, as a sow to wallowing in the mire. The Apostle, however, does point out that amongst those who do not turn back from the Lord, and amongst those who do not draw back unto perdition, but who still hold firmly to the Lord and to his Word and to the principles of righteousness, there will be two classes: One class, the small class, the "little flock," will gain "an abundant entrance" into the Kingdom; while the other class, we are told, will be "saved so as by fire," or as elsewhere explained, will "come up out of great tribulation, and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb" – robes which they should have had sufficiency of zeal to keep white, unspotted from the world, but robes which they nevertheless did not cast off so as to be found naked, without the wedding garment. This class of the elect, we are informed, will be "a great company whose number is indefinite – whose number no man knoweth." [Rev. 7:9]

The very elect, on the contrary, will be a fixed number, a foreordained number, and in all a "Little Flock." [NS372]


Our Lord in the symbolical prophecy of Revelation points out those who will be with him in the Kingdom glories and honors, saying that they that were with him were called, chosen, faithful. On another occasion he told us that all are not called – that not many great, wise, mighty or learned or noble, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. It is still another testimony of his Word that of the called few are chosen – he declares, "Many are called but few are chosen." [Matt. 22:14]

Accepting these testimonies as strictly literal, true, all of the called ones should be deeply interested in ascertaining the conditions which determine their acceptance with the Lord as his chosen. The Scriptures assure us that no halfhearted response to the call is accepted of the Lord. The Apostle exhorts, "I beseech you, brethren (justified through faith and called), that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God and your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1)

Such as have responded in this manner to the call are God's chosen. They are reckoned as members of the Anointed One, "members of the body of Christ," of which Jesus is the Head. But still the matter is not finished. It is not sufficient that we should be chosen or accepted of the Lord to a membership in the elect Church – we must stand testing to prove our worthiness of that position. It is not sufficient that we consecrate, that we be sure that we have made a consecration – it is required of us that we demonstrate character, loyalty and faithfulness to that vow.

The Lord's peculiar people are for this reason subjected to peculiar tests, "fiery trials" – not for their destruction, not for their injury, but for their development. We are to remember, too, that it is not the flesh that is being tried but the spirit, the intention, the will, the heart. True, the flesh is very intimately associated with every thought and word and deed, but the Lord knows that in our flesh dwells no perfection, and hence he is not searching for perfection of the flesh. He has accepted us as New Creatures from the time that the flesh was reckoned dead. There the New Creature begotten of the Spirit was recognized as God's child, and it is this New Creature that is under discipline, testing, trial.

To the New Creation the Apostle appeals, urging that we make our calling and election sure by obedience, by conformity to the divine will. Although the obedience required is that of the heart and not that of the imperfect flesh, nevertheless the Lord expects of his children that they will keep their bodies in subjection, under restraint, in harmony with the new will, to the extent of their ability. Anything less than this would seem to imply disloyalty to that extent – unfaithfulness. The test is this, To what extent will the New Creature strive for the mastery against the inclinations of the fallen flesh? Only the faithful, only the loyal, will ultimately constitute the "very elect."

To make our calling and election sure, therefore, means that we will to the extent of our ability live up to the covenant of self-sacrifice in the Lord's service, which we covenanted when we accepted his call. "Called, chosen, faithful," describes the attitude of these pupils in the school of Christ who graduate with highest honors. These are referred to by our Lord, saying, "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I come to make up my jewels." (Mal. 3:17)

These are the very elect of whom the Apostle wrote, "If ye do these things ye shall never fail; for so an entrance shall be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Pet. 1:10, 11


The unfaithful would be those who draw back into perdition – into the Second Death. But, as we have already intimated, the Scriptures point out and our experience in life shows another class, neither faithful to the full degree nor yet disposed to draw back and renounce the Lord and his righteousness. These are less faithful than the "more than conquerors" – less faithful than the standard which the Lord demands for the Kingdom class; nevertheless, because they "have not denied my name" (Rev. 3:8), and "because they have not counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing" (Heb. 10:29), and because they have not turned back in the sense of returning to wilful sin – because they have not returned as the sow to the wallowing in the mire wilfully, willingly, intentionally, casting aside their justification and relationship to the Lord – therefore the Lord will not utterly reject them.

Although they can not have the highest place in the Kingdom, the kingly position which can go only to those who are copies of God's dear Son, the Lord proposes to carry them through so long as they are exercising faith in him. He will give them chastisements, corrections, and will ultimately cause them to appreciate him and his righteous arrangements more highly; he will bring them through great tribulations to an honorable place in his future service. These are the great company of overcomers with palm branches, of Revelation 7; these are they that will be before the throne but not on the throne, who will have the palms of overcomers, but not the crowns of the"more than conquerors." These are they that were not sufficiently alert to keep their garments unspotted from the world, and must through tribulation wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. [NS373] We leave for another occasion the connection of our text, contenting ourselves at the present time with a clear discernment of God's election of the past and of the present age. We have seen them to be entirely just in that they worked no injury to the non-elect, but reversely are intended of our Lord ultimately to work to their advantage. We have seen that the terms and conditions of the election are such that the great majority of mankind under present conditions can neither appreciate nor respond to the terms, and that God is using present circumstances and conditions for the development of the classes he desires to make use of, and through whom he will show forth his justice, wisdom, love and power to the whole world of mankind.

We have seen that although this election is wholly of grace and not of works, nevertheless works are required, sacrifices necessary, to an attainment of this election, and I trust that we have all resolved that more earnestly than ever we will strive to make our part in this calling and election of God sure, secure – to attain that for which we have been apprehended of the Lord. Philip. 3:12

These elections are well illustrated by those with which we are acquainted in the political world. The choice of some to be legislators, some to be congressmen and senators, implies no injury to the non-elected citizens, but, contrariwise, is intended for their blessing through the enactment of wise legislation, etc., in their interests. Similarly in God's election the ancient worthies are to have a great blessing in the great work of blessing Israel and all the families of the earth, and the little flock of this present Gospel age is to have, with the Lord Jesus, the most important share in the work of restitution, and thus God's elections in the end will work out the greatest blessing for all mankind.

His guarantee is that all shall be blessed with the knowledge and opportunity of the eternal salvation, and that the only ones who will fail in attaining it will be those who wilfully, intelligently reject the divine arrangement and refuse to conform to the reasonable conditions which the coming Kingdom will impose. Seeing that we know these things, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? How self-sacrificing, how devoted, how loyal to God, his Word and all his people should we be if we hope to attain a place in the glorious company of the "very elect."

Let us by the grace of God more and more strive to this end, remembering by the way that God is for us, that he wishes us to attain that to which he has invited us, that he will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, that he will provide a way of escape from which we could not conquer, that all things shall work together for good to them that love him, that all these blessings are ours in Christ, and that our Lord is pleased to have us claim and appropriate his promises and blessings – to be full of faith and thug to be his "faithful."

July 8, 1906 Republished from The National Labor Tribune, July 11, 1918


Hartford, Conn., July 8,1906. Pastor C T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today to closely attentive audiences. His afternoon topic was A Cure for Infidelity – "To Hell and Back."

His evening discourse, which we report, was from two texts, "Come unto me, ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

"Many are called, but few chosen." Matt. 11:28; 22:14

As many of my audience keep track of the Sunday topics through the public press, I remark that the subject today is closely related to that of last Sunday on "God's Very Elect."

Our text assures us that the called ones of this Gospel age are many in comparison with the few who will be eventually chosen as the very elect – whom, in our discourse a week ago, we found to be elected or chosen to be the joint-heirs with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom, which is to bless the world of mankind in general – the non-elect. Today we consider the call or invitation which has been made during this Gospel age – the class to whom it has been extended.

This discourse has been republished in Bible Student's Monthly, Volume 8, Number 7, now republished in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 2, pages 744-747, under the same Title.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." Rev. 2:17.

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