Saint Paul Enterprise, July 14, 1906


Appleton, Wis., July 14. – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., addressed a large audience in the Chautauqua building this afternoon, his topic being "The Bible Defended – To Hell and Back."

We report his forenoon discourse on 'True and False Vines" from the text, "I am the true vine and My Father is the husbandman." (John 15:1)

The speaker said: Our Lord's discourses abounded with striking parables, which have given food for thought to His followers for centuries. Amongst them the parable of the vine is especially beautiful and suggestive. The more one knows of grape culture the better he may understand and appreciate the force and beauty of this parable. It illustrates in a remarkable degree the oneness of Christ and all of His members – true believers, consecrated with their Master to do the Father's will even to death. The vine is composed of branches, practically all branches, and this well illustrates our Lord's double declaration – first, that He is the vine, and, secondly, that this vine includes all of His consecrated saints – "Ye are the branches."

We must sharply distinguish here between our definition of the branches and one which has become quite popular. Our Lord points out that each individual Christian is a separate and distinct branch, whereas with the growth of sectarianism there came quite a disposition to speak of various denominations as branches – as, for instance, the Presbyterian branch, the Methodist branch, etc. None of us, however, can agree to this proposition, nor furnish Scriptural authority for the dividing of the Lord's people into various sects, parties and denominations.

We are all witnesses that the Scriptures positively declare that there is but one head of the Church, and that there is but one Church, which is His Body; that there is but one Bridegroom, our Lord, and that He has but one Bride, the true Church; that there is but one temple of the living God, of which our Lord Jesus is the foundation and capstone, and that each who is truly His is a living stone in this one temple. There is a general tendency to a recognition of the oneness of the Church of Christ, which is taking the form of a proposed federation of the churches of various denominations.

We assent that at least outwardly this indicates a commendable sentiment – a recognition on the part of Christians that there is but one vine and that the individuals are the branches. Looking back over the eighteen centuries of the Church's history we perceive that our Lord and the apostles recognize but one Church with the one name – "the Church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven" – "the Body of Christ, which is the Church." (Heb. 12:23; Eph. 1:23)

But even at that early day there was a sectarian spirit manifested, as St. Paul clearly calls to view. Some even then were disposed to separate themselves from others under different leaders; as, for instance, the Apostle notes some said they were of Peter, some of Paul, and some of Apollos. The Apostle rejected this as the spirit of schism, a spirit of division, and declared to the dear household of faith that these conditions were an evidence of carnality. He asks, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were ye baptized into the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

The Apostle disowns any responsibility for this spirit and exhorts the Lord's people, "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions amongst you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Later on in the same epistle (1 Cor. 11:18-19) the Apostle says, "There must be also factions among you, that they which are approved may be manifested among you."


Further discussing this subject of a sectarian spirit among the Lord's people, the Apostle points out that it is a sign of carnality – that the new nature has not made sufficient progress in the heart – that carnality or a worldly spirit is still there. This he styles spiritual infancy and notes the cause thereof, saying: "I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal – even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, strife and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men? For while one saith I am of Paul, and another I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? – (worldly; human?) Who then is Paul and who is Apollos but servants by whom ye believed and each as the Lord gave to him? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." 1 Cor. 3:1-9

Here is the proper thought clearly set forth; the believer does not belong to any man; each is a free man in Christ, belonging to the Lord only, though pleased to recognize any whom God may seem to use as His ministers of truth and grace. This being true, there is no reason why the Lord's people should divide into sects and parties of various denominations. This was recognized in the early Church, but soon its spirit was lost [NS375] and an attempt was made to maintain the oneness of the Church by force – by persecuting those who differed – by putting them to death, etc. In this manner a practical oneness of Christendom, at least outwardly, was effected, which lasted for centuries. There were no competitive denominations among the Lord's people because none were permitted – the persecution was made too hot. There were some indeed who did not join, who sought to maintain individual union with the Lord outside of the Roman Catholic Church; but they were so ostracized and persecuted that their numbers were small, their influences in the world almost nil and their history unwritten. This was the wrong attempt at Christian union – contrary to the word and spirit of the Lord and of the apostles, who urged that love was to be the bond of union between the Lord's followers and not force, and surely not persecution.


As might have been expected the prosperity which attended Roman Catholicism led to corruption of doctrine with corresponding bad influence upon the people under their sway of error. We shall not discuss these doctrinal errors particularly at this time, but merely note that the Reformation movement of the sixteenth century was a protest against the false doctrines and false practices of Roman Catholicism on the part of some who had been among the most ardent supporters of that system. It was not a protest against Christianity, nor was it at first even a protest against the Roman Catholic organization, but merely against the corruption of doctrine and practice, which it sought to amend.

It was only after the reformers found a general resistance on the part of the entire system that they reluctantly got out and denounced it. Whoever is familiar with the history of the rise of the various denominations of Protestants knows that they rose one after another, each apparently seeking for clearer light and greater harmony with God and the teachings of Jesus and His apostles – each aiming to get back to the first principles of the doctrine of Christ.

It should not surprise us that these reformers were only partially successful, it should not surprise us that they would have their limitations every way, and particularly that each in its turn should take the position of the papacy, namely, that there is but one true Church and that it was the one. The time was when the various denominations of Protestants had very little sympathy for its fellows – each declared that it was the true Church and branded the others as erroneous. We can sympathize with these misconceptions respecting the oneness of the Lord's people; we see that the reformers were loyally seeking for the ideal set before us in the words of Jesus and the Apostles, but this does not blind us to their error on the subject.


For several centuries thinking people, striving for reforms and for the Scriptural ideal of the oneness of the Church, proceeded to make sect after sect, denomination after denomination, to antagonize one another. Now we see the pendulum taking an opposite turn. Instead of antagonism the cry now is for union, federation. But while this is a commendable tendency in some respects, it is far from commendable in others. It is commendable in that it recognizes a broader sympathy amongst the Lord's followers – a recognition of the fact that there are good people, honest minded, consecrated ones in all denominations, including the Roman Catholic.

It is commendable in that it is disposed to recognize the spirit of Christ as well as His Word. But this strong feature is also its danger point. The tendency today is to entirely discard doctrine and to entirely ignore the words of Jesus and the Apostles and to take instead of the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of the World – worldly wisdom as to what constitutes the mind of the Lord. Thus we find the leaders of thought today are stamping upon the people their own spirits, their own minds, in respect to religious matters, to the total ignoring of the Word of God, which is able to make men wise unto salvation, and which was sent that the man of God might be thoroughly furnished. 2 Tim. 3:15-17

Under the lead of "Evolutionists," "Higher Critics," "New Theology" advocates, the ministry and the more intelligent of the laity are sent drifting away from all anchorage in divine revelation – into what we might term "Moral Infidelity."

More than this, the tendency of these leaders in federation is toward the enforcement of their views upon others. Some of them are already looking forward to the political influence and power to be gained through this federation, to the use of force – the civil power cooperating with the religious, after the manner of the "Dark Ages," except that they claim to act thus upon a much higher, nobler, more just level. We would hold that however good the intentions of these people may be, the results of their efforts will not be advantageous in the highest sense – not be in harmony with our Lord's desire and prayer for His followers, that "they may be one with us."

A mechanical union is not the kind for which the Lord prayed. He desired a union of heart among His followers, induced by His Truth and His Spirit, hence His prayer was, "Sanctify them through the truth, thy Word is Truth," and the end of this sanctification would be unity of heart, of mind, of purpose – very different indeed from the unity of the "Dark Ages," or of the unity of federation which is now proposed with so great exultation, [NS376] and which the Scriptures show is coming, and which they also show will result very differently from that the projectors intend.


The difficulty is that there are two vines. The one, the vine of the earth, is very prominent, very great, very influential throughout the whole civilized world. It has its own husbandmen, it has its own caretakers, it has sectarian branches, and brings forth its own fruitage – entirely separate and distinct from the true vine of our text. The latter is small, comparatively unknown to the world, though its branches, its members, are to be found in every quarter. Of this vine and its branches we read, "The world knoweth us not even as it knew Him not." [1 John 3:1]

The world sees, recognizes, knows only the vine of the earth and its large, prosperous development. The true vine – composed of the "little flock" to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom – is united, has one heart, one purpose, one spirit, even as it has one Lord, one faith, one baptism. It is not a sect, and its members are not sectarian. Each member according to the injunction of the Lord is to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ made him free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage to any sect or party.

The Scriptural thought is that the personal relationship to the Lord of each individual believer is the tie which will constitute him a member of the Body of Christ, and that then by his relationship to the Lord, by his possession of the Lord's Spirit, he will be related to every other similarly consecrated believer. Thus in the illustration the sap from the root of the vine, the Lord Jesus, will extend to every branch, every member of His Body – that all may be nourished, strengthened, developed, fruit-bearers. These need no bondage, need no earthly name: united to Christ they are in fellowship with all who have the same spirit and can sing, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love."

If we were to attempt to apply these principles to the great mass of professors we would find it impossible for various reasons; they have not the spirit of such a union – they have not the vital union with the Lord Himself through faith in His Word and consecration to His service. What they are now doing, therefore, in the way of sectarian branching, uniting with one another, and thus attempting to combine as a whole, is as near to the divine pattern as the carnal mind can approximate. We are not blaming them; we are seeking merely to discern the real cause of their difficulty.

The fault lies far back, and is represented in another of our Lord's parables wherein He likens the true children of God to the wheat, and tells us after the sowing of the wheat by Himself and the Apostles the enemy, Satan, came and sowed tare seed – erroneous doctrines, which later developed a spurious crop of imitation wheat – imitations of the real children of God, nominal Christians. To understand the Scriptural teachings respecting the consummation of this age and the introduction of the new dispensation we must take into account, therefore, not only the wheat but the tares – the gathering of the wheat into the heavenly garner, and the time of trouble to come upon the tares, which will thoroughly convince them that they never were wheat.

Applying the same to the lesson of our text, we find that the harvest or end of this age will show clearly and distinctly – first to the Church and subsequently to the world – that there is a true vine of the Lord's own right-hand planting, a true Church, whose names are written in heaven and whose members are counted as the members of Christ, joined to Him, their Head. It will demonstrate also that there is an earthly vine, great, flourishing, and with an abundance of clusters of fruit of its own kind, which is not of God's planting, but the work of the Adversary – the result of false teachings, the propagation of error.


Let us glance at this vine of the earth – sectarianism, with its various branches – which in the end of this age will appear in a confederate form as the one great vine of the earth, as pictured in Rev. 14:18-19.

It has a great deal of the form of godliness with a very little of the Spirit of the Lord maintained for a time by its hold upon some of the members of the true vine not yet separated from it. It boasts of great works, and indeed some of these are quite beneficial to the world. It cries out, Have we not done many wonderful works and in Thy name cast out devils? But the Lord declares, "I do not recognize you." (Matt. 7:22-23)

We are not to get the thought that the Lord does not approve of hospitals, asylums, charities, etc., but we are to get the thought that all of these will be right and proper enough for the natural man, wholly irrespective of Christ and His present election of His little flock, the Church, the true vine. These benevolent institutions would be proper if there were no God nor Christ nor hereafter; and as a matter of fact the majority of these institutions are supported by the state, directly or indirectly, from humanitarian reasons. They are not the fruits of the Spirit which all the branches of the vine are called upon to bear and of which our Lord declared, "herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." [John 15:8]

"The fruits of the spirit are meekness, gentleness, patience, long suffering, brotherly kindness, love." [Gal. 5:22, 23]

If these things be in us and abound they will demonstrate that we are neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord, in acquaintance with Him and [NS377] participation in His spirit and, on account of these fruits of the spirit, of love, an entrance shall be administered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Pet. 1:11

There is a difference between the fruits of the true vine called for in the Lord's Word and developed under providential supervision and the fruits of the vine of the earth. The branches of the vine of the earth bear fruitage which has the form of godliness without its real spirit or power. Much of its benevolence is for politic's s sake rather than for mere love. Much of its meekness is merely feigned, a covering for pride of heart; much of its gentleness veils hardness and cruelty; much of its patience is for self-interest; much of its charity is for advertising, or to conciliate others, or as a sop to conscience, or to keep on the right side of the public.

How different are these fruits than the kind commended by the Apostle and produced by the holy Spirit of the Lord operating in the heart, transforming the mind and cleansing and sanctifying words, thoughts and deeds. The vine of the earth has spread its branches in every direction; it glories in its numbers, boasting 400,000,000 Christians, many of these, alas, in prisons and penitentiaries, etc., and many of them very dishonoring to the name they bear, nearly all of them needing a genuine conversion to make of them the Lord's jewels, vessels of honor, sanctified and prepared for the Master's use. (Mal. 3:17; 2 Tim. 2:21)

This great aggregation of Churchianity, symbolically styled in the Scriptures "Babylon" – mother and daughters – full of pride and boastfulness, is nearing her harvesting time, which is most distinctly pointed out in Rev. 14:18, in the words, "another messenger came from the altar, he that hath power over the fire; and he called with a loud cry to him that hath the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather in the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God, and the winepress was trodden without the city and blood came out from the winepress even unto the horse bridles, as far as 1,600 furlongs."

Thus symbolically does the Lord represent the trouble coming upon nominal Christendom, Babylon, in her fall in the great time of anarchy with which this age will close and the new dispensation be ushered in. We are not claiming that the vine of the earth is composed of murderous thugs. We are claiming as the Scriptures do that it is composed of very intelligent, refined, cultivated people, who under various names represent the wisdom of this world, the aristocracy of this world, the wealthy of this world, and unwittingly they represent the "prince of this world" in that they are propagating false doctrines and misrepresenting the Lord and His cause among men. These having been blessed with a considerable measure of the light which has shined forth from the true church, personally and through the Scriptures, are much advantaged every way over the remainder of mankind.

One advantage is witnessed in the superiority of Christendom over the remainder of the world. The trouble is that the light has to so large an extent been received into hearts that were not good and honest, but selfish and dishonest. The effect has been to give wisdom, riches, place and power into hands not controlled by the love of God which should accompany the light but still controlled by selfishness. The result at this present time is the organization of trusts and syndicates which are aggregating to themselves the surplus of the world, fabulous riches and wonderful power.

The Scriptures indicate that the same aggressiveness on the part of this class will bring about the final catastrophe of this age in the wreck of the entire social structure by the masses. This will be a terrible vintage of the vine of the earth – "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, no, nor ever shall be." Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21


The true vine is separate and distinct from all others and has special care. As in nature, a vine may run to wood instead of to fruit, so with the Lord's people – there is a tendency of development toward outward show, spread, that is often out of proportion to the amount of fruitage. As it is proper enough that a vine should grow larger and larger, making new wood each year, so it is proper that the Lord's people should increase, spread and broaden year by year. But the important thing is the fruitage, as only so much growth can be allowed as will not interfere with the proper development of the fruit. We know how this is in respect to the natural vine.

The husbandman notes the fruit buds and cuts off the stock beyond them, so that the sap and strength of the vine may go into the grapes. So it is with the church, the Lord informs us; our outward growth or tendency to spread is watched over by the husbandman and pruning is done to the intent that we may bring forth more fruit, as the Master declared: "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." [John 15:8]

Our Lord explains that the Heavenly Father himself is the husbandman, the caretaker of the true vine. Whatever the channels or agencies employed by the divine power in the care of the vine, the entire matter is, nevertheless, of the Father, the husbandman. He may send adversity, sickness or doctrinal tests or what not to hinder us from too much of an outward spread and to [NS378] concentrate our hearts and minds on the real work of life, namely, the cultivation of the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit in our hearts, and so far as possible in all the affairs of life. Trials, temptations, testings, cut off worldly tendencies of such branches and help to concentrate the sap which flows from the vine to each branch in fruit. The sap of the vine corresponds to the holy Spirit of the Lord, which invades the entire church, His body, and through this holy Spirit the fruits of the spirit are developed in us and we are more and more conformed to the image of God's dear Son, our Lord.


Our Lord declared that every branch in Him, every member of the true vine, who under the supervision of the heavenly Husbandman refuses to respond to the prunings and disciplines – refuses to bring forth the fruits of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love – such will be cut off from membership in the vine; and the declaration is that such cut off branches are burned, which implies that as branches they are destroyed so they could never be reingrafted if once cut off. Whatever the position any of us may gain in any part of the divine arrangement, we could not be members of the vine if once cut off.

The great lesson to us, then, dearly beloved, is first of all to make sure that we are members of the true vine, and not merely members of the vine of the earth. If we have any doubt about the matter we should go to the Lord at once and give him our hearts, minds, all that we possess, a living sacrifice, entreating that we should be given a membership in His Body, His Church, the true vine. The next important point is to abide in Him, for, as our Lord declared, without Him we can do nothing.

A branch without connection with the vine is of no value. We must, therefore, not only become united to our Lord Jesus, but must retain our relationship by conformity to his will and Word. This includes the fruit-bearing, the development of the fruits and graces of the Spirit, and if we have not these we are not properly His members; not walking in His footsteps, not filled with His Spirit. As we read, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." (Rom. 8:9)

Let us then resolve afresh and more earnestly than ever before that we will glorify our Father in heaven by bearing much fruit – much of the fruitage of the holy Spirit in heart, so shall he love us and care for our development now and glorify us with Himself by and by, and make us joint-heirs with His Son in the glorious Millennial Kingdom under the whole heavens, which shall bless all the families of the earth.

July 15, 1906

Republished from the National Labor Tribune, July 18, 1918


JAMESTOWN, O., July 15, 1906 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here yesterday at the Opera House. His afternoon topic was "Bible Theology Triumphant."

In the evening his text was from Matthew 11:29, 30, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The evening discourse follows: Our Lord in his text seems to contrast his yoke with other yokes, his burdens with other burdens, and to declare that there is an advantage to those who follow him. Some one will perhaps be inclined to say, "I prefer to take no yokes and no burdens; I desire to be free. Liberty is my watchword!"

Some of the best and noblest minds are inclined to take this position and to consider it a logical one. It usually requires years of experiences for humanity to learn that it is not free, but in slavery – that all mankind were born in slavery of sin and death, and that no one can liberate himself. Humanity is so accustomed to the slavery of sin and death that it does not realize its actual condition until attention is called to the matter and the attempt is made to secure liberty; then the galling chains are found to be fastened and clinched in every fiber of our bodies and in many of the tendencies of our minds.

When the Apostle Paul got a glimpse of the true situation, of his bondage to sin and death, it led him to cry out, "O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this dying body?" – this blemished body, this body so full of weaknesses and imperfections and so enslaved to sin? The Apostle answers his own question and states the only way in which liberty can be secured, saying, "I thank God (for deliverance) through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 7:24, 25

When once our eyes begin to open to the situation, and daily thereafter as we study it, we learn to appreciate more and more what it is to be slaves to sin – that while we may be called free moral agents in the sense of being free to exercise our wills for good or for evil, it is merely to this degree that we can have any freedom. How to perform all that we will of good, how to restrain [NS379] the tendencies toward evil, as the Apostle declares, "we wot not" – we know not. Beginning at the grossest manifestations of slavery, we find some evidences in every human being; some have passions that are difficult of control, others have appetites which they are unable to conquer, others have ambitions which run away with them and make shipwreck of their lives so far as the higher and nobler attainments are concerned. All these are elements of selfishness and are accompanied by hundreds of pernicious manifestations which bring unhappiness to themselves and others; and these, each and all, substantiate the thought that we are slaves to our fallen condition. The Scriptures tell us where this slavery began – that it started with father Adam's disobedience to the divine arrangement, his fall under the condemnation of sin and death, by which his talents and powers were impaired and by which he gave life to an imperfect race – a sinner race, a dying race, "born in sin, shapen in iniquity." (Psa. 51:5)

The Apostle suggests that Adam sold his race into this slavery of sin and death by his act of disobedience, saying, "We were sold under servitude to sin" – for the small price of the forbidden fruit. Rom. 7:14


While God permitted the slavery to come upon Adam's race, he declares it to be his intention ultimately to abolish this slavery. He merely permits it, his Word declares, as a lesson that man may learn the exceeding sinfulness of his sin and that divine justice in opposition to sin may ultimately be manifested, that divine love and power may be exercised in the overthrow of this slavery. God's Word assures us that as by man's disobedience the many, the whole world, became sinners, so he has provided that, through a redemptive work accomplished by Jesus Christ the righteous, he is both able and willing to provide a way by which the slaves of sin and death may escape from their bondage and ultimately profit by their experiences – by their knowledge of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its wages, death. It was to this end that Christ appeared in the flesh, that he "by the grace of God might taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9)

The result is manifested only in part as yet. The great work of the Redeemer for the race belongs to the future, when, as the Messiah, the King of glory, he shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords, and put down sin and insubordination, and bring everything and every person into full harmony with the divine law – or, failing this, they shall be ultimately destroyed from amongst the people, so that by the termination of his reign there will be a clean universe without sin, without slaves of sin, without death.

Then will be fulfilled the assurance of the Lord through the prophet that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus, to the glory of God the Father; that the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth, and that all blind eyes and deaf ears shall be opened and the knowledge of the Creator be so world-wide, so generally diffused, that they shall no longer teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother saying, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest. (Isa. 45:23; 11:9; 35:5; Jer. 31:34)

For that happy day we wait in hope, in faith, with the assurance of the Lord that in that time all tears shall be wiped away from all faces and the rebuke of his people shall forever cease. (Rev. 21:4; Isa. 25:8)

We have the assurance that thenceforth there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying, because all the former things of the sin-and-death condition shall have passed away, and he that sitteth upon the throne shall declare, "Behold, I make all things new." Rev. 21:5


In the divine plan there are fixed times and seasons which are unalterable – the "day of Christ" cannot come until its due time. Hence the blessings of the Millennial age must be waited for by the world, God having a previous work to accomplish during this Gospel age. This work, various parts of the Scriptures assure us, is the gathering out from amongst mankind of a special elect class to be the "Church of the Firstborn" – the Lord's jewels. As we have seen on previous occasions, this elect class is sometimes called the "body of Christ" and sometimes the "Bride of Christ."

Both of these figures signify the closest possible intimacy and union of these elect ones with the great King of glory. We are assured in the Scriptures that these elect shall sit with the Lord in his throne, and with him be the judge of the world when the world's time for trial for life eternal shall come. It is to this special elect class that our text refers. These are called or invited to exercise faith in the Lord, to come out on his side, to accept his deliverance from the yoke of sin and death. There is, however, a condition attached, and that is that only those who wish to take the Lord's yoke and be associated with him in the bearing of his burdens are now invited. It is asked, Why should the Lord impose burdens and yokes upon those who are now being called during this Gospel age whereas he intends to completely break the yokes and do away with all burdens during the Millennial age? We reply that the Lord is now seeking a certain class, a "peculiar people." [Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9]

He has for this class a particular service, an honorable station in his Kingdom higher and grander every way than the blessing that is yet to come to the world. God never proposed [NS380] that mankind should be independent of his Creator – no such liberty was ever planned for any creature. The divine laws, which are just and wise and loving and good, must be maintained in the interest of all creation, individually and collectively, and this is what the Scriptures term the "liberty of the sons of God," (John 1:12) – a liberty, privilege, opportunity of doing right, but no liberty to do wrong.

When the new conditions of the Millennial Kingdom shall have been fully attained, when Satan shall have been bound, evil brought into subjection and the knowledge of the glory of God be filling the earth – with a reward for every good effort and a correction for every wilful misdemeanor – that will be a time of absolute liberty, absolute freedom from burdens and yokes for all of the right-minded. The Apostle Paul pictures the enslaved world now and the liberation of the world future in Rom. 8:19, 20, 21, 22, saying, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, (waiting for the glorified Church, Head and body, in Kingdom power, to grant Millennial blessings.) Because the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption (slavery) into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (under its slavery to sin and death)."


The question arises, If the world is to be delivered into the full liberty of the sons of God during the Millennium, why is not this liberty true of the Church in this present time? Why are we not set at liberty? Does not the Apostle say, "Ye were called unto liberty?" Yes we were called unto liberty and that liberty we will attain when we receive our resurrection bodies – when that which is perfect shall come. But meantime, while we are still in the flesh we groan, being burdened. We have a burden; not only do our imperfections and weaknesses of the flesh burden us, but the weaknesses and frailties of our friends and neighbors all have their influence upon us – we are in so close and so constant contact that the burdens of the world and especially of our friends are upon us, too, "We that are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened." [2 Cor. 5:4]

The Lord was also burdened; he had not the weaknesses and frailties of his own flesh, but he did have the burdens of the contradiction of sinners against himself (Heb. 12:3) the weakness, perversities, etc., of his own people, through whose malice he was eventually crucified, and he had the burdens of his disciples.

All these bore more heavily upon the fine, noble, tender, affectionate nature of our Lord than they could do upon us who were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, while he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from the sinner race. Our text speaks of our Lord's burden, and also of his yoke by which he drew that burden – the figure being that of an ox yoked to a cart with a load. When we think of the load which our Lord carried – bearing the sins of the whole world, suffering the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God – it seems strange that he could and did say truthfully of it that it was a light burden.

To us it seems like the most severe burden imaginable until we come to an understanding of the matter from the Lord's standpoint. Then we see why the load was so light for him – how he could endure to leave the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, to humble himself and take a lowly nature, the human, that he might be found in fashion a man and humble himself still further, even unto death – even the death of the cross. (Philip. 2:8)

When we consider all this, we are indeed interested in knowing what kind of a yoke his was which enabled him to draw this great load so cheerfully, so willingly, that he did say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." [Psa. 40:8]

The secret of the light load lay in the easy yoke. Nevertheless even here is another peculiarity; a yoke of itself is burdensome, undesirable. We can indeed imagine ourselves, always used to a yoke of sin, taking another yoke and finding it easier. But how about the dear Master, who in all the previous time had been free from any restraint, without a yoke of any kind, simply, joyfully recognizing the Father and responding to his will, but never being yoked to any burden, to any obligation, to the accomplishment of any difficulty involving trial, suffering, pain, endurance?


As a yoke signifies bondage or service, we must examine critically this yoke which our Lord wore and which he recommends to us as the only one by which we can be his disciples and find rest and peace to our souls, for he is addressing the laboring and heavy laden who are looking to him for rest. The Master's yoke, by which he was able to endure all of his trying experiences and to count them but a light burden, was his hearty, glad submission to the Heavenly Father's will. This willingness on our Lord's part, this full confidence in the Father, this full trust in the divine plan that it would work out a blessing for him and for the race which he wished to redeem – all this led to the full submission of his will in everything to the Father's will, as expressed in his own words, "Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God! I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy Law is written in my heart." [Psa. 40:7, 8]

Now, then, applying this matter to ourselves, who have come to Jesus, who desire to experience more and [NS381] more of his rest and his peace – applying this to the Lord's faithful ones who have felt the heavy load of sin and have labored hard to strive against the slavery to sin, we see that the Lord's proposition is that he is willing to transfer such faithful ones, so that henceforth like himself they may have a joy in the burdens and trials and difficulties of life which they could not experience except by becoming his disciples and yoke-fellows.

It is one thing to fight against sin, to strive against slavery to sin in our own strength, and quite another thing to join with the Lord as co-laborers, and thus to have our puny powers supplemented by his grace, his strength. Our Lord's words were addressed directly to the Jews – who as a people had professed a turning from sin to harmony with God and with righteousness – to a people striving to keep the perfect divine law in its entirety. The conscientious Jews must have realized their inability to keep the law and proportionately must have felt discouraged, must have felt weary and heavy laden in their continual labors to live up to the standard of divine perfection.

It was to these that Jesus offered the privilege of becoming co-laborers with him in his burden. There is a similar class today in Christendom, not under the Jewish Law, but nevertheless realizing laws, rules and standards of divine justice and righteousness, and desiring to conform their lives thereto. These, like the conscientious Jews, find insurmountable difficulties – they can not do the things that they would. It is to these and these alone that the Lord sends the invitation, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me" – become my disciples, yoke-fellows with me in the bearing of the burdens which I have undertaken, and by and by you shall be sharers with me in the glories that shall then be revealed in the Kingdom, and meantime you will find rest to your souls – a rest and peace which is unobtainable either by those under the Law or those who have come to a knowledge of righteousness during this Gospel age. There is just one way to get rid of the labor and heavy load, and that is to accept the Lord Jesus and his terms, his yoke, his burden.

We are to accept the Lord Jesus by faith, we are to recognize that he has paid the ransom price for the sins of the whole world – that his death at Calvary was a propitiation, a satisfaction, as a result of which all mankind are ultimately to be released from these burdens of sin, slavery and death. As our faith grasps these facts, we are invited to appropriate them to ourselves, to count our sins as covered by our Redeemer's merit, if we are of those who desire to become his followers, his disciples – to walk in his steps, to be his yoke-fellows. It is to these alone that he addresses the invitation of our text.

Whoever, therefore, would cast in his lot with the Lord Jesus, to be a sharer now in the ignominy and sufferings and self-denial and burden bearing with him in the present time, and by and by a sharer with him in the glories of the Kingdom, all such should make sure that they take up his yoke and no other. There is a Methodist yoke, a Presbyterian yoke, a Lutheran yoke, a yoke which each denomination holds out; but none of these did our Lord call us to put on, none of these is what the Lord designates "my yoke."

Jesus was neither a Roman Catholic nor a Baptist nor a Methodist nor a Presbyterian nor a Lutheran nor an Episcopalian, and as he wore no such yoke so he has invited his disciples to wear not these but his yoke – "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me."

We have already seen that our Lord's yoke was a willing, hearty, complete consecration of time, talent, everything to the Father's will – a full submission of his will to the Father. And this should be our yoke. We are not to submit ourselves to each other, but to the Lord, and, as the Apostle says, to each other by the will of God (1 Pet. 2:13-15) – to whatever extent we recognize the Lord's leading and guidance through one another. It is Jesus' yoke, however, and only in proportion as this is recognized do we have fellowship with him, and realize that he is the real burden-bearer who carries the brunt of the load and gives us the rest and peace which he here promises.


Elsewhere the Lord declares, "If the Son shall make you free ye shall be free indeed." [John 8:36]

Where then is the harmony between such freedom and the yoke of service mentioned in our text, which signifies a bondage? Our Lord gives his faithful ones release from the weight of sin and its death penalty and shows them that he has paid it all – paid their debts; that he is a propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. That through our acceptance of him as our Redeemer, Teacher, Guide, we are justified freely from all things in the sight of the Heavenly Father, who thenceforth regards us no longer as strangers, aliens and foreigners, sinners condemned to death, but as sons begotten of the spirit of truth, and by and by to be delivered from every vestige of bondage in the First Resurrection.

In proportion as we are able to realize this – in proportion as our knowledge is clear and our faith strong – we are able to appreciate this liberty, to enjoy it now by faith, and to rejoice therein exceedingly. True, we have bound ourselves unto the Lord with a covenant of faithfulness unto sacrifice, sacrifice unto death; and it is under these terms that we have the peace and joy on our journey to the heavenly Kingdom and may attain our hopes eventually; but meantime [NS382] we have absolute liberty, in that we may turn away from the Lord if we will – he will not hinder us. As our acceptance of him was based upon a full surrender of the will, so he leaves it open to us whether or not we will take back our hearts, our consecrated selves.

The Lord holds none of us in bondage, he seeketh such to worship him, to serve him, as do so in spirit and in truth. If they do not appreciate the privilege they are at liberty to withdraw. Of course, however, if we withdraw, if we draw back after having once understood and appreciated and enjoyed the Lord's favor, such a drawing back would be, as the Apostle declares, unto perdition, unto destruction, unto the Second Death, from which there would be no hope of a recovery by a resurrection or otherwise.

Our Lord's redemptive work guarantees to each member of the race but one full complete opportunity of coming into harmony with God, and if that be wilfully and intelligently rejected we are not to expect to have it offered to us again. In this sense of the word the Lord sets before his consecrated ones now a life-or-death proposition – eternal life or eternal death. But while only the Church, the enlightened, are thus passing a life-or-death trial now, the Word assures us that ultimately every creature shall have a full opportunity – if not in the present life and under present conditions, then in the future life and under its more favorable Millennial age conditions.


During the Lord's ministry some who follow him for a time, failing to enter into the spirit of his teachings, failing to get the eyes of their understanding opened because their hearts were not in the proper attitude, turned away from Jesus, saying, "These are hard sayings; who can hear them?" The way was too narrow for them; they had not a sufficiency of consecration nor a sufficiency of love to lead them to full self-surrender and the taking of the Lord's yoke. It was then that the Lord turned to some of his faithful who had remained and who had taken his yoke to follow him. Jesus questioned them, saying, "Will ye also go away?" and their answer was, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]

Is it not so with us, dear friends, who have tasted of the good Word of God and been made partakers of the holy Spirit, and been enlightened and brought to a knowledge of the powers of the world to come? (Heb. 6:46)

And do not we decide, like the Apostle, that although we have liberty to turn from the Lord – liberty to turn back from the narrow way – liberty to turn back to the ways of sin, like the sow to wallowing in the mire – do we not agree that we could not think of so doing, that we have formed a hatred for our former taskmaster, sin, and a dislike for the wages, death.

Have we not, on the contrary, learned to love him who redeemed us, who set us free and who has waged a warfare against sin and every evil which ultimately, when his Kingdom is established, shall prevail. And are we not so in love with this Savior, this true yoke-fellow, who has become our burden-bearer and the burden-bearer for the whole world, that we could not think of leaving his companionship; that we could not think of using the liberty we have to turn from him, to turn back from the ways of sin and death.

I trust that this is the sentiment of our hearts, and that the more we recognize in the Word of the Lord what great things have been done for us, the more we esteem it a privilege to take the Redeemer's yoke upon us and learn of him, and learn to appreciate the fact that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. The burden is light because we love righteousness and hate iniquity, and therefore delight to wage a good warfare against sin, especially in our own mortal bodies; the yoke is easy because we love our Lord and the Heavenly Father, whose service is represented by the yoke.

Ah! there is a depth of meaning in the Master's words, "I am meek and lowly of heart" – follow my example and you will have rest. Only those who have meekness and lowliness of heart are prepared to humble themselves, to acknowledge their own unworthiness and their need of help, and to accept the Lord's proffered assistance and to take his yoke. The haughty, the high-minded, the self-sufficient, the proud, are at a disadvantage, because they are not of the spirit which the Lord approves, and they will not therefore be of the class whom he is now seeking unless they humble themselves.

Moreover, if any were meek and lowly of heart so that he could take the yoke of the Lord in a full consecration, unless he continue in this meekness and heart-holiness he is not at all likely to continue to be a yoke-fellow with the Lord. Let us then, as we appreciate the privilege we enjoy, seek to maintain it by continuing humble, as , the Apostle expresses it, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." 1 Pet. 5:6

THEY do the least Who talk the most, Let words be few.


July 22, 1906 Republished from The National Labor Tribune, July 25, 1918


ELGIN, Ill., July 22, 1906 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today. In the afternoon his topic was "The Bible Theology Defended."

The evening discourse, which we report, was from the text, "We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: We beseech you, on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Cor. 5:20

Reconciliation is the keynote of the Gospel. It implies an estrangement, and the Scriptures explain to us that sin was and still is the cause of the estrangement and a hindrance to reconciliation. Amongst the heavenly hosts there is no need of a Gospel of reconciliation, because nothing has intervened between divine goodness and the members of the holy angelic hosts. A message of reconciliation would be as inconsistent in heaven as it is reasonable on earth.

There are two sides to this reconciliation, and the difficulty with many is their failure to recognize this fact – they see but one side. Some see that mankind needs to be reconciled to God, but do not see that reconciliation was equally necessary as respects the Almighty. Others see that the Creator justly sentenced mankind on account of sin and his offended broken law – his divine justice needed to be appeased before any message of peace could come to the sinner race. The full thought of the Scriptures on the subject takes in both of these views.

Our text and its context present both ideas of reconciliation. Divine law was made for perfect beings because God's work is perfect. Had he created sinners blemished and biased as we now are it would not have been just to have placed us under a perfect law and to have required of us perfect obedience to it. Had we been created imperfect, justice would have claimed that we be treated according to our actual standing, even though this would have implied ten thousand variations of the application of divine law to the various conditions of human depravity and blemishes. On the contrary, not only were angels created perfect, but man also was created in the image of God – perfect. It was sin, disobedience, that brought upon our race what we and others call "The Fall."

Sin brought our first parents under divine sentence of death, as unworthy of life, and their dying, accomplished gradually in 930 years, included mental, moral, and physical death under the sentence, "Dying thou shalt die." [Gen. 2:17]


What affected our first parents mentally, morally and physically, necessarily affected all of their children through heredity – hence we are all sinners, all blemished, all dying. What can be done? The Scriptures answer that God must be just, that his sentence can not be trifled with, that it is irrevocable. But, we ask, can not the sentence be paid? Can not each pay his own penalty? The Scriptures answer, No! that the penalty upon each individual of our race is death, extinction, and that since each must pay his own penalty, "None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him" (Psa. 9:7, 8) nor save his own soul from death. At a glance, then, we see that the case is hopeless so far as we are concerned – that we must look away from ourselves and from our race for any hope of reconciliation with God, for any hope of life eternal, his gift for those who are in harmony with him. Here the Scriptures come to our assistance, and inform us that God is not only just but loving, and that his love had already a provision when his justice pronounced the death sentence. What provision did divine love make for us? Our context answers that "God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ" (v. 18) :and again, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself" – "not reckoning unto them their transgressions" (v. 19) "but reckoning those trespasses unto his son Jesus, who died for your sins, the just for the unjust, that he might reconcile us to God." (1 Pet. 3:18)

We see, then, how God reconciled us unto himself through Jesus Christ – through the work which Jesus did for us. We see, then, that it is not necessary that God should break or violate the divine law in order to have mercy upon us, but that divine justice has been fully met, that the penalty upon Adam and upon his race has been paid. The penalty pronounced upon Adam was death, "Dying thou shalt die."

Christ has paid that penalty, he died for us – he died as Adam's Redeemer, and therefore the Redeemer of all the race condemned in Adam. Hence the Scriptures declare that "As all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive, every man in his own order." (1 Cor. 15:22, 23)

We were in Adam once condemned to death, to extinction; by [NS384] the Creator's favor Jesus appeared as our Redeemer and paid our penalty; he was the 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)

We are glad, we rejoice to know that God has laid so broad a foundation for reconciliation – that so far as he is concerned the arrangement for salvation is quite sufficient to effect the reconciliation of Adam and of all his race, so to cancel their sentence as to permit divine love to operate through Christ to every member of the race, and to grant to each member life everlasting upon the reasonable conditions which God has established.


Some one may inquire, Was not God always reconciled to the world? We answer No, that, according to the Scriptures, during a period of 4126 years God was not reconciled. He allowed the curse of death to rest upon the entire human family, affecting, blighting, destroying them mentally, morally and physically. As our context declares, God was manifested in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Hence there was no reconciliation previously. The ministry of reconciliation, the Gospel, has only been preached since Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. (Heb. 2:9)

What about the hundreds of millions who died during those 4000 years before Christ came – before he tasted death for every man, before the ministry of reconciliation was committed to believers or to anybody? We answer that they were all "children of wrath" – that they all died under Adam's sentence, that they have had no chance since to hear the Gospel because they are dead, and because the "dead know not anything." (Eccl. 9:5)

If they are ever to get a blessing from God, if they are ever to hear the message of reconciliation, if they are ever to have an opportunity of being reconciled to God and gaining life everlasting, it must be in the future – it must be at an awakening from the tomb. And this is the clear statement of the divine Word, that the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth – the unjustified as well as those justified through faith.

The unjustified, condemned, evil in God's sight, will come forth not to be tortured, but to be made acquainted with the fact that the Creator is both just and loving, powerful and wise, and, if they will, to come into accord with him and his wise regulations, designed for the benefit of all his creatures. Nothing could be more plain than this abundantly sustained Scriptural proposition: God so loved the world while they were sinners that he sent his only begotten Son for their redemption. That love therefore must have included those who lived before Jesus came as much as it included those who had not yet been born, and the provision of God in Jesus as truly belongs to those who died before he came as to us who were not yet born at that time. The loving provision of God applies to Adam and his entire race. Thank God that we are more and more coming to see the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of his wisdom, justice, love and power. Eph. 3:18, 19


As the Apostle declares in the verse preceding our text, God's real work is "the reconciliation of the world unto himself."

However, he begins his work with an elect class and not with the world. He tells us these elect ones are chosen out from the world as a peculiar people; he tells us that they are to be a Royal Priesthood, to show forth his praises before the world. These our text tells us are elected of God to be his ambassadors – to proclaim to the world the great fact that God has operated through Christ for the reconciliation of himself, the reconciling of divine justice; and that now as a consequence he is ready to receive all that come unto him through Christ – all who desire to be reconciled to God.

Each one who hears of the grace of God, who comes to an understanding of the great mercy of God manifested in the giving of his Son, is privileged to come unto the Father through him, and by faith to realize his sins are covered by the merit of the precious sacrifice, and on the basis of that faith to begin a new life, to consecrate himself to God and his service. All thus coming to the Father are reckoned as justified, cleared of all guilt, and privileged as consecrated followers of Jesus to be associated with the great Redeemer in his work of reconciling the world.


Although God is reconciled through Christ, only a few have yet the hearing ear. The great mass of mankind are deaf to the voice divine speaking peace through Jesus Christ, they are blind to this grand display of divine love – "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." (2 Cor. 4:4)

Hence, as the Scriptures declare and as observation teaches, those who do hear and those who do see are now but a "little flock."

Of these the Apostle in our text is speaking when he says, "We are ambassadors for Christ" – we are the representatives of Jesus in making known to the world the blessings which he has to offer, secured through his sacrifice. It might be assumed that these ambassadors of the Lord would be well received by the world, highly esteemed amongst men, powerful, influential. But on the contrary the very reverse is the case, as the Scriptures declare. Not many wise, not many great, not many [NS385] learned, not many noble, not many rich are in this little flock, says the Apostle, and the world does not respect them. Our Lord tells the reason, saying, "Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19)

"The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not" (John 1:5) – "the darkness hateth the light."

Consequently this ministry of God, this ministry of the Gospel, this ambassadorship, while a high privilege, a great honor, is a ministry of suffering, involving self-sacrifice, self-denials.

The Lord foreknew all this, and so arranged matters purposely that the trials, difficulties, persecutions and oppositions of the world might serve to test, to sift, to polish the peculiar elect class whom he is now selecting from amongst men. These, we are told, must be copies of God's dear Son – not in fleshly likeness, but in heart likeness. They must all love righteousness and hate iniquity to the extent that they would be willing to suffer for righteousness' sake, and take it gladly, joyfully. By thus enduring hardness as good soldiers of Christ they obtain the mark of divine approval as overcomers of the world, and thus they are made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light – the Millennial Kingdom, which is to be God's agency in the blessing of the world of mankind, which he has already reconciled unto himself through Jesus Christ.


But although the elect have a ministry of suffering now because the world has not the hearing ear, because the Adversary is deceiving mankind and misleading them as respects real joy and real happiness and real pleasure, nevertheless the time is coming and is near at hand when all this will be changed, when the petition of the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," shall have been accomplished, when the elect Church shall have been glorified with Christ and have received of the Father the glory and honor and immortality of the First Resurrection. [Matt. 6:10]

Then their work as ambassadors of God will be on a totally different plane. When God's Kingdom is in power his ambassadors and representatives will be honored, not only of the Father and of the Son and of the angels, but also of the world of mankind, whose eyes of understanding will then be opened to see things in their proper light.

If it is a joyful thing for the Lord's consecrated ones to proclaim the good tidings now, under adverse conditions, to those who are deaf and blind to the truth, seeking for such as have the hearing ears and understanding hearts and the partially opened eyes – seeking to open the eyes of their understanding wider and to open their deaf ears – if this be a pleasurable work for the Lord's faithful ones now, how grand will be their glorious privilege in the future when, armed with the power of God, they not only begin but carry to a full completion his great work of reconciling the world – making the whole world to know of his love and goodness, his wisdom, power and justice, that thus all may be brought to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved – not saved from torment and torture, but saved from the wages of sin, death – saved from sin and its penalty.


Preceding our text but discussing the same matter, the Apostle shows (2 Cor. 3:6-16) that the scenes enacted at Mount Sinai in connection with the giving of the Law were typical of what is to be expected on a much higher antitypical scale at the second advent of Christ, when the New Covenant will be sealed, ratified and go into effect for the benefit of the whole world. We have heretofore shown that the elect of this Gospel age, as the members of the Christ under Jesus the Head, are accepted of God under the original Abrahamic Covenant – not under the Law Covenant given to the Jews nor under the New Covenant which is to be given to restored Israel and to the world.

The Church of Christ, now associated with him as sacrificers, sharers in his sufferings, in his death, am to be with him in glory, the dispensers of divine favors to the world, blessing all the families of the earth in his Millennial Kingdom under the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, which Covenant is sealed by the blood of the better sacrifices. Looking back to the type we see Moses, the representative of Jesus, the Head of the Church his body, called of God to go up into Mount Sinai in the midst of shakings and quakings, fearful sights and sounds.

This represents not only the experiences of each individual member of the body of Christ, but it represents also the great time of trouble with which this Gospel age will end and the final members of the body of Christ be glorified. The mountain into which they go symbolizes the Kingdom of God, as a mountain everywhere throughout the Scriptures is the symbol of a kingdom. When Moses, later, came down from the mountain the record is that his face shone with the glory of the Lord to such an extent that he was obliged to put on a vail in his communications with the people in the sealing of the Covenant of which he was the Mediator. This was a type of the glory of Christ, Head and body, in the Kingdom. So glorious will they be as spirit beings that it will be impossible for natural men to have intercourse with them except as they are veiled, hidden from the sight, their glories realized by faith. It is of this glory that the Apostle here is writing, contrasting Moses and the Law Covenant and Israel with [NS386] Christ, the New Covenant and the world. He says of the Church, "Our sufficiency is of God, who also has made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant" (2 Cor. 3:5, 6); then he adds, referring to the Law Covenant as a ministration of death, because it did not really give life to any that were under it, "If the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was transitory (typical): how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be more glorious? For if what faded away came with glory, much more is that which is permanent arrayed in glory." [2 Cor. 3:7-9, 11]

The ministry of suffering, which during this Gospel age is the portion of the Lord's people, the Royal Priesthood, is not a ministry to the world directly, but the ministry incidental to the gathering of the body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood. The Apostle explains the matter, saying, that it is "for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

When we all shall have reached that glorious consummation of the Church, the little flock, the Bride, the body of Christ, then the world's reconciling will be the great work of the Millennial age, carried on in power and great glory, to the praise of our Redeemer and the Father, and for the blessing of all families of the earth. Eph. 4:12, 13


Some one may say, "If the world is blind and deaf so that the Master said to his followers, 'Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear,' how could the poor world be any better off in its blind and deaf condition in the future than it is at present? Where would be the advantage of repeating the story of God's grace to those who are thus blind and deaf thereto? If the god of this world now blinds the minds, why would he not do the same in the future?" These are good and important questions, and the Scriptures give us satisfactory answers to them, assuring us through the Prophet Isaiah that in the day of Christ, the Millennial day, the day of his Kingdom, all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped. (Isa. 35:5)

Again the Lord informs us that at the very beginning of his Millennial reign Satan shall be bound that he shall deceive the nations no more until the thousand years are finished. Rev. 20:3

Here, then, is the secret of why the world can not hear now, and the assurance of the change which would permit it to hear in its due time. As the Adversary now deceives the whole world so that only a comparatively few can exercise the eye and ear of faith to hear the voice divine, to see the riches of God's grace, so his binding and the restraint of evil, the dispelling of the mists and clouds of darkness, error and superstition, and above all the eye salve of truth which will then be dispensed freely to every creature, will be all powerful to the enlightenment and uplifting of all the families of the earth – whosoever will. And as for the remainder, who will not hear with their eyes opened and their ears unstopped, knowing of the grace of God, for these what remains? The Scripture answers, "the blackness and darkness" of destruction, "the soul that sinneth (wilfully, intelligently) it shall die" – the Second Death; "he that will not hear that great Teacher shall be cut off from amongst the people." Jude 13; Eze. 18:20; Acts 3:23

To know that God has a great, loving, God-like plan of salvation from sin and death, which ultimately will be offered to every member of the race, constrains us, as the Apostle says, to enter joyfully, gladly, into relationship with our Creator. To be reconciled to God implies harmony with his law of righteousness, a desire to do the divine will, an opposition to sin and a desire to be ambassadors for God, to tell of his good tidings and help forward in every manner possible his great and glorious cause.

Not that he needs our help, but that we appreciate the privilege of being co-laborers with him as the highest imaginable favor in the world. We make this appeal, "Be ye reconciled to God," with the full understanding that the world in general is deaf and will not hear, but with the expectancy that our message now will be heard only by those who have the hearing ear, who are described by the Apostle as "Even as many as the Lord your God shall call" [Acts 2:39] – as many as shall hear and heed the call of God speaking peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Our appeal, then, is not to the heathen world, but to believers who have heard of the grace of God – that they be reconciled – fully reconciled to God. Amongst the Lord's people we find some in a measure of reconciliation and others in a state of partial reconciliation: our message is to all, "Be ye reconciled to God," accept his Word, accept his way, conform your heart and life to his arrangement, learn to look for his way in all the affairs of life and do not seek to do his work in your own way. He is the Captain, we are the soldiers to obey; he is the Head, we are the members of his body, to be directed by his will; he is the Bridegroom, we are prospectively his espoused, who should and do desire to be fully conformed to his perfect will in everything. In proportion as we attain this reconciliation to God we are attaining [NS387] a harmony with righteousness and truth and everything which he provides for us; in the same proportion we are learning that we are not our own but his, bought with a price, even the precious blood, and that it is our privilege to glorify him in our own bodies and spirits, which are his. Let us be reconciled – fully reconciled to God, and have in return the blessed assurances of the Word that "all things are ours for we are Christ's and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. 3:22, 23

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