St. Paul Enterprise, September 19, 1916


Seattle, Washington, September 17'Pastor Russell gave a masterly sermon today before the I B S A Convention assembled here this week. His text was from Isa. 1:18; "Come now, and let us reason together, said Jehovah: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." He spoke as follows:

In the past, nearly everything that has ever been offered us in the way of religion has been something which must be taken without the exercise of reason. This has been especially true of most of the creedal teachings given us in the name of the Lord. They must be swallowed without reasoning or not at all; for they are too unreasonable to be received by any logical mind. In this connection I think of an incident which well illustrates my point. On one occasion a gentleman who had been giving the Bible some study related to me a conversation which he had recently had with his pastor, a Presbyterian minister. the gentleman had said to his pastor, "I cannot quite accept some of the statements of the Confession of Faith; for I cannot understand them." The minister replied, "You have taken the matter in a wrong light altogether. When you take the Confession of Faith, you must do so just as you would take a Brandreth pill. If you stop to chew it, you will never be able to swallow it!"

The Lord, on the contrary, says to us: "Come, let us reason together." God appeals to man's reason; and every feature of the Divine Plan, when understood, is thoroughly logical and worthy of our great Creator. It is only reasonable to expect that God, who gave man reasoning faculties, would give us a revelation of His Plan which would appeal to our reason. Man was created in the image of God; and even though our race is now in a fallen condition, the Lord still appeals to man's reason, as our text shows.

The word of God is in every way logical and beautiful; and our joy has been in proportion as we have needed His Message and responded to it. When He invites His people to reason with Him, He means that we are to search His revealed Word, the Bible, to find the true explanation for man's present condition, to discover the Lord's Plan relating to mankind, to exercise our minds in regard to God's declarations. What would be the use of having brains if we merely absorb a teaching, without having any mental understanding of the subject? To study with a view to finding what reason God gives us along lines of vital importance this constitutes true Bible study.


While the lower animals are endowed to a very limited degree with the faculty of reason, yet of all the animal creation man alone is able to reason upon a high plane. He alone possesses moral faculties and ability to reason with his Creator through that Creator's revealed Word. In the present fallen condition of the race, some can reason better than others. Phrenologists can determine by the size and the shape of a man's head what are his natural mental endowments. They can give a very good description of a man's natural disposition what he would be likely to do and what not to do.

But no phrenologist can determine the character of a Christian as such as a New Creature in Christ; for a Christian of considerable development has so far overcome many of his natural weaknesses that he is much nobler in character than the shape of his head would seem to indicate. He now has a new will, a new mind the mind of Christ. But the particular point that we wish to emphasize is that the faculty for reasoning belongs to man, and that even in his fallen condition he delights to exercise this faculty. When we inquire for a reason why things are so, we are merely in line with God's will concerning us.

Along doctrinal lines, however, our reasoning is sadly handicapped by error; for the whole world is in a large [HGL847] measure of darkness respecting the Divine character and purposes. For the past few hundred years, the Lord's people have been gradually emerging from the darkness of the Dark Ages. There were twelve hundred years during which the Bible was not studied at all. Then came the Reformation, after which the Bible came back into the hands of God's people, and they began to study it again. But their poor heads were more or less confused with the errors of the creeds formulated during those twelve centuries when the Bible was set aside; and it would not be expected that they would be able then to see every point of doctrine clearly and to reason satisfactorily.

So we see that our forefathers, honest and sincere as many of them were, had great difficulties with which to contend in connection with the errors which were firmly entrenched in their minds. When a foundation of error has been laid in the mind, it will give trouble until all the error has been removed. Many of their errors we have inherited. We were born with our reasoning faculties more or less twisted; and these twists have been accentuated by our teaching at home, in the Sunday School, and in the pulpit. We have imbibed them in our reading. When we wished to reason, we were told, "You must not reason along doctrinal lines; for you will become an infidel if you do!"


Many of us did become infidels respecting the teachings held out to us, however. This has proved to be a great blessing, in that it has led us to study the Word of God for ourselves, and to learn what is the real character of our Creator that He is not a monstrous Devil, but a God of Love, a God of Reason; that He has a Plan of Salvation worthy of all acceptation. We can now meet together and reason as God's people in harmony with His inspired Revelation the Bible. Our own poor, imperfect reasoning, perverted by the false teachings of centuries, would be a very unreliable guide and would surely lead us astray if we were unaided from Above as our text suggests. But reasoning according to the instructions of Scripture clarifies our minds, and leads us out of the bewildering darkness of error into the light of God as it shines from the face of our Redeemer and Lord, Jesus Christ.

As Bible Students we are learning that there is a beauty and a harmony in the Bible that is not to be found elsewhere, when the Word of God is rightly divided (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2:15). As long as we reason within the lines of Divine Revelation we are on safe ground. What do any of us know regarding the origin and the destiny of man save as we are instructed by the Lord? Nothing whatever! No matter how much any man may boast of his knowledge and his wisdom, he knows nothing about these important subjects pertaining to our everlasting future except as information is given from Heaven. As the inspired Apostle Paul declares, the Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished. We have no other source of knowledge respecting our Creator and His purposes. We must have a "Thus saith the Lord" for every item of our faith.


Nearly all the theology of the Bible stands related to sin how sin came into the world, what are its effects, how God views it, how we should view it, how man is to get rid of it, what means God will adopt to lift mankind out of their present degradation to sin and to restore the race to perfection and everlasting life. This is the sum total of the theology of the Bible.

God's Word declares that our great Creator made man, not in the image of an ape, but in the Divine image, and crowned him with honor and glory, setting man over the beasts of the earth, the fishes of the sea and the birds of the air. Man was to be an earthly king, only "a little lower that the angels." (Gen. 1:26-28, 31; Psa. 8:4-8) This great man, this perfect man, Adam, was our father, a human son of God. (Luke 3:38) The Heavenly Father has not said this about any one since Adam's disobedience and fall into sin, except in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth a man, transferred from His glorious pre-human condition to man's estate, in order that He might give His human nature a Ransom-sacrifice for Adam and all who fell in him.

Adam was put on trial in Eden with the understanding that if he remained obedient to his Creator he could live forever; but that if he was disobedient, he would die. He disobeyed; and the death penalty was pronounced upon him- "Dying, thou shalt die." (Gen. 2:17, margin) Immediately he began to die not instant death, but a gradual dying process. It was nine hundred years before he was dead not more alive than ever. "The wages of sin is death." "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Rom. 6:23; Eze. 18:4, 20.

To understand the Scriptures, we must drop the foolishness handed down to us from the Dark Ages. "Come, let us reason together." In line with this reasoning, we find that the whole world are sinners. Adam's unborn posterity shared in his fall and in his condemnation. Some have gone down into the tomb more rapidly than have others, and on a lower plane. Some have tried their best to fight against sin. But all are sinners; all are dying because of the original sin in Eden. (Psa. 51:5; Gen. 3:20) None can keep God's law; for all are imperfect. Rom. 3:20.

As all the race were condemned to death while still in the loins of their father Adam, so the Lord Jesus, by becoming a man, perfect and undefiled by sin, with an unborn race in his loins, could give Himself an exact corresponding price for Adam and all his posterity. This is the meaning of the word Ransom as applied to Jesus' sacrifice for the purchase of the race. The Greek word is antilutron a price in offset, an equivalent price, a corresponding price. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6.)


Although our Lord was in the Heavenly Father's likeness on the Heavenly plane, He could not give a corresponding price for man while He was still a spirit being; for God's Law demanded a man's life for a man's life. (Deut. 19:21) It was necessary, therefore, that He become a perfect man, as Adam was before he fell. As such our Lord died for "the sin of the world" 'the original sin, the sin of Father Adam, [HGL848] on account of which Adam was sentenced to death. Thus we see that Jesus must bear Adam's penalty, whatever that was. Did our Lord suffer eternal torture for man? No; He suffered death. He gave up forever in death His human nature, and was raised from death by the Father a glorious Divine being, as a reward for His faithfulness. His human nature He never took back; for it was the price of man's redemption.

It is very evident, then, that the penalty for sin pronounced by God upon Adam and his race was not eternal torment, but death. Had not our Lord Jesus Christ died for the world, mankind would not have a future life. But because our Lord has died, "the just for the unjust," death is referred to in the Bible as a "sleep." Man will awaken from his death sleep. He will live again in the resurrection. 1 Cor. 15:21-23.

God's standard is perfection; and no one who comes short of it can attain life everlasting. The entire race of Adam is dying on account of their father Adam's sin. The great majority of them have died in infancy. Moreover, the Bible distinctly declares that no flesh can be justified in God's sight through keeping His Law; for fallen man cannot keep God's perfect Law inviolate. Only through Divine compassion and mercy can any human being become justified in the sight of God, through the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Ransom-price which our Lord gave for Adam and his race is "to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) To some the due time comes in this life. To the great majority it will come in the next life, during the Messianic Reign of a thousand years the world's great Judgment Day.


But although God has provided a great Savior for the fallen race of Adam, and although the death of our Lord Jesus is sufficient for the sins of the whole world, the world has not yet received the benefits of that death. The reason for the delay is given in the Bible. There are two phases of salvation: one salvation for the Church, to spirit nature; and another for the world in general, to perfect human nature. The Bible says that Jesus Christ "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Tim. 1:10) The Apostle Paul mentions the "so great salvation, which first begun to be spoken by the Lord." (Heb. 2:3) This salvation for the Church was a secret from before the foundation of the world.

The other phase, "the common salvation," is for whosoever will of mankind. During the Millennial Age this salvation will be made known to every person in the world. The knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the earth. (Hab. 2:14; Psa. 72:19) Everybody will know that Christ has died for the sin of the world, and that all may then have a share in the blessing of Restitution secured by the death of Christ. All will then have the opportunity to receive again that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) At the Second Coming of Christ, in "the Times of Restitution of all things," mankind will be given an opportunity to rise out of ignorance and sin back to the image of God. Jude 3; Acts 3:19-23.

The "strong meat" of the Word of God needs careful mastication. (Heb. 5:12-14) The husks on which we were fed in Babylon could not be masticated. There was no real food there. The true Christian is to progress from the milk of the Word to the strong meat thereof. He is to grow in grace and in knowledge. At first we were only "babes in Christ," babes in the knowledge of things spiritual. (1 Cor. 3:1-3) But in order to grow strong in the Lord, we must have the strong meat and digest it.


After Adam fell, Jesus was the first human son of God. "He came unto His own (the Jews), and His own received Him not." They crucified Him. "But as many as received Him (first of the Jews and then of the Gentiles), to them gave He power to become the sons of God." (John 1:11, 12) As spirit-begotten New Creatures, these are sons of God; and they will have their birth in the First Resurrection, when they shall be made like their Lord and Head 1 John 3:2.

As a spirit-begotten son of God, our Lord Jesus offered Himself in sacrifice to God at Jordan. For three and one-half years thereafter He was laying down in death that sacrifice, which was consummated on the cross. The third day thereafter He was born of the Spirit, in His resurrection. So the sacrifice which we make when we consecrate ourselves fully to God through Christ is finished at our actual death. Meantime, we must keep our bodies in a presentable condition- "faithful unto death". (Rev. 2:10) For this the Church is waiting. We are not to receive merely the ordinary human life which is coming to the world in the Times of Restitution. The opportunity to get the crown of life will never again be offered; for it is limited to a special number the Elect. When all of this elect number shall have been found and prepared for their future work, then the purpose of the Gospel Age will have been accomplished, and the uplift of the world of mankind will begin.

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