The National Labor Tribune, September 28, 1916


"The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise With Healing In His Beams." Jesus the Light that Will Heal the World.

Milwaukee, Wis., Sept. 24 Pastor Russell delivered a characteristic address before the I B S A convention here today. He took for his text John 8:12 – "I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." He said in part:

At the time that our Lord used these words, He was the Man Christ Jesus, and had not yet become the Light of the world save in prospect. He was then the Light of the world in the same sense that He was the Savior of the world. The ultimate result of His coming into the world would be that the world would be enlightened and saved. To this end He had become a man. To this end He died. At His first advent our Lord came into the world to accomplish a work that would result in the world's salvation and uplift from sin and death at His Second Advent. The interim has been devoted to the selection and the preparation of a class which God has ordained to be associated with His Son in the great work for mankind to be inaugurated at the opening of the next Age.

Our Lord not only said, "I am the Light of the world," but declared to His followers, "Ye are the light of the world." He pointed out the way in which they were to be lights at the present time, saying, "Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." (Matt. 5:14-16) So our Lord put His light on a candlestick; and it is still giving light to all in the House, but not to the world. Likewise Christ's disciples are to let their light shine to all within the Household of Faith not to the world at large. They are not to expect, however, that their light will dispel the darkness now.

The sin, the jealousies, the misunderstandings and the pride of the Jewish rulers led them to secure the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus; and thus His light was temporarily extinguished. So it has been with His disciples all down the Gospel Age. We are not to expect that our light will now dispel the darkness; but rather, as has been the case throughout this Age, that the darkness will ever seek to quench the light. John 3:19-21


The Bible tells us about two great Kingdoms: Satan's Kingdom of Darkness and Christ's Kingdom of Light. As the Scriptures declare, "Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people." (Isa. 60:2) This is because Satan's Kingdom is in power. Satan is "the prince of this Age." (John 14:30) It is not that God made Satan to be the prince; but rather, as St. Paul explains, Satan is the god, or ruler, of this world because he is now ruling in the hearts of the children of disobedience. (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2) Today the children of disobedience are so numerous that fully nine-tenths of the human race are under the domination of the Prince of Darkness. Many who render him service do not realize what they are doing. But "his servants ye are to whom ye render service." If people knew that they are serving Satan, things would soon be different. But they are deceived.

We are only now beginning to get out of the darkened, drunken condition in which the Bible declares that the world has been for centuries. (Rev. 17:1-6) The majority of mankind are still in a large measure of darkness. All of us have had more or less experience with this stupid condition of spiritual drunkenness. We are very thankful to God that we are getting awakened and sobered up, even though the majority of mankind are still serving Satan. (1 John 5:19 R V) This may seem a hard thing to say, but it is true.

God refuses to accept any service except that which is rendered by His sons. Consequently whoever would render acceptable service must first become a child of God by entering into a Covenant of Sacrifice with Him. (Psa. 50:5) This we do by presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, becoming acceptable to the Father through the imputed merit of Jesus, receiving the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and thus becoming children of God, joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ to all that God has promised. (Rom. 12:1, 2; 8:17) Unless this is true of us, we are not serving God.

As we give careful heed to the Word of God and see what are the terms of service, we realize that there are very few who are serving God, who are following in the footsteps of Jesus. But we rejoice that the light is beginning to break through the darkness, and that the glorious character of our God is beginning to be understood as never before by those who are humble and teachable.


According to the words of our Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness was to rise at the close of the Gospel Age and the beginning of the Millennial Age. Both the teachings of the Scriptures and the signs of the times indicate that we are now living in the day when the Sun of Righteousness is about to rise, to scatter all the mists of darkness that envelope the earth. The Bible gives us a beautiful picture of what will take place when this Sun shall have risen over all the world. All other lights will be obscured by its brilliancy. All the dark places of the world will be opened up. Every hidden thing will be manifested. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14 [HGL851] Then there will be ocean-deep knowledge of God. That will be the time when the true Light will lighten every man that has come into the world. It has not come during this Age because the Church must first be selected; first, the faithful ones from amongst the Jews, and then the remainder from amongst the Gentiles. Only a "remnant" from Israel after the flesh, and only a "remnant" from Israel after the Spirit, will be of this true Church of Christ. (Isa. 10:20-22; Rom. 9:23-29; 11:5; Matt. 7:21-23) It was the Divine purpose that, after the Gospel of Christ had first been presented to the Jews, God's professed people, it should then go to the Gentiles, to take out of them "a people for His name." Acts 15:13-18


In the Divine Plan, the Gospel Age has been set aside for the gathering out of the faithful "Israelites indeed" from both Jews and Gentiles, to constitute the Church of Christ which is to reign with Him in His Kingdom. Our Lord Jesus tells us that when this number shall have been completed and glorified with Him, then the Kingdom will come and the Sun of Righteousness will rise to shine over all the earth. This Sun cannot rise before that time; for the Church is, with her Lord, to constitute this Sun.

In the parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt. 13:36-43) is pictured the work of the Gospel Age. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostles sowed the good seed of the Kingdom. They proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was yet to be set up on the earth. After the Apostles "fell asleep" in death, Satan came and over-sowed the field with tare-seed. The tare-seed represented the false message, not the true Message of the Kingdom. The Kingdom seed brought forth the true children of God; but the tare-seed brought forth children of error- "tares."

During this Gospel Age the wheat and the tares have been growing side by side in the nominal church organization. Our Lord forewarned His followers that no attempt should be made to separate these two classes until the close of the Age the Harvest time when He would return and supervise the separating work in person, though unseen, as He is now a glorious spirit being. During this Harvest time the "wheat" would be gathered into the "garner" while the "tares" would be figuratively burned; that is, destroyed as tares. The garner into which the wheat were to be gathered represents their change in the First Resurrection. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father." Then will be the time when our Lord Jesus Christ will, in the fullest sense of the word, become the Light of the world. Mal. 4:2; Matt. 13:43

We are now in the closing days of the Gospel Age. The Harvest is nearly finished. The last members of the Bride, the Body of Christ, are now in the flesh; and their course, we believe, is nearly run. This whole Christ Head and Body, Bridegroom and Bride will constitute the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the world. When this Sun shall have risen, then the world will see. Now they cannot see. As the Apostle Paul says, "The god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." This is the reason why many cannot understand the Message of Truth when it is presented to them.

But when the Sun of Righteousness arises, then all mankind will see. All the blind eyes shall be opened; all the deaf ears shall be unstopped. "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." (Isa. 40:5) What a beautiful picture the Bible places before our minds! Truly earth's coming glory will compensate for the darkness, ignorance and superstition which for many centuries have prevailed throughout the world.


In the words of our text, the Master declared, "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." His followers were to be enlightened while the world was still in darkness. The humble, teachable ones into whose minds the light of Truth shone carried in turn the light to others who were meek, who had the "ear to hear." The Truth of the Gospel, the Message of the Kingdom, gave zeal and courage to all who received it into good and honest hearts.

We read about the courage of St. Peter and St. John. After they had been illuminated by the begetting of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they went forth to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, the Messiah, who was to bless the whole world. Although they were imprisoned for preaching in Jesus' name, they continued to do so after the Lord delivered them from prison. When again called before the authorities and threatened, they answered, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19, 20

The words of these faithful servants of God confounded their enemies; for although even the people noted that they were ignorant and unlearned men, still the wisdom with which the disciples spoke could not be resisted nor gainsaid. Truly the power of God was manifested in His humble, faithful children. They knew what they believed and why they believed it. Therefore the people "took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus and had learned of Him." Thus it has ever been. The Lord's promise has been abundantly fulfilled to His people that they should not walk in darkness, but should have the light of life.

In the Truth of God's Word there is a transforming power which affects the entire life. In proportion as it is received, it gives its possessor the spirit of a sound mind. It makes him more efficient in business. It makes better husbands and fathers, better wives and mothers, better sons and daughters, better neighbors and friends. Even the worldly recognize the fact that the Lord's people have nobler ideals, better judgment, a broader outlook and kindlier sympathies than have others.


It is not sufficient that one give his heart to the Lord, and then receive the illumination of the Holy Spirit which comes at that time. The good beginning must be carried on daily, if we are to walk in the light and be transformed in character. Our Lord Jesus is to be our great Teacher; and we must go to Him continually, receiving the lessons and the blessings that come through the daily study of His Word. [HGL852] When we thought, as once we did, that nearly everybody was bound for eternal torment and that probably we might go there, too, it is no wonder that we did not love the Bible. But when we come to know the Lord, all that darkness begins to vanish, and the love of God begins to be shed abroad in our hearts. It is a wonderful thing to know that we may be made sharers in the great Divine Plan, that we may be made joint-heirs with Christ Jesus in His glory; to know that "if we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him," and that "if we die with Him, we shall live with Him" as spirit beings having the Divine nature, as the Lord has promised. 2 Tim. 2:11, 12; 2 Pet. 1:4

Cardinal Newman's beautiful hymn well expresses the doubt and uncertainty which have prevailed for centuries:

"Lead kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom; Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from Home; Lead Thou me on!"

This hymn seems to touch a popular chord; for all have realized this "encircling gloom." All have realized that we need a "kindly light" to lead us. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the kindly Light that is leading His people. Through the Word of God He has been guiding His people during the dark time which has preceded the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. (2 Pet. 1:19-21) But that Word has been neglected. The creeds and the "traditions of men" have been substituted for the Scriptures. There has been an "encircling gloom," a darkness that could be felt. The Cardinal realized that the night was dark, and that we were far from Home. He felt bewildered. He had been a Protestant; and in his search for light he had become a Catholic. Not knowing just what to believe, he said, "Lead Thou me on!"


In the attempt to separate wheat from tares, contrary to the Master's instructions, various denominations have been formed, each of which has claimed to be the Church of Christ. Each denomination has tried to console itself with the thought that its gloom was no greater than that of the others. But all of them have been in the "encircling gloom," and all have felt it. Instead of following our Lord Jesus Christ, they have followed Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley and other men. We do not read that the Apostle John or the Apostle Peter or the Apostle Paul started a Church which was called after his own name. On the contrary, they denounced the spirit of division as wrong. 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:1-7; Eph. 4:1-6

Seeing, however, that we have gotten ourselves into this difficulty, the only thing for us to do is to extricate ourselves from these entanglements by obedience to the Lord. We need not fight the denominations. Let them take care of themselves. But let each true disciple of Jesus see that he follows his Master, and that he lets his light shine. Be "as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." The people are more or less confused in mind. They contend for their creeds; and yet, if asked, they acknowledge that they do not believe their creeds. No intelligent person today could believe the monstrous teachings of the creeds.

Let us be true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world, and will soon begin to enlighten the whole race of mankind. Soon the Church will be glorified with Him, and with Him will constitute the great Sun of Righteousness which is to rise and fill the earth with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Let this thought, dear brethren, inspire our hearts to faithfulness. Let us follow closely in the Master's steps; and shortly we shall receive a glorious share in the great blessings which He has promised to His faithful followers.

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