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HARVEST GLEANINGS III Pittsburgh Gazette -December 26, 1904 Pastor C T Russell Discusses The Day
Pastor C T Russell addressed his home congregation yesterday in Bible House Chapel, Allegheny, at 3 p. m. His text was, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, Father Everlasting, the Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6. During his remarks he said:
It matters little to us that Christmas Day is not the true anniversary of our Redeemer's birth that the true date of that event was about September 25. It is the great event, and not the date that we commemorate. Indeed, in this respect our Christmas date is most appropriate, since it marks a date nine months previous to the proper date of our Lord's birth. It, therefore, marks the time of His conception, or what is known among Episcopalians as "Lady's Day," or the time of the annunciation referred to in Luke 1:31-35.
When thinking of our Redeemer eight prominent features of our Lord's work comes before our minds, the first of these being the one whose date is most appropriately marked by this day, namely, our Lord's leaving the heavenly glory the inception of His earthly existence, His begettal in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The second was His birth; the third His reaching of manhood's estate at 30 years, where he made His consecration to death and received the begetting of the holy spirit. The fourth point was His death, the fifth His resurrection, the sixth His ascension, the seventh His second coming, while the eighth and final feature will be the grand consummation of the entire plan of God respecting human redemption, when our Lord at the close of His millennial reign shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. Well, therefore, may we to-day celebrate all these great blessings coming to humanity through Jesus by the Heavenly Father's grace.
Our text to a considerable degree grasps the entire situation as we have outlined it. Our Lord was a Son given by the Heavenly Father nine months before He was the child born in the manger at Bethlehem. It was because He was thus from above, and not in the ordinary sense a member of Adam's race, that the Scriptures declare that He was holy, harmless, separate from sinners. It was by reason of this purity, freedom from any share in the fall or any condemnation, that He was fit to be man's Redeemer, and by virtue of this fitness became in His death, as the Apostle expresses, "A ransom for all, to be testified in due time." -2 Tim. 2:6.
In our text the Apostle omits entirely the connection between the wonderful child and the wonderful blessing and glory to be dispensed through Him. But other Scriptures fully inform us respecting the sufferings of Christ, and how these were necessary for our redemption. They explain that Adam's race was all justly under condemnation of death, and that all of the pain and sorrow and trouble are incidental parts of that death sentence, called in the Scriptures the "curse." They explain that under the divine arrangement it was necessary that the penalty against us should be met, that no member of the human race could give to God a ransom for his brother, and that hence God in mercy evidenced His love and compassion, the Son co-operating, when he laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, providing Him as the sacrifice for our sins, by whose stripes we are healed. They explain to us that our Lord's death was a "propitiation 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.) They explain to us that it was necessary in the divine plan that our Lord should not only redeem us, but by His own experience be touched with our infirmities, and thus be made fully competent to enter sympathetically into man's trials and difficulties, to the intent that by and by, when His kingdom shall be established, He may be a merciful and faithful high priest, full of compassion, and both able and willing to assist all that are out of the way, to bring back into harmony with God whosoever shall will so to come.
All the blessings promised therein in the only gospel story set forth in the Bible, all the hopes contained therein, are based upon the great work of Jesus as the mediator, the sin-bearer. This work applies first to His elect Church of the gospel age, and secondly to the world of mankind, the blessing of whom awaits the completion of the Church and its glorification with Christ. Then with His associates in the kingdom, His bride, He will bestow the blessing of restitution upon all the families of the earth all willing to accept the same on God's terms of obedience.
Very generally throughout the Scriptures this gospel age is apparently passed over or ignored. Thus the Apostle says that the prophets of old "spoke of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." The secret of this lies in what the Apostle calls the "mystery" that the Church of this gospel age, the "little flock," is reckoned in as the "body of Christ." Hence the sufferings and death of our Savior, Jesus, but also the sufferings and trials and death of every member of the elect little flock, the "Church" which is His body. (Eph. 1:22, 23.) With the completion of these sufferings of the head, Jesus, and the Church, His body will come the glory made so prominent throughout all the Scriptures the "glory that should follow" the kingdom glory, the millennial glory, the blessings of all the families of the earth when our Lord, the Redeemer, shall be the great King over all, and the Church, as His bride, or, under another figure, His body, shall be associated with Him as the seed of Abraham in conferring the promised blessing upon all mankind. Gal. 3:16, 29. [HGL287]
THE GOVERNMENT OF CHRIST
Our text declares of Messiah, "the Government shall be upon His shoulder." This figure of speech is common to-day, as we sometimes say that the entire responsibility rests upon the shoulders of such a manager or workman or Emperor. Not upon the shoulders of the child Jesus did the governmental authority rest, nor upon the shoulders of the man, Christ Jesus, who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Not until He had "finished the work which the Father gave Him to do," not until then was the government placed upon His shoulders. It was after our Lord's resurrection that He declared, "All power is given Me in heaven and in earth." Matt. 28:18.
Even then, although our Lord was raised from the dead to glory, honor and immortality, the Father's time had not arrived for the exercise of His kingly authority, and hence He has delayed to use it. The delay is to permit the selection of "the Church, which is His body," and which is to be associated with Him in the exercise of His authority and dominion in the uplift
of humanity. When the last member of the Church shall have been tested, polished, tried, accepted and glorified with the Lord, then the time will have come referred to in our Lord's last message to the Church the time when he shall take unto Himself His great power and reign. This time is noted as coming under sounding of the seventh trumpet, and we are informed that the first result so far as the world shall be concerned will be a great time of trouble. The prophetic language of Revelations declares, "The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldst give reward unto Thy servants, the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them that corrupt the earth." (Rev. 11:18.) In this brief statement the whole work of the millennial age is summed up, and this must be borne in mind if we would avoid confusion of thought.
SATAN, THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD
The scriptural expressions "this world" and the "world to come" are more frequently misunderstood than if they were more correctly translated "this age" and the "age to come." Nothing is more evident to intelligent Christian minds than the truthfulness of the words of our Lord and the apostles to the effect that Satan is the prince of this world, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of dis-obedience. These, being more numerous than the children of obedience, thus have the general control. Hence it is that the Apostle speaks of this present age or dispensation as "this present evil world," or age or epoch. The common fallacy that Jesus is now reigning is too absurd for serious discussion with reasonable people. If what we have today is the reign of Christ the best government which our Lord Jesus could effect in the world we are sadly disappointed. If what we have today is what our Lord taught us to pray for and to expect- "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven" then of all men Christians are the worst deceived and disappointed.
Present conditions do not represent the reign of Christ and His kingdom, but the very reverse. They represent the reign of the prince of this world, and it is a comfort to our hearts to realize this and to look forward to the early completion of the church for the introduction of the real reign of Messiah, when all sin, all evil, all ignorance, superstition and error shall be overthrown, when the true light shall lighten every man, when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, when the kingdom shall be the Lord's and He shall be "the Governor amongst the nations." Psa. 22:28.
Thank God for this blessed hope and for the light from His word, which enable us to understand why the things promised have been so long delayed. In the end we shall see the wisdom of the divine plan in permitting evil to have its temporary triumph in permitting the world to taste of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its rewards of permitting the Church to receive her trials and testings, polishings and preparations for the kingdom conditions by contact with the world, the flesh and the devil, and the wicked spirits in exalted positions. Eph. 6:12.
EVERY KNEE MUST BOW
With joyful anticipation the Lord's people can look forward to the blessed reign of Messiah, which the Scriptures intimate will be very speedily introduced. Even though they perceive from the Scriptures that God will permit the wrath of man to praise Him, will permit sin and selfishness working through capital and labor to bring upon the world a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, nevertheless they see beyond that dark cloud the glorious sunlight of the millennial kingdom, and the blessings of the better government which the Lord is about to establish upon the ruins of present institutions, which human selfishness is rapidly overwhelming. The glory that shall follow will more than compensate for all the trials and clouds and difficulties and sorrows of the few days full of trouble which each member of the race now experiences. And as for the Church, we have the divine assurance that from the standpoint of the future, looking back, the overcomers will be able to realize more fully than they now do that the present afflictions are light, and, as it were, momentary, working out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the kingdom. These are even now by faith enabled to sing with the poet
The result or effect of the coming kingdom, the government upon the shoulders of God's anointed, is prophetically declared- "Unto Me every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God." There will be an enforced obedience at the beginning of the millennial age; just punishment will follow every willful infraction of the divine law and that speedily. The effect will be an early cessation of sin, a bowing of every knee and the confessing of every tongue. The Gospel Church, now walking in the narrow way in the light of the Bible, as a lamp upon the pathway, walks by faith; but the world in the coming millennial age, lighted by the great Sun of Righteousness, the glorified Church, head and body, will walk by sight. [HGL288] The judgments of the Lord, rewarding well-doing and punishing wrongdoing, will be abroad in the earth; every transgression shall receive a just recompense of reward, and every good deed and noble aspiration will receive encouragement and blessing. Describing the effect of this the prophet declares: "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9.
It will not, however, be sufficient that men shall obey the divine law under compulsion that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. The Lord seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth from the heart; and hence the Scriptures point out to us that before the close of the millennial age there will be a testing of those who bow the knee and confess with the tongue a testing that will prove whether or not they have come into heart accord with the Lord and his reign of righteousness; and all that by that time shall not have come into heart obedience will be accounted unworthy to go further, unworthy to enjoy more of the Lord's blessings. They shall not be permitted to go beyond the millennial age into the everlasting eternity of blessing, but shall be cut off in the second death. Acts 3:23.
WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, ALMIGHTY GOD
Already the Lord's consecrated people are able to appreciate some of these titles which belong to their Redeemer, and ultimately the whole world shall realize their appropriateness. Believers, from the time they receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit, come more and more to a realization of their Redeemer's character. He becomes to them more and more wonderful, more and more is He their Counselor and Guide and Teacher, and more and more do they appreciate Him as the Mighty One whom the Father hath set forth not only to be the propitiation of sins, but the great Reconciler of the world, in due time. From the Apostle's standpoint the instructed people of God are able to say, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." (1 Cor. 8:6.) They do not confound the Father with the Son by saying that the Father is His own Son, nor that the Son is His own Father, nor that the two are one in person. They learn not to lean to their own understanding nor to human teachings, but to accept and believe those things written in the Scriptures as they are written. Thus they see Jesus glorified, a glory "far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named," but they also see what the Scriptures everywhere set forth, namely, that our Lord Jesus as a God whom all men should honor even as they honor the Father is not the Father, not the God; and when He shall have accomplished the work which the Father hath given Him to do He will, at the close of the millennial age, deliver up the kingdom of God, even the Father, by whose power and authority all evil shall be subdued. (Eph. 1:21; John 5:23; 1 Cor. 15:24.) To this agree the words of the Apostle again, "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor. 11:3.
THE FATHER EVERLASTING
Nothing in this statement implies that the child born and the son given is to take the place and the honor of the Father in heaven, of whom Jesus our Lord declared, "I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God." (John 20:17.) This title, "The Father Everlasting," appropriately marks one feature of our great Redeemer's work. He is to be a Father without in any sense of the word interfering with or conflicting with the heavenly Father and His work. The Scriptures point out to us that the first man (Adam) was appointed to be the head or father or life giver to his race, but that through disobedience he failed, and, instead of giving everlasting life to his posterity, he bequeathed us a share in his own sentence, "Dying thou shalt die." Our Lord Jesus, by the sacrifice of Himself, redeemed Father Adam, and thus redeemed every member of his posterity, all of whom shared his original death sentence. The Scriptures point out that our Lord's payment of Adam's penalty was to the intent that he might release Adam and all his children from the curse of that death sentence, that he might become the Father or Life Giver to Adam and all of his race, to so many of them as would accept life eternal through Him on the divine conditions hearty obedience.
This title, "Father Everlasting," is still a prophetic one, for nowhere is Christ represented as being the Father of the Church, his "Bride," otherwise called his "brethren." On the other hand the Apostle declares that the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath begotten us." Hence, it is that we are children of God and that our Lord Jesus Christ is our elder brother, otherwise our "Bridegroom." His office of Father Everlasting will be toward the world of mankind in the next age, during the millennium. All who would come back into harmony with God must be regenerated, must receive from Christ their share in the life which He secured for them by His own death as substitute for Father Adam. This is the strict meaning of the word Savior life giver. Every father is a life giver, and so our Lord Jesus in giving life to the world during the millennial age will be assuming toward mankind in general the office of a father, and the life which He will give to all those who will obey Him will be everlasting life, and hence He will be the "Father Everlasting." On the other hand, whosoever will reject His favors and mercies cannot have the life, cannot become His children, and will be destroyed in the second death. What a grand meaning! What a great hope for the world in general is in this title prophetically given to our Master Father Everlasting!
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
The title Prince of Peace as applicable to our Lord is still prophetic. He is not yet the Prince of Peace; He cannot be the Prince of Peace until, first of all, He shall have conquered and brought into subjection sin and sinners. Hence, respecting the inauguration of the Master's kingdom, it is declared that in righteousness He shall judge and make war. Again, it is declared that the kingdoms of this world shall be broken in pieces as a potter's vessel at the inauguration of His reign. There is nothing peaceful in such procedures. The title Prince of Peace comes after evil [HGL289] shall have been subjugated, and properly so. Who could think of the Lord inaugurating a reign of peace while sin is still rampant! The declaration is "He shall make wars to cease unto the ends of the earth." Then He will forever after be the Prince of Peace, peace upon a stable foundation, upon the foundation of righteousness, for the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom.
Dear brethren and sisters, our interest in these great matters is untellable in proportion as we have had the eyes of our understanding opened to an appreciation of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine character. Let us each rejoice in so much of this plan as he is able to discern, and seek and pray for a still fuller opening of the eyes of our understanding. Enlightenment comes to all in proportion as we are willing and obedient. The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land, not only in the future, but also by faith in the present time. While at this season we call to mind specially God's great gift, His Son and all the blessings associated with Him, and, while dispensing to those we love and esteem little remembrances, let us specially call to mind our consecration to be followers of God's dear Son. We have given ourselves to Him; let us see to it that we are holding nothing back.
We have but a trifle to give at very most, a trifle which would be utterly unworthy of acceptance on other conditions than those He has arranged through the merit of our Redeemer's sacrifice. Seeing that the Lord is calling upon us to pass through present experiences, to overcome present trials and difficulties and weaknesses with a view to our own blessing, to our own exaltation, to our own glorification with Christ as associates in the kingdom that shall bless the world, let us give more and more diligence to make our calling and election sure, that we may ultimately attain this great prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.