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CHURCH--Setting Members in the Body
QUESTION (1913-Z)--1--What is signified by God's "setting the members every one of them in the Body, as it hath pleased Him"?--1 Cor. 12:18.
ANSWER.--In the present time there is a Church of Christ on probation. We sometimes say that we are members of the Church Militant; but to be a member of the Church Militant will not prove that we shall be in the Church Triumphant. Only those who are "faithful unto death" will be in the Church Triumphant. St. Paul, whom God had set in a very high position in the Church feared lest he might become a castaway. He said, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Cor. 9:27.) Various privileges and opportunities are granted to us while in the flesh, and our acceptance in the end and our participation in the glory beyond will depend upon our faithfulness here.
The Apostle says that the various members, "fitly framed together, grow into an holy Temple in the Lord." (Eph. 2:21.) We may not use this figure too literally or we may get into confusion. The stones in the Temple differ to some extent one from the other. In what is called "random range work" building there are places for little stones and places for larger stones. This might, in some respects, represent our being a larger or a smaller stone in the Temple--representing the privileges or honor which we may have beyond the veil.
St. Paul also says that he was trying to do much more, that he was trying to have a larger share in the trials and self-denials, in order that he might have a larger share in the work beyond. This did not mean that he desired self-aggrandizement, or that he was either proud or self-seeking.. And we shall not be so if we would attain that to which God would have us attain--the glorious character-likeness of our Master.
CHURCH--Proper Basis of Honor in the.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--2--Matt. 20:27 reads, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Is it a proper desire to be chief among the Lord's people, and are we to understand that the positions in the Kingdom of Heaven will be assigned entirely on the basis of the amount of service we render here?
ANSWER.--The Lord had been pointing out to His disciples a certain weakness on their part--a desire to be the greatest--a desire that is general in the human family--an ambitious spirit. The context says that amongst the Gentiles there are some who exercise a lordship and have others to serve them in a menial way, but that this was not to be the case amongst the disciples of Jesus. They were to be actuated by a different spirit. With the followers of Christ there is not to be a spirit to dominate, to rule others, but a spirit of love, which seeks to serve others, to do for others, a spirit which is willing to sacrifice personal interest in the service of others.
On this basis we consider further the words of this text. There will be some among the Lord's people who will be chief. It is necessarily so in any company or class or association where people are not all equal in talents--where some are born with more talents and some with less. Some one is bound to be chief. An absolute equality is not possible. [Q120]
It is advisable, too, that there be some among the saints of God to guide the Church. What, then, is to be the standard as to who is to be chief? Shall it be the one who would browbeat the others? No; this is not the standard. Shall it be one who will have a masterful influence and pleasant words, who will dominate merely because of some talent, or because of superior education or wealth--something of this kind? No; this could not be the standard. What, then, will be the standard as to those who will be recognized as chief ones in the Church?
We reply, We should look for those who have most of the spirit of service. He who renders the greatest amount of service and brings the greatest spiritual blessing to the Class-- the one who tries most to truly serve--consider him your chief. While our Lord's words were addressed to all the apostles, and not merely to one individual, yet they are applicable also to the individual. The thought should come home to each of our hearts, that if any of us have ambition for service in some special capacity, we are not to do like worldly people. We should take the opposite track, and leave any honor of men out of the question entirely. We should leave God to attend to that matter as shall seem to Him best, and be content merely to be a servant to the brethren. Let the Lord see how willing you are to serve in any manner. The person without any ambition never amounts to any thing. We need to have ambition if we are sowing or plowing or whatever we are doing--we need ambition to spur us on to do whatever we do in a satisfactory manner. And so if we have the opportunity of serving the Truth, we should seek to serve it in the most capable manner possible. Otherwise we should not be capable servants of the Lord.
But we are to lay aside any desire to be chief so far as ambition for personal glory is concerned. We are to seek to serve the Lord the best we know how. If you can serve the Lord in some respects better than I, and I can learn something from you, well and good. And if afterwards you can learn something from me, so be it. True, we should be patterning after that which is especially commendable and doing all we can to further the Lord's Cause. And this service should be prompted by love. Any service not prompted by love is not acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul says that those who desire the office of a bishop are desiring a good thing. It is a noble service. The office in the Apostles' day was not the exalted official position it is understood to be in the nominal church systems of today. A bishop then was a humble, untitled servant of the Church, caring for the interests of the sheep. Every servant of the Church should seek to be efficient, should love to be, as far as he is able, a caretaker over the flock of God. Amongst these Elder brethren, pastors of the congregation, there will be those of different natural abilities. Each should seek to use his talents, his opportunities, in the service of the Lord, of the brethren and of the Truth.
It is a pity that any of the Lord's people today forget the standard which the Master is here setting up. These seem to think that the office of Elder has become theirs by [Q121] right, instead of realizing that the appointment to this office is by vote of the Ecclesia, the company of the Lord's people, and is to be the voice of the Church. We believe that the attitude of each one should be to be willing to accept the voice of the Ecclesia, the Church, implicitly. If he has become a member of the congregation by casting in his lot with the others, he has thus become subject to the rules that represent the controlling majority, whether it be a majority of one or of a larger per cent. Having done this, he should seek to continue in this attitude, whether chosen an Elder or whether another is chosen.
Very frequently a congregation makes the mistake of selecting for Elder a brother who does not have the proper qualifications. This sometimes means dissatisfaction on the part of some of the class, and leads to the breaking away of some to form another class. We think this is not the wise course. We think that if the class made a mistake, the Lord is able to overrule it for good; and that therefore those who withdraw lose some experiences which would be valuable to them.
We are not always sure, however, that the class made a mistake. How can we know but that the Lord has some lesson in this matter? lf we have asked the Lord's blessing on whoever would be the choice, we should abide by that choice. If the one not chosen has ability for properly presenting the Truth and knows a number of places where he can be used and useful, we think that the brother should take advantage of whatever opportunities may present themselves. He need not leave the class, however. He could perform whatever service came to his hand. Perhaps he could use his time and talent in class extension work--not feeling restricted in this direction because he was not elected Elder. He might go out and find opportunities for service. So the change in Elders might mean to the brother not elected or not re-elected that the Lord was indicating to him another field of usefulness. The Lord's providences might be leading out for wider influence and usefulness for him.
We should not be influenced by what men of the world shall say or think of us. This is immaterial; and it is immaterial what the Church shall think. We should seek to please the Lord. We should not esteem ourselves too highly, but rather give a preference to others in our estimation. Positions in the Kingdom of Heaven, we understand, will be awarded according to the degree of the development of the fruits of the Holy Spirit; and this means a love which will lead to zeal in the Lord's service.
CHURCH--When Is the Anointing?
QUESTION (1915)--1--Do we, the Church, receive our full share in the anointing instantly or gradually?
ANSWER.--The expression, "anointing of the Spirit," is slightly different from the expression, "begetting of the Spirit." The thought connected with the word "begetting" is that of an instantaneous work, while the thought connected with "anointing" is a more gradual work. We are under the process of anointing from the time we enter the Lord's family, from the time we are recognized as members of the family of Christ, and receive a place in the glorious company of Royal Priests. We know that some fail to get their [Q122] full anointing. Some of those who have been properly received, and begotten of the Holy Spirit, will fail to be fully anointed, and therefore will fail to be of the Royal Priesthood Class. They will be of the Great Company Class instead. We therefore think that the expression, "anointing of the Spirit," must include that mollifying and mellowing development which comes as we grow in grace and in knowledge, and not merely the time when we were anointed (begotten) to come into the family of God.
CHURCH--Change of Feet-Members One by One.
QUESTION (1915)--1--Is there any Scripture which shows that the Feet-members of Christ will all be changed at one time?
ANSWER.--We believe to the contrary--that instead of all the Feet-members being changed at one time, it will be a gradual work. One may be changed tonight, another tomorrow, etc.; and yet their change may be said to be all at one time in the sense that it is all in the Harvest time, all in the end of the Age. The change of some will be in the close of the Harvest period. As an individual matter, it will be one person after another. The Apostle says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed;" for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Our change will be "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." It will not be a gradual change to the individual but an instantaneous change. Instead of sleeping as the saints of the past have done, when our time comes to die, ours will be an instantaneous change. The Psalmist prophetically says, "I have said, ye are gods, and all of you children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men;" and this Scripture we understand to refer to the dying process that comes to all of the Church, the same as to mankind in general. We are New Creatures and hence the expression that we shall "die like men." As men die, so we will die. Men do not generally die in bunches; so we would think it strange if many of us should die at one time. The world will not discern any difference between our death and the death of other men.
CHURCH-Sin-Offering Made by High Priest.
QUESTION (1915)--2--For what sins do the Church suffer?
ANSWER.--The members of the Church suffer for any sins of the flesh they do not properly repent of and properly make amends for. The Apostle says that if we would judge ourselves, if we would punish ourselves, correct ourselves, we would not be judged of the Lord. If we would thoroughly attend to these matters ourselves, we would not need to be chastened by the Lord. When He finds it necessary to deal with us, it is that we may not be condemned with the world.
The whole world is in a condemned condition. God is choosing some who will be justified to life everlasting on the spirit plane. If we are faithful it will not be necessary for the Lord to punish us, but rather to encourage and help us. This would not mean that we shall not have trials and difficulties, but it does mean that if we chasten ourselves we shall not be punished by the Lord for our sins, for the weaknesses of our flesh which we might have avoided, and for which we are to some extent responsible.
We are not to suppose that a New Creature would sin wilfully. If he thus sinned, he would be no longer a New [Q123] Creature. He would have gone back, like the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire. The sins that the New Creature would suffer for would be those sins of the flesh which he might have avoided, and which he failed to correct. These sufferings would give him a sharper appreciation of his duties; they would be disciplining for his good.
But this may not be the thought of the questioner. He may mean, "What has the Church to do with the Sin-offering?" The Church has nothing to do with the Sin-offering, as a Church. It is the Lord Jesus who is the responsible One in the whole matter. In the type it was not the under priests that did the offering, but the high priest. So it was the Lord Jesus that offered up Himself. He offers us up as His members, but He does not do this contrary to our wills. We desire that He will offer us up as parts of Himself, that we may thus have a share in "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that shall follow." It is His merit alone that gives virtue to our sacrifice.
The whole responsibility, therefore, is in the hands of the great High Priest, our Lord. We share with Him in the world's Sin-offering, as His members. We participate in the sufferings which are counted as His sufferings. You and I could not atone for sins by our sufferings--either for our own sins or for those of others. That is all in the Lord's hands.
CHURCH--Christ Our All in All.
QUESTION (1915)--1--"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Deliverance" (1 Cor. 1:30). How is Christ made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Deliverance?
ANSWER.--God has made Jesus to be all these things to the Church. That is to say, all these various things are to be attained by the Church through Jesus. You could not attain to any of these things yourselves. I could not attain to them of myself. Indeed, no one could. Therefore it is God's appointment that all these qualities and blessings should come to us through the Lord Jesus.
First of all, Jesus is made unto us Wisdom. He gives us the necessary knowledge to come to God. That is the first step. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). You have not yet become a child of God, but you need a measure of wisdom in order that you may come to the Father. So Jesus becomes to us Wisdom; and He continues to be our Wisdom all the way through.
Then Christ "is made unto us Righteousness"--justification. When He was first made unto us Wisdom, we were not fully justified. But we were justified when we accepted the terms which that Wisdom taught us, and made our consecration accordingly. Then Christ became our Justification. How? By imputing to us the merit of His sacrifice. This justified us legally. How much merit do we need? Each one needs whatever he lacks of perfection. We all lack something of perfection. Some lack more and some less. There is none righteous--perfect.
We might place the perfect standard at one hundred. We might say that some would reach the 50 per cent (half of a man or woman in moral quality). Perhaps some would have only 25 per cent (a quarter of a man or woman). What [Q124] do you mean by a quarter of a man or woman? I mean that they are depraved, fallen, to the extent of three-quarters. Such a one would have only one-quarter of what would be required to make up a perfect man. I believe that the average person reaches no more than the mark of 25 per cent, or is one-quarter of a real man. I think that is about the proportion. I am not to judge in any individual case. Judge yourself according to your own estimate of the matter.
Now, then, the person who is one-quarter of a perfect man is lacking three-quarters, and for Jesus to justify him would mean the imputing to him of three-quarters; for the meaning of the word justification is to make right, to make perfect. If, for instance, you need a dollar and have only twenty-five cents, some one will need to make up seventy-five cents. It is the same in weight. If you have only four ounces and need to have a pound, some one will need to make up the other twelve ounces. So with justification, one hundred being the standard. If you have but 25 per cent of character and of physical soundness, you need just 75 per cent imputed to you. If you have 50 per cent, the Lord will make up the other 50 per cent. For the person having only 10 per cent of character the Lord proposes to make up the other 90 per cent. So the better you are naturally the less the Lord will do for you. Strange as that proposition may seem, nevertheless it is the case. The less He will need to do for you. This is the proposition of justification, the making of you right. No one needs to be more than right, only just right.
Then Jesus becomes our Sanctification, in the sense that He is our Teacher. We enter the School of Christ as pupils and need sanctification. He not only sanctifies us in the sense of bringing us into covenant relationship with our Heavenly Father, where we are set apart as God's children by the giving of the Holy Spirit, but He continues to be our Sanctifier, our Instructor, even unto the end, instructing us in the Truth, making us more and more fully set apart, as He prayed for the Church--"Sanctify them through Thy Truth, Thy Word is Truth" (John 17:17). Our Lord Jesus is the One who applies the Truth to the Church, which is His' Body. And this application of the Truth-teaching us and leading us in the right way--is His way of sanctifying.
It might be said that it is the Father who sanctifies. So it is; and it might be equally said that it is the Father who justifies, makes righteous before the Law; but He does all this through the Son. It is likewise true that the Father gives the wisdom, but through the Son. God has honored the Son by appointing Him heir of all things.
So with the Deliverance. It is to be the great resurrection "change" that will bring this to us, and Jesus is to be our Deliverer. He is the One who calls all the saints from the sleep of death, as He declares, you remember: "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth" (John 5:28). And we who are alive and remain at His coming will be changed by Him. He will be the Deliverer of all His Church. Although the Bible says that the Father is the Great Deliverer, and it was the Father who raised up our Lord Jesus, and who "will raise us up also" from the tomb, yet it will be by Jesus. All things are of the Father and by the Son. [Q125]
CHURCH--Some Working Independently.
QUESTION (1916)--1-- Should a group of Bible students work independently of the ecclesia of that locality, being members of that ecclesia.?
ANSWER.--There is, of course, a certain amount of Christian liberty that we believe the Lord would be pleased that people always exercise. For instance, suppose a brother were to go to another brother's home, and two or three neighbors came in to spend the evening. Then suppose one should say, "Let us have a game of chess," and another would say, "No, let us have a Bible study." We do not think it would be the Lord's will to say, "No, we cannot have a Bible study, because it is not authorized by our class, but we will play chess." We might properly reason that, while no meeting had been arranged there by the ecclesia, there could be no objection to having a Bible study or to talking along Bible lines. The host might say, "We will ask in some more of the neighbors for another meeting next week. I have tried to tell them about these things and will be glad to have them hear you." I cannot see that there would be anything wrong in such a course. If those attending desired a regular meeting, it should be turned over to the I.B.S.A. local class, which would supply the leaders.
But now suppose some of a class say, "We will start another regular meeting;" this would be a different case entirely. They have a right to form a new ecclesia, but in so doing they would be breaking away from the original ecclesia. They could not then properly go back to the other meeting and say, "We will vote here." There must be consistency in what we do. All who become members of an ecclesia more or less give up their personal liberties that they may have the advantages of co-operation. But this would not mean such bondage that we could not have a Bible study, but must spend the evening playing games instead.
CHURCH--Her Part in Binding Kings.
QUESTION (1916)--2--What part will the Church have in binding kings?
ANSWER.--Apparently, my dear friends, the Church now has no part whatever in the binding of kings. At least we do not see yet how you and I have any part in that work; we do not see that the kings are bound. What part the Church may have in that work later we do not know. The Bible shows that they will have an important part, but how they will exercise that privilege when the time comes remains to be seen. God has not shown just how His plan will be worked out. We need to be in position to do our part when the time comes, but we must be satisfied to leave the matter in the Lord's hands. In the armies of the world the men in the ranks do not know when an attack is to be made, right up to the time when the order to advance is given. In due time you and I will get our orders. In the meantime we are to keep the armor on; we are to keep it clean and bright; we are not to get sleepy or weary in well-doing, but to grow strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
CHURCH--Will the Glorified Have Life-Giving Power?
QUESTION (1916-Z)--3--In the Millennium will Jesus alone be the Life-giver to the world, or will the Church also be associated with Him as members of the Life-giver, and have power to awaken the dead? [Q126]
ANSWER.--The subject of giving life may be viewed from different standpoints. In a certain sense the mother as well as the father of a child is its life-giver--in the sense that the child could not have attained individual existence without the mother. And yet, strictly speaking, the father alone is the life-giver; for the life-germ comes from him.
So the Bible uses this natural illustration of an earthly father, or life-giver, to picture a great spiritual truth. The world is dead in Adam--under sentence of death. Jesus has laid down the Ransom-price which will offset that sentence. By virtue of so doing He will have the right, as soon as the merit of His sacrifice is applied for the world, to become the Life-giver of Adam and his race. The human life-rights which He will give will be those which He Himself laid down in death.
But as Jesus by the will of God has associated the Church with Himself, both in the sufferings of this present time and in the glory that is to follow, she will have to do with the giving of life to the world. Her work is illustrated in Mother Eve and in womankind in general. It will be the work of the Church to nourish the world of mankind--to nourish the spark of life which they will receive from the Redeemer. Under this nourishment and care, as many of the world as will co-operate will rise up out of sin and death conditions to perfection.
Thus the Bride of Christ will have to do with the life-giving, but merely as the associates of the great Life-giver. The Ransomer, Jesus, alone is the One who can dispense His own life-rights. And Jesus Himself said, "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth." (John 5:25,29.) Any work which the glorified Church may do in connection with the restoration of the world will be as His assistants.
CHURCH--What the Church Purchases.
QUESTION (1916)--l--Does the Church, the elect, purchase the world during this, the gospel age? Paragraph 3, page 99 of Tabernacle Shadows would seem to indicate this.
ANSWER.--It was not the intention of any paragraph in Tabernacle Shadows to indicate anything of that kind. I would like to repeat this ten thousand times: Nobody but one person could purchase the world because it was only one man that sinned, and so only one man to redeem. The ransom is a corresponding price. He gave Himself as a ransom, not with the church as though it is something that He is continuing to do through them. He finished that at Calvary. He has not made an actual application of it as yet, but the provision of the ransom price was made before we came into God's plan at all. We did not come in until Jesus had finished His work at Calvary. Then came in the selection of the church. First, He was to be the Captain of our salvation, and then could have a body of soldiers under Him. He was to be the Head over His fellows. The selection of these fellows began after the completion of His sacrifice. Only Jesus had died and ascended up on High, and had made satisfaction and imputation. (God had not recognized any of the Church at all), and then, when that was done--the church not in it at all-- God through Jesus shed forth the Holy Spirit. We have nothing to do with the payment of that price. That is all the work of Jesus. [Q127]
CHURCH--Regarding Merit of.
QUESTION (1916)--1--Has the Church, individually, or collectively, any merit of its own, in any sense?
ANSWER.--I do not know what was in the mind of the one who asked that question. The church had no merit according to the flesh, but the church is not in the flesh. "We are not in the flesh, but in the spirit." The body of Christ is the new creation, and it has already much merit. When God made us new creatures we had some merit, and I hope we will keep that merit which God grants to all those who are His children. Everyone must have some merit, or else God would not recognize him at all. In Ephesians we read that God will do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think: there must be some merit there. Then, we read about being worthy. Some blessings will come to the church because the church will be found worthy.
Has the church any merit of an earthly kind that it could appropriate to the world? The merit of the new creation is one thing, but we have no merit according to the flesh that we could give away. But have we anything of that kind? Yes. The Bible pictures that if you suffer for righteousness sake in your flesh, then a meritorious thing has been accomplished so far as you are concerned. You have thereby suffered a loss of your rights. There is a certain amount of merit belonging to those rights that you lost, and a certain amount of demerit to those who caused this loss. God pictures this as a kind of an imputation to the world. I remind you of Leviticus 16 that certain sins of the people beyond the ordinary ones covered by the Day of Atonement sacrifices, had to be otherwise atoned for in another way, so also while the forgiveness of all Adamic sin all belongs to Jesus, yet, what we might suffer for righteousness sake, all this suffering might all go as a kind of credit for somebody else and serve to make up for the loss to others who have done wrong beyond that which is attributable to father Adam. This will make a balance. This will all be balanced before the new age comes in. That is the reason for the coming trouble, because God will balance the account. The church will have something to its credit according to one part of the picture of Leviticus 16.
QUESTION (1909)--2--The sign of the Abrahamic covenant was fleshly circumcision. If we are under that covenant why do we not have that same sign?
ANSWER.--The Apostle intimates that we do have the same sign, but it is the circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. With spiritual Israel it is spiritual circumcision. The Apostle tells us these are the things we are to have circumcised--anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, works of the flesh and works of the devil. Cut these off and then you are circumcised in the heart. That doesn't mean that you never make the mistake of having an angry thought. It is not your flesh, but you as a new creature that is a member of the Body of Christ. The flesh is merely a servant of that new creature and the new creature will keep the body under to the best of its ability. [Q128]
COLLECTIONS--Spending Much, Asking Little.
QUESTION (1913)--1--How is it possible for the International Bible Student's Association to spend so much money, and yet never ask for any?
ANSWER.--Years ago, dear friends, I had my experience when a Congregationalist. There was a fair and voting contest on and I remember very well that I solicited from one person, and he very promptly handed me two dollars and seemed pleased to give it. After receiving the two dollars I felt ashamed. I said, You begged. My answer was, You begged for the church. But you would be ashamed to beg for yourself. Yes, I would, but this was for the Lord. But if you would be ashamed to beg for yourself should you not be more ashamed to beg for the Lord? Is the Lord poor? I said, No, and I will never beg or solicit again, nor have I from that time to now.
The question is, How can we spend so much money when we solicit none? People voluntarily push it on us. That is no joke. People really say, "Brother Russell, I am deeply interested in these things and would like to put a little money in. Can I have a chance?" We say, Brother, there is all of the chance in the world. Sometimes people, without the least expectation on my part, have handed me money. For instance, one afternoon when going to a question meeting, a gentleman came up to me and handed me a piece of paper. I put it in my pocket, thinking it was a question. When I got to the platform and pulled it out I found a check for $1,000. I remembered then that the gentleman who had handed me the check had told me how he had been a very wicked man. He lived in the western country, and while a member of the Presbyterian church, he told me he had not been a Christian at all. He gambled, smoked, drank, and did nearly everything which a Christian ought not to do. He did not say, nor do I, that the Presbyterian church would encourage him in this. He told me he did not know what Christianity was until he read the Studies in the Scriptures. After learning the reasonableness and goodness of God's plan he wanted to use his money to help spread the knowledge which he had appreciated so much, hence handed me the check. This is the manner in which the money has been supplied. Our thought has been that as long as the Lord wishes the work to go on, He can take care of supplying the funds. It is His business to attend to how much He sends. If the Lord ever withholds the supply the work will go down in proportion.
COLLECTIONS--Meaning of Voluntary Contributions.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Representatives of the International Bible Students' Association have given out the report in Springfield that the entire expense of their propaganda and work is covered by voluntary contributions. Please explain the exact meaning of the term "voluntary contributions."
ANSWER.--It is a contribution not in any manner solicited. We do make known the results of our work every year in an annual report, as seems proper, but no names of contributors are given. No one even gets a chance to get his name before the church, or other contributors. Whatever is given is unto the Lord and no attempt is made to flaunt any human donation. We simply use what is voluntarily handed in. [Q129]
COLLECTIONS--I.B.S.A. and Collections.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Is there any scriptural reason why the International Bible Students' Association refuses to solicit money?
ANSWER.--Our general thought is that this matter of the solicitation of money has become rather obnoxious in the sight of a great many, and that the Lord's name might be, perhaps, more glorified if we do not solicit money. Furthermore, we recognize the fact that our Heavenly Father is very rich. All of the gold and silver is His, and all of the cattle on a thousand hills. If He needed money He would not need to ask us, and He has never commissioned us, that we know of, to ask or solicit in any manner in His name. As He has not commissioned us so to do we think it not proper to do so. This is no reflection upon others having a different view. They have their rights.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Giving Out Tracts.
QUESTION (1906)--2--Please indicate the best method for giving out tracts.
ANSWER.--We think there are two tracts, and only two that the colporteurs should give out. That is not saying anything against the other tracts. One is No. 54, "The Dark Cloud and the Silver Lining," and "Do You Know" is also a good one. We advise that the Colporteurs do not take the other tracts, but let the volunteers give out the others.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Tracting While Colporteuring.
QUESTION (1906)--3--Do you advise that we give out these tracts when we colporteur?
QUESTION (1906)--4--Do you think colporteurs should do volunteer work?
ANSWER.--I don't know any reason why they should not, but my thought is this: that the colporteur would do better to avoid volunteer work and use his time in a little different way. For instance, those colporteuring the week, and supposedly using up about all the energy they have to spare, when Sunday comes, had better look over their book of names and see who are marked as interested, and use their time in visiting them.
COLPORTEUR WORK--When Colporteuring Is Volunteering.
QUESTION (1906)--5--Haven't the colporteurs already done a volunteer work when they have distributed tracts over the city?
QUESTION (1906)--6--In case of one with a family dependent upon him, if arrangements could be made, would it be all right to go into the colporteur work?
ANSWER.--I would not think it right for a wife, for instance, to leave [Q130] her home and husband in any measure of neglect. She has a wifely duty towards her husband and her home. But if this husband were in the truth and agreeable to it, all right. If he were a worldly husband, he has a right to demand that his home should be cared for; that is part of the wife's contract, which I think she must not violate.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Consider Married Companion.
QUESTION (1906)--1--If the husband is a worldly man, but willing for his wife to go out, what then?
ANSWER.--All right, sister, if he is willing; but I would take heed never to run the matter to a limit. Always consider the companion, his interests, and what he might reasonably ask or expect.
COLPORTEURING & VOLUNTEERING--Method of Introduction.
QUESTION (1906)--2--What is the proper way for volunteer workers to introduce a tract?
ANSWER.--I do not think the tracts usually need introduction, particularly unless the person happened to be on the porch, when I would just say something like this: "Will you have some free reading matter?" Put the word "Free" in quite prominently so they will not think it is something for sale, and make sure they hear it.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Dealing With Those Who Refuse Orders.
QUESTION (1906)--3--How should we deal with those who refuse to take the books after ordering them? How strongly should we insist on their taking them?
ANSWER.--I would say, never under any circumstances should we be rude or act in any unchristian manner; not for the price of a dozen sets should we think of doing anything that would bring discredit to the Great Master whom we represent. We are to remember that we are ambassadors for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and as such we must not think of doing anything that would he mean, or even going down to the plane of those we are talking to, if they are mean. How then must we do? I answer thus: We might very properly say, "Well now, lady (or sir), you certainly ordered these with full knowledge, and I really think that you are hardly considering my circumstances properly when you refuse to take them. You know it took considerable of my time to call here and talk to you on the subject, and I am not paid anything for this; it is a love for the truth and a desire to serve you. And then consider that it takes time for me to bring you the book, and the labor is worth something of course. Now all I have in this matter is an allowance by the Society that I get such a proportion of whatever comes in from those books, which are sold at cost price. Three books for one dollar don't amount to anything, and I should not think you would back out of this matter unless there was some misconception in your mind. It seems to me that somebody must have been saying something to you to prejudice you, and you have perhaps forgotten what I said to you about the books when I took your order. Now, my friend, let me tell you that there are enemies of this book, but as a rule you will find the enemies are those who have never read them. The enemies of these books are people who have never studied them. I take it that you are an intelligent [Q131] man (or woman, as the case may be--and that can be said of nearly everybody that would order a book); you seem to have a great deal of intelligence, and I suppose you do some thinking for yourself. Now I will say this to you, that if you will take the books and keep them for a week or a month, I will tell you where I will be, and if you then tell me, after reading them, that they are not helpful to you, and not worth much more than a dollar, I will take them back and refund your money, and that will be all that will be said about it." So I would make a very dignified argument, and if after I had said everything that I could reasonably say, they concluded they would not take them, I would just say, "Well, all right; we will leave it that way; I will take them back."
COLPORTEUR WORK--Asking Pay for Time When Order Is Refused.
QUESTION (1906)--1--I heard a brother say he asked some to pay him for his time. Would you consider that proper where they refused to take the books?
ANSWER.--I do not think I would ask the person to pay me for my time, unless it was a case like this: If it was a party who had bought the books and paid for them, and was asking me to give the money back again, saying he did not want to read them, then I think it would be proper to say to him: "Well, now, my friend, if you really insist on my taking them back, you certainly would be willing that I should have something for my time, and I think you will admit that a quarter for the time I spent with you in coming to canvass and a quarter for bringing them to you is little enough. But I do not want the books back; I want you to get the benefit of them; that is the reason I am in this work." By the time he has reasoned out all of that, he will be likely to allow you to persuade him to take the books.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Selling for More Than Listed Price.
QUESTION (1906)--2--I have sold quite a number of the five-cent volumes where I could not sell the others. In one case a gentleman says, "You are selling these for ten cents, and they are marked five cents on the front." Is it better to sell them for five cents and not get the revenue, or should that be changed so nobody will be inclined to be prejudiced?
ANSWER.--I would just say the five cents on there is all right. You can send and get as many of those you want at five cents a copy. They are published just at cost price. The five cents is what I am getting for my time in bringing them around. If you stop for a moment and think about it you will see that I could not afford to sell them at five cents.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Are Scripture Studies Millennial Dawn?
QUESTION (1906)--3--In delivering a set of books ordered by a lady, I handed her husband the books, and while his wife went in after the money, he says, "Are these books anything like Millennial Dawn?" I said, "This work treats on lines of chronology, etc." I turned him off the track and got the money and went away. After going away I felt a little bad, wondering If I had taken the right course.
ANSWER.--I think probably we would have to supply in our minds part [Q132] of what we supposed. We would suppose from the man's question that he has some prejudice against Millennial Dawn, and that his prejudice is unfounded. That is to say, it is founded upon some misrepresentation or misunderstanding of what Millennial Dawn is. So this is not what he thinks Millennial Dawn is, so far as we know; therefore, I think you were justified in putting it in the form you did.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Replying Re Millennial Dawn.
QUESTION (1906)--1--Would you always advise where people ask if those books are Millennial Dawn that we pursue the course mentioned by the brother here? Sometimes they have the Millennial Dawn books in the house, and if we sell them the Studies, and a half hour after we are gone they discover they have got exactly the same thing, and must realize that we knew it was the same thing, wouldn't it prejudice them? Is it always wise?
ANSWER.--I should say I do not think a case, such a you mention would occur once in a thousand times, that the person who knew what was in Millennial Dawn would be opposed. It is when they have a misconception of it when they are opposed. Therefore when you have such a question, you are merely having a question with a wrong face to it in their minds. Another brother did this way: He said, "In some respects this book is very much like Millennial Dawn, and by-the-way Millennial Dawn has a great many things in it." The party bought it, but he would not buy Millennial Dawn. I would not advise, however, that any person should violate his or her conscience in the matter.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Size of Order.
QUESTION (1906)--2--Which do you advise now, sets of three or five or six?
ANSWER.--I think a great deal depends on the colporteur himself whether he could sell five or six or three better. As far as our experience goes, it would seem to indicate that the majority can sell three copies just about as easily as they can sell one copy. The selling of three for 98 cents seems to strike people as being remarkably cheap, whether they are interested in the books or not. You could say, "There are two sets of these studies; the first set is 98 cents the books of the other set are thicker, and if you want them either now or in the future you can get them also." So you see you can let them know there are two sets, but in speaking of them as different sets, you are thus keeping their minds free from thinking that they were not getting a complete set. Each book is really complete in itself.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Are We Ministers?
QUESTION (1906)--3--Suppose we are asked whether we are ministers or not?
QUESTION (1906)--4-- Where books are ordered, [Q133] and you come to deliver them, and the husband objects to having them in the house, and the wife is willing to pay you for your trouble, but finally takes them reluctantly, is it all right?
ANSWER.--I would always prefer that they take the books. I would say, "If you can explain to your husband that they are religious books, and you would like to have him examine them and if he finds anything wrong with them that is another matter; but I am sure when he reads them he will be pleased to have them in the house."
COLPORTEUR WORK--Leaving Territory.
QUESTION (1906)--1--Is it proper for a person in canvassing ever to go out of his territory, even if it is only across the river?
QUESTION (1909)--2--How long may colporteurs be permitted to do active work?
QUESTION (1911)--3--How can we colporteurs prove to the people that the Studies in the Scriptures are undenominational?
ANSWER.--Well, there are some people you could not prove anything to. But one way of proving they are not denominational is to show that they were not gotten out by any denomination; no denomination is backing them; and they will have to take your word in the matter anyway until they have had a chance to read. If any denomination is disposed to endorse them, we have no objection.
COLPORTEUR WORK--Mortgage Upon One's Time.
QUESTION (1916)--4--A certain brother is in the colporteur work; he has a father and two brothers. His brothers can take care of his father, and they do. Is he required to provide for his father in such a case?
ANSWER.--Of course, we might not know all the particulars of the case, dear friends, and therefore an answer to a question of this kind might not be what it would be if we did know all the particulars; but, so far as the question goes-- so far as we can understand the question--it looks as though this brother might consider himself at liberty to engage in the colporteur work since others will care for his father.
COMMANDMENTS--Trying to Trap Jesus.
QUESTION (1910-Z)--5--Which is the great commandment?
ANSWER.--One of the Doctors of the Law endeavored to entrap the Lord on a question of the relative importance of the Divine commandments, asking which Jesus considered the great one of all. The [Q134] Great Teacher promptly divided the ten commandments into two, according to the Law (Deut. 6:5), and answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." This is the first and great (chief) commandment. And the second is like unto it--"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. What could the Lawyer say to such a summarization of the Law? He had nothing left to say. He was answered as never before.
COMMANDMENTS--Were They Nailed to the Cross?
QUESTION (1916)--1--Were the ten commandments a perpetual law or were they nailed to the cross?
ANSWER.--The ten commandments were not nailed to the cross at all. They were given to the Jew, and they are still upon the Jew to this day. The covenant which God made with Israel He has not repudiated. Their law covenant will finally be merged into the new covenant. Their blessings promised through the prophets will not come to them through their law covenant. The Lord said, "But not by thy covenant," (Ezekiel 16:61.) Israel's old covenant will cover them until they are brought under the new mediator of the new covenant, Christ Jesus the Head, and the Church his Body. In proportion to the Jews endeavor to keep the law of the ten commandments they have had, and will have, blessings from God.
Christians are not under the law of the ten commandments, given only to Israel at Sinai; but we have always been, and all of God's creatures everywhere are, under the spirit of the ten commandments to the extent that they know them. This spirit of the law was expressed by the Lord Jesus when he said that the law is briefly comprehended in two commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength." Every Christian is under that commandment. The angels are under that commandment. All of God's creatures who live in harmony with Him must know and love God with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength. The second commandment, Jesus tells us, is that we shall love our neighbor as ourself. All Christians are under that commandment. Jesus and the apostles were under it and every angel is under it. The divine will for all God's creatures was the spirit of that law of Israel, which will never pass away.
But to the Church has been given a third commandment. Jesus said: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you." This is applicable only to the Church. This command is not of universal application. It is given only to the Church and for this Gospel Age. We are not to love the world or the angels in this way, but merely one another. How much shall we love the brethren? To the extent of giving our life for them, as Jesus laid down his life for us. We must cultivate that love if we would have God's highest, grandest blessings. Some may get into the Great Company without this degree of love, but all of those who get into the Body of Christ must love one another as Jesus loved them. The apostle, speaking of how Christ died for us, says: "We also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." All of the "more than conquerors" will keep this our third commandment. Thus only can we fulfill our "covenant by sacrifice."
What was it that Jesus nailed to the cross? It was the law covenant. It [Q135] was the covenant or agreement, that God made with the Jews, under which they had some hope of becoming a part of the elect Church. If they could keep God's perfect law it would demonstrate that they were perfect beings. In that case they could have been transferred to the "covenant by sacrifice" without being redeemed. Of course, they could not keep the works of the law covenant--that covenant which required all the good work a perfect man could render. God knew this, but the Israelites did not. God's covenant provided that if they could do those things they might have everlasting life, and not need to be redeemed. When Jesus came and kept all the law covenant's requirements, he became heir to the promises of that law covenant. Thus all hopes by others under that covenant were at an end. Any blessings under that law covenant could only come through Christ--in no other way. It was that covenant that was nailed to the cross. Some of the Jews, the apostles and others, finally came to realize that their only way of getting these blessings which the Sinai law offered would be by coming to Christ and becoming dead with him--suffering with him.
We who were Gentiles become part of spiritual Israel, and participate in the blessings natural Israel had hoped to get; but this we receive through Christ under the terms of his covenant of sacrifice: "Gather My saints together unto Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (Psa. 50:5.)
COMMON SENSE--Use Discretion and Wisdom.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--l--We are told that from him who would borrow of us we should not turn away. (Matt. 5:42.) How shall we understand this?
ANSWER.--There is nothing in this Scripture that says that we should lend to everybody who wishes to ask for a loan, either of goods or money; but we should not turn away with a deaf ear from those in need. The Scriptures say, Do good and lend, hoping for no recompense. (Luke 6:35) We should also have that beneficent disposition which desires to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith. But we should use discretion and wisdom. Often the very best thing to do to a person is to lend him something, even if sure that he would not return it; for thus the way to his coming any more would be barred to some extent at least.
COMMON SENSE--Re Holding Job.
QUESTION (1914)--2--A brother, new in the truth and well beloved, was forced through a business policy to risk losing his position or subscribe for a religious journal entitled "The Christian Advocate." This journal has repeatedly published articles reviling the Servant of the Truth. This brother is placed in a very peculiar position, having had very heavy expenses on account of serious illness of several of the members of the family. How should this brother be advised and should he be re-elected as elder?
ANSWER.--If I were that brother I would subscribe for a half dozen copies if necessary. Would I give $6.00 for my job? Yes, or $12.00 if I thought it worth it. I would not think he did wrong by subscribing for a journal even if it did revile Brother Russell. I will forgive him. I think the brother has good common sense. We need common sense, among elders also.