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CONDEMNATION--Its Traces and Removal in the Resurrection.
QUESTION (1906)--l--Will the human race be under condemnation in the resurrection?
ANSWER.--They will not be under condemnation in the sense of being under the curse, because our Lord has paid the penalty for them, and it is on that account that they are to be brought out from under the curse, from under the divine sentence. They will no longer be under the divine sentence of death, but they will still be under some of the effects of the curse. They will be under the effects of the condemnation, but not under the condemnation itself. The legal condemnation passes away when the great High Priest shall have finished the work of the day of atonement and sprinkled the blood in the Most Holy. The traces of the condemnation, as found in the blemishes of the race, will still continue and require the work of restitution during the millennial age to bring mankind up out of that condition of imperfection to the full perfection of all that was lost.
CONDEMNATION--Re Justification of World.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Is the world of mankind now justified from the Adamic condemnation, or must they first be awakened and exercise faith before they can be justified?
ANSWER.--I answer that the world is not justified in any sense of the word; they are not to be justified by faith. He who gave His life as a ransom, when He ascended up on High, did not present that merit on behalf of the world, but to the household of faith, the members of His body, and they only. After this merit shall have passed through the Church, this same merit will seal the New Covenant with Israel, and then Israel will have the blessing and favor of God, and all who will come into covenant relation ship with God will have that blessing, and then every nation, kindred and tongue will be able to come to God. They will not be justified by faith; they will not be justified at any time until they are actually justified at the end of the Millennial Age. What does justification mean? It means to make right. It means the whole restitution work of the Millennial Age, at the end of which the whole world will be made right and in harmony with God, they will have gotten back all that was lost through Adam.
This matter of being justified by faith applies only to the Gospel Age. Why do we have this different from the world? Because God is calling this elect class, and He is giving us this justification so that we will have something to offer. Only these will have a share in the sacrifice of Christ, only these will be glorified with Him. This justification is given to you and to me and to all the household of faith, because we are not of the world, we are of a different spirit, chosen out of the world, drawn of the Father to the Son. The Son accepts and then He applies justification by faith so that they can offer the same on the altar, and thus share in the high calling. To the rest of the world there is no justification except at the end of the Millennial Age.
CONDEMNATION--Released from Through Belief.
QUESTION (1911)--3--(John 5:24), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and will not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." [Q137]
ANSWER.--That means this: That those who come now into heart relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ will not be in that future condemnation with the world. The whole world during the thousand years of Messiah's reign will be in condemnation, and have the opportunity of coming out of the condemnation, rising up out of it and getting back into harmony with God, but those who now accept Christ come into relationship with him, and may be thought of and considered as having made a union now in advance with the great life-giver; and if they make that arrangement with him now, and by faith walk in his footsteps as his disciples, they will not need to come into the world's condemnation, the world's judgment, trial, because they pass from death unto life immediately. That is to say, they are counted already as having passed from death unto life; they are counted already as becoming new creatures and are merely waiting for the time to come when by the change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in the first resurrection, their course will be completed and they will be like their Lord, and share his glory.
CONDEMNATION--Were Jews Doubly Condemned?
QUESTION (1914)--1--Since all were condemned in Adam, is it proper to say that the Jews were doubly condemned, or should we say that their failure to keep the law was an additional proof of their condemnation?
ANSWER.--It is proper to state it the way God's Word puts it, for we do not know very much about it ourselves. The Apostle speaks of the Law being a special condemnation to the Jew, and he tells us Gentiles that if we were to get under the same condemnation as the Jew we would be getting into a double condemnation, which means that there was something extra in their case. He says, "Ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the Law?" He points out how every one that did not keep the law was condemned by not doing so, and that the whole Jewish nation was condemned because of not keeping that law. Then he proceeds to show that a Jew could only get free from the law by dying to the law, while we, who are Gentiles by nature, could get into Christ because we were already condemned in Adam. We do not have to die to the law, but every Jew had to die to the law before he could get into Christ at all. So that in one sense of the word you see that the Jews were around the corner, as it were, and having a more difficult way to get into Christ. How did that come? This way: The whole race was condemned in Adam. We are all of one race. We were all alike sinners, the same sentence upon all, from Father Adam. But God made this special proposition to them: Now, I propose to you a special thing, that I will count you out of the general run of mankind and I will count you a special people and will make a special covenant with you and I will give you a special mediator, Moses. Now if you wish to come under these terms as a people, then you will have the opportunity by obedience to this law, I will give you everlasting life, and by disobedience you agree that I shall sentence you to death. And they said, "It is agreed," and as you see, they were already under one sentence of death through Adam, and now God typically lifts them out of that condemnation in which the whole world was, and, typically, through the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of [Q138] the heifer, He typically placed them on a new platform and gave them a special condition and a special covenant and entered into a covenant with them, and they bartered all their future rights in that covenant. Therefore, when they failed to keep the law they as it were had their second trial. They accepted it as a preference to the future trial. They got their condemnation. Therefore, the Bible proceeds to show that Jesus not only died for the world, but that He also especially died for the Jews, and the Bible points out especially that there were certain features of God's law that were upon the Jews that made it necessary that Christ should die especially for them, as it is written in the law, "Cursed is every one that dieth on a tree." "Therefore," says the Apostle, "He was made a curse for us (for us Jews)." He did not need to die on the tree for the Gentiles. There was nothing in God's law for Adam that he should die on the tree. There was nothing in God's law, therefore, that required that Jesus must die on the tree, that He must be crucified, that is, in the original law given to Adam; no reason why Jesus must have died such a sacrificial death as that of crucifixion; but it was necessary for the Jew, because that was the curse, the highest culmination of the Jewish law, the special weight and force of the curse, the very extreme of the curse, as the law said, "Cursed is he that dieth and hangeth on a tree." Therefore, says St. Paul, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."
CONQUERORS--More Than Conquerors.
QUESTION (1916)--1--Please explain the text, "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
ANSWER.--A conqueror is one who finally triumphs. The Great Company class will all be conquerors, and in the Millennial Age all of mankind will also be conquerors, except those who will die the second death. No one will get from the Lord the blessing of eternal life unless he becomes a conqueror, an overcomer. To be more than a conqueror is to do something more, something greater, than to enter eternal life by the skin of the teeth. A more than conqueror does something special. For instance, the Lord Jesus not merely kept the law, but additionally he laid down his life, sacrificially. So he was more than a mere conqueror. So also it will be with all of those who will be footstep followers of the Lord Jesus. If faithful unto death in the sense of sacrificing the rights of the present time, yielding up our human preferences and all such things, we, like our Master, are more than conquerors. This course of self-denial and self-sacrifice in harmony with the Master's example is much more than merely refraining from sinful things. All such will share his glory with him, as members of his Body.
"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (Rom. 5:20.) Is God's grace the merit of our Lord Jesus imputed proportionately, or is it God's patience, forgiveness, instructions, testings and chastisements? Does it require the whole, or only a proportionate part of the merit to justify tentatively any individual coming to God through our Lord Jesus?
We often complicate subjects in our minds by a great amount of reasoning. The more simple we can keep our mental processes the better. Sin abounds everywhere, in one sense of the word, in the entire human family. But the [Q139] apostle's thought seems to be that while sin has abounded in every member of the race, it abounds more in some members of the human family than in others. In imputing justifying merit to the Church, if God were to give the same amount of grace to each individual, some would have more than was needed, while others would not have a sufficiency. Hence we have the statement, "Where sin abounded, there grace did so much more abound," implying that God supplies His grace in Christ to each needy penitent in proportion to his needs.
If there was more sin, then there was also more grace; if there was more depravity, there was likewise more grace to cover. In other words, God's grace through Christ is not evenly distributed in the sense of giving so much to each individual, but is imputed to each according to necessity.
Now the second question: "Does it require the whole or only a proportionate part of Christ's merit to justify tentatively any individual coming to God through our Lord Jesus?" The merit of Christ does not justify tentatively at all. What we term tentative justification is that measure of divine favor which goes to man by God's arrangement before he comes into touch with the grace of the Lord Jesus at all. When he begins to see that he is a sinner, and to turn from sin to seek God and to seek righteousness, he is taking what we might term a tentatively justified course. He is approaching that condition which God has arranged may be his to enjoy. But he has not reached it yet. He has no blessings except those coming to him because he has taken the right course in turning toward that which God approves. He is more pleasing to God in the sense that he is heading toward righteousness. When he believes in God, and seeks to please Him, he has a measure of peace as a result. But he has not come into the family of God, and his sins are not forgiven. The blessing he enjoys has come to him from taking the course of faith and obedience to the Law of righteousness--much or little.
This is pictured in the Tabernacle. The individual coming into the Court is not justified, but is approaching the justified condition. He sees the altar, and has a blessing through the realization that Christ died for our sins. He is not justified yet, but merely sees the divine provision. He says, "I believe it," and has a corresponding blessing. The next step is one of cleansing by washing at the laver. That signifies the putting away of the filth of the flesh, or striving to do so. It does not mean that he is now justified. If a person has been living an immoral life, and tries to put away those sins and live properly, he is getting nearer to God, and he will be bringing himself more peace of mind. If he has the right disposition he will continue on, otherwise he will turn back. But if he goes on he will come to the door of the Tabernacle. He can go no further by any power of his own. He is represented here by the Lord's goat, tethered, or tied, at the door of the Tabernacle. He has been approaching as a believer; he has cleansed himself from outward sins; and as he now sees the privilege of sacrifice, he ties himself at the door. This means that he devoted, or consecrates, himself to the Lord. He gives up his own will. But still he is not justified. He is merely seeking justification. He has been taking the right course, however, which we call "tentative justification," because he is on the way, [Q140] and getting more of the experiences necessary to bring him to actual justification. He cannot justify himself. He can only tie himself at the door. What will justify him? Here the priest accepts him, but even this does not justify him. "It is God that justifieth." The high priest comes and imputes his merit, and then divine acceptance is indicated by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. The priest accepts the sacrifice with the purpose of carrying out the sacrifice the goat agreed to in tying himself at the door; namely, the surrender of the present life, in exchange for the higher one--the spiritual.
When in the type the high priest killed the goat, that represented the acceptance of the sacrifice. It represented that the high priest imputed his merit to the goat, and that it is, therefore, justified, sanctified and fully accepted by God.
Now the last part of the question: "Does it require the whole or only a proportionate part of Christ's merit to justify? It requires the whole of the merit of Christ to justify one single human being. Jesus could not divide up his life amongst twenty thousand millions of people, and give a little scrap of his sacrificial merit to each individual. The thought is that Jesus has a sufficiency of sacrificial merit to justify the one man who sinned, Adam, and since the whole race have become sinners through the one man, the giving up of life by the Lord Jesus has provided a sufficiency of merit to justify the one original sinner, and all born in sin and condemnation through the disobedience of Adam. It is all one transaction. That transaction has not yet been completed; but it will be completed in the end of this age. As soon as that has been done the whole world will be turned over to Jesus, and he will become lord of lords. Up to the present time he has merely laid down his life; he has merely put it into the hands of his Father. Nothing more is needed. It is sufficient for the one sinner and for all his race dying for his sin. The merit already in the hands of Justice has not yet been appropriated in a legal way. It will be thus legally applied in the sealing of the new covenant with its full provision whereby all men may be rescued from Adamic sin and death.
What do we mean by the imputation of Christ's merit? The Church does not need restitution, because in coming to the Lord we agreed to give up our earthly rights that we may have a share with Jesus in the spiritual blessings that God has made possible to us through His Son. If we have his spirit, if we devote ourselves to doing the Father's will even at the cost of our lives, as he devoted himself, then the Father will be pleased to give to us the divine nature, even as He gave it to Jesus. (2 Peter 1:4.)
Because we by nature are sinners who desire to walk in our Redeemer's footprints, and to sacrifice our earthly interests in doing the Father's will, we are unacceptable. Only that which is perfect can come to God's altar. The Father could not justly deal with us as He dealt with Jesus, because we are sinners under the sentence of death. What arrangement has God made for us? We each have more or less of physical strength, more or less of physical life, more or less of talent or ability, more or less of money, and perhaps some other things. These are our all--all we have to devote, or offer, to the Lord. We have no right to everlasting life-- [Q141] merely a little unexpired scrap of life received from Father Adam. We offer to God our little scrap of life and talent, because informed that God has provided for our acceptance through Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus Christ the Righteous offers himself as our advocate. He was the one who had right to life, but sacrificially laid it down for mankind. He is by that sacrifice to be empowered to give life everlasting to the world by and by. But if we renounce our interest in the world's restitution provision, what will He do for us? He will enable us to present our bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Father. (Rom. 12:1.)
Whether or not we understand we may accept the fact. It is our privilege to understand the philosophy of this matter now better that some of our forefathers could, because it is God's due time for "the wise to understand."
The Bible tells us that since we desire that our bodies be devoted to death, we merely give our consent that what we have shall be sacrificed. Jesus, the one who would have given us life in the future age, with all the world, says, "If you are willing to give what you have, I will appropriate on your behalf that which I would have given you in restitution times, so making your sacrifice acceptable to the Father." Jesus imputes to us now what he otherwise would have given us by and by.
He does not impute the same amount of righteousness to each, because some require more, while others require less. Whatever we lack of perfection will be what he will impute to us now, instead of giving it to us by and by in restitution times. It is not an imputation of the kind implied in the question, a little today, a little tomorrow, and so on. The imputing was all done at once before we could be accepted by the Father.
Some one inquires: "Should we not need less and less of the Savior's merit to be imputed as we grow in grace daily?" No! Such a question shows a wrong conception of the subject. There is no imputing after the first imputation, which makes us acceptable sacrifices. The new creature does not need any imputation of merit; for the new creature is sinless. It was the old creature that needed imputation, in order that God could accept the sacrifice and beget us as new creatures. The moment we became new creatures the old things passed away and all things became new. The old creature was counted dead from that moment, and is not to be recognized by us; nor does the Father recognize it. We are non-existent as old creatures. The new creature needs no justification because it does not sin.
Is the new creature perfect at the time of its spirit-begetting? No! It will not be perfected until after its resurrection "change." But although imperfect it is holy. To sin is to do something wrong intentionally, wilfully. Ignorance is not sin. Weakness of our consecrated flesh is not sin on the part of the new creature. "He that is begotten of God sinneth not." The new creature is young and undeveloped, but, begotten of the Holy Spirit, he will want to grow in grace and knowledge, and in all of the fruits of the Holy Spirit; he will want to follow the teachings and example of his great Lord and Head, and to become more like the Heavenly Father. God has arranged that all things shall work together for good to all whom He begets as new [Q142] creatures. God will bless their every trial and experience. Even the slips they may make, in blindness or weakness, or what not, of their sacrificed flesh He is willing to bless so that they may learn lessons therefrom and become stronger thereby.
If the new creature is entrapped, or ensnared, through weakness of the flesh, he should go at once to the throne of heavenly grace and get right with God. He will thus show that he loves righteousness, and that he does not love sin. He will seek to profit by the experience, and will endeavor to keep as far as possible from further similar failures. Nothing less than this would be in harmony with the covenant we have made.
Will the Lord forgive the repented of trespass or sin, and upon what basis? We answer, that so far as the sin would be merely weakness of the flesh, or some matter in which the new creature was helpless, God would consider this as being due to the flesh and would not hold it against the penitent new creature. He would expect you to learn the lesson from it, but it would not be charged to you as a new creature. It would be needful for you to go to the Father and the Lord Jesus and ask forgiveness for the weakness of your flesh. You should seek grace to avoid a repetition of the offense. The forgiveness would be granted upon the basis of the original imputation. That covers your sins as long as you have flesh. Nevertheless your flesh may be given "stripes" for its correction in righteousness.
What if there be a measure of wilfulness in our sins? In proportion as there would be a mixture of wilfulness it would he sinful. No matter how small the degree of our consent to sin, we would be to that extent in harmony with the enemy. We have enlisted on the side of the Lord, and if we show any sympathy toward unrighteousness or sin it implies a wrong condition. The Lord would be offended at that new creature. Has he sinned? No, not in the scriptural sense of committing full, wilful sin--he has trespassed. If we sin wilfully it would mean the death of the new mind--the new creature would no longer exist. The old creature, come to life, would be subject to the second death. If the new creature shows the Lord that he is not in sympathy with the sin, there is forgiveness provided. The Lord accepts his intentions, and will not take from him His Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, he would receive chastisements in his flesh.
Would the merit of Jesus be involved in the forgiving of the new creature's trespass? No! Jesus has nothing to do with atoning for sin on the part of new creatures. His atonement sacrifice was for the sin of Adam and his race, and not for new creatures. If the new creature fails to be faithful to the Lord he must receive chastisements in the flesh, in order that he may be helped to make straight paths for his feet. There is no atonement for new creatures.
CONSECRATION--Making Provision for Self.
QUESTION (1909)--1--We that have consecrated our ALL to the Lord, and have none to provide for but ourselves, would it be improper to make provision for ourselves for the last two or three years of this dispensation, or should we sacrifice every dollar, as fast as we come into possession of it, in the interests of the Lord, the brethren, and the truth? [Q143]
ANSWER.--Well, now, I think circumstances might differ. It would seem to me that to sacrifice every dollar would not be wise and would not be the Lord's will. The Apostle speaks of some as laying by that they might have to give to them that are in necessity. Now I think that would apply to yourself, to have something laid by so that you would not have to go out and beg, and that you might have something to give to your neighbor if his child died, etc., that you might be in place to render aid to others. I do not know that I have caught the thought of the one who asked the question, but I might mention another matter that I have been inquired of respecting. Some have said, Brother Russell, I have some money and I would like to give it in the Lord's work, but I might need it. Have you any way or arrangement at the Bible House or Tabernacle that means could be so used?
Answering, I have said, Yes, we have made an arrangement with several of the friends like this: If they have some money that they are not sure but they may need it and they wish to put it in the work, we will give them a receipt which states that if at a later date they should need any or all of it, we would refund it to them. You will not understand that I am asking for money, but merely answering a question.
CONSECRATION--Re Debts of Money.
QUESTION (1909)--1-- (Matt. 5:23,24), "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Does this mean that debts of money must all be paid before consecration?
ANSWER.--No, I would not understand that to be the meaning of it. If you are owing a neighbor something, if you borrowed it, or had credit from him, something that was a bargain, and you did not deceive him, he was taking his chances when he gave that credit or made the loan. I am not encouraging any of you to get credit, but I am reminding you of the Scripture, "Owe no man." I would rather live on potatoes and salt than go into debt. If you have some money at home or in the bank and merely needed something for temporary needs, that would not be borrowing, but merely an accommodation, and you would return the money as soon as you could get to your bank-book. But to go into debt, I would advise that all the Lord's people avoid it.
But if you were in debt contrary to your will, it would not mean that you could not come to the Heavenly Father because you owed someone some money. In coming to God's throne you might have to make apologies for being in debt, and might have to promise that you would try to learn a good lesson from the experience, but I do not understand that the Lord would be hindering us from coming to His throne for grace, and if by His providences we were blessed with health and opportunities we would work and pay off the debts.
But I have some friends that seem to be lacking in their makeup and go into debt with the brethren or their neighbors, and seemingly forget all the responsibility of the debt and thus bring disgrace and dishonor to the Lord's cause and to the name Christian. I feel, dear friends, that that [Q144] kind of conduct cannot be too severely reprimanded. I have spoken to a number of them, some of whom get a pretty fair salary, but they make no efforts to pay their debts, and I fear the Lord will chastise them or they will lose out. I fear that it is a dangerous condition to be in. I know a man who owed a considerable amount of money, and the Lord allowed him to earn a hundred dollars a month, but he did not see his way clear to save money out to pay his debts. I thought something was wrong with him, but I was not his judge, but I must apply the case to myself and suggest it to you. "How hardly shall they get into the kingdom." God loves justice, righteousness and proper dealings with our neighbors, and if you do not like to deal justly with your neighbor, I fear that you have not come up to the mark of perfect love or justice. Let us learn the necessary lesson, and if you are unfortunate enough to get into debt, let us do all in our power to pay it off. I think that brother, when he got one hundred dollars a month, ought, if possible, to have laid aside fifty, forty or twenty dollars a month to pay off those debts. It would have been to his advantage, and I believe it would have pleased the Lord, and if he had been reverent to the Lord, the reverence of the Lord would have led him to do it.
CONSECRATION--Re Property and Children.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Has a consecrated person the privilege to deed any part of consecrated property to children or heirs?
ANSWER.--I would think it would be the duty for every parent to provide for his own. As, for instance, suppose you had half a dozen children and some of them were small, you would have a duty toward them as a parent. You elected to bring them into the world and you would have some responsibility toward them, especially that portion of their lives in which they are not able to provide for themselves, and if I were father of any children I would feel that it would be right to give them some share in the property that I had accumulated, of which I was a caretaker. Even if I felt sure that it would have no value after ten years I would feel that it was right to put aside a certain portion. I would not treat them from the same standpoint with which I would govern myself, but would treat them from their own standpoint.
I do not understand, however, that this is all that is in the question. If a father has much money is he to consider that it belongs to his children and divide it among them? That is a different question. Providing for those who are not able to provide for themselves is one thing, and giving away money that we have is another thing. We are to give an account to God and not to our children. These are two different propositions. God has made you responsible for your children while they need care, and He requires that you make some provision for them.
CONSECRATION--Proper Use of Time.
QUESTION (1909)--2--If the consecrated attend the Fair for the purpose of satisfying their love for the beautiful, is it wasting consecrated time and money? If not, give scriptural references from or patterns, Christ and the Apostles.
ANSWER.--I am not aware that Christ and the Apostles [Q145] ever went to the Fair. There is no record in the New Testament that they ever attended one in Seattle, so the brother has given me a question I cannot answer. I can only give an opinion on the subject, based on the conduct of our Lord and the Apostles, and the instructions they laid down for us
With our Lord and the Apostles, I think we may safely conclude that duty and the service of the Lord and the Truth took precedence above everything else. If, therefore, you could not attend the Fair without violating some duty or obligation, or opportunity to serve the truth, I think you would be dissatisfied if you went there. On the other hand, we find that our Lord did have a love for the beautiful, and while He did not go to the Fair to see the lilies grow, He did see them grow and took a lesson from them, saying: "Behold the lilies," etc.
So along spiritual lines, I think the Lord wants us to be hungry and thirsty for His Word. Applying these principles to ourselves, I would suppose that any of us might go to the Fair either to advantage, or to disadvantage. You can see some good or bad and draw either good or bad lessons from nearly everything that you see or do. If you see that there is something there of value that you can make use of, then I think you would be wisely making use of your time or money, just the same as you would spend money and time to get information from schooling. To those who are rightly disposed there are some valuable lessons to be obtained from Fairs, not that I have seen this Fair, but I have seen other Fairs, and have gotten lessons which led me to see how our Lord is getting ready for the great Millennial epoch, looking at the wonderful advances in the last few years, and seeing that all of these are coming forth for us. If our hearts are in the proper tune, we could get a blessing.
Or, you could spend your time and money in looking at a monkey, or some human being trying to look and act like a monkey--then you would receive an injury instead of a blessing and be seriously disadvantaged.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Can we make a full consecration to the Lord and the Lord not accept the consecration?
ANSWER.--I answer, Yes. To our understanding God had a general call open until a certain period of time, all through the Gospel Age, and as long as that call was open, anybody might make the consecration and God would accept him; but when that call ceased, then matters would be different from that time, then consecration would not necessarily mean that the Lord would accept him. He might and He might not accept his consecration. How would that be? Our thought is that in 1881 the full number of the Lord's choice had been reached, and therefore the call ceased. Just the same as if we had a feast here and places at the table for a certain number of people. Boy, go out and ring the bell and say: Anybody come in until the seats are filled. When the seats were filled then no more would come in. Suppose that some who are here feel like taking off the wedding garment, as in one of the parables, or should say, I do not think I will [Q146] partake of the feast, but will take some exercise, and should go out. The boy at the door might be informed that whenever one goes out he could let in one who is in waiting. That is the thought we have in respect to the present time, since 1881.
Remember, that the elect class is a Little Flock, and remember also that there is a Great Company also with them. The Little Flock go on and gladly and willingly fulfill the terms of their consecration, while the Great Company class, hold back. They do not develop the spirit of Christ to the extent of being willing sacrifices in the service of God and the truth.
By the way, I remind you of the fact that in 1881, just following the time when Moody, Sankey, Whittle and Bliss had been doing a wonderful work in America and England, stirring up the consecrated people of the world they were talking good, sound sense about consecration, the Lord's Second Coming, etc. I wondered then, but could not understand the reason.
By way of interjection I heard incidentally that while Mr. Moody was near his dying hour, he expressed the thought that he had a great deal of faith in the things written in that book called "Millennial Dawn." I was pleased to hear it and glad that it made his dying hour happy.
I also heard of another man, Bishop McCabe, formerly known as Chaplain McCabe, and said to have been a very noble Christian man. I heard through apparently good sources that he made a similar statement to that of Mr. Moody. I know the books were called to his attention by a friend. But in both cases it evidently was not published in the papers, and those who did not publish it evidently thought they were doing God a service by keeping it out.
Now, as I said, in 1881 Messrs. Moody, Sankey, Whittle and Bliss had been stirring up the whole civilized world on the subject of consecration, and apparently a large number made consecration to the Lord.
Just suppose at that time, for sake of illustration, that there were forty thousand consecrated people. You say, That is a very small number. Well, dear friends, the more I think of the matter the more I wonder where the Lord is going to find the number. I used to think of how small the number is, 144,000, but of late I have been wondering how it will be possible to find the required number. Suppose there were forty thousand living at the time the call ceased in 1881. These would have been given a certain length of time to prove whether they would have the Lord's way or not, whether faithful to their covenant of sacrifice. The majority of that forty thousand would not make willing sacrifices, only a Little Flock. And as with that forty thousand, so with all in the past. What proportion of the forty thousand would prove faithful? Well, for sake of illustration, let us make it liberal and say, ten thousand. Let them represent the Little Flock and the thirty thousand the Great Company. What would that mean? It would mean that as they came to the point of testing and trial, it would leave that number of places to be filled. All who are not of the elect class, copies of God's dear Son, their places would be made vacant. The Lord would not make another call, but merely let others come in to take their places. [Q147]
Question, If it was down to a place where there was only one place to be filled, which one would get it? I suppose it would be the one in whose heart God saw the most of the Character likeness of Christ. My thought is that it is not a matter between two, but that there are from twenty to thirty thousand places to be filled, and the Lord seems to be opening the doors and hearts to many more than in the past, for now the knowledge of the truth is being spread abroad more than in the past and those who are coming in give evidence of being as loyal to the Lord as those who came in some time ago. So, if some of us came in some time ago and have the evidence of our acceptance by Him, thank God, take heed that no man take thy crown, watch, for you might lose it. The fact that you were in proves nothing, for you might be cast out, which will be done, if you do not develop and continue to be consecrated to the Lord. Let us do with our might what our hands find to do, and apply the truth to our own hearts and lives.
CONSECRATION--When in Order?
QUESTION (1909)--1--Is consecration at all times in order?
ANSWER.--It is always proper for a man to consecrate. All during the Jewish and Gospel ages it has been in order for people to consecrate. Take Abraham as an illustration. No prize of the High Calling was offered to those who consecrated in the Jewish age, but God will give them their suitable reward.
If the Little Flock was complete, I would say, give your all to the Lord and do the best you can to be a saint of the Lord and to have His good mercy fulfilled in you, regardless of the reward or prize. You have a reasonable service to do, even the laying down of your lives. Be assured that He who called you will give you a suitable reward. What would you think of a great King, would he give you a mean reward? No, but according to His riches and the standing of His Kingdom.
CONSECRATION--Mortgaging Property After.
QUESTION (1909)--2--As consecrated children of God is it proper for us, with the light we have, to take advantage of those who are in the darkness; for instance, mortgaging property and having the mortgage come due when the property will have no value, or borrowing money and paying interest until is worthless?
ANSWER.--My answer is that each one must follow his own conscience and the degree of light he has on a subject of this kind. It is a question very much like the one the Apostle had, regarding the eating of meat which had been offered to idols. If he thought that the offering of the meat to idols had done it harm, etc., he would not eat it. So the person who would think it wrong, to him it would be wrong. To my understanding he would be doing no wrong, merely acting upon his faith, and the other people acting upon their faith. The man would do just the same if you told him all that you know, and would laugh up his sleeve, and probably beat down the price. You do not know it, you merely believe it is so. Measure your own conduct by your own faith, and as to that faith, have it to yourself. [Q148]
CONSECRATION--Afterwards Fellowshiping With Outsiders.
QUESTION (1909)--1--What should be our attitude toward those who seem to be in harmony with all the doctrinal points of the Truth, yet continue to fellowship with those who no longer meet with the class on account of the Vow, Covenants, etc., and acknowledge that they are in sympathy with those who oppose the Truth?
ANSWER.--I would think our attitude toward them should be that as outlined by the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned; and avoid them." Meaning that we should not treat them with the same hearty fellowship that we would if they were showing a different spirit. It would not be right to show them any angry spirit, or do them any wrong, or speak any evil about anybody, but that a proper attitude, in their interest, as well as for our own interest, and the interest of others could be shown by not sympathizing with their attitude. Avoid them and prefer the company of those who are in the spirit and fellowship of the truth.
Since the word "Vow" is mentioned in this question, I would say that in my opinion it would not be right and proper to make a discrimination against anybody in fellowship because he or she had not taken the vow--the vow is not a law; it is a privilege. If we take a vow and get a blessing from it, thank God. If they fail to do so and lose the blessing, then they are the ones that suffer from it. I would think there might be a little difference if it were an elder or a teacher in the church. An elder or one who is looked up to as a leader in any class might reasonably be expected to take the vow, or tell why he did not take it; otherwise the class would have reason to think that such a leader had something in his life or conduct which conflicted with the vow. My thought would be that any elder or brother who had anything in his mind or conduct in conflict with the vow would not be a suitable representative of the class. For my part I cannot see what any reasonably minded brother could have against the vow. We admit that it is not a binding obligation, but we expect a great deal of those who are elders and we are justified in finding in them a great deal of exemplary conduct. One who stands as the leader or representative of a class ought to be, as the Apostle said, above the average, and I cannot see what one who is above the average could find to object to in the vow. If anyone can find anything, I would like to have him show it to me.
CONSECRATION--Re Closing of Door.
QUESTION (1910)--2--Is the time open yet for anyone to consecrate for the high calling?
ANSWER.--My answer, dear friends, is, that the calling of God belongs to this age, and it is our understanding, as already published, that the calling time has ceased. Nobody is being called, because a sufficient number have already responded, is the thought that we have. That is, that a sufficient number had responded in 1881. You remember the evidence we set forth in the second and third volumes of Scripture Studies. Our thought is, the Lord represents that as one would go out, or would fail to be accounted worthy [Q149] of a place as one of the priests, and take his position as one of the Levites, of the Great Company, that someone else would be allowed to take his place--as the Scripture suggests, "Take heed, let no man take thy crown." These consecrated ones who had crowns assigned to them, if they are not faithful, so they will receive the crown, will lose it, and somebody else who had no special calling, somebody who is hungering and thirsting, consecrated, and waiting, will be ready to receive it. So, then, our answer to the question in brief would be, If you want to consecrate to the Lord, do not stop to inquire--if you have a right spirit about the matter you will not stop to inquire how much you are going to get; if you have the right spirit in the matter, you will want to give your heart to the Lord and give him all you have, and wish you had ten times as much as you have to give, irrespective of what you are to get. If you are only to get earthly life, you will want to consecrate yourself. Any other spirit would be a wrong spirit. So make your consecration and leave it to the Lord what reward he is going to give you. Like a great man would do on the earth, much more so the great God will do on the spiritual plane. If you were dealing with a king and you did him a small service, you would not expect he would give you a penny; if he would give you anything he would be likely to give you a dollar, if he were a rich king. So with our heavenly Father, whenever he gives any rewards, you may be sure they are exceedingly abundant more than you could ever ask or think, according to the riches of his grace.
CONSECRATION--Not Understood at Baptism.
QUESTION (1910)--1--What is your thought respecting those who do not understand the full importance of consecration at the time of their immersion?
ANSWER.--My thought is, dear friends, that if they were immersed without understanding consecration, then their immersion was a mere bath--that it did not either hurt or help them a bit. Whoever does not understand consecration does not understand baptism. The consecration vow we have is first, and that is the real baptism. The symbol in water, to be a symbol at all, must follow--could not go before it.
QUESTION (1910-Z)--2--Please explain the following text:"Go and sell all that thou hast, and come and take up thy cross and follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." Should we go and do as the Master advised?
ANSWER.--If that young man had assented to our Lord's proposition, and had made further inquiry as to the particulars, it is our opinion that the Lord would have modified his statement to the extent of suggesting that the selling and giving to the poor be not done all at once, but gradually, as the necessities might seem to open up. In the language of the Apostle, "Let your moderation be manifest to all." We are to use earthly things and earthly opportunities and temporalities with great moderation, self-denial, as the case may seem to make necessary.
We are to have bowels of mercy, compassion, sympathy, love. Did not our Lord allow Mary to anoint his head and also his feet and were not these caresses and manifestations [Q150] of love of an earthly sort? There are various items to intimate the Lord's special love for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, James and John, and for his mother. And this would seem to give us ground for a similar course. But as Jesus did not allow those earthly loves to hinder him from the Father's service, so we, also, must be on the alert about the Father's business.
CONSECRATION--Previous to 1881.
QUESTION (1911-Z)--1--Was it necessary that all who would be of the "little flock" should have made their consecration by or before October, 1881?
The chapter in Scripture Studies, Vol. 2, showing the parallels between the Jewish and Christian Dispensations makes prominent four dates, viz., (1) October, 1874; (2) April, 1878; (3) October, 1881, and (4) October, 1914; these dates being parallel to four in the Jewish harvest, viz., (1) The beginning of our Lord's ministry; the beginning of the trial or harvest time of the Jewish nation, October, 29; (2) The end of our Lord's ministry, His crucifixion, and the rejection of the Jewish nation as a nation, April, 33 (See Scripture Studies, Vol.2, chapter 7); (3) The close of the "seventy weeks" (Dan. 9:24-27) of favor upon the Jewish nation--October, 36--after which the Gospel privileges were open to the Gentiles, Cornelius being the first convert; (4) The full end of trouble and destruction which came upon Israel's polity, October, 69.
It should be clearly noticed that the parallels between the Jewish and Gospel Ages all belong to the nominal systems then and now, and if this is borne in mind, it will prevent our applying these parallels either to the gathering out of the Gospel Church or to the gathering of the Lord's people out of Babylon now.
Noting these parallels, we find 1874 as the beginning of this "harvest" and the gathering together of the "elect" from the four winds of heaven; 1878 as the time when Babylon was formally rejected, Laodicea spewed out--the time from which it is stated, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen"--fallen from Divine favor. The parallel in 1881 would seem to indicate that certain favors were still continued to those in Babylon up to that date, notwithstanding the rejection of the system; and since that date we would understand that that relationship has been in no sense an advantageous one, but has been in many senses of the word a distinct disadvantage, from which only with difficulty could any free themselves, the Lord's grace and truth assisting. And in harmony with this parallelism, October, 1914, will witness the full end of Babylon, "as a great millstone cast into the sea," utterly destroyed as a system.
Coming back: We concede it reasonable to infer that the close of the favors upon fleshly Israel represent the close of the special favor of this Gospel Age, viz., the invitation to the High Calling; accordingly, our understanding is that the open or general "call" of this Age to Kingdom honors ceased in October, 1881. However, as already shown in Scripture Studies, we make a distinction between the end of the "call" and the closing of the "door;" and believe that the door into the Kingdom class is not yet closed; that it stands ajar for a time, to permit those who had already accepted [Q151] the "call" and who fail to use its privileges and opportunities in self-sacrifice to be thrust out, and to permit others to enter to take their crowns, in harmony with (Rev. 3:11). The present time, therefore, from 1881 until the door of opportunity for sacrifice in the Lord's service shall fully close, is a period of "sifting" as respects all who are already in Divine favor, in covenant relationship with God
And since those who have gone into the "Feast" through the "door" represent all who are called (except those who have afterward been rejected and expelled), it follows that the places of those thus expelled must be taken by some who were not previously amongst the called, amongst the consecrated. This, we trust, makes plain the answer to your question, proving that some not previously consecrated will, in the eleventh hour, be admitted to the vineyard labors and to the rewards of the faithful, after the open call ceased, and before the "door" closes.
Indeed, we are to distinctly remember that in speaking of the gathering to take place during this harvest time, our Lord mentions amongst others those who have been in the field (in the world), apparently referring to a class who previously had been neither justified nor sanctified through the Truth. See Scripture Studies, Vol. 3, chap. 6.
CONSECRATION--Is It Always Followed by Begettal?
QUESTION (1911)--1--Can anyone be consecrated and not begotten of the Holy Spirit?
ANSWER.--We believe that there is still room. That is to say that the full number of the elect has not yet been found, and tested, etc., and therefore our expectation would be that anyone making a full, thorough consecration of himself to the Lord would still be begotten of the Holy Spirit. But if the question be in the form in which it is here stated, "Could one be consecrated and not be begotten of the Holy Spirit?" we would say, "Yes, he could be consecrated so far as his part is concerned." Your consecration and my consecration, our part, is merely to present ourselves to God. It is for God then to say whether he accepts that consecration. During this time, this gospel age, the Scriptures speak of this as the acceptable day, the acceptable year, the acceptable time of the Lord, and we believe that he is ready and willing to accept all of those who come unto the Father through Christ, and that all such are accepted, and if they are accepted as members of the Body of Christ they will be begotten of the Holy Spirit. But as we have said before, so we say again, we believe that in the not distant future there will be people who will make a consecration, who will make a presentation of themselves to God, and for whom there will be no place left, because, as the parable shows, the wise virgin class will all have entered into the marriage and the door will be shut, and then there will be no one else enter in, because that class, when completed, will have no additions. Those who would then present themselves would not be begotten of the Holy Spirit. But this would not mean that God would be displeased with the offer of themselves; rather God would be very pleased to have them offer themselves--just as God was undoubtedly pleased with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob, and all the prophets who offered themselves freely to know and to do the divine will to the extent God was willing to receive them. They got [Q152] a great blessing. So we should advocate, with every person with whom we have an influence, that the proper course, the proper duty for every human being, the reasonable service would be to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God. He will not spurn the sacrifice, but whether he will beget you to the Holy Spirit depends on whether your sacrifice is offered in time, before the door is shut, before the last member of the elect has been gathered in.
CONSECRATION--After Close of High Calling.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Is it your thought that those consecrating after the door to the high calling is closed may have a resurrection to the spirit nature?
ANSWER.--No, there will be no begetting of the Spirit that we know of after the high calling is closed; and if there is no begetting of the Spirit then, there will be no birth of the spirit. The only thought we have in connection with that is what we expressed a moment ago, namely; that some might be accepted as of the Ancient Worthy class if they laid down their lives in loyalty to the Lord in that time of trouble, and then when the ancient worthy class may possibly have the spirit nature given to them at the end of the millennium, such being of that class might have the opportunity to obtain the spirit nature.
CONSECRATION--Opportunity Later for Spirit Nature.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Would the consecrated but not begotten ever have the opportunity of getting the spirit nature?
ANSWER.--Our thought is that it is part of the divine plan to give the ancient worthies a change of nature in the end of the millennial age, as a reward for their faithfulness, and their service during the millennial age--that quite likely they will receive the spirit nature at the end of the millennial age. This is partly conjectural and partly built upon certain texts of Scripture which we have already considered in the Watch Tower and which we need not therefore enter into here.
CONSECRATION--Reward for Those Not Begotten.
QUESTION (1911)--3--If any consecrated now and failed to be begotten of the Holy Spirit, where would the Lord place them?
ANSWER.--We would presume that if they were faithful, as the prophets of old were faithful, to the extent of laying down their lives in the service of righteousness and truth, that God would give them a share some way with the ancient worthies. In other words, that if such should pass into the time of trouble to a considerable degree, and there lose their lives because of faithfulness to the Lord, that he would do just the same for them that he will do for the ancient worthies--they will be counted in with the ancient worthy class.
CONSECRATION--Re Losing Temper and Crown.
QUESTION (1911)--4--If any brother or sister after coming into present truth, and making a full consecration to the Lord, and following him for some time, and then lose their temper and do things they are afterwards sorry for, do they hereby risk losing their crown? [Q153]
ANSWER.--We are not to understand that the Lord is judging us by some little act like losing the temper. The losing of the temper one time might have a comparatively small effect; its real value is in the bearing it has on some other time, and the development of a wrong character. Whoever has an impatient disposition is in the wrong attitude. A great many might be liable to lose their temper, because they might have naturally a weakness along the line of patience, and it would be their duty to strive against such impatience; but we are not to think that one act of impatience will necessarily lose us the crown. The Lord is not wanting to see if he can find something against us; he is rather wishing us to make our calling and election sure. So then a slip of some kind would be something we would be very sorry for, and something we should take to the Lord in prayer, and something we should consider as a kind of spot or wrinkle on our wedding robe, but that would not mean that we had taken off the robe. And all of those who wear the robe are covered by its perfection, and if a spot come on the robe, then it is the duty of such a one to take it to the Lord in prayer, and ask for forgiveness, and make good to the one injured if anyone has been injured, making right so far as possible any wrong that has been done. If any one's feelings ever have been hurt, see that they are assuaged,--so that acknowledgment is made of the wrong to whoever it is properly due. Then realizing the forgiveness of the Lord and of the brother we might forgive ourselves in the sense that we will not hold it against ourselves perpetually, but we will see the lesson and let the facts go by. Indeed I think many Christians can say that some of their best lessons in the Christian way have been through their own failures. When they failed on a point that showed them where they were weak, showed them where they must put in the reinforcement to gain the greater strength. So we find various points of weakness in our character, of patience or anything of the kind, an evil speaking tongue, or anything that would be contrary to the direction of his Word, we should build up that part of our character, but should not necessarily feel that it had lost us our crown. If so there would be very few of us who would ever be able to say that we had any right to a crown after a little while. Who is there in all the church of Christ, except the great head himself, that could say that he was perfect in thought and word and deed, from the time he became a follower of the Lord? No one. If we were able to do that, we really would not need any robe at all; if we could walk perfectly we would need no covering; if we were perfect we would not need any Redeemer. It is because of our imperfection that we need a Redeemer. This does not mean that we have any sympathy with sin or weaknesses, but striving against these we will do all we can to overcome them; and some can overcome very much easier than others. I know of some perhaps who have really a difficulty the other way. They are too little inclined to be impatient; they put up with everything from themselves and from everybody else; it all goes; they do not have sufficient character. The person who is impatient is more or less a person of good strong character, and he may be impatient for the time being, but he wants to learn how to put on the brakes.