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ANCIENT WORTHIES--Re Resurrection Of.
QUESTION (1915)--1--Would the Atonement arrangement permit the resurrection of any of the Ancient Worthies before the resurrection of the Church?
ANSWER.--I think the Ancient Worthies could not be perfected until the Church has been completed. The Body of Christ must necessarily pass beyond the veil before any of the Ancient Worthies are awakened. The Apostle's words to this effect are quite emphatic: "that they, without us, should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:40), implying that the perfection of the Church will be first. That is the same thought elsewhere brought to our attention. The Body of Christ is spoken of as being of the First, or Chief Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23; Rev. 20:4-6), not only first in rank, but first also in order of time--"The Christ, the First-fruits." We understand that Christ's merit could not be released to apply to any others until all (both classes of the Church) who now have the imputation of this merit have finished their course.
ANGELS--First Dispensation in Subjection to Angels.
QUESTION (1906)--2--Where in God's Word does it say that during the first dispensation the uplifting of mankind was left to the angels?
ANSWER.--We answer that it does not say so anywhere. It is merely an inference we draw from two facts. First, we find that there were angels in connection with humanity at that time, and we reason from that fact that God must have placed them there, or given them some responsibility with the race else they would not have been there. Second, we have the statement of the Apostle in the New Testament in which he refers to our Lord Jesus and the coming kingdom, saying, that God will not put that kingdom in subjection to the angels. So when he says that God will not put that kingdom in subjection to the angels it gives us the inference that there was a time when the world was in subjection to the angels. And looking back we see the time when it was in subjection to the angels, and when those angels kept not their first estate, but were more or less subdued by the wickedness of mankind.
ANGELS--Proof They are on Trial, Materialization?
QUESTION (1908)--3--Upon what Scriptures do we depend for the thought that the fallen angels are now upon trial? First, how does it harmonize with the reference in 1 Cor. 6:3, "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" Second, do the Saints judge in any sense before the body is completed? If so, in what sense do they judge?
ANSWER.--I answer that the matter is stated as well as we know how to state it in a number of the Watch Tower of about a year ago; I think it was the October number of 1907, in which we suggested that to our understanding the fallen angels are now on judgment, on trial, and, briefly stated, we there set forth that our judgment on the matter is that this trial, or judging, or testing, of the fallen angels will be along the line probably of their previous trial or testing, as recorded in Genesis 6th chapter, the first five verses, where they saw the daughters of men that they were fair and took unto them wives of such as they would; and for that transaction they were cast down, and have been restrained for now these forty centuries intervening. Now the fact that [Q17] they are going to be put on trial again implies that the Lord expects that during all of this period of four thousand years or more some of them will doubtless have learned the lesson of the wrong course they have taken; that they will have learned the great lesson respecting their own isolation from God, and from the holy ones, and they will have also learned a great lesson respecting the influence of sin on humanity, and they will have learned a great lesson from the fact that Christ has by the grace of God tasted death for mankind, and the power of God to raise Him from the dead, and the fact that those who are obedient to God have a blessing, and those who are disobedient to God have a curse. I think they have had a good opportunity in these four thousand years to learn these lessons. The thought is that their judgment will be a testing or proof to see to what extent they have learned righteousness during this long interval. I would suppose that amongst those fallen angels there are some who have come to view matters in their true light, and who long for fellowship with God and the holy angels, and they are in a measure separated from the evil ones, even in their spirit condition, and that they, knowing the law of God that they shall have no communication with humanity, abstain from all communication; that they are not of those who attempt communication through spirit mediums, and tappings, and rappings, and handwritings; that they have come into a measure of harmony with God and feel the restraint of obedience upon them. Now then, I ask myself, in what way could these angels be tried in the Millennial age? In what way could they have a trial there? I see no way, because it is not a sentence they have been waiting on ; they have been under their sentence for four thousand years. The judgment they are waiting on is the judgment similar to the judgment the world is waiting on,--namely, a fresh trial; and that fresh trial will imply an opportunity for sin, and an opportunity, therefore, of getting free from this bondage that has been upon them for four thousand years. To our understanding, during the Millennial age the world of mankind will be protected from every such evil influence. The Lord says that Satan shall be bound for a thousand years, that he may deceive the nations no more. That, to my mind, is a guarantee that not only Satan himself will be unable to tempt or deceive the world, but that the fallen angels will have no power during the Millennial age. When, then, could they have the power? I answer that the power, or privilege, or liberty, would seem to apply to the present time, and that this is the proper time just when we are coming down into the change of dispensation, when the Lord tells us there is to be a great time of temptation. "The hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Now what would be more appropriate, do you think, than that these angels would be permitted a way by which they could apparently circumvent the divine sentence of restraint on them, and should seemingly get the power, or privilege, to materialize, apparently contrary to the divine intention? We know nothing can be done contrary to God's will in the matter, that He has full power to restrain, but He may permit them to deceive themselves into thinking they have gotten around the divine arrangement, [Q18] and so, taking pleasure in doing these things which they desire to do, what would that mean to us, dear friends, and to the world of mankind? It would mean the great hour of trial, or temptation, the Scriptures speak of. It would mean a wonderful time of trouble, it would mean a great intervention from this evil power over which there has been a restraint of God's providence for over four thousand years. The world has been more or less protected from these evil beings, except when any one wilfully gave over his mind in some sense to their power. Now if they get more liberty and more privilege than they formerly had, you can see it would be a great temptation to mankind. And would it not be at the same time a great time of trial, or judgment, or testing, upon them? I think it would. And as one after another would seem to get liberty to circumvent the divine plan, it would test all of the angels who have any desire for sin. Well, now, you say, In what way do the Saints judge angels? "Know ye not that ye shall judge angels?" Is it not these fallen angels the Saints are to judge? Yes. Then how have we anything to do with it? I am sure, dear friends, that so far as putting a test on them is concerned I do not know how it is, but I am trying to think, and this comes to my mind: How could this be that we would judge them or bring the test to them? I am supposing that we are judging the angels now, in the sense that we are putting the testing on them, that they are learning from the Church, of course. My understanding is, that these fallen angels have no opportunity of learning from God, and from the holy Spirit, or from a Bible; and they have no means of learning from the world the divine will and the divine plan. Where would they get their information respecting God's will? I think they know very well by this time where, and only where, they can get any information respecting the future, namely: from the Church of Christ, so I do not doubt for a minute that to whatever extent the fallen spirits are present with us at this convention they are seeking to find out something. This is just what I should expect. They know where to go for information. They are not going to the nominal church for information; they are too well informed, they know there is no use going there, just as you know there is no use for you to go there, they know where to look for the truth; and I suppose they are looking amongst the Lord's people and hearkening to what things the Lord by His holy spirit and through His Word has made known to those who are His in these last days, and that, therefore, the things which you and I may see, and understand, and declare, are the things which are judging them, or becoming a test to them. As they come to know these things, they are tested by them. Now that is the kind of judging that shall put these tests upon the angels. This information respecting the Lord's will, and respecting the time in which we are living, comes from the Saints who are in this world, from the Saints in the present life, and we are merely at any time the representatives of all the Saints, for we represent our Lord Jesus in the world, so we can say we are His representatives or ambassadors, and certainly we represent all the other members who have gone to the other side the vail as well. The Lord's will and the truth respecting the whole matter [Q19] may, by the grace of God, be brought to the attention of not only one another, but these fallen angels, and then the test will come on them that they may see what God's will is, and what the right thing is, and what to expect also at this time. Just the same as you and I are brought under a measure of judgment now, a measure of testing,--"The Lord your God doth judge you, doth prove you," and yet it is not God speaking from heaven that proves you; it is God speaking through His Word; thus it is God speaking through the testimony of present truth that is judging you and me. Our judging is coming in this way in the present time. Marvel not, therefore, if their judging will come in the same way that our judgment is coming to us. We are being judged--"My word shall judge you in that day." The Lord's Word is the test now to the nominal church. Those who are receiving the Word are standing fast in it, and are getting the blessings from it. Those who are unfaithful to the Lord's Word, and following cunningly devised fables, and doctrines of men, and walking after their own desires, are proving unfaithful, and the Word is judging them, is telling where the right line is,--not only telling you and me, but telling through us these fallen angels.
ANGELS--Re Angels Being Sons.
QUESTION (1909)--1--How is it that the angels are called the sons of God when we are told that Jesus our Saviour was God's only begotten Son?
ANSWER.--This way: The words "only begotten" must be given the right force. In our Lord's prehuman existence, He was the only one begotten directly by the Father. While the angels are the sons of God, they are not directly begotten by God, but they were created by our Lord Jesus Christ, for all things were made by Him, and therefore He made the angels, not by His power or by His authority, but by the power and authority of the Father. See Fifth Volume.
ANGELS--Restoration of The Fallen.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Will any of the fallen angels be restored, and if so, how can this be done without a ransom?
ANSWER.--We have no definite information respecting the fallen angels, except where the Apostle says, "Know ye not that ye shall judge angels?" This word "judge" as used in the Scriptures represents a trial. The inference, then, is that if they are to have a further trial, then some of them will have an opportunity of benefiting by that trial.
They fell from their condition of holiness through a measure of temptation, and in the long period since their fall they have had abundant opportunity to see the error of their course, and if they will, to reform. We notice, furthermore, the Apostle Peter tells us that our Lord Jesus by His death and resurrection preached to the spirits in prison, thus referring directly to the fallen angels who kept not their first estate, but were cast into Tartarus and restrained in darkness or prison by that chain. The Apostle Peter's statement amounts to this: The fallen angels, now called demons, had a certain great lesson preached to them: it was the manifestation of God's great mercy to mankind in making the arrangement for the redemption of mankind, and the fallen angels could see that if the Lord was gracious to mankind, there was a possibility that He might also show mercy to them sometime. Our answer is that there is hope [Q20] for the fallen angels. Our supposition is, dear friends, that since the time Jesus by His death and resurrection preached that sermon to the angels, the holy as well as the fallen ones, that some would reform and manifest their reform and we may reasonably infer such would refrain from any further disobedience; and, therefore, during the past eighteen hundred years, there have been two general classes of these fallen angels, some faithful and returning to righteousness, and others still out of harmony with God, practicing sin and following Satan.
Does this require a ransom? We answer, No. If the angels had been condemned to death, then a ransom from death would have been necessary. They were merely restrained in darkness and kept from using their powers. If it had been a death sentence, then it would have required one holy angel to become the ransom for each fallen angel, because they would have come under condemnation individually. With mankind it is different; you and I were not condemned individually, but came under the condemnation through Father Adam, hence the redemption of Father Adam means not only the redemption of himself, but also of all his posterity. Thus God's plan is that Christ might be the ransom for all by being the ransom for one; but no such arrangement would be possible for the fallen angels, but they are subject to their own individual sentence.
ANGEL--Re Thinking Peter An Angel.
QUESTION (1911)--1--What is your explanation of Acts 12:15, "And they said unto her, 'thou art mad,' but she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, 'it is his angel.'"
ANSWER.--You remember the circumstances. It was Peter who had been in prison, and the angel had led him out of prison, and led him a certain distance, and he went to a house where prayer was being made; it was in the middle of the night, and they were still praying when Peter knocked at the door. You remember little Rhoda came to the door, she ran back and told them that Peter was at the door, and then they said, "Oh, it could not be him."
Why should they say it was his angel? Well, my dear friends, they were not inspired to say it was his angel. We do not know that any of those people who were praying on that night were inspired, so I would not pay a particle more of attention to what they would say on the subject than I would to what you might say. We take our instruction from whatever the Lord and the apostles said. The apostle did not say anything about him being an angel. What they meant we might all guess alike. You have my full liberty to guess all you please. If you would like to know what I would guess, I suppose they had some of the ordinary ideas that there might be some kind of an impersonation, or something like that. I do not know what they had in mind; nobody else knows.
ANGELS--Re Fallen, On Trial.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Are the fallen angels on trial now, and when will they receive judgment?
ANSWER.--In one sense of the word we may suppose that the fallen angels may have been more or less on trial since [Q21] the time that they were consigned to the chains of darkness. They were all transgressors, and as soon as the divine judgment against them was rendered and they were confined in chains of darkness, it became notice to all that they had seriously interfered with the divine will and were under condemnation, and I should not be at all surprised if some of them had a feeling that they wanted to reform. But the particular time when we think that something of this kind may have been true of them was when our Lord's death and resurrection from the dead preached a great sermon to the fallen angels respecting divine love for mankind and divine mercy, thus arranging for man's reclamation from sin and death; that as the angels would see this, it would become such a sermon to them of divine mercy that they would have hope for themselves. And if any of the angels who had respect to God's law, and who would have any hope of divine mercy, would manifest their faith and hope by continuing to live contrary to sin and in harmony with divine righteousness, I am sure they have had a terrible trial; that the fallen angels would give them all kinds of persecution, and probably any persecution that we would have would be inferior to such persecution that they may have had, because we can very well imagine that were the fallen angels permitted to do toward those that are loving righteousness as they choose, it would mean a very hard lot for those who wished to do better. So then in this sense of the word, that judgment or trial of the fallen angels has been in progress just the same as the judgment and trial of the church has been in progress, to see whether or not we love righteousness and hate iniquity, what we will endure for righteousness' sake. So then any of the fallen angels who had any respect for God and righteousness, and who had any hope that God's mercy might be extended them, would undoubtedly be on trial in this sense, that it would be a testing of their loyalty; everything that would come against them would test, or prove, or judge, them with reference to their loyalty to God. But there would seem to be at the end of this age, or at the opening of the new dispensation, some special test or trial that would come upon them. Respecting that we know very little. All we know is, we are told that they are in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. Just what that signifies is a problem. The judgment of the great day may not refer to them so particularly as to us of the world. There is a special judgment of this great day about to be manifested, when all the kingdoms of this world will be judged, when all present institutions are going to come under trial, and the fire of that day will try them, the fire of that day shall try all in the church, and these fallen angels are held in chains of darkness until that time, the thought being that then the four winds will be loosed and it means that they will no longer be under restraint or chains of darkness, but be able to manifest themselves. We will see a little later. Ask me about 1915 something about this, and I think I will know more.
ANGELS--Are Materializations as Males Only?
QUESTION A Brother (1913)--1--Is it likely that these fallen angels will be permitted to materialize in the form of males only?
ANSWER.--Brother Russell--No; so far as I know, brother, there have been manifestations in the form of females. We have [Q22] not the time, and I do not know that it is necessary, to give any illustrations in the matter, but merely answer the question.
The angels had had a long period in seeing his prosperity and success and God's apparent lack of power in restraining him. Then there was their intercourse with the human family. His was a pure selfishness and an attempt to gain power. So far as these angels are concerned that left their habitation or first condition; special mention is made in Jude and in Peter, that they are reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. Now, does that refer to the judgment of the Millennial Day, or to the present time? We think that it refers to the judgment of the present time, because they were reserved in chains of darkness, and apparently they will have the power to get free from those chains of darkness now. We surmise that as they are getting loose now, they imagine that God is not able to hold them. They are getting free from their restraint, which will be a part of the world's time of trouble, which is not only of human arrangement but also from the evil angels. So then, if during these centuries during which they have been under restraint, some of them have learned to wait on the Lord as the Scriptures imply, and to have repented, now will be the time for them to show their loyalty during the time when all the other angels will have the temptations to do evil. Remember that the word "judgment" used here is in the sense of trial and not sentence. They are reserved in the chains of darkness until the trial time of the great day. The question might be asked, Will those who are found unworthy in this testing time be destroyed now, or be with Satan for the thousand years? Our thought is that they will be destroyed now, that after their trial is fully ended, God will have no particular purpose in maintaining them. We do not know; that is merely our guess. You may guess different, and if you do, we will not quarrel. Where the Lord's Word speaks positively, we will speak. If you want my thought, you have it, but if you want your own, keep it.
QUESTION (1911)--2--What is the difference in the anointing and sealing in the following Scriptures: "Now he that stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; who hath also sealed us."
ANSWER.--The anointing is one picture. I will call your attention to the picture given in the Scriptures. I have already spoken of Christ, Jesus the head and the church his body, and this picture was used in the case of the typical priesthood. We read about Aaron as the priest. He in his own person typified Jesus and typified the [Q23] whole church, the royal priesthood, and the holy anointing oil that was poured on his head ran down even to the skirts of his garments. What does that mean? It means the anointing of Aaron as a whole, and the anointing the apostle speaks of that you and I come into. When we come into Christ we come into the anointing. The anointing belongs to the entire body God has foreknown and predestinated, and if you and I come into membership in that body, and maintain our membership, we are members of the Anointed One, and we are under that anointing; as the apostle says, "The anointing you have received abideth with you, and shall be in you."
But the sealing is something that goes beyond that. The apostle says, Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit, and ye were not only anointed with the Holy Spirit, but ye were also sealed. The sealing in your case and in mine is still going on. What does it signify? It is the imprint of the Lord's character upon you; he is impressing you more and more; you are being sealed with the Holy Spirit. How long will it continue? Unto the day of redemption. If you allow the impress to go on in you, you will become more and more a copy of God's dear Son, and that is the condition upon which you and I may abide in him; we not only receive the anointing at the beginning, but we also receive the Spirit and have the marks of saintship and discipleship.
ARCHANGEL--Are There Others?
QUESTION (1911)--1--So far as I have been able to determine from the Scriptures, Michael is the only Archangel mentioned. Is it your thought that there are others?
QUESTION (1909)--2--Have you, to any extent, changed your views as to what power shall constitute God's Army, since the publication of the Dawn treating that question?
ANSWER.--No, I see no reason to change my views, not that we hold that our views could not be changed; we have the same right to change our views as any body else. We see no necessity to change. We think the Lord is going to use millions of people as His army who are not saints and who will not know that they are serving him. We read that he will use the wrath of man to praise Him. They will be doing a work to praise Him and will not be aware of the fact, just as he can use Satan as His servant during this Gospel age to turn the grindstone upon which the Lord's jewels are being polished. He thinks he is grinding us to powder, but he is only putting a polish upon the jewels.
As to the second part of the question concerning the question of workingmen uniting, yes, I think that would be a suggestion along the line, namely, that the Lord will probably use the mass of mankind as they will probably constitute the Lord's great army. On the one side will be gathered the princes of the earth, captains of industry, captains of finance, with as many as they can gather to their influence. Then on the other side will be a great army of discontented, along the line of Socialism, claiming that it is God's remedy. We answer that we do not doubt the [Q24] sincerity of their hearts and intentions, but we do not think they will be able to accomplish what they desire, but will make a failure of the matter. After they come to a place where they think they are getting everything within their grasp, and then find that the money powers will not let them do what they want to, they will feel so rebellious against their condition that instead of going into Socialism, it will go into Anarchy, then God will let the world work out their destruction, and after that God will come in and by His own power will bring peace and order out of the confusion, and will establish the Kingdom of His Son and the Bride, the Lamb's wife.
APPLICATION--Re Adam? And His Race.
QUESTION (1916)--1--When will the merit of Christ's sacrifice or the ransom price be applied for Adam? Will this include the whole Adamic race?
ANSWER.--It will be impossible for the Lord to impute his merit for Adam till the whole church is taken, for this endorsement is an embargo for Adam and his race, we therefore must pass through our trial first before that merit can pass on and be imputed to Adam and his race.
On this ransom price for Adam and his race, we might elaborate a little further: Why this embargo for the Church? Why not with Adam outside the church before the Church was complete? It is on deposit with God the Father, just as if mortgaged by this imputation made with the church. How is that affected? In this way: All the church have agreed they will die according to the flesh. Nobody else has been received into the church. One not entered into Christ has not entered the church. Justice demands all shall go into death; first, those that will follow his footsteps; they will lay down their lives willingly, gladly, sacrificially and enter into the heavenly glory--the highest. Then the Great Company class. Those who will seek to hold on to the earthly life and through fear of death all their life time are subject to bondage. Will they be allowed to go on in that way? If so they will die the second death because they have not laid down their lives. What will Jesus do for these? In the Bible it is represented as the Lord Jesus laying hold upon the scape goat class, and they are led away by the hands of a fit man, representing how the Great Company are turned over to satan for the destruction of the flesh. Why? Because that is part of the Covenant, their flesh must either be sacrificed willingly or be destroyed, one or the other. Now when their bodies are turned over and they have washed their robes, and have suffered they will have learned their lesson. They failed to get into the sacrificing class, but since they were loyal to God when brought to the test, they are counted worthy of life on the spirit plane. Not the highest plane, the Divine nature, but like the angels on a lower plane. All will be counted worthy who get everlasting life, but these when put to the test who would not deny the Lord and would rather suffer are counted worthy. The picture in Rev. 7, is, "Therefore are they before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple." The little flock class are more than merely conquerors; more than merely getting in. The Bible says they are more than conquerors. They will sit with the Lord in His throne and be His joint heirs and partakers of His Divine nature. The [Q25] others coming in finally under stress and suffering rather than be disloyal to God, they will get a good reward, thank the Lord. They did not have the spirit of sacrifice, of suffering for Christ's sake willingly, voluntarily, they had to be pushed in the fight. They fought well when pushed in, but were not like their captain who went into the fight himself.
Now there is a third class, Heb. 6 and Heb. 10. The apostle says those that fell away and turned their backs upon the blood of the covenant and counted it a common thing; they will die the second death. That is why Jesus said, I guarantee all these will go into death. The one class into second death because they are unworthy. The other class are pushed into taking their place for right or wrong--and when all have died, then the mortgage is all recovered, for the notes have been paid; they have all died, not any of them having an earthly life. The one class gets new life on the Divine plane, another gets new life on the spirit plane, and another class, those who die the second death.
QUESTION (1916)--1--Will the application of Christ's merit need to be repeated?
ANSWER.--This will never need to be repeated. It is a completed work the Father planned before the foundation of the world. He left the glory with the Father for this very purpose; the same he has been working out these 1900 years of this Gospel age, and 1,000 years more will be necessary to fulfill this. Thank God, Hallelujah what a Saviour. Hallelujah, what a plan! Hallelujah, what a Father we have to give us this great plan! Think of it! More than that, my dear friends, the Bible says you are to be like your Heavenly Father. You are children of God when begotten of the spirit. If a child is well begotten, and had a good mother and good father, the child would be like the father every time. If Adam and Eve had retained their perfection, their children would all have been like Adam himself, perfect, grand characters. Now God has started a new race of spirit beings all begotten of the spirit. Then we will be like unto our Father. One mother, one covenant under which we were all begotten and which will develop us and bring us to the glorious liberty of our Lord, and we will be much like our Father. He is kind to the unthankful. Getting more like our great Redeemer and more like our Heavenly Father. The whole object of our life, of our faith, should be to develop character likeness.
ATONEMENT--How Performed in Captivity?
QUESTION (1908)--2--If not one jot or tittle of the law should pass away until all be fulfilled, how was the typical atonement day sacrifice performed when the Jews were in captivity, or the ark not in the holy? When did this type cease?
ANSWER.--I had never thought of that question. I believe I will have to think over it a little more before I answer it.
ATONEMENT--How Often Were Sacrifices Of Lev. 9?
QUESTION (1910)--3--In Lev. 9, was the blood of the bullock and the blood of the goat taken into the Most Holy? [Q26] If not, why not? Are the sacrifices referred to in Lev. 9 the same as those referred to in Leviticus 16, and how often was that sacrifice of Lev. 9 offered?
ANSWER.--We answer that the description of the killing of the bullock of the sin-offering and the goat of the sin-offering in Leviticus 9 was in connection with the consecration of the priest, while the description in Leviticus 16 is in connection with the atonement for the sins of all the people--the world--the Day of Atonement sacrifices. They are, therefore, not exactly the same, though they cover in many respects the same points. For instance, Was not our Lord's consecration closely identified with the work of atonement? Yes. Your consecration unto death as the antitypical goat is closely identified with the atonement work. So these two types, the one relating to the consecration of the priesthood, and the other relating to the atonement work, are closely related, though not exactly the same. In the case of Leviticus 9, you remember the blood was not taken into the Most Holy, because that was not a picture of the Atonement; that was not a picture of that feature of the work; it was a picture of the consecration, and showed how the bullock must die, and how the goat must die; whereas the one in Leviticus 16, picturing the Atonement Day, making satisfaction for sin, properly included the sprinkling of the blood in the Most Holy to make the atonement for sins.
ATONEMENT--Sacrifices For Ensuing Year.
QUESTION (1910)--1--Were the Atonement Day sin-offerings for the year previous or for the ensuing year, and how do we know?
ANSWER.--I answer they were for the ensuing year. We know because at the end of a year they were all under their sins again, and they were to bewail themselves and to be in sackcloth and fast until the Atonement Day sacrifices had been offered, and the blood sprinkled, and the priest would come out and offer the blessings which made them reconciled to God for the year following.
ATONEMENT--Re Sacrifices In Captivity.
QUESTION (1911)--2--When the Jews were in captivity to Babylon, did they observe their annual atonement sacrifices?
ANSWER.--They did not, for the very simple reason these sacrifices could not be made at any other than the appointed place. There could be no such atonement sacrifices away from the proper place and arrangements. So we may be sure that during those years of captivity they had no atonement day sacrifices.
ATONEMENT--Re Delivery of First-Born.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Will all of the firstborn have been fully delivered before this day closes?
ANSWER.--You have the answer to the question already; they will all have entered into their glory when the sacrificing is ended, and long before the day will close, because the day will take in the dealings with the world.
ATONEMENT--Re Its Close.
QUESTION (1911)--4--When does the Day of Atonement close? [Q27]
ANSWER.--The Day of Atonement under the Jewish law was a twenty-four hour day repeated every year in that typical system. The antitype of that Atonement Day we understand to be that period of God's blessing which began with our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. That was the opening of the Day of Atonement. Now, the other sacrifice, the sacrifice of the goat, has been continuing during this Day of Atonement. In other words; the church is invited to share with Christ in his sacrifice, and that great Atonement Day is still going on; the atonement work is not finished. The sacrificing feature of the Atonement Day will soon be over we believe, viz.: when the last member of the elect Body of Christ shall have passed into death; that will be the end of the sacrificing, but it will not be the end of the atonement, because the Day of Atonement not only includes the day of sacrifice, but also the day of using that sacrifice in the work of blessing. In other words, the whole thousand years of Christ's reign also belongs to this atonement work, because the construction of the word means at-one-ment. Now, the sacrificing of this present time is for the purpose of producing that at-one-ment, and when the sacrifices are ended and offered before the Lord, it will be the basis for the at-one-ment, but it will take all of the thousand years to apply that to the world and for the world to be made at one with God. So then the Day of Atonement in the proper and fullest sense of the word is twenty-eight hundred years or more long, and we have passed the middle of it now; and the latter part of it is going to be very fine.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--1--Would it be right to say that all the merit of our Lord's sacrifice is imputed to each and every individual when Scripturally he becomes a believer?
ANSWER.--No; the entire merit of our Lord's death was already in the hands of Justice when Jesus ascended up on high, but it was not applied in any degree nor to any person. According to the Divine intention that merit is to be applied for Adam's original sin and for all the sins of his children, which are the result directly or indirectly of original sin. Thus we might say that every member of Adam's race has a personal, individual interest or share in that redemptive merit, coming to him by Divine arrangement.
Our Lord left the early Church with the instruction that they should tarry at Jerusalem for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of their forgiveness of sins and of their adoption as children of God. He ascended on high and appeared in the presence of the Father--for the entire Church of the First-borns. The imputation of His merit was for them all, as well as for the representative few of the Lord's followers who waited for the blessing in the "upper room."
ATONEMENT--High Priest--Censer--Holy of Holies.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Is it the correct thought that the High Priest took the censer containing burning coals into the Holy of Holies? If so, what is the antitype for this?
ANSWER.--We do not have any knowledge of any record that the High Priest ever took the censer into the Most Holy. The order of the Day of Atonement, you will remember, was that the High Priest slew the bullock; then he took the blood of the bullock and fire from off the brazen altar and went with the two into the Holy, there to offer incense upon the fire before the veil, [Q28] not behind the veil; in the Holy, not in the Most Holy. We have no knowledge of any sacrificing to be done in Heaven, and the fire would represent testings: our Master did not have any testings in Heaven; his testings were on earth. This, then, would evidently be the proper interpretation to put upon the type. The censer with the coals of fire, you will remember, was placed on top of the golden altar. The Apostle Paul, in giving an account of the contents of the Most Holy states that this altar, the golden altar, was in the Most Holy, but we think it was a mistake either by the Apostle himself or some copyist; he could not have said that, for the account in the Old Testament is very distinct, that the altar will be in the Holy. The only article of furniture in the Most Holy was the Ark; in the Ark, you will remember, was the Law, Aaron's Rod that budded and the Golden Pot of Manna; on the cover the two Cherubim; the blood was to be sprinkled upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat, forming a cross. Fire, wherever it is used, would symbolize trials, difficulties and testings. The fire that is here referred to in the Holy where the incense was crumbled upon the coals of fire represents our Lord's three and one-half years' ministry; during these three and one-half years He was using all His perfect powers in the service of the Lord, the Truth and the brethren. Every time that incense touched the fire it produced a smoke of incense, and so the life of Jesus was one continual offering of this incense before the Lord, and as a result of the sacrifice of Christ thus accomplished, He was counted worthy to go beyond the veil to the Most Holy.
He was not worthy to be the great High Priest until He finished His sacrifice. The sacrifice made at Jordan was not finished until Calvary. It took all the three and one-half years to finish this work of crumbling the incense on the fire, and you will remember in the type we read that the High Priest must offer this incense upon the altar in order that the smoke might penetrate beyond the veil so that He die not, so that when He attempted to pass under the second veil the cloud of incense would be covering the mercy-seat and He would not die. If the cloud of incense were not covering the mercy-seat He would die, and this shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ could not have entered the glory beyond unless He had finished His sacrifice and offerings.
You remember there were three fires in connection with this matter. This was the one fire in the Holy representing God's view of our Master's sacrifice, it was a sweet incense to God; and then there was another view of that same sacrifice: He was represented by the burning of the fat in the court, the court condition representing the condition in which the human nature could conceive the matter; all who were in the court condition of justification recognized that He was indeed the Son of God, as was represented by the burning of the fat which makes a very clear light; and then, you remember, there was the fire burning outside the camp on which was burned the hide, horns, etc., of the bullock, and that represented how the Lord's sacrifice appeared to the world; it was a stench to the world; He was making a mistake and spoiling a good, valuable life by speaking about the Kingdom, and going about with these poor disciples. These three pictures describing our Lord from three standpoints, firstly, the world's standpoint, the sacrifice of Christ was not in line with the spirit of the world; secondly, the viewpoint in the court of the disciples of Jesus, He was holy, harmless, undefiled as a Savior; and thirdly, God's view referred to now in this [Q29] question, the burning of the incense in the Holy, not until all three fires, all three phases of the Lord's sacrifice were past was He ready to pass beyond the veil.
ATONEMENT--Cleanse for What Year.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Did the Atonement Day sacrifices typically cleanse the people for the year past or for the year following?
QUESTION (1916)--2--What is the basis of the atonement?
ANSWER.--The Bible tells us it was the sacrifices for sin and this is all testified in the Covenant God made with Israel at Sinai, a representation of the better covenant. There stood Moses representing a greater than Moses. What did he do? First he slew the sacrifice for the sin offering and it was on the basis of this sacrifice that there could be a covenant and it was the blood of those sacrifices sprinkled in order to accomplish that covenant; so here we have better sacrifices than those. These typical sacrifices were merely on an earthly plane, but here we have a better sacrifice, Jesus the antitypical bullock and the Church the antitypical goat. This church sacrificing has been going on for more than 1800 years and shortly it will all be finished and the blood will be in the hands of the great Mediator. Look back in the type and see what He will do with the blood. First sprinkle the table of the law. When Moses had sprinkled the tables of the law he was ready then to sprinkle the people with the same blood. Now the basis was the blood. While the blood of Jesus was the fundamental, important thing, it pictures how that the blood of His saints be counted in with him.--All the followers in the footsteps of Jesus are being gathered, their blood being sacrificed and that blood in the type is for the reconciliation of the world bye and bye. Not that we are adding anything to the value of it, but showing how we would be associated with Jesus in the present time, and share the glory, which is to follow as soon as the church will be completed. Then we understand the right time will have come for Jesus to receive the world and become the King of the world and establish His kingdom from sea to sea. He will be ready then to ask the Father for the world and then He is ready to appropriate His sacrifice for the world. It is to be given fully and completely on behalf of the world at that time, and He will he ready to do that just at the time of completion of the church when we are all with the Lord in glory. The 2 Psalm says, "Ask of me andI will give thee the heathen," etc. The whole world are heathens from God's standpoint. The word heathen is the same word translated Gentile and the same word translated people. God had a people and there were other people outside that were not God's people. They were heathen, and only those in harmony with God are His people, and they were to he distinct from the others. "Ask of me and I will give thee the people, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy Possession."
BABYLON--Re River Euphrates.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Literal Babylon was built on the literal Euphrates river, while mystic Babylon sits on the mystic Euphrates. Then what is the mystic river? [Q30]
ANSWER.--We are going to have a sermon on that very subject before long, and you will get the answer there, perhaps. But just briefly I will say the mystic Euphrates would represent people according to the explanation given us in the Scripture. Thus the waters upon which the woman sitteth are peoples and nations and tongues, and the turning away of the waters of the mystic Euphrates from the antitypical Babylon, or from the mystical Babylon, would signify the turning of the people away. And they are turning away a good deal now, according to what we read in the newspapers. Very small congregations are to be had everywhere. By the way, about three weeks ago when I was in Boston, the assistant editor of the Boston Congregationalist came to me on Monday after our sermon on Sunday and said, "Pastor Russell, may I ask you a question."
"I am assistant editor of the Congregationalist, and I was out on Sunday at the Boston theater, and it was a hot day, and as I looked over that audience and saw four thousand people there under that roof on a hot day and sitting for that length of time, I began to wonder why it is that our largest churches in Boston here, and our most eloquent preachers, and finely paid choirs, only have from twenty to forty or fifty to seventy at a meeting. How is it? Will you tell me what you say about it?"
I said, "I think, my friend, that the Bible explains that by saying there was a famine in the land--not a famine for bread or for water, but a famine, saith the Lord, for the hearing of the Word of the Lord." I said, "I think those people wanted to hear something about the Word of the Lord."
BACK SLIDERS--With What Greeting?
QUESTION (1909)--1--How should we greet those who have left the class and call us worse than Babylon? Shall we give them a hearty greeting when they come to our meetings?
ANSWER.--I think not, why should you? I am going to be specially hearty to those who are specially like my dear Redeemer, marked with the character likeness of my Redeemer. I would not be so hearty with those who have left the class, just to let them see that there is a difference, otherwise they might think they were better than those in the class; because they had become obstreperous in some way. They should be greeted according to the Apostle's words, "Mark those who cause divisions and offenses." Mark those who are tending toward division, and don't make them your bosom companions, don't elect them as elders, etc., for that is just the wrong thing. Don't encourage anybody who has a strifeful condition. Lay him on the shelf and let him have strife to himself. Let us be careful that we do not cultivate anything in our own hearts, of their spirit. Let us be gentle, but firm. If any such should approach me, I would shake hands with him. I would not say, No, I will not shake hands with you. But I would not make of them my bosom companions. We want to remember what they said of the Apostles in the early church, "They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." We want to make our bosom companion our Lord Jesus. We want to be with Jesus, and those who have most of His character likeness will be most like Him. They are all those who have the spirit of Christ. He spent more of His time and chose those who should be near Him from among those who had most of [Q31] His spirit, Peter, James and John. These three were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, and they were nearest Him in the garden of Gethsemane. Counsel with those who have the spirit of the Lord.
BAPTISM--In the Name of the Holy Spirit.
QUESTION (1907)--1--Some one has asked why we baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit is not a person?
ANSWER.--First, that is the formula given in the Scriptures, and secondly, because it is the right thought. We do not baptize in our own name, or in the name of the Baptist Church, or in the name of some other church. But what authority do we recognize? Do we recognize the Father's authority and sanction to baptize? Yes, indeed. Do we recognize the Son's authority and sanction to baptism? Yes, indeed. Do we recognize that the Spirit sanctions this matter of baptism? Yes, indeed. Well, then, we perform the baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as representing that which is the will of God, and in every sense the spirit of the Lord's will and teaching. The thought is, the matter of baptism is approved by the Lord Jesus, approved by the Heavenly Father, and approved by the spirit of holiness, the spirit of God, the spirit of the truth.
BAPTISM--Words Used in Service.
QUESTION (1909)--2--The doctrine of the Trinity being unscriptural, why, in baptizing, do we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Why, in the authority, not in the likeness of the death of the Father and of the Son and Holy Spirit because the Father and the Holy Spirit did not die, and we are not baptizing them into the Father, and into the Holy Spirit. We are baptized into Christ, but in the name of, the Father, and of the Holy Spirit. It is not merely something that our Lord Jesus instituted and wished us to commemorate, but He wished us to know that when we did that we were doing something in harmony with the will of the Father, and of the will of the Holy Spirit, as well as in Harmony with His own Spirit.
BAPTISM--Re Remission of Sins.
QUESTION (1909)--3--(Acts 2:38,39), "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." If, according to Peter's command, all the called must be baptized for the remission of sins in order to receive the Holy Spirit, how do you harmonize this with the Scripture that the Jews only were baptized for the remission of their sins?
ANSWER.--I answer that the Scriptures do not say what you think they do here. Read it over a dozen times. Most people have to read anything over a half dozen times. You need not feel hurt, because others have to do the same. How many Scriptures have you read a hundred times? A great many. [Q32]
Now, what Peter does say is, that those who were before him should be baptized for the remission of their sins, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then he goes on to prove that he is right in the statement because the promise is unto you, and to your children, and also to them that are afar off, but he does not say that those afar off needed to be baptized for the remission of their sins, for they were the Gentiles. The promises were not only to you and to your children. Peter, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the mouthpiece of God, said, "Also to them afar off," but he was not saying how those afar off could be received, nor what kind of a baptism was necessary for them.
BAPTISM--Were Jews Commanded To Be Baptized.
QUESTION (from the audience) (1911)--1--Was there any command to the Jews from Jehovah to be baptized?
ANSWER.--I have just said there was nothing in the law whatever. What John did was something special for the occasion, that Jesus said if they had believed John and would have taken what he said, they would have been ready and would have believed him. John's was a special message, a special baptism for a special purpose, and not such a matter as contemplated getting outsiders in, for he did not assume to get anyone in. When Jesus came to John, John knew that Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. John objected and said, "Not so, Lord. If either one of us should be baptized, if either one of us is a sinner, I am the one, not you, and you should baptize me rather than I should baptize you." But Jesus did not baptize John and he did not explain to John the philosophy at all. He said merely, "John, suffer it to be so now; I will not explain to you why." Now we may know the why. Jesus did not have any sins to wash away, therefore it should not be as our friend has suggested, that this is an example for all sinners, that they shall wash away their sins, for how could Jesus who had no sins, be an example to all sinners to wash away their sins? The answer we have to make is that what Jesus did is something new, and peculiar and special, different from anything that John had done at that time, or before or after. He was performing something that John did not understand at all. Jesus was laying down the foundation for a new order of things and by his baptism he was symbolizing not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, not the putting away of sin, for he had no sin, but he was symbolizing the full consecration of his life, even unto death. And as he thus laid down his life, in the picture, by a baptism into death, not by washing away of sins but by baptism into death, as Saint Paul says, so all believers whose sins are forgiven are privileged to be baptized into death with him, because they have no sins to be washed away, but they are to be baptized into his death, as St. Paul declares in the sixth chapter of Romans, "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, into this glorious body of the Messiah, of which he is the head--so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death--not baptized for the remission of sins, not baptized into water, but baptized into his death." And then so many of us as were baptized into death with Christ, giving up our wills to do the will of the Father, even unto death, as he did--so many of us as take this position, the Scriptures tell us it is pleasing [Q33] in God's sight, and that we should symbolize this matter, symbolize this consecration, by a water immersion as Jesus symbolized his consecration by a water immersion. So we will follow his example.
BAPTISM--In The Name of Who?
QUESTION (1911)--l--"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Would it be right to say that this implies three baptisms in one--namely: in the name of the Father for our justification, in the name of the Son for our sacrifice, and in the name of the Holy Spirit to be baptized for our Spirit's begetting?
ANSWER.--We answer, "No." To my understanding that would not be the thought at all. We are baptized in the name of--that is, by the authority of; not merely that Jesus says, This is something of mine that I give you, but he would give us the understanding that this baptism that he enjoined upon the church was a baptism in the name of, that is, by the authority of, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; just the same as if he were using a firm name, Smith, Jones and Brown, and Smith was talking about the matter, he would not merely say, Go and baptize in my name, but do it with the full authorization of the whole firm, Smith, Jones and Brown. So Jesus says, Go and baptize in the name, by the authority of, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
BAPTISM--Re All Apostles Receiving John's.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Did all the Apostles and Israelites indeed receive a water immersion, either John's or our symbolic immersion?
ANSWER.--We know about the Apostle Paul, that he received water baptism, but he did not receive water baptism in the same sense that converted Gentiles receive water baptism. He was a Jew and there were different conditions for the Jews. The Jews, by virtue of the law covenant which applied to them only and not to the Gentiles, were already in relationship with God and when a Jew therefore would believe in Christ, Christ, so far as his mind would be concerned, took the place of Moses, stood instead of Moses to that one who was a Jew and who believed in Jesus. And if he as a Jew was already in Moses, then as a Jew, when he had recognized Christ as the antitypical Moses, he was already in the antitypical Moses, by faith. Therefore he did not need the same kind of baptism into Christ that a Gentile would need, and none of the Jews did have such a baptism at that time. The baptism that the Jews observed was a symbolic washing away of their defilements, as Jews. That is to say, it represented merely a cleansing of their flesh, coming back into harmony with the divine law and putting away the filth of the flesh.
John did not preach the baptism that you and I observe now. He preached a baptism especially for the Jews, especially to them as sinners, saying, "Repent, reform, and be baptized." Did he say he baptized into Christ? Oh, no, they were already baptized into Moses. But, repent and be baptized and wash away your sins. What sins did they wash away? Why all things against the Mosaic covenant, against the law covenant, all the outward transgressions they had committed that they could have avoided. Thus they were to indicate that they turned from them, repented of them, and [Q34] put them behind them. They were going to walk now in a clean, pure life to the extent they were able. That is what all of those Jews did who came to John for baptism. We have no reason to think that any of the disciples participated in that baptism, or that John the Baptist did himself. Why not? Because they were not of the class that were called sinners at that time. John the Baptist was not a sinner. He was seeking to walk as best he could in harmony with the Lord. Neither were the disciples sinners. They were all striving to walk as near as they were able as holy men, walking according to the standards of the law ; they did no willful sin against the law. Therefore we see why there is no record whatever that any of the Apostles, except Saint Paul, were immersed. There is no record that John the Baptist was immersed. When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John said, "Why no, I would not think of baptizing you ; you are not a sinner, you have no sins to wash away. You have not been living in open violation of the law; I am not calling such as you. If either one of us needed to be baptized, why I would be the one, rather than you. You are holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. I am not so perfect as that, but still I do not need to he baptized either."
So all the Jews stood in a peculiar condition, different from any others. The Gentiles, however, were totally out of relationship with God; it was necessary that they should be brought into relationship with him. As long as they were not to go into Moses and be transferred from Moses to Christ, they were brought directly by baptism and faith and obedience into Christ direct, instead of going through the channel of Moses. I am not sure that I make this plain. It would take at least an hour to discuss baptism. If there is any question on this point I will entertain it, but if you are all clear, I need not go further into the matter.
BAPTISM--Kind of Sins John's Remitted.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Was John's baptism for the remission of avoidable or unavoidable sins against their law covenant?
ANSWER.--It was for the remission of avoidable sins, gross sins, and the godly Jews were not intended nor expected to come to John to be baptized. It was for the sinner class--for all classes that realized they were out of harmony with God. He said, "Now come, if you want to get ready for Messiah's kingdom, and try to keep the law the best you are able and take this water immersion, accepting this as a sign of your putting away sin and starting a new course of life. This is all that baptism meant to the Jews. That was not a regular institution. It was a peculiar thing that belonged just to the end of the age, and John tried there to especially prepare a people by this preaching of holiness and putting away of sin for the Messiah; for the testimony is that if they had believed John they would have believed Jesus. If they disbelieved John and disregarded what he said, and were not careful to come back into harmony with God, and become as holy as they were able to do, then they were not in a condition to receive the message God had to give.
BAPTISM--Why Water a Type?
QUESTION (1912)--2--Why is this water baptism of Jesus spoken of as a type? Was it a symbol in His case as in ours? [Q35]
While sometimes spoken of as a type, strictly speaking it was not a type. Sometimes words are used in a loose way. It was a symbol, not a type. If I ever used the word type in connection with it, it was because the right word slipped me, and the wrong word came in.
BAPTISM--Was Water or Spirit First in Jesus' Case?
QUESTION (1912)--l--Was Jesus baptized in water before He was baptized of the Spirit? Which was first?
ANSWER.--The account seems to imply that God made the manifestation of the descent of the Spirit on Jesus after His baptism. Jesus was baptized into death before He went into the water, in the sense that He had given up His own will, in the sense that the Apostle quotes from the Old Testament, "Lo, I have come as it is written in the volume of the book, to do Thy will; I delight to do Thy will, O my God." He came to do everything written in the Book concerning Him. He was already dead to His will, otherwise He would not have come to John. But God's manifestation of His acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice of Himself apparently waited until after Jesus had performed the symbol. So we read that it was after He came up out of the water that the Spirit came, and God gave that outward sign. This outward sign was not for all, but for John--John saw, John bore record, etc.
BAPTISM--Israelites Re John's.
QUESTION (1913)--2--In the type did the Israelites indeed have need of John's immersion?
ANSWER.--We do not understand that the Israelites indeed had any need of John's immersion, because John was not notifying the saintly of the Israelites to come to his immersion. He was inviting those who were living in a condition of sin to come. There is no evidence whatever that John the Baptist was ever immersed by his own baptism, and when Jesus came along he objected and said, Why you are not a sinner, why should you come to me? I am baptizing sinners, telling them to get out of disobedience and come back into harmony with Mosaic Law. Jesus did not stop to argue the matter with John, because John could not have understood; it was not due time for John to understand, he was not of those begotten of the Holy Spirit; none were begotten of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. Therefore, Jesus did not argue the matter with him, but merely said, John, permit it to be so now; I know what I am doing. Jesus was making a type of a new thing. He was not joining in John's baptism at all. He was not washing away His sins in order to come back into harmony with the Law, because He had never been out of harmony with the Law.
BAPTISM--Questions Asked Candidates.
QUESTION (1913-Z)--3--What are the questions usually put by Brother Russell when receiving candidates for water immersion?
ANSWER.--You will notice that they are on broad lines--questions which any Christian, whatever his confession, should be able to answer in the affirmative without hesitation if he is suitable to be acknowledged as a member of the Church of Christ: [Q36]
(3) On the basis of these confessions, we acknowledge you as a member of the Household of Faith, and give to you as such the right hand of fellowship, not in the name of any sect or party or creed, but in the name of the Redeemer, our glorified Lord, and His faithful followers.
BAPTISM--Water Immersion Re Our Lord And The Apostles.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Seeing that our Lord Jesus symbolized His consecration by immersion in water, how was it that the Apostles did not do so?
ANSWER.--I do not know. (See F446)
QUESTION (1913-Z)--2--Was our Lord baptized in water before He was baptized of the Holy Spirit?
ANSWER.--The Scriptural account of our Lord's baptism at Jordan seems to imply that God made the manifestation of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus after His baptism in water. He was baptized into death before He went into the water, in the sense that He had given up His own will; in the sense that the Apostle quotes from the Old Testament--"Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me; I delight to do Thy will, O My God." (Psa. 40:7,8; Heb. 10:7.) Our Lord came to do everything written in the Book concerning Him.
Our Lord was already dead to His own will; otherwise He could not have gone to John at Jordan. But God's manifestation of His acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice of Himself apparently waited until after Jesus had performed the symbol. So we read that after He had come up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. God gave that outward sign, not for all, but for John, who "saw and bare record," as the Scriptures declare.--(John 1:32-34).
BAPTISM--Not Certain of Consecration.
QUESTION (1916)--3--Take the case of a young brother who is not certain that a consecration symbolized sometime ago was complete, and is not certain whether he is spirit-begotten, or not. What would be your advice in such a case?
ANSWER.--I advise you to make certain. If anyone is uncertain about a matter of that kind, I think the best thing to do is to make certain of it. This would be my advice on all such matters. In this case, I would make a full consecration of my whole soul, mind and strength to the Lord, and ask Him to graciously receive this through Christ, and I would believe that He would do so. If nothing be left out I know this to be exactly what God requires, and by faith I would lay hold upon that proposition and say, I am the Lord's and He is my Father. With respect to evidences of my having received the Holy Spirit, I would look for them in various ways: in a growing desire on my part to know the Lord, to be acquainted with Him, and therefore [Q37] the study of His Word that I might become acquainted; and my desire to serve Him, and to seek opportunities in which I might serve Him; all of these would indicate that I had the same spirit that was in Christ Jesus, the same as prompted and moved Him, that led Him in doing the Father's will. I would expect that the eyes of my understanding would get clearer and clearer, so that I might be able to comprehend with all the saints the lengths and breadths, heights and depths of God's great love and plan, and I would go on in that way, and believe that in doing so I would obtain the prize.
QUESTION (1911)--1--What about the number of the beast, 666?
ANSWER.--There are various interpretations given to this. I am not specially prepared to say all about my view of the matter, except that I believe it would represent the title of papacy. There are three Latin words inscribed on the Pope's crown, Vicarius Felii Dei, the Vicarious Son of God. This title attached to the Pope would seem to be an illegitimate one. He is not the vicarious Son of God; he is not the vicar of Christ ; he is not reigning instead of Christ ; and therefore every intimation to the effect that he is the substitute or representative of Christ in reigning power would seem to be that much of a blasphemy. Not that the Pope and the Catholics understand that they are blaspheming. I presume they feel fully confident that this is all very true of him. But to our understanding it is untrue, and he is in a false position, and is really anti-Christ, or the counterfeit Christ, as the Bible would express the matter.
BEGETTING--To the Divine Nature.
QUESTION (1907)--2--Are we begotten to the divine nature, or only to the spirit nature?
ANSWER.--I answer that the begetting of the spirit is to the spirit nature, but in the case of our Lord, it is, must be, to the divine nature or nothing. Why? Because if He had failed to be more than a conqueror and worthy of the divine nature, according to the divine plan, then He could not have been acceptable at all. He could never have come into any secondary place. His begetting of the spirit must eventuate in the divine nature or nothing. But in the case of the church, we may say it is a little different; that while our begetting is of the spirit, and while the Lord intends that this shall be the highest form of the spirit nature, if we are faithful and follow in the footsteps of the Lord, yet there will also be some of this class begotten of the spirit who will never reach the divine nature, but will be, so to speak, sidetracked from the divine nature; therefore, we prefer to put it that the church is begotten to the spirit nature, and some of them get beyond this to the divine nature. The Great Company will reach the spirit plane yet not be of the divine nature.
BEGETTING AND THE QUICKENING--Manifestations Of.
QUESTION (1907)--3--Comparing the spiritual with the natural birth, what manifestations should we expect at the begetting and what at the quickening? [Q38]
ANSWER.--I would say that in comparing the spiritual begetting with the natural begetting, we would not expect much of any kind of manifestation at the begetting. It is a fact that it does take place, and the demonstration is found later, and so, if we are begotten of the Holy Spirit, we may have some consciousness of it, but the outward demonstration would not be very marked to anybody else; there would possibly be some manifestation to others; it would be the quickening, the energizing motion that would be the indication of a personal life. So when we are begotten of the Holy Spirit it quickens our mortal bodies, energizes us in the Lord's service, and we begin to have the love that moves and wants to serve God and the brethren, and to do good to all men as we have opportunity.
BEGETTING--Spiritual, Real or Reckoned.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Is the spirit begetting a real or a reckoned condition? Will there ever be any in the great company who have not at some time as individuals been appointed a place in the little flock?
ANSWER.--We answer, there never will be in the great company, so far as we know, anybody who did not have an opportunity of entering the little flock and failed to get in because of not fulfilling their vows of consecration.
The only exception to this would be that we understand the Ancient Worthies really belong to the same class, and in this sense of the word, they never were invited to this high calling. They voluntarily sacrificed much and suffered much, and they have great honor of God, and this is the only part of the great company or antitypical Levite class that does not have an opportunity to come into the little flock.
As to whether the spirit begetting is a real or a reckoned condition, I would say that it is a real thing. What do you mean by a real thing? Some people think that a real thing is something that you can put your hands on or see. Not real in the sense of tangible, but real in the sense of being bona fide and not a theory--a fact. How do we know it? This way, dear brother: The Lord's provision is that any of these who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit must be born of the Spirit or die the second death. You have actually given up the earthly nature, you must do that before you could he counted at all. 'Whoever gives up restitution rights is dealing with God, and He is not to be trifled with. It is so real that if you give up the earthly rights, you can never get them back again.
BEGETTING--To Divine or Spiritual Nature.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Are we begotten to the divine nature or to the spiritual nature?
ANSWER.--I answer that the divine nature is a spiritual nature. In the first volume of the Scripture Studies we had originally written that we were begotten to the divine nature, but finding so many of the Lord's dear people seemed to have difficulty in the matter, we thought it would save difficulty in the matter if we substituted the words "spiritual nature," instead of "divine." That change does not mean that there has been any real change. We believe that that was a proper statement to make that we are begotten to the divine nature, and that is a spiritual nature. The Scriptures prove that we are begotten to the divine nature. Peter said, "Unto you are given exceeding great and precious promises that by these [Q39] you might become partakers of the divine nature." These precious promises of the divine nature, of glory, honor and immortality are the begetting power that enters into our hearts and that the Lord uses through His Holy Spirit to work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. He assists us all along the way that we may make our calling and election sure. We are called to the divine nature. Are we begotten to the same? Yes, you are all called in the one hope of your calling--whether you get to it or not, it is one hope.
Very well, Brother Russell, how is it that the Great Company does not attain to that nature and yet both are begotten to it? It could be this way, dear friends. Take an illustration from nature: This matter of the begetting of the Holy Spirit is founded upon the begetting of the natural being. In the case of the natural birth, the begetting is the same, whether that which is born is male or female. Here are two classes that God is developing from the same begetting, the members of His Body and the Great Company. To carry the matter further, those who have made it a study say that there is no perceptible difference until after the third month from begetting, whether the child is to be a male or a female. Just so with the spiritual; after the begetting, no one can tell for a while whether he is one that will attain to the divine nature or not. The matter is in the balance; it depends upon himself how he has received the engrafted word. If it causes you to will and to do, then you will be of the Little Flock.
BEGETTING--Prior to Entering Holy.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Can One be Spirit-begotten prior to entering the holy place in the tabernacle.? If so, please explain when and where Spirit-begetting takes place.
ANSWER.--There was no Spirit-begetting indicated in connection with entering the tabernacle. The Spirit-begetting was indicated in the anointing oil. It nevertheless was a fact that only the anointed priests were allowed to enter into the tabernacle. The Holy of the tabernacle stood for and represented the condition of consecration into which you and I have entered now. Since and at the time we became priests, and the time we were begotten of the Holy Spirit, that moment, that instant, we passed from the one condition into the other condition, into the Holy--and now since our begetting of the Spirit we are said to be seated with Christ in the holies, in the heavenlies, in this higher position represented by the tabernacle, itself.
BEGETTING--Yet Not Accepted.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Could we properly speak of one as having a Spirit-begotten life, and yet say that he has not been accepted of the Lord to run for the prize?
ANSWER.--No. We answer that all who are called at all are called in the one hope of their calling. All who are begotten of the Holy Spirit at all, are begotten with a view of their being priests. All of those who will enter the great company class, typified by the Levites, or such as have had this opportunity and have failed to make good the opportunity and are therefore as far as the prize is concerned castaways, or not found worthy of the priestly office, therefore are merely granted as a favor a share in the Levitical service.