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CONSECRATION--Re Still Not Begotten.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Is it possible for one who consecrates his all now to the Lord to still not be begotten of the Holy Spirit?
ANSWER.--It certainly would be possible that one might make a full consecration of himself and yet not be begotten of the Holy Spirit. That was the case with Abraham and with others of the worthies before our Lord's time--before Pentecost--and that will be the condition of things after the full selection of the church has been made. But just when, just with whom that will begin, no one living could know. We have no reason to think that we have reached that particular time yet, because we see some who have made a consecration quite recently and have given good evidence of having been begotten of the Spirit, which would imply to us that there is still a shortage, so to speak, in the number of elect--that there is still therefore an opportunity of coming into this class.
CONSECRATION--Assurance of Being of Bride Class.
QUESTION (1911)--2--At what time do we cross the line of uncertainty in respect to our assurance that those consecrated will become members of the bride class?
ANSWER.--My understanding is that we crossed that line in 1881, namely: as we set forth in the Scripture Studies, at that time the call ceased, but the door was not yet shut. That at that time a sufficient number had made their consecration, and if they had all proved faithful, the little flock would have been complete. But there was no prospect that they would all prove faithful, and whatever number of them would prove unfaithful, either to the extreme degree of going into the second death, or to the lesser degree of not showing a sufficiency of zeal, and thus going into the great company class these deflections would leave that many more openings or opportunities for others to come in. Our thought is, that since then quite a good many people of the Lord have come in. A relative question may come in, then, "How may we assure ourselves, to some degree at least, respecting those who now come into harmony with the Lord? What proof of evidence would we have, if any, that they had been accepted of the Lord, and begotten of the Holy Spirit, and would be eligible to the little flock class?"
I answer, there might be several evidences or proofs. One would be their manifestation of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, including love of the brethren. Another would be the manifestation of a knowledge of the truth, because the apostle says that no one can understand the deep things of God, except by the spirit of God. Therefore, anybody able to clearly grasp and comprehend the deep things of God becomes to himself and to others a strong influential testimony that he has been begotten of the Spirit, and that he may therefore make his calling and election sure. And another evidence of God's favor would be an opportunity granted to such ones to suffer for Christ's sake, to endure something, to lay down his life in the Lord's service. In other words, the privilege of sacrificing, because sacrifice is to be understood as a great privilege. If we do not suffer with him we will not reign with him, therefore, to have the opportunity, or to enjoy the opportunity, of suffering with Christ, is one of the best evidences we have of our acceptance with God. [Q155]
CONSECRATION--Any Such Not Heard Truth.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Is it your understanding that there are those now living who are fully consecrated to God, and begotten of the Holy Spirit, who have not as yet heard of present truth?
ANSWER.--It is my understanding that there are such. It is my understanding that the Scriptures refer to this very class when we read in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation where God is speaking to his people in Babylon, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues." They could not be God's people unless they were Spirit-begotten, and they could not come out of her unless they were in her.
CONSECRATION--Re Rom. 12:1.
QUESTION (1911)--2--I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice. Why in quoting this do you use the plural number, sacrifices, instead of sacrifice?
ANSWER.--It would depend. The apostle did not mean, evidently, that the brethren were to present all their bodies as one sacrifice, but each to present his own body, and the construction of the sentence would depend upon which way you wished to use it; whether, "I beseech all ye brethren that you all present your bodies," or "I beseech each of you brethren to present his own body," the same thought would be in it; it would not change anything at all.
CONSECRATION--Accepted and Not in the Race.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Can one consecrate and have his sacrifice accepted as evidenced by the Spirit's begetting, and not be in the race?
ANSWER.--I would say, no. Whoever has made his consecration, and then has certain evidences, would he justified in supposing that God accepted him, and that he is in the race, and it was with him to make his calling and election sure. What are some of those evidences? It would seem to me one evidence would be his love of the brethren. The Scriptures put it that way. Another evidence would be his love for God and his Word. Another evidence would be his desire to serve the Lord and the brethren, his desire to serve righteousness; all of these would be evidence or proofs that God had accepted him, and that he had a new mind, a new disposition, that he had received the mind of Christ after he had been begotten of the Holy Spirit. And another evidence would be that such a one might perhaps find opportunities for serving the Lord, and a further evidence would be that he would begin to have a deeper appreciation of the truth, and a better understanding of it. Whoever would have these various evidences, or proofs, I would encourage to think that God had accepted his offering through Christ's merit.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--4--Was it necessary that all who would be of the "little flock" should have made their consecration by or before October, 1881? [Q156]
The chapter in Scripture Studies, Vol. II, 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. 9:24-26) 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.
CONSECRATION--Applicable to Two Classes.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--1--To whom is the Apostle speaking when he says, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies living sacrifices"?-- Rom. 12:1.
ANSWER.--These words are properly applicable to two classes. First, they apply to a class termed "brethren," in the sense that they are no longer opponents, but sympathetically in harmony with the consecrated. The Apostle was urging these to complete the work of grace which they had already begun. Secondly, the text applies to those who have made the consecration, and urges them to complete the work. I urge you, brethren, that day by day you attend to this matter of presenting your bodies living sacrifices until the work be accomplished. This, he says, is a reasonable service, acceptable to God.
Although St. Paul does not say how the great Advocate will make the sacrifice acceptable, yet this is to be understood by Christians, who know that they are accepted in the Beloved. After that class have given up their lives, after they have put all in the Lord's hands, they understand that they, themselves, as members of the Body of Christ, are to die daily. Hence it is that daily an opportunity comes to us to lay down life in the Lord's service. While this is a daily dying, yet, in another sense of the word, it is a sacrifice to the end of life. Our Lord Jesus said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:50.) In one sense, His sacrifice was accepted at Jordan. In another sense it was day by day until that baptism was completed on the cross and He cried, "It is finished!"
CONSECRATION--Are There Crowns for All?
QUESTION (1912)--2--Would it be possible for one to consecrate at this late day and be accepted, and yet there be no [Q157] crown reserved for such a one?
ANSWER.--It would certainly be possible for one to consecrate, because it will always be proper to consecrate; as it was proper to consecrate long before the Gospel Age began. Abraham and the Prophets made consecration of their lives-- they showed that they did. Remember how the Apostle states the matter in the 11th chapter of Hebrews: Some were stoned to death, others sawn asunder, etc. Of whom, he says, the world was not worthy. Their lives were consecrated to God and to righteousness. If proper for them to consecrate, it is still proper for everybody.
The answer is, No. God is never bound to accept any sacrifice. In a general way, of course, "God is no respecter of persons." His favor was first thrown open to all the Jews, and secondly to all the Gentiles: That all who accept the terms may come into the Christ-body until a sufficient number shall have been found, until the foreordained number have made consecration, and made their calling and election sure.
It is not for us to know! In a general way, we believe that the outward call ceased in 1881. We realize, however, that all who will be accepted as members of the Body of Christ must have trials of faith and loyalty before being assigned a definite place in the Kingdom. Reprobates will constitute the Second Death class. Others may be assigned to the Great Company class. All such would be counted out of membership in the Royal Priesthood. Each one put out as unworthy would leave a vacancy, and release one crown. Such vacancies, we understand, are now being filled after the general Call has ceased--from among those who offer themselves.
If there were ten consecrated persons waiting at the time there was only one vacancy left, it would probably be the one most thoroughly developed, and most fully in harmony with the Lord that would be given that one place and the remaining crown.
Our thought is that in 1878 there were a great many who had not passed their trial in full; that there were in the nominal churches many thousands who had made full consecration, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. I remember well Evangelist Moody's campaign. At that time a great many seemed to be genuine converts, for his preaching seemed to be very different from that of the majority of evangelists. He preached forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and full consecration to God. Many at that time made a full consecration, had their names tentatively written and filled up the list. But when testings came on, many were found unworthy of a higher reward than that of the Great Company. Others taking the places of the failures also had to be tested and sifted. Vacancies occurred and still others came in to have an opportunity. We see evidences that this had been going on for the last thirty years, and we believe that it is still going on, and that there are some names still being listed and that there are crowns waiting for such. [Q158]
Our reason is this: We see people who were godless people, who had never made any consecration to God, who have quite recently made a full consecration to God, and received that evidence which seems to indicate that God has accepted them. What evidence? The eyes of their understanding were opened so that they could see the spiritual or deep things of God. And a further evidence is that they are having opportunities to sacrifice. We make a covenant that we will sacrifice, but it is for the Lord to give us the opportunity. We see some of these getting the opportunities and using them, and this implies that when they made their consecration there was a place open and they are filling it.
The fact that so many have been thus accepted since 1878 seems to imply quite a considerable vacancy in that list and that it is gradually filling up. It is not for us to say how much of a vacancy remains, nor just when it will be filled. We do surely believe, however, that it will be filled before the close of "the times of the Gentiles"; which we think end with October, 1914. As for others who have not yet consecrated we can say with St. Paul, I beseech you, brethren, present your bodies living sacrifices--do your best, maybe there is an opening and you may get in. We will tell them just what we would have them tell us if we were to change places, namely, to consecrate their time, talent, and all to God. God will give good pay--He always does--whatever the reward it will be a prize.
CONSECRATION--Proper Use of Time.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Should Christians spend their time reading worldly magazines and newspapers?
ANSWER.--The brother wants to know what to do about his mind being occupied by reading worldly magazines and newspapers; he has about eight worldly magazines and newspapers. He says his mind wanders on those things. The more you feed your mind with anything in one direction, the more it will wander there. So I would feed it with good spiritual food and have it wander in the right direction. We used to have a cow that we always gave the very best grass in the barn, and the very best place, but she always thought the grass over the fence was better. She would break ropes and everything else in order to get over. So that is the way with our natural dispositions. Whatever is a little piece off from us we are inclined to want. We want to get so fenced off from the world that we will not any longer desire those things, but, as the Apostle says, set our affection on things above and not on things beneath. This word "Set" is one that indicates continual setting. You need to keep setting, set it today, and tomorrow morning set it early, and if it slips off early set it back again; and if it slips off set it back again, and by and by you will be too busy to have time to wander. That is the best advice I could give. You can become overcharged with the affairs of this life by very trifling things, things that are not worthy of your attention at all, but foolishness, if you only give your mind to what another person imagines and made a story about. I will tell you what I think: that we have in the Bible the most wonderful story, the most wonderful drama that was ever known. I don't know much about theaters and novels, but I can imagine how a novel goes; I know they have plots [Q159] and schemes, etc. I think I could write a novel, too if I tried, but the point I am making is, the Bible has the most wonderful plot. Think of how it goes away back and shows Eden in all its beauty and grandeur, then the coming in of the serpent and the temptation of our first parents, mother Eve being deceived and father Adam being perplexed, gives his very life for his wife, because he thinks he could never live without her, and deliberately sins against his God's commands. Is there enough there for you? I think so. What about the results? Look what has come into the world as the result of sin. You could not have any deeper plot than to think how the Adversary and the fallen angels have all been conspiring to blind and delude men during all of this entire period. Then think about the picture God gives us of His own love wherewith He loved us, the great Creator looking down from His holy habitation and beholding our condition in sin and degradation, and He hearkened and heard the groaning of the prisoners. What prisoners? The prisoners of sin, bound hand and foot. Some are bound tighter than others, and some have a ball and chain onto their shackles; but all are bound, all are prisoners of sin, all are going down to the prison house of death. Do you want anything more of a novel than that? Then God saw there was no one that could deliver; no one could help man out of his trouble. When this prison-house shuts its doors no iron or steel bars are like the bars of death; once closed on an individual, no power but God's can open those bars and bring those prisoners forth. So then the picture tells us that when God took in the situation, he realized He alone could help. He wished us to see that condition, and then His own eye pitied, His own arm brought the salvation. It has not brought it yet; He has merely stretched forth His arm. We have seen the arm of the Lord. What do you mean by that? Jesus was the arm that the Lord revealed. Has He delivered yet? No, He has redeemed, He has died the just for the unjust, He has made satisfaction to justice so when the proper time comes men can come out from under the curse or sentence of death.
But that is not enough for our novel; we want more. What shall we have now? The Father would have a bride for His son. What kind shall she be, and how shall she be called? She has only the filthy rags of sin and imperfection; all she has to commend her is her desire to be in harmony with God. Then the one to be bridegroom provides for her purification and cleansing and justification--providing her with a wedding garment. Is there not a good deal of plot about that? Then what must she do. She must receive this robe of Christ's righteousness which is to be the wedding garment. A marriage is going to take place, and the bride is going to get ready by getting a robe from the bridegroom. Then what shall she do with it? She must embroider it. She gets the robe for nothing and has the stamped pattern given to her. What pattern? Christ is the pattern and she must do the embroidery work herself. She must work out her own salvation with fear and trembling, seeing carefully that every stitch on the robe shall conform to the pattern the Lord has given her. What does the embroidery represent? It represents the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit, and you know unless you have those fruits and graces you will never [Q160] be accounted worthy to be a joint-heir in the Kingdom. And what are the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit? Meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love. How long does it take to embroider these? It takes longer with some and shorter with others. Some can get their hearts fixed on this glorious pattern and so appreciate it that it is the great desire of their lives to cultivate these graces of the Holy Spirit. As they go to the Lord the first thing in the morning they say, Lord help me to cultivate the fruits of Thy spirit today. Why? I want to be pleasing to the Bridegroom, and be ready at such time as He comes to claim His Bride, that I may be accounted worthy to enter in as a member of the Bride class. And then all the trials and difficulties the Bridegroom knew the Bride class would be obliged to pass through. He allowed us to be tempted in all points like He was tempted. Why so? Because He wants to have a Bride class who can endure temptation, and endure hardness, show loyalty, and manifest they are not merely so-so Christians, but really overcomers, seeking to know and to do God's will and having that spirit of love for righteousness and truth that would lead them to lay down their lives in the service of the truth and for righteousness rather than to receive the pleasures of sin for a time. He has taken more than 1,800 years for this very purpose. He knew there would not be very many who would love Christ and lay down their lives to be right, if they found it to be policy to do wrong. I am not saying that He wants to do the others any harm, or roast them. No one would want to roast them; that is not the thought; but when He wanted to find a Bride class the Father will approve, He is going to make sure He gets the right kind. Every one of them will be approved of the Father. He shall present them blameless and unreprovable before the Father in love, after they have had all of these trials. Then what will they do after that? Mark you! this is the drama that began away back at the fall of the race, and it has continued down to the betrothal of Christ. Is not the Church married now? No, brother, you do not know whether you will be of the marriage class or not. We are merely the betrothed now. We are engaged to Him and everything is contingent upon our developing the character, upon our wearing this robe, and upon our showing our love and zeal by the embroidering of our robe with the fruits and graces of the spirit as the Lord indicates is pleasing to Him. Then what? Then comes the marriage of the Lamb when the Bride has made herself ready. And what will be the marriage? The marriage will be that union with the Lord. How will it be brought about? By the change from imperfect human nature to Divine nature--changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Then we are to be forever with the Lord. And is there not a supper, or something? Yes, or we might call it a breakfast, if you please. It is in the morning. The word supper comes from the general word, to sup. You may sup in the morning, noon or evening. It means to eat. So this supper is to be the first great banquet that we will have on the other side of the vail. Who ever thought all that drama was in the Bible? It is very wonderful.
And what next? Well, before the supper begins they will wait a little while. What for? The Bridesmaids. Who [Q161] are they? Oh, there is to be a secondary company. They were part of the church at one time; they made a consecration and were begotten of the Holy Spirit, just the same as the Bride class, but they failed to make their calling and election sure to that high position to which they were invited. They were not sufficiently zealous and loyal. Were they disloyal? Oh, No! No disloyal ones will be given anything at God's hands. By and by they will come up through great tribulation and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and be before the throne instead of on the throne. They will have palms of victory instead of crowns of glory. So we read in the Psalm that after Jesus, the King, shall introduce the Bride before the Father, then the virgins, her companions that followed after her, shall also be brought into the presence of the King. Oh, there is a grand drama there in all that Bible picture.
Then have we anything more? Yes, the King and Queen are going to reign for a thousand years, and everybody is going to be blessed. In all that empire there will be no attempt to take from the people their rights, and make everything subservient to the King, and the people poor. The very reverse of this. The King will take delight in lifting the people up, refreshing them, and bringing them to perfection. Then by the end of the thousand years, when all the unfit ones are destroyed from amongst the people, all of these grand beings will show forth the praises of God.
Is there anything more? Astronomers tell us that all of the stars are suns like our sun, and have planets around them just the same as the planets around our own sun. Are these worlds yet to be inhabited? If God formed not the earth in vain, but made it to be inhabited, do you not think these other worlds should not be made in vain, but they should all be inhabited? We think so. Then who is to do that great work? God says that Christ shall be first in all things, so that will put Him first in that great work. Who will come next in God's arrangement? The Lord says that the church shall be next to Him. Now we have Christ and the church and a great work for them for all eternity in the peopling of all these worlds. Are there many of them? We are told there are about a thousand millions of them.
Now if anybody can make a greater drama than that I would like to see it. My heart is rejoicing and overflowing with gratitude to God for the privilege now of having a chance to become an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, my Savior. We have all been called in one hope of our calling, and this is the hope of our calling. Is it sufficiently grand for you? Do you know of any other kind of business in which you could become so rich as that? I tell you the Scriptures are indeed right when they tell us about the riches of God's grace, and when Jesus tells us that is the pearl of great price, and if any man once gets his eyes on it, and appreciates the value of that Kingdom, to go and dispose of everything he has in order to win that prize. So let us do, dear friends.
CONVENTIONS--Do You Sanction Fifth Sunday Conventions?
QUESTION (1912)--1--Do you fully sanction the Fifth Sunday Conventions? Do you also believe a class ought to have so many meetings that only a few attend each? [Q162]
ANSWER.--I have been a little perplexed about the Fifth Sunday Conventions. But the rule with me is, When not sure stand still. It is pretty nearly a balance with me whether they are an advantage or a disadvantage, but not being sure I have said nothing about it. I remember that I did publish a letter in the Watch Tower in which the Fifth Sunday Conventions were mentioned. That was understood by some to be an endorsement. I think I would not have published that part of the letter had I noticed it. However, so far as I can see now, my advice would be, Let each class seek wisdom from above on the subject. If they prove profitable spiritually, continue them. If you doubt their profit discontinue them. If I were to give any definite advice, it would be against them, but I am not prepared to give adverse advice, not being sufficiently informed.
As to having so many meetings that only a few could attend: I think it would be preferable to have studies that the class would generally attend. Usually Bible Study classes are not too large. Besides the Sunday meetings, I always encourage the friends to have Prayer and Testimony Meeting on Wednesday night. They tell me they are having a great blessing in using the Manna Text for the following Thursday as the central thought for the next meeting. The week's experiences furnish abundant and helpful testimonies the following Wednesday. We are glad to note that the friends are observing these mid-week meetings so generally.
As for other meetings. I do not advise the reading of the Scripture Studies in the public meetings. Each should do his reading first at home or on the street car, etc. The class study is a different matter entirely. Of course you could use the questions in your private study and might get much good out of them, but the questions are more helpful when used in the class. Our vessels are so leaky that we can afford to read the Bible over time and again. And the Studies in the Scriptures are merely the Bible in a classified form, a topical arrangement, so to speak. When reading the "Dawns," you are reading the Bible. Those reading the Bible in this way are getting much more knowledge of the Bible. A desultory reading of the Bible does not give as much information as a topical study.
Some of the brethren tell me that they have formed a Dawn Study League in their several classes. Each member agrees that if possible he will read so many pages every day. I understand that is working pretty well. You remember that someone suggested that in a letter published in the Watch Tower. It has been taken up by a great many, who are reading the six volumes through in from six to twelve months-- reading twenty-four or twelve pages a day respectively. The reading of the series every year keeps the Truth fresh and clear in the memory--and in the heart. This plan, followed by many individuals, will doubtless work well in the Class League.
CORRECTIONS--How to Make Them?
QUESTION (1908)--1--What should be the attitude of those established in the truth, who have no desire to judge or criticise, when in Berean or other Bible studies they hear from the leader, or someone else, confused expressions which they know to be contrary to the Scriptures, but they are being [Q163] received as truth by the babes in Christ? Should they be silent, or should they ask some question to bring out the truth? If the truth causes any to withdraw from association from the class, how should that be regarded by the consecrated?
ANSWER.--I answer, dear friends, that there are some unimportant matters,--in one sense of the word no truth is unimportant,--but there are truths that are not as important as others, and which might be let pass by if they were infringed upon a little. The person addressing the class, whether a brother or a sister, or whoever may be speaking, may give expression to his or her view of the truth, and it should be understood by the class as his or her view, and that the one speaking does not claim to be inspired or infallible, but that he is expressing his view of the matter, and it should be understood by the class that each one can express his or her view of the matter. I should say that if I were present in such a case as here suggested, I would hope the class would be in such a condition that I could present the matter in question in a proper way, and I would try not to do it in antagonistic form and say, "Now I disagree with that." There are various ways of putting things. You might say, "Well, brother, might we not take this view of the matter? Is not this a consistent view to take? I will give what I think to be right." And then state your view; he has stated his view and he cannot object to your stating your view, if it is given concisely, and in a kind manner. Then you have done your duty and it is not necessary to have a fight on the subject and determine that one must be laid on the shelf because of a little difference of opinion. As he has had his opportunity to express his understanding of the matter, see that the truth is always represented so far as you are concerned, and especially if it is any important matter; but if it is a matter of tweedle-de-de or tweedle-de-dum, don't pay any attention to it. I think of one brother now, who is a very good hearted brother I am sure, but he has the mistaken idea that if a point be brought up it must be fought out until one or the other dies. That is a mistaken notion, dear friends. All of the friends are to judge in their own minds, and you and I are to be content when we have made our statement of our view, and let other people take whatever they like. Is not that practically what we are doing anyway? You get something in the Watch Tower; you are not bound to believe it, and I will not get angry with you if you do not believe it. That is part of your business. I will go ahead and state in the next Watch Tower what I think again, and you have a right if you choose to write me and state that you do not believe it, and I will say, All right, you do not have to.
CORRESPONDENCE--Re Letter Circles.
QUESTION (1909)--1--There is a question in my mind regarding letter circles; do you approve of them?
ANSWER.--Our thought is, dear friends, that each one is accountable for his own conscience in all matters. There is no law laid down in the Bible on this subject, but there is good advice on many subjects, and the general rule is that you and I should do the will of the Lord to the best of our [Q164] ability. You and I are not alike, and it is for your conscience to decide for you, and for my conscience to decide for me. To my understanding, these letter circles are not specially advantageous; because I think that the time spent in the writing of those letters might be spent more profitably. That might not always be true, but I think that in many cases it is true, and that you might have larger opportunities for personal study and contact with the Church if the time given to these letters was not so given. This might not apply to everybody, for some may have no other opportunity, but I think I know of some who neglect the Church, or their own families, and neglect opportunities for their own personal upbuilding by spending their time in this circle letter writing. But, as I said at the beginning, that is a matter for your conscience to deal with, and it is not a matter for me to decide for you.
COVENANTS--The Barren One, Her Husband.
QUESTION (1906)--1--In Isa. 54 we read of the barren one, which Paul identifies in Gal. 4:27, to my understanding, with the Church. Does this chapter refer to the Church? In what sense is Jehovah her husband? "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name."
ANSWER.--I understand the picture here given is that of the covenant. The Apostle is describing the two great covenants that God made. You remember He made one covenant with Abraham, then later on made another covenant, and He promises still later on to make a new covenant. The Law Covenant was added to the Abrahamic Covenant, the Apostle says, 430 years later. The New Covenant is still future. Now, these three covenants were typified, or prefigured, in the three wives of Abraham. Abraham represents the heavenly Father, Isaac represents Jesus; and Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, represents the Church. Now, Abraham, as the Father, makes these three covenants; the first covenant was the Abrahamic covenant, which is represented by Sarah. It was a result of that first covenant that Isaac was born. And Isaac's bride was given to him under that first Abrahamic covenant. Then you will remember the Apostle goes on to say that the second covenant, the Law covenant was represented by Hagar, who was the second wife of Abraham. Hagar's son was born first, and you remember the Apostle says that represents how the Jewish people were the first that came into the inheritance, under God's favor according to that arrangement, and yet that was the son of the bond woman--"Cast out therefore the son of the bond-woman (the child of Abraham according to the flesh) for he shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." Who was the free woman? The free woman was the Abrahamic Covenant. Who was the bond-woman? The Law Covenant. Who are the children of the Law Covenant? The Jews, according to the flesh. Who are the children of the free woman? Christ and the Church. "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise"--the children of the Abrahamic covenant. Now, Sarah was Abraham's married wife, and since Abraham represented or typified God, so the wife of Abraham represented God's covenant. This is the covenant that is going to be fruitful, that is going to bear the seed of promise, the seed that is to bless all the families of the earth. The Hagar, [Q165] or Law covenant, never did bear the seed and was never intended to do so; but as the Apostle says, that thing was an allegory, a figure or picture that God gave. And so the New Covenant is typified in the third wife of Abraham, Keturah. And we read that Abraham had many children by Keturah, and God proposes that in due time he will have many sons under the New Covenant; many children of God will come into harmony with him under the New Covenant; but during this gospel age he developed the Isaac seed, "which seed is Christ; and if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise"--heirs according to everything that was to come through that Abrahamic covenant, and the privilege of blessing all the families of the earth, because you remember afterwards that although Abraham had many children, yet all of them received their blessing through Isaac, and so must all who ever become sons of God receive their blessings through the anti-typical Isaac, Christ and the Church.
COVENANTS--Will New Covenant Bless Only Jews?
QUESTION (1908)--1--Would it not appear that the Jews only would be blessed by the New Covenant, since they were alone under the Law Covenant?
ANSWER.--I answer: The Apostle says that it is to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. In other words, he gives us that as a picture that God's blessings of every kind begin with the Jew. He gave the Jew the first opportunity under the Abrahamic Covenant, when Christ came to His own and His own received Him not. And when it comes to the blessings of the New Covenant, the opportunity will come to the Jew first, and he must take his stand, but it is ultimately to reach to all the families of the earth. The Jews may come in and share with the Church, and with the Ancient Worthies in the matter of carrying this glorious message to the other nations, and peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and to whatever extent they have the right attitude of heart, they will embrace that opportunity; it will be to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. And the Apostle says, you remember, "If the casting away of Israel meant the bringing in of a blessing, what will the gathering of Israel again mean but life from the dead ?"--in general to the whole world of mankind.
COVENANTS--Under Which Will World Be Blessed?
QUESTION (1908)--2--Will the world be blessed under the New Covenant or the Abrahamic Covenant?
ANSWER.--I answer, dear friends, that all of God's blessings come under the Abrahamic Covenant, either directly or indirectly. The Abrahamic Covenant reads: "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." That has two parts, the seed and the blessing of the world. Only the first part of this blessing is realized by us who are coming into membership with Christ, as the Seed of Abraham--"If we be Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." What is that promise? That promise is that, as the seed of Abraham, you shall bless all the families of the earth. Secondly, you see this Abrahamic promise covers the whole blessing of the Millennial age, as well as the special blessing that comes to us in the Gospel [Q166] age. But under this Abrahamic Covenant God arranges this New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah: namely, that He will have mercy on their iniquities, etc. Now this Covenant does not conflict with the old one at all. The old one said merely, there would be a blessing, and that was a sufficient guarantee to our faith that it would be a good blessing, not merely a nominal blessing, but a blessing in reality. Now, secondly, the New Covenant comes in and explains to us how this blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant will reach mankind; it will reach them through the forgiveness of their sins, through Christ as the great Prophet, Priest and King, who will establish His Kingdom, causing the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth, and forgiveness to go to every individual, and his assistance out of degradation. They are not at all in conflict.
QUESTION (1908)--1--"Your covenant with death shall be annulled and your agreement with hell (sheol, the grave) shall not stand. When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then shall ye be trodden down by it." Please explain what the scourge is, and who will be trodden down by it?
ANSWER.--We had that as a text in a weekly sermon about a month ago. We tried to show this overflowing scourge will be the great time of trouble, which is immediately in front of us, this time of trouble which will be partly shared in by the recovery of liberty on the part of the fallen angels, etc.; that this will be the overflowing scourge, and the Lord says of it that it is a great work, that it is a strange work, and that they will all marvel that He will permit it. Again through the Apostle to the Thessalonians, he says, "For this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: That they might all be damned (condemned) who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Condemned how? Condemned as unworthy of being of the Bride Class, just the same as it was in the end of the Jewish age the Lord gathered out those who were fit to be His, the "little flock" class, from the Jews, and all the remainder of that nation were condemned, passed by, and the wrath of God came on them to the uttermost, says the Apostle. And so here now the Lord is gathering out the Church, and all the remainder are condemned, because this is the only class He is intending to gather out, and when He has found the perfect class, the others are all necessarily disapproved or condemned, and they shall go into the great time of trouble. Thank God also for the silver lining of that cloud, and that a glorious blessing shall be to as many as are in the right attitude of heart immediately following.
COVENANTS--New Covenant vs. Law Covenant.
QUESTION (1909)--2--I have been told that as the law of type and antitype requires that the antitype begin to operate immediately after the type passes away, without any intermission, that therefore the New Covenant must have begun to operate immediately upon the passing away of the Old (Law) Covenant. I do not know how to meet that argument; what would you say? [Q167]
ANSWER.--I would say that we do not know that the New Covenant is the antitype of the Old Law Covenant. Who said that it was, and how did he find it out? Is there anything in the Scriptures which says that the New Covenant is the antitype of the Old Law Covenant? If so, please inform me. On the contrary, there are a great many things in the Old Law Covenant that are not yet fulfilled. It contains, you remember, a type of the selection of Aaron and his sons. The antitype is in this Gospel Age, and it is not all completed yet. The Law Covenant includes the day of atonement, on which the sacrifices were offered for the priest and Levites and household of faith, and then for the people, and those in the antitype have not yet been fulfilled; we find the antitype all through this Gospel Age. We find that after the second sacrifice on the Day of Atonement that the High Priest went forth and gave his blessing to the people, and they rose up and gave a shout to the Lord. That represents a time after the Church and Christ have been glorified, after the new dispensation has begun, and that is all future. More than that, the Law Covenant contained arrangements for all the people to come to the priests throughout the year with their trespass-offerings, representing how, all through the Millennial Age, mankind will come to the High Priest and Under Priests to present their offerings to the Lord. Therefore the Law Covenant mentions various typical features of this age and of the Millennial Age.
Another feature, the Law Covenant is not ended yet, so if anybody wants to find out when the New Covenant begins, find out when the Old will end. It was not made with you or with me, therefore, it will not end with us. It was made with the Jews, and the bondage is still upon the Jewish nation, and the blindness upon that people is still untaken away. When our Lord by obedience to the Law captured the prize of eternal life, He took away all the value, but the Law Covenant rested upon the Jews after His death, and that Jewish nation has been under the terms and condition of that Law Covenant all these 1800 years since Jesus died, and there is no way of getting out from under that covenant except by accepting Jesus as the antitype of Moses the Great Mediator. The Apostle said it holds until death, and he represents it as a marriage which holds until death. The only way a Jew can become free is by dying to the Law that he might be married to Christ. The Jew that is not dead to the Law is still under the Law because Christ is the end of the Law to everyone that believeth--not the end of the Law for righteousness to anybody else. All Jews who do not believe are still under the condemnation of the Law. That is the reason they are separated from all other nations today. God included all in unbelief that in due time He might have mercy upon all.
COVENANTS--Mediating New Covenants.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Watch Tower 1909, page 110, first column, paragraph 2, expresses this thought: "And it is consequently after the Gospel Age when they are pardoned freely for Christ's sake and restored to the condition of sinless perfect manhood, that the New Covenant comes into force." Is not this a correct statement? Every earthly covenant is only in force after the mediator has finished his work, as, for instance, [Q168] ex-President Roosevelt's mediatorial work between Russia and Japan, which covenant is still in force. Is not this true of the New Covenant that it is being made during the Millennial Age and then comes into full force between God and man after that age?
ANSWER.--No, I think not. I am not certain that this is a perfect quotation. I do not think that I wrote it as it is here written. If it appears in this form in the columns of the Tower, I think somebody in the office must have left out a word, or something.
Expressing the thought now, this Mediator of the New Covenant has two parts; a part for God and a part for men. The part toward God began in our Lord more than eighteen hundred years ago, as represented in His sacrifice and its application for the Church and this entire arrangement has been going on all down through the Gospel Age, because the Church is being accepted as the Body of Christ, and is being permitted to share in His sacrifice, so that by the end of the Gospel Age, the merit of the anti-typical bullock passes through the Church and will be applied for the sealing of the New Covenant, which will immediately go into effect as respects the world of mankind in general. That procedure at the end of the Gospel Age is represented by the Lord in the Tabernacle Shadows as the sprinkling of the blood of the goat, which is "for the sins of the people," and then the conditions of the New Covenant will be made applicable for all the world through Israel. God will then be satisfied as respects the sins of the whole world, and the whole world will consequently he turned over to Jesus as the Mediator, and His kingdom will be the only rule throughout the thousand years of the mediatorial reign. The New Covenant will begin its work at the beginning of the Millennial Age, and continue its work of reconciling the world and destroying in death those who will not come into harmony with its arrangements, so that at the end of the Millennium, the whole world can be presented blameless before the Father.
COVENANTS--Re The Everlasting.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Please explain which covenant is referred to in Heb. 13:20, "Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that Great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant."
ANSWER.--You see that the person who wrote this question did not understand the Scripture. This would mean by the way it is quoted here that Jesus was brought from the dead by the everlasting covenant. We need to add a few words to the question, namely, "Through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect." That is it, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect." It does not say. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant justify you from your sins, because the Apostle is writing to such as are already justified, to the saints, and tells such that the same power that brought our Lord from the dead is able to perfect us through the blood of the New Covenant, by laying down our lives and sharing with our Master in His death. [Q169]
COVENANTS--Law vs. New.
QUESTION (1909)--1--In Jer. 31, our Heavenly Father says He will make a New Covenant with Israel, "not according to the covenant made with them, when he took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt." While you have made plain the covenants, and told us that the difference is the difference in mediators, if both the Law Covenant past, and the covenant future are Law Covenants, will not the second be according to the first?
ANSWER.--I have seemed to intimate that the New Covenant is the old Law Covenant, and is according to the covenant made. Our answer is this, that the Law Covenant was given to Israel. It included as a part of it the mediator of that Law Covenant, because the covenant as a whole could not work out for them anything more than the mediator of that covenant could accomplish by it; the limitations of the mediator were the limitations of the covenant--do you get the thought? The advantage of the New Covenant is that it will have a better mediator. He has a perfect human life and He gave that as the redemption price of the race of mankind, and eventually it will effect the purchase of the whole world, and therefore the New Covenant will be able to fulfill the arrangement which has already provided for the sins of the whole world, and their complete cancellation is by reason of their having a better mediator, and therefore it will be a better covenant.
You could not imagine a better law than that given to the Jews, ."Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength." He could not have used a higher law than that, dear friends; it represents the full measure of a perfect man's capacity, whether living in Adam's time, or at the end of the Millennial Age; He could not have a higher standard of law than that -- complete obedience to God, complete love to God, and to love his neighbor as himself. In that sense of the word, the old Law Covenant and the New Law Covenant are just the same, but the difference is that the one did not accomplish the blessing of Israel and of the world, while the other will accomplish that blessing. Therefore the reason the New Covenant will be a better covenant is because it will have a better Mediator, one who will be able to accomplish the blessings promised.
COVENANTS--End of the Sarah.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Does the Sarah Covenant come to an end when the spiritual seed is born?
ANSWER.--Yes. To my understanding, the Sarah feature of the covenant will come to an end when the promised seed shall have come to its fullness. The Sarah Covenant did not come to an end when Jesus reached the plane of spirit glory, representing Isaac in the picture, but it did come to an end before Rebecca was united to Isaac. Rebecca represents the church class, and their union represents the union of Christ and the Church, and at the time when Isaac and Rebecca were united, Sarah was dead, for we read that Isaac took her into Sarah, his mother's tent, representing that the Church, typified by Rebecca, will take the place of this Sarah Covenant, and the Church will be the power through which the Lord will bring to pass the blessing of the New Covenant, which will bless all the families of the earth. The [Q170] Sarah Covenant brings forth the seed, and the Church operates in connection with this and will bless all families of the earth.
COVENANTS--Church Re Sarah and Rebecca.
QUESTION (1909)--1--How could the Church be under the covenant typified by Sarah when she died before Rebecca was called to be Isaac's bride?
ANSWER.--I do not know whether Rebecca was called to be Isaac's bride before or after Sarah died; I do not recall anything in the text which says that Sarah was dead when Abraham sent his servant to get a bride for Isaac. My recollection is that when the bride had come, he took her into Sarah's tent.
COVENANTS--Sarah vs. Abrahamic.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Is the Sarah Covenant as complete as the Abrahamic Covenant?
ANSWER.--The Sarah Covenant is the Abrahamic Covenant in its highest and special sense; it was the Abrahamic Covenant. The other was merely a supplemental arrangement
COVENANTS--Re Bringing Forth Seeds.
QUESTION (1909)--3--If the Sarah Covenant brings forth the spiritual seed, how can it be stated that both seeds are brought forth under the Abrahamic Covenant?
ANSWER.--It can be stated in this way that the Abrahamic Covenant included particularly the spiritual seed, but that it shadowed forth an earthly seed also, as representing just the way that it will be fulfilled; Christ and the Church being the spiritual seed and through them all the blessing should come, first to the earthly seed, and then to all the families of the earth who will become the seed of Abraham.
Under the New Covenant, God's blessing will not be to all nations, but merely to one nation, the seed of Abraham, as Jer. 31:31 says, "After those days I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah," not with Egypt, Persia, etc., but with Israel, and this New Covenant with Israel will not be applicable to other nations, but only to Israel, because it is the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. The Abrahamic Covenant reflecting the light and blessing through the New Covenant by His will or testament through death, gives the blessing of restitution to the nation of Israel, and then, through the nation of Israel, it will be made applicable to as many as will come in.
You remember what the Scriptures tell us about that Millennial time at its beginning; they intimate that the nations at that time will be taking notice of Israel, and God's special blessings to Israel. "The Law shall go forth from Zion (Spiritual Israel), and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Natural Israel)." The nations of the world will be looking on and seeing God's blessings with Israel, will say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord's house, He will teach us His way, we also will walk in His paths." The nations of the world will see that all of God's blessings are coming to the nation of Israel and they will want a share also, and it shall come to pass that the nation that will not go up to walk in the Lord's way, and hear His word, upon that nation there shall be no rain. The word [Q171] "rain" represents all the blessings of restitution, coming from the refreshing showers of God's mercies, health, strength and deliverance from the pests of the earth, the thorns and thistles, and sickness shall not be upon the nations, and this new arrangement will be under the rule of the Ancient Worthies. Nothing will appeal to people more than practical facts. They will be dying still, and life will be only where the New Covenant goes, and will be only for those who come under the New Covenant arrangement, and as these many nations see the blessings of those under the New Covenant, they will desire also to come in, and this is God's arrangement; that, whosoever will may come in that they may all become Israelites; and so, at the end of the Millennial Age, the whole world will be Israelites, and the whole world will be the seed. Abraham then, as it is written, will be the "father of many nations."
COVENANTS--Re Cancellation of Sins.
QUESTION (1909)--1--(Rom. 11:27,28.) "For this is the Covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sake, but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Father's sake." If the sins are to be taken away at the time the Covenant is established, and the Covenant is established in the beginning of the Millennial Age, would that apply that individuals living in the Millennium had their sins canceled without faith in Christ?
ANSWER.--I answer, No. What is done at the beginning of the Millennial Age is that a provision is made for those people under the conditions of that New Covenant. That does not hinder their wills operating; they can resist if they will. Only by becoming in harmony with that New Covenant can they get the blessing. The first thing the Lord will do will be to remove their blindness. That means they will see, and when they see and look upon Him whom they have pierced, then if the spirit of prayer and supplication is upon them and they turn to the Lord, as the Apostle represents that they will do, then those coming into harmony with the New Covenant arrangements, God will forgive their sins and remember their iniquities no more and will graciously deal with them as if they had not crucified the Son of God. As they respond more and more, He will take away their stony hearts and give them a heart of flesh. That will not be done instantaneously, for it will take time. I should not wonder if it would be years after they come to the Lord before they will come back into the tender condition of heart, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake forgave them.
COVENANTS--Laws Under the New.
QUESTION (1909)--2--If the New Covenant is to be a Law Covenant, what kind of laws will be in force; will they be similar to the Mosaic laws?
ANSWER.--I understand the Mosaic Law will be the law itself, in round numbers. The Mosaic Law, we may assume, is the very simplest law that God could give. God could have higher requirements, but I do not know how He could bring down His law to any simpler statements. Our Lord quoted from Deuteronomy, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy [Q172] God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." That is the whole law and you cannot make it any less, and I do not see how you could make it much higher. That is the law the whole world will be under during the Millennial Age; they must all come up to that standard at the end of the Millennial Age or they will not be ready for eternal life.
COVENANTS--Re New Covenant and Olive Tree.
QUESTION (1910)--1--If natural Israel is to be grafted into the good olive tree from which they were broken off, does not this prove that the New Covenant was complete in Jesus? If not, how can they be grafted into something which had no existence before their blindness is removed?
ANSWER.--I answer that this good olive tree was in existence long before Jesus came into the world. So this good olive tree was not this New Covenant arrangement, but represented God's favor to Israel as the seed of Abraham. God's promise was the root of the tree and was made to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This natural seed of Abraham was the holy nation, and had these been in a right condition of mind and heart to receive the Lord and the Truth, he would have received them and then they would have been the Spiritual Israel by remaining in this olive tree. They were already in, as we tried to illustrate before. The root of the whole matter was in the Covenant made with Abraham. As a result, the Jewish nation had sprung up and God had promised that that nation, a holy people, should be his power for the blessing of the world. The Apostle explains that many of them were broken off because of unbelief, but they were not cast off forever, only until the fullness of the Gentiles should come in; some were allowed to remain. The Apostle John said in his Gospel, "To a many as received him to them gave he power (or liberty) to become sons of God." They still remained in the olive tree, still natural children of Abraham. By coming into Christ they were transferred and became members of spiritual Israel. We were all Gentiles by nature, all grafted into the same spiritual seed, so that we make the antitypical spiritual Israel mentioned in Revelation 7, where we read about the 144,000, 12,000 out of each of the 12 tribes. We do not know how many of those who received our Lord during his ministry in the three and a half years belonged to the different tribes. There were several thousand at Pentecost, and each one belonged to one of the 12 tribes. Paul, you remember, described himself as belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, but probably more of them were of the tribe of Judah, no matter where they belong, that number, 144,000, is to be made up and Gentiles will be brought in to make it complete or whole. Now if they abide not in unbelief, God is able to graft them in again, but they must come in just the way the Gentiles come in, for they have no patent or inside way. Those who remained then were in due time transferred into Christ before the host of Israel was cast off, they abide, but if once broken off, they would have just the same process of engrafting as if they were Gentiles. In other words, the Jew has no advantage over the Gentile and has had no advantage since they were broken off, but before they were broken off they did have an advantage.