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NEW CREATURE--Is Body Part of?
QUESTION (1912)--l--Is the body of a consecrated person a part of the New Creature?
ANSWER.--Yes and no. It is not a part of the New Creature because the New Creature is spiritual, and the new body, which belongs to the New Creature he has not yet received, but he is hoping to receive it according to the Lord's promise, when he shall have demonstrated his loyalty--in his resurrection. We have this treasure (the New Creature, the new will, the new mind) in an earthen vessel. The earthen vessel is not the New Creature. But on the contrary we might properly say that the body belongs to the New Creature; in the same sense that your dog belongs to you. Your dog represents you or is you to such an extent that you would be held responsible for what he does. You would be liable for damage which he might do. So as a New Creature, he must keep the mortal body muzzled, and keep it from doing harm in the world. It is yours to use. But, you as a New Creature, will prosper and develop and become more and more established in the Lord in proportion as the Old Creature becomes more and more dead. The Apostle tells us, "Reckon ye yourselves dead to sin, but alive to righteousness." He tells us that the spirit of Christ operating in us should quicken or energize our mortal bodies in the service of the Lord, as the servants of the New Creature. Draft the mortal body into the service of the Great King as alive from the dead--that is the thought.
NEW CREATURE--Is It Divine?
QUESTION (1912)--2--Is the New Creature divine?
ANSWER.--The New Creature is begotten to the divine nature. The intention of begetting was to bring these new creatures to the divine plane or nature. "We are all called in the one hope of our calling." St. Peter tells us that God gave "the great and precious promises, that we might become partakers of the divine nature. We were begotten of the Holy Spirit with this end in view. Then, properly, the question might come in, Will all who are begotten of the Holy Spirit attain to the divine nature?
We answer, No. Some, according to the Scriptures, begotten of the Holy Spirit, will go into the Second Death, and not attain to any nature. Others begotten of the Holy Spirit will not attain to the divine nature, but attain to a spirit nature, lower than the divine. How this will be has been illustrated in the WATCH TOWER, but we will repeat some of the illustrations. For instance, among the bees: All bees are begotten in just the same way, whether they turn out to be a drone, queen bee or worker. There are three kinds, and the begetting is the same in every case. The after treatment causes the difference. One larvae becomes the queen simply because supplied a greater abundance of food and not because of any different begetting. So with the Church, begotten of the Holy Spirit. God provides the nourishment, and if you and I appropriate this and use it, it will build us up, and we will become the Queen, the Lord's Bride. Otherwise we may develop into the Great Company class or fail altogether in the Second Death. [Q509]
NEW CREATURE--Is It Real or Reckoned?
QUESTION (1913)--1--Is the New Creature real or merely reckoned?
ANSWER.--The New Creature is real, so real that the New Creature can die the second death. If it were only a reckoned matter it would not be so serious, but the whole proposition is carried out, to my understanding, on a real basis; that we must really, not reckonedly, come and present ourselves a living sacrifice. Christ needed to have really died before He could impute His merit to us. If it were merely a reckoned matter, God could have dealt with the lackings we have, but Jesus really ascended up on high and presented the merit of His sacrifice on our behalf. Not until that moment could God grant the Holy Spirit to the waiting disciples, and that Holy Spirit came to them as a real begetting to the new nature, "old things have passed away and all things have become new;" very positively so, in my judgment.
NEW CREATURE--How Perish?
QUESTION (1914)--2--How can the New Creature perish, if, as the Bible declares, we are "begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible?"
ANSWER.--The New Creature is begotten of incorruptible seed in the sense that this seed will not become unholy. It will not be corrupted. Therefore, the Apostle argues, if any of God's people, after receiving the holy Spirit, if they turn away from that holy Spirit, they are losing it entirely, that they are dying to it, that God's Spirit cannot be corrupted. You may give your will or consent to God's Spirit and then you may afterward take your will away from God's Spirit of begetting; but the Spirit of God always stays pure, holy, incorruptible, but that Spirit in you is the begettal or the energy of God working in you and to bring you to that incorruptible condition, if you allow that holy Spirit in you to do God's good pleasure, and then eventually, by the change of resurrection by God's favor you would be an incorruptible being beyond the veil. It is the holy Spirit that is incorruptible. It is the holy Spirit that cannot be perverted, and it will not stoop to corruption. As long, therefore, as we have this spirit energizing us and actuating us, we are incorruptible, but as soon as we renounce that, we do not change God's Spirit, but we become corrupted ourselves, and will die the second death, as St. Paul explains.
NINETY-AND-NINE--Vs. The Sinner.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Please comment on Luke 15:7; "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance." Who are the ninety and nine, and who is the sinner?
ANSWER.--This being a parabolic statement, it is not proper that we or anyone else should speak dogmatically. Neither the Lord nor the apostles have given us the interpretation. We must merely give you our guess; and our broad guess would be that the Lord here means to teach that there is great sympathy in heaven for all of those who have fallen in sin and who will be recovered out of it. Any sinner recovered from his sin would be a source of joy and rejoicing amongst the holy ones among the angels--more [Q510] joy over the returning of a sinner from his way than from the fact that a great many angels never sinned at all, and never left the right way, and never did therefore, return to it. As for man, there are no just men that need no repentance. There never have been. Adam was the only just, perfect man who ever lived, and by the deeds of the law none were justified. And as the apostle says, "There is none righteous; no, not one." Then anybody repenting would be one who had been an unjust person, and all the world had been unjust. All mankind, therefore, in coming back to God must come back repentedly, and there is joy in heaven over all the human family as they come back in harmony with God and in harmony with righteousness. We are not to think that the angels would despise those who come back, nor that the heavenly Father would despise them, but rather, there would be great joy in the recovery of each one from his fallen and sinful state, whether he come back now under the condition of the Gospel call, or whether he shall come back in the under Messiah's kingdom--no matter, there will always be joy in heaven over everyone who comes back into harmony with God. And whoever these just persons are, who need no repentance, they are not on earth, as far as we know. The angels of heaven, alone, would seem to me to fit this description, as being just persons who need no repentance. They never fell from their obedience to God, and never needed to be redeemed, or repent. Christ never died for their sins, for they have no sins. These great things God has done and Christ has done for sinners. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. That was for you and for me, and we were not just persons, nor anybody of the human kind.
NOMINAL CHURCHES--Re Visiting Them.
QUESTION (1910)--1--In view of the fact that several dear brethren are coming into the truth, would the suggestion in a recent Tower of visiting the nominal churches apply to congregations of "Holy Rollers," etc.? Do you approve of visiting such meetings, under any circumstances?
ANSWER.--Our suggestion in the Watch Tower was to the effect that it should not be considered as a sinful thing for us to visit some of the nominal churches. I have found some dear brethren and sisters who seem to feel that if they would even go into a nominal church they would commit a sin. I think they are making a mistake; and that mistake would quite likely crop out somewhere in their experiences with others and be injurious to the cause and to themselves. Therefore, this answer in the Watch Tower was to the effect that if there were no other meetings we could attend, and no other service would be neglected by our attending these, it might not be amiss sometimes to go to some nominal church meeting, and to take part, for instance, in a testimony meeting, using our opportunity with the others either to give a testimony or to offer a prayer and to join with them in singing. I could go into nearly any Methodist or Presbyterian congregation and feel sure I could have a good time with them. I believe many of them are well meaning. The fact that they are not as far advanced in Bible study as ourselves and do not see the divine plan as clearly as we do need not hinder us from having good fellowship with them to the extent they do see. If they love God, if they revere the name [Q511] of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if they are seeking to walk honestly, and soberly, and decently, let us be glad to give them recognition to that extent. Now, I do not wish to be understood as advising anybody to neglect meetings where they could go to still more spiritual advantage. As the Apostle says, Forget not the assembling of yourselves together. It is still better if you can meet with those who are advanced in the truth, and who could help you and to whom you in turn could be of special help. That certainly should be your course and certainly would be what you should do.
Then in respect to the meetings with Seventh Day Adventists, and Holy Rollers, Christian Scientists, and Spiritualists-I do not know how many the brother included in his question, but I would advise you to stay just as far away from all such people as you can; not because they are out of the general run, but because they seem to be, to our judgment, seriously out of the way. I cannot imagine, for instance, that we could be of any good or get any good in a Christian Science meeting. I feel sure that, for my own part, I would be doing wrong, and that I would be giving my influence to something that would be really pernicious, injurious. I would feel different in going amongst Methodists, and Presbyterians, and Baptists, and Episcopalians; I would feel that I was not doing any serious injury, and perhaps might have an opportunity of doing some good.
As for Spiritualists, I would not meet with them under any consideration, would not attend a seance if you would pay me a thousand dollars for it. Why? Because I thoroughly believe it is of the adversary, and I would think that I was putting myself in the way of evil, and that quite possibly some injury would come to me, I would not know how. If I did not know better the matter would be quite different, but since I do know better I am responsible for what I do know; and, similarly, with those who do not know better about Christian Science. No doubt honest people are amongst them, and honest people commingle with them. But, to my understanding, both Spiritualists and Christian Scientists deny the very fundamentals of Christianity.
Now, about the Holy Rollers. I have no doubt that some of them mean very well, and are deluded of the adversary, and I am sorry for them. But that would not mean that I should in any manner encourage them, or take any part with them; my conscience would not permit it. I would feel that I was dishonoring the Lord and that I was doing injury to them by being with them and seeming to give any measure of consent. But now these matters are for each one's own conscience and if anybody thinks differently, God bless him, let him follow his own conscience.
"OFFERING"--Used in Two Different Senses.
QUESTION (1911-Z)--1--"For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp." (Heb. 13:11.) Would this show that the Sin-Offering is made in the antitypical Most Holy?
ANSWER.--In general those who have translated anything in the Bible respecting the Tabernacle have seemingly been very careless in the use of the terms Holy, Most Holy, Holy place, etc. They did not discern that these terms were used [Q512] in different senses by the Jews, in connection with different portions of the Tabernacle. Correctly translated, our text reads: "The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is taken into the Most Holy as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp."' We must remember that the word "offering" is Scripturally used in two different senses. In one sense of the word, our Lord offered himself at baptism, when He gave Himself to do the Father's will. That was His offering of Himself, His gift, when He presented Himself at Jordan. He finished the offering of His gift when He laid down His life on Calvary; and that life, laid down on Calvary, is an appropriate Sin-Offering. But it remained for the High Priest to ascend up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us, to make application of the Sin-Offering. The sprinkling of the blood on the Mercy Seat was done in the Most Holy. But the presentation of that Sin-Offering was made at Jordan--or, in the type, when the bullock was slain.
OFFSPRING--In Him Live, Move and Have Our Being.
QUESTION (1909)--1--(Acts 17:28), "For in him we live and move and have our being, as certain also of your own poets have said for we are also his offspring." What is meant by the words, "We are also his offspring?"
ANSWER.--The Apostle was addressing the heathen people at Athens who had erected an altar to the unknown God, and the Apostle wanted to address them along the line of their superstition. When talking with another it is a good point to get in harmony with them as much as possible. Don't get him down and make him mad. A great many of the Lord's dear people, with the best of intentions, arouse the antagonism of the one they are talking with, and thus do injury to both the truth and to themselves. The Lord did not send us to fight. If there is anybody that needs to be fought with it is ourselves. You remember the commission, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has sent me to preach the Gospel to the meek." As soon as you find that the person you are talking with is not meek, you should draw off--don't antagonize him, don't take a chisel and hammer and try to give him a ear. Our commission goes on to say that we are not only to preach the gospel, but to "Bind up the broken-hearted." We are not to try to break their hearts. Many seem to think they have a commission to go out and see how many hearts they can break, but there is not a word of that in the Commission. Look for the hearts that are already broken, for there are plenty of them in the world. You and I want to be peace-makers, trying to do all the good that we can, to bind up the broken hearts and pour in the oil of the spirit of the Lord. Let the Lord use the devil and others to break people's hearts; He knows how. Anything that you and I do must be with the words of life. Sometimes some word will enter into the very heart, just as when Peter said that the Jews had killed the Prince of Life; but let it be the arrow of truth and not of your own words, and let that cause them to fall under Him. When they manifest some sorrow and contrition, remember what Peter said to them when they asked, Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved? Did Peter say, You ought to be sorry, get down there and be sorry for a while? No, he put on some oil right away, and started to bind up the broken [Q513] hearts. He said, Repent, dear friends, I wot that ye did it in ignorance, God knows that. And so he tried to heal them.
Another part of the question is this: In talking with these men at Athens, Paul said, I noticed one of your altars as I passed by, and on it were inscribed the words: "To the Unknown God." Now, I declare unto you, etc. Paul went on to tell them that they ought not to think of these idols as being God, but that God is the great Creator who made all mankind, and he reminded them that some of their own prophets acknowledged this same thought. He was working in with them, you see. Paul is not here saying that they were sons of God and in harmony with God. The whole world lieth in the wicked one who keeps them under his power by telling them that God is a furious God and leading them to hate Him. No, the Apostle would encourage them to know God who made them, and who will welcome them back if they come in His appointed way.
OPIATES--Should the Consecrated Use Them?
QUESTION (1912)--1--Would a person who is fully consecrated to God, and who suffers from an incurable disease, commit sin in taking a remedy containing an opiate, when suffering from severe pain, sometimes incapacitating him from work, because of suffering so severely?
ANSWER.--Such a person would not be committing a sin in taking an opiate. We are allowed to relieve such pain. We are allowed to relieve the pain of hunger by eating. And so, if we are diseased by thirst we relieve the distress by drinking. All foods in this sense are remedies. We remedy the case by taking that which relieves. If I were in such a condition, if I had such an incurable disease that brought great pain, and the opiate was the only right and proper thing to relieve the pain, I would feel justified in taking the opiate. I would try, however, to not deceive myself, but would get the advice of some medical man, a doctor, to tell me whether he thought it was necessary in my case. If he said, No, that I would injure myself, stupefy myself, then I would say, I cannot use it. No two cases would be exactly alike. As a rule all opiates are injurious and should be used only as a last resort under competent advice.
OPPORTUNITY--When Cease to Help Truth Financially.
QUESTION (1911)--1--How soon will the opportunity to help the cause of the truth in a financial way cease?
ANSWER.--It depends on how soon you die. It might stop tonight with some of us. I don't know. I think the right way to do is to live according to our judgment, according to God's providence. If all we have belongs to him, use the best wisdom he gives you today, and when tomorrow comes, use the best wisdom you know then. Leave it to the Lord to determine how soon the opportunity will be shut off. If he has not given you any opportunities today, then do not use them; you do not need to worry about what you cannot do. I have known some Christian friends who were greatly worried because they could not do something. My thought would be that God does not expect us to do what we cannot do. What we should be anxious about is, what is possible for us to do. How can we order our steps according to his [Q514] Word? What can we do that will be pleasing to him, and will serve his cause? Let each decide this for himself. You know I never solicit money.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--1--When, by whom and how were you ordained a minister of the Gospel?
ANSWER.--Before answering this question, I would call attention to the Scriptural teaching on the subject of ordination. From what we believe to be the Bible standpoint, there are two ordinations proper. One is of God; one of men. The ordination of God is the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Without this no one is authorized to preach the Gospel. If any are preaching without this ordination they are, to our understanding, preaching without Divine ordination. They are doing something that they are not authorized to do.
Our Lord told how He was ordained to be a preacher; and the Scriptures tell us that we are to walk in His steps and to have experiences similar to His own in many respects. As ministers of the Cross, we are to copy our Lord Jesus Christ as fully as we are able to do. But He was perfect, and we are imperfect. Consequently we are to have the forgiveness of our sins, while he had no sins. He, therefore, constitutes the basis of forgiveness of all who come unto the Father through faith in His blood. He mentions His own ordination, saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because He had anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek." (Isa. 61:1.) As that ordination came upon Jesus, it later came upon the disciples at Pentecost; and all down the Gospel Age it has come upon the followers of Christ, anointing them to preach the Gospel.--Luke 4:17-21; 1 John 2:27.
All who have received the ordination of God have the authority to preach according to their opportunities and abilities. Some of them may be deaf mutes and cannot preach audibly. Others may be limited by sex; sisters cannot preach as do the brethren; but they can preach, nevertheless, in "showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Pet. 2:9.) Moreover, they are fully ordained to make known the good tidings, but, according to the Apostle Paul's statement, not in a public way. There are some men who cannot preach publicly on account of lack of talent or opportunity, but all men, by their lives and conversation, can proclaim the glory and honor of the great and loving God who lifted them out of darkness into light, out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and placed their feet upon a Rock and established their goings.--Psa. 40:2.
There comes, however, another special ordination of those who are called ministers of the Gospel, in which class I count myself. This is ordination by the Church, and is recognized by all denominations everywhere. By some it is considered a mere form, by some it is performed with great ceremony, by others with less ceremony. But to our understanding, each congregation should have those whom it has chosen ordained in a Scriptural way--by the stretching forth of hands--by a vote.
The form of the statement in Acts 14:23, with other frequent references to elders in connection with all churches, [Q515] justifies the inference that ordination was the invariable custom in the early Church. The term "elders," as seen in this text, includes evangelists, pastors, teachers, and prophets-- public exponents. Hence it is important that we learn what is meant by the word "ordained."
At the present time the word ordination is generally used in reference to a ceremony of installation; but this is not the significance of the Greek word cheirotoneo, used in this text. It means "to elect by stretching out the hands," still the usual form of voting. This definition is given in Professor Young's "Analytical Concordance to the Bible." As this may be considered a Presbyterian authority, we give also the definition set forth in Strong's "Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible," which may be considered a Methodist authority. The latter defines the root of the word--"A hand-reacher, or voter (by raising the hand)."
The Scriptural method of ordaining elders in all the churches is by congregational election--by stretching forth the hand in a vote. To insist upon such an election before serving is to follow Scriptural order; it fortifies the elder, and, additionally, reminds the congregation of its duties and responsibilities as appointees of the elders in the Lord's name and Spirit--as expressing God's choice, God's will. Additionally, the Scriptural arrangement interests the members of the congregation in all the words and deeds of the elders, as their servants and representatives. It opposes the too prevalent idea that the elders own and rule the congregation, and puts an end to their thinking of them as "my people"--rather than as "the Lord's people, whom I serve."
Whoever has not been ordained in these two ways is not an ordained minister of the Gospel in the Scriptural sense. First, the Divine ordination is necessary; second, the earthly ordination is necessary. By the grace of God I have both of these.
In the case of those who are doing a public work in the name of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, they are ordained as a whole. They are sent forth by the officers of the Society; and as a majority of the classes everywhere are recognized by the Society, and as they in turn recognize the Society, they therefore recognize this ordination through the Society.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--1--Where did the Society get the authority for sending out preachers?
ANSWER.--It gets its authority primarily from the Lord, who authorizes all His people, who receive the Holy Spirit to go forth. Secondly, the Society is a business organization for religious work in the service of the Lord, by printing books, pamphlets, charts, etc., and by sending out its representatives to preach--by word of mouth and by printed page. This is its only business. It is acting in the same way as did the Church at Antioch, who especially chose Paul and Barnabas to do a missionary work, and who voted these to be representatives of that Church.--Acts 13:2,3.
When Paul and Barnabas went forth, they did not say, "We preach in our name." They would have had a right to go in the name of the Lord and preach; but, in addition, [Q516] they had the financial backing, we understand, of the Antioch congregation, just as today our representatives have the backing of the Society. When they go to a place, they can say, "Here is a letter which shows that we are acting for the Society." So they do not go simply in the name of Christ, but they go as representatives of this Society, which is known to be doing an evangelizing work.
ORDINATION--Under What Name?
QUESTION (1915--Z)--1--Is the name of your Association: the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY? or the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS' ASSOCIATION?
ANSWER.--It is both. They are virtually the same thing. The INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION, the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY and the PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION are in many respects identical. Why have three names? For the same reason that there are in the various churches different Societies--the Home Missionary Society, the Christian Endeavor Society and the Epworth League, etc., etc. Are they not all doing the same work and trying to help people to live a Christian life, etc.? Yes. Why have different Societies? For the reason that each has a different branch of the work to which to attend.
So is it with us. The parent Association is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, chartered under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to publish the Truth, to send forth missionaries, etc., etc. The property that was necessary to transact business, etc., was in its name; for no other was necessary in the State of Pennsylvania.
When we moved here to New York, we were informed that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society could not hold title to property here. We were told, "You can do business in a personal way, but not as a Society. So if you want to do any business here, you must be chartered as an Association." "Very well, then," we said, "we will organize the Peoples Pulpit Association." This is merely another name for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, for New York business.
Later on, in Great Britain, we were informed, "Your American Charter does not count for anything here." Consequently we took out a Charter there for the International Bible Students' Association. This reads practically the same as the Charter of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
These three different Societies were made necessary by the law of different states and countries. For some things the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is the preferable name. It is the parent Society and the one to which contributions are made. Whoever makes a donation is expected, if he will, to make it in the name of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
The Peoples' Pulpit Association is the only one of the three that can do business here in New York, and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society deals with the Peoples' Pulpit Association as though they were two independent organizations. Nevertheless they are the same--just as with the different Societies of the nominal churches, which would have, perhaps, the same treasurer.
Thus the whole management is by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and these auxiliary organizations [Q517] merely help in carrying on its work. We sometimes use one name and sometimes another, just as any one would have the right to use any names appropriate to his work. It is equally appropriate to say that we are the International Bible Students' Association. We are Bible students, and are helping Bible students in all parts of the world, by the printed page, by financial assistance and in other ways. It is also appropriate to use the name Peoples' Pulpit Association in connection with persons who are engaged in preaching and are acting under guidance of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
In other words, the Peoples' Pulpit Association cannot transact business except through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has the management, and the Peoples' Pulpit Association does the work--absolutely.
The International Bible Students Association has no legal status except in Great Britain; the Peoples Pulpit Association has none except in New York State.
We keep the "Watch Tower" prominent in letter heads, etc., so that the friends would not misunderstand us and think that the "Watch Tower" has gone out of the work. We use one name or another, as would seem to be most convenient in the work. For instance, we now have on the title page of the Studies in the Scriptures the name International Bible Students Association, instead of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, as formerly. Here we have a distinctive name, different from others. There are Bible Teachers Associations, Tract Societies, etc., etc.; but here we have a name especially appropriate to put on our publications, because it represents exactly the thought which we desire to express.
ORDINATION--Re Laying On of Hands.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--1--How should we understand the Apostle's advice to Timothy to "Lay hands suddenly on no man?" Does not this imply a formal ordination?
ANSWER.--The Apostle Paul's words to Timothy might be variously understood. If we should read in tomorrow morning's paper that some one suddenly laid hands on a man we would understand that he had been assaulted. We are to remember that this is not the way the expression would be understood in the Greek, but that the translators gave us what they thought the proper meaning. The early Church had a ceremony of formally laying hands on the heads of their elders, deacons, etc. When the Apostles did this, it was the indication of the impartation of the Holy Spirit. None but the Apostles could bestow this. The Churches may have had some custom amongst themselves in the way of appointing ministers, however, that in thus doing they might indicate that they approved of such persons.
There would be nothing improper in a similar ceremony, if a Pilgrim were sent forth by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society for a special service of some kind. The officers of the Society might step forward, lay their hands on the Pilgrim's head and say, "You are the representative of the Society." The priests in olden time laid their hands upon the head of the animal that was to be offered--to show that it represented them. So some one might be sent forth by the Society; but a ceremonial laying on of hands would be [Q518] merely an appeal to the eye, carrying with it no other authority than the words, "You are appointed for such and such service," etc.
This leaves each little company of the Lord's people to use whatever ceremony they choose. Episcopalians and Catholics use a great deal of ceremony; other denominations use less. We believe that we also have the right to use as much or as little ceremony as we choose. The meaning of the word ordination is to authorize. True ordination is, first, of the Holy Spirit; second, of the association sending forth its servant with the Gospel Message.
ORDINATION--Re School of Theology.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--1--From what School of Theology were you graduated?
ANSWER.--I am still in the School of Christ and have not yet been graduated. We get our theology from the Bible. Some of our friends have taken their theology otherwise, have taken it from human instructors, and have afterwards found that they had wasted their time. Some things which they were taught were Scriptural, and some things were sectarian. We are simply trying to find out what the Bible teaches. As the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, so we desire to do: Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." --2 Tim. 2:15.
The Apostle did not tell Timothy to go to some Theological School, or, tell him which would be the proper one to attend if he wished to get confused. He merely told the young man to rightly divide the Word of Truth--to see which portions refer to Natural Israel and which refer to Spiritual Israel; which are earthly promises, belonging to the natural man, and which are spiritual promises, belonging to the Christian; which belong to the present time, and which to the future.
Some of our number have been graduated from a theological seminary. At the time of their graduation they thought that their school was the best there was. But since they entered into the School of Christ, they find that really they would have been much better off if they had not gone to the seminary at all; for it took many months and years to get out of their heads the errors which were there drilled in.
ORDINATION--Object of Society's List of Questions.
QUESTION (1916-Z)--2--What is the object of the Society in getting out a list of questions with the intimation that the person who could answer those questions in a manner satisfactory to the Society would be considered a Minister of the Divine Word?
ANSWER.--Those questions are designed to fill a long-felt want. The questions are quite unsectarian; they are all Scriptural. The Society desires to know from the Pilgrims who are now in the service, or from any others who may at any time represent the Society as Pilgrims, what are their thoughts, their sentiments and their understanding as respects these fundamental questions appertaining to the Gospel of Christ. Any Brother not willing to answer those questions would be considered to be confused in his mind, unstable, and hence not qualified to teach--not "apt to teach." This would not imply that he might not still be a Brother, but that he would not be considered a Brother suitable for [Q519] the Pilgrim service. Neither would it mean that the Brother must not preach, but merely that the Society would not recommend him as an exponent of the Divine Word.
Any Brother willing to answer the questions, but showing considerable confusion in his replies, would to us indicate that he needed further instruction before he could properly represent the Society and what the Society believes to be the Truth respecting God's Word. Such a Brother would probably be brought to Brooklyn and have an opportunity to participate for a time in other features of the service, as well as in the Bible Study classes held at every meal time; and, by fullest liberty, have an opportunity of asking any kind of questions on subjects connected with the Truth, that thus the whole matter might be thoroughly regulated and clearly seen and understood.
A FRIENDLY SUGGESTION.
Many of the Sisters in the Bethel Family, learning about the questions, made a special request that they might have a list of these and give their answers, with a view to practice and instruction which they might thus derive. Elders and Deacons in various classes have similarly requested the questions. We believe that it would be profitable for all of the classes of Bible Students everywhere, if they would choose to Eldership such as could answer these questions so as to be worthy of the Society's V.D.M. degree. This might make a good many changes amongst the Elders, but we believe that they would be profitable changes. Furthermore, we believe that all Elders earnestly desiring to teach the Truth, and the Truth only, would be glad to have the very assistance which these questions would bring to them.
We have been surprised, sometimes, how careless some of the dear friends seem to be in respect to those whom they elect or ordain as Elders--often novices, contrary to the direction of the Lord's Word, thus doing harm both to the novice and to the class. (1 Tim. 3:1-7.) Next to the importance of the election of only a consecrated, spirit begotten child of God to Eldership should be the question. To what extent has he availed himself of the privileges of study, information? It is our thought that it is unwise to choose as an Elder any Brother who has not read at least once the entire six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures, or who is not a regular Watch Tower reader. Let it be borne in mind that the Society exercises no authority, makes no criticism, but merely gives advice; and that in the interest of the Lord's cause and the Lord's people.
ORDINATION--Re Present Ministers.
QUESTION (1916-Z)--1--Are there any such Ministers of the Divine Word, now?
ANSWER.--Yes, assuredly! Every Pilgrim sent out by the Society is sent out as a Minister of the Divine Word, not a minister of creeds, nor of "isms"; but purely and simply a Minister of the Word of God. And in every case where a congregation of the Lord's people has elected a consecrated, spirit-begotten child of God to be an Elder, they have by their election ordained, or set apart, or indicated, that Elder as being a Minister of the Divine Word--one who serves, distributes, dispenses the Truth of God's Word.