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BEGETTING--Re Begetting Not Followed by Quickening.
QUESTION (1915)--1--If anyone is begotten of the Holy Spirit and that person should never become quickened to activity in God's service, what will be the result?
ANSWER.--We are not wise enough to say, dear brethren what might be the result. We know that this is a picture of the spiritual plane drawn from natural conditions. We know that any child begotten and never quickened will never mature; it will die. So on the spiritual plane; we would suppose that anyone begotten by the Holy Spirit and never reaching the point of quickening, or activity, would never have spiritual life, either in the present time or in the future, and would fail to be born of the Spirit. But there is a possibility that the Lord might deal with such; that having been begotten of the Spirit and failing to be quickened, that person might come forth on the natural plane. But we think the figure is against it. Therefore we would not wish to set it forth as a doctrine or teaching.
QUESTION (1916)--2--Are we begotten of the Holy Spirit through Jesus?
ANSWER.--I don't know what that question means. Jesus does not do the begetting of the Church, and yet the begetting comes through Jesus. I make a double answer. Our begetting is of the Father, as the Apostle says, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has begotten us." That tells us who begat us; and the condition upon which we were begotten of the Father was the work of Jesus--through His death, and through the application (imputation) of His merit we were counted worthy to be begotten of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has something to do with it in the way of bringing us to the state where we could be begotten, but He is not the One who begets; and yet, "All things are of the Father and by the Son, and we by Him." This would correspond with what we find recorded respecting the day of Pentecost: when the Apostles were there in the upper room they were waiting for that which Jesus had promised them, and Jesus said it was the promise from the Father, and then St. Peter said the Father gave it to Jesus and Jesus shed it forth upon the Church at that time; so, that was the begetting of the spirit. We want to take in the whole scope of the matter.
QUESTION (1909)--3--(John 1:2), "The same (Logos) was in the beginning with God." What beginning is here referred to? Does it refer to the beginning of all things which were made by the Logos, or to the beginning of the Logos himself? If it refers to the beginning of the Logos, how could he have been with the Father before he existed?
ANSWER.--The word "beginning" is rather an indefinite word. When we think of our Heavenly Father, the Word tells us that He had no beginning. It would be difficult to imagine that He had a beginning, and it would be difficult to imagine that He had not a beginning. The difficulty is that our minds are finite. There is a difference between our minds and God's mind, just as there is a difference between our mind and the mind of a dog. I might have an intelligent dog and I should say, Jack, go and get the sheep, and he would get every one of them. But suppose I should say to him, Jack, I want to talk to you about astronomy, [Q41] or about God. Jack would not know anything about God, because his brain is not up to the capacity to receive it. God has not given the dog ability to reason beyond a given point. God has given us a wide range of reasoning, so that we can reason about moral questions and scientific questions, but none of us have such a mind as will grasp the eternal one. You will be in difficulty if you try to think of God having a beginning; it is beyond our capacity. Take as an illustration: Suppose you had a cannon that would throw a cannon ball at great speed for thousands and thousands of miles and never stop. O, you say, it would have to stop. Why? It would come to the end of space. What is the end of space? You can't imagine what the end of space is, and you can't imagine a cannon ball going forever and never coming to the end of space. So we will have to conclude that we have limitations to our brains. I cannot explain the beginning of God, for the Scriptures say that He had none.
What beginning, then, is meant here? Why, the Lord's beginning when Jehovah created Him, and from that beginning, from the time Jehovah created Him, He has been with the Father.
BIBLE--Addressed to A Lady or Christ's Bride.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Should we understand Johns second epistle, as a letter from John to a private individual, or as a letter from Christ to His espoused Virgin?
ANSWER.--I understand it to be from John to a private individual. What is true of one individual, however, would be true of a number of individuals in the Church of Christ, since we are members of the one body. The epistle to the Corinthians was not written to the Church at Saratoga Springs, but since the Church at Corinth and the Church at Saratoga Springs are under the same rules and regulations, the epistle is applicable to both. Likewise the second epistle of John.
BIBLE--Re Creation of Earth.
QUESTION (1911)--2--The Bible tells of creation. Out of what was the earth created?
ANSWER.--The Bible does not tell of the creation of the material of the earth. It begins by saying, "Now the earth was." It already was, but it was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the creation that is mentioned for the six days is not the mention of the creation of matter, but the bringing of order out of the matter.
BIBLE--Re Its Inspiration.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Do you believe in the inspiration of the Bible?
QUESTION (1911)--4--Do you believe the Bible infallible?
ANSWER.--I believe the Bible as God gave it is without error. It would not he grammatical to say that the Bible is infallible. I will say that the Bible is unerring. Only a person can be infallible, you know, and I will make the explanation here that there are passages in the common version of the Bible that are not in the old manuscripts of the Bible, and some of these passages have caused confusion. [Q42]
BIBLE--Re Being Without Error.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Do you believe the Bible absolutely devoid of error?
ANSWER.--There are certain parts of the Bible that are purely historical. The Books of Kings and Chronicles and the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are purely historical, and there is no particular need of inspiration in regard to these, unless it would be that divine providence would guide them so that they would not leave out what should be in. But where a history is written, it is not of necessity that it should be inspired, because all truth is good. If Saint Matthew, for instance, wrote that Jesus said thus and so, he is merely telling what he heard, what he knew to be the facts. He did not need to be inspired to tell the truth, any more than you need to be inspired to go out of here and tell what I have said: you should tell it straight; so there is no need of any inspiration about it. Now, I would say there are passages in Kings and Chronicles where evidently an error has been made. These are historical books, and there are little slips somewhere in the way the thing has been recorded. Both books cover the same period of time, but one gives it a little different from the other. We may see some day just how they can be harmonized, but at present we do not.
BIBLE--A Minister's Greatest Troubles.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--2--If the Bible has been misinterpreted on many vital points, how are we to understand the Bible, if we are not educated enough to know these things?
ANSWER.--Ministers are less able to interpret the Bible than any other class of people in the world. The Theological Seminaries do not teach Bible interpretation, but instruct the student how to defend the various creeds, and how to choke off investigation, and to make the investigator feel foolish. Nothing troubles a minister more than Bible questions. Our advice to those who want to know the Truth is to search the Scriptures and use Concordances and every Bible help that will assist them in a proper and rational understanding of the Scriptures. But be sure that the subject is approached honestly and prayerfully, with a desire to know the Truth and without sectarian prejudices. Remember the words of the Master, "Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth."
BIBLE STUDY--Method of.
QUESTION (1911)--3--How would you advise the study of the Bible? Would you advise thinking it out for yourself first, or reading the comments before trying to reason it out?
ANSWER.--Of course I am not sure that I understand the questioner's full meaning, but I would say, my dear friend, God declares that when our Lord Jesus ascended upon high, he gave gifts unto men. Then tells us what those gifts were: "And to some he gave apostles, and to some he gave prophets, and to some the working of miracles." Now then some of these gifts are with us today. There are some that have a natural teaching ability, but all have not the same ability as teachers. So the apostles ask. "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?" No. Then he goes on to say that God gave these to the church for a certain purpose. What is the purpose? For the edifying of the saints, [Q43] for the work of the ministry, the work of service, serving the body of Christ, "Until we all come to the full stature of a man in Christ." That is to say, Jesus is the head, already glorified; now he has given these gifts to the church that they may develop one another as the various members of the body of Christ, until the whole body will be completed. Now if God, through Jesus, gave these special gifts to the church, we understand that it is a part of the duty of the church to use these gifts wherever they find them. So then it would not be the wisest course for a Bible student to study the Bible by himself. If many have been studying the Bible for years without making much out of it, we must look to see how the Lord is leading, what is the Lord's providence. We are not to take anybody's word or judgment in the matter; we are to have the thing proved to us, and the Word of God is to be standard for everything we receive; but whether it comes to you in a few seconds through somebody else, is another matter. Whenever it comes to you, it is for you to prove that which you receive, and to see that it is in harmony with God's Word.
BIBLE--In Millennial Age.
QUESTION (1908)--1--Will the world of mankind need the Bible in the Millennial age?
ANSWER.--"Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a lantern to my footsteps." And the reason we need the Bible now as a lamp and a lantern is because we are in a dark time, until the day dawn, and the day-star arises. After the day-star arises you will not need the lantern. The world will have something better than the lantern. But I think the Bible will always be with the world, just the same as you have a history of France. Do you need the history of France? You are not going to live a hundred years in the past, but it is interesting for you to read the history of France. Do you need the history of the Jews? You are not going to be a Jew, are you? No, but it is interesting for you to know the history of God's dealings with the Jews and His providences and how these things work out. So I think the world will get a great blessing from the Bible when they see how the prophecies were written aforetime, and how they were fulfilled. I think it will be a great text-book of learning for them, but they will not be dependent on the Bible; it will not be their instructor then as now. It will be a sort of side-light, or as a picture of the times gone by, that will help to make them have greater reverence for the Lord and for His promises, and for all of His dealings of the past.
QUESTION (1908)--2--Do you think the Bible will be used by anybody but the world? Do you think the Church will use the Bible after passing the vail?
QUESTION (1908)--3--Will anybody else but the world use the Bible?
ANSWER.--There will not be anybody else here to use it; they will all be the world, except the Ancient Worthies. They may refer to it occasionally, and also the Dawns, but it will not be their guide, because the Ancient Worthies will be under the direct supervision of the Spiritual Church; all [Q44] the instructions will come direct from the Church to the Ancient Worthies, and from the Ancient Worthies to all the people, and they will not be dependent upon the Bible. But you can suppose that Abraham, for instance, will be very pleased to read the account in Genesis, and the prophesies, and will be very pleased to read in the New Testament where Jesus said He was before Abraham. Abraham will look at that and say, Jesus said that; how true it was; and how little I expected anything like that! And he may, for all I know, be interested in reading the Dawns, and a lot of other books--perhaps the history of France, and see how they used to think it was a glorious thing to butcher each other; and he may go and look at some statues and war monuments and say,
So in the future they will be looking back at these histories of the wars with very peculiar interest to see what kind of madness could come into the human family, how crazy people could get, to kill one another--over some trifling matter,--whether they should be Democrats or Republicans; or whether they should be Methodists or Presbyterians. We are only beginning to get the spirit of a sound mind; we have not a sound mind yet, we are getting the spirit of a sound mind, the disposition of it, and it is coming to us more and more every day. Thank God for it!
BODY OF SIN--Re the "Old Man."
QUESTION (1911)-- --"Knowing this, that the old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed; that henceforth we should not serve sin." Does the "old man" and the "body of sin" have reference to one and the same thing?
ANSWER.--No. My understanding is that the apostle meant here by "old man" in your case your "old man," or your "old woman," as the case might be; that is to say, your old human nature--that which you gave up when you came to the Lord, that which he accepted as your consecration, and my body, if the Lord accepted it. This is our "old man." This used to be the man, but we have become new creatures. Now, this old body, all the interests of the flesh, are crucified with Christ. We have given them all up. As Jesus' flesh hung literally on the cross, so your flesh was given up in consecration, that the Lord may use it in any way pleasing to him--whether upon the cross or in some other way, it is none of your concern, since your human will is fully submitted to death. "Not my will, but thy will be done"--this is the "cross" will; this is the will that is dead; this is the will that is crucified with Christ, and all of the body's interests were given with that will; all of these interests are likewise crucified. But now, what for? What did Christ die for? Well, he died that the body of sin might be destroyed. What do you die for? That the body of sin might be destroyed. How many bodies of sin are there? Only one. There is but one body of sin. What do you mean? I mean that sin is personified. We are living under a reign of sin. [Q45] It is not a person, it is not a man. Sin that is reigning is here used as a figure of speech, and the apostle says that Christ died with a view to destroying this body of sin in the world. And what are you giving your life for? Where does your life come in? You also are obliged to destroy this body of sin, this great sin system with which we have to do. As the apostle says, "You have given up your very life with Christ that you might share with him in destroying this great body of sin that has been reigning as a great king over mankind. If ye have given up your life and consecrated yourself, how could you any longer live in harmony with sin? Not at all. You are bound to be in opposition to sin in every form in which you find it; that is part of your covenant; that is part of what you have done with your body. It has been taken away from being a servant of sin, a servant of this great principle now ruling, and have become a servant of God and righteous; and the battle is on between righteousness and sin. Righteousness is one figure, representing the Lord and his kingdom, sin is the other figure, representing Satan and his kingdom, and there is a conflict on between the two; and we are in with Christ for the destruction of the sin, of this body of sin, this great ruler that has ruled the world for the past six thousand years; and the fight will be on for yet a little while, and to some extent the fight will be on for a thousand years yet, because all through that thousand years Christ, and you, and I, with him on the plane of glory if we are faithful, will all the while be putting down, bringing into subjection, until the last enemy shall be destroyed, which is death. The body of sin, the whole sin system, will then be wholly overthrown, utterly destroyed.
BREATHED--The Lord Breathed on Them.
QUESTION (1905)--1--What is meant by John 20:22 when it says that our Lord breathed on them, etc?
ANSWER.--Our Lord was giving them a pantomimic teaching. He wanted them to understand that in sending them out they were not to exercise power belonging to themselves, but the power of God through them, therefore, he gave them the illustration of breath, or his spirit, which he wished to communicate to them. He did this as a sample of his spirit power, influence or mind in them, by which they would cast out devils, heal the sick, etc., in his name.
BRIDE--Is Bride Complete?
QUESTION (1913)--2--Have all of the bride class passed beyond the vail, and are the great company the only ones left upon the earth.
ANSWER.--I hope not, my friends. I have no inside information, but I hope we are still permitted to hope that we may make our calling and election sure by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. I have no reason to think that the bride class is complete.
QUESTION (1916)--3--Please explain Proverbs 16:28: "A forward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth chief friends."
ANSWER.--I would think it is as plain as the nose on a man's face. If I knew how to make a proverb like that, I would feel insulted if some one asked me to explain it. I am not bright enough to make it, and I a not stupid enough to [Q46] try to explain it, except to explain the obsolete words of the text. A forward man is a bad man, whose acts and words tend to produce envy, bitterness, misunderstandings, strife. A whisperer is a busybody or slanderer.
CAIN AND ABEL--Into What Country?
QUESTION (1909)--l--When there were no other inhabitants of the earth but Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, into what country did Cain and Abel go to take unto themselves wives, there being but four people (the above named) upon the earth, according to Scripture?
ANSWER.--The Scriptures do not say there were no more than four people upon the earth. The Scriptures do not mention the daughters of Adam, and the supposition would be in harmony with the record, that when Cain took a wife, he took one of his sisters. There was no objection to a brother and sister marrying then, for in many respects they would be better adapted. The reason for their not marrying today is that the race has so deteriorated that for a brother and sister to marry, their children would inherit the characteristics of the family to such an extent that they would go insane, and therefore the law forbids it, even to cousins and second cousins.
QUESTION (1913)--2--"Together with Him without the camp"--does this mean to go out in the second camp, or are there two camps?
ANSWER.--The Apostle says, Let us go to Him without the camp. In the English of today we would say, Let us go to Him outside the camp. We do not use the word "without" the camp in that same way today. Let us go to Him outside the camp--what does that mean? Well the camp would represent that condition of things which claimed to be in harmony with God. Look back in Jesus' day: Jesus went outside the camp. Was it the Gentile camp? No. What was the camp with Him? The camp in Jesus' time was composed of all those who professed to be God's people, holy people--all the Jewish people who professed to be in harmony with the Lord. What would it mean that He went outside the camp? He was pledged in his faithfulness and loyalty to God to take His stand which took Him outside of the sympathy and fellowship of those who were not fully Israelites indeed--all the Jews that were Israelites indeed in whom was no guile could appreciate it, and they, like the disciples, were in the attitude of the Levites that were approaching the Holy and drawing near to the Lord, and were, like the Levites, ministering in the Court. This would represent the attitude of all believers inside of that white curtain. But those who constituted the camp at that time were nominal professors who did not appreciate fully, and Jesus in order to be faithful to God and His message was obliged to stand for the truth, for that which is right, and that brought Him out of sympathy and out of accord with the great nominal mass of the Jewish people. Now the Apostle says, Let us go to Him outside the camp. What does this mean? It meant to the Apostles of old that they should also take the same stand toward the law that Jesus took toward the law; the same stand toward the Pharisees and scribes and the [Q47] doctors of the law that Jesus took. Then to those afterwards who became associated with the Gentiles, as, for instance Paul, Silas, and Barnabas, who ministered to the Gentiles, we think outside the camp meant outside the synagogue of the Jews and all of those who professed to be in harmony with God that were living in Rome, or wherever they might be--whoever stood for and claimed to be God's people constituted the camp. What does it mean today? The camp today means all of Christendom, all the dear people who claim that they are spiritual Israelites, that is God's camp. It is found principally in the United States and Europe. And all of God's people who are sincerely following in the footsteps of Jesus will find that they will not be appreciated by the general camp. In other words, the nominal church will not generally appreciate the spirit of the Lord and the teachings of the Lord, and therefore all who would be faithful to Jesus and walk in his steps will find themselves today just as much out of accord with the camp of today as Jesus and the Apostles found themselves out of accord with the camp of their day. To go to Him without the camp today means that we will take up our cross, whatever sacrifice it might mean to you and me, the breaking of tender ties with dear fellow Christians who are Methodists, or Presbyterians, etc., willing to go to the Lord and be faithful and loyal to Him at any cost, no matter how others may view it. And as a matter of fact it was those of the camp that persecuted Jesus and the Apostles; and it is those of the camp who have persecuted the Church which is the Body of Christ from that day to this.
CANAAN--Of What Was It Typical?
QUESTION (1915)--1--Pastor Russell says, "The children of Israel's journey through the wilderness toward the land of Canaan was typical of the Christian's journey through this world of sin toward the Heavenly Canaan." Typical Israel did all their fighting after they got into the land of Canaan. Where is the antitypical Canaan, and what are the antitypical Canaanites, and how are they fought by antitypical Israel?
ANSWER.--The Apostle Paul intimates that this whole matter of Israel's history was typical of the experience of Christians. (1 Cor. 10:11, margin.) But we need to be very cautious; for in some instances we are leaning, in a certain degree, to our judgment. But my thought would be that this traveling toward Canaan typifies the attempt to enter into a proper relationship with God. Israel did not enter into Canaan as quickly as they might have done. If they had had proper faith they might have entered in very soon. They might at once have gone from Mount Sinai into the land of Canaan, and had God's blessing with them. They did not go in because of unbelief. So any of us who wandered through a wilderness state before coming into the family of God did so, not because it was necessary, but because we did not exercise sufficient faith. We did not need to wait forty years, or any period of time, but could have come quickly; by consecration we could have entered in at once.
But the majority were delayed. Like the Jews, they did not enter in quickly. Instead of promptly entering into the blessings they might have had through the exercise of more [Q48] faith, many wandered around many years. Joshua there represented Jesus, in type. The sooner the Jews would recognize Joshua and his leadership, the sooner would he cross Jordan and enter the land of Canaan. So the sooner we recognized that the Law could accomplish nothing for us, the sooner we ourselves, under Joshua (Jesus) got into Canaan. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, then began the wars with the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. These represent the weaknesses of our human nature that we are to battle against and overcome, that we may take possession of the whole Land of Promise, the privileges we have as the children of God.
CAPTIVITY--Captivity Led Captive.
QUESTION (1906)--1--In the Scripture referring to the Savior, that he led captivity captive and gave gifts to men, what is specially meant by the word captivity?
ANSWER.--The captivity that is on the world is the captivity of slavery to sin and death. That is the great captivity. As the Apostle declares, we as a race were sold to sin and the wages of sin came down on the whole race; we are all sinners; and we are all dying. That is captivity. You remember how the prophets and our Lord also speak of the tomb as being the great prison house, and speak of even the whole world in their limitations, mental, moral and physical, as being captives. Now, our Lord when He died, did so as the great Ransomer, as the Redeemer of the whole race. He bought the prison house and all the prisoners, and all of those who were in a dying condition, and now He has thus led captivity captive. He owns the captives, and in His own due time He is going to open the prison doors, and say, "Come forth, show yourselves."
CHARACTER--Development Before Spirit Begetting.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Is there any real character building before the spiritual begetting?
ANSWER.--I think that some of the people of the world do build character, and I have seen many such people, but none of the building along that line would have any purpose or give them any consideration from God's standpoint of the call. Whatever they do, however, will he that much built against the times of restitution, and if they are that far up the ladder and out of the degradation and mire, they will have that much shorter time. Therefore, I would teach them that every step downward would mean disaster to that extent, and when God's time shall come, every endeavor shall have its reward. But the building of character for Christ is, of course, only applicable to the Church, for the Bible was written for the Church, to those who are in the school of Christ, those who are seeking to be His.
CHARACTER--Outward Polish vs. Inward Grace.
QUESTION (1910-Z)--3--What constitutes the difference between the outward polish and politeness of some natural men and that polish and politeness which properly belongs to the New Creature, developed in the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit?
ANSWER.--The qualities of meekness, gentleness, patience, etc., are qualities that belonged to the first man when he was created in the image and likeness of God. They are, [Q49] therefore, human qualities that may be cultivated to a certain extent by any human being, and should be striven for by all. But, as a matter of fact, as a result of the fall, selfishness and general meanness have depraved the appetites and ways of all mankind to so great an extent that, as the Scriptures say, there is none righteous, perfect, no, not one; "from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot," all are imperfect. Hence no natural man would have these glorious traits of character largely and fully developed, though there certainly is a difference between the development of some and that of others.
We see, however, that aside from these natural graces, some worldly people have assumed something of the various graces of the Spirit. In their business methods they attempt to be gentle, and properly so. It is considered a part of the proper conduct of colleges, and especially ladies' seminaries, to instruct the young in politeness, in what to say and what not to say; in how to say things and how not to say things; and all of this brings an outward smoothness to these persons in their general deportment. In such cases, however, the smoothness is cultivated because of the idea that this constitutes "good breeding"; that this is what any lady or gentleman should do or say; and thus it may be a mere veneer, not really affecting the sentiments of the heart. The person may be outwardly very calm and smooth and pleasant, and yet at heart feel very sour and envious and mean.
Those who are merely outward observers might not be able to ascertain whether that man or woman were actuated by the proper spirit or not. They might not be able to know whether these changes were the "fruits of the spirit" or fruits of good education, but anyone knowing well the private life of such persons would he sure to ascertain the facts, because, as the old expression has it, "Murder will out"; and these persons, while they might preserve a smooth outward demeanor, would occasionally, in private at least, demonstrate that they were not in sympathy with the outward demeanor, but that it was merely a veneer, and to that extent hypocrisy. Perhaps a measure of hypocrisy in that sense would be advisable for some people; it might be better for them to put on a little veneer if they cannot have the genuine article; better that they should appear smooth rather than appear rough; it would at least help the world along a little for them to be as smooth as they are able in their general dealings.
The merchant who, after pulling down large stocks of goods and telling a customer that it is no trouble at all to show goods, that he is just pleased at having the opportunity to do so, and that there is no obligation whatever in the matter, and showing the very essence of politeness, but who, after the lady is gone out of the store, stamps his foot and complains, announces thus to all in his company, that his politeness is merely assumed as a necessity in the business. He does this either for his own sake, if he is the proprietor of the store, or for the sake of his situation, if he is an employee.
With the Christian these graces are developed from within. Whatever he may have been naturally, smooth or rough, the New Creature cultivates and approves these graces in the heart, and they reach from the heart all the way to the surface. It is the new mind that is regulating the New [Q50] Creature, and the New Creature, instead of having smoothness merely on the outside, has it running clear through the grain from the very core.
This New Creature that is thus developing may not at all times have as smooth an outward exterior as some of the old creatures who have the veneer for the sake of money or for other reasons. They may have worse natural dispositions; they may have naturally less patience, or less sympathy, or may be moved by such honesty as would lead them to avoid saying anything different from what they would feel, anything different from what would be their sentiments; and their sentiments, not having yet reached the right point, sometimes impel them to say the wrong thing. These, of course, should learn to govern the outward man even before all their sentiments have come into fullest sympathy with the Spirit of the Lord. They should recognize the proprieties of outward conduct, and speedily get in line with these proprieties, and as rapidly as possible bring every sentiment into full accord with the Spirit of the Lord that they may become more and more kind and loving and helpful to others and thus "show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light."
CHARACTER--When Crown Is Ours.
QUESTION (1910)--1--At what point of character development can we say, the crown is ours, and that we are overcomers?
ANSWER.--I think, dear friends, that the proper point at which we could say that, would be when we reach the mark of perfect love. For instance, you came to the Lord and made your consecration, you entered the School of Christ and began to learn of him. That was about the time you found out how short you were of the proper measure. Will the Lord ever be able to make anything out of me? Now the Lord is going to measure you according to your mind and is waiting for you to get to the mark of perfect love, which is the standard of a perfect character, for none will be worthy of a place in the kingdom or eternal life except those that reach this mark, either now or in the Millennial Age. God has nothing for anyone except those that reach that standard in his mind and heart. He may have weaknesses, etc., and you may speak things that you are sorry for, and must apologize for, but your heart is at the mark--perfect love--and that is the reason you want to apologize, because you have reached the mark of perfect love. You love God, and all mankind, and wish to do good to all, as you have an opportunity. After a person gets where he can love his enemies, he is at the mark of perfect love. He will not be perfect in flesh, for that will not be possible in this age. Many still have to put a bridle upon their tongues, etc., you must hold in the old nature. This I have often illustrated by a bad dog which would represent our old nature, and for which the new creature is responsible. We must hold him in. Our intentions are good, as is shown by the fact that when the heat or excitement of the moment is passed, then the heart goes back to the principles of righteousness, and asks for forgiveness from the Father. He will ask for forgiveness for anything he has done. You might say, it will be harder to rectify this, than not to have done it in the first place. Surely. But that is what you must do, if you want [Q51] to prove to the Lord that your heart is for righteousness, and whenever you find you have made a mistake, you must rectify it. Now, then, if you get to that place, you have gotten to the place where, to my understanding, you are at the mark of perfect love, toward God, men, etc. You desire good for all and injury toward none. From that moment, I understand, the Lord counts you as one having a crown apportioned to you. That is one thing, but seeing that no man take your crown is another thing. After granted to you it still remains that if you are moved from the mark, pressed aside by difficulties, you are not standing this test, and you will not be worthy of being an overcomer. So you see there is a mark of character, without which none will be acceptable in the kingdom, spiritual or earthly. Now we must demonstrate our love and devotion, that is what we live for to-day and tomorrow, and in all your Christian experience, from the time you enter the school of Christ, for you are to learn of him as quickly as possible and get to the mark of perfect love toward all.
CHARACTER--Perfection This Side the Veil.
QUESTION (1913-Z)--1--How near to the character likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ must one attain on this side the veil in order to have good hope of being one of the elect on the other side of the veil?
ANSWER.--Jehovah God will not accept anything that is imperfect. Even our human nature presented to him sacrificially by the High Priest needed first to be covered by the merit of the Priest Himself and to be thus perfected before being Divinely accepted. In thinking of ourselves, however, we are to remember that we have the New Creature in an earthen vessel. It is the New Creature that must have the likeness of Christ.
In the flesh we are beset by the world, the flesh and the Devil. All these things conspire to hinder the New Creature from working perfectly in the old body. The will must be nothing less than perfect. As Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart." (Matt. 5:8) Purity of heart must be absolute.
The pure of heart are those whose intentions are pure, whose motives are pure, who desire the best--long for the best. These may have strong consolation, may have full confidence toward God respecting the glorious things He has promised; for they could do no more than the best they are able to do in the natural body--and thus show their devotion.
CHARACTER--Fruit Bearing vs. Following Jesus.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Is developing the fruits of the spirit walking in the footsteps of Jesus?
ANSWER.--No, we are not to mix figures. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus is one figure, and developing the fruits of the spirit is another. They may represent the same thing, but we are not to confuse these things. The Apostle enumerates the fruits of the spirit, kindness, meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, love. Is that walking in the footsteps of Jesus? No, not exactly. But as we seek to do as Jesus did, it will lead to the development of those fruits or graces. Obedience to the Lord's arrangements develop these fruits in our characters. [Q52]
CHARACTER--No Patent Method of Development.
QUESTION (1915)--1--What is the best and most sure, quick and Scriptural method for developing a Christ-like life--a life of God--likeness?
ANSWER.--There is no patent way, my dear brethren (laughter). It means perseverance; it means loyalty; it means faithfulness. There is no royal road; there is no way by which you can have a "presto-change" and become Christ-like without putting forth effort.
In the case of our Lord Jesus, in the Father's arrangement, according to the Father's Plan, it required some time to develop patience and to be tested along all the necessary lines on which His Church was also to be tested (Heb. 4:15). There is no short route, then! The Lord will try His people, will judge and prove His people. He will not have any but proved people in that chosen company. If they will not stand the test and prove faithful, God will not let them into the Kingdom.
So then, the only way that I can suggest is the one plain way of the Bible. Naturally, the first thing would be the giving of ourselves fully to the Lord. Secondly, we are to seek to walk in His ways. And we are to let our light shine, whatever may be the cost. We are to study the Word; we are to be constant in prayer; we are to watch ourselves and the Lord's providences, keeping ourselves in the love of God. The Lord will see to it that there is enough opposition all along our pathway to properly develop and prove us, and if we are faithful, it will mean more or less of suffering. These will be the sufferings of Christ, and if we cheerfully endure even unto death, then we know we shall be counted worthy of the prize--Kingdom, glory and honor. We are to remember that the Lord not only called us to honor, but to righteousness, to holiness. Therefore seek to live righteously, soberly, self-sacrificingly.
God has given us an understanding of what is pleasing and acceptable to Him and what is displeasing to Him in our characters. He tells that He is pleased that we should have a large measure of His Holy Spirit. We are to manifest the meekness, the gentleness of Christ. The Apostle says that we are to abound in patience, in self-control, in long-suffering, in brotherly kindness, in love. If these fruits be in us, and then if they reach the abounding condition or degree, we shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord; and so an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior. But he who does not appreciate the necessity of this is blind, as the Apostle says; he cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (2 Pet. 1:7-9).
If a spirit-begotten New Creature fails to see the privilege of cultivating the Master's spirit--the spirit of holiness--it is because he is not making progress. He is like a new-born child that has not learned to focus its eyes. You know a kitten does not get its eyes open until the ninth day, and then it comes gradually to properly use its eyes. So with us as New Creatures at the beginning of our experience: we do not know at first how to focus our spiritual eyesight. But, surely, as we grow more and more toward maturity we must come to have the proper focus on all the affairs of life. We must see "what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). And if, in the very beginning, we have a desire to do that will and to go on [Q53] unto perfection, we shall understand it better and be more and more able to perform it.
CHART--Re Great Company on Plane "L."
QUESTION (1909)--1--Does the reaching of plane "L" (chart) in the first resurrection, bring full personal glory, immortality, the Divine nature? If so, how are we to understand that the Great Company who are to be raised to that plane through great tribulation will not be immortal? Why does plane "L" bring immortality to one class and not to another?
ANSWER.--In making the chart it was not possible to show everything, and we are surprised that it shows as much as it does. Plane "L" represents spiritual perfection, and it represents the plane to which both the Great Company and the Little Flock will come, but the Little Flock will have the additional glory and distinction called "immortality," or the Divine nature, separate and distinct from the Great Company. The way it is represented on the chart will not affect the matter in reality.
CHART--Significance of Planes L and K on Chart.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--2--In describing the Chart you say, Vol. 1, page A211, "These, when born from the dead in the resurrection, will have the divine nature and form." Please harmonize this statement with another found on page 235, which reads thus: "We know not how long it will be after their change, or perfecting, as spirit beings (plane L), before they as a full and complete company will be glorified (plane K) with the Lord, united with Him in power and great glory."
ANSWER.--The two quotations are in perfect accord. The questioner's difficulty is in respect to what is signified by plane "L" and plane "K" on the Chart. Plane "L" represents the personal glory of our Lord and the Church by the power of the First Resurrection, from human nature to divine nature. We understand that all the members of the elect Church will experience such a change, from mortal to immortal conditions, from human to divine nature, from weakness to power, from dishonor to glory, from animal to spirit conditions (1 Cor. 15:44), before being ushered into the glory of power and dominion represented by plane "K." In other words, the first quotation refers to the personal exaltation of all the spirit-begotten, overcoming class in the First resurrection, to plane "L," and the second to their exaltation to plane "K," which will come when the Heavenly Bridegroom shall present His Bride complete, without fault or blame, before the Heavenly Father, as pictured in the 45th Psalm.
CHILD-BEARING--Re Being Saved In.
QUESTION (1911)--3--How do we understand (1 Tim. 2:15,) which reads, "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety?"