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SEVENTH VOLUME--Re Smiting Jordan.
QUESTION (1916)--1--Will the Seventh Volume be written before or after the smiting of the waters of Jordan by the anti-typical Elijah?
ANSWER.--There are certain things that we ought not to tell anyone; and amongst these are those things which we do not know.
SEVENTH VOLUME--Pastor Russell's Last Statement.
QUESTION (1916-Z)--2--(By Bro. Sturgeon a few days before Pastor Russell's death).
What about the Seventh Volume?
ANSWER.--Someone else can write that.
SEVENTH VOLUME--Statement At Milwaukee Convention.
QUESTION (1916)--3--Explain Rev. 12:12 about the Devil coming down to earth and having a short time.
ANSWER.--We have no time to go into that. The seventh volume is not off the press yet, and I will just say, while it is not on the press yet--all that I will say, is, that this is all past now. This revelation is past. That part is past and gone. We had something to say in this connection in the June Watch Tower, and the comments have a little on it also. We will leave that until God shall give us some further light on the book of Revelation, and we will try then to explain the book as a whole. We think that the book of Revelation is important, and we would therefore love very much to write on it, but, because it is not yet clear as a whole, and I do not wish to put any speculation or guessing into it, therefore do not wish to write anything until the Lord shall make it all plain so far as the Bible is concerned and its interpretation. Therefore we are waiting--waiting on the Lord. In due time I believe He will give up the Key that will unlock the book. Until then we will rest. You will get it just as soon as He gives the explanation. If the Lord shall give it through somebody else alright but I will not give anything until I am sure.
SEXES--What Is Meant by "Neither Male Nor Female in Christ Jesus"?
QUESTION (1914)--4--Does not the scriptural statement that there is neither male nor female but that we are all one in Christ Jesus, indicate that those who have come into Christ, especially after they have developed to a considerable degree the mind of Christ, will be FREE to exercise more LIBERTY in their relations with those of the opposite sex than formerly would have ordinarily been considered expedient?
ANSWER.--It is wonderful how much we can twist language. Now language should not be considered as cast iron of course. That would not be best at all. Nor should it be rubber that you can pull out of shape. And the language as used here is very plain so far as God is concerned and so far as our relationship to the Lord is concerned, there is neither black nor white, rich or poor, male or female or any differences among God's people. However, there are still rich and poor, black and white, male and female, but these qualities are not to be considered as making them inferior in God's sight. God, nevertheless, through the same Apostle, [Q647] has pointed out certain things that would not be proper for a sister to do, but would be more proper for the brethren. Jesus indicated this same thing in His teaching and by His actions. He did not choose His own mother, a disciple or any of the Mary's relatives whom He loved so much. God did make the difference between the male and female. This did not mean that the sisters were inferior, or ignorant, but so far as the preaching was concerned, it was given into the hands of the men, representing the Christ portion, and the women, the Church.
As to familiarity between the sexes, I believe my dear friends, that the Vow is one of the very best safeguards that you can set up, and that makes quite a distinction between male and female. Your spiritual interests and everybody's will be the better conserved by watching carefully, and those who know there are weaknesses of the flesh strive to live purely one with another and with the Lord.
SICKNESS--Re Ceasing After 1914.
QUESTION (1909)--l--How long after 1914 do you think the present conditions of sickness, suffering, and the Adamic death will continue?
ANSWER.--I have just answered this. I suppose the brother means 1915. Some things in the Scriptures imply that it might last for seven years, and others one year, but there is nothing definite. Adamic death, sickness, pain and suffering will last until the individual accepts Christ--there is no life outside of Christ. It shall be made known to every creature, and this knowledge and blessing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall go to Israel and gradually to the whole world, to all families, and they will recognize the Mediator and the Covenant and the channel of God's providences to Israel in the flesh, and see the earthly kingdom established, and as they come into harmony with this, sin and death will gradually fade away, and they will live. He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son shall not see life, he shall still continue in death.
SIGNATURE--Method for Widows.
QUESTION (1911)--2--What would be the proper form for a widow to sign her name?
ANSWER.--A widow, if she uses her own name, for instance, if she wants to say, "Mrs. Grace Smith," had better put the "Mrs." in parenthesis, but if she wished to write "Grace Smith," she has a perfect right to do so, her husband being dead; "Mrs. John Smith;" but I should think that all the sisters ought to determine what way they are going to write their names when they write to the Watch Tower. When they write one time as Mrs. Joseph Gordon, and another time as Jane Gordon, we do not know whether it is another Sister Gordon, or who it may be. You should use uniformity, so that we can always know who it is.
QUESTION (1910)--3--To what extent can fallen men, once sanctified, imitate holiness? Does their departure from God limit their power to imitate holiness of character?
ANSWER.--I am not sure. It seems to me it is a little different with men from what it is with these fallen spirits. I should suppose they could, especially if they were used by the Adversary, simulate holiness and talk from that [Q648] standpoint to some extent. But my experience with people is that when once they leave the truth, the difference of character is so manifest you can very generally see what spirit they are of, that it is not the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love, but is the spirit of anger, malice, hatred, strife, and envy. And that is generally the sign. I rather think they cannot help it that they do not really know to what extent they have changed. I think the Lord gives us ground for supposing that is so when he tells us, you remember, that we are not capable of reading the heart, but we may read the outward life. "By their fruits ye shall know them." If they have a wicked spirit, a malicious tongue, and take pleasure in doing unrighteousness, contrary to the Word of God, then it betokens a change of heart, a change of spirit ; that they have not the holy Spirit governing them as they once had.
QUESTION (1906)--1--What is meant by that passage which says, "Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sin?"
ANSWER.--I would say that there might be various forms of presumptuous sin. It signifies the sin of presuming. Some presume to make themselves very great, and do not appreciate the necessity for the precious blood of Christ. It is presumptuous to think that we could appear in the presence of God in the filthy rags of our own unrighteousness. Then we might see a beginning of this presumptuous condition. It begins with some, perhaps, in a small way; then they presume a little more, and presume over the brethren and lord it over them; it is a growing thing, and they finally get so presumptuous that they are in a condition where the Lord cannot deal with them or use them in any sense.
SIN--Wilful--Corrected, Forgiven, Set Aside.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Please explain what is meant by wilful sins, and how they can be corrected, or forgiven, or set aside?
ANSWER.--We have suggested through the Watch Tower publications and Dawn Studies that sins that are common to the Lord's people are of two general kinds. There are certain sins that are committed through weakness or ignorance. You and I commit trespasses many times against the divine will that we are not aware of, and the Lord does not count those against us. But suppose you subsequently ascertain that those sins were wrong? Then go to the Lord, make your apologies, ask His forgiveness and realize His forgiveness.
Then there are other things along the line of the weaknesses of the flesh, when we know they are not satisfactory to ourselves, and not in harmony with the divine will, and yet they are things that we cannot help. Your will was not sufficiently strong. Because it had in it a measure of wilfulness and weakness, for that reason, and in that proportion, that sin is forgivable. Christ died for our sins, not only for the sins that are past, original sins, those that were yours before you knew the Lord, not only those, but additionally, the Lord provided for all those weaknesses and imperfections which would be yours, that you could not help or avoid, because of your nature, heredity or whatever it might be. He made provision for those, but He never made provision [Q649] for wilful sin, and there is nothing in the redemption of Christ that covers a fully wilful sin for anyone as a New Creature. When we speak of a mixed sin, we are speaking of what must represent the most serious sin that the New Creature could commit, for the Apostle explains that we cannot sin, because His seed remains in us. What does he mean by that? He means this, that, being begotten of the Heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit, we are New Creatures, and the flesh from this standpoint is counted out of the way, and the New Creature is the only one that God is dealing with. You are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you. What do you mean by the New Creature sinning?
He cannot wilfully and deliberately sin; it would be a sign that the seed did not remain in him; it would be a sign that the seed, the holy Spirit had perished, and that you were not a New Creature, if you sinned wilfully, intelligently, with premeditation. The Holy Spirit would not be there, and you would not be a New Creature at all. The Apostle says that from this standpoint that wicked one toucheth us not. If it could sin wilfully, it would work death to the New Creature instantly. However, the New Creature has this mortal body as its agent, and it is not always able to control it, so the Apostle says that, "We (the New Creature) cannot do the things that we would do." It is because we have this treasure in earthen vessels, and sometimes it will influence our best endeavors and hinder us from doing that which we would like as New Creatures to do. Does the Lord count it as a sin of the New Creature? No. The New Creature is the one that is anxious and desires to serve the Lord with all its being, might and power, loving our neighbors, laying down life for the brethren, and loving our enemies. The New Creature finds that the old nature balks, and gives a lot of trouble, so that the Apostle said, "Keep your bodies under." It could not be a New Creature and not be alright. It is the old creature which is wrong, and it is the New Creature who restrains or holds control of the old, just as a driver would hold or control a horse which was running or plunging. If the driver drives over a precipice, then we know that the driver has gone insane. So if you drive the old creature over the precipice, it shows that the New Creature is dead. If the New Creature, as represented by the driver, should at any time manifest weakness in dealing with the horses, and should allow them to run away, he might be culpable because he failed to show good judgment, and he may receive discipline because of his carelessness. That is the way you have found yourself sometimes, you have let the lines down, and before you could get them again, you find that the old creature nearly got away from you.
How can these sins be corrected? The proper course is to go to the One whose blood cleanses from all sin. It could not refer to the sins that are past, because they have been cleansed away. It is referring to sins that have been committed after we became Christians. In other words, they are the sins referred to in our Lord's prayer, where we are told to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, etc." The only way that original sin can be cleansed is through faith in the work [Q650] that Christ did for us. What are these trespasses? They are the imperfections of which we have just spoken--they are the spots and wrinkles. When you get any of these, you should go immediately to the great Redeemer, whose precious blood is able to cleanse us from all sin. The proper course is to go every day, the middle of the day or any time, not wait until night, don't allow yourself to rest a moment. Otherwise you will get used to them, and when your attention is called to them, you will say, Oh, I know it, and I don't like them, but, you know, everybody has them, and as a result a great many accumulate, and it would take a lifetime to get rid of them. This represents an unfavorable condition of heart from the Lord's standpoint, a lack of zeal, and such will be obliged to go through the great time of trouble as the Great Company, and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, just as they should have done all the way down.
Another thought: To what extent are these sins forgivable when we do take them to the Lord in prayer; how does He forgive them, and if so, how does it cause so much chastisement to follow? I answer, the two things are quite in harmony. We might illustrate it this way: You might say to your child. You have done wrong and I must punish you, and the punishment will be that you shall have no dessert for dinner. If the child be of the right attitude of mind and be properly trained, as he should have been trained, the child will feel the disapproval of the parent more than the denial of the dessert. While the denial of the dessert is the real stipulation, the properly trained child will realize the frown of the parent more than the lack of the dessert. Therefore the child will say, Forgive me. The parent might answer, If I forgive you, you cannot have the dessert. Well, he might reply, I am not thinking of that, but I am thinking of how I have hurt you. In restoring the favor of your countenance you might say, Well, my dear, you are entirely forgiven, and you might give him the kiss of approval, but you can't have the dessert. Alright, he would reply. That is an illustration of how the Lord's people should be in their relation with the Heavenly Father.
SIN--Recognize, Forgiveness, Expect Chastisements.
QUESTION (1909)--1--If you did wrong and recognized it later, and asked forgiveness, should we expect chastisements?
ANSWER.--I suppose the brother means that, if I did wrong, if I recognized it, and asked forgiveness, should I expect chastisements? Yes and no, according to circumstances. The degree of intelligence would determine. If there was knowledge of it, the Lord would exact certain penalties, even though you asked for forgiveness. Just as in the case of a child. You might say to it, "You shall have no dinner today if you do that." He may do it and then ask your forgiveness, saying that he is sorry. You would forgive him, but would say, "While I forgive you, I will have to do as I said and punish you; you must go without your dinner." So our Lord may bring us back into fellowship and we may have forgiveness, and at the same time, He may allow some chastisement to follow.
SIN--Body Of in Rom. 6:6.
ANSWER.--The Apostle, of course, is using figurative language just as we do sometimes when we speak of the man of sin. It does not mean a single man, but a great institution, that which is contrary to the divine law; and so here, a different figure is used: he speaks of the body of sin in contrast with the body of righteousness. How large is the body of sin? Satan was the first sinner and he deceived and led astray our first parents who were sold under sin, as we read, and they became enslaved to Satan and became his followers--not intentionally, but by reason of delusion, ignorance and weakness--they came under the slavery of sin and death. The body of sin represents all the sin in the world--all in whom sin is in the whole world. The body of sin represents all the sin in the race, all that came from Satan, all under condemnation. We who have heard of God's plan, we who have turned our hearts away from sin have heard that there is a way of enlisting under the banner of Jesus, that we might be soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb, we have enlisted under the banner of Jesus as the Captain of our salvation for a certain purpose, and that purpose is the same as His, viz., the destruction of the body of sin. This means the destruction of everything that is sinful. Is it so sweeping as that? you inquire. Yes; no sin is going to be allowed to remain. All must be destroyed. Every sinner is going to have an opportunity to make a change, but if he will not change and be begotten again, then he will lose the favor, miss life, because the determination of God is that all sin and all sinners will be wiped out. The body of sin will be destroyed root and branch--every part of it. It is not our business to seek to do this now. God's time has not yet come. We will judge the world in due time. "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" This will continue for one thousand years to come, so as to give every member of the Adamic race an opportunity to decide whether he will be on the side of Satan, on the side of sin and wrong and error, or else on the other side, and if he decides for Satan, this will determine his future. If he decides for God, then all these Judges will be helping him back to the image of God, and if, on the other hand, he decides to take his stand with the Adversary and oppose that which is right, then the wrath of God will abide upon him, and his punishment will mean his destruction in the second death. But this is not the case now. "God has appointed a day"--a thousand-year day; that will be the time that we will have to do with them; not now, for we are admonished to "Judge nothing before the time." We are not at the present time to try to straighten out everything by force. This force will be operating during the time of crisis or decision in the Millennial Age. The special message of the gospel is now going out to the effect that every one who has a hearing ear may turn himself about and become a follower of Jesus and a soldier of the cross. But what will these soldiers of the cross fight against? The time for the destruction of all evil will be in the future, as we read in the 11th chapter of Revelation, "We give Thee thanks, 0 Lord God, the Almighty, which art and which wast; because Thou has taken Thy great power, and didst reign. And the nations [Q652] were wroth, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear Thy name, the small and the great (all the sheep class during the Millennium), and to destroy them which destroy the earth"-- (everything that pertains to the body of sin). But now, many in this body of sin do not fully appreciate what righteousness is, and consequently the provision of the Millennial Age has been made that the knowledge of God and of His gracious arrangements shall become known to all, with which knowledge will come the responsibility that will determine which of our race belong to the body of sin to be destroyed, and which of them, under a favorable opportunity will join the body of righteousness and be granted everlasting life. What then, can we do now? Our chief work now is in ourselves. What are we doing there? We are fighting to overcome our weaknesses and to keep down the elements of sin and of unrighteousness intrenched in our mortal bodies. But are we not to rebuke, and rule, and harass the class? No! Harass and rule yourself. Fight yourself all you please, but do not fight the class. Mind your own business! There is more trouble awakened by busy-bodying in other people's affairs than in any other way. It takes some time to know just where your business comes in, where the class's business comes in, and where everybody's business comes in. So, we are to fight against the body of sin in ourselves. The only body of righteousness is the true church of Christ. All the rest of the world are a part of the body of sin. These saints have engaged to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, and this great battle is waged in themselves. The more successful one may be in this combat, the more that one may be able to assist others needing his assistance. The more one cultivates the spirit of gentleness, kindness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness and love in oneself, the more will that one be able to help others out of their wrong condition. These saints, then, are the only present members of the body of righteousness, and by and by they are to be associated with Jesus in the coming Kingdom in destroying this entire body of sin.
QUESTION (1911)--l--Is there an unpardonable sin?
ANSWER.--Yes, there are many unpardonable sins. The word "unpardonable" is used in more than one way in the Bible. I presume the questioner refers to the sin unto death. There is only one sin unto death, but there are many unpardonable sins. For instance, you may do something after you have become a Christian that is partly wilful, and partly through failure to exercise the proper self-control that you might have exercised. To that extent it was your will that sinned; to that degree it was a wilful sin; to that degree it was an unpardonable sin. And what would that mean? That would mean that you would need to receive some chastisement, or stripes, for that sin. It will not be pardoned. You cannot say, "Lord, take it all away, please." It is all very proper to go to the Lord and ask him to forgive the sin. That is, to take away the feature of it that would come between you and the Lord and hinder you from enjoying his favor, but you must still expect that even if he restores you to the light of his countenance that there would be some [Q653] stripes in proportion as there was any measure of wilfulness connected with the sin. In that degree, you see, it is unpardonable, but is one that might be expiated in that degree. Now when we speak of expiation of sin we do not mean the original sin ; the original is entirely expiated, and you can do nothing to get rid of it, but after you have gotten rid of original sin, and after you have become God's child, after you become a new creature, then you are on trial, and then in proportion as you my have wilfulness, in that proportion you will have stripes; and so the Lord said, some will be beaten with many stripes, and some with fewer stripes, in proportion to their knowledge, etc.
But there is a sin that is unto death. No amount of stripes will come in. No amount of stripes will be satisfactory. The individual committing that sin will die the second death. As the apostle says, "There is a sin unto death; I do not say that you shall pray for it." There would be no use to pray for it. The sin that is unto death is a wilful sin, deliberate sin, intentional sin. The apostle describes this sin unto death in the sixth and tenth chapters of Hebrews, and describes those who fall away, who renounce the Lord. Saint Peter says, speaking of some of those, that they turned like the sow to wallowing in the mire, and like a dog to his vomit. Such a person, sinning wilfully against light and knowledge, there is no more sacrifice for his sins; he has had his share of Christ's sacrifice and has misused it, and there is none remaining for him. There is a share in the sacrifice for Adam and all his children, every one of them, and they must all get their share; but whoever gets his share and then misuses it, there is nothing remaining, and his wilfully turning away and counting the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified a common thing, will mean his utter rejection by the Lord.
SIN--Positive or Negative.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Is sin positive and negative.
ANSWER.--We asked for Bible questions. You see we have to judge as to what is meant by positive and negative. I do not believe half of this audience would know, even if I did.
SIN--Living Without Sin.
QUESTION (1912)--2--When the Apostle wrote (1 John 2:1), "These things I write unto you that ye sin not," was it his thought that it is possible for us to live without sin? ANSWER.--In reading this text and many other Scriptures we need continually to keep in mind the fact that those who are accepted of God as His children, as members of the Body of Christ, begotten of the Holy Spirit, are all classed as New Creatures and not as men. The New Creature, therefore, in this text, would be the ye--"that ye sin not," as though the Apostle said, "The object of my writing is that you might realize the responsibility of abstaining from sin and continuing in God's love." Then he informs us how this is to be accomplished. In this as in other respects he shows that the New Creature is responsible for the body. Anyone who would say that he was perfect and without flaw, would he deceiving himself. Nevertheless, these flaws are not of the New Creature, but chargeable to the flesh. If the New Creature should sin wilfully it would cease to be the New Creature because the New Creature is begotten of the Spirit, [Q654] has joined in the warfare against sin, and is facing in the very opposite direction from sin.
But if any man sin, let him not, cast away his confidence in God, but let him remember that the Father, foreknowing that the New Creature could not control every thought and word and act of the flesh, has made provision for these, and has provided for us an Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He has appeared on our behalf--appeared before the Father and made satisfaction for us.--Heb. 9:24.
Remembering this, if we find that through lack of faith, or weakness of the flesh, a step has been taken which is contrary to the Lord's will and our best spiritual interests, no time should be lost in retracing the step and in calling upon the Lord. We have an altar consecrated with the precious blood of Christ, far superior in every way to that altar which Abraham consecrated with the blood of typical animals, and the Apostle exhorts us, "Let us, therefore, come boldly [courageously--full of faith] onto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. "-- Heb. 4:16.
SIN--Can New Creature?
QUESTION (1913)--1--Is it permissible to say, from any standpoint whatever, that the New Creature can sin?
ANSWER.--The New Creature certainly can sin, for if it could not it could not die the second death, but if the New Creature sins, it means the second death, the penalty is death. The New Creature represents the mind of the Lord that has been received after the consecration has been made and the Lord grants us His Spirit. That person, thus receiving the Spirit of the Lord, is counted a New Creature in Christ Jesus. That New Creature, as long as it remains a New Creature, will not sin. There may be imperfections, but these imperfections will not be disloyalty of the New Creature. How could we be holy, representing God's Spirit, and be imperfect willingly, intentionally? Impossible. But the New Creature is a treasure in an earthen vessel, as the Apostle expresses it, and the earthen vessel has its weakness and is liable to temptation; the earthly body may make slips and mistakes, it may be even entrapped into serious sin, but it is not necessarily the New Creature which has sinned; the New Creature may possibly very much bemoan the sin; it should not be the New Creature. Whatever the nature of sin in you or me, it should be the unintentional weakness of the flesh which comes upon us in an unguarded moment. But the Lord assures us that even with these His grace will be sufficient for us and in His strength we will be made perfect, and manifestly so, in our weakness. But if the New Creature sins it ceases to be a New Creature. We cannot say the New Creature is a sinner. As soon as you receive the mind of the Lord you became a New Creature and as soon as you willingly do something which would be unholy and contrary to that, that moment you cease to be a New Creature, and so the New Creature could not sin wilfully, for this is contrary to the new nature, and if we sin under these circumstances it would be under penalty of the second death. The New Creature sometimes becomes, as it were entrapped and, in a measure, co-operate with the flesh, the flesh perhaps entrapping the New Creature so that it cannot really escape. The New Creature is in a measure guilty of willingness, and if [Q655] that be so we may surely expect that the New Creature will receive some chastisement from the Lord for any measure of willfulness in the matter, and, indeed, we are held responsible for the weakness of the flesh even where the New Creature does not agree at all. We have undertaken the matter of controlling these mortal bodies, and the Lord has provided the necessary assistance. If we fail to manage these bodies it must be because of more or less carelessness. He holds us responsible but "He knoweth our frame, He knoweth we are dust," and has provided a way of escape; He has provided that if any man be overtaken in a fault He will reprove him and help him out of the difficulty, help him to see as a New Creature where he was wrong. Where it has been wholly or nearly wholly a weakness of the flesh it will be forgiven, but we must go to the throne of Heavenly grace that we may obtain mercy and grace for every time of need. The Lord desires His people to come to the throne of grace for forgiveness of their sins; it keeps us humble and helps to show us how weak and little we are and how much we are dependent upon the great High Priest for the assistance necessary to become final overcomers.
SINS-- Forgiveness vs. Expiation.
QUESTION (1914-Z)--1--In relation to sins partly wilful, are stripes given for the portion of wilfulness? And when the sin is expiated, is it then canceled?
ANSWER.--Our Lord died for the sin of Adam--for just the one original sin, and all sins which grew out of that original sin. This sin of Adam affected the body, mind and morals of all the race. Therefore we each have not only our own inherited imperfections to contend with, but also the imperfections of all those around us
From the time that any one is begotten of the Holy Spirit all things become new. The members of the Little Flock class have no record whatever of condemnation against them; all that condemnation is completely eliminated. The imputation of Christ's merit to their flesh made them perfect in God's sight, and they were brought forth as New Creatures.
These New Creatures have entered into a Covenant with God to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In the present time, as the Apostle says, we have this treasure of the new nature in an earthen vessel; that is, we have it under unfavorable conditions. We have also basements from those around us and from the Adversary to oppose us. All sins, then, that are the result of these adverse conditions, and to which our will does not consent, are coverable by the merit of Christ. If any of these New Creatures unwittingly do that which is contrary to the Divine will, they need not remain in a condemned condition. The Word instructs us that we should go immediately to the Throne of Heavenly Grace and obtain mercy and forgiveness, and help for every time of need.
But suppose that the sin is not merely one of temptation-- suppose there is a measure of wilfulness or a measure of slackness, so that the child of God is thus far responsible, what then? We answer that he may still go to the Throne of Heavenly Grace, and the portion of his sin which was unwilling will be covered by the merit of Christ. Whatever portion of the sin is wilful is deserving of punishment, stripes; and these stripes he will surely get. The Father will not allow His children to wander away without help. The stripes [Q656] complete the expiation of that sin; and it will be canceled from the record. Justice has no longer any charge against him.
But the Scriptures clearly tell us that if any consecrated child of God should sin with full wilfulness there would be no forgiveness whatever for that sin, and it could not be expiated by stripes. The penalty would be death--the Second Death. If he sins with no wilfulness, in full ignorance, entirely without intention, the sin is entirely forgivable, by application for the merit of the precious blood. If he sins with partial ignorance and partial wilfulness, there is a portion that would be forgiven and a portion that must be expiated.
The Apostle Paul declares that if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged of the Lord; but that when we are judged of the Lord we are chastened, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. 11:31,32.) And this chastening that comes upon us is the proper penalty for our degree of wilfulness. The object of the Lord in meting out this chastisement is that we shall learn the needed lesson, and be more watchful.
SINS--Forgiving vs. Cleansing.
QUESTION (1916)--1--We read: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Is there a difference between forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness?
ANSWER.--Notice, first of all, that this text does not refer to original sin, Adamic sin, because it says, "us," and "our sins," referring to the Church. The Church's Adamic sin has already been put out of the way before we were accepted into the Body of Christ, by our great advocate. This text refers to trespasses, as mentioned in the Lord's prayer. A trespass is not necessarily a sin. You may trespass upon some person's rights unintentionally. For instance, you might step in the way of some person unintentionally, or hump into some one, and say, "Excuse me." This implies that there has been a trespass, and that there was occasion for asking to be excused; something was done not quite right. This matter of asking to be forgiven for a trespass means, to those who have come into God's family, that one has not done as well as he might have done. He is to go to the Lord and seek forgiveness, and to assure God of his intention to do better in the future. We must acknowledge the right and get the lesson that the failure would teach. The Lord desires us to notice every little thing we do that is wrong. He wishes us to acknowledge the wrong. It will do us good. If it has not been intentional He will freely forgive it. If we have been careless, chastisement as well as forgiveness may be necessary.
The matter of cleansing from all unrighteousness is not merely the setting aside of our sins and trespasses in a legal way. To cleanse us from unrighteousness means to purify us. The cleansing is a gradual process, accomplished often through tears and tribulations. Water out of the faucet does not cleanse us the moment it touches. We use soap and do special rubbing on the places most soiled. Being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit is also a gradual work, going on through all of our lives, and it will doubtless continue to the end. The old creature is more or less unclean from the beginning, and we will never get the old creature clean. But we are not old creatures, we are [Q657] new creatures, "holy and acceptable to God." But so long as we tabernacle in the flesh the cleansing of the flesh will be in order. Our minds must be cleansed, because our wills are clean : "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
SIN--OFFERING--Does Church Add Thereto?
QUESTION (1911-Z)--1--"What does the Church add to the Sin-Offering if the Lord gave the necessary per cent of His merit to each to make his or her sacrifice possible?" ANSWER. We answer that it depends upon what thought is behind the expression ''add to the Sin Offering." The Sin- Offering needed no addition. The sinner was a man--Adam. Our Lord left His glory and became a man in order that He might redeem man. When a perfect man's life was given for the other perfect man who sinned, it constituted a sufficiency, or as the Scriptures express it, a Ransom-Price.
This word "Ransom" (1 Tim. 2:6) , in the Greek (antilutron) signifies a price, as an equivalent; a satisfactory price. Consequently there is no addition needed to the Ransom which our Lord gave and nothing could be added to it, for we cannot add to that which is already complete. If the price of an article is $1 and you add $25 to it, you are not really adding anything to the price, for the price is only $1, and the other dollars added on neither affect the price nor are necessary, in any sense of the word.
There is another sense, however, in which the Church has a share with her Lord; namely, Not only was our Lord Himself the Ransom-Price for the world, but in order that He might be highly exalted and receive the reward of the divine nature, it was necessary that He should die. So, then, the death of Christ effected two things; first, it was the Ransom-Price for mankind; second, it was the condition upon which He would obtain his glorious reward--the divine nature. If He had not been obedient even unto death, then He would not have been highly exalted.
As the Apostle says, "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore [On which account] God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a Name which is above every name." (Phil. 2:8,9.) He could not, therefore, have been exalted to that high position except by obedience unto death--obedience to his covenant. Had He failed to carry out His covenant of sacrifice, He would have failed to gain his glorious reward, and also failed to be satisfactory price for mankind. But He did not fail. He attained the prize of the "high calling" to the divine nature.
There is, however, an arrangement in God's Plan that takes in the Church as well as Jesus; the Head of the Body, the head of the Church ; and so the Apostle says that God foreknew us also by Jesus. (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4,9-12.) Not that he foreknew you and me as individuals, necessarily, but that He foreknew a Church, a class; He had fore-intended the gathering of such a class, or Church, from the beginning. It is just as much a part of the Divine Plan that the Church, the Body of Christ, should be called to walk in His steps, to be dead with Him, to present their bodies living sacrifices, as it was a part of the Divine Plan from the beginning that Jesus should do these things. The difference between Jesus and the Church is that He was perfect, holy, harmless, undefiled, [Q658] separate from sinners; and therefore, His death could be in the nature of a ransom-price--all that was necessary. We have no such perfection of our own; and therefore, in order to be permitted to sacrifice at all, we must first have His merit imputed to us, that we might be acceptable sacrifices on the Lord's altar.
SIN OFFERING--Re the Church.
QUESTION (1911-Z)--1--Does the church share in the Sin-Offering?
ANSWER.--The Merit of Christ consisted in His keeping of the Law and in His obedience to the Father in the laying down of His life. That life which He laid down was the price. It was placed in the hands of Justice when He died-- "Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit." All passed into the hands of the Father and it remains in the hands of the Father--a Ransom-price. When God raised our Lord from the dead He did not raise Him a human being, but a being of the highest order.
As the Scriptures declare of the Church, so it is true of the Head of the Church, for we follow in His footsteps. Of the Church it is written, "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:42-45.) Our Lord was raised a quickening, a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Pet. 3:18.) It was a man who forfeited his life; it was a man also who gave Himself a price in offset. (1 Cor. 15:21,22.) The sacrifice of our Lord's human nature remained a sacrifice on behalf of the world. Has He given it to the world yet? No. What has He done with it? Merely committed it to the Father. To whose credit is it now? To our Lord's credit. Where? In the hands of Divine Justice. For what object? That it may be applied. How applied?
First of all, in an imputative sense, in this Gospel Age, it is applied to all those who come unto the Father through Him. He imputes it to these after they have turned to the Father in faith and have come to the point where they can say, "I present my body a living sacrifice;" "Here, Lord, I give myself away." There the great Advocate, the future Mediator for the world, imputes to them enough of His merit to make their sacrifice good. They, of themselves, have nothing to offer that God could accept; for, "There is none righteous; no, not one."--Rom. 3:10.
Here the great Advocate applies, or imputes, a sufficiency of His merit, already in the hands of Justice, to make these perfect in the sight of Justice. Divine Justice can then accept the sacrifice; and the acceptance of the sacrifice is manifested by the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the begetting of the Spirit; and that which is begotten of the Spirit will, in the resurrection, be born of the Spirit, unless in the meantime there be something to paralyze, or vitiate, the condition. If one thus begotten of the Spirit lose the spirit, become dead to spiritual things, then he is indeed "twice dead," as the Apostle says.--Jude 12.
But now, in the case of those who are thus accepted of Christ, what have they to do with the Sin-Offering? We answer that we should not know what they have to do if God did not show us; but God first makes a picture of the matter in the Old Testament. He made, with the Jews, a [Q659] typical Day of Atonement, which prefigured what will be done during this Gospel Age and during the period of Messiah's reign. What is this? It is the work of reconciliation between God and men. How did the type show this? The Day of Atonement had various features. It began with the offering of a bullock; and that bullock represented the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of the Church. The blood of the bullock was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat for the household of faith.
These goats represented you and me and all of God's people who have offered their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. (Rom. 12:1,2; Heb. 13:11-13.) Only one of these goats became a follower of the bullock and had experiences exactly the same as the experiences of the bullock. This goat represents that class of believers who daily follow in the footsteps of Jesus and who are partakers with Him of His sufferings at the present time and will have a share with him in the glory to follow.
The other goat represents the class which does not go voluntarily to sacrifice, but which, without turning to sin, fails to make a willing sacrifice. Therefore this class is treated as the "scapegoat" and dealt with accordingly, being driven into the wilderness condition for tribulation. The Apostle seems to refer to this class when he says that some are thus dealt with "that their spirits may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5.) These are not the Bride class, but a servant class.
In the 45th Psalm we have the picture of the Heavenly Bridegroom and can see how He introduces His Bride to the Heavenly Father, the great King. Next follows the picture of the Bride, who is described as "all glorious within," and who is to be brought unto the Heavenly King in fine needlework and wrought gold. Then we have a third picture, "The virgins, her companions that follow her," and who also shall be brought unto the King. These represent the other class, the "scapegoat" class, who do not voluntarily go into death, into sacrifice, and who, consequently, cannot be counted in as members of the Bride.
Because the Scriptures show this Sin-Offering, therefore, we believe in the Sin-Offering: and because the Scriptures tell us that we are to be sharers in this matter, therefore we believe it. Where does the Apostle so state? We answer that he says to us, addressing us as the "Lord's goat" class, "Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing the reproach with Him." He also says that the bodies of those beasts whose blood was brought into the Most Holy to make atonement for sin, were all burned outside the camp. (Heb. 13:11-13.) What beasts were those? Only the two. The bullock and the Lord's goat were the only ones. The Apostle urges that we were represented by this goat. "Let us, therefore, go forth unto Him without the camp." All that was done with the bullock was done with the goat. Let us, then, if we would walk in His steps, share with Him in His sacrifice--"Go to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach with Him;" for "If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him;" we shall be glorified together.--2 Tim. 2:11,12.
SIN-OFFERING--Beginning and End in Type.
QUESTION (1916-Z)--1--In the type, where did the sin-offering begin, and where did it end? [Q660]
ANSWER.--The animal to be the sin-offering was selected and brought to the door of the Tabernacle for this purpose; but it became the sin-offering the moment when the high priest laid his hands upon it and slew it. The sin-offering, according to the type, was composed of two parts--a bullock and a goat. The slaying of the bullock did not finish the sin-offering; for in the Divine Purpose and arrangement, the great High Priest, Jesus, was to offer two sacrifices--the Lord's goat class as well as the antitypical bullock. The goat in the type, we understand, represented the followers of Jesus, as the bullock represented Jesus Himself. In the type, therefore, the killing of the sin-offering was not ended until the goat of the sin-offering was slain. There it was that the sin-offering in the sense of sacrifice was finished. There was to be no more sacrificing. But the word sin-offering has a still broader meaning than this. It included in the type also the presentation of the blood of these animals to Jehovah God, as shown by the high priest's taking first the blood of the bullock, and afterwards the blood of the Lord's goat, into the Most Holy, and sprinkling the blood upon the Mercy Seat and before the Mercy Seat eastward. When this had been accomplished, the sin-offering was ended.
SIN-OFFERING--Beginning in Antitype.
QUESTION (1916-Z)--1--In the antitype, where did the Offering for sin begin?
ANSWER.--In the antitype, the Offering for sin began when Jesus presented Himself at Jordan in compliance with the arrangement already entered into with the Father. There, according to the statement of the Apostle, our Lord gave Himself, surrendered Himself, made Himself an Offering for sin. He has continued the work during this Gospel Age, offering up those who accept His merit and who voluntarily become His footstep followers, surrendering their wills to him. He offers these as a part of His own sacrifice.
After Jesus had finished offering His own personal sacrifice, He ascended up on high, and there made a presentation of His sacrificial merit to the Heavenly Father on behalf of the Church class, as symbolized by the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle, for the high priest and his house. He will ultimately finish the work of sacrifice when the last member of the Body of Christ shall have tasted death and shall have passed beyond the veil. Then it will remain for the High Priest to complete this matter by offering the Sin-offering "for all the people," by presenting the merit of the "better sacrifices" to Jehovah God, the actual merit being in Jesus alone.
SISTERS--Taking Part in Prayer Meetings.
QUESTION (1905)--2--Do you advise that the sisters take part in prayer in our meetings? ANSWER.--What do the Scriptures say? The Apostle says that the sisters took part in prayer. "If the sisters pray with uncovered heads they dishonor the head." You will not find me taking away any power from the sisters that the Scriptures recognize.
SISTERS-Restrictions in Sixth Volume.
QUESTION (1910)--3--We should be glad to know if the restriction put upon the sisters in Volume Six has reference to [Q661] Bible studies, where brethren are present. Kindly tell us to which meetings these restrictions are applicable.
ANSWER.--It is, of course, dear friends, rather conjectural just what the Apostle had in mind when he referred to these. What we believe to be a reasonable interpretation of the word, is that he refers to meetings of a public nature, not those of the character of the Scripture studies. Our thought is that he has reference particularly to public, rather than to private or semi-private meetings. At the same time, if I were a sister in a Bible class, if it were a small one, I should feel free to ask any question as any opportunity came, and if any question before the class was not thoroughly stated in my judgment, I would feel free to express myself upon the subject in an indirect manner by saying something like this: How would this answer, how would this thought agree with such and such a question? Thus I should think I would be doing just as much as if I made a whole discourse upon it, and thus throw it open to others by asking a question. I do not understand that the apostolic restrictions were to asking questions. If I were a sister I should feel free to ask questions and I should conserve my influence, and feel that I were using it to good advantage in putting it in such a form rather than in saying, I do not agree, I think it is so and so. I would ask the question, How does it agree with this and that? If not fairly stated, I would say, How does it agree with such and such? If people would allow me to ask questions, I could go into all the churches and soon have them upside down. To my understanding it is no special restriction, but it is really in some respects to the advantage of the sisters, in putting them into this ladylike position.
SISTERS--Teaching Without Usurping Authority.
QUESTION (1910)--1--I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man. Can this be meant to understand that a woman may teach if she does not usurp authority over a man?
ANSWER.--Well, suppose I were a sister and moved into a neighborhood and desired to exercise my influence in scattering pamphlets, etc., and suppose some of my neighbors got together and said, I wish you would tell us more of this, I would understand that it would be the Lord's will for me to tell all I knew, but as modestly as possible, which is appropriate for a brother also. I would try to bring out all the truth and facts that I was familiar with, and the fact that some of those in the neighborhood who had no knowledge of the truth were males, would not hinder me if they requested me to explain the matter. I would think it entirely proper.
SISTERS--Re Asking Blessing at Table.
QUESTION (1910)--2--Similarly, what shall we do at the home table in asking blessing upon the food? Perhaps the father would never think of asking a blessing. I, the wife, have been in the habit of asking the blessing. Should I continue to ask the blessing?
ANSWER.--You should continue if he is in sympathy, if he is agreeable to it. So I would say to the husband, shall I ask the blessing, is it agreeable to you? If the husband is not a Christian I would still recognize him as the head of the family, and as such I believe that instead of saying, I will ask a blessing and you can't say anything about that, [Q662] I would think the other way would be better--Husband, have you any objection to it? Or if he said, I approve of it, then you have authority and you are not assuming authority in any sense of the word.
SISTERS--Re Taking Part in Bible Study.
QUESTION (1910)--1--Should sisters take part in Bible study in chapter and verse, as you advocate?
ANSWER.--If you find anything in the Sixth Volume that covers this point, I know of no change in my mind as written there. I would suppose that the general sentiment behind the Apostle's instructions seems to be this, that in the Church the male represents the Head and therefore is a type of Christ, who is the Head of the Church. Now the Church is not to teach Christ, but Christ is to teach the Church, so in connection with the picture of the male and female, it would not be for the woman to teach the man. That seems to be what the Apostle suggests. It would be a mistake to go to the extreme, as some of the friends, who say this refers to teaching in schools, or what not. The Apostle is speaking of the Church and not of the family. It is right that the mother should instruct the family, and it should be maintained and nothing that the Apostle says, to my mind, bears any contradiction, but in the Church "let your women keep silent," the Apostle says. I am not saying it. Some of the friends think that I am saying it. I want you to know I am not. I think I would rather have been inclined to have gone to the extreme, to have given them too much liberty. I am not left to choose in the matter, neither are you, my brother or sister. If I were in the place of a sister, I would like to do his will and he would be pleased if I did his will. Therefore I think that in the more public meetings in the Church, that the sisters would do well to take a secondary place and be comparatively quiet. I would understand that in a small meeting where questions were being passed around it would not be wrong for a sister to ask a question. I think that if I were a sister and were allowed to ask a question, if I had any truth to bring out, I would not have much trouble in asking such questions as would bring it out. If our friends of the various denominations would allow you and me to go to some of their meetings and we were allowed to ask them some questions, we would get a lot of theology in very quickly.
SISTERS--Leading in Prayer.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Is it unscriptural that a sister should lead in prayer in a Prayer meeting?
ANSWER.--The Scriptures do not give sisters the same prominence in public worship that they do the brethren. The woman represents the church, while the man represents Christ; as the Apostle says, "The head of the woman is man, the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God." In this order, therefore, the Scriptures teach that woman as representing the church should hear the Lord. In other words, the least prominent place should be taken by the sisters in public service. This does not, to my understanding, mean that a sister should not engage in prayer. I would think that in a public meeting like this, it would be very improper for a sister to lead in prayer. If it were a cottage meeting, or a small meeting, a little circle, or [Q663] a family circle, and she were asked to lead in prayer, I would understand that it would be entirely proper; and if I were asked any question then as to whether she should have her head covered, I would say that the apostle says "yes"--that if she engages in prayer, she should wear a covering on her head--"not merely her hair," as the apostle says, but if she wears a covering of hair that she also wear an additional covering. This, he says, is to indicate that she recognizes she is not the head, and in this sense of the word she is representing the church, which does not pretend to speak, but rather to hear, the Lord.
SISTERS--Answering Questions Without Being Called Upon.
QUESTION (1912)--1--Is it scriptural for sisters to answer questions or give scriptural references unless specially called upon by an Elder?
ANSWER.--My thought would be that this is not teaching. To answer a question in a Berean Study is not teaching. If any of the class in a school were to give an answer to the teacher, that scholar does not become the teacher, does he? It shows how very clearly he has understood his lessons. In this matter of the Berean Studies it would be entirely proper for every one of the friends present to take part. Some of the answers of the sisters are indeed very good. If we do some thinking on the lesson we will have an answer, and why keep it whether the one having the answer be a brother or a sister?
SIXTH VOLUME--Re Omitting First Chapter.
QUESTION (1910)--2--What do you think of the suggestion to omit the study of the first chapter in the sixth volume as not being so spiritualizing as the other part?
ANSWER.--Well, I would think that each one in the class has a right to his judgment, and if the whole class by majority vote decided that way then I would have nothing to say; but before they took their vote on the matter I would say that I think the first chapter of the sixth volume is one of the best in the book. But I always submit to what the class says. I think that is a good spirit for every elder and deacon to have in mind--the class by its vote represents the Lord. The elder is the representative of the Lord through the class.
SLEEPING AND DRUNKEN--Classes Represented.
QUESTION (1911)--3--"Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober; for they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk are drunken in the night." What class would represent those who sleep, and those who would be drunken?
ANSWER.--The apostle is here using an illustration, and he informs us that much of the drunkenness of that time was in the night. We know that much of the sleeping is done at night, and he tells us that drunkenness was common in the night. And he tells us that we are children of the day, and that while this is night time, and we are obliged to walk in this night time, we are not to be asleep with the world; we are to be awake; we are the children of the morning, children of light--not children of darkness. Therefore, let us not be stupefied, let us not be intoxicated with the spirit of this world. You remember, in Revelation we read that the harlot woman who sat on the beast had in her hand a [Q664] cup, with which she had made drunk all the nations of the earth. Thus cup, we understand to be a cup of false doctrines, misrepresentations and misunderstandings of the divine teaching, and that the whole world has been intoxicated by these false doctrines.
SMITING JORDAN--Pastor Russell's Dying Statement.
QUESTION (1916)--1--What about Smiting Jordan?
ANSWER.--Someone else will have to do that.
SON OF GOD--When Our Lord Became Such.
QUESTION (1911)--2--When did our Lord become the only begotten Son of God?
ANSWER--We answer that he was always the only begotten Son of God. And all things were made by him- -God's power operating through him. He, therefore, is the one whom the Father begat, and the only one whom the Father begat; all the others were created by and through his power, he being the agent of divine power in all creation.
SONS--Adopted or Actual?
QUESTION (1910)--3--Are the consecrated adopted sons of God or real sons of God?
ANSWER--Well, I think we speak from both standpoints, dear friends. We speak of having been adopted into God's family. We can already speak in that way. Even our flesh is adopted by Him, because it belongs to us. Even our children are adopted in the sense of being brought under the supervision of His divine care. When God accepts us, he begets us of the Holy Spirit as New Creatures, and calls us sons of God, and we are thus really sons of God--real sons of God begotten of the Holy Spirit--under present conditions, when it has not yet been determined whether we shall make a failure of it; and he now speaks of us as being adopted into His family. We are adopted under certain conditions, with certain promises. So the thing is not settled with you whether you are going to be a son of God or whether you may die the second death; that depends on how you are going to do. But from the one standpoint it would be especially proper to speak of ourselves that we are adopted and that might include our flesh and all our earthly interests. God has adopted us, he has taken us just as we are--not for worthiness of our own, but because we have come in His appointed way, with a heart's desire of being in harmony with Him; but the New Creature which would be the real son of God is not yet fully developed. A child that is merely begotten is not a son in one sense of the word, you see, and so we will not be sons of God in the full sense of the word until our resurrection birth, as Jesus was the first that was born from the dead. So we also are to be born from the dead and have our resurrection birth, or change, or completion of our New Nature, as sons of God. In substance, then, condensing the matter, we are now said to be adopted into God's family, and conditionally treated as His sons just as though the whole matter were finished; but the reality of our sonship and the finishing of the matter will be when we shall have passed beyond the vail, having heard his "Well done."
SONS--Actually or Reckonedly.
QUESTION (1911-Z)--4--Are consecrated believers actually or reckonedly sons of God.? [Q665]
ANSWER.--Consecrated believers are actually sons of God. The Scriptures so state the matter. "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2.) Old things have passed away and all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17.) Either you are a son of God or you are not a son of God. If you have made the proper consecration and God has begotten you of the Holy Spirit, you are a son of God. It is just as well, dear friends, that we have this matter clearly before our minds.
In England a business man said to us after one of the great Albert Hall Meetings, "I was out to hear you at Albert hall, and you discouraged me very much." At first we did not know what he meant. As he proceeded we found out. He said, "I had been thinking that I was a good Episcopalian, and that if God had anything good to give away I should be sure to get it if any one would. From the way you talk I see you think there is only a 'little flock' which gets these good things which the Father has. You have quite upset my faith."
When we came to understand what the gentleman meant we told him that we were very glad, for we wanted to wake him up before he should die with such a misunderstanding of God's terms. God is not calling people who say, "I would rather serve You than go to hell, but that is all the interest I have in you." God is calling those people who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Of that kind He is getting the number He wants for his special place--to be joint-heirs with His Son. He is not calling the remainder of mankind. After this Gospel Age will be the time for those on the earthly plane to receive their blessing, to reach human perfection.
But the only ones which will ever get the spiritual or high calling are those who are saints. How can we suppose that God will exalt to association with Jesus, as members of His Body, any who are not saints at heart, pure in their intentions, especially pure--loyal to God to the very core? Would you expect Him to take any others? You would not even respect the Government of God if you knew He would have all sorts of people in highly exalted places and give them the divine nature. If you believed such to be the case you must lose all respect for the Almighty's Government. But when He tells you that all those who will be highly exalted to association with Jesus will be copies of His Son, you will say, "That sounds right." It is right. The Lord's ways are just and righteous altogether. If we should never make our calling and election sure we would say, "True and righteous are Thy ways, Lord God Almighty."
But we could never count it right if anyone should be roasted through all eternity in Purgatory for a time. We could never agree to the righteousness of that. Such ways would be most unjust. There is no one who for his shortcomings could ever warrant the sentence of eternal torment, or even one hundred years of torment, or even one year of torment. It could not be right for poor, imperfect human beings to be held responsible for perfection and to be tormented because of coming short of it. But you know, and everybody knows, that to whatever extent you co-operate with [Q666] evil, to that extent you will bring upon yourself degradation mental, moral and physical; and every step you go downward must be retraced, if you attain to anything good in this life or in the life to come. There is a righteous recompense of reward as the Scriptures say, to the righteous as well as to the evildoers.
SONS OF PROPHETS--Their Antitypes.
QUESTION (1911)--l--We read in Second Kings, respecting the sons of the prophets. Whom do they typify?
ANSWER.--I am not sure they typify anybody. It is unnecessary to think that everything is a type, you know. But if they are types at all, they would seem to he types of religious people who were living at that time, who would not be identified either with the Elijah class, the little flock class, or with the Elisha class, but others who would he outside, who would be more or less interested in everything that would be going on. There are today many people in the world who are very nice people, very much interested in religious things, but who do not belong to either the Elijah class or the Elisha class. As we understand it, these people will get a blessing, will have the favor of God in a certain sense, and yet not have either of these special favors represented in these two classes.
SONS OF PROPHETS--Who Are They?
QUESTION (1916)--2--Who are the sons of the prophets spoken of in the of the recent Towers?
ANSWER--I do not recall the connection. We have spoken of the sons of the prophets many times in the Watch Tower. I presume that the reference might be to that passage in second Kings in which we have described to us how Elijah and Elisha went from one place to another until they came to Jordan, and these sons of the prophets at different places said to Elisha, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" and after the two prophets had crossed over Jordan, Elijah had been translated and Elisha returned and recrossed the Jordan, these sons of the prophets recognized Elisha as having his master's mantle, but wondered where the Lord had taken Elijah and afterwards sent messengers to hunt for him. Elijah represented the Little Flock and Elisha the great company who are also the Lord's people, and to some extent associated with them but are not so zealous for the Truth as the Little Flock, and these sons of the prophets have more or less interest in both the others. This picture seems to indicate that, after the separation has taken place between the little flock and great company, there will be still another class of righteous people more or less connected with the Lord's people who are included neither in the one class or the other--neither the Elijah nor the Elisha class--but who are posted somewhat, and who will be saying thus and so.
QUESTION (1913)--3--What is the soul, from the standpoint of the Bible? Is it immortal?
ANSWER--This is a large question for a question meeting. It would take an hour to discuss the soul properly. I will tell you what a Methodist bishop said, and perhaps that will be of great value to some. He was asked to give a definition and said, "A soul is without body, shape or parts; it has [Q667] neither interior nor exterior, and you could put a million of them in a nut-shell." He might equally as well have said a billion, or a thousand million, because the bishop merely described nothing. Without interior nor exterior--that is nothing. Without body, shape or parts--that is nothing. How can you fill a nut-shell full of all kinds of nothing?
According to the Bible the soul is a very different matter. We find that people, in discussing these matters, use soul and spirit interchangeably, sometimes one and sometimes another. But the Bible distinguishes, and we are not to mix these terms. You know what the body is, and what the spirit of life it [is]. The body of Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground. That was his form, his shape. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives (plural), the breath common to every living creature. The difference between Adam and the other creatures was not in the breath, or spirit of lives. Man had the same kind of spirit of life. The difference was that man had a finer organism. How do we know? Stand a man alongside of a dog. Look at their heads. The one slopes back; there is no place for the intellectual qualities at all, or at least a very small place for the thinking apparatus man has. He has more brain than the dog. If we could make a dog with the same head as a man, he would think the same as a man. But God did not endow the dog, or any other brute, with the same capacity as man. He was in God's likeness, because he gave him the superior mental powers. When the breath of life entered the organism man began to move his arms and hands, his brain began to work, he began to think. The Bible calls that the being, the individual; not the body, not the life, but the thing that results from these, the soul. The Bible always addresses the soul, not the body. You would never think of talking to my hand. You would think, "What does the hand know about it?" You do not address my brain, but my intellect. The brain is the centre of the intellectual power. It is that power you are addressing, not the matter of the brain. You are addressing me, a thinking personality.
As soon as the breath of life leaves, the body would be as before. The spark of life having gone there would be no soul. Where does the soul go? It would not go anywhere. We have a candle. You blow out the light (not out of the window), I mean you extinguish it. It does not go to some other place, but is simply extinguished. So with man. When the spark of life is extinguished the soul is dead. The Bible says the soul is asleep, using a very beautiful figure of speech. God has provided for a future life. We say in one breath that the man is dead and in another we say he is merely asleep, because God has promised that he shall be awakened. It is not the body that shall be awakened; it shall return to the dust, and the spirit shall return to the God who gave it. But how could the spirit return to God unless it wiggles off in some way? The spirit of life is the privilege or power of life. This privilege was granted to Father Adam under certain conditions. As soon as he violated the conditions he forfeited the privilege. He did not die that minute. God allowed him to hold on to the spark of life as long as he could and fight the thorns and thistles, but when he died it was his no longer. It was in God's hands, as you might give a man an option on something. Suppose I give you an option [Q668] on my coat until to-morrow morning. Then I would say, the option is out; the privilege is broken. So man was given the privilege of living if he would continue in harmony with the Creator. That right which was given him passed to God when he died; it was no longer his right. When Adam's children were born they had only the spark of life which he had given them. When they died their right to life returned to the giver of life.
How can they ever get life? Another way has been provided, through the great love of God; and it is only by appreciating the very great love of God that anyone will ever have life again. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life. The whole arrangement is bound up in Christ. When Christ shall come to establish His kingdom, and the time for the awakening of the dead shall come, all shall come forth from death. Not that the body will be awakened; its elements may be scattered over the earth. What the Bible says is that God shall restore that soul. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol." God raised Jesus from the dead; He did not leave His soul in death. So every human soul shall be raised, but not the body.
An infidel propounded the question. A man died and was buried at the foot of a large tree. Years afterward they had occasion to dig down at the base of that tree, and they found that the roots had absorbed the body, and had taken the shape of the man's body. The tree had been used for various purposes ; some had been shipped to different parts of the country, and how could that man get his body back? How could God resurrect that body? He was stumbling over thoughts which God never put in the Bible. The Scriptures inform us that God will give that man a body as it pleaseth Him. Those who are of the church will have spirit bodies, and the world will have human bodies. What the Lord guarantees is that the soul, the being, shall come back. God will see to it that the body produced will be a perfect counterpart of the one that went into the tomb.
SPIRIT--Re His Word.
QUESTION (1905)--1--How is God's word spirit?
ANSWER--God's word is spirit in the sense of its being a power or influence. You can have the power of the spirit. Spirit and influence are powers that are not visible, like wind. The thoughts in the Bible are God's word, not simply the ink marks. What goes into a man from God's word is nothing that can be seen. God's word is the spirit of truth--a power.
SPIRIT--Composition of Spirit Body.
QUESTION (1905)--2--What do you understand a spirit body to be?
ANSWER--The kind that our Heavenly Father has and the kind that our Lord Jesus now has, since he is a life-giving or quickening spirit. It does not yet appear what we shall be. We have a general knowledge that it is not a fleshly body, but we cannot say that it is thus and so. There are two kinds of bodies, and if we are faithful we will get the heavenly or spiritual one.
SPIRIT--Re Flesh and Bones.
QUESTION (1905)--3--Why did Jesus say, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have?" [Q669]
ANSWER--When our Lord used these words he was appearing in the flesh, otherwise, to have appeared as a spirit being would not have served his purpose as well. Paul fell down as dead when given a glimpse of our Lord's spiritual body. Suppose all the apostles had fallen down as dead? What proof would that have been that it was Jesus? Appearing as he did proved two things: first, that he was no longer dead, and second, that he was changed from what he was when they knew him before. They were not yet begotten of the Holy Spirit, and he needed to bring the matter down to their comprehension; also to show them that their ministry must be a different ministry.
SPIRIT--Body Not In Us.
QUESTION (1905)--1--How can a spiritual body dwell in us?
ANSWER.--It does not dwell in us. What can dwell in us is the spirit of God. This is treated at length in the fifth volume of Millennial Dawn, which please read. The spirit of God may dwell in us richly in the sense of the mind of God dwelling in us.
SPIRIT--Receiving Holy Spirit After Quickening.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Does the child of God have after quickening any other means of receiving the Holy Spirit than through the Word?
ANSWER.--Yes, I think so. We are quickened by the spirit and receive the spirit of the Truth through the Word. We see the Lord's directing influence in our affairs in his providential care over us and in our experiences of life in those things which others would say were accidental. We can receive the Holy Spirit through intercourse with the brethren, whether through the printed page of Bible or "Watch Tower," or hymn book. It is the Holy Spirit and influence of God and he has provided these various instruments. "When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men." These the Apostle specifies: "And He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers"--the holy spirit comes through these several ways to the building up of the Church in His most Holy faith, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
SPIRIT--Begetting--Where Does It Take Place?
QUESTION (1912)--3--Where does spirit-begetting take place?
ANSWER.--It takes place wherever you happen to be when you give yourself to the Lord and He accepts your consecration. If He accepts your consecration He will give His spirit, which marks the acceptance.
The questioner may have had some other question in mind; he may have meant, Where in the Tabernacle system does spirit-begetting take place?
If that be the thought, my answer would be that it is shown by his passing under the First Vail. The person who is spirit-begotten is the one living by faith whose human will died. Only such are accepted at all of God, and such are immediately inside the First Vail.