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THIEVES--What Classes Represented by The Two?
QUESTION (1908)--1--What two classes were represented by the two thieves an the cross?
ANSWER--I do not know.
THIRD PART--Through the Fire--Who?
QUESTION (1908)--2--"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried." Who is this third part?
ANSWER--We cannot know certainly that the Lord was speaking this prophetically of our time. He might have had in mind a certain dealing with Natural Israel. We incline to think that He refers to our time, but we are not certain of that. Some of the prophetic statements seem to apply merely to the time in which they were given, and others seem to have a double application--part application there and part application down here. Now supposing this has application down here to the time of trouble into which we are coming: to which class would it refer there? The prophecy speaks of three different parts; it does not say three equal parts; one of them might he a very numerous class, and the other a very insignificant number, but they are merely divided into three classes. There are different ways in which we might understand that, and all of them in harmony with the Scriptures. For instance, we might say that the first class are those who will be of the very elect; secondly, those who will go into the second death; and, thirdly, the Great Company and all mankind who will go into the time of trouble. We can make three classes of them. Or, we might make three classes another way: You might say the little flock, and the Great Company, and the world, and leave out the second death class altogether. Both of these applications would be correct, and in harmony with other Scriptures. Therefore we need not quarrel at all with anyone who takes one or the other view of it. Whatever is in harmony with the Scriptures we agree has a right to be applied. So this may refer to the world of mankind who will go through the great time of trouble, and to whom the Lord will give a refining influence in that time; that time will wake them up in a wonderful degree and have a very refining influence on them, teaching them a great many lessons which they are unwilling to learn at the present time--just as the Church is being taught many lessons which the world does not receive now. For instance, the Lord represents that those who are His now have certain fiery trials; He represents that He is refining us as gold and silver is refined. That is true of us, and so that great time of trouble will have a refining influence on the world and on the Great Company also.
TORMENT--Trying to Get Away From.
QUESTION (1913)--3--Why do you make so much of the torment question, Pastor Russell? Have not we ministers thrown it away long ago?
ANSWER--I am not making much of the torment question; I am trying to do away with it. Now it is true, dear friends, that some ministers still hold to the doctrine of torment, and others do not. The number who preach eternal torment after the old style is small. If they would preach it their congregations would be still smaller. People can no longer believe such things. They are getting more intelligent [Q713] every day, and the ministers know it; besides, not many ministers believe in eternal torment. They may not say anything about it in the pulpit, and many teach it in this manner; they preach about "second death," bringing it down in a solemn voice, and let the audience imagine flames, devils, etc., out of second death. But you know second death does not mean eternal torment. Those set free from the first death may be in danger of second death. Some are contentious and some are not. It is not for us to judge. It is for us to present the truth. Many ministers would like to be free from their denominational restraints, but lack the courage to face the issue. Some say, we believe, the wages of sin is death. The Church of England decided its membership could believe in either fiery hell or death.
TRANSFIGURATION--Vs. Unconsciousness If Dead.
QUESTION (1911)--1--If the dead are in a state of unconsciousness, how do you account for the presence of Moses and Elias at the mount of transfiguration.?
ANSWER--Very simply, my dear friends. In the book of Revelation you have a number of symbols. John, the revelator, says, "I saw this, and I saw that, and I saw the other," and he heard a trumpet, and he heard one angel saying to another angel, etc. That was all a vision, wasn't it? Yes. He saw visions; he saw beasts, and saw the woman sitting on the beast, and all of those things. Now just so with this transfiguration scene. Jesus said it was a vision. We read that he took Peter, James and John and went up into this mountain, and was transfigured before them. His garments put on a shining appearance, and became part of the vision, and there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, in a vision. They saw Jesus, Moses and Elias, and the garments of Jesus were seen to shine, and they did not know very much about it; they were on their faces asleep part of the time. And then Peter, as he discovered that the vision was lasting for some time, said, "Lord, it is good to be here; let us build here three tabernacles," etc., not knowing what he said. He was not very clear on the matter, but as they came down from the mountain we read, Jesus charged them straightly, particularly, saying, "See that ye tell the vision to no man until after the Son of Man be risen from the dead." And Saint Peter afterwards, in writing his epistle, said, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we declared unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we were eye witnesses of his majesty when we were with him in the holy mountain." Saint Peter tells us, therefore, that that vision in the mount of transfiguration was a picture of Jesus' kingdom, Elias typifying one class in the kingdom, and Moses symbolizing or typifying another class in the kingdom.
TRANSLATION--Enoch and Elijah.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Were Enoch and Elijah quickened and glorified to the spiritual plane in their translation, preparatory to the restitution work?
ANSWER--Of Enoch, we are told that he was not because God took him, and that he did not see death. That is all we know about it. I am not at liberty to use my bump of imagination and tell you of things that are not written. Did not God take him to heaven? No. How do I know? Because Christ said (John 3:13): "No man has ascended [Q714] into heaven." The Lord will take care of Enoch and he will not get the restitution blessings until the full Christ is complete, as you will notice from the 11th chapter of Heb. (Heb. 11), which includes all of these and states that they all died in faith, not having received the promised things, that they apart from us should not be made perfect. Then the blessings will come from the spiritual to the earthly. Through your mercy they shall obtain mercy. Enoch was counted as one of the fathers before, but now Christ has become the father as we read in one of the Psalms, which states that the fathers will be the children, because they will all get their life through Christ. Whoever is a life-giver is a father, and whoever receives life is a son. When He is the great life-giver in the Millennial Age, he shall be the father to the world.
TRANS-SUBSTANTIATION--Re Participants Being Cannibals.
QUESTION ( 1911)--l--Do you consider Roman Catholics who take the wafer, after it has been blessed by the priest, and eat it, are cannibals?
ANSWER--I do not think, dear friends, there is any change in the bread and wine. I do not believe it is any flesh at all. I think our Catholic friends are just as sincere as we Protestants, and I do not know that they have been any more hindered by superstition than the rest of us, and I do not see that I have any stones to throw at Catholics. I think they are ahead of us on some points. They at least have the merit of believing and acting up to their belief. We Protestants cannot claim that. I hope you and I are determined by the grace of God that we will be thoroughly honest with ourselves and with the Bible hereafter. The Catholics will get up at five o'clock in the morning and go to mass, but you and I, because we do not believe in the same, do not go to mass. And so, in various ways, I see much to admire in them. I will admit that they are in superstition, and I will admit that I have been in superstition. and we have all been. But the pot need not call the kettle black, either.
TRAVELING--Motive Power Of in Millennial Age.
QUESTION (1909)--2--What will be the motive power for traveling during and after the Millennial Age?
ANSWER--I'll tell you better in a few years. I would not be surprised if it would be electricity or something like that.
TREASURE--In Earthen Vessels.
QUESTION (1911)--3--We have this treasure in earthen vessels--what is the treasure? Is it the Gospel message?
ANSWER--No. The treasure that we have is our own spirit-begetting--the start of the new nature. That is the treasure that you have. That is the treasure that you must care for. You have this treasure in your earthen vessel. The body is imperfect. The new creature can only exercise itself through the earthen vessel, and our Lord's merit stands ready to assist each one of us in our imperfections, that the new creature may be kept perfect and developed, and that the old nature may be mortified, or deadened. But we have this treasure of the new nature in our earthen vessel. [Q715]
TREES--Literal and Figurative.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Was the tree of life literal or figurative? If literal, please explain.
ANSWER--I see no reason for thinking that the serpent was not a real serpent; or that there was not a real garden; or that our parents were not real man and woman; or that the trees were not real, and bearing literal fruits. It was not anything about the tree that constituted the sin, but an act of disobedience. If obedient to God they would have learned righteousness first, and then have been brought to a knowledge of what sin would be afterward. But they were permitted to take their course and learn about sin first by plunging into it. After 6,000 years of sin and evil they are to be permitted to learn righteousness. They learned sin first and will learn good afterward, whereas, by obedience they would have learned good first and then had a secondary, or indirect knowledge of evil. That is to say, after coming to a knowledge of righteousness, He would have explained to them the tendencies of sin, without participation on their part, as you might learn about drunkenness without becoming drunk.
TRIBULATIONS--Must All Have Them?
QUESTION (1909)--2--If we must enter the Kingdom through much tribulation, what is the matter where one that is fully established in the doctrine, not considered a babe in understanding, striving to do the Lord's will, has no trials, or at least of no consequence? Please do not say, Just wait for they will come, for everyone answers me thusly.
ANSWER--Well, I would say, Don't wait, if you would be better pleased with that; go out and get some right away. I would think, dear friends, our wisest plan is that which the Scriptures set before us that the Lord shall choose our inheritance for us. He knows the way I take. It is mine to offer myself, and the Lord's protection to accept and make use of that offering. It is not my business to attend to His work. He has given me my part to attend to and I am going to see to it that by His grace I shall so appreciate it that I will keep the sacrifice on the altar, and have more love for Him and the brethren, and be seeking fresh opportunities for service and laying down my life, it is my part to do, and I could not do more if I tried. If the Lord is pleased to accept this sacrifice at once and give me opportunities for service and laying down my life, it is my part to accept and go promptly on. If no such opportunity comes, it is my opportunity to learn patience in waiting for trials. That is a peculiar kind of patience. The Lord knows better than we do, for He is our teacher, so let us learn whatever lesson He sends us and not try to tell Him what to teach us. I think of one dear sister who asked me this very question with a great deal of concern. I replied, Perhaps you have had trials already and you do not appreciate them because your joy is so great. Perhaps they would be very painful if you did not have the joy, just as the Apostle Paul, when in prison, sang and rejoiced in tribulation. She replied: Brother Russell, I would like to believe that that was true, but I am afraid it is not true in my case. If that is not true, all I can encourage you to hope for is that later on He may give you the privilege of suffering with Him, for if we do not, we will not reign with Him. He may be testing you [Q716] and giving an opportunity for the roots of faith to strike down deeply, so that when the trouble comes you will not be swept away. Leave all in the Lord's hands, but make the best use of every moment you have. Learn whatever lesson the Lord has for you, patience, gentleness, kindness, etc. Well, she thanked me and said she would look and wait. I saw the lady about a year afterwards. "Well, Sister, do you remember the last conversation we had; have you had any trials?"
"Yes, I have had some heavy trials and I never thought I would be able to stand such tests, and I believe He was giving me time to get strength. I want you to know that I am rejoicing in trials as one of His children, being fitted and prepared as a member of the Body of Christ."
TRINITY--Pastor Russell's View.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Please give your views of the Trinity?
ANSWER--I wish the brother had quoted the text of Scripture. But I will say that I have never found any text of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation that mentions the Trinity, and if anybody has found one, it would be worth something to me to know where it is. I would give ten dollars for it right away. I cannot find any reference to the Trinity in the Bible. You will find it in the hymn books, and in all kinds of theological books, but you will never find it in the Bible. There is just one text of Scripture which implies it--it does not say it--in 1 John 5:7, where we read that there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and there are three that bear record on earth, the water, the spirit, and the blood, and these three agree in one, and the other three agree in one. What does it mean? Well, it would be very foolish the way it reads. That is one of those things where they tried to make a trinity in olden times, and not having any text of Scripture for it, they tried to manufacture one, and, as usual, they made a botch of it. Now, what does it say? "There are three bearing record in heaven." What are they bearing record to? That Jesus is the Son of God? Who is bearing record in heaven that Jesus is the Son of God? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bearing record in heaven that Jesus is the Son of God? What do they need to bear record of that kind for? Are the angels in need of it? The idea of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit going through heaven testifying to the angels that Jesus is the Son of God! It is ridiculous! These words are interpolated. It reads without these words, "There are three that bear record, the water, the Spirit and the blood, and these three agree in one testimony." That is the way it reads without the interpolated words. These words were interpolated, so far as we know, about seven hundred years after the words were supposed to be used. Do not misunderstand me. I fully believe in the Bible kind of a trinity. The Bible tells about the Father, and I believe that; the Bible tells about the Son, and I believe that; and the Bible tells about the Holy Spirit, and I believe that, too. I believe whatever the Bible says. And if anyone finds any text that tells about the Trinity, I will believe that too. [Q717]
TROUBLE--How Long Will the Great Last?
QUESTION (1908)--l--Do you concur with the thought that the severity of the trouble will last from 1914 to 1915--one year?
ANSWER--I concur with this thought, that according to our understanding of the matter, the severity of the trouble, the anarchistic part of the trouble, should be expected about October, 1914. I concur with the thought that while there is nothing in the Bible to say it will last one year, I do not understand how it could last much more than one year; it seems that one year would be almost the limit of human endurance, but I do not know of any Scripture that says it will be just one year.
TROUBLE--Will Any Live Through?
QUESTION (1909)--2--"As it was appointed unto men once to die"--in view of this text how can it be possible there will be some go through the time of trouble and live?
ANSWER--The questioner has not understood this text of Scripture. It has no reference to mankind dying. It was appointed unto the high Priest to die, representatively in the bullock--after this he could go into the holy and most holy and come out again and bless the people. (Brother Russell referred then to the types in Tabernacle Shadows.) Taking the question from another standpoint, we read another text: "As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. For as by one man's disobedience many were made righteous." If this sentence of death passed upon the whole world because all are sinners and imperfect, how could it be some would not need to pass into the tomb? From the divine standpoint the world is spoken of as dead. As Jesus said to the young man who wished to become His follower and he asked, "Lord, may I wait until my father dies?" "Let the dead bury their dead." Who were the dead? The dead world. You have become alive through having justified life. The others who have not passed from death unto life are already dead. At the second coming of the Lord they will still be dead. As they come into harmony with Him they will rise out of death. It will take all of the Millennial Age to get out of death. All will not get fully out until the end of the Millennial Age.
TROUBLE--Hiding in the Great Trouble.
QUESTION (1911)--3--Would it be wise to try to hide during the great time of trouble, and wouldn't it be safer in the country than in the city?
ANSWER--I advise you to hide before the time of trouble. We want to he hidden in the Lord, my dear friends. If Noah and those who were with him had waited until the time of trouble came before they got into the ark, they might not have gotten a chance to get in. And so here the Lord likens the time of trouble to the flood and our getting into Christ is likened unto Noah getting into the ark; and we want to get into Christ without any loss of time and to abide in him, and then we will have nothing to do with hiding from any trouble, because the Lord will overrule matters for those who are his and cause all things to work together for their good. Do not forget you engaged to go into a time of trouble. Did not Jesus have a time of trouble? Did not [Q718] all the apostles have a time of trouble? Did you not consecrate with the very understanding that you would be ready to lay down your life any time and in any manner? Then do not think it will be any different from what the Lord says, "Through much tribulation shall ye enter into the kingdom." But our tribulation will be of one kind, and this trouble coming on the world will be of another kind. So we are to expect our kind of tribulation for faithfulness to the Lord, and righteousness, and his Word, and we are to count then that the Lord will let us escape the other kind of tribulation which will come upon the world.
TROUBLE--Number of Slain in Time of.
QUESTION (1911)--1--Is there any information in the Scriptures as to what proportion of the earth's inhabitants will be slain during the great time of trouble?
ANSWER--I know of nothing. We merely assume from different Scriptures that a great many people will die in that time of trouble, and yet we know of nothing that intimates that half, or anything like half, of the world's population will be destroyed. It would not seem to me to be necessary to expect very large numbers to die. We can have a great time of trouble without so many people dying. We look at the French revolution, and we have there an illustration of a good many people who died, and of others of whom it is said their names were slain; that is to say, their titles, their offices, their honorable stations, were destroyed; they were destroyed in the sense of their dignity, their office, their position. But if we look to the type of the Jewish time of trouble we find the record that a great many lives were lost in the siege of Jerusalem. So we will have to wait and see; and we hope we will be of those who see from the other side the vail. "Watch, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things coming on the earth, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man."
TROUBLE--Length After Establishment of Kingdom.
QUESTION (1911)--2--How long will the trouble last after Christ sets up his kingdom? Or, will the bulk of the trouble be over when his kingdom is set up?
ANSWER--It all depends on what you have in mind when you use the words, "sets up his kingdom." In one sense of the word, the kingdom of Messiah will be set up when it begins to exercise power; that will be before the trouble; but in another sense of the word, Messiah's kingdom will not be set up, in the sense of having the dominion, and having things in the right and proper way in the earth until after the time of trouble.
TROUBLE--Applies to Those Not Spirit-Begotten.
QUESTION (1912-Z)--3--"Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men left." (Isa. 24:6.) Who are these few men? And how were the others burned?
ANSWER--In the great burning day the "heavens" will be on fire, and "the earth and the works therein shall be burned up." This time of trouble will involve the whole world, practically everybody. The Lord speaks of some who will be preserved in the midst of this trouble. Just as the three Hebrews were preserved in the fiery furnace, so we expect that some will be spared in the time of trouble. [Q719]
"Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." (Zeph. 2:3.) This invitation seems to be to others than the spirit-begotten. It would not apply to the Church, for her deliverance will be over before the culmination of the trouble. It would not apply to the "great company" class, for it is incidental to their deliverance that they shall suffer in this time of trouble the destruction of the flesh, and come up to honor out of "great tribulation." This, therefore, would seem to apply to a class of the world who are not spirit-begotten.
TROUBLE--Length of Great.
QUESTION (1913)--1--How long will the time of trouble last?
ANSWER--My dear friends, it will last with some people a good while. The time of trouble lasts according to the degree of the disposition of God in the heart of man. The Scriptures speak of the fire of that day, which shall burn up the wicked and leave them neither root nor branch. What does it mean? I presume that the fire of God's indignation will burn against unrighteousness during the day of Christ, until every root and branch of sin is thoroughly consumed. If anyone holds on he himself will be destroyed in the second death. But as to the time of national trouble, such as has not been before, no one knows how long it will last. I may guess, and you may also. You may take in more things than I. My thought would he that the severest period could not last more than a year. How suddenly it may come upon the world, or how gradually it may pass away, I do not know, and I think no one can.
TRUTH--The Church the Pillar and Ground of Truth.
QUESTION (1908)--2--How is the Church the pillar and the ground of the truth as stated in 1 Tim. 3:15?
ANSWER--The word "ground" is used in a general way. This is not an improper translation, but we could have a superior one as given in the Emphatic Diaglott. The thought is, pillar and support of the truth, the ground-work of the truth, is that on which the truth is based, and by which it is supported. The mission of the Church here in the present time where error prevails, and sin prevails, is to be a supporter of the truth, to be those who will uphold the truth. We are, therefore, in this sense of the word acting as pillars and as the ground-work or foundation on which the truth of God is now resting in the world, and we shall ultimately be the foundation and agencies of God's truth throughout the whole world in the Millennial Age, because we shall be associated with the Lord Jesus Christ.
TRUTH--Held in Unrighteousness.
QUESTION (1911)--3--What is it to hold the truth in unrighteousness?
ANSWER--I presume that to hold the truth in unrighteousness could be done in a variety of ways. The Lord does not propose that the truth shall belong to any except those who are consecrated people. As we read, "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." So the truth is only intended for God's consecrated people. "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his covenant." But it might be that some might get a measure of truth--not the full truth, but a measure of [Q720] truth--and might use that measure of truth in an improper manner. As, for instance, Satan had certain knowledge respecting the Lord, and misused that knowledge. He knew about Messiah's kingdom, and made use of his knowledge respecting that kingdom by trying to tempt our Lord to take some other course. He was thereby using his knowledge of the truth in an unrighteous, or an improper, manner. It might be that some having received a partial knowledge of the truth might become enemies of the truth, and servants of sin, and opposers of the truth. We remember some who are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. There was Simon Magnus, who held the truth in unrighteousness and misused what knowledge he had of the truth. So, it might be possible for any of us to depart from the spirit of the truth, and still hold something of the letter of the truth, and to use this letter of the truth injuriously to ourselves and to others. This would be holding the truth in an unrighteous, or an improper manner.
TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS--Meaning of.
QUESTION (1912)--1--What is the meaning of the twenty-four elders which we read about in the book of Revelations?
ANSWER--I think it is in the seventh volume.
TYPES--What Euphrates Typified.
QUESTION (1908)--2--The city of Babylon being a type, what did the river Euphrates represent?
ANSWER--We have already suggested in print that Babylon represented in type the great system, mother and daughters, and that the Euphrates river represented in type the people supporting the system. Babylon is said to have been built over the river Euphrates; the river flowed through the center of it, and it was through the drying up of the river, by turning aside of the channel, you remember, that Cyrus entered in under the gate. That is the record of history. So the Scriptures tell us that the water shall be dried up from symbolical Babylon. Now just what that means we will find out better when it is fully accomplished, but it would seem as though the Lord puts water as representing two things: in one place water represents the truth, the river of water representing the river of truth; and in another place, especially in Revelation, right in this same connection, it says, "The waters that thou sawest are people." Now whichever way you may apply that, whether it means that the truth will be turned aside and no longer flow through Babylon, or whether the people shall be turned aside and no longer support Babylon, both seem to be true. It is true that the truth is already turning aside, and our Lord has already declared that the voice of the Bride and of the Bridegroom shall be no more heard in her at all. We are not to expect truth in Babylon. There may be certain elements of truth still held by the dear friends there, because some of the Lord's dear people are still in Babylon, and wherever they are they must speak for the Lord and for the truth; but the time is rapidly approaching when the voice of the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, and the voice of the Bride, the Church prospective, to be the Bride of Christ, will not longer be heard there. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues." This is the turning aside, then, of the truth, and of all these people who represent the truth, and the consequence is the fall of Babylon.