NO. 744: MAN ASKS AND GOD ANSWERS

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 744

The Bible. God.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)

THE BIBLE

Who is the author of the Bible?

“What advantage then hath the Jew? . . . Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:1-2)

“And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21)

Through whom was the Bible written?

“David . . . the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” (2 Sam. 23:1-2)

“Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets.” (Zech. 7:12)

“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” (Luke 1:70)

“But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. . . . Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:18, 21)

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son . . .” (Heb. 1:1-2)

“Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.” (Rom. 1:2)

“Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Pet. 3:15-16)

What proves the Bible is inspired?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

Its inspiration is proven by:

(1) Its miracles: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31) “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.” (Heb. 2:4)

(2) Its fulfilled prophecies: “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. . . . Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods [mighty ones].” (Isa. 41:21, 23) “Thus saith the Lord . . . Ask me of things to come . . . who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord?” (Isa. 45:11, 21) “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isa. 46:9-10) “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23) “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Pet. 1:19)

(3) Its practicability: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11) “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (Jas. 3:17)

(4) Its reasonableness: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 1:18) “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” (Acts 17:2) “But . . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. 3:15)

 (5) The shortcomings and characters of its writers: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21)

 (6) Its superhuman knowledge: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. . . . But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:7-8, 10) “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies . . . I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.” (Psa. 119:98-100) “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24)

(7) Its indestructibility: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isa. 40:8) “Heaven and earth [the present ecclesiastical and social order] shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35) “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (1 Pet. 1:25)

What are the general contents of the Bible?

Its contents can be broken down into:

(1) Doctrines and precepts: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? . . . For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept.” (Isa. 28:9-10) “All scripture is . . .  profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

(2) Promises: “For all the promises of God in him [Jesus Christ] are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Cor. 1:20) “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” (Gal. 3:16)

(3) Exhortations: “And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.” (Heb. 13:22)

(4) Prophecies: “Seventy weeks are deter­mined . . . to seal up the vision and prophecy . . .” (Dan. 9:24) “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” (Rev. 22:10)

(5) Histories: “Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story of the book of the kings.” (2 Chron. 24:27)

(7) Types: “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants.” (Gal. 4:23-24) “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9:24)

What are the Bible’s leading characteristics?

Its main qualities are:

(1) Truthfulness: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Psa. 119:160)

(2) Goodness: “And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” (Heb. 6:5)

(3) Harmony: “And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written.” (Acts 15:15)

 (4) Comprehensibility: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.” (Eph. 3:17-18)

(5) Authoritativeness: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20)

(6) Sufficiency: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation . . . That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:15-17)

(7) Efficacy: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

What does the Bible effect?

Its main effects are:

(1) Repentance: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized . . .” (Acts 2:37-38)

(2) Faith: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)

(3) Cleansing: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3)

(4) Enlightenment: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psa. 119:130)

(5) Sanctification: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)

(6) Spiritual begettal: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth . . .” (Jas. 1:18)

(7) Spiritual quickening: “For thy word hath quickened me.” (Psa. 119:50)

(8) Spiritual growth: “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” (Deut. 32:2)

(9) Spiritual strengthening: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:10-11, 17)

(10) Spiritual balance: “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God . . .” (1 Thess. 3:12-13)

(11) Spiritual perfection: “All Scripture is . . . profitable . . . That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

(12) Salvation: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16)

What should we do with the Bible?

We should:

(1) Love it: “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Psa. 119:97)

(2) Study it: “Search the scriptures.” (John 5:39) “Study to show thyself approved . . .” (2 Tim. 2:15) “But his delight is in the law . . . and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psa. 1:2)

(3) Assimilate it: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. . . . I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” (Psa. 119:11, 16)

(4) Practice it: “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:28)

(5) Spread it: “And he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully.” (Jer. 23:28) “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2)

GOD

Is there a God?

The proofs of God are:

(1) A first cause: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36) “Thus saith the Lord . . . I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isa. 44:6) “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.” (Heb. 3:4)

(2) The design in creation: “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psa. 94:9) “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead [Divinity].” (Rom. 1:19-20)

(3) The immensity, variety, and harmony of creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth know­ledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psa. 19:1-6)

(4) The absurdity of atheism: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psa. 14:1)

What is God?

What God is not: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:29)

What God is: “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) “For a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” (Luke 24:39) “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17)

Who is God?

“Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord[1] he is God; there is none else beside him.” (Deut. 4:35)

“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible . . .” (Deut. 10:17)

“For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?” (2 Sam. 22:32)

“But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king.” (Jer. 10:10)

“Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.” (Rom. 3:29)

What are God’s inherent qualities?

God possesses:

(1) Personhood: “Who [Jesus] being the brightness of his [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person . . . sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. 1:3)

(2) A body: “And the Father himself, which hath sent me [Jesus], hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (John 5:37)

(3) The spirit nature: “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:17)

(4) Self-existence: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exod. 3:14)

(5) Eternity: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psa. 90:2)

(6) Self-sufficiency: “Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:25)

(7) Immortality: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26)

(8) Omnipotence: “Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” (Rev. 19:6)

(9) Omniscience: “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:20)

(10) Omnipresence: “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24)

(11) Supremacy: “Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.”         (1 Chron. 29:11) “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:6)

(12) Unity: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6:4) “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him.” (1 Cor. 8:6)

(13) Immutability: “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:17)

(14) Invisibility: “Who is the image of the invisible God . . .” (Col. 1:15) “No man hath seen God at any time.” (1 John 4:12)

What are God’s chief moral qualities?

God is:

(1) Wise: “With Him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.” (Job 12:13) “He hath established the world by his wisdom.” (Jer. 10:12)

(2) Powerful: “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” (Jer. 32:17)

(3) Just: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. 32:4) “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.” (Psa. 89:14)

(4) Loving: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)

(5) Holy: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16; Lev. 11:44) “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” (Isa. 43:3)

(6) Impartial: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. . . . There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26, 28) “And . . . call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work . . .” (1 Pet. 1:17)

(7) Truthful: “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation . . .” (Heb. 6:18) “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Tit. 1:2)

(8) Faithful: “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand gener­ations.” (Deut. 7:9) “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” (Heb. 10:23)

(9) Merciful: “For the Lord thy God is a merciful God.” (Deut. 4:31) “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psa. 136:26)

(10) Good: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.” (Psa. 107:1) “There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18)

(11) Gracious: “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” (Psa. 116:5) “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Eph. 1:6)

(12) Forbearing: “For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.” (Isa. 48:9)

(13) Longsuffering: “The Lord is . . . long­suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)

(14) Forgiving: “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression . . .” (Num. 14:18)

(15) Liberal: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (Jas. 1:5)

(16) Gentle: “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Psa. 18:35)

(17) Orderly: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace . . .” (1 Cor. 14:33)

(18) Fatherly: “Wherefore . . . I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:17-18)

(19) Kingly: “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth.” (Zech. 14:9)

(20) Peaceful: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)

(21) Joyful: “And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand . . . for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers.” (Deut. 30:9)

What are God’s works?

His works include:

(1) Creation: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

(2) Providence: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

(3) Redemption: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

(4) Instruction: “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” (Psa. 25:9)

(5) Justification: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Rom. 8:33)

(6) Sanctification: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” (1 Thess. 5:23)

(7) Deliverance: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” (Matt. 6:13)

What are God’s rights?

He is entitled to:

(1) Ownership of all things: “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; . . .” (1 Chron. 29:11)

(2) Rulership of all things: “. . . thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.” (1 Chron. 29:11)

(3) Disposition of all things: “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” (Psa. 135:6)

(4) Our obedience: “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (Deut. 13:4)

(5) Our reverence: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28)

(6) Our confidence: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)

(7) Our love: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut. 6:5; Luke 10:27)

_______________________________

Taken from Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 17, pages 429-438, with additions. Edited for clarity and length. More questions and answers from this Volume will be presented in future papers.

________________________________________________________

INTO THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

Sister Angela Matthew of Trinidad finished her course on May 4, 2019 at the age of 68. She was born into the Truth and grew up in it, living faithfully to the end.  Her grandfather’s home was the headquarters for the vibrant Truth movement in Trinidad, and was visited by Brother Johnson and Brother and Sister Hoefle. She is now asleep in Jesus, awaiting the resurrection of the just. (Acts 24:15) We mourn her passing with her family and friends, but we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13)

 

Write to us at: epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com

[1] In the Old Testament, Lord in all capital letters is the Tetragrammaton YHWH in the original Hebrew Bible. It signifies Yahweh, the proper name of the Almighty.


NO. 743: GOD IS OUR HIDING PLACE

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 743

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.” (Psa. 119:114)

There is an affectionate tenderness about our Heavenly Father which helps us to realize His great love for His people and His special care over them. Through His Prophet Isaiah, speaking from the standpoint of the end of this age, He forewarned us of a great time of trouble. (Isa. 26:5-6, 21) It is to be “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan. 12:1), when the whole present order of things – civil, social and religious – will be swept with the “besom of destruction.” (Isa. 14:23) Yet in the midst of it all He would have His people to be in rest and peace in Him: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isa. 26:3-4)

Through another prophet the Lord gave us beautiful words of trust and confidence: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth [the present social order] be removed, and though the mountains [governments] be carried into the midst of the sea [anarchy]; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof . . .The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psa. 46:1-3, 7) “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” (Psa. 103:13)

We are very grateful for our Heavenly Father’s special love and care for us as His people and the comfort, encouragement and protection afforded us in the midst of the world’s great tribulation. However, we would come far short of having His spirit if we regarded the matter with self-complacency, forgetting His great love for the whole world also, a love veiled behind the clouds of His righteous indignation against their sins. In His wisdom, He strikes the heavy blow which will shatter all their idols and humble their pride in the dust, so that the sore wounds of His wrath may prepare for their everlasting healing.

We are told, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish [eternally], but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) If He loved the world then, He loves it still, and it is His love that wields the rod for its correction. While His people rejoice in the sunshine of His favor, having by faith and obedience come into an attitude to receive it, He would have us point the world to the cause of its calamities and to the only remedy: “In returning [to God] and rest [in Him alone] shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15) “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen [the nations], I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psa. 46:10)

But who are those the Lord is pleased to designate by the endearing name, “My people?” Does this class include everyone upon whom His name is named – everyone called a Christian? No, for that would include a great number who profess His name falsely. As the Psalmist expresses it, it includes only those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice (Psa. 50:5), all the consecrated and faithful children of God, however young or weak they may be, whose hearts are fixed firmly and resolutely to be true, loyal and obedient children by His assisting grace.

To be numbered among the people of God is a very great privilege; but it means much more than many seem to understand, much more both on our part and on God’s part. On our part it signifies more than a name to live by and a place in some great organization which bears the Christian name. It means fully consecrating to God to follow in the footsteps of His dear Son. It means renouncing the vain pomp and glory of the world and covenanting to live apart from its spirit, ambitions, hopes and aims. It means striving daily to be faithful, meekly taking up the cross and following our Leader and Head, Jesus Christ.

On God’s part it signifies the fulfillment of all His gracious promises to His people through Christ, both for the life that now is, and for that which is to come. It signifies that in the present life we have His fatherly love, care, discipline, counsel, teaching, protection and encouragement to the end. It means that afterwards we shall be received into everlasting rest and joy and peace. Oh, how blessed to be the people of God! Even in the present life the reward of His favor is beyond computation.

Throughout the Gospel Age God has permitted His people to be scattered as sheep in the midst of wolves, and as wheat in the midst of tares; but now their gathering together unto Him is due. All during the age His people have been growing in the midst of that great organization, the nominal Christian church, which God calls Babylon (confusion), but which men call Christendom (Christ’s Kingdom). This great system has appropriated the name of Christ while misrep­resenting His teachings and His spirit. This it has done despite being in possession of His Word of Truth and having many advantages of precept and example from His saints who were for so long permitted to dwell in her midst.

God has begun pouring His indignation upon Babylon and is involving the whole world with it. Before doing so, however, He issued this warning: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) While calling them thus to come out of Babylon, He also called them to come into another place, or condition: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” (Isa. 26:20)

The place of hiding is the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psa. 91:1-9) It is the place of intimate communion and fellowship with God, through the blessed privilege of prayer and through faith in His precious Word and His promised providential care. Oh, how precious is this hiding place! What rest and refreshment we find in the midst of the commotion now roiling the whole world, especially the nations of Christendom. We find rest from the pride and folly of men in their abortive efforts to readjust the present unsatisfactory social order. We find rest from “the strife of tongues” engaged in the equally vain attempt to evolve clear principles of truth and righteousness from the present confusion of human traditions. (Psa. 31:20) Here we find rest, peace, light and joy, which the world can neither give nor take away.

Few indeed are those who can understand our motives in thus withdrawing from the world and from the various organizations of the nominal Christian church to walk alone with God. Many are the reproaches which must be endured for His name’s sake. But fear not; “shut thy doors [of faith] about thee.” Do not heed the reproaches; turn a deaf ear to them. “Above all, taking the shield of faith [for the conflict before you], wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Eph. 6:16)

In this time of greatest need, it is especially good that the Lord’s people should consider the value of this portion of the Christian’s armor – the shield of faith. The doors of their faith should thoroughly shut them into the secret place of the Most High. The time for firmly grasping the shield of faith is when the reproaches fall thick and fast. It is when they are told that they have left the faith and gone after fables. It is when they are told that they have incurred the Lord’s displeasure, and that suffering for Christ’s sake is the penalty they deserve. It is when their names are cast out as evil and they are separated from the company of those whom they have long regarded as the Lord’s people, because they bear His name. Then is the time for adopting the triumphant language of the Psalmist:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident . . . For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock . . . When my father and my mother [my most trusted human friends] forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psa. 27:1, 3, 5, 10) “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psa. 23:1, 4; Psa. 56:4)

It is to inspire such a faith as this that the Lord has offered us, in addition to all His precious promises, so many encouragements to simple, childlike trust in Him, and that He has bidden us turn a deaf ear to the reproaches of men: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings . . . I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth . . . And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens [the new heavens], and lay the foundations of the earth [the new earth], and say unto Zion [the heirs of the new Kingdom], Thou art my people.” (Isa. 51:7, 12, 13, 16)

PROVE ALL THINGS

What benevolence on the part of the Almighty to thus consider our weakness! When the darts of the enemy wound our hearts, He pours in the balm of His consolation. He would not have one of His children whom Christ has made free to come again under the bondage of the fear of men. (Prov. 29:25) He would have everyone in Christ realize his liberty from sin and superstition and his solemn accountability to God for all his thoughts and words and doings.

The words of the Apostle Paul deserve special notice: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Gal. 6:4) Thus every individual in Christ is reminded of his own personal responsibility in matters of faith and conduct. Only when he has proved what is truth and what is righteousness, accepting the Word of God as the only standard of authority, is it proper to take a resolute stand. Having proved “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2), nothing should be able to unsettle his faith or turn him from the line of duty. Fear of man should never again bring him into bondage to superstition, human traditions, or opinions of others.

If each individual proves his own work – his faith in the doctrines and his conduct in life – by the square and compass of God’s Word, his faith will be so established by the Word of the Lord that it will be his own and in no sense dependent upon another, no matter through what privileged human agent or agency it may have been received. It was the neglect of the right and duty of individual judgment in proving all things by the inspired Word that brought upon the nominal church the snare of the great apostacy, setting up infamous popes to dictate in matters of faith and conduct and subvert the consciences of men.

Let us remember the command, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isa. 8:13) Let us fear and dread to displease Him; let us see to it that we know and love righteousness and that we have the Law of God, not in our heads only, but in our hearts; so shall we ever find acceptance with Him. To those who in faith continually rely upon the Lord, who go forth strong in the strength which He supplies through faith to do valiant service for truth and righteousness, comes also the blessed assurance that God will be our refuge and strength in trouble.

The storm of trouble engulfing the whole world will affect all people, both individually and collectively. The Lord’s people, however, those who seek only to draw closer to Him, entering more fully into the secret place of communion and fellowship and rest in Him, and shutting the doors of faith about them, will be safely hidden from the alarm and fear and trembling that will take hold upon all other classes. While they patiently endure the effects of the storm upon their temporal interests, they will rejoice in the knowledge of God’s overruling providence in the whirlwind and in the storm as well as in the calms of life. They have His blessed assurance that His wrath will be thus revealed only “for a little moment.” Then His righteous Kingdom will be manifested in power and great glory: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43)

_______________________________

This article is based on Reprint 1787.

____________________________________________________

THE VICTORY OF FAITH

“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

We are living in a time when faith is greatly discounted. People seem disposed to not care what others believe as long as they live honorably. This generally means that faith is of no consequence and honor is the highest goal. Plainly stated, this means that money and prosperity is the only goal now recognized by an increasing number of people, for without these no one can prosper in the present life, no matter what they believe or who they worship.

The Bible perspective, however, is the very reverse of this. God’s Word puts faith first, and builds character upon that faith. God has not made works the standard because, as He declares, no human being can do perfect works. Faith is God’s standard, and He assures us that whoever has the proper faith must necessarily have works which correspond to his faith. God’s favorites of the Bible have all been persons of faith. Their faith did not make them perfect, nor were their works always acceptable in God’s sight, but He punished them for evil works and rewarded them for their great faith. Some of God’s favorites committed grievous sins and made serious mistakes; yet they maintained God’s favor, by reason of their faith.

The Bible is perhaps the most candid of all religious books ever written. It tells of the mistakes and sins of the very characters it holds up as models and examples of men after God’s own heart. Yet the Bible leaves no room to assume that God loves wickedness, or that the friends of God are the depraved of mankind. On the contrary, the Bible inculcates the highest standards of right­eousness in word, deed and thought, and plainly states that only those who seek truth and righteousness can have full acceptance with God.

We and all mankind are by nature sinners. (Psa. 51:5; Rom. 7:15-25) God tells us that we could do nothing to remove our own guilt and the sentence that stands against us as members of the fallen race, but He also tells us that He purposes to remedy that matter. Hence our responsibility is not for what we cannot avoid, but for what we can avoid. It is not for what we cannot do, but for what we can do. The foundation of all our noblest endeavors is confidence in Him. This confidence He calls faith. He assures us that without faith it is impossible to please Him, and He has shown us this in all the lessons of the Bible. (Heb. 11:6)

Many make the mistake of supposing that faith is credulity – the readiness to swallow any and every religious idea if told that God said it. This is not the faith encouraged by the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible would have us know definitely the things that God has promised, and exercise a definite faith in those things and give no heed whatever to the seductive vagaries of Satan, of our fellow men, or of our own imagination: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

It is not for us to quarrel with those religious leaders who bind their followers with ignorance and superstition, preventing them from using their reasoning faculties. We are to address those who are not content with superstitions, those who yearn to find God, those whose hearts and minds cry out for Him and His Word and long to know His plan and their place in it. Jesus and the Apostles did not attempt to teach everybody, but merely those who hungered and thirsted after righteousness. (Matt. 5:6) As Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15)

THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM

Abraham manifested such great faith that God called him His friend and gave him the first revelation of His purposes respecting humanity. (Gen. 15:6; Jas. 2:23) Abraham knew that under the curse the whole groaning creation was going to the grave. God’s declaration to him was that in due time He would send a blessing instead of the curse. Instead of men becoming more imperfect and wasting away in death, they would be rescued from the dying condition, and resurrected from the power of the tomb. Abraham believed the message with childlike faith. Because of his faith, God promised to greatly bless him and his posterity, so that through them eventually the great work of blessing mankind would be accomplished, rescuing all from the power of sin, Satan and death. God’s promise is summed up in the words: “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18)

Abraham’s faith in that promise meant that thenceforth his mind would have a larger view, encompassing all of humanity, instead of merely his own immediate family, flocks and herds, and his nearest neighbors. It meant that if God would so honor his posterity, Abraham would seek in everything to cooperate with God and that great promise.

God tested Abraham’s faith for years, yet he still believed. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” (Rom. 4:20) Even when God directed the sacrifice of Isaac, the son in whom the promise centered, Abraham trusted that God was able to raise him up again from the dead. What a test of faith! Oh, for such a trust in God! What could not be accomplished in the world through the Divine Message if such faith prevailed among God’s children! What would God not do for children who would trust Him thus!

Isaac and Jacob also trusted the promise and it influenced the whole course of their lives. It made them more God-like and it shaped every interest of their lives. Although they understood practically nothing of how God would accomplish so great a blessing, their faith in its fulfillment was unshakeable. From their posterity God would raise up a holy people to be His agency and channel for instructing, ruling, and uplifting the world, resurrecting the dead, and bringing mankind back to all that was lost through Adam’s disobedience. If their faith had been weaker, they would have had many opportunities to stumble. If they had been more worldly-wise, they might have questioned how God could clear mankind from the justly imposed sentence against them and still be just. But their faith did not waver. They knew in their hearts that God will do what He has promised and He will have His own way of accomplishing it. (Isa. 55:11)

In time the nation of Israel as a whole entered into a Covenant with God through Moses, the mediator of the Law Covenant. Israel was motivated by faith in the promise made to Abraham that God would use his posterity to bless all people, both the living and the dead. If they would keep God’s Law blamelessly, God covenanted that in them He would fulfill the promise made to Abraham. Although God knew that imperfect human beings could not keep His perfect Law, He allowed them the opportunity to try. He allowed them to learn the lesson while also providing an example to the angels of His own righteousness.

The Law Covenant would also provide instruction to Spiritual Israel, who were to be developed later, and who were to be the principle channel through whom the blessings actually would come. This St. Paul explains, saying, “It [the Law Covenant] was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Gal. 3:19)

In other words, God’s work began with Israel in a typical manner, long centuries before the time for Spiritual Israel to be developed. However, He did not thereby do injury to the people who had covenanted to keep the Law, but who were unable to do so. On the contrary, they as a people were blessed by their endeavors to keep that Law, and blessed also by the chastisements which came upon them because of their failures and lack of faith.

God especially blessed those Israelites who shared Abraham’s faith. In addition to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Apostle Paul enumerates a considerable number who pleased God because of their faith, long centuries before the first advent of Christ, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. (Hebrews, Chapter 11) Although they will not be the Seed of Abraham in the highest sense on the spirit plane, those Ancient Worthies will be the seed of blessing on the earthly plane – the earthly channel through which the heavenly blessings will ultimately be extended to all nations.

It was faith that motivated the Jewish people during those past centuries – faith in God, faith that He would fulfill the promise made to Abraham. That promise still motivates Jews who have not lost their faith – those that are still Jews. Those who have lost the faith of Abraham are no longer in any sense of the word related to the promise; for the promise was according to faith. St. Paul speaks sympathetically of the Jewish nation as relates to the original promise God made to them, saying, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.” (Acts 26:6-7) All Jews, to the degree they still maintain that hope, may still expect to realize its blessings.

THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS

The coming of Christ did not change the Divine purpose, and therefore did not change the faith of God’s people. Jesus and the Apostles believed and taught the same Gospel God preached to Abraham: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [all mankind] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) The message of the Apostles was the same message – all the families of the earth were to be blessed through the Seed of Abraham.

However, there was an additional feature of the Gospel that was then due to be proclaimed and believed. That feature was that God had already begun the work of providing this Seed of Abraham, the Messiah; God had sent the Logos, His Son, into the world that He might become the Seed of Abraham on the spirit plane, and eventually fulfill every feature of the original promise.

At the time of Jesus’ first advent, all Jews were in expectation of the Messiah. (Luke 3:15) However, not every Jew was an “Israelite indeed;” not all had the proper faith. Consequently, God allowed some of them to remain in measureable blindness on the subject, while others were granted a special anointing to the eyes of their under­standing, their eyes of faith, allowing them to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. To this class Jesus said, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” (Luke 8:10) Understanding went only to the meek, honest and faithful of God’s people then, and has continued to go only to this class all through the age.

The death of Jesus was another test of faith for Jesus’ followers. They had expected that He would be crowned their king and would then free them from the yoke of Roman rule, making them the Kingdom of God on earth. When He was crucified instead, they said, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.” (Luke 24:21) Not yet having received the Holy Spirit, they did not understand that Jesus had redeemed the whole world, not just Israel, and that the redemption was not only from the Roman yoke, but from Satan’s yoke.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, the mystery was revealed: The Messiah would not be one person, but many persons. Jesus alone would not be the Seed of Abraham, but Jesus as the Head and the Church as His members, or Body, would be that Seed. St. Paul says, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” (Gal. 4:28) Here he shows that Issac is a type of Christ, Jesus representing the head of Isaac and the Church representing his body.

In another figure, Isaac types Jesus and the Church is represented by Rebekah, his bride. According to this figure, the antitypical Isaac (Jesus) has entered into glory, awaiting the development of the antitypical Rebekah (the Church). At the appointed and appropriate time He is to come and receive His Bride to Himself, and they become one. Through this One will come the blessing to all the families of the earth in the Kingdom of Glory, as promised to Abraham thousands of years ago.

This is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) It is the hope set before us in the Gospel – the faith that God will use the Seed of Abraham to bless all humanity. Let us not doubt the wisdom of God in the arrangement He has made and set forth in the Scriptures. This faith, based upon the Abrahamic promise, is the power that enables us to gain the victory over the spirit of the world, and to be separate, sanctified to God, for service here and hereafter.

_______________________________

This article is based on Reprint 5243.


Write to us at: epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com


NO. 742: SIX SAVED CLASSES

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 742

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29)

Through the Prophet Joel, the Lord draws attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit will be just as important during the Millennial Age as it has been during the Gospel Age. The above passage is addressed to Zion (Joel 2:23), which represents the Kingdom (Isa. 60:14; Rev. 14:1), and stands for the Lord Jesus and His faithful followers. It is in “those days” – the Gospel Age – that the Spirit is poured out for these. During the Millennial Age, “afterward,” His Spirit will be poured out generally for the world of mankind, “all flesh.” It will then bring the world of mankind back into harmony with God under the terms of the New Covenant, through the merits of the dear Redeemer’s sacrifice.

The order of this blessing is reversed in the prophetic statement, quite probably to obscure the matter until the proper time, and thus to hide some of the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s Plan, until the “due time” for it to be known and appreciated. Consequently Joel 2:29 refers to the Gospel Age and Joel 2:28 refers to the Millennial Age.

Examining these verses we find that they identify six saved classes: (1) “your sons,” (2) “your daughters,” (3) “your old men,” (4) “your young men,” (5) “the servants,” and (6) “the handmaids.”

SERVANTS AND HANDMAIDS

We will first consider the two classes developed during the Gospel Age. The class referred to as “the servants” is the Little Flock. We notice that the time of their development is limited to the Gospel Age: “Upon the servants . . . in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Like the rest of mankind these were born under the curse (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:21-22; Eph. 2:3); but unlike the rest of mankind their hearts have trusted the Lord even when they could not trace Him. (2 Cor. 5:7) They have accepted Jesus as their Savior, thereby attaining to justification through faith (Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 4:1-12), and have then sought to grow in Truth and Righteousness.

They have responded to His drawings until ready to take a second step – consecration – answering God’s invitation to yield themselves to Him as living sacri­fices. (Rom. 12:1) He has given them His Holy Spirit – begotten them of His Spirit. (John 3:3; Jas. 1:18; Acts 5:32) He has helped them to overcome self, sin, error and the world (Rev. 3:21), and to work out their own sal­vation by self-denial and world-denial, by watchfulness and prayer, by the study, practice and spread of His Word, and by suffering for loyalty to His Word. (Phil 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:5-11) They have been His witnesses in the world for Truth and Righteousness. (Acts 1:8)

The hope He has given them is the attainment of the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ. (2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:11-12) These blessings they will attain in the First Resurrection, if they have been faithful until death. (Rev. 2:10; Rev. 20:4-6)

Closely related to the Little Flock is another class called “the handmaids,” and elsewhere in the Bible called a Great Multitude. (Rev. 7:9; Rev. 19:6) This class we call the Great Company; the individuals of this class were originally invited through the High Calling (Phil. 3:14) to the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ. (Eph. 4:4) They have failed to keep faithfully their consecration vows, and therefore, have had to be remanded to a secondary class. They were not called to this position. The Lord provided a secondary place for them, even though they were only measurably faithful, because they still loved the Lord, and had not become unfaithful enough to be utterly cast off into Second Death. They are the only one of the elect classes to be remanded, but they will finally escape with their lives, after losing the prize of the High Calling. (1 Cor. 3:15; Heb. 2:15; Jude 22-23) However, they will still be included in the “church of the firstborn” of this Gospel Age. (Heb. 12:23)

The Little Flock and the Great Company, it will be noticed, have been developed during the Gospel Age – the age in which Jesus and the Apostles labored, the age in which the great Apostasy developed. At the end of the Gospel Age, the Lord has restored the primitive teachings and practices of Christianity under the supervision and leadership of That Servant.

We now turn to the consideration of the four classes of whom Joel 2:28 treats. While this verse describes the blessings and works of these four classes during the Millennium, two of these classes will have been devel­oped before the Millennium and the other two will be developed during the Millennium.

OLD MEN AND YOUNG MEN

We understand the phrase “your old men” to mean those we refer to as Ancient Worthies, the faithful of the Old Testament. This class is called “ancients” in Isa. 24:23, this being from the same Hebrew word that is translated “old men” in Joel 2:28. We choose to call them Ancient Worthies because they are spoken of as those “Of whom the world was not worthy.” (Heb. 11:38) Other scriptures refer to this class as “the elders.” (Psa. 107:32; Heb. 11:2)

In Hebrews Chapter 11, we are given a long list of Ancient Worthies who were prominent for their characters and their works. (Heb. 11:4-32) Many others are later referred to who are not identified by name. (Heb. 11:33-40) The Ancient Worthies were the heroes of faith before Christ came in His First Advent. God used them as His representatives, servants and witnesses in their times, and through some of them He gave us the Old Testament Scriptures. Although they were unaware of it, He also used them and events of their lives to type certain future persons, classes and events in His plan. Because they lived before Christ’s death, they could not receive the actual cancellation of the death sentence inherited by the entire human race from Adam, and they could not become sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:3-5)

Yet God did give them a tentative justification through their faith in His Promises. (Rom. 4:3-9, 17-23; Heb. 11:7) Through their faith-justification they were privileged to be servants and friends of God. (Heb. 3:5; Jas. 2:23) God did not offer them the privilege of becoming Kings with Jesus and partakers with Him of the Divine nature; for such promises were not given until the beginning of the Gospel Age. (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Heb. 2:3-4; Heb. 11:38-39; 2 Tim. 1:10; Luke 16:16) The Ancient Worthies who preceded Jesus, the forerunner of these Kings (Heb. 6:20; Heb. 12:1-2), could not share in this heavenly calling. John the Baptizer, who died before Jesus’ death, was the last of the Ancient Worthy class, and Jesus assures us John will not be of the heavenly class when He says, “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11)

Although these faithful Ancient Worthies will not attain the First Resurrection as the Little Flock do, they will be privileged to share in a “better resurrection” than that of the world. (Heb. 11:35) They will attain perfection immediately upon awakening from the grave (“just men made perfect” – Heb. 12:22-23), whereas the world will be raised in the same condition as when they went into the grave. It will require the entire thousand years to bring the world back to perfection. These Ancient Worthies will attain the honor of being “princes in all the earth” during the Millennium, and their work will be to rule as judges and teachers. (Psa. 45:16; Isa. 1:26)

Moving on to the class referred to as “your young men,” we notice that they are linked in standing and in work with the “old men.” Since we call the latter the Ancient Worthies, we call the “young men” the Youthful Worthies. These contrasting names are appropriate for another reason. As the Ancient Worthies appeared in God’s Plan before the door was opened to the High Calling, the Youthful Worthies appear in God’s Plan after the door to the High Calling is closed.

According to the Bible, the opportunity of entering the High Calling was to close after the full number of the Elect had been chosen. (Rom. 11:25) This synchronizes with the end of the reaping of the Harvest from 1874 to 1914. But as many desired to and did serve God faithfully before the opportunity to enter the High Calling was opened, so since the opportunity to enter the High Calling has closed many desire to and do serve God faithfully. Since they show the same spirit of devotion to God as the Ancient Worthies, God purposes to associate them with the Ancient Worthies in Millennial and Post-Millennial rewards and service. An entrance to this class will be available in the end of this age for all who come to the Lord in full consecration, and will continue until this age ends – or until Restitution sets in and a way is opened for the world of mankind.

Commenting on the status of those who present themselves in consecration after the close of the High Calling, That Servant noted that since God is unchangeable, He is always pleased for any to devote their lives wholly and unreservedly to doing His will. (See Reprint 4836) His advice then to all who love the Lord and who desire to be in complete fellowship with Him was the same message that has gone forth throughout this age: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1)

It is because the Youthful Worthies have the faith of Abraham that they will be blessed with him and have the privilege of participating in the blessing of all nations. (Gal. 3:6-9) Having this faith quality, they heed the Lord’s invitation to consecrate; they give Him their hearts. (Prov. 23:26) There being no opportunity for them to win a crown with Christ, He does not beget them of His Spirit, but gives them a new human heart to love Truth and Righteousness and to serve Him. They too, like the Little Flock, become dead to self and the world and alive to God, practicing watchfulness and prayer, studying and spreading, the Word. Thus the Youthful Worthies also must be faithful to the Lord – even unto death, if He deems it necessary.

We read, “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country.” (Lev. 24:22) The “stranger” here types those consecrating between the ages. They are “strangers” because they are strangers to the Little Flock, having consecrated themselves too late to be of that select company. Just as there was “one manner of law” for the Jews and for the foreigners visiting in their land, Youthful Worthies are under the same law as the Saints, meaning they make the same manner of consecration – a complete desire to do God’s will and they have been similarly blessed with a clear understanding of Present Truth.

These four elect classes, the Little Flock, Great Company, Ancient Worthies and Youthful Worthies, are the only consecrated classes of the Jewish and Gospel Ages. They are the only saved classes for elect purposes. God has not been dealing with the world of mankind during these ages, including the last special period of this Gospel Age, the Epiphany. God’s “due time” for dealing with the non-elect, the Restitutionists, is when the Highway of Holiness is opened up for them. (Isa. 35:8)

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

We understand the term “your sons” of our text to represent Fleshly Israel, a class presented in the Scriptures as separate and distinct from other classes. (Isa. 60:4, 9) They are the seed of Jacob, and as such have a special promise and call from the Lord. They are promised that they will forever inherit Canaan; their call is that in them (as a secondary earthly seed, under the Ancient Worthies and Youthful Worthies as the primary earthly seed) all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 28:13-14; Rom. 11:28-29) For this purpose God chose them in preference to all other nations to be His people. (Amos. 3:2) He favored them with special revelations, providences, and His Law Covenant to give them the opportunity as a nation to become “a kingdom of priests.” (Exod. 19:5-6) He used them to furnish a practical demonstration that none of Adam’s race can fulfill God’s Law and gain life by obedience to the Law, which is the full measure of a perfect man’s ability. (Rom. 3:9, 19-20; Gal. 3:10-12) Many tried hard but failed to keep the Law perfectly. This awakened in them the realization of the need and the desire for a Savior. (Gal. 3:21-24, 13) God also used the actions and institutions of Fleshly Israel as types illustrating future features of His Plan (Heb. 9:9-10; Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:16-17); and He used them to preserve His oracles, which He deposited in their care. (Rom. 3:1-2)

Though they were not perfect, some among them proved faithful, and thus became of the Ancient Worthies. When Christ came in His first advent, there were some individuals among them who proved to be “Israelites indeed.” However, the bulk of them rejected Him. (John 1:11-13, 47; Rom. 2:28-29) Consequently they were rejected from God’s favor as a class until the end of the Gospel Age. (Matt. 23:34-39; Rom. 11:7-11, 25) Through­out this age God has permitted them to suffer miseries as perhaps no other single nation has suffered. (Jer. 16:13, 17-18)

True to prophecy, they have been blinded to the High Calling of the Gospel Age (with individual exceptions). However, the Bible prophesies their return to God’s favor and to their land at the end of this age. (Jer. 16:14-16; Ezek. 36:24, 28-30; Amos 9:14-15; Rom. 11:25-32) The Apostle Paul says, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles [full number of the Bride of Christ] be come in.” With the selection of that class complete, these prophecies are fulfilling before our very eyes. Since the year 1878, ever increasing numbers of Jews have returned to their land and Israel’s blindness and prejudice toward Christ are lifting. These events are precursors of the Millennium. (Ezek. 37:21-25)

Because they are “beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Rom. 11:28), they who have been so greatly despised during the Gospel Age will become greatly favored during the Millennium as the chief nation of earth. Their past experiences in the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age, combined with their efforts to fulfill the Law, will serve to adapt them to the Kingdom arrangements. As they continue to be obedient to these arrangements, they will be lifted up to the perfection of human nature as Father Adam enjoyed it in the beginning. Those who prove true to the Lord during the trial of the “little season” at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:3, 7-9) will inherit the land that God promised Abraham and his seed after him (Gen. 13:14-17; Acts 7:5); but during the Millennium this land will belong to the Ancient Worthies.

However, those Israelites who either during the Jewish Age or the Gospel Age apostatized, by giving up faith in the Abrahamic promises and the Law Covenant, will not receive the special Millennial favor just described. They will be treated as Gentiles during the Millennium, for their apostasy made them practical, if not fleshly, Gentiles. Likewise, we believe that persevering but unconsecrated Gentile believers of the Gospel Age will be included among “your sons.” These are those who were faithful in tentative justification but not faithful enough to make and carry out consecration vows while the ascendency of sin is still in the world.

The sixth and last of the saved classes mentioned in Joel 2:28-29 are those referred to as “your daughters.” (Isa. 60:4; Ezek. 16:61) Israel’s superiority to the Gentiles during the Millennium is from the standpoint of the superiority of sons to daughters in middle-eastern culture. This harmo­nizes with the thought that the daughters represent the Gentiles, meaning nations that are not in covenant relation with God. Hence all who are not of Natural or Spiritual Israel (“both houses” – Isa. 8:14) are from the Divine standpoint Gentiles. Accordingly, the human race from the Fall until the Covenant was made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) was entirely Gentile. Because they did not desire to glorify God, He gave them over to their own ways, which as both the Bible and history attest, have been largely evil. (Rom. 1:21-32)

In permitting the Gentiles to take their own course in experiencing evil, God designed that the Gentile world, who refused to retain Him in their knowledge, might learn the lesson that they would not learn by precept – that sin is bad – bad in its nature and bad in its effects. That they might better learn this lesson, He simply let them follow their own selfish hearts and permitted Satan and his fallen angels to secure dominion over them, knowing that these would give them such experiences as would make all the more impressive the detestableness of sin and the desirability of avoiding and of being free from it. (Eph. 2:2; Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 2:14)

This lesson has not yet been taken to heart by the Gentiles. During the Millennium the opposite experience with righteousness will come to mankind through the blessings of the Reign of Christ. Then the misery suffered under the experience with evil contrasted with the blessings enjoyed under the experience with good will effectually teach them to hate and avoid sin, and to love and practice righteousness.

SIX CLASSES TYPED BY NOAH’S ARK

We find the six saved classes typed in Noah’s Ark. Saint Peter describes the Ark salvation as, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” (1 Pet. 3:20-21) The Ark typified Christ and His power to replenish and reorganize society. (See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume I, page 318) In other words, the Ark portrays the embodiment of God’s Plan.

There were four human pairs who went into the Ark, as well as one pair of every clean and unclean kind of animal, representing all saved classes of mankind. The four elect classes are represented in Noah and his three sons and their wives – the Christ Company, the Ancient Worthies, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies. Noah undoubtedly types our Lord, the “heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7) and Noah’s wife types the Little Flock, His Bride. Noah’s sons represent the leaders of their respective classes, and their wives the rest of these classes. The animals in the Ark fittingly represent the non-elect who will ultimately be saved. The clean animals represent the Jews (who were typically clean) as well as the tentatively justified. The unclean animals represent the Gentiles, those of the present unclean world. Those who perished in the flood represent the Second Death class, as well as the systems of Satan’s empire.

The fact that only six saved classes are identified in the Scriptures may strike some as being incomplete, since many things in the Divine arrangement come in sevens, and six is the number of evil or imperfection. But as we consider the matter further, we realize that while there are only six saved classes from the human family, there is another, a seventh saved class mentioned in the Scriptures, viz., the repentant fallen angels. God will also offer the opportunity of life eternal to them. At Christ’s appearing, i.e. His Epiphany, the unrepentant angels will be imprisoned with Satan until the end of the “little season” when they, along with Satan, will be executed. (2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 20:3, 9) The repentant Angels will be placed under Christ and the Church for their Millennial opportunities of overcoming everything sinful in them and of developing perfect love, fitting them for the heavenly society and fellowship with God.

THE GRAND OUTCOME

According to the Scriptures the climax of evil is reached in the Time of Trouble, consisting of world-wide wars, revolution and anarchy. (1 Kings 19:11-12) It is quite evident that we have entered this Great Tribulation. It will entirely sweep away Satan’s Empire and pave the way for the establishment of God’s Kingdom. This will first be set into operation by The Christ working through the Ancient Worthies in Israel, where it will speedily and greatly benefit the Israelites. Then the news of its establishment will spread among the Gentiles, who at that time will be utterly exhausted, broken and humbled by the horrors of the Time of Trouble. It will be to them like a rope thrown to a drowning man – the Gentile world will grasp for it as their only hope of deliverance from their unspeakable miseries. (Hag. 2:6-7; Rom. 8:19-22; Isa. 2:2-4) Thanks be to God, it will be the effectual cure of the curse, and will teach the world righteousness! (Rev. 22:3; Isa. 26:9) They will indeed exalt God in the “congregation of the people” (the Little Flock) and praise Him in the “assembly of the elders” (the Ancient Worthies). (Psa. 107:32) The glorious work of that Kingdom in destroying every element of the curse and introducing Restitution to human perfection will more than satisfy their hearts. (Rev. 21:3-5; Rev. 22:1-3; Acts 3:19-24)

Thus, both Jew and Gentile will be brought together under the one God of Israel by the one Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ. (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5) The six saved classes cover all the human classes saved through the Ransom. There is no hint of a seventh human class in the Bible. The entire non-elect portion of the human family, whether living or dead at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, will become the subjects of the Kingdom. The result of the Kingdom reign will be the utter eradication of all the effects of the curse. (Psa. 98:1-4; Psa. 22:27-29; Isa. 25:6-8) “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:25-26)

____________________________________________________

QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST

Question: The LHMM teach that Nethinim is the type of the Consecrated Epiphany Campers. Does this type teach that the Consecrated Epiphany Campers supplant the Jews in the Kingdom?

Answer: All types given by the LHMM are for the purpose of replacing the Jews in the Kingdom. They do not teach “to the Jew first,” as do the Apostle Paul and the two Messengers. All types must be supported in plain terms in the Scriptures: “A type must not be used to teach a doctrine, but merely to illustrate one that is already taught in plain terms.” (Bible Students Manual, Berean Topical Index, page 25)

The Scriptures teach that in Jacob’s last trouble the Jews as a nation will accept Jesus as their Messiah. (Zech. 12:10) During that time, the Lord will fight for them as in the “day of battle” (Zech. 14:1-3) and afterward the Kingdom will be inaugurated. Then the Lord’s message to the Jews will be: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isa. 60:1-3)

According to the teaching of the LHMM, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers would be the first to shine. However, we have no Scripture in plain terms that teach this non-existent class will supplant the Jews. The LHMM is “contending for the teaching of a Great Company,” and not for the Truth that was once given unto the saints. We have no Scripture that exhorts us to “contend” for the teaching of a crown-loser, especially if the crown-loser teaches anything that conflicts with the teaching of the saints. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) We are on safe ground when we contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.

We can rely on types only as corroboration of what is taught in “plain terms” in the Scriptures. When Brother Russell understood the Tabernacle types and antitypes, he was enabled to write the six volumes of the Studies in the Scriptures. So types are valuable when used in harmony with God’s Word. We well realize that “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) But any so-called “new light” that sets aside what we have learned and been assured of is really “new error.” We do not want to be “Ever learning, and never able come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:7, 14) The exhortation is: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

The LHMM teach that the Epiphany ended in 1954, and is now overlapping into the Basiliea. Their “overlapping,” is now longer than their Epiphany proper. We are clearly taught that the Epiphany and the Time of Trouble are the same length – when one ends so will the other. Did the Time of Trouble end in 1954? It seems they should now call their non-existent class “Consecrated Basiliea Campers” at this time.

We continue to teach that the opportunity for Youthful Worthies will be until Restitution sets in as was taught by both Messengers. In Tabernacle types, a place represents a condition in antitype. Anyone consecrating now may be in the condition of the court – that is, if their consecration is acceptable to the Lord. Restitutionists will consecrate to The Christ in the Basiliea camp. Jesus is not accepting consecration of the Restitutionists in the Epiphany Camp.

Question: Are Consecrated Epiphany Campers represented in any way in Noah’s Ark?

Answer: No! And it would be essential for them to be shown in the Ark in some clear manner if they are a genuine class, because the Ark typifies God’s complete Plan of Salvation and the power of Christ to replenish and reorganize society. Noah’s Ark also does not portray the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Jonadabs, or any of the earthly “Organization” they claim will survive Armageddon.

 

Write to us at: epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com


NO. 741: THE NEW DISPENSATION

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 741

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:1-5)

The common tendency of the human mind is expressed by St. Peter, who prophesied what the worldly would be saying in the present time: “Where is the promise of his coming [presence] . . . all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet. 3:4) Ignorance of God’s Plan is to be expected of the world, but the true people of God have the promise of His special instruction so that they need not be in darkness about the Divine Program. Our world for six thousand years has been the battlefield between the forces of light and darkness, truth and error, righteousness and sin; the Prince of Darkness, otherwise styled the “Prince of this world,” has led his forces in person. He has controlled the masses and is still controlling them.

The Prince of Light is represented in a feeble way by ambassadors who are especially cautioned by Him that they must not use carnal weapons nor carnal methods, but must in meekness correct those who oppose them. They must be subject to “the powers that be” to the extent that their consciences will permit, and so far as possible live peaceably with all men. (Rom. 12:18) This experience of subjection to the powers of evil has been a hard lesson, difficult to learn. It has been a trial of faith as well as of endurance, the value of which has been difficult sometimes to appreciate. But these ambassadors must walk by faith and not by sight if they are to please the Captain of their salvation. For centuries the prayer has gone up to God from their hearts, “How long, O Lord!” Reason assures them that it cannot be the Divine purpose to forever permit the victory of sin and death. (Rev. 6:10)

God presents Himself as a great Husbandman, a farmer, a grower of crops. Each age is a “season” that bears its own crop. Each age has its own time for the plowing of the field, the sowing of the good seed, and the harvest work. Bible students note the work accomplished in the age that ended with the Flood, the different work accomplished during the Patriarchal Age, and the still different work accomplished during the Jewish Age, which lasted from the death of Jacob, and particularly from the giving of the Law, until the death of Jesus.

Our Lord’s ministry of three and a half years was a harvest time to the Jewish people in the close of their age of favor, or “day of visitation.” He said to His disciples, “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” (John 4:38) The plowing and sowing connected with the Jewish Dispensation was in the far past. The Egyptian bondage served to do a plowing work, as also Israel’s escape from that bondage and the forty years of wandering in the wilderness before they reached Canaan. The giving of the Law and the establishment of them as a people, the lessons of their sacrifices, and the exhortation of their Prophets, all constituted a seed-sowing, harrowing and cultivating experience. In the end of their age Jesus gathered the ripe fruitage of that experience – those sanctified thereby and developed in character and obedience to God.

The crop gathered by our Lord and the Apostles in the Jewish harvest numbered in the thousands. These were gathered out of Judaism and from under the Law Covenant into Christianity – gathered under a covenant applying only to the Church, the Body of Christ. This covenant, under which they became associated with Messiah, reads: “Gather my saints [holy ones] together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psa. 50:5) All coming thus into relationship with God as members of the Body of Messiah came by way of the cross – through a recognition of their own imperfection, and of Jesus and His sacrifice as the satisfaction for their sins, a covering for their blemishes, by which alone their sacrifices were rendered holy and acceptable to God. (Rom. 12:1)

The reaping work of the Jewish Age merged into the sowing work of the Gospel Age as the invitation to become joint-sacrificers with Jesus was extended beyond the Jews to all having hearing ears. Now in turn we have arrived at the harvest of this Gospel Age – the reaping time, the time of gathering into the garner – beyond the veil – by the power of the First Resurrection.

The Lord declares, “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) The declaration of our text, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness,” implies either that the brethren are very few or that a considerable number of them have not yet become sufficiently awake to discern the times and seasons in which we are living. Many of the brethren, many of the world and many of the “wicked” do realize we are living in strange times and under peculiar conditions. These try to persuade them­selves, however, that what we see today is merely a recurrence of what has repeated itself time and again during the past centuries. Thus they lull themselves, saying, “Peace and safety!”

This attitude is what the Scriptures foretold: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” It is only “ye, brethren” who are privileged to have the clearer light respecting present and future conditions. We know that we are in the Harvest time of this age – the reckoning time, the testing time, the time when the “wheat” is being gathered into the Heavenly garner, the time when the field is being cleared of all “tares” in a fiery trouble, the time when the plowshare of trouble runs through the world of mankind to prepare the whole world for the New Dispensation about to begin. Illustrating the Divine methods and the rapid following of events in the Divine Program, the Lord through the Prophet tells us, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper.” (Amos 9:13)

So accurately timed is every feature of the Divine Plan that part fits to part and work to work closely. The Gospel Age Harvest is the gathered fruitage of this Gospel Age – “the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven” – those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. The Head of the saintly Messiah is Jesus. The members of the Body of this Messiah have been gathered from every nation, first from the Jews and then from all nations. God’s call and selection of saintly sacrificers in this Gospel Age has ignored all sectarian, all denominational, all national lines; “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2 Tim. 2:19) The winds of violence that have been loosed (beginning with the World War in its two phases) started the terrific storm. These winds were held back until the sealing of God’s servants in their foreheads had been accomplished. (Rev. 7:1-3)

This sealing in the forehead implies an intellectual appreciation of Heavenly things, and is intimately associated with the Harvest work – the sealed are the ripe wheat gathered for the Heavenly garner. As soon as the sealing work was accomplished, the winds of strife and trouble were let loose according to the Master’s declaration, and the result is a “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Nor shall there ever be the like again. (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) The awful lessons which will thereby be learned by humanity will be sufficient for all time.

The strife, the hatred, the malevolence, the anarchy of this day of trouble are depicted in various places in the Word of God. (Rev. 7:1-3; Matt. 24:21; Psa. 46:8-10) The trouble time is indeed declared to be a time of Divine wrath, and we must not lose sight of that feature of it. Divine Justice has indignation against inequity and selfishness in general, for selfishness is but another name for sin. All sin is selfish, and all selfishness is sin. The captains of industry, the captains of education, and captains of wealth have today greater opportunities and therefore greater responsibilities than the kings of the earth for their dealings with their fellowmen. Similarly, there are leaders of the people, presidents and secretaries of unions, etc., who are also captains, and who also have great responsibility.

All perceive that the world of humanity is rapidly nearing a crisis. The almost miraculous opening of the eyes of understanding which God has recently granted has brought to the world inventions and processes which are making the world rich with amazing speed. Although these blessings are to a considerable extent reaching the masses of mankind and uplifting all to a higher plane of comfort, nevertheless general education has opened the eyes of human understanding correspondingly.

“The common people” are looking with amazement at the luxury of the rich as the barbarians of old looked upon the much lesser splendors of Rome. They are covetous, they are hungry for what they term their “share” of the bounties being dispensed by Providence with so lavish a hand. Even if the vast increase of wealth through machinery, chemistry, etc., were to be evenly distributed we doubt if it would satisfy them.

THE DIVINE PLAN IS THE SOLUTION

There seem to be two possible solutions: (1) To convert all of the wealthy into saints, whose pleasure it would be to administer the flood of wealth now rolling in upon them for the general blessing of mankind, along the most benevolent lines imaginable; or (2) To convert into saints the masses of mankind and to imbue them with Heavenly hopes and prospects that they would not particularly care for earthly good things nor crave them, but rather rejoice to be “the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom.” (Jas. 2:5)

We cannot believe that either solution can be accomplished; hence we must believe what the Bible teaches – that an awful conflict is about to be precipitated between these two classes because neither one nor the other can be fully converted to the Lord’s way. How glad we are that the Bible shows that the culmination of the conflict will bring everlasting peace – a just, loving, equitable and satisfactory adjustment of earth’s affairs, under Messiah’s glorious Reign of a thousand years!

Some may ask if these same difficulties would not beset any new government which Messiah or others might institute. Will not the element of selfishness forever persist in the human heart, and will not this imply that to all eternity there will be a conflict of selfish interests? No – the Divine Plan solves the problem perfectly. Jesus has demonstrated His unselfishness by laying down His life. He proved not only His loyalty to righteous­ness and to the Father’s will, but also His love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

This Friend of humanity is to be the great King of the world in the New Dispensation, and His associates in the Kingdom, the Bride class, are to be such only as have His spirit and disposition of obedience to the Father’s will – self-sacrifice and love for fellowman – unselfish love. Under present conditions these may not always be known, nor their true character and unselfishness be discerned, because they have the treasure in “earthen vessels,” which do not always fully present their true benevolence of heart. (2 Cor. 4:7) The Divine provision is that those who have demonstrated their unselfishness of heart and loyalty to the Lord are to be given new bodies in the resurrection: “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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. 15:42-44)

The Bride, in association with the Redeemer, will constitute the Kingdom class which is to rule the world for a thousand years under the Headship of Jesus. Surely we can trust them, we can have confidence in them. The fact that God has elected them and is pleased to give them rule over the world for a thousand years testifies beyond a doubt their worthiness and capability.

That government will not be a republic, but a monarchy, a theocracy, a Divine Kingdom. Christ and His Bride will be the King and Queen of the New Dispensation, supplanting Satan and the fallen angels, who for centuries have been in control. The Kingdom of God will be invisible just as the kingdom of darkness has been and it will operate through human agencies, just as Satan’s kingdom has. Its human agents have been provided in the Divine Plan; the Scriptures inform us that the worthy ones of the Jewish Dispensation and before, will be the “princes in all the earth” who will represent Messiah’s Kingdom among men. (Psa. 45:16) They will be perfect men, made so by participation in the “resurrection of life.”

How grand the prospect! The Time of Trouble, although it will be awful, will be short, as typed in the terrible trouble which came upon the Jewish nation following the harvest work of their age. Then will come the leveling process, which in the Divine order will prove to be a blessing to everybody. In other words, the socialists and anarchists are not so far from a correct conception of what must ultimately prevail, but they are far astray respecting the methods by which it will be obtained. Their attempt to grasp the rudder of the world’s affairs shows an utter lack of appreciation of the mighty influences with which they seek to contend. Their efforts will merely precipitate upon themselves and upon others the terrible trouble which the Scriptures foretell.

God’s people are distinctly warned that they must keep hands off, must not interfere with the powers that be; their reliance must be upon the Lord, and not in the use of carnal weapons. St. James, writing on this subject, declares the coming trouble and tells that it will be especially severe upon the rich. (Jas. 5:1-7) No doubt the troubles will be equally upon the poor; but to them they will seem less severe since they have been accustomed to less.

The message to God’s people is this: “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (Jas. 5:8) “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord.” (Zeph. 3:8) “Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” (Zeph. 2:3) Herein is safety sure.

(From Pastor Russell’s Sermons, pages 184-191. Edited for clarity and length.)

____________________________________________________

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TIME OF TROUBLE

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted . . . Your gold and silver is cankered . . . Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth . . . Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton . . .” (Jas. 5:1-6)

Question: Can you explain the first six verses of the fifth chapter of James?

Answer: This is a prophecy relating to “the last days” (Jas. 5:3) and is contrary to the expectations of many Christian people who are anticipating the world’s conversion to Christianity before the second coming of the Lord. This is a clear-cut statement of the Apostle describing the conditions that would exist in the last times. Had he been living in these times he could not have described the situation of affairs in the world more accurately or concisely. Is it not true that treasures have been heaped together? . . . Are not the “rich men” living in pleasure; and are they not “wanton” (extravagant – luxurious) in their ways of living? (Jas. 5:5) Expensive palaces, yachts, auto­mobiles, jewels, balls, banquets, and various forms of amusements are aggravating the poor and the unemployed to such an extent that they are crying out; and these “cries” (Jas. 5:4) have swelled into a mighty volume and find expression throughout all the public press. Do not all intelligent people know that the vast accumulation of wealth has been brought about mainly by “fraud?” (Jas. 5:4) It is the farming class, “the labourers who have reaped down your fields,” that are the real wealth producers of the world, and these are the ones who have been defrauded the most by the political and financial frauds of the times. Pity the poor rich (Jas. 5:1) in the coming “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan. 12:1), for theirs will be a season of special sorrow and anguish of mind when all the accumulated wealth will become valueless. (Jas. 5:2-3)

Question: What is meant by the Scriptures which declare that in the last days there would be a fearful time of trouble? (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21-22) Has this any reference to the industrial and social crisis that is now developing throughout the world?

Answer: There have been seasons of severe trouble and destruction at various times in the history of the race, such as the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, when about a million and a quarter of Jews were slain, and the French Revolution, when vast numbers were slaughtered by the mobs and by the troops – a reign of terror indeed – but the “time of trouble” in the end of this age (not the end of the world for “the earth abideth forever” Eccl. 1:4) is represented as being more dreadful than any preceding experience, in the sense that it will be world-wide and not a local disturbance as were the previous seasons of destruction. (See Rev. 16:14; Luke 21:25; Zeph. 3:8-9) The Scriptures clearly indicate in what way the trouble will be developed, after the nations, kingdoms and governments have become associated together, forming a general community of interests, such as we see existing now, when all are brought together by financial, political, and social ties, treaties and alliances. It will be an industrial and social conflict that will involve all classes and be terrible when the climax is reached. The battle lines are already sharply drawn. Organized capital on the one hand and organized labor on the other are the two forces arrayed against each other in deadly conflict. The Apostle James writes almost like a socialist in describing some of the phases of the impending struggle. (Jas. 5:1-5) After the “trouble” is over conditions will be established on a new basis, and an era of peace and prosperity be ushered in. (Hag. 2:7)

Question: Of what practical advantage is a knowledge of the truth of God’s character and plan of salvation, to one in time of trouble, disappoint­ment, sorrow, etc.?

Answer: The knowledge of God, the Creator, that He is wise and just, loving and all powerful, and that He is our loving Heavenly Father, one that we can draw nigh unto with confidence and trust in every time of need, through the merits of the Anointed Savior, is a wonderful source of comfort and consolation, and is of far more practical benefit than all that earthly wealth or fame could possibly bestow. After all, real advantage or benefit is that which brings peace and happiness to the heart. Those who have the consciousness that they are the children of the Most High God, and that He loves them, and is over-ruling all of the affairs of life to their interest and welfare as spiritual children – ah, these have that inward peace and joy and happiness, that not all the storms, and trials and afflictions of life can mar or take away. The knowledge of the plan of the ages, brings unspeakable joy to those who thus know what God has in reservation for those who love Him; and not only for these, the Church of Christ, but also for all the families of the earth – the world of mankind. In view of the high exaltation to glory, honor, and immortality at the right hand of the Majesty on high, promised to the Lord’s faithful people, how trifling and insignificant must seem the trials and hardships of life! And thus the Apostle Paul expresses the matter saying, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17)

(What Pastor Russell Said, pages 848-849)

____________________________________________________

LOVE DEFINED

Love is that tender solicitude and affection with which anything commanding admiration and respect is regarded. That which is not lovely never can be loved in the true sense of the word. A degenerate nature may desire and find a morbid satisfaction in that which is unlovely, but that is not love. Love wherever found is a gleam of the Divine likeness, and is spontaneously awakened by the presence of that which is noble and pure and good. This wonderful principle binds in holiest and most delightful union and harmony all intelligent beings controlled by it. God is the most glorious exhibition of its nobility and grandeur. It is the law of His being, and shall ultimately be the controlling law of all His universe.

One may inquire, if only that which commands admiration and respect can be truly loved, how could God love sinners and tell us to do the same? We reply that God never loved sinners as such; He loved the jewel He first brought into perfect being because it was truly lovely. When it lost its excellence and glory through temptation, His love for its perfection caused Him to pity it in its fall. Although His justice condemned it; it was His love that devised the wondrous plan for its recovery.

Note the attitude of God towards those whom He so loved as to give His only begotten Son to redeem. For six thousand years He has permitted their adversary to have dominion over them: Famine and pestilence have stalked abroad; hatred and strife, and war and bloodshed, have filled the earth with untold agony and woe, until the grave closed over generation after generation. God still stands off, and the king of terror still reigns. When the long promised Deliverer comes, it is to rule with a rod of iron – to dash in pieces as a potter’s vessel the kingdoms of earth, which from the human standpoint seem necessary for protection against greater evils. In fear and dismay men look upon God as an enemy, and seek to hide from His presence. Yet, “God is love.”

The love of God is currently veiled, but soon it will be revealed in the glorious restoration to the perfection and bliss of Eden: “And the ransomed of the Lord [all mankind] shall return, and come to Zion [the Church in Kingdom power] with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isa. 35:10) God’s love is often veiled by His wisdom.

True love will seek to shield and protect, but will also justly judge a fault and strive to eradicate it. True love will expose the fault and let the light shine on it, that it may be removed, allowing grace and beauty to take its place. A very false notion of love prevails among the majority of Christian people, and under this false notion our adversary endeavors to shield some of the most dangerous and deadly errors that sap the very foundations of the Christian’s hope. Anyone wielding “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Eph. 6:17) against a deadly error presented to God’s children by the adversary is said to be uncharitable, loveless.

This is by no means so! Jesus was full of the love of God, but He spoke out most emphatically against evil-doers: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in . . . Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matt. 23:13, 24) He also did not refrain from rebuking His own disciples, as when He said to erring Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan [adversary]: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)

Paul was a noble pattern of his Master’s spirit in his zeal for the Truth and his care for fellow members of the Church. His usual manner toward all, like that of Jesus, was kind, generous and affectionate, but Paul did not hide the Truth, shield error, or fail to warn an erring brother or the flock of God against the encroachments of the enemy. If he had so done, as an unfaithful steward he would have lost his stewardship.

Though Peter was a noble soldier of the cross and fellow servant in the Lord, Paul “withstood him to the face” when on one occasion he “dissembled” or acted in a two-faced manner in dealing with Jews and Gentiles. (Gal. 2:11-13) Evidently the rebuke was accepted in the spirit of meekness; note the sympathy and love existing between the two. (2 Pet. 3:15) On another occasion, Paul faithfully warned the Church against many who had become “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Phil. 3:18)

To the objection, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” we reply: Exercising human judgment in condemning others is wrong; but applying the judgment of God as expressed in His Word is right. We are in fact commanded to do so, and the various descriptions of evil deeds, false teachings and seducing doctrines, are given that we may judge, “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

It is therefore the duty of every child of God to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. We are cautioned against judging by standards other than the Word of God – condemning by our own or any other human authority. That Paul judged according to God’s Word and taught the Church to do the same is very clear. (1 Cor. 5:3; Gal. 2:11; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:2-3) Note also Paul’s prayer: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Phil. 1:9)

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 4, we see that Paul’s faithful efforts to build up and establish the Church in purity of doctrine and life were often misunder­stood and unappreciated. This is very apparent from his statement: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” (1 Cor. 4:3-4) Speaking of his labor and suffering for them, he went on to say: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” (1 Cor. 4:14)

Jesus said: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) Paul says: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” (Rom. 12:9)

Dearly beloved, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” (Rom. 12:10) “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2)

(Reprint 663. Edited for clarity and length.)


Write to us at: epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com


NO. 740: THE LESSON OF EASTER

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 740

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” (Rev. 1:18)

We must not allow Easter Sunday to pass without noting its unique lesson – the resurrection of the Savior from the dead. The above text comes to us as fresh as though delivered yesterday from the lips of the risen Redeemer. It is His special message to His people. How much is conveyed in these few words! They affirm positively that Jesus really died, “the just for the unjust,” that He might bring mankind back from sin and condemnation to harmony with God. (1 Pet. 3:18) With equal force they tell us that He is dead no longer. Although unseen by our natural eyes, we may recognize by faith that He arose from the dead and ascended up on high. (Heb. 9:24)

What was accomplished by His death and what is the value of His life to mankind?

His death was necessary because death was the sentence against Adam and all his race because of original sin – disobedience. St. Paul says, “Where­fore, 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.” (Rom. 5:12) It was not an angel that had sinned and hence an angel could not be the Redeemer. The Divine Law was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; hence nothing but the sacrificial death of a perfect man could redeem the race from the death sentence. Any perfect man could have been substituted, but none existed in the whole world. Thus it was necessary that our Lord be “made flesh” so that He might redeem us. (John 1:14) As the Scriptures explain, “Though he was rich, for your sakes he became poor.” (2 Cor. 8:9) He left the perfection of the heavenly nature and came down to perfect human nature; He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26)

The death of Jesus did not redeem the world, but it constituted a ransom price for the world yet to be applied. Our Savior laid down His life, surrendering it to the Father, in obedience to the Divine will. As a reward He was highly exalted and given a name above every name on the spirit plane. (Phil. 2:9) He did not forfeit His human rights by sin; He laid them down in obedience to the Father’s wish, to be disposed of as a bequest to humanity.

Thus we see clearly the inestimable value of our Redeemer’s sacrifice of Himself. A further glance will show His resurrection to be of equal importance. Had the Father not raised Him from the dead, it would have implied some unfaith­fulness, some failure on our Lord’s part. And if He had not arisen, how could He have made application of His human rights on our behalf? No wonder St. Paul forcefully declares: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . . ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished . . . But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:14-20)

So the resurrection hopes of the Church and of the world hang upon the death of Jesus and His resurrection. The Scriptures differentiate these hopes. The Church is to share in the “first resurrection” (the chief resurrection), also called “his resurrection.” (Rev. 20:6; Phil. 3:10) It is a resurrection to the spirit nature of glory and perfection. On that glorious plane the Heavenly Bridegroom will soon claim His espoused Church as His Bride and joint-heir in His Kingdom.

Afterward the world’s resurrection will be due to begin. It will not be a resurrection change to spirit nature, nor will it be an instantaneous work. Theirs will be a gradual resurrection to perfect human nature. First they will be awakened, “every man in his own order.” (1 Cor. 15:23) Subse­quently they will be gradually raised up out of sin and death conditions to perfection of life, if they are willing to obey the great King of the Millennial Kingdom. Those refusing to obey will be destroyed in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23)

Regrettably, many Christians, including many of the clergy, fail to discern the great importance of the resurrection as taught in God’s Word. This serious omission has created confusion, leading many to reject the Word of God. Let us heed the testimony of the Bible on the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. In doing so we will surely be following the example of the Great Teacher and the Apostles. Are we wiser than they that we should leave their teachings or neglect them? Certainly not! “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1)


DOES OUR LORD NOW OWN THE HUMAN RACE?

If someone has signed a contract to purchase a building and has secured financing for the purchase, it would be appropriate to consider that person the owner of the building. Strictly speaking, however, he is not the owner until he pays the price, the documents are properly executed, and he has the deed instead of the contract. A contract is an agreement to enter into a transaction; the deed is proof that the transaction has been completed.

Our Lord Jesus entered into a contract with the Father, giving to the Father the ransom price: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) He already has a claim to being Lord of all in a prospective sense, although not in the actual sense. He is not Lord of millions of people on earth today. Their knees have not bowed and their tongues have not confessed. (Rom. 14:11; Isa. 45:23) So He is not their Lord in the absolute sense, but His work is progressing, and in view of the authority which will yet be exercised by Him and of the work which He will yet do, the Father speaks of Him prophetically as “Lord of all.” (Acts 10:36)

Let us consider certain Scriptures bearing on this subject. We cite first the passage which refers to the dead, both good and bad, as “them which are asleep” and those who “sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14) How are they asleep in Jesus? They sleep in Jesus in exactly the same way that Abraham and all the Old Testament kings and Prophets are said to be asleep. At the time of their death Jesus had not yet paid a ransom price for mankind, nor had He yet come into the world to do so. However, in the Divine Plan God had arranged for and guaranteed that a Redeemer would be found, that a ransom price would be given, and that all mankind would be recovered from the tomb. Further, God Himself spoke from that standpoint when referring to Himself as “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” speaking as though they were really not dead at all, but merely asleep, waiting for Him. (Exod. 3:15)

All who believed God then could speak of and think of the dead as merely asleep and awaiting the resurrection, even though Jesus had not yet come. The same is true since Jesus came and died. It is still more reasonable and proper for us now to say that all “sleep in Jesus,” because now He is identified as the one who has given Himself a ransom price for all. The price has not yet been applied for all, but He has placed in the Father’s hands His sacrificed life, which is His to appropriate and which is sufficient for the sins of the whole world. It has not as yet been appropriated for the world, but merely for the Church, for the price is first a satisfaction for the Church’s sins and afterwards for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2; John 3:16)

THE CHURCH ALONE REDEEMED THUS FAR

Next consider this text: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:18-19) The “ye” referred to here is the Church; the reference does not extend beyond the Church to the world. It does not imply that the world is redeemed as yet. Jesus’ merit, of course, is all-sufficient for the whole world, but He has not yet appropriated it for all men.

Consider another text: “For ye are bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:20) Similarly this text speaks not of the world, but of the Church. It is the “ye” class that were bought, but even they were not yet bought when Jesus died at Calvary. There He indeed committed to the Father’s hands a price sufficient for all (Luke 23:46); but it was not then appropriated for anyone until His resurrection and ascension, when He appeared “in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9:24) The “us” class, the Church, were then bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Another text: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) In one sense He was a propitiation, or satisfaction, for the sins of the Church when He died, but the satisfaction had not then been applied for the sins of the Church. When He ascended up on high He appeared for the Church (the “us” class), and made satisfaction for its sins. Therefore, as they believed and made conse­cration, their sins were remitted.

When He died, the merit of His death was also a satisfaction price for the sins of the whole world, but He has not yet applied it for the world. Hence the world is not free from the penalty of sin; it is still under condemnation. Concerning the Church, however, the Apostle says they have “escaped the corruption that is in the world.” (2 Pet. 1:4) And again he says they were “in times past . . . by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph. 2:3) The others, we see, are still children of wrath. The reason? It is because the satisfaction for their sins has not yet been applied. The great Redeemer has the satisfaction price; it merely awaits the due time for its application.

Notice another passage: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” (Rom. 14:9) This text succinctly states what our Lord accomplished. His death, His raising and His revival were all necessary features of the redemptive work. Further, He could not yet be Lord in any other way than by the Father’s proclaiming Him such, as when He declared Him Lord of all and when He said, “And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Heb. 1:6)

Although Christ is proclaimed to be Lord of all, it will take time for that to be recognized. In harmony with this the Apostle says, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Eph. 1:10) It will take the fullness of the Millennial Age to accomplish this gathering together under Him, making Him in fact Lord of all. So we see that prophetically and by Divine appointment He already has that office, but now He is waiting until His enemies are brought under Him and all things are subjected to Him. (1 Cor. 15:25-27; Heb. 2:8)

A RANSOM FOR ALL

Next consider this text: “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) As the man Christ Jesus, He gave Himself at Jordan, surrendering His all to the Father’s will. His work of surrendering His earthly life and all His earthly rights was completed at Calvary when He cried, “It is finished.” He finished the work the Father had given Him to do. He gave Himself a ransom for all, and the merit of His death will be sufficient to constitute a ransom for all as soon as it is applied. Thus far it has been applied only for believers. The time for its application for the remainder of the world will be the Millennial Age.

While our Lord’s merit is fully appropriated during the Gospel Age for all who come unto Him, it will be fully set free when the last of the consecrated ones have passed beyond the vail. His merit has been imputed to them for the very purpose of enabling them to sacrifice, following in Christ’s footsteps. When His merit has been released by the death of the last of the consecrated, it will be again at His disposal for appropriation to the world.

Then the great High Priest will make the second sprinkling of the blood – not on behalf of the Church, because they will have no further need of it. The second sprinkling will be on behalf of “all the people” – all who will come under the New Covenant arrangement. (Lev. 16:33) Once all come to sufficient knowledge under that New Covenant, those who desire to come under the merit of our Lord’s ransom price will receive the Restitution blessings. Those who will reject the ransom price will fail to come under the merit, thus rejecting the blessings of Restitution.

Restitution blessings will come gradually throughout the Millennial Age, not instan­taneously at the beginning. The blessings will not come merely in a reckoned sense by faith; they will be actual. Throughout the Millennial Age, Christ will give mankind the benefit of our Lord’s ransom price. The full benefit of this price will not be given until the work of the Millennial Age is finished and all desiring to be God’s people, upon God’s terms, have been brought to perfection. God never intended His blessings to go to any but those who desire to be in harmony with Him on His terms. God never intended to do anything for those who are willingly and intentionally out of harmony with Him, such as Satan.

Note the agreement of this text: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) This is God’s great work which He purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world – that the ransoming of Adam and all his race should be accomplished through the death of Christ. (Eph. 1:9-10) Thus Jesus tasted death for every man, whether the benefit of it was received on the Day of Pentecost or later during the Gospel Age, or whether they will get it in the Millennial Age. It is for every man that He tasted death, so that He might give them the blessings that will come to the world of mankind during the Millennial Age, blessings that will be theirs to all eternity if they are obedient.

“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive.” (Eph. 4:8) We think another translation states it more clearly: “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives.” (Eph. 4:8, RSV) This passage (a quotation of Psa. 68:18) shows He is the leader of the entire captive race. They will all be led forth, all delivered from the power of sin and death.

THE APPLICATION OF THE PRICE

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. 5:6) This passage does not say that Christ made an application of His merit for the ungodly; it merely states that God arranged His plan so that it was necessary for Christ to die for the ungodly. He arranged it on behalf of all the ungodly, not merely the Jews and those who may desire to be in harmony with God. The merit of His death was intended by the Father to apply to every member of the human race, the ungodly race of Adam, all of them sinners and more or less depraved and degraded and out of harmony with God.

The object for which the price was given is one thing and the application of it is another. The purpose of Christ’s death was to redeem the world, to be the world’s ransom price, that He might be the restorer of all. But time and order are crucial to this plan; the work progresses step by step. The first step was for Christ Himself to secure eternal glory by being obedient unto death, thus securing an asset that He could then give away – His earthly life, which He had not forfeited.

The next step was for Him to ascend up on high and apply this price. He appeared as advocate for a special class, those from among men who desired to come into harmony with God, who desired to accept God’s favor and to become members of the Body of Christ under a special plan that God had arranged. When He appeared for these He imputed the merit of His sacrifice on their behalf, and thus all this merit was absorbed in this one work of justifying and assisting this special class. He did not do this by first giving them earthly restitution, but by simply imputing His merit to them.

This imputation of His merit has covered the Adamic sin of those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, turning from sin and consecrating themselves to God. It has made up for all deficiencies of their flesh, allowing them to present themselves “a living sacrifice, holy, accept­able unto God.” (Rom. 12:1) In other words, He became their guarantor. Not being sufficient of themselves, He has guaranteed for them that if they faithfully performed this laying down of their lives, His merit would continue to be applied for all their imperfections. These are the Royal Priests, represented in one picture as His Bride and in another as members of His Body. These are “more than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:37) They are the “called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

However, not all of those called have made their “calling and election sure.” (2 Pet. 1:10) There have been those (probably few) who “fall away,” who “draw back unto perdition,” sinning willfully against full light and dying the Second Death. (Heb. 6:4-6; Heb. 10:39) For them there is nothing reserved but everlasting destruction. They are perished as brute beasts. (2 Pet. 2:12)

There is also a large secondary class, a “Great Company,” who have not voluntarily, heartily and cheerfully laid down their lives in the desire to please the Father and do His will. These, nevertheless, are loyal at heart but are restrained from full sacrifice “through fear of death,” through fear of what it will cost them. (Heb. 2:15) They could only be saved “so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:15) “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-14) They take a lower place than that to which they were called.

These three classes having finished their course, all the merit that Christ imputed will again be available and will be applied in the sealing of the New Covenant. The New Covenant will be made with Israel, but it will be broad enough to include all those of every nation of the earth who are willing to come under its terms. Through faith and obedience, they will become the children of Abraham.

THE PURCHASED POSSESSION REDEEMED

Now consider this text: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit granted to the Church is the earnest or foretaste of their inheritance. They are to “inherit all things.” (Rev. 21:7) First of all they inherit the Divine nature, and secondly they inherit the great Abrahamic promise that through them, in union with our Lord Jesus as members of His Body, all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 22:18; Gen. 28:14; Gal. 3:29) They are spoken of as the Lord’s purchased possession and this part of His possession will be complete when they are changed to receive His glory. They will then be perfect and under His direct control.

After this, another part of this same promise (another feature of the same possession) will become operative. The precious blood will then be applied to seal the New Covenant on behalf of the sins of all the people. The work of recovering the still larger possession will progress until the close of the Millennial Age, when the entire possession will be redeemed. Christ will have put down all enemies and accomplished His mission of restoring mankind to perfection. He will then deliver up His completed work to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24)

Also consider this passage: “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. 5:15) Here the Apostle evidently does not mean that the full abundance of grace had at that time reached the many, because that would be untrue. It is now nearly 2,000 years since the Apostle’s day, and the abundance of grace has not yet reached the majority of mankind. So we must understand him to mean that the abundance of grace in Christ according to the Father’s plan and purpose is yet to reach the many. The world is yet in its sins; Israel is yet in its sins and will not be recovered until after the glorification of the Church, as the Apostle points out: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:26-27)

Since this grace has not yet gone to the Jews nor to the Gentiles in general, the only way in which it has abounded is through the promise of God that the death of Christ will yet be made efficacious for all. Therefore, speaking from this prophetic standpoint, it is plain to be seen how Jesus is the Savior of the world, although the work of saving the Church will not be complete until the end of the Gospel Age. Similarly, He will not be the Savior of the world in the full sense until the end of the Millennial Age. Some will never be fully saved because they will refuse the grace of God; and yet He is, according to the Scriptures, the Savior of all men – the Savior of the world.

The Scriptures declare that He was the Savior of the world when He was born. The message of the angels was, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) He was then a Savior in the prospective sense – not because of what He was then, as a babe, and not merely because of what He has since accomplished through His sacrifice, but because of all that He will accomplish according to God’s promise by the time He delivers up the Kingdom to the Father. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25)

He now saves in a partial sense, by hope, those who come unto the Father through Him. The saving of the world will begin when He awakens them from death; but they will not be fully saved, will not attain full Restitution nor gain eternal life, except as they exercise faith and obedience. He opens the door; He makes the way; He provides all the arrangements by which they may know and obey.

The whole earth is a part of the purchased possession and shall be filled with the glory of God. And if any knee will then refuse to bow and any tongue refuse to confess and any fail to accept of the favor of God, there will be nothing further for that person; he will die the Second Death. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23)

_______________________________

This paper is based on writings of Pastor Russell, primarily Reprints 4587 and 4632.


___________________________________________________

QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST

Question: Are the Youthful Worthies of the Household of Faith?

Answer: We use the expression, the Household of Faith, from a variety of standpoints: . . . [1] In the Old Testament times all believers in the promises were of the Household of Faith. (Heb. 11:1-39) [2] All Gospel-Age believers in Jesus are of the Household of Faith . . . (Rom. 4:11-12) This was typed by all children – the afterborn as well as the firstborn – in each family in Israel partaking of the Paschal Lamb in Egypt. (Exod. 12:3-17, 21-28) [3] All new creatures, as a finished work, in the end of the Gospel Age, especially during the Epiphany, are the Household of Faith. (Heb. 9:24; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; Mal. 3:2-3; 1 Cor. 3:11-15) Aaron and his house on the Atonement day typed this Household of Faith. (Lev. 16:6,11) [4] The Little Flock, the Ancient Worthies, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies will be the Millennial Household of Faith. (2 Tim. 2:20) The Priests and Levites dwelling about the Tabernacle type this Household of Faith. (Num. 1; Num. 3:4) The Youthful Worthies, of course, are not of the New Creature Household of Faith, because they are not new creatures. But from the standpoint of having “the faith of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7,9) they are, of course, like him, of the Household of Faith. They are among the believers referred to under [2] . . . The reason why they are of the Household of Faith is that they are a faith class; for all that are of the faith of Abraham are of the Household of Faith. [See also R5358, page 358]

Question: If they are of the Household of Faith, what is their position with regard to the blood of the antitypical Bullock?

Answer: We understand that the blood of the antitypical Bullock is actually imputed on behalf of that Household of Faith only which consists of new creatures, those referred to under No. [3] . . . “He hath now appeared in the presence of God [in the antitypical Most Holy, with the antitypical Bullock’s blood] for us” (Heb. 9:24); hence for the firstborn only. “By one offering [imputation of His merit] He hath perfected [justified reckonedly] forever them that are sanctified” [the consecrated who become new creatures]. (Heb. 10:14) These are the antitypes of those for whom Aaron made atonement with the bullock’s blood. The Youthful Worthies are not among these, for their justification is not vitalized. While because of their faith God tentatively treats them as though the merit of the antitypical Bullock had been imputed on their behalf, actually there has been no such imputation made for them; actually they are not yet released from the Adamic sentence; and actually, with the Ancient Worthies and the Restitution class in general, they must wait for the application of the Lord’s merit on their behalf in connection with the blood of the Lord’s antitypical Goat; for they are counted in among the Ancient Worthies, of whom it is written, “That they without us [apart from the application of the Lord’s merit in the blood of the Lord’s antitypical Goat, and The Christ bringing them back from the tomb] should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:40 )

(Brother Paul Johnson, E-4, pages 405-406)


Write to us at: epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com