by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 736

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

The story of the “good tidings” is so familiar it should require no elaboration – yet the hope of the whole world lies in its simple details. The birth of this child had been prophesied for four thousand years, and during that forty centuries faithful souls continued to trust in the promises and to look for the salvation to be brought through Him. We may be sure that the humble shepherds to whom the message of the Lord’s Advent was first delivered were men who thus hoped in the promises of God, for only to such does the Lord disclose His purposes.

These shepherds where quietly tending their flocks by night when suddenly, “The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” (Luke 2:9) Their fear was soon overcome by the message of the angel, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings, of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

One of the most marvelous features of this message is largely overlooked: That it will be to all people. Observe the cumulative blessedness of this message. First there are “good tidings;” then there is “great joy;” then the crowning feature is that it is to “all people.” It was not only a message to the shepherds, who that night looked for the hope of Israel, but it was a message to all – all then living, all who would live in the future, and all who were already in the grave.

Hearken to the joyous sound of the blessed tidings: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) The Scriptures clearly affirm that He was to be a Savior to all people: “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) We are told that He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim 2:6)

That testimony, to be given in due time, is just as necessary to the salvation of the sinner as the fact that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all. The favor of salvation will not be forced upon any; but all will hear the testimony that the opportunity for it has been provided for them, on the condition that they accept the favor upon God’s terms. And though millions of the human race for whom Christ died have gone down to the grave without receiving such a testimony, the fact remains that the testimony will be given to them in due time. Accordingly, the due time for them must be after their awakening from death.

The words of our Lord forcefully confirm this: “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good [who in this present life have come into judgment and who have passed their trial successfully], unto the resurrection of life [the full reward of the faithful – such will be the overcoming Church]; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

Those included in the resurrection of judgement will come forth from the grave to have the Truth testified to them for their acceptance or rejection. They will be judged worthy or unworthy of life based upon the results of this trial, but only after the Truth has been testified to them in the Millennial Age, the age now just ahead of us. Thus, the angel of the Lord, in delivering the message to the shepherds on the plane of Beth­lehem, was preaching the good tidings of “the restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-23)

The angel then told the shepherds where and how they would find this bud of promise, so that when they saw Him they would be sure that it was He: “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12) This statement not only helped the shepherds to identify Jesus, but it showed them the humble conditions under which this great King of earth was born into the world. It served to bring down their thoughts from the great and grand results to its humble beginnings, lest they should be misled in their expectations.

It should be the same with our proclamations of the Divine Plan. We are not only to tell of the future glory, greatness, and grandeur, but we are to tell also of our Savior who humbled Himself to take a low estate among men and to die for our sins. We should also point out that the “elect” have been called to walk in His footsteps, under similarly humil­iating circumstances – to suffer with Him, if they would reign with Him; to die with Him, if they would live with Him. As the Apostle points out, the Prophets spoke not only of the glory that is to follow, but also of the sufferings of Christ (head and body) which must precede the glory. (1 Pet. 1:11)

The narrative then shows the interest of the angels of God in the affairs of men, how they sympathize with us and rejoice over our prosperity: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14) Our Lord’s own statement corroborates this interest of the angels: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) Other Scripture state­ments show their keen interest in mankind’s salvation, “which things the angels desire to look into,” esteeming it a privilege to serve the heirs of this salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (1 Pet. 1:12; Heb. 1:14)

Thus we see the angels are creatures of God full of loving benevolence even toward a fallen race, although they know, as they studiously look into God’s Plan, that an elect few of this fallen race are to be highly exalted, even above the angels who never sinned. Thus we see their humble recognition of the right of the Creator to do what He will with His own, and their cheerful and joyful acquiescence in His perfect will, which they know to be determined by His unerring wisdom and His fathomless love. Oh, what universal joy will prevail when the whole family of God in heaven and in earth is brought into fullest harmony under the Father’s Anointed!

Continuing with the account, we are then shown the teachable attitude of the shepherds. They immediately recognized the angels and their message as coming from God. Their fears were allayed, their hopes revived, and their faith increased. They felt that they must act at once: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” (Luke 2:15)

They hastened to find Mary, Joseph and Jesus and afterward these humble, trustworthy agents spread the word abroad about the glorious event and those who heard them were amazed at the message. (Luke 2:16-18) We should likewise serve the Lord’s cause by proclaiming this gracious message we have been favored to receive.

We then see the humility of Mary: “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) She made no boasts but waited for God’s due time, doubtless calling to mind also the message of the angel to her. (Luke 1:28-35) Again and again we seem to hear her say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord . . . For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden . . . he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49)

The shepherds returned to their flocks, fully assured of the wonderful truth that the promised Savior had really come. They rejoiced and glorified God for all the things they had heard and seen. (Luke 2:20)


Our Lord Jesus was God’s great gift to Israel and to the world, a gift as yet fully appreciated only by the Spiritual Israelite. All the gifts God has promised to mankind are to come through Him. (Eph. 4:8) While all may gather something of the force and meaning of the word “Savior” as signifying deliverer, there is another underlying significance not generally recognized. In Aramaic, the language assumed to be spoken by the Lord and His disciples, the word rendered Savior signifies “Life-Giver.” How much force this adds to the meaning of this beautiful text! Jesus was born to be a Life-Giver, and this joyful news is to all people. He may give life to whomsoever He chooses; and He chooses to give it, in harmony with the Divine will, only to those who come unto the Father through Him, by faith and obedience.

A “life-giver” is a father, and it is from this standpoint that our Lord Jesus was prophesied to be the “Everlasting Father,” the giver of everlasting life to the obedient of the world. (Isa. 9:6) Adam, the father of the race, failed to give to his posterity perfect and lasting life. Through sin he came under the sentence of death himself, and transmitted to his posterity only a blemished, dying condition. What the whole world needs, therefore, is life – eternal life – and in sending Jesus into the world, God was meeting our necessities most bountifully.

But God does not propose to give eternal life to any of His creatures unless that gift would be a real blessing; we know that eternal life would be a curse instead of a blessing to any not in full accord with the Lord and His righteous arrange­ments. Accordingly, we are told that all who would have the life which Jesus came to secure and offer to all must accept it according to the terms, conditions, and limitations of the New Covenant – faith in the Redeemer and heart-harmony and obedience to God, to the extent of ability. In the present time, when sin abounds and Satan is deceiving and blinding mankind, not many can appreciate this great gift of God’s love, and not many become His disciples. The Gospel Age has been the time, therefore, for selecting out of the whole world of the redeemed ones a “Little Flock” to be joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom.

But thanks be unto God, we can now see that the plan of salvation does not stop with the gathering of the elect Church, but that in the full sense of the word it has merely begun there. (1 John 2:2) The testimony of the angelic choir which sang at our Savior’s birth and the declaration of good tidings of great joy has yet to be completely fulfilled.


In the first chapter of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul sets forth a lesson which calls attention to the fact that our Lord Jesus and His testimonies were but further developments of the great Divine Plan of which God had been speaking to His people Israel: “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, whom he hath appointed heir of all things.” (Heb. 1:1-2) He points out that if it was always appropriate to hearken to the Lord’s messengers, it is much more appropriate that we hearken to the great Chief Messenger of God, our Lord Jesus.

The Apostle next points out the basis of our good hopes of salvation through Christ, the basis on which Divine justice and love may operate toward fallen mankind through Him: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. 1:3)

When the Apostle points out the high exaltation of our Lord Jesus, and that it was a reward for His obedience in suffering death on our behalf, he shows four things:

(1) Our Lord Jesus gave a ransom for our transgressions which was satisfactory to Divine justice, so that through His stripes we might be healed, despite the death sentence which was against us through father Adam’s transgression. (Isa. 53:5)

(2) Because He paid the ransom price, our Lord was exalted above angels, to share the Father’s throne and nature in glory.

(3) This exaltation of the Savior shows He was given power – power to carry out the blessed provisions of the New Covenant, which He sealed with His precious blood, making it effective to mankind.

(4) The Life-Giver will in due time use this power and exaltation granted by God to establish the heavenly Kingdom.

The exalted and fully empowered Life-Giver will then stand ready to make known to all mankind the terms of the New Covenant. Thus He will bring in everlasting righteous­ness as the law of earth; He will lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet; He will sweep away the refuge of lies; He will bind the great Adversary, Satan; He will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf; He will cause all mankind to know the love of God which passes all understanding, love which would not have any to perish, but would have all to turn to Him and live. (Isa. 11:9; Isa. 28:17; Isa. 35:5; 2 Pet. 3:9,13; Rev. 20:2)

“Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

“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)


The peace and good will that the angelic choir sang of is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Instead of peace and good will to men, we have war, savagery, and other works of the flesh and of the Devil mentioned by St. Paul – anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, etc. (Gal. 5:19-21) The Scriptures show that the turmoil is only beginning; most of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, most of the anguish and despair, suffering, sorrow and devastation, are ahead, “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1)

In the midst of all these tribulations the world must learn the great lesson which God wishes all mankind to learn: “Hope thou in God!” (Psa. 42:5) Earth’s only hope is in God. All must yet learn the lesson recorded by the Prophet many centuries ago, namely, “The wisdom of their wise men shall perish.” (Isa. 29:14) They must learn that the wisdom of men is foolishness with God, even as the wisdom of God is foolishness with men. (1 Cor. 3:19; 1 Cor. 1:18)

Many who have prayed “Thy Kingdom come” have failed to study the message of that Kingdom. Many have thought that it has already come; many others have felt that because God has not exercised His power and force in dealing with humanity up this point, He will not do so in the future.

The Bible, however, assures us that Messiah’s Kingdom will be a forceful one. He will rule the nations “with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.” (Rev. 2:27) The foretold breaking and shaking processes, now beginning, are causing this Time of Trouble. The shaking will be social, political, financial and religious. The monstrous false creeds engrafted upon the teachings of the Bible in the Dark Ages will be shaken to pieces, and all the great institutions misnamed “churches” will be shaken with them. Only the one true Church will stand. It will include all saintly followers of Jesus of every nation and denomination and it will exclude all others.

How glorious the hope that Messiah’s Kingdom will speedily set the world’s affairs in order, bringing peace out of confusion and strife! When human strength is weakened, human pride humbled into the dust, and human hopes dashed, the world will be ready for the New Day. The Bible beautifully pictures it as the rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His beams, scatter­ing the darkness, ignorance, superstition, sin, and death that have caused the night of sorrow never to be forgotten. (Mal. 4:2) The Lord’s people, awake and looking in the right direction, already perceive that we are in the dawning of the Millennium. The advancements which have come to the world at an ever increasing rate are Millennial blessings, fore­shadows of still greater favors to come.

Human hearts have not properly responded to the blessings already received. Instead of gratitude, there is a spirit of selfishness begetting discontent and covetousness, which will culminate with every man’s hand against his neighbor and his brother. (Ezek. 38:21; Zech. 8:10)


Do the Scriptures contradict themselves? The Great Teacher declared, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) He referred prophet­ically to the effect which His gracious message of love and favor would produce in the world during the reign of sin. He knew that the Prince of Darkness would oppose Him as well as His followers. It was foretold that whoever would live godly in Him would suffer persecution; and so it has been. (2 Tim. 3:12)

Nevertheless, our Lord sent His followers forth unarmed, like Himself, to be peacemakers. Jesus counseled His followers, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matt. 26:52) As the Apostle states, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)

However, the message of peace and love and the coming Kingdom has angered not only the vicious and ungodly, but also those professing godliness while having their own schemes, plans and theories contrary to the Gospel Message. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:20)

The Master knew the effects His Gospel Message would have; He knew that only those who compromised His message could possibly live at peace, that all who would be loyal and faithful to Him would be slandered, persecuted and “beheaded,” either literally or figuratively. When He stated that He came to send a sword, therefore, it was a prophecy of the tribulations His faithful would surely have. More than this, it was a prophecy respecting the nations, the peoples.

What is it that has brought us to our present degree of civilized savagery? What is it that makes of every business corporation a cutthroat, seeking the destruction of every competing enterprise? What is it that has sharpened the wits of humanity to such an extent that the majority find it difficult to be honest, because they see so many oppor­tunities for dishonesty. Why is it is impossible for lawmakers, who themselves circumvent the law, to make new laws quickly enough to thwart newly invented corrupt schemes?

The doctrines of Christ are in a certain sense responsible for all this. Christ has given liberty (from the constraints of the Law Covenant) to His followers that they have covenanted to use by following in His footsteps, even laying down their lives in service. This same liberty, however, and the light that Christ and His followers have shown upon a darkened world, have given rise to cunning and craft when received into unsanctified hearts and minds. As proof of this we find that so-called Christian nations have often been the most brutal and corrupt, while other nations which have not received this reflected light of Christianity have been relatively less so. Only as Christian civili­zation in a perverted form has reached these peoples have they caught up with Christendom.


Notwithstanding the nearly twenty centuries of delay, the prophecy will surely be fulfilled by and through the One whom the angels announced and whose birth we celebrate at this season. Many have gotten the impression that our Redeemer has been waging an unsuccessful war against Satan, sin and death during these long centuries. We learn this, however, from the Great Teacher’s own words: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) That is, His Kingdom is not of this age; it belongs to the age to come. The ruler of this world has been Satan. The dominion of earth was originally given to man, but Satan having deceived our race, putting darkness for light, has become the real ruler, using humanity merely as his tools. Scripturally he is styled “the god of this world,” and “the prince of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:4; John 14:30)

Perplexed and confused, many question if there is hope for the fulfillment of the promised peace and good will. We answer: Our Master, who declared that He was not the Prince of this World, declared also that His Kingdom will be introduced with power and great glory. (Matt. 24:30) Although its initial manifestation will be with clouds, darkness, and a Time of Trouble, nevertheless His Reign will be glorious, triumphant and eternal. “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor. 15:25) Immanuel’s victory means the overthrow of sin, the crushing of the Serpent’s head. At the very beginning of the glorious Reign of Messiah, Satan will be bound, and following its close he will be destroyed in the Second Death. All those who love unrighteousness, after having had full opportunity for recovery from the snares of sin and death, will also be destroyed. (Acts 3:23) Then the whole world will indeed be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. (Hab. 2:14) The Great King, who died the Just for the unjust, that He might bring mankind back into harmony with God, is to be the great Restorer of all that was lost in Adam; and He will make all things new. (1 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 21:5)

Everything relating to this great Plan of Salvation outlined in the Word of God is reasonable. The crucial testing of the elect Church is necessary in order that, as faithful and merciful priests of God and of Christ, associated with Him in His kingly glory, they may be God’s instruments in succoring mankind from the fallen conditions which have resulted from six thousand years of sin and from the malignant influence of the Prince of Darkness. The thousand years which the Bible stipulates as the period of Messiah’s Reign is a period neither too long nor too short in which to accomplish the world’s salvation.

Some may say, if the entire Gospel Age has been required for the development of the Church, how much more time will be necessary for the uplifting of the world? But, we answer, it is not the Divine purpose to uplift the world to spirit nature and glory, but rather to Restitution blessings and conditions. It is because of the high exaltation offered to the Church that such crucial testings of sacrificial obedience even unto death have been required. When the Prince of Darkness has been bound and the Sun of Righteousness has risen with healing in His beams, the darkness of sin, crime and sorrow will soon flee away. One century of such blessed influence upon the world will surely work wonders, bringing in also inventions, blessings and comforts as yet unimagined

Next will come the gradual awakening of all who have fallen asleep in death. They will come forth from the prison-house of death, as the Scriptures declare; they will come forth that they may be made acquainted with the true God, with His glorious Son, our Redeemer, and with the principles of righteousness in contrast with the principles of sin.

Under these conditions, we cannot suppose that it will take long for the majority of mankind to accept the value of the blessings of everlasting life and Restitution proffered them. The uplifting and regeneration will progress rapidly, while in the meantime, generation after generation will come forth from the tomb to enjoy similar experiences, finally all will have come forth. The love of God provided for this through the death of our Redeemer, who delighted to do the Father’s will, and has been rewarded gloriously with high exaltation to the Divine plane of glory, honor and immortality.


Many, having become discouraged by the seemingly poor prospects for the world’s conver­sion, have chosen to accept another translation of the angels’ song, rendering it, “And on earth peace, among men of good will.” Were this the correct thought, all our hopes would be dashed as there have been relatively few men of good will throughout history. It would also make void the prayer our Master taught His disciples: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This translation could not be the correct thought since it is not in harmony with what we have clearly seen to be the plan of God for mankind.

Attaining the condition of good will toward (among) men will mean the attainment of human perfection. We are told, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Therefore, when our first parents were created an earthly image of God, love must have been the predominant quality of their characters. The selfishness we see is largely a matter of heredity and all society’s customs promote it. It continually increases its hold upon us.

But with the new King and the new Reign of Righteousness will come the glorious uplifting and transformation. Gradually, during the thousand years of Messiah’s rule, the evils of selfishness will be made apparent, and the beauties of holiness and love will be shown in contrast. Restitution rewards will lift mankind up out of sin and selfishness to holiness and love. Then, with love as the very essence of man’s being, good will among men will everywhere prevail; for the Divine Law, almost effaced through the reign of sin, will be rewritten in the human constitution. (Jer. 31:33)

That Law is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27)

The great Divine Plan of the Ages is rolling onward towards completion; and at every stage its progress makes for fresh blessings and fresh revelations of the glorious things which God hath purposed in Himself from before the foundation of the world. Truly, God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, and His thoughts than man’s thoughts! (Isa. 55:9)

(The above is based on various writings of Pastor Russell)


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 735

“And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’” (Rev. 5:1-2, RSV)

The mystery of the Divine Plan, hidden from the world and from nominal Christians in parables, figures and symbols - hidden from all except the fully consecrated children of God - is most beautifully symbolized in the Book of Revelation. In the vision, John was shown a symbolic panorama of the Father seated upon His throne of glory, holding in His right hand a scroll sealed with seven seals. The scroll does not symbolize the Bible, but rather the Divine Plan, with its times and seasons. While the Bible is indeed a record of God’s plan, He had the plan from the very beginning, before the Bible was written. It was the mystery, the secret of the Lord, unknown to anyone but Himself - His plan for the salvation of the world.

In the symbol John heard the proclamation, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” In other words, who is worthy to open and execute the great Divine Plan, wonderful for its wisdom and love, for its lengths and breadths and depths and heights past human comprehension? A silence followed the question, and John “wept much.” He feared this signified that none would be found worthy, that the Divine Plan would never be fully revealed and therefore never fully executed. But the angel again touched him and said, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:4-5, RSV)

Is the Divine Plan really a secret? Are not God’s arrangements so plain that “the wayfaring men, though fools [unlearned], shall not err therein?” (Isa. 35:8) Are not the steps of the plan of salvation simple enough for a child to understand?

Evidently not! Differing opinions about the Divine Plan are everywhere. Not only are there a great variety of utterly false non-Christian theories, but Christian people have various theories that are in direct oppo­sition to each other. Even among the scholars of the various sects of Christendom there are differing conceptions of God’s intentions and methods.

Some claim God’s plan to be one of “Free Grace,” by which He gives an equal opportunity to all to share in it. Yet, looking about us it is evident all are not equally privileged; all are not equally informed; all are not equally circum­stanced. Others claim God’s plan is one of “Election.” They deny that grace is free to all, holding that it is restricted to the favored few. Besides these two theories, we have various other conflicting theories, and the most obtuse thinker must admit that if there is so much disagreement among theologians, college professors and doctors of divinity, the unlearned “wayfaring man” has many chances to err.

It is then quite literally true that the Lord’s plan is a secret: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” (Psa. 25:14) He did not disclose it to the angels - not even to the Logos. Nor did He disclose its time features fully to our Lord Jesus while He was in the flesh. And after His resurrection Jesus spoke of these things saying, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7)

All the Prophets spoke more or less obscurely and in parables, including the Great Prophet, our Lord Jesus, of whom it is written that He taught the people in parables and dark sayings: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.” (Matt. 13:34-35; Psa. 78:2) Never­theless, He promised that in due time the Holy Spirit would guide His true disciples into all truth and would show them things to come. (John 16:13)


The scroll representing God’s Word has writing on the inside and outside. The things written on the outside represent the easy and simple things of the Bible, like histories, most of its precepts and exhortations and some of its doctrine. Those things written on the inside and sealed by seven seals represent the secret features of the Bible, which could not be made known to men until someone was found worthy to open the seals. They could not be understood until the due time for Jesus to open the seals and expound to God’s elect people (“them that fear Him”) the things inside. Of Jesus the testimony was given: “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10, RSV)

God had intimated to Abraham that He had a plan for the fallen race. He declared to Abraham unconditionally that He would bless the world of mankind. (Gen. 22:18) He also later pointed out through the types and shadows of the Law certain features of the plan by which He would bless the world. He declared that there would be a Redeemer, but kept secret who the Redeemer would be. Both angels and men desired to know but they were not permitted the knowledge. The inspired Prophets spoke concerning this Redeemer, but they did not understand the meaning of their own words.

In due time the Logos was sent forth. A loyal Son before He was sent, He undertook to do the Father’s will, not yet knowing what it would cost to be the Messiah, for God had kept these things secret. He manifested His faith and His trust; He delighted to do the Father’s will, even to the taking of a lower nature. He humbled Himself from His previous glorious condition and took the human nature. He became a man - a perfect man, not a sinful man. Our Lord did this in order to carry out the great program which the Father had in His own mind and which He had not revealed to any other.

Great was the favor bestowed upon the Strong One of the Tribe of Judah in being permitted to open the seals - to carry out and make manifest the grand designs of infinite love - and great is the privilege of those who are permitted to look thereon as the seals are opened.

When Jesus reached the age of thirty, the earliest age at which He could present Himself to God under the Law, He went to Jordan and made a consecration of Himself with the determination to do everything that was in the Father’s plan - every­thing that typically and prophetically had been written in the Holy Scriptures concerning Him. “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psa. 40:7-8; Heb. 10:7,9)

This was our Lord’s consecration. His human nature became His sacrifice; He laid down His life. He did not finish laying down His life at Jordan; but so far as His will was concerned, He committed it there. He there became the Priest, the great High Priest, His flesh being typed by the bullock of sin-offering, sacrificed on Israel’s Day of Atonement. During the three and a half years of His ministry He carried out this sacrificing satisfactorily, and everything the Father gave Him to do was finished at the cross.


Our Lord Jesus received the anointing of the Holy Spirit when He came up out of the water at His baptism and the heavens were opened to Him. The Scriptures were unfolded to His view and the higher things which He had not previously understood became clear. He knew He was going up to Jerusalem to be crucified. He knew that He would be betrayed by one of His chosen disciples, and He knew which of them would be the betrayer. He knew these things because He had been begotten of the Holy Spirit and accepted of God as a Son on the Divine plane. (Mark 1:10-11)

During the three and a half years of His ministry He was the Messiah, the One sent of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He had sacrificed His will, but this was not sufficient. God wished Him to sacrifice not only His will, but actually to lay down His human life. And God purposed to prove Him by certain crucial tests. So He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) When all His tests were completed at His death on the cross, God gave Him a name at which all should bow, both in heaven and in earth. (Phil. 2:10)

Here we find the answer to the words “Who is worthy?” This inquiry encompassed the period from before Jesus came into the world until His resurrection from the grave. God had given the most honorable One of all the host of heaven the first opportunity to prove His worthiness to loosen the scroll of God’s great plan and to fulfill its provisions. He was given this opportunity because, as the First-born of the Father, He had the right to the first privilege of service, and He did not allow the privilege to go to waste. He accepted it; He was faithful; He humbled Himself to the human nature. Being born as a man to the Tribe of Judah, He thus became the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a title He did not have in His position as the Logos. It was as the Son of Mary that He was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David.


Our Lord’s worthiness was not proven when He was born as a man; it was not proven when He made His consecration. It was only when He finished His course in death that He was proven worthy to receive glory, honor and power. The demonstration was not complete until He cried with His dying breath, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) From the time of Adam until Jesus no one had been found worthy to open the great scroll. But then John the Revelator depicted Jesus thus: “And I beheld, and, lo . . . a Lamb as it had been slain.” Myriads of Angels were then heard proclaiming, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev 5:6, 11-12)

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension the scroll was given into His hands to be opened, meaning that the Divine Plan as a whole was then made known to Him. He already had knowledge of much of it, the part of the plan that was written on the outside of the scroll. But then all things were then given to Him to unloose, the part written on the inside. While still in the flesh He had said, “But of that day and that hour [of His second coming] knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32) The things that were sealed were not proper to be understood by our Redeemer until He had received all power, after His resurrection. The execution of God’s plan was then given into His hands.

Our Lord Jesus had proven His loyalty to the Heavenly Father by His obedience, not only in humbling Himself to take man’s estate for the suffering of death, but also in His obedience “unto death, even the [ignominious] death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8) Then and there He proved Himself worthy of every confidence and trust. As the Apostle declares, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)

Thus is pictured the high exaltation of the Heavenly Father’s representative, the “Messenger [servant] of the Covenant.” (Mal. 3:1) Because of His humility, complete submission and obedience to the Father’s will, He is proclaimed thenceforth the sharer of the Father’s throne. Finally “every creature” will understand that God has very highly exalted His Only Begotten Son, even to association with Himself in the Kingdom, and shout their approval, saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13)

No wonder, we are instructed henceforth: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” (John 5:23)


Then came the opening of the seals, the revealing by Jesus, the disclosing of one after another of the various features connected with the Divine purpose. Each seal as it was loosed permitted the scroll as a whole to open a little wider, and a little wider, thus permitting “the mystery of God” to be a little more clearly discerned, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 13:35)

The opening of the seals has progressed all during the Gospel Age. The whole plan of God is represented in this scroll. It has required all of the present age and will require all of the next age to complete the plan. The Plan of God includes the “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21)

We are now able to see these wonderful things and to tell about them, because each of the seals as it has been opened has made the plan a little clearer. We may suppose that the Lord Jesus was made aware of all its features after He ascended to the presence of the Father. We who are God’s people seek to know these things more and more fully. The Master declared that as the Father revealed them to Him, so would He reveal them to us; but this revelation has been gradual, as the successive seals have been broken.

Brethren, beloved in Christ, realizing that our God has counted us worthy to look upon the wondrous scroll of His great Plan, which has been unsealed for us by Jesus our Lord, let us continue to prove ourselves worthy to look therein and comprehend the glorious things of His Word, by faithfulness, obedience and loyalty to His plan in everything! Let our appreciation continually increase for our wondrous privilege in being permitted to share this blessed ministry of bearing Divine Truth to other hungry hearts that they also may rejoice in the Lord and in the power of His might!

(Based on several writings of Pastor Russell, primarily reprint 5943)



“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” (Matt. 22:15)

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious leaders at the time of our Lord’s first advent. Having formed an alliance or federation of sorts, they rarely attacked each other, although their doctrines were directly opposed. The Pharisees acknowledged God, the Prophets and the Law, and believed in a future life by a resurrection from the dead. They believed a coming Messiah would exalt their nation and through it bless the world. The Sadducees, on the other hand, believed none of these things – they were agnostics, the “Higher Critics” of their time. They sought to make the best of the present life, doubting any future life existed.

The Pharisees opposed Jesus because He did not acknowledge their religious authority. He instead criticized them and exposed their hypocrisies in claiming to be perfect and holy in the keeping of the Law. He also reproved them for their lack of sympathy for the poor and less prominent.

The Sadducees also opposed Jesus because, as unbelievers, they considered Him a fraud. Even so, they only bothered themselves to oppose Him because they perceived that He was gaining influence with the people. They feared this influ­ence might sooner or later lead to some disturbance of the peace and influence the Roman Empire against the Jews. So while the Sadducees and Pharisees both opposed Jesus, their opposition was for different reasons.

Five days before His crucifixion, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the multitude cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9) This awakened envy in the minds of the Pharisees, but in the Sadducees it produced fear that the common people would be incited to involve their nation in conflict with the Empire.

From the time Jesus called Lazarus back from the tomb, the Pharisees had privately determined to kill Him. (John 11:44-53) His driving out of the money-changers, etc., from the Temple was a further manifestation of His power with the common people, who would not stand by quietly and see Him injured. Whatever was done must be done quietly and quickly. Moreover, since the people revered the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees reasoned it would be desirable to have Him executed under Pilate’s decree.

But how could they bring the matter before Pilate? What charges could they make? It was the people who had proclaimed Him king and not Himself. They reasoned that they must get Him to make some treasonous statement which would result in Him being brought before Pilate as an enemy of the Roman Empire. He could then be legally executed in a manner which the public could not protest. The Pharisees wanted to turn the sympathy of the people away from the Great Teacher.


To this end, on the last day of our Lord’s public ministry (two days after His entry into Jerusalem), a group of Pharisees, along with members of another Jewish sect, the Herodians, came to Jesus seeking to entrap Him with the question: “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17)

The Pharisees generally held that the Jews as the people of God were to be the rulers of all other peoples, and that they should never pay tribute (taxes) to other rulers. They kept these teachings privately, however, for fear of being apprehended as traitors to Rome. The Herodians sided with Herod, standing firmly and publicly for the control of the Roman Empire. They claimed that it was to the advantage of the people of Israel and that the paying of tribute was right and proper. The common people seemed to favor the view of the Pharisees and oppose the view of the Herodians.

By coming to Jesus in public, the represen­tatives of these two sects hoped to get Him to do one of two things: either agree with the Herodians that the tax was right and proper and thus break His influence with the common people, or publicly side with the Pharisees and common people, declaring the tax improper and contrary to the Divine will, thus labeling Himself as a traitor and a leader of sedition.

They artfully endeavored to ensnare the Master by prefacing their question with a compliment upon His truthfulness, impressing upon Him their appreciation of Him as a Teacher: “Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.” (Matt. 22:16)

These treacherous compliments were intended to entrap Him, but He promptly answered, “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? [Why do you veil your base designs under guise of speaking for the Truth?] Show me the tribute money.” They handed Him a denarius inscribed with Caesar’s likeness and superscription. Jesus then asked, “Whose is this image and superscription?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Jesus replied, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:18-21)

Jesus did not go into a discourse on the advantages to the Jewish nation from the protection of Rome, nor did He declare that the tribute tax was just in every respect. But He did sum up the matter in those few words: If Caesar had just claims against them, they were to render to him accordingly. This would not interfere with God’s just claims which they should be equally ready to meet. This answer was not an evasion of the question. It was an answer in the full sense, far beyond what his questioners could fully comprehend.

They did comprehend, however, that they had failed to entrap Him. He had answered their question in a manner which would never have occurred to them, and they saw that He had a wisdom far beyond theirs and beyond all natural earthly wisdom. He had the wisdom from above: pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and good deeds. (Jas. 3:17)


Having failed, the Pharisees and Herodians left; but then on the same day the Sadducees came to Jesus. These agnostics, who did not believe in a resurrection, tried to entrap the Great Teacher by asking one of their stock questions: Seven brothers in turn married the same woman and all died before she did. They asked, “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven?” (Matt. 22:28) They did not ask whose wife she would be in heaven or eternal torture or purgatory, for neither Jesus nor any of the Jewish sects held any such belief. The Pharisees and Jesus taught the resurrection of the dead, and it was against this teaching that the Sadducees aimed their sarcastic question, which aimed to show an absurdity in the doctrine of a future life, implying that human affairs would be so muddled that all eternity would not straighten them out.

Note the majesty of the Master’s answer: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matt. 22:29-30) The Sadducees did not understand the Scripture teachings and ignored the great Divine power to be exercised at the resurrection, which will straighten out all difficulties. The Great Teacher explained that those who would gradually attain the resurrection, the complete raising up out of sin and death conditions, would be sexless, as are the angels. The crowds who heard this were astonished at Jesus’ teaching. Thus the supposed great and unanswerable question of the Sadducees fell flat and their ignorance was exposed.


When the Pharisees learned that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they again gathered together to question Him. One of them who was a lawyer (one considered an expert in religious law) questioned Jesus about the relative importance of the Divine commandments, asking which com­mandment Jesus considered the greatest one of all. This perhaps was another attempt to entrap Jesus or it may have been asked in all sincerity, the lawyer having witnessed how well Jesus answered previous questions.

The Great Teacher promptly divided the Ten Commandments into two, quoting from the Old Testament. He answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great [chief] commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40; Deut. 6:5)

What could the lawyer say to such a summarization of the Law? He had nothing left to say. He had never before heard such an answer. Who today, hundreds of years later, could more completely summarize the great truth of this text? Heavenly Wisdom was manifested in the original statement and the same Heavenly Wisdom was manifested when our Lord quoted it; He added nothing, because nothing could be added.

We see more and more clearly the power of this statement. Love is the principal thing! In times past many might have changed this statement to conform to their creeds, making it convey the idea that we should dread, fear, and tremble, because the Almighty God of the Universe purposed to eternally torment the great majority of humanity. The Bible stands distinctly separate from all human creeds and superstitions, and tells us that God is love, that He is the Father of light and mercy, from whom comes every good and perfect gift. (1 John 4:16: Jas. 1:17)


The Great Teacher then asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” They answered, “The son of David.” He then asked, “How then doth David in spirit [prophetically] call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt. 22:42-45)

This question was of course too deep for the Pharisees. The Great Teacher could answer all of their questions, but they could not answer His. How beautifully clear we see it: Messiah, “according to the flesh,” was born of the lineage of David (Rom. 1:3), but God’s purposes were not fully accom­plished in Messiah of the flesh. He laid down His flesh sacrificially and was raised from the dead to the plane of glory, honor and immortality. We perceive that while in the flesh He was the Son of David, but in His glorification He is David’s Lord. Through Him, David will in due time receive not only resurrection from the dead, but also the blessing of participating in the Messianic Kingdom.

The father of Messiah in the flesh will thus become the son of the Messiah of glory, whose earthly life is to be the restitution price for the whole world, including David. Thus it is written, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes [rulers] in all the earth.” (Psa. 45:16)

(Based on several Reprints, including 4686, 3852 and 5521)



by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 734

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive [retain] 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 3:19-21)

It has been our custom for many years to pay tribute at this time of year to Pastor Russell, That Wise and Faithful Servant, to commemorate his death on October 31, 1916. We believe his steward­ship doctrine was a correct understanding of the Atonement, the central teaching of which is Restitution. It has been said that once Brother Russell received the Truth on this doctrine, he never delivered a public discourse in which Restitution did not have a prominent place. In keeping with this, we present this treatise.


In Acts 3:19-24 the Apostle Peter called to the attention of the Jews the promise that God had made to Abraham, saying, “And in thy seed shall all the nations [peoples] of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) The word “restitution” in the text means restoration; or, as Rotherham states it, “the times of the due establishment of all things . . . But, indeed, all the prophets, – from Samuel and those following after, as many as have spoken, have even announced these days.” (Acts 3:19-24, Rotherham) The Apostle Peter here describes the refreshing times to come, as opposed to the present dry and dying condition of the human race – which he elsewhere likens to grass that withers and sears for lack of rain. (1 Pet. 1:24) He proceeds to stress that the Prophet Samuel and all who came after him had spoken of these refreshing times to come.

This was one of the first public speeches that came from any of the Apostles after Pentecost, and it is in fact just another way of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Often it is recorded of Jesus that He went about “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:35; Mark 1:14), which the Apostle Peter here declares to be the “times of restitution.”

It would seem that such an important and far-reaching doctrine as this should have prominent recognition wherever and whenever the Christian religion is preached. But what do we find? So far as we are concerned, we have never once heard Acts 3:19-24 even mentioned from the pulpits of Big Babylon, much less has any attempt been made to explain it. Since men usually preach the things they understand and love, we can but conclude that the silence on this part of Scripture is due to the lack of knowledge of those who should be declaring it.

All during the Gospel Age, since the death of the Apostles (or shortly thereafter), the doctrine of Restitution was completely lost, as represented by parable of the woman who had ten pieces of silver, lost one and sought diligently until she found it. She then called her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” (Luke 15:8-9) The woman in the parable is the Church, which lost sight of one cardinal doctrine of the Bible – Restitution – and it was not until the Harvest that this great Truth was with great rejoicing once more recognized. After the Harvest work had attracted a following, and the Pilgrims began to circulate, That Servant often urged them all to preach Restitution. That was especially emphasized with the Sunday speakers that were sent from the Bible House on weekends. It was indeed “Good Tidings of Great Joy” to all who received it with grateful hearts.


Jesus said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) After the transgression in the Garden of Eden four things were lost – things which man once had in his pristine purity. (1) He lost his intimate and friendly relationship with his Creator. (2) He lost his perfect home: “The Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man.” (Gen. 3:23-24) (3) He lost his original dominion over earth: “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) Noting this loss of dominion, the Apostle Paul said, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Heb. 2:8) (4) He lost his life. Man was not created to die – he was created to live – and the Scripture is clear enough that he would have continued to “live forever” had he remained in his perfect Edenic home, from which he was driven out “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” (Gen. 3:22)

Just as four things were lost, there are four component parts to the Restitution, the restoration, as clearly set forth in Psa. 103:2-5: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: [1] Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; [2] Who healeth all thy diseases; [3] Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; [4] Who crowneth thee with loving­kindness and tender mercies . . . thy youth is renewed like the eagles.”

The first of these processes came without any effort on man’s part and generally with little or no knowledge that he is receiving this “benefit.” St. Paul says of us who presently believe, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Thus, Christ made Himself an offering for sin for us before we knew anything about it being done. He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) In “due time” all men will recognize what we now know – that a propitiation for sins was provided by the Redeemer without men asking for it – Christ forgives all iniquities.

The same may be said for the second Restitution process, the healing all diseases. In the resurrection day it is self-evident that the disease which brought man to the grave must be cured before his awakening; otherwise, he would immediately die again. The natural and artificial causes that have caused death for centuries must be eliminated in all men before they are returned from the grave. This also will be accomplished without men asking for it.

The third process will operate somewhat differently. Redemption from destruction will require cooperation on the part of the recipient. “God our savior . . . will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4) But this knowledge of the Truth will not be forced down the throats of the unwilling; they must show some desire for it and willingly cooperate in the educational process. That educational process will not only teach men the religious truth on the facts of life and death, it will also teach them the physical, mental, moral and religious philosophies of life which will enable them to live forever in perpetual youth. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (Hos. 13:14) That power which now turns man to destruction, to the grave, will be stayed. Death will be deprived of its present power over all. Then will come to pass the prophecy: “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth.” (Job 33:24-25)

The fourth process, the “crowning,” will also require the cooperation of the recipient, who will receive it with a clear understanding of its import. It is emphasized in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” (Matt. 25:34) In times past, when a prince inherited a kingdom from his father, he was seated on the throne and a crown placed upon his head. Figuratively speaking, this same procedure will be followed when the Restitution process is complete. Each one of the “sheep” will inherit a kingdom – perfect human life with its accompanying life rights – just as Adam had in Eden when he was given dominion over all things on earth. He was then in every sense a monarch over all he surveyed.

However, the Restitution processes cannot be completed fully until the causes that now send men to the grave have been eliminated. St. John states this very graphically: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)

The angel who gave those words to John evidently realized the disbelief with which the message would be received by the present sick and dying race, for he then emphasized it with these words: “Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Rev. 21:5)

The logical conclusion is that the Restitution processes will eliminate all crime, thievery, violence, moral depravity, and sickness. There will be no more need for locked doors; no more destructive armies; no more rigid police protection. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4)


St. Paul graphically confirms this outcome: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [Jesus] of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by [a] man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die [all who were in Adam die; this would exclude Jesus, for He was never in Adam], even so [all who are] in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits [meaning the entire Christ Company, and not merely Jesus only]; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [presence]. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:20-26)

“The end” is the end of the Little Season, when Christ will have ruled over the earth to the full elimination of Satan and his evil acts and death and the dying process. The “last enemy” is the dying process – all the mental, moral, physical and religious ills now prevalent in the human race. Then the conclusion of St. Paul will be realized: “That through death he [Jesus] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14)

The foregoing is vividly illustrated in what is perhaps the grandest type of the entire Old Testament: “And the Lord said unto Moses [type of Christ], Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians [Pharaoh and his hosts being typical of Satan and his henchmen] . . . and the sea returned to his strength . . . and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea . . . and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.” (Exod. 14:26-31) The destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea typically sets forth how Satan and all who are on his side will be forever destroyed. The “goats” of the parable in Matt. 25:31-46 will come to their complete annihilation, leaving the “sheep” as the unmolested and perfected rulers of all they survey – free from all the evils that Satan’s deceptions have inflicted upon the human race.


That Servant gave a very clear and convincing presentation of the Times of Restitution; and his entire following was almost a solid unit in accepting it the way he taught it. But what do we find since his death? We find many who once seemed to understand the subject have now perverted it out of all recognition to the manner in which they had once accepted it. Chief among these are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who now have consigned Adam to annihilation, which is actually a denial of the Ransom – although they would not admit that.

Since Adam was the only perfect man on earth aside from Jesus Himself, and since the word Ransom itself means a corresponding price, an exact duplicate, Adam is actually the only one who could be ransomed. Therefore, St. Paul gives the philosophy: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) When ransom was provided for Adam, that act became the inheritance for all of us – just as all of us inherited the death penalty for sin passed on him. The Witnesses now leave out a very large section of the human race in their presentation of Restitution. To all who understand the philosophy of the Ransom, it is an elementary conclusion that if Adam is not to be awakened, none of the rest of the world will be awakened.

They are now telling us that all living today who do not accept them will never be awakened, although they admit that Satan is still blinding the eyes of unbelievers. They are dividing the Sheep from the Goats now during this Time of Trouble when, more than ever, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (2 Cor. 4:4) They tell us that those who will never be awakened will therefore never have the opportunity of Restitution when the Devil is bound, and nothing but truth will be taught.

The Prophet Isaiah tells us this: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. . . . And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isa. 35:5,8) The highway is the established New Covenant. It will not be a “narrow way” but instead a public roadway, open to all. The unclean who refuse to go up it will “be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) Also Rev. 22:5 tells us, “And there shall be no night [error] there.”

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses say all present “unbelievers” in them will be annihilated in the approaching Armageddon, it is a far cry from the “good news” taught by That Servant, who had a message of hope for the groaning creation. And they claim That Servant as their founder! He is not the founder of their errors; he was the founder of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which the errorists took over after his death. Their teachings reveal that they do not understand, or will not accept, the meaning of “the gospel of the Kingdom,” as St. Paul so clearly states: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) Most of these “heathen” have never intelligently heard the name of Christ (nor have they heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses).

According to the Witnesses, this annihi­lation in Armageddon will include the majority of the people living – quite a few of whom are honorable, benevolent and kind – their besetting sin being that they cannot accept the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their errors. They can no longer teach: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29) (Judgment is mistranslated damnation in the King James Version. Judgment is for all restitutionists. See Diaglott.)

Nor can they teach: “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) For a number of years they put forth their “Jonadabs” as the Restitution class. They still retain much the same view, except that they now call their Jonadabs the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9-17. All Bible logic is against such an interpretation, because the language and setting of Revelation 7 clearly depict a class on the spirit plane – “before the throne – which is in Heaven. They have set aside That Servant’s interpretation of this text and substituted their own interpretation, which is error.

We continue to teach the Gospel of Christ, the Good Tidings to all mankind, the grand and glorious Restitution work of that blessed Kingdom, which will include all current unbelievers as well as current believers in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Another group, The Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, also teaches a superior Restitution class that is being developed now – “Consecrated Epiphany Campers.” To refute this error we need only bear in mind that we are still in the Gospel Age, the Faith Age; and during this Age the merit of Jesus is only for Himself and His house – for all those who honestly accept Him as their Savior and walk a “narrow way.” During this Faith Age there is only one place where His merit can be obtained, and that is inside the Court of the antitypical Gospel-Age Tabernacle. The LHMM has their non-existent class outside the linen curtain of the Gospel-Age Tabernacle – outside the righteousness of Christ in this Faith Age.

Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6) and there is only one manner in which that “way” can be obtained, and that is by taking the step from the Camp, through the antitypical Tabernacle Gate, and into the Court, whereby “justification by faith” has been obtainable all during the Faith Age. It is still the only way, because we are still in the Gospel (faith) Age. We would emphasize that a place in the typical Tabernacle represents a condition in this Faith Age antitype.

For those who have received Harvest Truth, there would seem to be little excuse for such distortions. According to the Prophet Malachi, one of the specific missions of Jesus at His Second Advent would be to “sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Mal. 3:3) The “silver” in this text represents the Truth and the Truth has shone with great brilliance during the Harvest period. While the Truth on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the state of the dead, etc., were understood fairly well by some groups in Christendom before 1874, it remained for the Harvest Messenger to refine and elaborate upon every one of them with telling force. The word “purifier” in our text is from the Hebrew taher, one meaning of which is to make bright or to polish. Thus, at His Second Advent our Lord not only refines, purges the dross of error from the Truth, but He also brightens or polishes it.

Note that He “shall sit” as a refiner and polisher. At the time of the First Advent it was the custom for a speaker to sit, while the audience stood. In the Talmud the phrase to sit is almost synonymous with to teach. Jesus was indeed the teacher; but when He said the Scribes and Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat” (Matt. 23:2), He meant they were setting themselves forth as the teachers of the people – just as Moses had done when he gave them the Law at Sinai. Jesus now sits on His throne, as does a king and as a judge sits on his bench, etc. Thus, He is the executive, the authority, the official opponent of error and developer of the Truth. This is true not only of religious truth, but also to a large degree of secular truth. Satan has done an excellent job of corrupting secular and religious truth over the centuries, and none but our all-powerful Divine Lord is capable of undoing the damage. He has come with the “golden crown” on His head as evidence that He has the power and the authority to eliminate the damage of the past. (Rev. 14:14)

To polish anything requires a cleansing agent to be applied with muscular strength. Since 1874 especially, this has been accomplished mainly through much controversy. The Truth comes out in controversy; those who object to controversy are actually objecting to one of the special missions of our Lord since 1874, and are imposing a deception on those who listen to them.

Our chief purpose in giving this explanation is to focus attention upon the “outer darkness” of those who once saw Restitution in its brilliance and clarity, but who have now sullied it so badly by their perversions (See Matt. 25:30 on the “unprof­itable servant” with the Berean Comments). The evidence clearly points to something being woefully wrong in the hearts of such.


Like all other fundamental teachings of the Bible, the text stating that God “will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4), has been given the extremes of erroneous interpretation. Some contend that if God will have all men to be saved, that is a guarantee of eternal life for every human being that has ever lived. Universalism goes even further, insisting that even the Devil and his angels will also eventually be saved, despite the clear statement of St. Paul to the contrary. (Heb. 2:14) Others contend that God would like to have all men saved, but He just can’t seem to accomplish it. All of these perversions are based upon a misunderstanding of the salvation process.

God will have all men to be saved. But saved from what, to what? St. Paul offers us the proper help: “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) All of Adam’s progeny inherited the death sentence from him through no fault of their own. It is relief from that sentence from which God wishes all men to be saved. Often in human affairs we hear of a condemned man being “saved from execution” by official decree; but that does not mean that he will continue to live forever. It simply means that he is saved from the sentence passed upon him by the judicial process.

Much the same explanation may be given for the entire human race being saved; they will be saved from the sentence now hanging over them, and thenceforth will be given the privilege of regaining perfect life, as Adam had it, if they wish to take advantage of it. If they do, they will be classified as the “sheep” of the parable; if they do not, they will be classified as the “goats” of the parable, and will be sentenced to death once more – for their own transgression, not for one inherited from another.

This is well stated by the Prophet Jeremiah: “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:29-30) No longer will the iniquities of the fathers be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. (Exod. 20:5)

Some years back we corresponded with a preacher who insisted that St. Paul’s words mean that every man will eventually receive eternal life – although there is just nothing in the text to warrant such a conclusion. Man will be relieved from the present load upon his back, and given the opportunity, under favorable conditions, to free himself from its effects if he will take advantage of the opportunity. Nothing more than that; nothing less. The preacher argued that the “everlasting punishment” of Matt. 25:46 simply means “age-lasting” and that man will continue to receive one opportunity after another – for a full Age – until he eventually avails himself of eternal life. But the same Greek adjective aionios is used to describe both the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the unrighteous. This would force the logical conclusion that the life received by the sheep will also be limited to the Age. Note the footnote for verse 46 in the Emphatic Diaglott:

“The Common Version, and many modern ones, render kolasin aionioon, everlasting punish­ment, conveying the idea, as generally interpreted, of basinos, torment. Kolasin . . . is derived from kolazoo, which signifies [primarily] to cut off; as lopping off branches of trees, to prune . . . The righteous go to life, the wicked to the cutting off from life, or death.”

If we cut the limb from a tree, we know that limb will no longer continue to live; it withers and disintegrates – in much the same manner that Adam withered for 930 years, then disintegrated in the grave. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19)


At the birth of Jesus the angel declared, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) St. John elaborated: “He is the propitiation for our sins [those who accept Him in this present Age]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

As we look back with joy at the Savior’s birth and the subsequent atonement for all people, so the ancients looked forward to it. Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) A beautiful prophecy on the subject is presented in Psalm 72: “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth [times of refreshing]. In his days shall the righteous flourish [the sheep of the parable]; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth . . . Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him . . . daily shall he be praised . . . they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth . . . All nations shall call him blessed . . . Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.” Truly, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11)

Biblical names are often significant of the character and accomplishments of the persons to whom they are given. Thus, Jesus is the Latin word for Joshua, or Jeshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation,” the name being very expressive of the work He would do. Thus, He not only delivers, or saves believers in this Age, but in the next Age He will deliver the world in general from the sentence now resting upon men. This He will accomplish by His Priestly, Mediatorial, Kingly, Legislative, Judicial, Prophetic and Paternal offices, by His good Word and works. He “forgiveth all thine iniquities.” (Psa. 103:3) He is indeed “mighty to save!” (Isa. 63:1)

Then will be realized the words: “The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever . . . all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations . . . A seed shall serve him . . . They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born.” (Psa. 22:26-31)

(Reprint of an article by Brother John J. Hoefle, with some modifications. Originally printed in No. 217, July 1, 1973.)

P.O. Box 2246, Kernersville, NC 27285-2246;


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 733

“Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 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. 12:26-28)

Revelation definitely identifies Armageddon as the great final earthquake: “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon . . . And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” (Rev. 16:16-18)

Armageddon is a Hebrew word signifying the Hill of Megiddo, or the Mount of Destruction. Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, and commanded an important pass into the hill country. This locality was the great battleground on which was fought many of the famous battles of Old Testament history. There Gideon and his little band alarmed and discomfited the Midianites, who destroyed one another in their flight. (Judges 7:19-23) There King Saul was defeated by the Philistines. (1 Sam. 31:1-6) There King Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-Necho in one of the most disastrous conflicts in the history of Israel. (2 Chron. 35:22-25) There also King Ahab and his wife Jezebel lived, in the city of Jezereel, where Jezebel afterwards met a horrible death. (2 Kings 9:30-37)

Those battles were typical, that is they were symbols of something greater. The defeat of the Midianites released the people of Israel from bondage in Midian. Thus Gideon and his band typified our Lord and the Church, who are to release mankind from their bondage to sin and death. The death of King Saul and the overthrow of his kingdom by the Philistines opened the way for the reign of David, who typified Messiah. King Ahab typified the civil government, symbolically called the “Dragon” in Revelation. Queen Jezebel symbolically foreshadowed the great harlot, Babylon (the false Christian church system married to earthly governments), and as such she is mentioned by name: “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which called herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants.” (Rev. 2:20)

In the Scriptures, the name Armageddon is associated with the great struggle between Truth and Error, right and wrong, God and Mammon that will close the Gospel Age and usher in the Messianic Age. The Lord has purposely used highly symbolic language in the last book of the Bible, evidently to hide certain impor­tant truths until the due time for their revealing. But even in the due time, only the “wise” among God’s people will know. (Dan. 12:10)

In 1 Kings we have a record of the Lord’s demonstration to Elijah, who typed the true Church in the flesh.[1] It states: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)

Here are the four mani­festations by which the Lord is revealing Himself to mankind, the first three preparing mankind for the final one, when the blessing of all the families of the earth will come. These manifestations are:

(1) The strong wind, rending the rocks. Wind seems to be used in Scripture to represent war, which will lead to:

(2) An earthquake. Throughout the Scriptures earthquake seems to represent revolution. The conditions following a great war arouse discontent among the masses leading to revolution. Although severe, those revolutionary experiences will not be sufficient to prepare men to hear the voice of God. That will require:

(3) The fire from Heaven. This is an epoch of Divine judgments and chastisements upon a maddened, but unconverted world, wild in anarchy, as other Scriptures show us. The results of the wars, revolutions and anarchy and the failure of the schemes of the world will prepare mankind for God’s revelation of Himself in:

(4) The still small voice. Yes, He who rebuked the winds and waves of Galilee will in due time speak to the people, saying, “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39)

Mark the harmony of Psalm 46 with these thoughts drawn from Elijah’s lesson. After portraying in symbol the dashing of the kingdoms of this world, the shaking of society by revolution and the figurative melting of society under the fire of God’s judgments, and after every hope of man in his own power is gone, the still small voice is heard commanding, “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)

Mankind’s difficulty is largely due to ignorance of God. Men fail to know Him, partly at least because of their high opinion of their own wisdom and ability to get along without God. They will soon learn differently and will then be willing to hearken to divine wisdom, and say, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, to the  house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2) “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psa. 25:10)

The lesson to the Lord’s people from these symbols is that God has the power to bring order out of present chaos. We are to “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psa. 37:7) We are to labor on diligently and fervently to the extent of our opportunities and abilities and “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13) “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9)

The trouble is inevitable; the powerful causes are all at work, and no human power is able to arrest their operation and progress toward the certain end; the effects must follow as the Lord foresaw and foretold. No hand but the hand of God can stay the present flow of events; and His hand will not do so until the bitter experiences of this conflict have sealed their instruction upon the hearts of men.

The French Revolution provides an example of what Armageddon will be like. In the symbolic language of Revelation, the French Revolution was indeed a “great earthquake,” a social shock so great that all “Christendom” trembled until it was over; and that terrible and sudden outburst of a single nation’s wrath, more than two centuries ago gives an idea of the fury of the coming storm, when the wrath of the angry nations will burst the bands of law and order, causing a reign of universal anarchy following the earthquake of Armageddon.

We should remember that the French Revolution occurred in what was then the very heart of Christendom, in the midst of what was regarded as one of the most thoroughly Christian nations in the world, the nation which for a thousand years had been the chief support of Papacy. In fact the French Revolution is alluded to by Jesus in His Revelation to John on Patmos as a prelude to, and an illustration of the crisis now approaching. (Rev. 12: 15-16) (See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume III, pages 50-54 and 64-69.) Nominal Christianity has not cured the pestilence of infidelity and anarchism and is powerless to avert the further outbreak predicted in the Scriptures to be the greatest trouble ever to be known to earth. (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21)


That Servant showed how wonderfully the introduction of the New Covenant by Christ at the beginning of the Millennial Age was typed by the introduction of the Law Covenant by Moses:

“At the institution of the Law Covenant, at Mount Sinai, Moses seems to have been a type of the complete Christ (head and body) at the introduction of the Millennial Age, when the New Covenant will be introduced to the world – after ‘the sound of the great [seventh] trumpet,’ and the black darkness and ‘great earthquake,’ etc., of the Day of Vengeance shall have appalled mankind and made them ready to hear the voice of the Great Teacher, and glad to accept His New Covenant. This is distinctly pointed out by the Apostle (Heb. 12:18-22) who seems to mark every step of the parallelism. Israel had been approaching and had finally reached Mount Sinai, that might be touched, and from which such fearful sights and sounds emanated that all feared and quaked: but we are approaching Mount Zion and its wondrous glories and blessings far superior to those at Sinai; but accompanying these greater blessings will be the more terrible trumpet, blackness and earthquake shaking – the final shaking of all that can be shaken (all that is sinful and contrary to the divine will), that only that which is true and enduring may remain. The solution of the whole matter is in the words: ‘Wherefore we [who anticipate thus] receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God accept­ably.’ (Heb. 12:28)” (Studies in the Scrip­tures, Volume IV, page 630)

He also showed how the world’s deliverance was typed by Israel’s deliverance from Egypt:

“The deliverance of Israel from Egypt and from the plagues which came upon the Egyptians seems to illustrate the coming emancipation of the world, at the hands of the greater than Moses, whom he typified. It will be a deliverance from Satan and every agency he has devised for man’s bondage to sin and error. And as the plagues upon Egypt had a hardening effect as soon as removed, so the temporary relief from the pains of this Day of the Lord will tend to harden some, and they will say to the poor, as did the Egyptians to Israel, ‘Ye are idle,’ and therefore dissatisfied and will probably, like them, attempt to increase the burden. (Exod. 5:4-23) But in the end such will wish, as did Pharaoh in the midnight of his last plague, that they had dealt more leniently and wisely long ago. (Exod. 12:30-33) To mark further the similarity, call to mind that the troubles of this Day of the Lord are called ‘seven vials of wrath,’ or ‘seven last plagues,’ and that it is not until the last of these that the great earthquake (revolution) occurs, in which every mountain (kingdom) will disappear. (Rev. 16:17-20)

“Another thought with reference to this Day of Trouble is that it has come just in due time – God’s due time. In the next volume of this work, evidence is adduced from the testimony of the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament, as well as from Jesus and the apostolic prophets of the New Testament, which shows clearly and unmistakably that this Day of Trouble is located chronologically in the beginning of the glorious Millennial reign of Messiah. It is this necessary preparation for the coming work of restitution in the Millennial Age that precipitates the trouble.” (Studies in the Scriptures Volume I, page 336)

In Revelation we are shown that war has been miraculously hindered to give opportunity for “sealing” the Lord’s consecrated people in their foreheads (intellectually) with the Present Truth: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth . . . And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the ser­vants of our God in their foreheads. (Rev. 7:1-3)

We understand the “four angels” to be the leaders of the “four corners” or sections of earthly society (government, aristocracy, bourgeoisie, and labor – the “messengers of wrath”). They are holding back the “four winds,” which we understand to be the fallen angels, restrained until the proper time, but which on coming together constitute the “whirlwind” of revolution and anarchy foretold by Jeremiah. (Jer. 25:32) The “wind” here is war; it is not the “whirlwind,” which will only come when the fallen angels are more fully loosed than when they were causing the war. The wind, as this text implies, must precede the whirlwind, which occurs as a result of the hostile meeting of the fallen angels.[2]


But there is another great trouble, which is not mentioned in 1 Kings 19:11-12, because it is not to be upon the whole world. This trouble will be upon fleshly Israel. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7) There is great trouble upon them now, but we cannot say for certain that this is Jacob’s Trouble. We will not be able to discern this until more time has passed and we observe events that follow. But one thing is sure and that is God’s promise that He will save them. “For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” (Jer. 30:11)

 In the midst of the trouble God will reveal Himself as Israel’s defender as in ancient times, when His favor was with them nationally. Their extremity will be His opportunity; and their blindness will be removed. The testimony of all the Prophets is that the power of God will be so marvelously manifested in Israel’s deliverance by His fighting for them (and thus for all), with weapons which no human power can control, including pestilence and various calamities, poured upon the wicked (Israel’s enemies and God’s opponents) until speedily all the world will know that the Lord has accepted Israel again to His favor, and become their King, as in olden times. Soon Israel and the whole world will learn to appreciate God’s Kingdom, which shall speedily become the “desire of all nations.” (Hag. 2:7)


If this great cataclysm of trouble were all we had to look forward to, we would think it the course of wisdom to say nothing about it. We would say: Do not think about it or speak of it; for it will be bad enough when it comes. But when the Bible tells us that the great trouble is designed merely to sweep away the outgrown religious systems, social systems, political systems, etc., and that God will on the wreck of all these things establish the Kingdom of Messiah for the world’s blessing, then we are glad of the trouble, and see that it is a necessary thing. This knowledge would be a great comfort and relief of mind to many bewildered ones who see the trouble coming on with increasing momentum, yet who cannot see the ultimate good to result, who feel that revolution and anarchy are confronting the entire world, but do not see the golden lining to the black clouds of trouble.

Speaking about this Time of Trouble, St. Paul says, “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.” (1 Thess. 5:4-5) God’s people should have general information regarding His plans, purposes and arrangements.

Referring to the new order of things after the fire of God’s retributive vengeance has burned up present evils, God, through the Prophet, says: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” (Zeph. 3:9) He also says, “They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (Isa. 29:24) In other words, all people will be in harmony because they will all know the Truth. Ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:11; Isa. 45:23)

Can we not see the wisdom of the great Creator’s program? He has determined to permit mankind to convince themselves of their own impotency, of their need of a God, and of the fact that there is a God, and that His glorious purposes for humanity are revealed in His Word. It is no wonder that the Bible speaks of that revelation of the Lord as the “still small voice” of God, speaking to mankind through Messiah’s Kingdom!

St. Peter gives us a vivid picture of the new order of things in Messiah’s Kingdom. He says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up . . . the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved . . . Nevertheless we, accord­ing to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:10-13)

The “new heavens” will be the glorified Church, consisting of Jesus the Head and His Bride class, selected from the world during the past centuries. The “new earth” will be the new social order under the control of the new heavens. There will be no patching of present institutions, but a clean sweep of them by the fire of Divine wrath preceding the establishment of the new order, where only that which is righteous, just, equitable, true, will be recognized.

We rejoice that such glorious things are coming – even though the world must necessarily reach them through the tribulation of the Time of Trouble. Happy are those whose eyes and ears of understanding are open now; and who are in such heart relationship with the Lord that He can make known to them in advance something of the riches of His grace, and show them how the coming troubles will work out blessings for the human family.

(This paper is drawn from various writings of Pastor Russell and Brother Johnson.)



“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

The excerpts below are verbatim quotations from the March 15, 1951 Herald of the Epiphany.


“We have been asked, in view of the fact that some will never reach the condition of perfection, which the word resurrection means, how shall we understand the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 24:15, that both the just and the unjust are to be resurrected? This Scripture seems very plain and simple if we give careful attention to what we read. Those Jews who stood by and heard the defense of the Apostle before Governor Felix, of which the words of Acts 24:15 are a part, believed that all of the just would have a resurrection, and that an opportunity of the resurrection would be given the unjust. That is what they had been taught from their forefathers. And now the Apostle Paul was reiter­ating this, their conviction. He says, ‘There shall be a resurrection, both of the just and the unjust’; that is to say, the resurrection for which God has provided, and which is yet to come, is not only for the good, but also for those who are now evil.

“The thought is not that those who remain in an unjust condition will be granted a full resurrec­tion. The text does not state that all the unjust will be resurrected, brought to per­fection of life. There are some now justified who will have a share in the resurrection, even as there are others who are not now justified who will also have a share in the resurrection. And all mankind will have a share in God’s provision for a resurrection. The just will have a special resurrection, which will be a reward for their special obedience. . . .”

“So we have the resurrection of the highest class of the just – the “little flock” on the Divine Plane; that of the Great Company, on a lower spirit plane; that of the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, on the earthly plane – four classes who pass their trial, their testing in the present life. But it has been provided in the Divine Plan that the remainder of men may gradually be raised fully up, out of every frailty, back to the original perfection that Adam had in the beginning. They are unjust now; they have never come into relationship with God. . . .”

“They that have done good will come forth to a resurrection of life. Some of these will receive a resurrection of life on the human plane, others on the spirit plane, still oth­ers on the highest order of the spirit plane – the plane of the Divine nature. Then Jesus tells us about the other general class – those who have done evil. This includes all whom God cannot approve and accept. Those who are not accepted are those who have not done good, according to God’s standard; they have done evil; they are unjustified. Many of them have been respectable, moral people, but they are not worthy of the ‘better resurrection.’ . . .”


The foregoing is in full agreement with the faithful teachings of the Two Messengers; and was also the teaching of The Present Truth publication for some time after the demise of the Epiphany Messenger. We feel justified in concluding that at the time it was written the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement had not yet invented another class of “the just” – a justified consecrated class in the Camp. Nor had they then “discovered” that the Epiphany Messenger had taught such a class.

That Servant set out all four classes of the just – the Little Flock, Great Company, Ancient Worthies, and the unbegotten consecrators here in the end of the Age (from 1881 until Restitution begins) who would be rewarded in honor, service and a “better resur­rection” with the Ancient Worthies, although he did not give a definite name to them, so far as we know. There is copious Scriptural support for the four classes of the just. Thus the Epiphany Messenger merely elaborated on these four classes; he did not invent them. In particular, he enlarged upon the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies in the Epiphany period.

Some Truth groups ignore Brother Russell’s teaching of a class of consecrators “be­tween the Ages” who if faithful, will be rewarded in honor and service with the Ancient Worthies. (See Hebrews Chapter 11) They continue to teach that the High Calling is open to new consecrators – although they do teach correctly that Armageddon is imminent, etc. Appar­ently they have forgotten about this class of unbegotten consecrators here in the end of the Age.

However, so far as we know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the LHMM are the only groups who have invented a new class never taught by That Wise and Faithful Servant. The Witnesses do not claim support from That Servant for their invention, but the LHMM declares that the Messengers do support their notion – although they have been unable to produce anything from their writings to support their claim. Should they attempt a class study of Epiphany Volume 4, and teach just what that book says, that would be error, according to their present teaching. The same would also be true for Tabernacle Shadows, because it also is silent on a class of consecrators in the Camp before the New Covenant is inaugurated.

The Law of Liberty given to the Household of Faith during this Age applies only to the Fully Faithful. However, the world in general has a certain amount of liberty to do either good or evil, some of the evils being restrained by the laws of our land. The world is also restrained from any evils which would hinder God’s plan, or unduly inter­fere with His people. But the very opposite will be the case in the Mediatorial King­dom. Under the Works Salvation they will be put under martial law; they will not be permitted to do evil to others, either willingly or unwillingly. That will be a very pronounced change from being under the present Grace Covenant, which is now the Law of Love and Liberty for the Household of Faith so long as they are faithful. If the House­hold of Faith were under the same law now that will prevail in the Mediatorial Kingdom, the Great Company would not be permitted to perpetrate the evils they have committed all during this Age.

In Parousia Volume VI, p. 378, there is this: “The world will not be left to a Law of Love during the Millennium, but will be ruled with Justice and Mercy under a law of obedience to the Kingdom . . . [Those] having become pupils in the school of Christ . . . these, and these alone, can be safely put under the Law of Liberty. If they lose the spirit of sonship, they cease to be sons, cease to be under this Law of Liberty.”

Now a statement from Epiphany Volume 3, page 108: “The Little Flock comes out from under this merit by the completion of its sacrificial death; the Great Company by the completion of its constrained death.” These elementary truths should protect all in the Household of Faith who have “good and honest hearts” from such gross errors now emanating from these two groups – the Witnesses and the LHMM – who are flagrantly mixing the Two Distinct Salvations, the Res­urrection of the Just and Unjust, as described above.

The LHMM also mixes the imputative Merit for the Faith class, and the applied Merit for the Restitution class. According to them, the Camp now receives tentative justifica­tion – a faith justification that requires the imputation of Christ’s Merit to give it any validity; whereas, the Camp never receives the imputative Merit – either now or during the Kingdom. When the New Covenant is inaugurated that will be an actual application of the Merit. Thus, they not only mix the Two Distinct Salvations, but they also pervert the doctrine of the Merit as they grossly revolutionize against the teach­ing of That Servant on the Merit of Christ for the Faith class now, and for the world of mankind in the Kingdom. They now teach that all who accept Christ in the Kingdom will be of the Household of Faith during a works dispensation!

(Excerpt from No. 226 by Brother John J. Hoefle, April 1, 1974, with minor revisions.)

[1] For a discussion of the Elijah type, see our May 2016 paper, The Elijah Message – The Voice in the Wilderness.

[2] For Brother Johnson’s detailed discussion of Rev. 7:1-3, please see Epiphany Volume 5, p. 147.


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 732

“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess. 5:17-18)

The privilege of praying to God, of holding communion with Him, is a great privilege and an evidence of His favor. God does not grant us this privilege, however, that He might be informed of our desires, for since we are imperfect our desires are not perfect, “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Rom. 8:26) He does for us better than we know how to ask or think. Nor does God permit us to pray to Him that we may inform Him regarding earthly matters, for He knows the end from the beginning as well as every intervening step. (Isa. 46:10) He has instead instituted prayer for our benefit, comfort, and instruction.

The object of prayer is to bring the heart and mind of the child of God, whether in joy or sorrow, into contact with the heart of God, that he may thus be enabled most fully to realize the fatherhood of God and His love, care and deep interest in every item of our welfare. When we are deeply afflicted, we may unburden our hearts to God and thus have forcibly brought to our attention His love and care and wisdom. This is for our encourage­ment, strengthening, and joy, not for His.

This opportunity is not for us to instruct God how to arrange matters for the best, but it is to cultivate in our hearts the realization that He is the center of wisdom and power; it is the opportunity to unburden our hearts, that we may be prepared to listen for His answer and advice through His Word. He whose knowledge of prayer is confined to the meagre information he has imparted to God with “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7), and who has never learned to listen for the answer to his prayer from the Word of God, has yet to appreciate the object of prayer.

Earnestness in God’s service will bring His children to Him frequently, leading them to realize His sympathy with them in the difficulties, discouragements and trials of life. It will lead them to ask for His guidance and overruling of every affair of life. It will lead them to heed His wisdom through His Word, enabling them to serve Him acceptably.

The province of prayer is to ask only for such things as God has already declared Himself well pleased to grant. While we may freely speak to Him as a Father and tell Him that we understand His Word and have confidence and trust in its ultimate fulfilment, we must avoid telling the Lord of our will and our plan, and what we would like. Not only must we avoid telling Him these things, we must also avoid and banish any such sentiments from our hearts, and must recognize and bring ourselves into full accord with His will and His plan of accomplishing it. If this thought were appreciated, it would cut short some of the “long prayers,” “much speaking,” and “vain repetitions” by which some endeavor to instruct the Lord in their wishes regarding every matter under heaven. (Matt. 6:7; Mark 12:40) It would send them speedily to the Word of God to search diligently the Plan of God that they might labor and pray in harmony with it.

While assuring us that the Father cares for us, and is well pleased to have us come to Him with sincere hearts, the Master informs us of the conditions upon which we may expect an answer. He says: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)


The conditions of the above statement, or promise, are two; the first is, abiding in Christ. But what is it to abide in Christ? Only those who are in Christ, who have come into Him by faith, repentance and consecration, can abide in Christ. To abide in Him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and the opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and His service will abide, and it will be manifest that our will has been wholly consecrated – swallowed up in the will of Christ.

The other condition is also a weighty one: “If my words abide in you.” It is evident that our Lord meant to associate Himself and His Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, and in the lives of all who are truly His. They must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord; to know what He has promised and what He has not promised; to know what they may ask and what they may not ask. Ascertaining these things, one who is fully consecrated – one who is controlled entirely by the will of God – will not want to be, to have, or to do anything except that which will be pleasing to the Lord.

One who reaches this position where the will of Christ governs him and the words of Christ abide in him would be well informed with respect to the Divine promises and fully submissive to the Divine will. We can readily see that whatever things anyone in this position would ask would be things which the Father would be pleased to grant.

These requests would probably be as simple as the Master’s petition when He prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) In such a condition prayers are always answered; but in such a condition the prayers would be very modest. Prayer under such circumstances would be more a thanksgiving for blessings, an expression of confidence and trust, and the committal of one’s way unto the Lord, confidently realizing the promise: “All things [even seeming disasters and troubles] work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28) Hence whatever comes, one who prays thus could realize his prayer answered. He could rejoice evermore because in the path of service he is prepared to rejoice in tribulation as well as in prosperity. He has no will to oppose whatever God permits, knowing that it will work out for good.

Such among the Lord’s people could not pray that their own will be done; for they have no will except God’s. Those who abide in Christ, and in whom His Word abides, can pray for their enemies and those who despitefully use them and persecute them, though they cannot pray for God to open the blinded eyes of their enemies at once. Realizing from the indwelling Word of God’s promise that the blinded eyes shall all be in due time opened to the Truth, they can abide His time. Going to God in prayer, they may express their forgiveness of their persecutor, their interest in him, and their patient waiting for the day when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9), the day when His will is done on earth even as it is done in heaven. (Matt. 6:10)


We cannot single out an ungodly friend and request God to work a miracle on him, though we may pray for wisdom to rightly divide the word of truth so that, if possible, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God might thus shine into the understanding of that friend. This would be in harmony with the Word. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) As the Apostle James instructed: “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)

We may not ask for riches and honor; nor for fine material things. To seek or pray for these is contrary to the Spirit of the Master. But we may ask, “Give us this day our daily bread,” assured that the Father knows what kind is best, and what things are needful to us from His standpoint for our spiritual interests as well as temporal, future as well as present.

We may not pray for the increase in numbers of any of the many sects of today, well knowing that Jesus would not approve of thus fettering with human tradition those whom He calls to liberty. He would not approve, but would condemn the sects of today as He did those at His first advent: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:6) He would declare to them, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect [useless] by your tradition.” (Matt. 15:6) We can neither labor nor pray for the advancement and growth in power, wealth, influence and numbers of any of these sects, knowing their very existence to be contrary to God’s Word, and their advancement a hindrance to the light of Truth.

Nor can we today either labor or pray for the perpetuation of the governments of this world. If the Word of Christ abides in us, we are not in darkness and we know that “the times of the Gentiles” are about fulfilled, and the time for the establishment of God’s Kingdom is at hand. For that new Kingdom we may pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth,” patiently awaiting the fullness of God’s due time. As children of the light who are not left in darkness, that day will not come upon us unawares. We know the success of the heavenly Kingdom for which we pray means the destruction of these earthly kingdoms. (Dan. 2:44)

When we pray in harmony with Paul’s exhortation “for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2), our prayers will not be that those kings may be continued in power and control, for this would be in direct opposition to God’s expressed plan, which is to break in pieces and consume all these. Our prayer for kings, etc., must be merely that God overrule and direct by raising up or casting down among the nations, as would be most in harmony with His wise plans. Although God has given over the world to the rule of “the Prince of this world” and his faithful agents, at the full end of Gentile Times He shall come “whose right it is” to take the dominion, associating with Him His faithful followers according to His many promises. (Ezek. 21:27; Dan. 7:14,18,22)

God has not given present rulers unlimited power. He will suffer them to take their course only so far as it does not interfere with His plans – there it must stop. The “wrath of man” shall not work ruin to the plan of God, for God will cause the wrath of man to work to His praise; He will restrain all that does not. (Psa. 76:10) This is the thought conveyed by the Apostle: Pray for God’s guidance and direction over all affairs of life and over rulers to the end that the piety and sobriety and growth of the Church might be conserved, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:2)

Though we may labor toward it, we cannot expect and pray for the conversion of “all men, for “kings,” etc., well remembering the Master’s prayer, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. . . . That they all may be one  . . . that the world may believe [in due time] that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:9,21) In none of Jesus’ prayers did He ever pray for Caesar, or Pilate, or Herod; nor did He make any special effort to reach out to them with the gospel message. He instead recalled what was written by the Prophet: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18) When He gave the disciples an example of prayer it contained no prayer for kings and rulers or for “all men,” except as implied in the expressions of forgiveness of debtors, and the prayer for the coming Kingdom which will bless all men.

We cannot pray to our Father to grant abundant harvests, send rains, prevent famines, droughts, wars and pestilences, for we find no example by the Master of such presumption. We realize from His words that God will permit these things until the reign of Christ is inaugurated. (Luke 21:9) Further, we are informed by the Master that the present day will be one of trouble caused by the new King binding the strong ruler of earth and spoiling his house. (Matt. 12:29) Hence we pray for none of these things, but with trust and peace look with patience to the future, praying for our Father’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as in heaven. Even in the midst of the present necessary unrest and trouble we rejoice in confident hope, knowing that all things are so overruled as to work out the accomplishment of our Father’s grand designs, revealed to us in His Word.

Instructed by the abiding Word of Christ, we cannot ask release from pain and trouble and death, but with Jesus we can only ask that if it be possible, the cup of trouble, shame, and misrepresentation might pass, that we suffer not as evil doers; and yet with Him we must say: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) “Father, glorify thy name!” (John 12:28)

We may pray for the healing of others, but not for ourselves. It was truly said of the Master, that He saved others, but He could not save Himself and be a sacrifice at the same time. Yet, in requests for the healing of others we must remember that the time for full restitution of life and health to the world has not yet fully come. Jesus did not heal all the blind and sick in Judea, and what healing He did was merely to show forth the power and blessing of His coming glorious reign which has not yet fully dawned. Hence our prayers for the sick should be with full confidence in God’s ability to heal, yet not demanding it, always letting the words of our Lord abide in us: “Thy will be done.”

To pray in other than this spirit is to “ask amiss,” to ask for things to be used for our own “lusts” (desires). (Jas. 4:3) Desires for ease, for earthly prosperity, for a sect and its growth and honor are all earthly “lusts” contrary to the Spirit and Word of Christ. Most prayers seemingly are of this sort, and therefore amiss.

How proper and how necessary is prayer to the true child of God. When properly considered, it is not merely a begging arrangement or an occasion for instructing the Lord as to our wills. It is to be considered as a time of union and communion of heart with our Father in which we may relieve our burdened or perplexed hearts by realizing Divine sympathy and care. It is a time to express our confidence in God’s many promises, bringing them close to our hearts, as though God now audibly utters them in our hearing. To break off this communion would be like stripping a tree of its leaves: it would stunt and hinder its development.

But to suppose that Christian life depends solely upon prayer without earnest study of God’s Word, is like supposing that a tree could flourish from its leaves only, without roots and soil. Both are needed: good soil and roots will produce leaves and fruitage, and, likewise, the promises of God’s Word absorbed by us will naturally lead to good works and to communion with God in prayer, without which our fruits would soon wither and disappear. No wonder, then, that Jesus both by precept and example said, “Watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41), uniting the two conditions needed for our development. Some pray and neglect to watch; others watch and neglect to pray. Both these errors are serious.

Although prayer is nowhere defined as a duty, it is stated to be a necessity. The Father desires those to worship Him as worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) It would be contrary to this principle to define prayer as a duty, and stipulate a set time or place or formal manner.


No form of prayer is furnished in the Scriptures. Even the Master, when asked by the disciples for instruction on the subject, gave them, not a form to repeat, but merely an idea or example of how to arrange their prayers to God. He did not tell them to pray a specific prayer, but instead instructed them to pray “after this manner.” (Matt. 6:9-13) Our prayers should not be an assortment of extravagant demands, but the simple expression of the earnest heart, after this manner:

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” First we acknowledge and pay homage to God as our Father, the Almighty and Hallowed One. The term “Our Father” is one of special endearment. The affection of a true father for his child, being one of the most precious in the world, is used to illustrate the relationship of the Lord’s consecrated members to the Creator. Time spent in the School of Christ as disciples and learners is required before we are able properly to appreciate the meaning of this word “Father” as applied to God. The more we come to know of the love of God, which passes all understanding, and the more we are enabled to draw near to Him through faith and obedience, the more precious will this term Father become. In addressing our petition to the Lord our first thought is to be not a selfish one respecting ourselves or others precious to us, but God is to be first in all of our thoughts and aims and calculations. We are to pray for nothing that would not be in accord with the honor of our Heavenly Father’s name.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” As God and His glory and honor are to be first in the minds of His children, so their next thought should be for the coming glorious Kingdom, which He has promised will bless the world. We should express our expectation and trust that His Kingdom is coming according to promise, and our eagerness for it. This anchor of hope in the future Kingdom will enable us to pass with comparative safety and quiet through the trials, storms and difficulties of this present evil world.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” We are next to acknowledge our continual dependence upon the Lord, day by day, for the things needed – accepting for each day the Lord’s providential care and direction of our affairs. Daily bread should here be understood in the broad sense of necessary material things. The Lord’s people, who recognize Him as their Father, must trust Him as children, while using the various means and opportunities within their reach. They are responsible for providing for themselves necessary things, yet they recognize the Divine provision and care which has pre-arranged matters so as to make their present conditions and blessings attainable.

“Forgive us our debts.” Next we acknow­ledge that our ways are not perfect and that we rely upon His favor (granted through Christ Jesus) for forgiveness of our debts – our offenses, our sins. To petition the Lord for forgiveness of sins implies that we are at heart opposed to sin, and that sins we have committed have not been willful. We ask that the Lord forgive and accept the intentions of our hearts in place of actual, complete, perfect obedience to the Divine requirement in thoughts, words and actions.

“As we forgive our debtors.” Next we express our willingness to forgive. As we are imperfect and cannot keep the Divine Law, so likewise others are imperfect. As we realize that we need Divine compassion and mercy for our shortcomings, so the Lord teaches us that we must exercise similar benevolence toward our fellow men, both inside and outside of the Household of Faith. He lays down this rule very stringently: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:15)

“Lead us not into temptation.” The thought is not that we fear God will tempt us, for as the Apostle James tells us, God tempts no man. (Jas. 1:13) Our prayer is an entreaty that He guide our steps in life so that no temptation, no trial, comes upon us that would be too severe for us to bear and escape. The Apostle Paul assures us that this is the Divine will and that such a prayer is in accordance with it. He says that God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with every temptation provide also a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13) God is not responsible for the temptations caused by the Adversary, our own fallen natures and the weaknesses of others; However, He is able to guide the way of His people so that they will not be overwhelmed by them.

“Deliver us from [the] evil [one].” Never has there been a time when there was greater need of this petition than at the present. The Evil One is specially seeking to trap and ensnare the Lord’s people at the present time; and the Scriptures inform us that God is permitting this; and that thus He is sending strong delusions upon the world and upon the nominal church. (2 Thess. 2:11) He has promised, however, that those who are seeking to walk in His steps shall not stumble, shall never fall, but shall have an abundant entrance ministered unto them into the everlasting Kingdom. (Prov. 3:23)

The question, then, is one of loyalty of heart to the Lord. The trial of this day “shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3:13) This trial will be so severe that if it were possible the “very elect” would be deceived (Matt. 24:24); but this will not be possible; for the Lord will specially care for them, staying the adverse forces so that His true people may put on the armor of God and be able to stand when the evil day comes. (Eph. 6:13)


With Christian growth, the earnest child of God will come to understand the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.” (1 Thess. 5:17-18) Communion with God and the feeling of continual trust in His goodness and care will become interwoven with all the affairs of life, so that unceasing prayer and continual thankfulness will become as natural as breathing. But this continual prayer and thanks­giving can never replace fellowship in the worship of God.

Though not specifically commanded, how appropriate that earthly families should blend their hearts and bow their knees in Divine worship, and in submission to the Divine will. How much this tends to unify those hearts and lives. If there are children, how blessed must such an example be to them. How appropriate that the little “olive branches” be trained to look to their Creator in the days of their youth, not with formal and long prayers, but with the evidence before them of parental trust in and love for God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, as expressed in a simple, earnest, trustful prayer after the manner illustrated by our Lord Jesus.

As children see their parents recognizing and bowing to the superior will and wisdom of their heavenly Father, they learn from the example the lesson of obedience and submission to parental authority while learning to know and reverence their Creator. As soon as children come to a reasoning age, prayer should be presented to them in the same way God presents it to us: not as a requirement but as something to be done from a willing mind and a thankful and loving heart.

What is true of our earthly families is no less true of God’s family, of which we are members – the Household of Faith. To bind us together in love, God has arranged to make the various members more or less dependent on each other for the blessings He is willing and ready to bestow. Thus He would unify the Household in His method of providing spiritual food, as the human body is dependent as a whole upon its various members for the natural “daily bread” which God supplies.

This being true, we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves with those of like precious faith, preferably in person but if that is not possible, through the printed word or other means of commu­nication. When we are assembled, how refreshing and appropriate it is to ask our Father’s blessing upon the meeting. We ask His blessing that the spirit of love may move those assembled, that the Truth might be discerned by sincere and hungry souls, and that all might be built up in the most holy faith. As we draw near to God in prayer we bring our hearts into a condition of readiness to receive those blessings.

While the offered prayer is to God it should not be forgotten that the prayer influences all who join in it. Jesus and the Apostle Paul teach that it should be uttered in such a voice and manner as to enable those present to appreciate and intelligently join it. Jesus said, in connection with one of the few of His recorded sayings, “Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42) Likewise, Paul exhorts those who lead the company in prayer to seek to do so in such a manner that all may be able to hear and acquiesce in it. (1 Cor. 14:14-17)

We have no sympathy, however, with the custom of some of pretending to pray to God, while really addressing those assembled. Although our prayers should be distinct and intelligible to the hearers so that all may profit, yet it should never be lost sight of that it is God who is addressed and not men.

“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

(Derived from Reprints 797 and 4983.)



Dear Lord, as slumber comes

To close my weary eyes,

To your Throne of grace

My voice in prayer does rise.

For the blessings of this day

I give you thanks and praise,

And help me be as Jesus was,

Good in all my ways.

As I lay me down to sleep

Please an angel send,

To watch beside me all the night,

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


P.O. Box 2246, Kernersville, NC 27285-2246;