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;


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 731

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psa. 107:1)

This Psalm is a prophecy which has special application to our time. It was not even remotely understood until the time of the Harvest, since as That Servant so well stated, prophecy cannot be clearly understood until it has been fulfilled, or is in the course of fulfillment.

There are seven distinct divisions in this Psalm, including the summation (the number seven represents Divine completeness). We understand these divisions to treat of the following: (1) the Little Flock (Psa. 107:1-9); (2) the Great Company (Psa. 107:10-16); (3) fleshly Israel during the Gospel Age, with special emphasis on the end of the age (Psa. 107:17-22); (4) the world in general during and at the end of the great tribulation (Psa. 107:23-32); (5) the people and conditions of the Millennium (Psa. 107:33-38); (6) the good and evil in the Little Season (Psa. 107:39-42) when “he [Satan] must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:3); (7) the summation. (Psa. 107:43)


“Let the redeemed of the Lord[1] say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psa. 107:2-3; see also Matt. 8:11) The “redeemed of the Lord” here refers to a special class of the redeemed, and not to all the world of mankind in general. They are the Little Flock and they are here exhorted to “say so,” that is to acknowledge and proclaim the Lord’s mercy to them. He has redeemed them from the hand of the enemy, the great Antichrist, the Papacy, and the little Antichrist, sectarian Protestantism. Surely they have cause for thanking Him!

This Little Flock is the “us‑we‑ye” referred to in many Scriptures, for example: “Thou . . . hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins . . . ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:1‑2)

They have indeed been a conglomerate lot – a cross section of the human race, as to color, nationality, intellectual achieve­ment and circum­stances. “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4) “They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” (Psa. 107:4-5) Compare Heb. 13:14: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” After all of the foregoing, “Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” (Psa. 107:6) This statement is repeated in the following three divisions of the Psalm. (Psa. 107:13,19,28) The underlying thought in each instance is that when the various classes call upon Yahweh in true penitence, He is ever ready and willing to hear and give them the relief they seek.

In response to the petitions of the Little Flock, the Psalm tells us that “He led them forth by the right way [a straight road], that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Psa. 107:7) He gave them the instruction and the ability to “make straight paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:13), that they might journey to a “city to dwell in” – New Jerusalem – “Zion, the perfection of beauty.” (Psa. 50:2) Theirs is the promise, “The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.” (Psa. 128:5)

We see that there is no criticism in the first nine verses of this Psalm, which relate to the Little Flock, whereas there is sharp denunciation of the next three classes that are discussed in verses 10 through 32. After He has heard their petitions and given them the needed relief, however, the prayer of thanksgiving is identical from all four classes: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” (Psa. 107:8,15,21,31)


“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned [spurned] the counsel of the most High.” (Psa. 107:10-11) The contrast here is between the Little Flock and the Great Company as regards the Truth. “Ye [the Little Flock] are all the children of light . . . we are not of the night [of sin], nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:5) In their darkness (error), their groping about in confusion, they sit “in the shadow of death” – that is the Second Death constantly casts a shadow in their direction, leading them into devious and sundry activities, to which their unholy ambition prods them.

While the Great Company did not appear as a class throughout the Gospel Age, individually there were many times more of them than of the Little Flock all during the age, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) Their confused views on “the straight road” prompted them to build Great Babylon; and here at the end of the age they have repeated the performance. While in Azazel’s clutches they become especially ambitious in works of false propaganda, building false religious sects, and indulging in slander against their more faithful brethren. Thus they are deceived into believing they will accomplish great works, win great numbers,[2] and gain great favor. So often are we reminded of those at the first Advent of whom it was said: “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) But in this day when He will “make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” they will learn by sad experience that “the praise of men” is a very transitory and unprofitable possession. (1 Cor. 4:5)

Among the afflictions (humiliations) that come to them, their defeat in controversy is probably at the head of the list. Of those who have rebelled (revolutionized) against the words of God, St. Paul says, “And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood [various errors which bring them severe humiliation]; in order that all those may be judged who believed not the truth, but approved the iniquity.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12, Diaglott)

God has given definite instructions for the conduct of His people and their ministry of the Truth – such as the autonomy of each ecclesia, the settlement of differences between brethren, methods of study and spread of the Truth, etc. To set aside any of these things would be to spurn “the counsel of the Most High,” considering His instructions of little worth. Some of the Lord’s people during this Epiphany have replaced the Berean method of study (Acts 17:10-11) with “textbook” methods, which is also spurning the counsel of the Most High.

During the age this has led to the erection of autocratic systems in some sects, and in loose and irresponsible conduct in others. Most of these perversions have been traceable directly to the crown‑losers, who often have been held in higher esteem by the general public than their Little Flock brethren. John Calvin, for instance, is considered to be one of the sharpest intellects of the entire age, and he readily attracted a following – so much so that he persuaded his supporters to burn at the stake Little Flock member Michael Servetus because he could not tolerate the Truth that Servetus presented.

The end of the Gospel Age is the time when “He maketh manifest.” We may definitely conclude that they who have rebelled against the sayings of God or spurned the counsel of the Most High are of the Great Company. This is the only way we have of knowing those who “received not the love [the motivating conduct] of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:10) Such a conclusion would not be proper for any slight departure or even for some gross departures from the Truth or God’s arrangements, unless they then persist therein after the offense is clearly directed to their attention. Their conduct is not a safe guide for reaching such a conclusion because we cannot know what degree of Adamic depravity afflicts the individual, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) There are some who believe that Brother Russell was the last saint; thus, by the death of a man they relegate all others out of the Little Flock by one broad judgment. Such a decision is in itself a rebelling, revolutionizing, against the words of God, because there is no Scriptural support for such a thought.

There was a time, up to about 1910 or 1912, that Brother Russell was firmly convinced that the entire Christ Company would leave the earth by the autumn of 1914. Someone once asked him if 1914 came and went, and he was still on earth, would he then conclude that he too was of the Great Company. To this he answered an emphatic, No! It was the same with the Epiphany Messenger, who thought all the saints would be glorified by the end of 1956. If someone had asked him if he would think he was of the Great Company if he were still living after 1956, his answer also would have been an emphatic, No!

Of those who actually fell from the Little Flock and were delivered to the “fit man” for buffeting experiences in the wilderness of adversity we are told: “Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness [erroneous and sinful ways] and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” (Psa. 107:12-14) This identical thought, stated in a slightly different fashion, is found in Revelation: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb . . . For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them [after bringing down their heart with labor], and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters [clear unadulterated Truth]: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:14,17) “For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron [enslaving erroneous practices] in sunder.” (Psa. 107:16)


“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.” (Psa. 107:17) The “transgression” for which the Jews have been afflicted is their treatment of the Messiah, when “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) The “iniquities” are their many violations of the Mosaic Law, which they repeatedly did against one another and against the Prophets that Yahweh sent them. “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 7:11-12)

For 1845 years the Jews had enjoyed the special blessings from Yahweh. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) The land of Canaan, which the Lord had given them, was a goodly land, with an excellent climate – a place in which it was easy to live. Their abuses of their blessings reached a climax when they rejected the Lord of Glory; and He pronounced upon them the penalty: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt: 23:38-39) That day their religious house was left to them desolate; then began the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” (Zech. 9:12) The word “double” is from the Hebrew mishneh, which means repetition. That is, they would receive a repetition of disfavor for the same length of time they had received the favor – 1845 years.

So completely was this prophecy carried out that, after the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD, the entire Jewish religious ritual of the Aaronic priesthood was so completely demolished – desolated – that the Tribe of Levi was lost in the dispersion. This loss prevents them from now having a high priest; and any attempt to carry on as did Aaron and his successors is now an empty performance.

“Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.” (Psa. 107:18) The scourges they have received during their “double” in this Gospel Age have indeed been horrible – enough to take away their appetites, and bring them to the brink of the grave. During their stay in the land of Israel they had been very much an agricultural people; but that was no longer practical for them, because they were often forced to flee to another city or country, and they could not take their farms with them. Consequently, they were forced to become businessmen, and to keep their assets as liquid as possible – to be carried with them if they were forced to leave on short notice. On numerous occasions, during their dispersion, they employed all the ingenuity at their disposal to regain the land of their fathers. They attempted to buy it; they attempted to regain it by force; they used all the tricks of diplomacy; but to no avail. The sentence of “desolation” against them by Jesus was not lightly spoken; by the bitter dregs of experience they were to learn: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)

The sentence of desolation was pronounced upon them in the year 33 AD; and, if they were to have 1845 years of disfavor – a double of their time of favor – it would bring us to the year 1878, at which time the Berlin Congress of Nations decreed for them certain rights in Palestine which were the opening wedge in their efforts to regain their homeland. Since that time they have been in what the Bible terms “Jacob’s trouble.” “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 . . . and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him.” (Jer. 30:7-8)

The trouble is to have two phases, the first part a rather mild experience. “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them [offer enticing bait to bring them back to the land of Israel]; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity [the violations of the Mosaic Law] hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” (Jer. 16:16‑18) There was good evidence of rapacious hunters in Germany during World War II; and those atrocities tended to sharpen the desire of Jews everywhere to once more have a land of their own – which was eventually realized in 1948.

Although they are now established as a nation, they are yet to experience the second phase of Jacob’s Trouble described in the prophecy of Zechariah: “Behold the day of the Lord cometh . . . I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:1‑3) Then will be fulfilled the words of the Psalm: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word [the Truth about their Scriptural past, present and future], and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa. 107:19-20) After that, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:37; Zech. 12:10) They will then “praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men . . . [and they will] sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psa. 107:21-22)


The world of mankind during and at the end of the great tribulation are “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters.” (Psa. 107: 23) During this “present evil world” the capitalistic system has been the dominating economic force, doing business through “great waters.” “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind [the wind of Rev. 7:1], which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.” (Psa. 107:25-26) In the literal ocean it is wind that produces roaring waves, which roll high, thus making huge deep clefts in between them. This is indeed a vivid illustration of what the symbolic wind, the First World War, did in 1914. Although the United States was not involved then, the New York stock market received such a jolt that it closed for three months after August 1, 1914. That trouble did truly dissolve the souls of the market traders, who had no way to buy or sell on that exchange.

The World War in 1914 was the greatest calamity in history up to that time; but the rolling waves have continued to make “depths,” each being lower and more severe than the previous. When the market crash came in 1929, it brought on the depression of 1930‑32; and the “depth” of those years probably caused more distress than did the years 1914‑1918, because it was wider in scope, and brought distress upon more people – although probably not as many deaths as did the war.

Next came the rolling waves and depths of the 1939‑1945 period, which was a much deeper calamity than the 1914‑1918 or the 1930‑1932 distresses. The waves rolled higher, and the depths were much deeper than any previous episode. One man from England, who had been there during 1914‑1918, and who still had relatives in that country, said at the outbreak of the conflict in 1939 that he felt like lying down in the gutter and weeping. When the German army overran Belgium in 1940 they defeated an opposing army of two million men. It was described by writers at that time as the most destructive battle in all history. The roaring waves, caused by the tempestuous wind, rolled higher and deeper than ever before.

Just ahead is the next period of rolling waves and roaring depths – Armageddon, which will prove even more severe than any of the previous happenings since 1914; and this will shortly be followed by Anarchy, which will be worst of all, ending in Jacob’s Trouble, and the destruction of all existing institutions.[3]

After the great tribulation has fully accomplished the dissolution of present elements this will come: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (Psa. 107:28-29) Then, “Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” (Psa. 107:32) The word “elders” in this text is from the Hebrew zaqen, which is the same word that is translated “old men” in Joel 2:28. Thus, the “assembly of the elders” here means the Ancient Worthies who will be sending forth the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem – after the tribulation has passed. (See Isa. 2:3) The world will then have learned through excruciating experience what they could not learn by instruction.


“He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Psa. 107:33-34) Here the restitution class during the Millennium is brought to our attention. The rivers which are turned into a wilderness and the watersprings into dry ground are the streams and fountains of Babylon. They will be utterly dried up in the Kingdom time. Though a fruitful land in some respects to its inhabitants, God is going to devastate it.

In its place the people will be given the true knowledge of God. “He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water­springs. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.” (Psa. 107:35-38) The 35th Chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful companion text for this Psalm: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isa. 35:1)

The trial in the Little Season, at the end of the Millennial Age, is then brought to our attention: “Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.” (Psa. 107:39-40) All of the restored world of mankind will be thoroughly tested by the affliction and oppression which Satan and his underlings will bring upon them. God will pour out His contempt upon those who are unfaithful. These were on the way to becoming kings of the earth, and hence are mentioned as princes. They will be caused to wander into the symbolic wilderness, the Second Death, where there is no way, such as God’s people have to follow. They will go into utter annihilation.

“Yet setteth he the poor [the humble] on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.” (Psa. 107:41) These are the “sheep” class who will stand amid the temptation which Satan will bring at the end of the Millennium. They will be the blessed of the Father who will be given the earthly dominion. (Matt. 25:34) It is at this time that evil will become eternally inactive, for we are told, “All iniquity shall stop her mouth.” (Psa. 107:42)


The last verse of the Psalm is a summation: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving­kindness of the Lord.” (Psa. 107:43) The “lovingkindness of the Lord” is His great Plan of Salvation for the human race. He who is wise to understand this Psalm here in the end of the age will have a clear understanding of the entire Plan. The wise are the same as those mentioned by the Prophet Daniel, when he says that in the time of the end the wise would understand: “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) None could under­stand before that time, no matter how learned or pious they were. But it is to those wise in the wisdom of the Lord, especially here in the Epiphany period, that the understanding of these things is given.

This wisdom surely does help them to see and understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. God is continually showering His blessings upon us, since every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights. (Jas. 1:17) All our gifts of heavenly affections, all our gifts of the graces in growth, in strengthening, in balancing and in crystallization, are gifts from Him. All our encouraging and restraining providences are gifts from Him. Our opportunities of service, our trials and tests, our chastisements, our privileges of enduring persecution for truth, righteousness and holiness, and all our victories over the devil, the flesh and the world as to sin, error, selfishness, worldliness and the dying process, as well as our prospective victory over the grave, are gifts of our Father’s love. These call upon us to thank our Father as the Source and our Lord Jesus as the Agent of their bestowal. Therefore, we should exhort our souls to give thanks to them.

Let the Little Flock give thanks; let the Great Company give thanks; let the Youthful Worthies give thanks; let the faith-justified give thanks; let Fleshly Israel give thanks; and let the Ancient Worthies and the world of mankind in the Millennium give thanks. Let their thanks come from pure dispositions, thoughts and motives, expressed in fitting words and responsive works. The Source and Agent are worthy of gratitude and the recipients of their gifts are unfit to receive them unless they are grateful.

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever!” (Psa. 107:1)

(Derived from Brother Hoefle’s paper No. 338, August 1983 and Brother Johnson’s article from The Present Truth No. 383, November 1950)



Question: Who are meant when it is said, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven”? (Matt. 8:11)

Answer: As already pointed out in the Studies in the Scriptures series, the Gospel Church only will constitute the Kingdom in its highest and strictest sense; but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Ancient Worthies will be the chief ministers of that Kingdom in the world of mankind, and all mankind will be invited to come into harmony with the spiritual Kingdom, that God’s will may be done in this, as an earthly class, as it is done in the heavenly class. In this sense of the word, all who shall accept of the terms and conditions of the Kingdom will sit down, or be at rest and at peace with God, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faithful of the earthly class. Thus it will be seen that the Lord is pointing to a large class of the world of mankind who will ultimately become citizens of the earthly phase of the Kingdom. This same thought is represented in Revelation, where it is intimated that all the worthy will enter into the city – the Kingdom – while without will be all the unworthy, who love and serve sin, subjects of the Second Death. (Rev. 22:14-15)

(From Reprint 3457)

[1] When “Lord” appears in all capital letters, as it does in this Psalm, we know it is from the tetragrammaton YHWH or YHVH in the original Hebrew Bible. It represents the proper name of the Almighty Father and not just a title. Although we quote from the King James Version here, we refer readers to the Rotherham translation where the name “Yahweh” is used throughout this Psalm.

[2] Such as by filling the Epiphany Camp with consecrated ones outside the linen curtain of Christ, and deceiving them into believing they will have the preeminence in the Kingdom in superiority to the Jews.

[3] Brother Hoefle witnessed the rioting in Detroit in 1967 and the immense destruction it produced. He commented at the time that once Armageddon topples over the present governments, it will not be very long until Anarchy follows.


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 730

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (Jas. 3:16)

The story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37) is beautiful in its simplicity as well as deeply interesting and instructive from various viewpoints. One lesson is that it is unwise for a parent to show great preference for one child above another, thus cultivating among the children a spirit of envy.

Another lesson teaches that it is unwise to tell even our dreams to unsympathetic ears, as when Joseph told his dreams to his brothers. In one dream, he saw eleven shocks of wheat bow down to one shock, representing his. In the other dream, he saw the sun, the moon and the eleven stars all doing homage to him. Joseph was not to be blamed for having these dreams. Unlike the majority of dreams, they apparently came from the Lord. Joseph was not even to blame for artlessly telling the dreams to his brothers; evidently this was the very thing the Lord intended. The Lord foreknew the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, and how envy would be cultivated in their minds. He gave the opportunity for this to happen, for He planned Joseph’s subsequent experiences. The envy of his brothers merely helped to accomplish them.

We may, however, learn the lesson that in general it is wise to keep to oneself truths not necessary for another to know if they might merely arouse opposition. Jesus encouraged this thought when He cautioned not to “cast ye your pearls before swine.” (Matt. 7:6) Deep truths connected with the Divine Plan and with Christian hopes are better told only to those for whom the Lord intended them, namely the meek, the humble.


The most important feature of this lesson is that Joseph is a type, or prophetic picture of Jesus, and more broadly the entire body of Christ. Jesus was the heavenly Father’s beloved Son; He was rejected by His brethren, betrayed for silver, and delivered for envy. (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10)

Joseph was kind to his brothers and was on an errand of mercy to them when in their envy they plotted his death. Later they sold him into slavery in Egypt. His brothers hated him without a cause – merely because he was good, because his father loved him, and because God in the dreams fore­shadowed his coming exaltation. Joseph’s brothers should have said, “Let us rejoice that we have so noble a brother, and rejoice if it be God’s will that he be very highly exalted. God’s promise made to our grand­fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and to our father Jacob, may thus be reaching a fulfilment. Let God’s blessings come in whatever way He sees best. We will rejoice with our brother, as we see that he is pleasing to God and to our father Jacob and we will seek to copy his character.” Instead, they were envious to the point of cruelty.

God’s providence continued with Joseph and blessed him as a slave, and through much tribu­lation finally brought him to the throne of Egypt – next in influence and power to Pharaoh himself. It was then that the famine of the land drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph had wisely stockpiled. Thus was fulfilled his dream that his brothers would bow down, as illustrated in the eleven sheaves which bowed down before his.

Later when his father and the entire family came to Egypt to live in Goshen, they all paid homage to Joseph as the representative of Egypt’s government, thus fulfilling the second dream. But these experiences were obscure at the time. It appeared the Lord had less love for Joseph than for the rest of his family, until the time came for his exaltation to the throne. Then everything changed.

Joseph, like Jesus, was hated without a cause. We read the prophetic statement: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head.” (Psa. 69:4) Jesus quoted this statement and applied it to Himself, saying, “They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25) The brethren of Jesus were the Jews who crucified Him, although no cause for death was found in Him.

We see it was for envy that they delivered Him up and called for His crucifixion, because His works were good and theirs were evil; because He taught the way of the Lord more perfectly than they; because He declared to them that the time would come when all would recognize Him as the Messiah – coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory – and all would bow to Him.

Just as disaster, treachery and shame prepared for Joseph the way to glory and honor on the throne of Egypt, so it was with Jesus. His trying experiences proved Him loyal to God and led onward to His exaltation to the right hand of Divine Majesty. St. Paul refers to this, saying of Jesus, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) Again he says, “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9) The experiences of Joseph – all his humiliations – prepared the way for him to be succored and honored by Pharaoh. Again we read of Jesus: “Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect [through suffering], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:8-9)

The Scriptures assure us that in God’s great Plan, not only Jesus is to be exalted to the Throne as the world’s Messiah, but with Him is to be a company of brethren, sharers of the same glory, honor and immortality. And these brethren, in God’s great Purpose, are required to pass through similar experiences to those of their Elder Brother Jesus. Their experiences, therefore, are illustrated also in Joseph’s experiences. They are not equal with their Elder Brother. He is designated their Head, their Chief, the Captain of their salvation. We read that God “in bringing many sons unto glory” made “the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10), and all of the company of sons received under this great Captain must similarly be perfected through sufferings.

The Apostle John declares, “As he is, so are we in this world;” and again, “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:1) Joseph’s brothers were blind to the fact that their brother would be their savior from famine, as well as the savior of the Egyptians; the world likewise fails to realize that only through Messiah will any have eternal life.

Jesus forewarned His elect followers that they must also expect to be hated unjustly: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me . . . But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:18-25)

We give in full the same prophetic text from which our Lord quoted: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head . . . Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me . . . Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psa. 69:4-9, 20-21)


Consider the facts: Jesus and His followers, according to Divine intention, have suffered shame and contempt. We perceive that in the case of Jesus and the early Church, the persecution came from their brethren according to the flesh – from the Jews. And since then, all through the Gospel Age, the persecutions of the Church, the brethren of Jesus, the Household of Faith, have also come from their brethren. These brethren are not Jews, but Christians. As the Jewish religionists in Jesus’ day persecuted their more righteous brethren, since then nominal Christians have been the chief persecutors of the Lord’s faithful followers. This persecution has come upon faithful souls of nearly every denomination and, sadly, from unfaithful souls of nearly every denomination. Presbyterians, Covenanters, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists have all endured perse­cutions from blinded brethren, who in nearly every case professed that the persecuting was done for the glory of God. As the Lord through the Prophet expresses the matter, “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (Isa. 66:5)

Already the world in general, including the Jews, realize a great mistake was made in persecuting Jesus unto death and to some extent similar transgressions against the faithful followers of Jesus have been recognized. And yet the same blindness, from the same envious disposition, leads to persecution even in our day. The majority admit that they have little distinct knowledge about God or the Bible. They pray for light singing, “Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom.” Yet if any light appears, if any voice of love or tenderness is heard, directing them toward the dawning of the New Day, clearly pointing out the riches of God’s grace and the lengths and breadths of His mercy, immediately their quest for light ceases, and their stones of ridicule and slander are hurled. And why? It is for fear there will be change, that someone will get further light, that the Divine promise will be fulfilled, and a new Dawn be ushered in.

But what is the philosophy of these facts of history? Why has God permitted, yes even ordained that Christ should suffer, and that all who would walk in His steps must share in His experiences of ignominy and shame and reproach – suffering with Him? The Father used the trying experiences to test the love and loyalty of His Son, and to demonstrate His obedience to angels and to men. Intending to confer upon Him very great glory and honor, the Father would have all to see, as He saw it, the worthiness of the Logos, subsequently Jesus.

In a symbolic picture, Heavenly hosts of angels acknowledge the propriety of the high exaltation of Jesus saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5:12) If a demonstration of the worthiness of Jesus, the Logos, was necessary or proper, it seems much more necessary that an elect Church, being gathered from among a fallen race, should be proven loyal to God to the very last – even unto death.

There is a difference, however. In the case of the Master, it was a demonstration that He was perfect before He left the Heavenly glory, and perfect also when He became the Man Christ Jesus – “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) “In him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5) In the case of His followers, the imperfection of the flesh still remains; but they are judged, not according to the weaknesses of their flesh, of heredity, but according to the love and zeal of their hearts. And this loving zeal is witnessed to by their endeavor to walk faithfully in the footsteps of their Leader and Savior, overcoming to the best of their ability the weaknesses of their flesh, “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)

(From Reprint 5214, with editing.)



The primary power of God’s people is the Truth, and their secondary power is God’s Arrange­ment for the proper use of that Truth. Thus, the counsel to “give attendance” to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13) is sound advice for every time of the Age and we believe a clear and comprehensive under­standing of the doctrine of Justification will enable us to “continue in the faith” – never to stray away from the general Truth structure. (Col. 1:23)

There are two kinds of Justification taught in the Bible – Justification by Faith and Justification by Works. Since our present Bible is specifically designed for those who “live by faith,” it is only proper that Justification by Faith receive the preponderance of favor in the past, present and future – until Justification by Works gains the ascendancy in our Lord’s Mediatorial Kingdom.

Since the time that Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), Justification by Faith has had two com­ponents – Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification. Herein much controversy has arisen among God’s people, some claiming there is no such thing as Tentative Justification and others claiming it not only operates now but will continue to operate even during the period of Justification by Works.

It is our opinion that those who deny completely a Tentative Justification for this Faith Age are thus forced to abandon large sections of that Truth which made them clean. (It forced JFR to discard completely Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices.) It is difficult to determine just how they now interpret Jesus’ words: “I say to you, Till Heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one tip of a letter shall by no means pass from the Law, till all be accomplished. (Matt. 5:18, Diaglott) Jesus was clearly telling us that the entire Law arrange­ment – of which the Tabernacle with its ceremonies was the central feature – was typical, and that all those types must continue until the antitypes appeared to fulfill them to completion.

In a flimsy attempt to justify his rejection of Tentative Justification, JFR falsely claimed that Brother Russell rejected the teaching of Tentative Justification before he died; but this claim is directly disputed in the foreword of Vol. 6, Oct. 1, 1916. There Brother Russell set forth Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification as separate and distinct. Many other citations leave no doubt about Brother Russell’s conviction about Tentative Justification. [1]

Many others have joined JFR in the denial of Tentative Justification; and, since this teaching is a fundamental part of the Old and New Testaments, we are justified in concluding that those who now deny it, must come under the classification of “Those who are perishing, because they admitted not the love of the Truth in order that they might be saved. And on this account God will send to them an Energy of Delusion.” (2 Thess. 2:10,11, Diaglott) In our Lord’s announcement of the sentence upon the “unprofitable servant” (the Great Company) of Matt. 25:30, Jesus stated that he would be cast into “outer darkness” – meaning he would be given over to error. (See also 1 Thess. 5:5-6 and the Berean Comments on 2 Thess. 2:11.)

Jesus told the Disciples: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3); and the conclusion must automatically follow that those who reject “the word” which once made them clean would then become unclean – become afflicted with antitypical leprosy – “he shall be defiled; he is unclean.” (Lev. 13:46) And this uncleanness will remain with that Class until the full end of the Gospel Age – “unclean until the even.” (Lev. 14:46) Their cleansing will be accomplished in the “great tribulation” of Rev. 7:14, when they shall experience the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of Matt. 25:30. Until this cleansing is accomplished, we may reasonably expect such unclean ones to cast out (refuse to fellowship) God’s fully faithful people who resist such rebellion (revolutionism). Keep in mind that it is always the Truth that produces the separation between the Fully Faithful and the Measurably Faithful. Thus, the “hail” (the hard convincing Truth) sweeps away “the refuge of lies” (Isa. 28:17) revealing those who have received the Truth in the love of it, and those who receive the punishment of “outer darkness:” error and revolutionism, leprous uncleanness. Thus, we should “think it not strange” as we see this separating influence operate to a completion – “until the even.”


While we have great respect for the teachings of Brother Russell, we believe every doctrine should also be clearly taught in the Bible, especially one as weighty as Tentative versus Vitalized Justification. We should be able to substantiate our position – and not by one text only, but by at least two or three witnesses. (Matt. 18:16) It is the failure to consider all that is written on various doctrines that has produced the great falling away since Apostolic times. Therefore, if we find our thoughts disputed by even a single text, we may be sure that one of three things is true: Either the text is spurious; we have a faulty translation; or we ourselves have the wrong interpretation. It is “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18); and, since the Bible is the inspired word of God, it likewise cannot lie – it cannot contradict itself.

Consider our first witness: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [believing] husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) The word “holy” in the text is from the Greek word hagios, which means set apart, separate, holy. It is the same word that is translated “saints” more than sixty times. Clearly enough, a newborn infant could not possibly be a saint, but they receive a reckoned saintly standing because of their saintly parentage; and, since their parents are in the antitypical Tabernacle Court, their children would evidently have to be there with them until such time as those children reach an age of accountability and can determine for themselves whether or not they wish to retain their Faith Justification and continue in the saintly footsteps of their parents.

No one with the faintest understanding of Faith Justification would claim that the justification of infants is vitalized! Therefore, this indisputably proves a Tentative Justification. Note also that we are also clearly presented with two kinds of Tentative Justification: one acquired by mature, intelligent desire and cooperation, and the other by infants through no will or cooperation of their own. It is that justification described in Rom. 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access [we have been introduced – see Diaglott] by faith into this grace [favor] wherein we stand.” This Tentative Justification – standing – is our “introduction” to God, which gives us “peace with God.” We do not have the “peace of God” until we offer ourselves to do His will in accordance with Rom. 12:1; if accepted, this then gives to us “the peace of God, which passeth all [human] understanding.” (Phil. 4:7) Only after that do we actually possess a “living” (zeal‑inspiring) faith.

Our second witness is from Romans chapter 4: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [had faith in] God, and it was counted [reckoned] unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3) Here it is clearly stated that Abraham’s Faith Justification did not actually make him right; it merely accounted, or reckoned, him righteous. Thus, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Rom. 4:7) Their sins are no longer held against them because of their Faith Justification. Certainly no one who was ever in Present Truth would contend that Abraham and David had justification similar to the justification held by those of this Gospel Age who had come into the Body of Christ – vitalized through a real imputation of Christ’s merit.

Now note this: “How was it then reckoned [to Abraham]? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncir­cumcision. And he received the sign of circum­cision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” (Rom. 4:10-11)

All schooled in Present Truth know that ancient circumcision was a type of the Gospel Age consecration, the physical circumcision typing the figurative circumcision of the heart when one offers his heart and will to God in consecration. St. Paul clearly states that Abraham’s righteousness was accounted, reckoned, to him before circumcision – that he might be the father of all who believe – all who experience a Faith Justification before they present themselves to God in consecration – before they experience the antitypical circumcision of the heart. St. Paul was truly a great logician, and his reasoning is so clear and direct in this fourth chapter, that it seems unbelievable that any who were once in Present Truth could cast it aside and then attempt to besmirch Brother Russell by saying he had also cast aside these compelling Scriptures.

St. Paul then says that this Faith Justification arranges our “access” (introduction) to God. (Rom. 5:1-2) It is merely an introduction, not an intimate relation­ship, but it will enable us to gain intimacy of soul with our Heavenly Father if we follow the appeal to “present your bodies a living sacrifice” in consecration. This we are now in a position to do as a result of our tentative, reckoned, Faith Justification: “Be ye transformed by the renewing [renovation] of your mind.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

As our third witness we offer what we consider the most compelling proof for Tentative Justification: the Atonement Day type of the wilderness Tabernacle. (Lev. 16) The pattern given to Moses in the mount was emphatic that all animals used in that service must be “without blemish” (Lev. 1:3), have no visible flaws of any kind. We ask, did those animals have their physical perfection as a result of their presentation to Aaron in sacrifice, or were they offered up that day because they were previously found to be perfect? The answer is clear: They were already “without blemish” when they were selected from among the children of Israel and brought into the Court, before they were tied at the door of the Tabernacle. Their being tied there represented the consecration and presentation of those who were about to enter the Holy “in newness of life” through an instantaneous vitalization of that reckoned perfection which was already theirs before consecration. It is this tentative faith justification, this reckoned perfec­tion that is our access or introduction to God. It is this that enables us to enter into the Holy – into Divine sanctum, into vitalized justification, a condition exclusive to this Gospel Faith Age and exclusive to those only who are begotten to “newness of life” through direct imputation of the merit of Jesus.

Every antitype is greater than its type. Thus, Jesus as the antitype of the Atonement Day bullock was infinitely greater than was the type, requiring only the one sacrifice of Himself to forever cleanse from sin all who come to the Father by Him. The members of His Body were also far greater than their Atonement Day type as represented in the Lord’s goat. Therefore, if the animals in the type were “without blemish” (typically perfect) before being presented at the door of the Tabernacle, must this not be much more true of their Gospel Age anti­types? God can make no allowance for sin, thus He could not enter into a “covenant by sacrifice” with fallen beings unless the sin barrier were first removed. Therefore He must first provide a way – an introduction – for fallen man to come to Him. This He accomplished by arranging for a tentative, reckoned perfection – a Tentative Justification by Faith.


No fallen human could arrange this intro­duction to God by his own skill or merit; it must come through an intercessor, through one who could give him a reckoned perfection. This He arranged through Jesus – “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26) The Tabernacle type gives clear confirmation of this by the linen curtain which surrounded the Tabernacle structure and its surrounding plot of ground. The Divine Presence was portrayed by the Shekinah Light shining forth from between the Cherubim in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. None could reach that presence except through Jesus – by first coming through the Gate into the Court, and inside the linen curtain, there to be reckoned perfect, righteous (“the fine linen is the righteous­ness of saints”Rev. 19:8). Being provided proper introduction to God at the first veil, they progress in life’s pilgrimage through the Holy to the Most Holy, to “ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17)

Abraham lived before the typical Tabernacle was erected at Sinai, but the same arrangement was reckoned to him, and to all with “the faith of Abraham” from Abel to John the Baptist. “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) While none of the Ancients ever had more than a tentative, reckoned justification, that came to them through a reckoned standing inside that linen curtain, giving them a righteousness they could never attain of them­selves. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6)

Brother Johnson wrote of the Youthful Worthies: “From the standpoint of having ‘the faith of Abraham’ (Gal. 3:7,9) they are, of course, like him, of the Household of Faith . . . They are, however, somewhat different from the Tentatively Justified who do not now consecrate. The latter during the Epiphany cease altogether to be of the Household of Faith, having used the Grace of God in vain.” (E‑4, page 406)

After That Servant’s death, JFR denied the doctrine of Tentative Justification altogether because it stood in the way of his “new light.” Brother Johnson clearly refuted his “new light,” and established the doctrine of Tentative Justification in the Scriptures so unmistakably that no Epiphany enlightened brethren need be deceived. He stated that “those faithful consecrators from 1881 until Restitution sets in, for whom there are no crowns available, and hence no Spirit-begetting for Gospel Age purposes possible, will be the Millennial Associates of the Ancient Worthies in reward and service.” (E-4, page 342)

Advancing Truth does not set aside the Truth already established, as some deceivers seem to think; all advancing Truth must be based upon the Truth already established from the Word of God.

(Excerpts from No. 255 by John J. Hoefle, September, 1976, with editing)

[1] See these Reprints: 4525, p. 360; 4547 pp. 12-13; 4579 p. 93; 4655 p. 247; 4901, p. 394; 5023, p. 152; 5206-5208 pp. 92‑94; 5410-5411, p. 67; 5660-5661, pp. 103-104; 5774-5775, pp. 292-293; 5959, p. 281.


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 729

“For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth . . . And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken into the ground . . . Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.” (Isa. 21:6-12)

When this prophecy was written, it was the custom to erect a wall around the important cities. The wall around Babylon was a marvelous piece of construction for that time. It was conical in shape with the narrow top wide enough for two chariots to drive around it side by side. It was considered impregnable – a good representation of our present spiritual Babylon, who also says, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” (Rev. 3:17)

Upon the tops of those ancient city walls were turrets or towers in which a watchman was located at night to watch for the approach of enemies, man or beast, to watch for thieves of the crops outside the city, etc. Occasionally, a citizen – inside the fort or directly outside it, would call out, “Watchman, what of the night?” That is, do you notice any sign of enemies or thieves? The watchman in our verse above answered, “The morning cometh [it will be here shortly], and also the night.”

At the time Isaiah wrote this prophecy there was mirth and festivity; he alone was overwhelmed with grief, and refused to be comforted. In the rejoicings of the populace he read the evidence of their hopeless impenitence and insensibility, and he concludes his discourse by expressing the conviction that at last they have sinned beyond the possibility of pardon. The circumstances recall our Lord’s lamentation over Jerusalem on His triumphal entry into the city five days before His crucifixion: “He beheld the city, and wept over it.” (Luke 19:41-42)


From the Bible chronology, the parallel dispensations, and the signs of the times, it is our firm conviction that this text applies directly to the time in which we are living. From these different sources, it is our conclusion that the “morning” began in 1874. Jesus said, “For as the lightning [the bright shiner, the sun] cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:27)

It is evident that the word “lightning” is a poor translation here. This word is from the Greek astrape, which has several meanings (see Strong’s Concord­ance). Lightning does not start in the east and go to the west, but the sun does. The sun rises noiselessly in the East, when most people are still asleep, but gradually becomes more prominent and noticeable in the heavens until high noon. “But, the path of the righteous, is as the light of dawn, –going on and brightening, unto meridian day.” (Prov. 4:18, Rotherham) The footnote on this text says: “The stable part of day – when the sun seems motionless in mid‑heaven.”

Thus, we should expect a very obscure beginning of the “morning” in 1874 – just as the sun also arises in the morning without much clamor. Most of our great inventions have come since that date: The telephone, the electric light, the automobile, the airplane, computers, and all the magnificent technological advancements have come since that time. More inventions have come in a little over a hundred years than occurred in the six thousand years before that time.

The sun has not yet come to “meridian day,” but with this great increase of learning has come also “the night” of trouble. This also had a very mild beginning in 1874, but it has now reached alarming proportions; even those not familiar with Bible prophecy see it with much certainty. It is written in Dan. 12:1: “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Speaking of Daniel’s prophecy, Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21) And just as the bright shining proceeds to meridian height, so the trouble also increases; by the time the sun has reached meridian height, the trouble will have reached its nadir, and will be completely over when the sun reaches full height. Then will be fulfilled the prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”


The word translated “coming” in Matthew 24:27 is from the Greek parousia, which actually means “presence,” and should be understood in that manner. Often the question comes to us, Watchman, what of the night – How long is the night? We cannot give a positive answer to the question, although we can quote the words of Jesus: “This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32) We do not know the length of time of “this generation,” but we can quote the words of Jesus, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” Therefore, we can say with conviction that “the time is at hand.” (Rev. 3:20; Rev. 10:6; Rev. 11:18; Rev. 22:10)

It is our understanding that our Lord’s Parousia has been with us since 1874. It will continue until all the “wheat” has been gathered into the Lord’s barn and the “tares” bundled and burned. In a broad sense our Lord will continue to be present as the world’s King to the full conclusion of the Millennial Age, but His Parousia in the sense of a secret presence will terminate when, as the Scriptures state, He is revealed in “flaming fire,” the great time of trouble, taking vengeance on all who do not receive the Truth in a good and honest heart (2 Thess. 1:7-8), but enlightening all those who will hear to the extent of their opportunity. The secret Parousia is only for those who now hear and obey His calling. The Epiphania is not to the Church or for the Church, but to the world and for the world.

Of the world, the natural Israelites will be the first to look upon Him “whom they have pierced.” (Zech. 12:10) Brought into covenant relationship with God through the better Mediator than Moses (Heb. 8:6), they will be trained, chastened, blessed and uplifted by Him during the Millennium; so that by the end of the Millennium they shall be ready for the everlasting covenant condition of perfection in harmony with God.

While the besom of destruction becomes more apparent each year to those who are the “Watchmen,” the great majority of the world still sleeps on, as Jesus foretold they would. As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the presence of the Son of Man; the world that was “knew not” until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Matt. 24:38-39) Thus we should not be surprised to see the inattention of the great majority. “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith [the Truth] on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) History tells us that it has always been thus, with retribution usually overtaking those who disregard the Word of Truth.

However, the Watchman said, “If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.” Thus, some may now inquire to know more, turn toward God and come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, when He pours out His spirit “upon all flesh” many will then awaken to the tremendous operations that will occur. (Joel 2:28)


We now present (without quotation marks) excerpts from various writings of Pastor Russell:

Reprint 5359: At the Epiphania, or bright shining, of the Lord’s manifestation, God will have completed His present work of directing the Church; and the world will be informed that they are under a different dispensation. When the world will have come to understand the matter fully, they will know the Truth of our Lord’s words, in His last prayer with His disciples – that the Father loves the Church as He loved the Lord Jesus. This is a very astounding statement. It shows that there is nothing selfish in our Lord. He did not say, “They will always be inferior to me. They will never have the glory that I shall have.”

Reprint 5522: Bible students call our attention to the fact that the Bible distinctly differentiates between the Parousia of Christ and His Epiphania, at His second coming. The word Parousia signifies presence, without in any sense of the word indicating that the presence is visible. The word Epiphania signifies the revealing of one who is already present. These Bible students claim that in the end of this Gospel Age Christ will be present, invisible to men, during a period of forty years, doing a work especially in His Church – rewarding the faithful, as shown in the parables of the Pounds and Talents, and receiving the “wise virgins,” as stated in the parable.

With the conclusion of this work of separating the wise virgins, and after they shall have entered into the joys of their Lord by the glorious change of the First Resurrection, then will come Immanuel’s Epiphania, revealing, showing forth. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) He shall be revealed “in flaming fire, taking vengeance.” In other words, the revelation of Christ to the world will be subsequent to His revelation of Himself to the “wise virgin” class. The world will know that He has taken His great power and begun His reign of righteousness, not by seeing Jesus in the flesh, but by seeing the great time of trouble which then will break upon the world – “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21)

Reprint 5527: The Scriptures indicate that the Gentile governments will receive from their own peoples their first notice that their lease of power has expired. The people will take note of the sign of the Son of man in the heavens. The judgments of the Lord will begin to be manifest in the world, and will run counter to many of their interests. This manifestation of His presence is Scripturally called the Epiphania, the shining forth, the revealment of the King of Glory. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed . . . In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:7-10) As a result, the nations of earth will be broken to pieces “like a potter’s vessel.” (Psa. 2:8-9; Rev. 2:27)

The prophetic forecast tells us that the trouble will begin in the ecclesiastical heavens, and later will proceed to the social element. The picture given of the end of the Gentile Times is that of a stone striking the image of Gentile supremacy on its feet. (Dan. 2:34-35) The impact will be so sharp and so thorough as to leave nothing of them. Having had their day, they will cease to be – “become like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors.” The next event in order will be the Messianic Kingdom, of which it is written, “The desire of all nations [peoples] shall come.” (Hag. 2:7)


From the foregoing writings it is clear That Servant taught we are in the time of establishing God’s promised Kingdom. Although he saw this clearly more than 25 years before 1914, he erred in expecting the entire program would be consummated in a very short time. However, by 1910 he recognized that the time was much too short for the accomplishment of the things necessary, and he openly said so, but some of his dogmatic supporters did not accept his corrections then. In fact, one of them said early in 1914 that he was buying a ticket to go to some west coast area, but he did not buy a return ticket because he would have no use for it. Many such lost much of the Truth and quit the movement as the days carried on. However, when the Russian government was toppled in the fall of 1917, some brethren shouted they were no longer walking by faith; they were then walking by sight – a mistake very easy to make, since the Czarist government of Russia was then one of the strongest autocracies that had ever been on earth.

But the war ended in November 1918, things began to calm down, followed by a business boom for eleven years; then the great crash of 1929, followed by the great depression of four years. Once again the predictions of doom were very prevalent, but soon disappeared. In fact, some concluded by about 1920 that Brother Russell had made a mistake of nineteen years in the Chronology; the Gentile Times would not end until 1933. This same error had been “discovered” about a hundred years before that by a deluded Babylon teacher, so it was nothing new. When 1933 came and not one thing occurred to substantiate the error, the subject was discreetly dropped.

It is our firm conviction that no mistake was made in the Chronology by That Servant. His dates are yet well established, but he made the mistake of expecting too much in too short a time, although everything he taught about what would happen is still well substantiated by the Bible and current events.

In all of the events that have occurred since 1914, we are firmly convinced that he was right in declaring that the Kingdom had been set up in 1878, that the elect Church had then been tentatively gathered – although some dropped out before 1914 and others were called in. By 1914 he was convinced that the full number of the Elect had been won. For some years now the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been declaring the full establishment of the Kingdom, with their group being its firm nucleus. Current events clearly reveal their error on the matter. As late as 1915, Brother Russell wrote this:

Reprint 5632: The final phrase, “to execute the judgments written,” would seem to imply that there would be something for the saints on this side of the Veil to do in connection with the execution of the judgments upon the nations. (Psa. 149:7-9) [It was going on right then, but our dear Pastor had not then discerned it – JJH] As to just what this means, we have not yet fully learned. But we see nothing here to conflict with the thought that the Lord’s Kingdom may be properly understood to have begun operations and that the present smiting of the nations is under Kingdom control. The fact that some of the members of the Kingdom class are still in the flesh does not militate at all against this thought. We see the kingdoms of this world now being dashed to pieces, and we are expecting to see the process continued until they are all completely ground to powder. They shall become as the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind shall carry them away. Then shall they be found no more at all. (Dan. 2:35)

Because certain important things are to be accomplished, we see that God is permitting what to others might seem to be purely human devilishness. For a wise purpose He permits this reign of lawlessness, this condition which evokes universal odium. Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God’s Kingdom has begun its work. We are expecting to see multiplied proofs of the Kingdom power, though the world will not recognize it as such until it is manifested in the flaming fire of anarchy, which is still further along. The present step is the war of the nations. The next step will be Socialism – an attempted Socialism – among the people [after Armageddon – JJH]. Then the third step, anarchy, will gradually come on. When this symbolic fire shall prevail then the world will realize what we are trying to tell them now; namely, that God’s Kingdom is taking control, and that these various demonstrations are evidences that our Lord is taking His great power. But the many will not begin to see until the flaming fire is revealed. When we endeavor to tell them now they will not receive it, but they will be thoroughly convinced when they see the destructive fire of Anarchy.


“The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21, NIV)

Reprint 5455: Our understanding of the Master’s words (Luke 17:20‑37) depends consid­erably upon the setting in which we see them. John the Baptist preceded Jesus and preached the Kingdom of God is at hand. In due time he pointed out Jesus as the Messiah that should come, the Lamb of God. After waiting for months to establish himself, and finding instead that his own work was closing, he was put into prison by Herod. John then sent to Jesus to inquire whether or not He was the one that should come or whether they should look for another. He was disappointed in not seeing evidences of the Kingdom, as he had expected.

The scribes and the Pharisees heard of the claim that Jesus was the long‑promised King who would set up His Messianic Kingdom, and they derided Him. They looked at His motley company of followers – publicans and sinners, as well as honorable people, but none of special rank, influ­ence or wealth. They considered Jesus a deceiver and His followers dupes. Our lesson tells how they attempted to expose what they supposed was a deception of Jesus, thus to turn away the delusion of His followers. Therefore, they asked Him in public the question: When will God’s Kingdom come? How long will it be before you set it up?

Doubtless they purposed to entrap Jesus; for if He should say, “A long time,” they would proceed to query, “Where will you get your army? How will you pay your soldiers? How will you supply them with food? Will you go to Rome to battle with the powers that be, that our whole nation has been unable to cope with?” etc.

But those Pharisees got only as far as the first question, because the answer to it confuted them, and no doubt perplexed them. Jesus answered that God’s Kingdom would not come with observation [with outward show]; that is to say, when the Kingdom should come people would not see it. Proceeding, Jesus elaborated, saying that when the Kingdom of God should be established, people would not see whether it was here or there; for the Kingdom of God would be the power of God exerted everywhere in the midst of the people.

Our translation [the KJV] is faulty, though evidently not intentionally so, when it reads “For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) The translators, had they noted carefully, would have been on guard against saying that the Kingdom of God was within those Pharisees that Jesus had designated hypocrites, whited sepulchers, etc. (Matt. 23:27) A closer examination of the original would have shown that the text would better be translated, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.”

A kingdom is always represented by its king. Jesus, as the King, was present in their midst, but they did not recognize Him. “There standeth one among you, whom ye know not.” (John 1:26) Similarly, all through the Gospel Age, the Church of Christ, His “body,” had been undiscerned by the world. “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1) For eighteen hundred years this has been true in this sense; but Christ and the Church in the flesh are not the Kingdom of God in the full, proper sense that the Bible promises: a Kingdom of power and great glory. Christ and the Church have been only the incipient Kingdom, an embryo Kingdom – the Kingdom class, preparing for investiture of authority in God’s due time, which we believe is now near.

The Kingdom is to be a spiritual one, and hence its rulers will be as invisible as are the angels and the Heavenly Father. Jesus declared, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more.” (John 14:19) What was true of the Head will be true of every member of the elect body of Christ, the Church. Changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” the world will see them no more; for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” and flesh and blood cannot see that which is spiritual. (1 Cor. 15:50,52)

During the Millennium, the Kingdom authority and power of God through Christ and the Church will be exercised amongst men; and yet they will not see it with the natural eye, but merely with the eyes of their understanding. All the blind eyes will be opened. Thus every eye will see that the Kingdom is established; and every one will understand that He who suffered has entered into His glory, that the Church, His bride, is with Him in glory, and that the blessings of the Millennium proceed from them. (Rev. 20:6)


Turning from the silenced Pharisees to His disciples, Jesus said, “The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” (Luke 17:22) This was astonishing news to the faithful. Yet they were accustomed to hearing from the Master things which they could not understand; such as that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, that He must be crucified, etc. They took all these things figuratively and wondered what might be the real interpretation. How could Jesus be the great King, as they had expected, and yet they not see Him and His days?

Jesus continued the enigma, saying, “And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there; go not after them, nor follow them.” (Luke 17:23) In a word, do not believe anybody who will thus tell you about My second coming; do not be deceived into believing that I will come in any such manner. This is how I shall come: “For as the lightning [astrape, the bright shining, the sun], that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” (Luke 17:24)

Then, that they might gradually learn that these things belonged to a distant time, Jesus explained that first He must suffer many things and be rejected of that nation. Coming back to an explanation of what would be the signs of His presence as recorded in Matthew 24, He declared, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” (Luke 17:26)

Here we have something definite, concrete. We know what to look for at the time when the Kingdom will be due for establishment – the time when the Sun of Righteousness will begin to shine forth from one end of heaven to the other. The signs of the time will not be in the outward condition of the world; for on the contrary everything will be going along in as quiet and orderly a manner as ever, just as in the days of Noah, just as before the Deluge came, and just as in the days of Lot, before the destruction of Sodom – they ate, drank, married, built, bought, sowed, planted, as usual. These things are not signs of wickedness, but are mentioned to show us that there will be no outward sign to indicate to the world the time of the second presence of Christ, when He will begin to deal with the world and to set up His Kingdom. [This was the condition of the world just before World War One – the greatest calamity yet to happen. However, today’s condition is: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:26) – JJH]

Why introduce these two pictures – the Deluge and the destruction of Sodom – in conjunction, while talking of the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, which is to bless the world? The answer is that the Bible everywhere foretells that although Messiah’s Kingdom is the greatest provision of God, which will lift the curse and bring in blessings world‑wide, nevertheless it is to be established upon the wreck of our present institutions. And it is this wreck of social, financial, political and religious institutions of the present time that Jesus illustrated by the Deluge and the destruction of Sodom. And His own presence preceding this time of trouble is to be unseen to the world, unknown to the world, unsuspected, unbelieved, until the cataclysm of trouble precipitates with suddenness [as it did in World War One – JJH].

This is not a charming picture. We are glad that we may turn from it, and note the silver lining of the cloud, and the glorious blessings which will speedily follow the establishment of the Kingdom on the ruins of our human failures.

Emphasizing the suddenness with which the calamity will overtake the world, Jesus said that on the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained down fire and brimstone from heaven; and He declared that thus it will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. The Greek text shows a difference between the Parousia, or presence, of Christ before the Time of Trouble and the later Epiphania, or revealing. [The Epiphania is the time in which we are living. Men are perplexed, their “hearts failing them for fear.” – JJH]

The description of the revealing of Christ is given in the words, He shall be revealed in flaming fire. (2 Thess. 1:7-8) Indeed, that time of trouble is frequently described in the Bible as a burning of the world – so much so that many creeds of Christendom express the thought that the earth is to be “burned.” They overlook the fact that the heavens are to be “burned” also.

In the symbolical usage of the Bible, the earth represents the social order of human affairs; the sea, the restless, discontented masses; the heavens, the ecclesiastical powers. St. Peter tells us that all these will pass away with a great confusion, and that instead will come the new heavens and the new earth which God has promised. (2 Pet. 3:10-13) The new heavens will be the new ecclesiastical society – the Church in glory, joint‑heirs with Christ in His Kingdom [also with the Worthies as the visible ruling powers – JJH]. The new earth will be the new social order which Messiah’s Kingdom will establish.


“Watchman [the present enlightened Lord’s people], what of the night?” (Isa. 21:11) It is our hope that we have clearly defined “the night,” as well as “the morning.” A proper understanding of the morning in Messiah’s Kingdom will minimize greatly the gloomy picture of the night. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psa. 30:5) Faithful believers recognize the trouble as the preparation, according to God’s Plan, for blessing the whole world. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness [of sin and error]. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thess. 5:5-6)

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto, I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)


(Reprint of No. 335 by John J. Hoefle, May, 1983, with minor editing.)


by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 728

“For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:27)

God is not in covenant relationship with the brute creation; to them He has made no promises, although He has made a general provision for their needs. But we may understand that with all His intelligent creation He has a covenant, or agreement, to the effect that so long as they will do His will they shall possess life. Because of violation of that arrangement, the fallen angels were cast off, reserved in “chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6), to receive their final punishment. When Adam and Eve were disobedient, they violated this covenant, and came under the sentence of death. “But they like men [‘Adam’ in Hebrew] have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.” (Hos. 6:7)

Because of Adam’s transgression, the world is not in covenant relationship with God in any sense of the word. On the contrary, they are aliens, strangers, foreigners. (Eph. 2:11-13) God brought Abraham back into covenant relationship to some extent, but not fully so. To the nation of Israel He made certain promises in the form of a Law Covenant; whoever kept that Covenant would demonstrate worthiness to receive the blessing God promised to Abraham – that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3)

Moses was the mediator of the Law Covenant, for it was impossible to make the Covenant with Israel directly. Although they were unable to keep that Covenant because of inherited weaknesses of the flesh, it brought them a measure of blessing, as St. Paul points out. (Rom. 7:7) While it lifted Israel above the degradation into which the Gentiles were falling, nevertheless it did not bring the blessing for which they longed. It did not remove the death penalty – it did not give them life.

In the clear light now shining for the people of God, we see that the Law Covenant was only a type of a better Covenant to be made with Israel after the Church of Christ has been glorified; that Moses himself was only a type of a better Mediator; that the sacrifices of the Law were only types of the “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23), and that their priesthood was a type of the Royal Priesthood of the Gospel Age. (Heb. 7:27)

The words covenant and promise are used synonymously in the Scriptures. The children of Israel were under the Abrahamic Covenant long before they entered into the Law Covenant. They are still under those Covenants. St. Paul says, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Rom. 11:2) Then he proceeds to say that after the Elect Church has been gathered from among the Gentiles, the favor of God will return to Israel; for they are still beloved for the “fathers’ sakes.” The fathers of Israel are the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews are, therefore, under the Abrahamic Covenant. (Rom. 11:25-28)


An actual covenant relationship is one that is fully established – not merely suggested, or pro­posed, but accomplished. As Israel approached Mt. Sinai, God proposed to make a covenant with them. When all was ready, the Covenant was made through Moses as the mediator. The work of mediation was twofold; the first part was the sprinkling of the Law, representing the satisfaction of Justice; the second part was the sprinkling of the people, representing the bringing of the people into covenant relationship with God. That Covenant was then fully made, and has remained in operation ever since. (Exod. 24:3-8; Heb. 9:19)

God made a covenant with the Israelites which was to last for centuries; however, it was good for only one year at a time. For the first year the people were in harmony with God, but at the end of that time the cancellation of sins ceased; for the blood of bulls and of goats cannot take away sin. The whole arrangement was only a type. At the end of that first year, the Day of Atonement was inaugurated, and sacrifices were made for another year. The fact that the Atonement Day sacrifices were repeated year by year shows that they were efficacious for only a year at a time, and so never really took away sin. (Heb. 10:1-4)

After the Day of Atonement, the people made various kinds of offerings. Some of these seem to typify the presentation of the worshiper himself to God, as an indication that he wished to do the will of God. Others were for sin-offerings, indicating that the worshiper realized that there had been a measure of willfulness in his conduct. So rigid are the requirements of the Law Covenant that only one Jew, the Lord Jesus Christ, was able to keep them. This He could do because He was perfect, and the Law is the measure of a perfect man’s full ability.

The Israelites were in covenant relationship with God through Moses, the mediator of their Covenant, as demonstrated by the fact that Moses said, “He declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten command­ments.” (Deut. 4:13) Therefore the Jew is bound by the Law so long as he lives. (Rom. 7:1) Although the Law Covenant is not intended to be an everlasting arrangement, the only Jews who have been able to get from under it are those who have come into Christ; the remainder cannot rid themselves of it. But the time draws near when the Lord God will make a New Covenant with them through a new Mediator, The Christ, who will assist them to keep the Law satisfactorily and thus to be delivered from the evil features of their Covenant.

At the close of the Babylonian Captivity, the Prophet Daniel asked the Lord for an explanation of the prophecies relating to His  people. The answer to his prayer is given in detail: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24-27) All these things were to be done in those seventy weeks. Of this period of time, we find that the seventieth week was the most critical, for it was the week during which Messiah was to confirm the Covenant.[1]


During that period of seven years, God bestowed special favor upon the Jews. At the beginning of that week of years, our Lord, who was then thirty years of age, presented Himself to God as a sacrifice. This presentation was the first feature of the antitypical Atonement Day work, and corresponded to the sacrifice of the bullock in the type. Our Lord began the antitypical sacrifices; as St. Paul says, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Heb. 10:9) Our Lord there began to take away the type and to establish the antitype and during His ministry He fulfilled various features of the types. At Calvary His work of sacrificing Himself was finished, and the Divine acceptance of that sacrifice was manifested. Thus He took His place as the antitypical Moses.

Many other features of that antitypical Atonement Day work are not yet completed. It was a part of the Atonement for the High Priest to offer the Lord’s goat and to take its blood into the Most Holy and to sprinkle it there. It was also a part of the Atonement Day work for him to come out and confess the sins of the people on the scape-goat, and a still further part for him to bless the people.

The Prophet’s statement that in the midst of the week Messiah would cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (Dan. 9:27), implies that our Lord would there terminate the typical work for Israel as a people; they were rejected from Divine favor when they crucified Him. A few days before His death, our Lord had said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38)

This rejection of the Jewish nation does not indicate the end of their Law Covenant. To the Church of Christ, who have been given the privilege of understanding the deep things of the Spirit of God, it appears that the efficacy of the typical sacrifices, which were offered year by year continually, ceased at the death of our Lord; and that since that time, as a nation they have had no Divine favor; but that the only ones who have had favor since then are those who have come out of Moses into Christ. The typical sacrifices continued until the time when Christ died, for the reason that Jesus Himself was under the Law, a part of which He fulfilled, and no feature of which can pass away until all has been fulfilled. (Matt. 5:17-18)

After our Lord’s ascension, it was possible for greater work to be done than ever before. The work of our Lord was cut short nationally, but it increased the opportunity of the Jews individually. While there were only about five hundred Jews who believed on Jesus until His death, thousands were added afterward. (1 Cor. 15:6; Acts 2:41) During the three and a half years following our Lord’s death, God did not recognize the Gentiles, for He had said that He would give seventy weeks to the Jews, and therefore He allowed no favor to go to the Gentiles until that period had expired.

After the expiration of the seventy weeks of years set apart for Israel, the Gospel began to go to the Gentiles, to gather from among them “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:13-18) The antitypical Atonement work has been progressing during this Gospel Age. Our Lord has already offered the antitypical bullock in the sacrifice of Himself. Since Pentecost, He has been offering the antitypical goat – the Church class. As soon as this work has been finished, the blood will be taken into the Most Holy, to sprinkle the Mercy-Seat and to “make atonement for all the people,” as in the type.


The Abrahamic Covenant, as it was given to Abraham, is a complete covenant; its provisions include all mankind, for it reads, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:14; Gen. 12:3) Its promise is to THE SEED: (1) Jesus; (2) The Christ, Head and Body (the Church); (3) the earthly seed through them. Its provisions extend to all who have the faith of Abraham. The promise of God was that a blessing shall come to all the families of the earth. This promise was confirmed by an oath on the part of God, so that by two immutable things – the oath and the promise of God – the heirs of the promise may be sure of its fulfilment. (Heb. 6:13-18)

The Seed of Abraham, which is to bless all the families of the earth, was intended to be a Spiritual Seed. The only way by which natural men could become the Spiritual Seed was by the sacrifice of the earthly nature and the attaining to the spirit nature. The opportunity for making this sacrifice was first given to our Lord Jesus. By carrying out His covenant of sacrifice, He became the Head of the Seed which is to bring the blessing. (Psa. 50:5; Psa. 40:7-10) The selection of this Spiritual Seed has been the work of the Gospel Age. With the Seed all gathered, the work of blessing the natural seed will begin, and through them the blessing will subsequently spread to all nations, to as many as are willing to accept the Divine favor.

The Church will always be in covenant relationship with the Father. The fact that He calls them sons implies that they are bound to Him. (John 1:12) Every father is in covenant relationship with his children, and they with him. Every child has a responsibility to the father, and the father to the child. The fact that God has received the Lord Jesus and the Church as sons (Heb. 3:6) signifies that they are in covenant relationship with Him. St. Paul says, “We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs.” (Rom. 8:16-17) His statement not only implies that relationship, but proves it; for the sons have a right to the things which the father has provided for his children.

All who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6), all whose souls long for God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks” (Psa. 42:1), all who having found Him have consecrated them­selves to Him – these have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with their spirit that they are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14-16) As anointed sons these can discover in themselves the worthy traits of true sons – loyalty, zeal, energy, discretion, faithfulness, obedience.

There are, however, conditions attached to this covenant of sacrifice; there are certain requirements which must be fulfilled. All must become partakers of the sufferings of Christ, if they would participate with Him in the glories to follow.


In Jer. 31:31-33, we read, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah . . . After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” We understand the expression “those days,” to refer to Israel’s “seven times” of punishment promised by the Lord for the violation of their Law Covenant. (Lev. 26:18) This New Covenant is to be made with Israel alone; for God never purposed to make a covenant with the Gentiles. The New Covenant will properly be so called because it will take the place of the old Law Covenant, which God made with Israel and which was broken by them. After Israel has been fully established under their New Covenant, all other nations (all peoples) will be privileged to come into this relationship. (Isa. 2:2-3)

Since the people are not worthy to enter directly into relationship with God, the New Covenant must have a Mediator. A covenant does not go into operation until after it has been fully mediated. The Mediator of the New Covenant is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church, His Body. The Scriptures indicate that the Mediator is complete or nearly complete.

When Moses mediated the Law Covenant, he first offered sacrifices, then took the blood of the animals, dividing it into two parts, and sprinkled both the Book of the Law and the people. Through­out the Gospel Age, our Lord has been offering the great antitypical sacrifices of Himself and His Church. As soon as He will have finished making application of the blood, He will have made satisfaction for the sins of the world. This act will correspond to the sprinkling of the Book by Moses. Divine Justice having accepted this arrangement, the Mediator will antitypically sprinkle the people; that is, He will show them how to come back into full accord with God. (Exod. 24:4-8; Heb. 9:19-24)

The New Covenant will begin to swallow up the old Law Covenant as soon as the Kingdom is established. Gradually the light will come to all who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Sprinkled from all sympathy with evil, they will make their declaration of full loyalty to God. In due time this light will spread to all kindreds and tongues and peoples. (Isa. 60:3)


Speaking of the New Covenant, the Prophet Jeremiah says, “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34) The sins and iniquities of Israel will no longer be remem­bered against them. Christ will have appeared on their behalf and made satisfaction for their sins. They will then be as free from original sin as the Gospel Church are; the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all. (1 John 2:2)

The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that during the next age the hearts of mankind will be changed: “Thus saith the Lord God  . . . A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:22-27) This change of heart is entirely aside from the making of the New Covenant. It will take a thousand years to remove the stoniness out of the hearts of mankind and to make them stand without a Mediator. Those who receive everlasting life must attain this condition; for all of God’s creatures who would live forever must keep His Law perfectly.

Because of their imperfection, God will not recognize the people during the Millennium. All of their dealings will be through the Mediator. The very moment when the merit of Christ is applied for the world is the same moment when they will be turned over to the Mediator. They will then be in covenant relation­ship with God, but only through the Mediator. Only when they have reached human perfection can they enter into this relationship directly with the Father. When they are brought up to perfection at the end of the thousand years, they will be delivered up to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24) God will then receive them as sons, heirs of the earthly blessings which He has provided for mankind – the things given to Adam.

The New Covenant will be everlasting; and as it is proper to say that Moses mediated the Law Covenant, so we may say that Christ will mediate the New Covenant. But it would not be proper to say that Moses is now the Mediator of the Law Covenant; for a covenant does not need a mediator after it has been mediated. So the New Covenant will need no Mediator after the thousand years. But the title “Mediator” may belong to Christ to all eternity, just as one who has been a judge may always retain the title of “Judge.”

At the end of the thousand years, when the Messiah will have accomplished His work of Restitution, He will cease to act as Mediator. But the Covenant will continue to stand; for if that relationship with God were to be removed from the people, they would have no blessing of everlasting life. That blessing depends upon covenant relationship with God. Under the favorable con­ditions of the New Covenant, whosoever will may have an opportunity to become the children of The Christ, the Seed of Abraham.

At the conclusion of the thousand years, the willing and the obedient receive the commendation, “Well done,” and will be accepted as fit for the condition of everlasting life on the human plane. Those who prove to be unworthy of life will be destroyed in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23)

(Drawn from Reprint 5162, edited and condensed to fit the space.)



“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16-17)

We are living in a day when the very word doctrine seems to offend the majority of Christian people. Each denomination realizes that its own system of doctrines is imperfect, unsatisfactory and indefensible, while believing the same to be true of all other doctrines. So by mutual consent, Christian people seem disposed to hence­forth and forever ignore doctrines, believing that if after twenty centuries they are thus confused, the matter never was clear and never will be.

This is a great mistake; the doctrines of Christ, as presented by the Great Teacher and His Apostles, comprised a great message, of which none of them were ashamed. The difficulty is that we gradually fell away from those doctrines, putting darkness for light and light for darkness, and thus gradually got into the spirit of Babylon, and into the spirit of bondage to human traditions and creeds. Instead of shunning doctrines, we should realize that they are the very things needed to scatter darkness and superstition and draw all God’s people together.

The doctrines of Christ and the Apostles are what we need to inspire us to break down all the creed fences that have so long separated us in various denominational folds, all of which are contrary to the Divine arrangement; for God has but the one fold for all His “sheep” of this age, as He will have another fold for the Restitution “sheep” of the next age – the Messianic Kingdom Age.

If as God’s people we put away sectarianism and the creed spectacles of our forefathers, if we go with pure, sincere hearts to the Lord and His Word, there is no doubt we will there find again the “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all,” and one “church of the firstborn,” whose names are “written in heaven.” (Eph. 4:5-6; Heb. 12:23)

The time seems long to all of us, even though we remember that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” (2 Pet. 3:8) It is enough to stagger our faith unless we hold firmly to the Divine promise and remember that God confirmed it with an Oath. By these two immutable, unchangeable things, the Divine Word and the Divine Oath, we know that the Seed of Abraham is to be developed, and that eventually it is to bless all the families of the earth. It is the Divine will that we allow our faith in this great promise of God to be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:17-19)


What we all need as God’s people is to put away human theories and other gospels and take hold afresh on the Gospel of Christ. These other gospels (for example Theosophy, Evolution, New Theology, etc.) are other messages of hope, aside from the one which the Bible presents. These all hold out a different gospel from that which Jesus and the Apostles presented; the one that was given to us for our sanctification, and through the holding fast of which, and the obedience to The Faith, we are to be saved and given a share with Messiah in His glorious Empire of the world.

The doctrines of Christ are the doctrines presented in the Bible by Jesus and His mouth­pieces, the Apostles. These doctrines relate to the Church and to the world, and God’s blessing for each; they relate to sin and its forgiveness; the terms of that forgiveness, the basis of that forgiveness – the death of Jesus – and the hope of that forgive­ness, release from Divine condemnation, fellowship with God, and ever­lasting life obtained through resurrection of the dead.

Some will inquire why it is so difficult to understand the doctrines of Christ. Why are there hundreds of different denominations of Christians? The simple explanation is that when, shortly after the death of the Apostles, the Church began to have a measure of prosperity, the Adversary came in and sowed the seeds of false doctrines, using human lips and human pens in his service, through pride and ambition. The darkness became so great that today we speak of the period as the “Dark Ages.”

The various denominations of Christendom are evidence of honesty, perseverance and love of the Truth, because our forefathers, who made these creeds, were each trying to get more and more out of the dark and back to the true light. They all made the mistake, however, of holding too much to the creeds and theories of the past. Let us not make the same mistake; let us cut loose entirely from every authority outside the Word of God. We should be glad to have the assistance of whoever can help us understand God’s Word, but we cannot acknow­ledge as inspired or authoritative the teachings of the “fathers” of the early times, however conscientious they may have been. We cannot recognize that any such were authorized successors to the Apostles.

God, who foretold through the Prophets this long period of darkness, and who has blessed and guided His saintly children throughout it, without removing all of their blindness, has promised that with the end of this age will come a great blessing and enlightenment upon His people, when the “wise virgins” will find their lamps burning brightly, and be able to understand and appreciate the deep things of God: “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) In the end of this age the curtain is to be drawn, and the true light is to shine forth, scattering all the darkness. (1 John 2:8) We are in the dawning of this new age today, and therefore may see much more clearly than our forefathers the Divine character and Plan for human salvation.

The Master gives us the key to a clear knowledge of His doctrines, namely, that the student must be fully consecrated to God and fully desirous of knowing His will and His plan. In order to see God’s light, to see the Truth from the Divine standpoint, we must draw near to God in the spirit of our minds, consecrated in our heart. We must will to do His will.

But what does this mean? God’s will represents actual perfection of thought and word and deed, toward God, toward our fellows in the Body of Christ, and toward all mankind. This is the Divine Standard set up, but we are no more able to fulfil its demands than were the Jews. As St. Paul declares, “Ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17) We all have weakness of the flesh, frailty and imperfection as does the world; the best that we can do is to will to do right, and to the best of our ability carry out that covenant with the Lord to do His will. At the very best all will come short of perfection.

But for those who have come into harmony with God through Christ – for those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice – for those who have Jesus for their Advocate, a provision has been made whereby the willing, all desiring to do the Divine will, and endeavoring to do so, are counted as righteous – as though they did the Divine will perfectly. It is to these that the promises of our text apply, that they shall know to do the Divine will, shall know whether Jesus merely made up these teachings of Himself, or whether He was the active agent of the Father in what He did and taught.

Shall we not determine to give our hearts, our wills, fully to the Lord – determine in our wills to do God’s will? If so, following the instructions of the Word of God we shall doubtless be blessed and enabled fully to know, to appreciate, to understand, the doctrines of Christ – the deep things of God, which are revealed by the Spirit of God.

(Drawn from Reprint 5136, edited and condensed to fit the space.)

[1] See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume II, Chapter III, where it is shown that this week began October, A.D. 29 and closed October, A.D. 36 – from the beginning of our Lord’s ministry until the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit.