Comes again the Memorial of Him who perished on the cross, the correct hour this year being after 6 p.m., March 28, the time being determined as follows: The Vernal Equinox arrives at the 30th Meridian (the one nearest Jerusalem) at 5:24 a.m., March 21; and the moon coming new nearest that date does so at 10:32 a.m., March 16, thus starting Nisan 1 at 6 p.m., March 15, Bible reckoning. Counting fourteen days from that, Nisan 14 begins at 6 p.m., March 28; and any time after that hour that evening would be appropriate for the service. We shall hold it at Mount Dora, Florida, at 7:30 p.m.; and all who wish to join with us then “in sincerity and in truth” will have cordial welcome and fellowship.
EAT THE FLESH – DRINK THE BLOOD
“Indeed, I assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves... My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink... This is that bread which has descended from Heaven... he who eats this bread shall live to the Age.” (John 6:53-58, Dia.) These words are among the most commonly used throughout Christendom, particularly at the Lord’s Supper; and they are certainly intimately familiar to all our readers. Yet that very familiarity often causes us to overlook some of the vital details so necessary to a comprehensive understanding.
Jesus had said to the Jews, “Your fathers ate the Manna in the desert, and died. This is that bread descending from Heaven, so that any one may eat of it, and not die... The Jews therefore were contending with each other, saying, How can He give us His flesh to eat?” (vs. 49-52) “These things He said, teaching in a synagogue, in Capernaum. Many, therefore, of His disciples, hearing, said, Hard is this saying; who can hear it?” (vs. 59, 60) The full impact of this recitation can be fully realized only as we keep in mind that the diet of the religious Jew at that time was much more rigid than it is today; they then adhered scrupulously to the ritual given them thru Moses. This is forcefully revealed in Acts 10:9-16, wherein Peter was in a trance, saw the great sheet lowered to the earth from Heaven, wherein were all manner of beasts, and he was commanded to rise, kill and eat. His answer was quick and positive: “I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And this same statement was true of the majority of Jesus’ listeners that day. Thus, their sensibilities were shockingly mutilated when “this man” said they must eat him if they would gain life. The very thought of it would nauseate and repel them. Little wonder that they complained, This is a hard saying!
Knowing as we do that Jesus would clarify this matter on the night in which He was betrayed by offering the loaf and the cup as representing His flesh and His blood, His comment offers no problem to us. But we suggest here that this particular portion of Scripture offers the strongest refutation against infant baptism. What salvation can possibly come from that ‘sacrament’ when the infant does not partake of the bread and the wine – nor does he do so representatively by those who present him for the ceremony. If there can be no life without those two things, then what saving feature could be conveyed in the sprinkling of the water on the infant?
“From this time many of His disciples withdrew, and walked no longer with Him.” (v. 66) Yet Jesus, “knowing that His disciples were murmuring,” made no effort to explain – made no effort at all to soothe their abhorrence at His suggested cannibalism. But this also is explained, “Jesus knew from the beginning who those were that did not believe” (v. 64); they were probably some of those who would believe only if one of the prophets should return from the dead. They were not of the leadable and teachable that Jesus was then seeking to be “heirs of the Kingdom,” so it was just as well that they should not clutter up His audience further by their presence. And as these walked away, Jesus said to those remaining, “Will ye also go away?” To which Peter was quick to respond, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (vs. 68, 69)
Peter was undoubtedly puzzled by what Jesus had told them, because he had been thoroughly schooled in the Law, and knew that blood was a forbidden thing: “Whatsoever man there be of the House of Israel... that eateth any manner of blood; I will set My face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood... Whatsoever man hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh... whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.” (Lev. 17:10-14) Actuated by this prohibition, we find the Jews to this day most meticulous to drain all the blood possible from the animals they kill for food.
All of our readers are intimately familiar with the fact that the “life is in the blood” – in the blood of Him who gave Himself for us. Our faith in the atoning features of that blood is the foundation for life now and in the life to come – as it will also be for all the human family. And this is emphasized by the pointed statement in Ex. 12: 13: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” This is further corroborated in John 19:34: “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” Therefore, the same Apostle was prompted to elaborate: “This is He Who came by water and blood – Jesus the Anointed One; not by the water only, but by the water and by the blood... There are three which testify; the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three are of one... This is the testimony that God has given to us aionian life, and this life is in His Son [in His blood].” (1 John 5:6-11, Dia.)
“LOOKING UNTO JESUS”
Having this strong assurance, it is only logical and proper that we should “look unto Jesus” – “looking away to the Leader and Perfecter of the faith, Jesus, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding the shame... Consider Him attentively Who has endured such opposition from sinners, so that you may not be wearied, being discouraged in your souls. You did not yet resist to blood [as He did], contending against sin.” (Heb. 12:2-4, Dia.) Not only have those in “Present Truth” imbibed intimate knowledge of these facts, but we find many throughout Christendom who have been aroused to finer and better things, and to sublime expressions concerning them. We offer here a few lines from one poet:
I wonder what He charged for chairs at Nazareth!
And did men try to beat Him down,
Then boast about it round the town
I bought it cheap for half a crown
From that mad Carpenter?
And, did they promise and not pay,
Put it off another day?
Oh, did they break His heart that way,
My Lord, the Carpenter?
I wonder, did He have bad debts,
And did He know my fears and frets?
The Gospel writer here forgets
To tell about the Carpenter.
Ah, Christian Glory! Here below
Men cheat and lie to each other so –
It’s hard to be a Carpenter.
“WITHOUT THE CAMP”
Says St. Paul in Heb. 13:10-13, Dia.: “We have an altar from which those who serve in the tabernacle [the Jewish priesthood] have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals... are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus, also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood [the life is in the blood], suffered outside of the gate [the gate of Jerusalem, having been crucified on Golgotha Hill outside the City proper]. Let us, then, now go forth to Him outside of the Camp [St. Paul uses interchangeably the City and the Camp, the City having embraced the Temple – just as the Camp had embraced the Tabernacle in its midst], bearing reproach for Him.”
Let us note that the City (Jerusalem) here stands for the nominal people of God; and for Jesus to suffer at Jerusalem just without its gates represents the fact that He was cast off as a blasphemer and a rebel (“He stirreth up the people”), excommunicated and outlawed from among the nominal people of God, and thus died as an outcast from the nation. And all during this Gospel Age God’s faithful people have been “beheaded for the Witness, and for the Word of God” – with the nominal people of God being the instigators of their death. “He [the Papal “horn”] shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High.” (Dan. 7:25) “They will expel you from the synagogues [from their assemblies]; but an hour is coming, when every one who kills you will think to offer service to God.” (John 16:2, Dia.) And by enduring such afflictions, we also suffer “outside the gate” – go “forth to Him without the Camp, bearing His reproach” – the shame and disgrace that was heaped upon Him.
And as such, St. Paul declared we have here “no continuing City” (no religious Government) – “your brethren that hated you, that cast you out.” (Isa. 66:5) The main feature of our doing good, and in offering sacrifice that is well pleasing to the Lord, is our faithful witness to the Truth. “For this I have been born; and for this I have come into the world, that I may testify to the Truth.” (John 18:37, Dia.) And note here the Berean comment: “It was this good confession before Pontius Pilate [His witness to the Truth] that cost our Lord His life.” He was indeed “without the gate” – beyond the pale of His Jewish brethren – “He was numbered with the transgressors.”
“AS HE WAS”
“We know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has imparted to us of His spirit... As He is we also are in this world.” (1 John 4:13, 17, Dia.) Having “His spirit,” we must self–evidently have agape love – disinterested good will toward all men, but especially toward the Household of Faith. “He went about doing good”; and those with “His spirit” during this Age have also gone about doing good as they had opportunity. This in turn has brought upon them the opposition of the organized religion of their time. The Papacy, with its tremendous power through the Roman Government, and with its tenacious determination to annihilate the ‘heretics,’ produced the most heinous crimes against God’s faithful people. And those very sects thus persecuted – once they were well established, and their original good leadership had passed on – joined in to persecute the new reformers, those who were treading the same path that their own leaders had trodden. All of which left a sorry tale – no tribute to Christianity. The Presbyterians persecuted the Baptist and Servetian reforming brethren. The Episcopalians and Presbyterians persecuted the Congregational and Quaker reforming brethren. The Episcopalians moderately persecuted the Methodists. All of these in milder form persecuted the Christians and Adventists. And “in the time of Harvest” the hated “Russellites” were persecuted by Catholics and Protestants of all sects. They were indeed the “spotted birds” during the Parousia period.
And these persecutions were fanned to white heat after the outbreak of World War I, as is so graphically typed by the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. Then indeed did they “heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” (Dan. 3:19) The memory of this is still vivid with some of our readers, as some of the brethren were badly manhandled – some even unto death; but with others experiencing almost miraculous delivery – “the fire had no power, nor was an hair of the head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” (Dan. 3:27) And in that experience there had appeared a fourth one with them, whose “form is like the Son of God.” “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them.” (Isa. 63:9) Jesus Himself had much the same experience on various occasions, as His enemies tried to lay hold on Him, but could not because “His time was not yet come.”
The above details are presented as a special “Memorial” lesson – lest we also fall in the same manner of unchristian performance. Almost always during this Age the minority has been right, and the majority wrong. Truth people know of their own knowledge how true this was during the Parousia part of the Harvest; and, when one is fully convinced he is right, it is all the more difficult to exercise proper Christian restraint. There is a special lesson, given right at the Memorial season, of the two thieves on Calvary with Jesus. (Luke 23:39-43) The one of them, in his agony of the cross, “railed on Him, saying, IF thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” But the other one, in the same predicament, took a most commendable attitude, “rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds [what we are getting here we have coming to us]: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
It has often occurred to us that this one thief must have heard and been close to Jesus many times before he was crucified with Him. As Jesus fed the multitudes, and received gratuities from some of His wealthy admirers, it would be only logical that the flotsam and jetsam of the human race would be drawn to Him as a magnet attracts other metals. If they would become hungry, this Man would produce something; it is well to be around Him, even if we don’t go along with His teachings. Thus, this thief could know that Jesus had violated no human or Divine laws, which he himself had done. But in all this dialogue between the two, Jesus did not join, did not take the occasion to assert how right was the one thief that He was innocent. Here we have an example of perfection of fortitude – of resigning to a most cruel situation, having already said, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
Jesus was disposed to be winsome. “All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth.” (Luke 4:22) He wanted the good opinion of others, so that on one occasion He asked the disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is? They replied, Some, John the Immerser; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Said Jesus to them, But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:13-15, Dia.) He was intent upon knowing what impression He was making upon His listeners. Nor is He to be criticized for that. We often hear people say, “I don’t care what others think about me.” This is indeed a very shallow and unsound summation. If all men looked upon us in disagreeable manner, we would soon be forced outside the limits of human society – to the life of a hermit. And, as such, our opportunities for useful service to the Lord, the Truth and the Brethren would be ended. Of course, Jesus studiously avoided such a situation. He calmed, pacified, conciliated and delighted wherever and whenever He could do so without compromise. Even in the discussion between the thieves He did not attempt at all to answer the one who “railed on Him,” because He realized that nothing would be gained by it. The lesson for the occasion was better taught by allowing the friendly thief to answer. Here He left us an example of perfection – no doubt beyond the reach of any fallen man under the same circumstances.
And in all of this His faithfulness is predominately apparent – perfect loyalty to truth and righteousness, to the persons and things to which He had pledged Himself. “I delight to do Thy will, O my God, Thy law is written in My heart.” (Psa. 40:8) Just the very opposite is apparent on every hand today. Officials in high position are influenced by the “beggarly elements” to compromise their views, their conduct, even often their honesty – all of which has contributed overly much to the turmoil we see on every hand. This is what we should expect, of course, as we come nearer to the complete “time of the end.” But in it all we have again the example of Jesus for our guidance: “Jesus held His peace.” (Matt. 26:63) Apparently He was the most calm of all present on that turbulent night, knowing their intent, and what they would actually do in the morning; yet He kept His poise in perfect manner – so much so that He could turn and look at Peter after the cock crew. (Luke 22:61) It is little wonder that Peter never forgot that look!
It should be emphasized that there was but one Passover. But, “Ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever.” (Ex. 12:24) Each subsequent observation over the centuries has been but a “Memorial” of that all-important one that awesome night in Egypt. And there is also but one antitype: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” To this day all orthodox Jews are most meticulous in their observance of the remembrance, although it varies considerably from the original Passover itself. Wine plays an important part in the observance; whereas, there was none with the original. And this apparently was considered proper, because Jesus Himself seemingly followed the custom of the time to use four different cups of wine on the night in which He was betrayed. Note Luke 22:17, 18: “He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves... I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God shall come.” Then, further, in Luke 22:20: “Likewise also the cup after supper.” It was with this cup – “after supper” – that He instituted our Memorial: “This do in remembrance of Me.”
“And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place.” (Ex. 13:3) The Jews were also commanded that when they would come into goodly Canaan land they should not forget that they were once “in bondage,” and not attempt to inflict such hardship upon their fellows. Canaan for Gospel–Age purposes types the sphere of the Truth and its spirit. And applying this antitypically, we, too, should “remember this day” – when we came from the “house of bondage” (when we were rescued from antitypical Egypt, the world in sin), and brought into goodly Canaan land, into the Truth and the spirit of the Truth. But there are the many who are still in antitypical Egypt, and toward such St. Paul offers the proper course for all of us: “In meekness correcting the opposers; perhaps God may give them a change of mind [even as He did with us] in order to a knowledge of the Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:25, Dia.)
With these comments comes the prayer that each reader may come to a clearer understanding of this service “in remembrance of Me,” that it will enable each one to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the Grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) And, “Be not anxious, then, about the morrow; for the morrow will claim anxiety for itself. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34, Dia.) And complement to this we would add a line by a radio commentator: There are two days in the week we should not worry about – yesterday, and tomorrow!
The Jews were ordered to take up the lamb on Nisan 10, which gave them five days in which to contemplate the solemnity of the occasion, and the enormity of God’s power (“Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”). Antitypical of this the antitypical Lamb of God (Christ our Passover) rode into Jerusalem five days before He was offered up, at which time the people shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:13) And it would seem proper for us also to anticipate our Memorial at least five days before its arrival by reading the chapter on the Passover in Parousia Volume 6, with some of the Scriptures pertinent thereto. And to this end we wish all Israel everywhere the Lord’s rich blessing in their preparation for and participation in this year’s Memorial on the evening of March 28.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20, 21) (Brother Hoefle, Reprint No. 177, March 1970)
THE NEW MIND VS. THE MIND OF THE FLESH
“To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6)
There is a distinction between the new mind and the new will which we all must recognize. The new will is the determination of the new mind. There must be some mind there in order to have a will, in order to reach a determination, and there must be knowledge upon which a will can be intelligently exercised. We are “born in sin, and shapen in iniquity” (Psa. 51:5); we have this natural tendency to begin with. Our minds at first conformed to earthly things, generally take the earthly view of matters, the selfish view. Then the Lord, through His providences, brings certain propositions to our attention and sets before us that there is another way, “a more excellent way”; that God is now holding out a special prize to those who will live contrary to the flesh and according to His will.
When this proposition reaches the individual, our Lord says that he should “sit down and count the cost.” He should not rashly say “Yes, yes”; but he should deliberate as to what this means – the cost in self-denials and the giving up of earthly preferences. After having counted the cost, and after having made the consecration his will or determination should be so set as not to allow it either to favor the flesh or to be guided by the flesh. He should resolve that henceforth whatever is God’s will shall be his will, whether he understand all about that will or not. He must, however, see the outlines of the Divine will and something of the advantages accruing, before he can form the decision. This is the class which the Father accepts and begets of His Holy Spirit.
The new mind may sometimes be misled by false reasoning of the flesh. Our natural minds have their preferences, ambitions, aims and desires and they sometimes argue about certain things, and say, “God never intended that should be given up; God would not expect you to do anything so unreasonable as that!” And so, perhaps, the New Creature is deceived, and allows the flesh to have its way; but Just so surely as it is a New Mind it has not intelligently nor willfully assented to a wrong course; but, as the Apostle says, “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me.” (Rom. 7:11) So there is a continual battle on the part of the new will, the New Creature, after being begotten of the Holy Spirit, and he must watch lest the adversary try to make him think that which is wrong to be right, and that which is right to be wrong. These, then, are snares which the adversary places for the feet of the New Creature, and he uses the flesh in connection with its ensnarement; but the New Creature in his will, his intention, must remain loyal to the Lord and to righteousness. If he yield his will to unrighteousness or ignore God’s will, then he has ceased to be a New Creature; the new things are passed away, and all things become old again. This is a condition, we understand, from which he can never be recovered. (Heb. 6:4-6)
In this connection, the Apostle James, in speaking of saving a soul from death, is evidently referring to one who is going into that careless condition where the new mind has become, as it were, stupefied, where the old mind has gotten the ascendancy over it. If we see one of the Lord’s people getting into such a condition, we should seek to restore him, “considering ourselves, lest we also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1); and those who do recover such an one “save a soul from death.” (James 5:20) Thus, brotherly kindness and assistance are specially commended of the Lord. A special blessing comes to all those who have an earnest desire thus to save an erring brother; a great reward is suggested for those who are successful in such an attempt.
HOW MAY WE KNOW WHEN WE ARE IN DANGER?
It might be asked how one could know when he was traveling toward that point of danger, so that he might arrest his progress. To one not blinded by the adversary, the point of deflection from harmony with God’s will would be as easily detected as would the border line between two States. The only ground upon which we were granted our present standing was our renouncement of sin and our consecration to the Lord – the giving up of our wills, complete surrender to Him; and thus we came into the position of having the imputation of Christ’s merit. If we should go back again and our will for righteousness become dead, this, of course, would imply that another will is there. We must have a will of some kind. If our will is no longer a righteous will, then it has gone across the border line and, according to the great Apostle, such never retrace their steps. “Christ dieth no more.” (Rom 6:9) There can be no more imputation of Christ’s merit to such. They have had their blessing and if they, as the Apostle says, “return like a dog to his vomit,” the step must prove fatal. (2 Peter 2:21,22)
True, the new mind at first is weak, undeveloped; and so the Scriptures represent the New Creature as being merely “a babe in Christ,” a babe in knowledge and a babe in the development of grace. But the Scriptures tell us that just as we care for a babe specially handle it, specially feed it, specially deal with it, and do not treat it as we would treat an adult – so the Lord proposes that He will deal with all those who are babes in Christ. “He will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able to bear, but with every temptation will provide a way of escape.” (1 Cor. 10:13) The temptations will be permitted only in proportion to their feeble strength. He will supply for them the milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby, and gives them the assurance that all things shall work together for good to them. (Rom. 8:28)
The trials at the beginning, therefore, are commensurate with the weakness of the New Creatures. It is true in some instances, however, that the New Creature seems to have a great deal of courage and strength at the beginning – perhaps more than is ever exhibited afterward. This, of course, is not a satisfactory condition of things. We ought to go from grace to grace, from knowledge to knowledge; after a time, we ought to be teachers, as the Apostle says, and not need to be taught again the first principles of the doctrines of Christ. God deals with us now as New Creatures under the direction of the Head. He supervises all the interests of each member of the Body. All things, if properly accepted, are overruled of the Lord for good to us individually.
This is one of the great lessons of faith that the Lord’s people need to learn, even after they have been in the way a good while. There are some Christian people who seem to have the impression, or at least give it to others, that they did this and that or saw so and so by their own wisdom. True, we all should use all the wisdom and strength we have; but the Christian who is relying upon himself is in a very dangerous position and quite likely the Lord will find it necessary to give him a lesson. For a while it is his duty to rule his life so as to walk in the right paths, yet he needs continually to exercise faith in God and in the Lord’s oversight and direction of his affairs, for “the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.” If, in the Father’s providence, some of the circumstances connected with our earthly affairs turn in this or that direction, our hearts should look to the Lord for the lesson to be drawn therefrom, and thus be able to glorify God thereby. The Christian should never view any experience as being lucky or unlucky, but should remember that all things connected with him, if he be living close to the Lord are ordered and directed by the Lord. (Psa. 37:23) (Pastor Russell, Reprint 4628, June 1, 1910)
THE FIRE OF THE DAY OF THE LORD
The earth . . . and the works therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)
If this text were the only one bearing upon the subject of the fire of this Day of the Lord we would conclude that it should be considered as literal; but it is not the only Scripture. Many other Scriptures which refer to this same fire show clearly that it is a symbolic fire of destruction that is coming. We can see that fire is very properly a symbol of destruction and is so used throughout the Scriptures – the lake of fire, for instance, “which is the second death.” (Rev. 20:14) We find that many Scriptures refer to the coming Time of Trouble. Some refer to it as a whirlwind of trouble; others as a tempest and flood – a flood shall sweep away the hiding places; mountains shall be removed and carried into the midst of the sea, etc. – as though there would be great earthquakes and sinking of the earth and flooding of the whole world. Yet other Scriptures speak of it as a burning fire. Manifestly it cannot be all three of these in a literal sense. Then there are other Scriptures which show that these expressions are used in a symbolic sense; for instance (Zeph. 3:8, 9), “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” This seems to be a literal pouring out of something and a consuming of the earth with literal fire. But that it is not literal fire is proven by the very next sentence, which declares, “Then will I turn unto the people a pure language [message] that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” Evidently the people would not remain if the earth is to be consumed with literal fire. But if, as the Scriptures show, the fire be symbolic, it is plain that people will still be here after the trouble. Then the Lord will, according to His promise, turn to them the pure message.
THE BABEL OF VOICES IN CHRISTENDOM
At the present time the message that the people receive is represented in many creeds, probably hundreds in all; hence the message is a very indistinct one and the Scriptures represent it as “Babel,” or confusion. One tongue or voice cries that the message of the Lord is free grace; another tongue or voice says it is election; a third says that only a few will get salvation; while another declares salvation will be universal; a fifth informs us that election is with water and that without the water no one will be saved. So a variety of voices is heard, and the poor world is not able to determine which is the truth. As a matter of fact they all have so much error that they condemn themselves in the minds of all reasonable people who have not been born in prejudice and steeped in error. When the Lord will turn this pure message to the people, Babylon will no longer be. She will have come to her end. The voice of the Lord will be known through the glorified Church, “And the Spirit and the bride shall say, ‘Come’! And whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely!” (Rev. 22:17) The Bride class are now on probation that it may be determined which will eventually be of that class. When the marriage of the Lamb shall have taken place, it will be the work of the “Spirit and the Bride to say ‘Come’... and whosoever will may take of the water of life freely.” This will be after the “burning” time is over; hence it proves that the fire refers to a Time of Trouble – a time of destruction against iniquity. The Lord’s anger will burn against all kinds of injustice and iniquity. Wrong doing, and wrong-doers will then be punished.
The Apostle’s statement respecting the Church implies that this judgment, or testing or fiery trial will begin with the church and extend to the world. If it “begin first with us” what will the end be to those who make no pretense of following the Gospel message? The Apostle again states that the “fire of that day shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3:13) This we understand to refer especially to the Church. Every one in the church is to be tried; his work is to be tried. However, in great measure it will be a trying time for all the world as well; all iniquity and injustice will be exposed, reprobated and destroyed. We see increasing instances of this of late – in the number of fire insurance presidents, for instance, who have been exposed. Fiery trails come upon them as the result of exposures etc. Some of these men undoubtedly hastened to the tomb, “burned” to death, we might say, by fiery trials. And a great deal of burning, heart-burning, and headaches and prostration are caused today by various exposures of one kind or another as the time advances. No doubt that Day will bring forth further developments and trouble until the prophecies respecting it shall have been completely fulfilled – until the picture of utter destruction of everything evil, both root and branch, is carried out. (Mal. 4:1) (Pastor Russell, Reprints 4627-462 8, June 1, 1910)