“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (Acts 15:16-17)
The Apostle James, quoting the Prophet Amos (Amos 9:11), uttered these words at a general Church conference in Jerusalem. The subject of investigation was the course of Paul and Barnabas in preaching the gospel to Gentiles. Many of the Jewish brethren felt that this was a social infraction as well as a breach of religious proprieties. For over 1,800 years the natural seed of Abraham had been specially favored of God, and all the promises of the divine word had been to these alone, as the Prophet declared, “You only have I known [recognized] of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) All the other nations, as the Apostle Paul intimates, were left without revelation, message, or covenant, “having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12)
It is no wonder that the Jews had come to feel a religious exclusiveness, and to believe the chief divine favors belonged to the stock of Israel alone. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul intimates the same thing, saying, “What advantage then hath the Jew?” He answers, “Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:1-2) We remember also our Lord’s instruction to His disciples at His first advent, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5-6)
“TO THE JEW FIRST” (Rom. 1:16)
Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the early Church was disturbed by the thought that God’s oath-bound covenant to their nation, as well as His providential dealings with them for eighteen centuries, should now apparently be set aside as though the special hope of Israel were a vain one, no more applicable to them than to others. The investigation of this matter was therefore deemed very important, the very foundation of all faith in the divine word. This should not be considered as evidence of narrow-mindedness on their part, but rather as proof of their loyalty to God and His plan, a fear of denying the foundation of all their hopes.
Peter was among the first to speak in favor of Paul and Barnabas preaching to the Gentiles. He reminded the conference how some time before God had shown him in a vision the breaking down of the partition between Jews and Gentiles as respects the favors of the Gospel Age, and had illustrated this in the case of Cornelius (the first Gentile convert) and his family. (Acts 10:34-35) Following this, Paul and Barnabas were permitted to describe the wonderful works God had done through them among the Gentiles. (Acts 15:12)
It was then that the Apostle James, who seems to have been the chairman of the convention, arose and called attention to the prophecy made by Amos. (Amos 9:11-12) He pointed out how Peter’s experience with Cornelius indicated the divine purpose to be that not only the faithful Jews, but also some from the Gentiles should be selected to constitute God’s peculiar people. The early Church, the first members being all Jews by birth, had already realized that God was passing by the Jewish nation as a whole and was merely taking out of it a remnant. The Apostle James now saw more clearly the divine intent that this “little flock” should be composed also in part of faithful Gentiles.
THE HIDDEN MYSTERY: “A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME”
James declared that God was taking from the Gentiles “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) This signified that Gentiles as well as faithful Israelites were now invited to become the Bride of Christ, and thus to take the name of the Bridegroom. The thought of an elect spiritual class being selected to be the Bride and joint heir with Christ in His Kingdom was a surprise to the Jews. Although this promise was included in the Old Testament, it was so hidden as to be unnoticed until brought to light by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this as the secret of the divine plan: “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery … Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” (Eph. 3:3-6) This mystery was revealed because the time had come for the selection of this special Bride class. Although the existence of the Bride class was kept a secret during the Jewish Age and is still not very clearly understood by the majority of Christian people, it was clearly marked in the prophecies and types of the Old Testament. For instance, we see how Abraham typified God, how Isaac typified our Lord Jesus Christ, and how Rebecca typified the Church, related to God only by becoming the Bride of Christ, just as Rebecca’s relationship to Abraham was through her union with Isaac. Thus as the Apostle declares: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Again he states: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Gal. 3:29; Rom. 8:17)
The custom of the wife dropping her own name and assuming the name of her husband is almost universal; we believe divine providence guided this matter that it might be a type or illustration of how the Church loses her own identity and name and assumes those of her husband. Thus in the Scriptures the name Christ, which signifies the anointed, while primarily given to our Lord Jesus in His own person, is in a secondary sense applicable to all the Church, His Bride, His body.
As the early Church gradually learned about this mystery of the Bride class being joint-heirs with the Bridegroom in the Kingdom, they also learned that Gentiles of the proper heart attitude would also be accepted into this body. (Acts 15:19-20)
As James pointed out, after the completion of the Bride class the time will come for the restoration of the nation of Israel to divine favor, followed by a general favor to all Gentiles. “The tabernacle of David, which is fallen down,” refers to the family of David, which by divine arrangement was the royal family of the nation of Israel. The last representative of David upon the throne was Zedekiah. At the time of his overthrow the LORD’s pronouncement was: “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, …Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same... I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” (Ezek. 21:25-27)
At our Lord Jesus’ first advent, the overturning had lasted for over 600 years. His disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) They wanted to know if He would at once take His throne and re-establish the dominion of Israel, which passed away entirely in the days of Zedekiah. Our Lord answered: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7) Shortly after this, the disciples received the Pentecostal benediction, and under the enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit they gradually learned more and more about the divine purpose.
This conference of Apostles was a further step in the divine leading on the matter, showing them that the “mystery” class, the Church, the Bride of Jesus, was to be composed of select Gentiles as well as select Jews, and not until after this had been accomplished would the Kingdom be established and the tabernacle of David, which had fallen down in Zedekiah’s day, be re-established upon better, holier, more solid, foundations.
BLINDED ISRAEL’S STUMBLING
The Apostle Paul brings out the same facts in his epistle to the Romans. He points out that the fall of Israel as a nation came through the rejection of Jesus, as the LORD foretold through the Prophets. As Paul quotes, “For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence.” (Rom. 9:32-33; Isa. 8:14) It was foretold that Israel would fall through pride and a feeling of self-sufficiency, which caused them to repudiate the great Life-giver: “And David saith, Let their table [of divine bounties, blessings and promises] be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them.” (Rom. 11:9; Psa. 69:22) Paul assures the Church, composed of Gentiles and Jews, that the nation of Israel, although blinded to the divine favors of the Gospel Age, blinded to the “mystery,” is still beloved of the LORD for the fathers’ sake. (Rom. 11:28) Although blinded and cast aside, Israel is not destroyed and will ultimately be recovered, saved from the blindness resulting from its rejection of the Messiah. (Rom. 11:26)
Thus the Apostle Paul is in full agreement with the Apostle James: After the mystery class has been selected from both Jews and Gentiles as foreordained in the divine plan, the tabernacle of David will be rebuilt and the Jews as a nation will again come into divine favor. Paul says: “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom. 11:25) That is, their blindness will continue until the selection of the Bride of Christ is complete. To leave no doubt on the subject, the Apostle elaborates: “For as ye [Gentiles] in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:30-32)
Here is the plain statement that the blessing which is coming to Israel will be God’s mercy exercised through the Church after its completion and glorification. Until that time, no special mercy, divine favor, or opening of the blind eyes of Israel should be expected. It should not be expected before then that “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:37; Zech. 12:10) While we see with pleasure that the eyes of the Jews are opening to some extent, we have no expectation that this will become general nor that it will lead to a clearness of sight until the appointed time.
HOW WILL DAVID’S TABERNACLE BE RESTORED?
The “tabernacle of David” undoubtedly signifies the throne, or kingdom of David, which has been in ruins for centuries. David and his divine commission as king of Israel, like all other circumstances of the Jewish age, were typical. We read that the throne of David was the throne of the LORD’s Kingdom, signifying that David was a type of the great king who was to be of the house and lineage of David. The word of the LORD came to the Prophet Nathan to tell King David, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” (2 Sam: 7:12) We see then, that the establishment of Christ in Kingdom power in the beginning of the Millennial Age will be the reestablishment of the Kingdom of God, over which David ruled in a small and typical manner. Even in David’s name we see a significance which points us to Christ, Bridegroom and Bride, head and body. David signifies “beloved,” and assuredly the antitypical David, Christ head and body, are beloved of God.
This Kingdom of Christ is to be purely a spiritual one, invisible to men. As our Lord Jesus declared to the Pharisees: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your midst].” (Luke 17:20-21)
There will, however, be an earthly phase of the Kingdom that will be visible to men. Those who will constitute this visible earthly phase will be those Ancient Worthies of the Abrahamic stock referred to by the Apostle in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. These, the Apostle declares, shall receive a share in the divine promise, though not the superior part of it, which has been reserved for the spiritual Israelites of the Gospel Age, “God having provided some better thing for us [than for them], that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:40)
The resurrection of these Ancient Worthies will be to the perfection of human nature, a totally different resurrection from that which is to come to the overcoming class of the Gospel Age, which will be to a divine nature, invisible to mankind. These resurrected perfect ancients, approved of God, will constitute the earthly representatives of the heavenly and invisible Kingdom of Christ, and to these the world of mankind will come for instruction, and through these the divine law and messages of justice and mercy will be communicated to all the families of the earth, as it is written, “Out of Zion [the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, the Church glorified] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD [the message of the LORD, the announcement], from Jerusalem [the earthly phase of the Kingdom in the hands of the Ancient Worthies].” (Isa. 2:3)
PROMISE SURE TO BOTH SEEDS
The earthly plans of the Kingdom of God will be in the hands of the Jews, and the earthly features of the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled through the members of the natural seed of Abraham. God will use both the natural seed and the spiritual seed to bless first the Jews and subsequently every nation, people, kindred and tongue. “Glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” (Rom. 2:10) Thus the Apostle declares that the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled through both the natural and the spiritual seeds. (Rom. 4:16)
Here we remember the prophetic declaration respecting our Lord: “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” (Psa. 45:16) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the holy Prophets were continually spoken of by the Jews as the “fathers,” and our Lord is spoken of as a son of Abraham and also a son of David; but matters have undergone a great change. By His great sacrifice, He who was the son of Abraham, David and Mary redeemed the world and became the heir of God’s great oath-bound covenant and the Life-giver for Adam and his race. Whoever of mankind shall be resuscitated, restored, resurrected to life during the Millennial Age, will receive that life from the Savior, the Life-giver; and since every life-giver is a father, it follows that Jesus will be the Life-giver or father to all the world of mankind who will accept His favor during that age. He will be the father or Life-giver of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets; and so, instead of being the fathers of Jesus they will become His children, and during the Millennial Age they will constitute the earthly representatives of the spiritual, invisible Kingdom, the glorified Christ, Bridegroom and Bride.
According to prophecy, these princes of Jewish stock will be perfect men clothed with great power. Their trial for eternal life having been passed successfully, their resurrected bodies will be in every sense of the word complete, as was the original Adam, in the image and likeness of God. Possessed of perfect human powers, they will be in every way superior to the remainder of mankind. This superiority will be recognized first by the Jews and later by the entire world. Their manifestation among the Jews will occur when the re-gathered Jews will be in the midst of a great trouble, antagonized by their Gentile neighbors.
The promise is that the LORD will at that time manifest Himself on their behalf, as when He fought for them in the day of battle, in the day of Joshua. The manifestation of divine favor will be so marked as to create a new era in the affairs of Israel; their period of rejection will be passed, their period of favor fully begun, and among the first things connected with this favor will be the opening of the eyes of their understanding that they may look upon Him whom they pierced. Then, as the Prophet declares, the LORD will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication, and forthwith the new covenant blessings will be theirs; their sins and iniquities the LORD will remember no more. (Zech. 12:10)
ISRAEL’S FAVOR NEARING
The Scriptures figuratively speak of the turning of the living generation of Israel from their present condition of blindness as a resurrection from the dead. As the Apostle declares, “What shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15) This turning will be just the beginning of the revelation to the world of the great goodness of God and His wonderful plan of salvation, which extends His benefits and opportunities to every member of Adam’s race. One prophecy shows that other nations will witness Israel’s prosperity under the new regime in contrast with the conditions of anarchy in their own countries. “And the Genitles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isa. 60:3) Sick of war, deceit and anarchy, they will desire to be like Israel. The prophecy declares that the desire of all nations shall come saying: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isa. 2:3)
Our opening text refers to the same situation. The throne of David will be restored so “the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord.” (Acts 15:17) How grand a time that will be! The Scriptures declare that in the Millennial day, the day of Christ, the righteous shall flourish and evil-doers shall be cut off. (Psa. 37:9) Again they declare that the knowledge of the LORD shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14) Again they assure us there will then be no need of saying to one’s brother and to one’s neighbor, “know the LORD,” because all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest. (Jer. 31:34)
The signs of the budding of Israel’s fig tree are visible, not only in the reestablishment of their ancient homeland, but also in their growing interest in Jesus as the renowned Jew. But their blindness will not depart, nor their hopes of national security be realized until spiritual Israel is completed and glorified. (Rom. 11:25)
The statement “upon whom my name is called,” is clarified by an examination of the prophecy from which it is quoted (Amos 9:11-12), where it is rendered, “and of all the heathen [nations], which are called by my name.” We believe this expression indicates that during that glorious time the LORD will provide a blessing upon all who heartily and sincerely bear His name, all who desire to be children of the great Life-giver, and who accordingly hear and obey His voice. All such will be received back into harmony with God as members of the Christ family. As the Apostle declares, it is the divine purpose to eventually gather together under one head all things both in heaven and in earth. (Eph. 1:10) While the Gospel Age accomplishes the unification of the Bride and the Bridegroom, the Millennial Age will accomplish the development of the children of Christ on the earthly plane of being.
All the blessings we have just examined are summed up in the briefly stated oath-bound covenant: “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:14) God’s favor was further indicated in the words to Abraham, “For a father of many nations have I made thee.” (Gen. 17:5) Abraham was a type of God, and this expression implies that all nations shall eventually have the glorious privilege of becoming sons of God.
The privilege has gone first to the spiritual seed: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29) It will go next to the natural seed of Abraham, beginning with the Ancient Worthies, the “princes,” and subsequently to all of the Jewish race who will come into harmony with God. Finally, it will go to “all the gentiles,” all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues. These, if willing and obedient after being brought to a knowledge of their glorious opportunities during the Millennial Age, will be accepted also as Abraham’s seed and as sons of God through Christ.
In view of these great provisions in God’s plan, not only for the salvation of the Church of the Gospel Age, but for all of mankind in the age to come, it is no wonder that the Apostle exclaimed: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33)
(The above is based on an oral address by Pastor Russell, published in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Nov. 14, 1904. Reproduced in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3.)
PRESENT FOREGLEAMS OF COMING GLORY
“…it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!”(Num. 23:23)
We are living in a most wonderful period of the world’s history. We are surrounded by inventions for man’s blessing. Evidently the time is near when all the world may enjoy relief from hardship and excessive toil, and receive blessings and comforts as mankind has never before imagined. Yet these things have come upon us so gradually, so stealthily, that we scarcely realize what progress has been made.
As the Bible foretold, these blessings and comforts have come in “the time of the end” (Dan. 12:4), a period that began with the year 1799 (see Studies in the Scriptures, Volume III, Study II). The prevalent view of Christendom is that this end time means the end of the world. But that is not the thought of the Bible when rightly understood.
The Time of the End is the end of this present age. It is the end of the long reign of sin and death. We are now coming into a new era, in which all these evil conditions which have oppressed man for six thousand years are to terminate. Soon the great Sabbath of rest, the Golden Age of blessing long sung by Prophet and bard, will be ushered in. Indeed, in some respects it has already been ushered in.
While the blessings of this time are designed to be for all mankind, they have, because of man’s ingrained selfishness, tended to gravitate into the hands of a certain few, resulting in pride among some and jealousy among others. This has precipitated fearful conflict among nations along commercial lines, each endeavoring to get the lion’s share of the blessings which the LORD has provided in these latter days. They have become jealous and envious of one another as they see the opportunities of wealth and power opening up before them. Awful wars have resulted in millions of lost lives and untold hardship.
In contrast, the Bible shows us that God has made loving and bountiful provision for His blessings to reach all the families of the earth, every individual! And the time is now ripe. How glad this knowledge makes our hearts! We whose eyes of understanding have been anointed to see are greatly blessed in that we are privileged to be ministers of God, to tell of all His mercies and favors planned for mankind.
PRESENT BLESSINGS FROM GOD
While considering all these blessings which surround us, and noting what imperfect man has been able to attain even under present conditions by the blessing of God, let us not lose sight of the fact that these things did not come by man’s ingenuity. Let us take note that men just as brainy, just as brilliant, have lived in the past. Where is he today who can pen such words of wisdom as the Proverbs of Solomon? What poet today can produce the equal of the Psalms of David, the sweet singer of Israel? Let us remember, too, that though Shakespeare lived centuries ago, he remains unsurpassed in his craft by any writer of our time.
Let us assure ourselves that we are not the brainiest people who have ever lived; the blessings of our day have not come to us because we are of superior brain capacity to those of past generations. They are here because this is God’s “due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) That He is now letting in the light of the dawning new dispensation is the firm belief of careful Bible students.
When we consider what mankind has accomplished in its present imperfect condition, we can only imagine what mankind will do when made perfect in the image of God, under the Messianic Kingdom. If such feeble creatures can accomplish so much, can produce such wonderful things, even in their fallen estate, who can measure the power of the Almighty God, He who is perfect in Wisdom, perfect in Power, perfect in Justice, and perfect in Love? How thankful we are to get this broad, comprehensive view of our God, and to see that He is not only great and powerful, but wise and infinitely loving as well!
GOD’S MARVELOUS ATTRIBUTES
When we ponder what man has done, and what God has done and has planned to do, the words of the Prophet David come to mind: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” (Psa. 19:1) All that mankind has done or ever will do is merely a copy of the infinitely greater skill manifested by our great Creator in His works. As we note the stars revolving in their orbits, we are amazed, not only at the mighty power that can swing these wonderful systems of worlds, but at the wisdom and ability displayed in preserving their perfect order.
When we consider what God hath wrought in connection with humanity, we are still more astonished. Think of the human body. This great piece of machinery has power to feed and sustain itself, to think and reason for itself, and to direct its own course. If mankind could make such a machine it would have something of which to be proud. But the best that we can do is to copy feebly the works of our Creator and to work in harmony with His laws. When we realize that all the machinery and the inventions of our day are but imperfect copies of what God has done, that man is only using God’s principles, to the extent that he is able to understand them, we see more clearly that man was made an earthly image of the Heavenly Creator.
Yet some who excel as inventors may be very deficient in the qualities of justice and love. We are coming to look upon these qualities as the ones most desirable to cultivate; and by the grace of God we are seeking to develop these qualities more and more. As the work of transformation progresses in our hearts and lives, we see more clearly what a great blessing will come to the world when these principles of Divine justice and love will operate everywhere.
We look at other nations and think they do not have sufficient appreciation of justice to be willing to observe the Golden Rule, to do unto others as they would have others do to them! We see selfishness abound as nations battle over power and trade, competing to show which can the more successfully exercise its selfishness to the disadvantage of the other.
Is this copying God’s ways? Let us take the nobler, higher standard of Divine justice, and do to our neighbors as we would wish them to do to us. Let us promote this principle wherever we go. Let us make known the character of God wherever we have an opportunity, by showing forth His justice, His sympathy, His kindness. Let this character be manifested in our own lives. As children of God, let us be burning and shining lights, to the glory of our Father in Heaven.
LIGHT BREAKING THROUGH THE DARKNESS
While realizing God’s great wisdom and power as manifested in nature, we have been seriously handicapped by false doctrines which grossly misrepresent our Creator and show Him as a God devoid of justice and of love. It seems a wonder that we were not all turned aside from Him. Not one of the human family is totally depraved; yet we have had pictured to us a totally depraved God. This misconception of the Heavenly Father came from the Dark Ages. We thank God that the age now at the threshold is bringing deeper blessings, blessings not merely of a material nature! It is scattering the ignorance and superstition of the past, and is bringing in the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, which is ultimately to fill the whole earth. (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14)
We are awake and beginning to see the light, but to see clearly we must look in the right direction. There are people today who are quite awake, but they are looking toward the west for the sunrise. We see great college professors, learned men who have given their lives to study and who have knowledge on many subjects, making the mistake of thinking that evolution is our God; that a microbe started to squirm and has been evolving upward gradually, until our race has reached the station which it occupies today. They do not see an intelligent God in this matter. Their misconception is that evolution is man’s only hope. They say that ultimately there will be “the survival of the fittest.”
Think of the effects of war. There the fittest are the ones who fall in the trenches and on the battlefields. The unfit the old, the weak, the crippled and incompetent are left at home to propagate and rear the families of the future. That is the science of evolution, the philosophy which hopes that in millions of years hence men may have learned how to cook and to eat so that they will not need to die, and that thus they may have everlasting life. Evolutionists believe that this may be true of their posterity somewhere in the dim, distant future. They do not stop to think that at the present rate of increase in population the world would be vastly overcrowded before that time, that natural resources would be exhausted, that things cannot continue as at present for any great length of time.
But the Bible points out that man’s extremity will be God’s opportunity. After permitting mankind to have all these blessings of our day, He will allow men to dash themselves to pieces in a great cataclysm of trouble, and make shipwreck of all this advanced civilization. Before the complete destruction of mankind, however, the Kingdom of Messiah, God’s dear Son, will intervene and will speak peace to the nations. After the terrible storm there will be a great calm. Christ will take to Himself His great power and establish His glorious Reign.
According to the Bible, during the Gospel Age God has been selecting from every nation, people, kindred and tongue the Church of Christ, a class which He is about to exalt in the eyes of the whole world. He will use this class for the blessing of the world, for the enlightening and the uplifting of all mankind. Thank God for this truth! Through testings, through trials, through the opposition of the world, the flesh and the Devil, our God has shaped, polished, and prepared this class for their future great work of human uplift.
Let us review the creation of God thus far. First was the Logos, our Lord Jesus in His pre-human condition. As the great Agent of Jehovah, He created all things. As we read, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3,10; Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15,16) The Power was of God, exercised through the glorious Word, the Logos. (1 Cor. 8:6) God’s final creation was man. Then sin blighted this fair creation. For a time God allowed it to remain as sin has marred it. But in due time, according to God’s prearranged plan, Jesus came into the world to be the Savior of men; He took upon Himself human nature. As a man He gave Himself a Ransom for Adam, and thus for the race that fell in Adam’s loins. The price was laid down, even the precious blood of the Son of God. (1 Cor. 15:21-22; Rom. 5:12, 18-19; 1 Tim. 2:5-6)
But before the time for the blessing of the world, the Father had a further feature of His great plan, the making of a New Creation, different from angels, cherubim, seraphim or any other creature. From among the fallen sinner race He invited a class to become members of this New Creation, and thus joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. God is working in these New Creatures, the Body of Christ. (Mal. 3:16-18; Isa. 62:3)
This New Creation will be the channel which God will use for the restoration of all mankind. (1 Cor. 6:2) Because of their own experiences with evil, and because they have learned how to overcome weakness and imperfections in themselves, they will be well fitted for encouraging, instructing and uplifting the human family to the perfection which God designs for them, and which Adam originally enjoyed. They will be able to deal sympathetically with the poor world. This blessing will go not only to the living, but to those also who have gone down into the tomb. All these will be awakened. God will not awaken them now, because it would be to their disadvantage. He will keep them in the sleep of death until the Kingdom of Righteousness is thoroughly established. Then they will come forth to learn of God’s infinite goodness, and to receive His salvation; whosoever will, at the hands of the New Creation.
Beyond this, God gives no further revelation. We are merely informed that at the conclusion of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, when all the willing shall have been made perfect, and when all the willfully wicked shall have been destroyed, Christ will turn over the Kingdom to the Father, “that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28)
God has given us a glimpse of that infinite glorious future through the words of the Apostle Paul: “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7) Seeing then these present foregleams of coming glory, let us consider these present blessings as signposts, directing us to the glorious outcome of God’s marvelous Plan of the Ages, as declared in His Holy Word.
(The above is based on an oral address by Pastor Russell, published in the St. Paul Enterprise, Dec. 10, 1915. Reproduced in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3.)
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION – Why Are Bible Students called “Truth People”?
ANSWER – My thought is that we are those who put the truth before anything else, we love the truth and would sacrifice anything we have for the truth. We are not putting creeds and traditions before the truth. We are not sacrificing the truth for any sect or party, but rather sacrifice sect and party, and even self, for the truth, because we understand that God has put the truth as his own representative. Jesus so presents it in the Word, saying, “I am the truth.” (John 14:6) In standing for the truth, we are standing for the Lord. (From What Pastor Russell Said, Question 345.)
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