My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
In Eph. 4:10-13 the Apostle Paul gives a terse outline of the Gospel-Age Church in its organizational nature; and we offer some of this Scripture from the Diaglott: “He (Jesus) is the one having ascended far above all of the Heavens, so that He may fulfill all things. And He gave indeed the apostles, and the prophets, and the evangelists, and shepherds and teachers... for the work of service... to the building up of the body of the Anointed One.” The Apostles in this text refer exclusively to the Twelve, who wrote by inspiration, and were given plenipotentiary powers by Jesus. ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)
Next in order, and in rank in the Church are the “prophets.” These cannot be the Old Testament prophets because they are not a part of the Church; therefore, they must be men of rank in the Gospel Age, and we understand them to be included in the “seven stars” of Rev. 1:16: “He (Jesus) had in his right hand seven stars.” On page 345 of the 1916 Watch Tower, there is this comment about them:
“This One whom we thus know, thus recognize, as the Instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, we are also to recognize as having in His right hand – in His favor as well as His power – seven stars, the angels, the messengers, of the seven churches. That they are in His right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master’s guidance, protection and care in the interest of the Churches which they represented.”
So far as we know, That Servant never named seven individuals as these “seven stars”; however, immediately after Brother Russell’s demise, J. F. Rutherford named St. Paul, St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, Luther and Brother Russell as the “seven stars.” While we agree that the above seven are a part of the “seven stars,” we believe there were others. This list leaves out Claudius of Turin, the first Protestant Reformer, John Wesley, Servetus, Hubmaier, and many other saintly Reformers of the Gospel Age. We believe the “seven stars” are a composite group of forty-nine 7 X 7 = 49 – just as The Mystery of God, The Christ, is a composite group of 144,001 members. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand.... The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches...” (Rev. 1:20) “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Rev. 10:7)
It is not our purpose here to elaborate upon the “evangelists” (lesser lights in the general church than the “prophets”) or the “shepherds and teachers” (local elders), other than to note that these four classes of leaders constitute the full and complete organization of the Church – and is not an organization made by man. This organization should not be added to nor taken from. “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:7,18) And, since St. Paul wrote by inspiration, we may accept his outline as being infallible. He further defines these two classes of Church leaders in Eph. 2:19,20, Dia.: “You are fellow-citizens with the saints... having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” During the Age many have attempted to add to, or take from this organization, or arrangement, for the Church, which has brought to them the condemnation of Rev. 22:18,19. They are the class described in Psa. 107:11 – “They rebelled against the words of God (the true Bible doctrines) and contemned the counsel of the Most High (the organization of the Church as given by St. Paul).”
The same Apostle gives the Church organization in slightly different words in 1 Cor. 12:27-29, Dia.: “Now you are a body of Christ, and members in part. And those whom God placed in the congregation, are first Apostles; second, Prophets; third, Teachers... All are not Apostles; all are not Prophets; all are not Teachers.” Here again St. Paul says the Prophets are second to the Apostles, and given their place in the congregation for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the saints. And, since God has so placed them, woe be to any who attempt to place themselves into such positions, or to ignore those that God has so placed. When the great apostasy developed, after the demise of the Apostles, the Church of Rome tossed aside completely the organization of the Church – just as they did with all the important teachings of the Bible they “rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High.” And in like manner, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have done much the same thing since Brother Russell’s demise. “And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood (such as Millions Now Living Will Never Die; and more recently, their establishment of the Kingdom in this “present evil world,” etc.); in order that all those may be judged who believed not the truth, but approved the iniquity.” (2 Thes. 2:11,12, Dia.)
“Them that honour Me I will honour” (1 Sam. 2:30); and we do well also to honor those that the Lord honors – not as ‘angel’ worshipers, but in sound and proper appraisal of their position in the Household, their service in the Household, and as “examples of the believers” in the Household. Actuated by this text, we now offer some observations concerning Brother Russell in memory of his passing beyond the vail Oct. 31, 1916.
Some of the Gospel-Age prophets had a special doctrine that they emphasized above all others, and which acted somewhat as the foundation of all their teachings; and we believe this was true of Brother Russell, which we would briefly describe as – A correct understanding of the Atonement as portrayed in Leviticus 16, the central teaching of which is RESTITUTION.
THE PATH OF THE JUST
“The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) This truth has applied all during the Age to the course of the individual believers, and to the Church as a body; and it was pointedly true of Brother Russell in his own endeavors to arrive at the truth on various subjects, same of which we now describe. First, however, we would commend the courage of the man for casting aside the vast accumulation of error that existed in the early days of his ministry. Many of those errors were firmly entrenched as the truth by the powerful leaders of Christendom; and it required not only courage, but unusual brilliance of mind to separate the wheat from the chaff. Even of those truths that were held by the various systems, such as justification by faith, baptism, etc., much polishing was necessary to bring them to the clarity with which we now understand them, and which we accept as fact, often not considering the great amount of work that was required to hand them to us as we now accept them in commonplace fashion. And one of these great truths was the doctrine of Restitution, which had been completely lost during the Dark Ages.
Some detail on the subject will clarify this. Brother Russell had been closely associated with Messrs. Barbour and Paton as co-editor of the Herald of the Morning; but in 1878 Mr. Barbour began to develop his errors in denial of the Ransom; and he cunningly stressed Leviticus 16 as proof of his contention. This distressed Brother Russell greatly. He knew the arguments were wrong, but he did not understand the truth clearly enough to refute them. Knowing they had come into the Harvest of the Gospel Age, he logically concluded that any error that appeared would be clearly refuted by the Truth, because the time had come for “the hail (hard sharp Truth) to sweep away the refuge of lies.” Therefore, he sent word to the foreman of his Pittsburgh store that he would not come that day, and for him to conduct the business as usual in his absence. Knowing that Hebrews discusses more than any other Biblical book the tabernacle types, and that St. Paul possessed a very clear understanding of those types, he spent that whole day in study and prayer in a strenuous effort to learn the truth about them. By evening he was still completely in the dark, so he spent the next day in the same manner, and with the same results. He went to his task the third day, and about noon came to Heb. 13:10-16, wherein the Apostle contrasts the sacrifices of the Jewish ritual with those of the Gospel Age – first of all the sacrifice of Jesus as the antitype of the Atonement Day bullock, then the sacrifice of the one goat being handled in precisely the same manner as that of the bullock. Realizing that his prayers and efforts had finally been rewarded, he jubilantly exclaimed to his wife: “I have it! I have it!” To which she answered, “Do not be too sure.” However, going over the verses again with her, he reassured himself that he had the truth, and that Restitution was the logical answer to the types in Leviticus 16.
However, he then became measurably afraid of his own findings, so that, instead of rushing into print with this phenomenal truth, he called a conference of leading brethren, and discussed the subject with them for eight days, making notes there that he later published as Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices. Excepting Mr. Paton, those leaders were convinced of the truth, and began to preach it to the Allegheny ecclesia; but they, too, were hesitant about accepting it. But once finally convinced, they heartily began to preach it to others; thus, the light on this great doctrine shone more and more unto the perfect day. The “perfect day” in our text would be better rendered “median day,” meaning the position of the sun at high noon, when it is brightest and when it seems to stand still in the heavens.
The great truth contained in Tabernacle Shadows immediately swept away the refuge of lies on eternal torment, the consciousness of the dead, confusion on the establishment of the Kingdom, etc. However, almost always during the Harvest there was primarily a hesitance on the part of those hearing it for the first time to believe it; but persuasion and detailed explanation usually convinced them, after which they, too, accepted it with enthusiasm and then began to preach it to others.
Perhaps a little digression should be injected here. In Ex. 34:29-35 we are told that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai his face shone, “And the children of Israel were afraid to come nigh to him... Moses gave the children of Israel all that the Lord had spoken with him... Till he had done speaking he put a vail on his face.” St. Paul also tells us in Hebrews that those things that occurred at Sinai were typical of the establishment of the Kingdom here in the end of the Age. And the brethren, innoculated as they all were with the colossal errors of the past, at first feared to receive the Truth. Of course, the first to respond fully to the Tabernacle truths was Brother Russell himself, although even he was overwhelmed by its brilliance for a time; but the Lord then used him as the vail between Him and the brethren to buffer the dazzling effect at first experienced. From this standpoint, Brother Russell was the antitypical vail that the Lord used to convey new and radical truths to the Harvest workers.
As stated aforegoing, Leviticus 16 reveals the offerings for sin, which in turn effects atonement, which “in due time” will accomplish “the restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-23) After clearly understanding this great truth, Brother Russell repeatedly preached it in his public lectures; and he urged all the pilgrims to do likewise. This in turn aroused the vicious antagonism of the Hell-fire preachers throughout Christendom; but the more they opposed, the more the message prospered; and by the time Bro. Russell died in 1916 it was considered by many in Christendom as a reflection upon the intelligence of any one who still believed in eternal torment as the wages of sin.
BELOVED OF GOD
Those who knew him well loved Brother Russell as a father – probably loved him more than they did any other human being. And this affection shown toward him was never abused, nor did it mar his humility. He was also greatly beloved of God. We understand he was the antitype of Daniel in
certain of his activities; and three different times (Dan. 9:23; 10:11; 10:19) we are told he was greatly beloved. “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken to me, I was strengthened.” (10:19) He was also the antitype of Eldad in Num. 11:26,27; and Eldad means Beloved of God.
His demise in 1916 greatly saddened the entire Truth movement, although it was not long after 1916 before sundry and subtle errors beclouded the minds of many, as they endeavored to take from him what God had given him. But the following from E-9:319 is a glowing tribute still nourished by many who knew him well:
“He will ever occupy in our hearts the large place that his holy character, unselfish service and faithful sufferings have won for him. That his memory may still continue fragrant and blest to us, let us together briefly review the activities, achievements and attainments of this eminent saint of God. He certainly was a SCHOLAR in the true sense of that term. Those who require a university diploma as indispensable evidence of learning will deny him the merit of scholarship. However, there are not a few cases of scholars that were self-made, gaining their knowledge apart from the schools of the learned world. Among such our Pastor won a high place. Apart from English he was not a linguist, though he learned how to use well for his Biblical work the gains of the best scholarship in Greek and Hebrew. He was deeply versed in history, as his writings attest. So thoroughly did he understand business that able financiers eagerly sought his advice. His writings show that he was at home in the perplexing questions of industry, economics, sociology, capital and labor. The realms of philosophy were deeply explored by him, and he was an expert in theoretical and practical psychology and phrenology. Few have understood the workings of the human intellect and heart so well as he. Human anatomy and physiology were open books to him. His knowledge of these sciences, combined with that of medicine, made him a physician; and though he had no medical diploma, he attained better results in healing art than the average physician. However, his real eminence in learning was in the domain of theology, in which he was without a peer since the days of the Apostles. His knowledge of the Bible was phenomenal; and when other theologians will have been discarded, he will be recognized as a standing authority in this the greatest of all sciences.
“Naturally such a scholar would be a writer. Very few human beings have written more than he. His correspondence alone was sufficient for the life work of an industrious and talented man. When it is remembered that some years over 300,000 letters and postals were written to him, and that he supervised the answers to this huge mail, we can realize something of the amount of his correspondence and the time and labor involved. As an author he produced six unrivaled books on the Bible whose combined circulation during his life aggregated 10,000,000 copies. As a bookleteer he published a number of booklets of great value, one of which, on Hell, has been circulated more widely than any other booklet ever written. He produced over 200 tracts, some of which attained a circulation of over 50,000,000 copies. His sermons, appearing regularly every week for thirteen years, were published part of that time simultaneously in over 2,000 newspapers, having a combined circulation of over 15,000,000 copies. He edited a semi-monthly religious magazine with a circulation of about 45,000 copies.”
The foregoing is the comment of an eminent scholar, a scholar who had the advantage of higher institutional learning; yet his superiority of schooling did not deter him in giving to Brother Russell the glowing tribute reproduced above. He freely admitted that Brother Russell was his intellectual superior, and gladly rendered honor to whom honor was due. And, as respects Brother Russell’s executive ability, we were told that a prominent industrialist once said of Brother Russell that he would be worth two million dollars a year to any corporation large enough to afford such help.
THE PAROUSIA MESSENGER
It is our opinion that the opening words of the Jeremiah prophecy are well adapted to describing Brother Russell: “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying... I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee. Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Jer. 1:4-10) In his youth Brother Russell was acutely conscious of his lack of higher learning; thus, he considered other prominent religious leaders more qualified than he to declare the truths that had been given him. But he soon recognized that the task was his – that the Lord had indeed put His words into his mouth.
With the great advances that had come since 1874 in invention, in learning, in the professions, Christendom was basking in the security that no evil could befall them. This was truly a strong deterrent to the preaching of a great world war breaking forth in 1914; and it required exceptional courage and faith to continue to announce it. In fact, we are told that the Gideons (the group that place the Bibles in the Hotels) had a convention in Toronto in 1913, and there made the proclamation that it was nonsense to expect a great war in a year, that Christendom was much too advanced for any such folly. With everything so calm on the surface, the casual observer was inclined to agree with them. It was causing Brother Russell some concern, too, so he made careful re-check of the chronology, but could find nothing wrong with it.
When the war did start right on time in 1914 it was like a bolt of lightning from a sunny sky. With the assassination of the Austrian Archduke and his wife, as they were taking a carriage drive through a part of Serbia, the world became a holocaust in twenty-four hours’ time; and it gave loud testimony to the world that Brother Russell had been “ordained a prophet unto the nations.” Inasmuch as he had made crystal clear the meaning of the Lord’s Parousia – over the thousand years, and in its various stages Brother Johnson began to refer to him as the Parousia Messenger. This title is not to be found in the Bible by direct statement, but it is easily conceived by considering a few texts. In Psa. 91:11 it is stated, “He will give his angels a charge concerning thee,”; and the Manna comment for November 17 explains that these angels would be human messengers provided for the special oversight and welfare of the church. Thus, Parousia Messenger could aptly be stated Parousia Angel, but Parousia Messenger makes the thought a little clearer to the average reader.
He was not only the Parousia Messenger, but he was That Servant (Matt. 24:45-47), he was the prophet unto the nations (Jer. 1:5), he was “that faithful and wise steward” (Luke 12:42), he was one of the stars (Rev. 1:16), he was one of the prophets in the Gospel-Age Church, and those who knew him intimately would readily testify that he was one of the foundation stones in the Parousia Church (Eph. 2:20), he was a pilgrim, he was a warrior and, as such, he was the antitypical Parousia David. He was also the antitypical Eleazar of the Gospel-Age Harvest. As such he had full charge of the antitypical Tabernacle, the Church: “He shall make him ruler over all His goods.” (Matt. 24:47) In this he was the parallel of the twelve Apostles in the Jewish Harvest. He was a genteel man, but most of his adult years were spent in fighting – set for the defense of the Truth. In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, under biographical names, it list Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) “American Pastor.” And the same dictionary lists Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942) “Judge” – American leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is our hearty recommendation that wherever two or more brethren may meet together that they hold a memorial service the last week in October, which meeting could include testimonies, and perhaps a reading of some sort pertinent to his life, work and character, as we all join in saying, God bless his memory!
THE EPIPHANY MESSENGER
As Pilgrim, Brother Paul S. L. Johnson was Brother Russell’s special helper during the final years of his life. The title Epiphany Messenger is likewise not found in the Bible; but, using Psa. 91:11, there is no difficulty in coining the expression. He did for the Epiphany what the Parousia Messenger did for the Parousia, although his ministry was not nearly so extensive or compelling. At the death of the Parousia Messenger we believe it could truthfully be said that all the living saints had come into his organization, leaving none to be found elsewhere; but this was definitely not the case with the Epiphany Messenger. He often said that there were more saints in the other Truth groups than he had with him – which means it was not necessary for them to come under his direction to retain their saintly standing, although those who did so received special blessings, particularly in service, that did not come to those in the other groups.
He was one of the stars, one of the prophets, but much less important than the Parousia Messenger had been. He was certainly the son of the Parousia David; and this is the record in I Chron. 22:5: “David said, Solomon my son, is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceedingly magnifical, of fame and glory throughout all countries: I will now therefore make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.” Indeed, the Parousia David left a goodly heritage not only to his son Solomon, but to the entire Household, in the clear and logical structure of the Parousia Truth; although many of the former pilgrims began to tamper with that Truth, and it then fell to the lot of the Epiphany Messenger to defend almost every important tenet of Parousia Truth. And now it has become so vitiated by some that it is no longer recognizable for what it once was.
Recognizing the colossal task which faced him, the Epiphany Messenger made special prayer for wisdom and strength sufficient for the job to be done, and this is what 1 Kgs. 4:29-31 has to say about it: “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men.” Very often did various religious organizations write to him for his analysis of extremely difficult Bible texts; and those of us who were close to him know the skill with which he answered them.
As a young man, before he joined the Harvest Movement, he had gained extensive recognition as a Lutheran minister in Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere. By intensive study for about three months in 1903 he had been able clearly to see the Truth on the unity of God, human mortality, death as the wages of sin, Papacy as the Beast, identity of the Millennium and the Judgment Day, and 1914 as the end of the Age. Thereafter he made no progress toward understanding Present Truth until he came into the Harvest movement. He was a true scholar of Greek and Hebrew, spoke German fluently; and in his earlier years he was able to give an oration in Latin – a feat which very few College professors of Latin are able to do. He graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, with the highest honors of any one who ever attended that institution. We knew a prominent Lutheran minister in Dayton, Ohio, who had been his classmate, and he said Paul Johnson was known throughout the campus as the mental giant. All this is simply a statement of fact, and in no sense intended to give him undue praise, in like manner as he wrote about the Parousia Messenger after his death. Thus, we conclude this present appraisal the same as we did that of the Parousia Messenger – God bless his memory!
We invite all of like mind to join with us in giving honor to whom honor is due, and in honoring those whom the Lord honors. Our Lord Himself said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (John 12:26)
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: – When you tell us you do not require a subscription price for your monthly papers, and that all your literature is free, aren’t you encouraging indolence in the Lord’s people to their responsibilities toward the Truth and its prosperity? What about 1 Cor. 16:2?
ANSWER: – Certainly, it is not our desire to encourage indifference and slothfulness in the Lord’s people, but rather the reverse. We would encourage all the Lord’s people to “seek ye first (chiefly) the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:23) – “spend and be spent” in doing the Lord’s good and acceptable will. But each one must decide for himself his course in so doing. Of course, this should be done in harmony with the rules and instructions of the Scriptures.
Our lord and the Apostles had no paid ministry, nor did they take up collections of any kind, but this is no reflection upon those who have subscription rates for their magazines – nor do we oppose this course. But we believe our method for the work we are doing is best for us. At the outset of our publications, it was our purpose to reach our brethren in the LHMM to defend the truth that was “once delivered unto the saints,” and to oppose the errors and revolutionisms of the Truth that appeared in that Movement shortly after the demise of its founder. However, it is due to the good cooperation and encouragement of faithful brethren, that we now have a sizable mailing list (many times the size of our first mailing in 1955), which includes many brethren of other groups. The Lord has prospered us in our efforts to bless and encourage His people.
As our Lord has indicated, we will receive criticism no matter what course we pursue: “Whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (Matt. 11:16-18)
When Brother Russell was criticized for using luxurious Pullman trains, hotels, etc., he advised: “But even if you cannot see eye to eye with us, do not stumble yourself, but remember that to his own Master each servant stands or falls. Take all the blessings from our ministry that you can get, and leave the remainder of the matters which you cannot understand to God. In other words, let us more and more realize that God Himself is guiding His own work; and that whatever blessing we may obtain we should be thankful to Him for the same.” We are in full agreement with these sentiments, and would express the same for us and our work.
“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (I Cor. 16:2) Brother Russell answered a question on this text in the February 1914 Watch Tower, Reprint 5409:
‘We understand that the principle applies to all. This is not a law, however... He taught that all of the Lord’s people are put on their own responsibility as to the use of the things they have sacrificed to the Lord... We think a principle is here involved – a principle of sacrifice; and that if we follow the Apostle’s advice, we would lay by something every week or every month to give to some who are in real need, and thus exercise a spirit of benevolence, like our Heavenly Father, and that we may be able to have at least a small share in the support of the Lord’s work. We believe that to whatever extent we have this thought before our minds we are likely to have a special blessing. ‘He that watereth shall be watered also himself.’—Prov. 11:25”
In Reprint 2542 That Servant gives us the following: “A few, but not very many, may need caution lest they should carry the matter of consecration to an extreme. An occasional one out of a thousand might perhaps act too literally upon the instruction that whosoever would be the Lord’s disciple must forsake all to follow Him might understand this to literally mean an abandonment of houses, lands, etc. .......... Family, home, beauties of nature, should all be appreciated, but in a secondary sense as compared to the Lord. What would please the Lord must be supreme.”
In the August 1923 Present Truth there is an article entitled “Riches,” from which we quote excerpts as follows:
“From this point of view earthly riches of every kind, opulence of money, of influence, of talent, should not be despised by the Lord’s people, but, on the contrary, should be appreciated – not after the worldly manner of appreciation, for selfish interests and purposes, but because those who possess riches of any kind have that much more than they otherwise would have to offer upon the Lord’s altar as a sacrifice in His service, to glorify His name, to advance His truth, to bless His people... If they hold and hoard their earthly riches they are burying their talent, their opportunity, instead of using it; and such will demonstrate to themselves eventually the meaning of our Lord’s words, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye (a small gate in the walls of ancient cities, for the convenience of belated travelers after sundown, after the main city gates were closed. These needle-eyes were so low that camels could enter them only upon their knees and after being stripped of their burdens) than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom.’ (Luke 18:25) He cannot get into the Kingdom at all except as he strips himself of his riches – sacrifices them, devotes them to the Lord. ... The Apostle speaks of the deceitfulness of riches; and on every hand we may witness this deceitfulness; we see how often earthly wealth deceives and misleads and corrupts the reasoning powers ... We see the same deception operating powerfully in those who possess a wealth of talent in any direction; they feel like keeping all of it for self, and if not all, the larger and choicier parts.
“When we see a noble example, like that of our Lord, who was rich in everything, and who gave all, we rejoice in it, and realize that as His sacrifice was so great His reward also is proportionately great. When we see the noble example of the Apostle Paul, who possessing some considerable wealth of ability, talent and influence, and possibly of financial means also, laid these all, a willing, a glad sacrifice, at the feet of the Lord, laying them all down with joy in God’s service, in the service of the Truth, in the service of the brethren, it causes our hearts to rejoice, and we feel sure that one so rich, and who spent his riches so faithfully, will be one who will shine very brightly in the Kingdom, when it is set up and manifested. ‘Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.’“
Those who have known us intimately over the years know that we have coveted no man’s silver or gold. Freely we have received of the Lord, and freely we have given of time, strength, talent and this world’s goods. And as of now, we have no regrets for the course we have followed. The strong consolation of Heb. 6:10 is daily with us; and we are daily grateful for the providential circumstances that permit us to carry on as we have. (See Acts 20:33-35)
Some one told That Servant that he had set the standard much too high, to which he answered, The Lord set it there, Brother; I didn’t. But we are to remember that we are stewards over our goods, and not over the goods of others – that, “to his own Master each servant stands or falls.” The Apostle Paul queries: ‘And who is sufficient for these things?” And we are persuaded that God’s faithful people will be ‘sufficient’ as they realize – “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. 3:5)