(Reprint of No. 38 – with additions)
My dear Brethren: – Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
“I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” says Hos. 6:6. This subject of knowledge, especially so with the “knowledge of God,” has been bandied about by all classes from the least unto the greatest; and a little reflection readily makes evident that it must be embellished with copious qualifications if it is to be retained in proper balance. Almost every virtue becomes a vice when overdone; therefore, almost every virtue requires a companion virtue if it is to be maintained in good perspective. This is certainly true of knowledge, because St. Paul says that “knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up.” The great Apostle is not here putting a slur on knowledge, because no one can have too much knowledge if that knowledge is given proper balance by the grace of love. “The spirit of a sound mind” implies that such a person has all four of the Divine attributes in reasonable proportion – each companion to the other three prorated to its correct position. Knowledge is acquaintance with fact, clear perception of truth; and wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. Thus, a man who is gifted chiefly with knowledge may be said to be an intellectual man; one with knowledge and power, an austere man; one with knowledge, power and justice, a righteous man; and one with knowledge (wisdom), power, justice and love is a “good man.” And to one possessing these four the promise is sure and certain that his “steps are ordered of the Lord.”
We often hear the remark that “knowledge is not the essential thing”; but this statement is only a half truth, and – Half truths are more misleading than whole error. St. Paul does indeed say that love is the principal thing – that “love is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:14). And none with that “bond of perfectness” will ever be rejected by the Lord, will never fall from the Class in which he finds himself. No Saint ever lost his crown so long as he retained that “bond”; and no Youthful Worthy will ever fall from his Class if he has and retains that bond. As Brother Johnson has so well stated, it is not required of Youthfuls that they develop Agape love; but they should certainly do so if they have the capacity. Some may not be able to do this; but it should be readily evident that if they can and do acquire it, then they have also the “bond of perfectness” which none can give nor take away – the possessor of that “bond” can never encounter shipwreck in his walk by faith.
Above we quoted St. Paul’s statement that love is the principal thing, but here also qualification is necessary, because no one ever developed Agape love without patience, and none can retain it without that adorning grace. It is of such importance that St. Paul mentions it last in Titus 2:2 in his admonition to be “sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” Jesus had perfect love, but this He retained only through His perfection in patience – ”He steadfastly (in full patience) set His face to go to Jerusalem,” But we must go beyond patience in our qualification of Agape love. Before patience must come faith; and before faith must come knowledge – “the knowledge of God.” This is emphasized in Romans 10:14-17: “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard (received sufficient knowledge to enable them to believe)? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?... So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Clearly, then, in the primary sense the “knowledge of God” is the principal thing; without that knowledge there could be no faith; without faith “It is impossible to please God,” and without faith none could possibly gain that principal thing – Agape love. It has been our observation that those who would discount the virtue of knowledge – ”not the essential thing” – are those who possess very little of it; and their contention is simply a lame alibi for their glaring incapacity – ”My people perish for lack of knowledge.” We are instructed to “study to show thyself approved unto God”; and we are to account those elders “worthy of double honor... who labor in word and doctrine (the knowledge of God)” 1 Tim. 5:17.
And with such servants abides the assurance of faith – they know that they know. Nor need such assurance “puff up” if that knowledge is moderated by Agape love. The Egyptians have a proverb: “He who knows, but knows not that he knows, is timid – encourage him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant – teach him. He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool – shun him. But he who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise – follow him.” Surely, the last two Principal Men knew, and knew that they knew; the Scriptures specifically state of one of them that he was “wise”; and our trust was well placed as we followed them. Also, it was prophetically written of the Epiphany Solomon (I Kgs. 3:12): “I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” Therefore, those who recognize Brother Johnson as the good Epiphany Solomon will proceed most cautiously before attempting to dispute any of his faithful Scriptural teachings. Neither of the Laodicean “stars” deemed it essential to be “as the actors,” to use the tricks of oratory, or the flummery of the stage, much of which is simply humbug. A pleasant anecdote is related of Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist: Some neighborhood boys attempted a prank upon him by catching a grasshopper, tearing off its wings and long hind legs, then substituting the wings of a wasp and parts of several other bugs. They then showed him their artifice, asking him if he could tell them what kind of a bug it was. “Did it make a humming noise when you first caught it out in the field”? he asked. “Oh, yes; it made a very loud humming noise when we first grabbed it.” “Then,” replied Mr. Darwin, “it’s a ‘hum’-bug.”
Such is much the case with a large part of our present-day estimation of the “knowledge of God.” A very prominent Evangelist recently said to his audience, “Coming to Christ is not dependent on understanding. I don’t understand the digestive system, but I eat.” The superficiality of this statement is readily apparent. The Evangelist himself may not understand his digestive system; but other human beings do understand it, and this enables him to go on living. Had the human race not learned early in history that some articles are deadly poison which destroy the digestive system, none would have survived unto this day. The Evangelist’s physician understands the digestive system, and he hires that physician to keep his digestive system in proper condition. And by the same rule of measure the preacher should understand what he is feeding the flock – and should feed them the true “knowledge of God” – if he would save them from spiritual indigestion. Presumably, they are paying him to do just that – just as the Evangelist pays his doctor to keep him physically well.
In our courts of law it is a fundamental rule of interpretation that “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”; and it requires no great insight to realize that if this were not true bedlam would prevail in all quarters. However, the rigidity of human law is not always operative in God’s law under present undone conditions, because we are specifically told in Acts 17:30 that “this ignorance God winked at”; that is, He made due allowance for the inherited and acquired frailties of the human race, who through ignorance knew not God, But this should not be seized upon as an overall excuse for violation of the Divine order of affairs. Brother Russell has stressed that we are held accountable for what we have opportunity to know; howbeit, of him that hath little shall little be required.
In Parousia Volume Six there are two chapters devoted to Order and Discipline in the New Creation and The Law of the New Creation, which are there for a purpose. They are pungent with the “knowledge of God,” provided by God during this Harvest time for the guidance of His people, and binding upon all of us who claim to be in “Present Truth” and regardless of the laxities practiced by those about us. Of the Jews it was written (Zech. 7:12): “They made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law.... therefore, came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts,” the same being a shadow before of the conduct of spiritual Israel during this Gospel Age, and especially so in the end of the Age. “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.”
Of course, the tendency of the times is to discount the “knowledge of God” – it doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you are headed in the right direction. Therefore, take no exceptions to your neighbor’s beliefs; they are just as good as yours. We know this to be a direct contradiction to St. Paul’s teaching that there is but “one faith.” In E:9-512 (bottom) there is this: “The Lord does not despise knowledge and talent, as some mistakenly think, but, if sanctified, uses them advantageously for His cause, yet He certainly does not put the main emphasis on them, which main emphasis He lays upon characteristics of the heart.” Yet St. Paul so often remarks, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren.” Also, “By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” It was by His knowledge that He explained the types and shadows of the Old Testament and “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” And at the very time He was doing this the critical statement was given to the Jews, “Israel hath a zeal, but not according to knowledge.”
Knowledge of things past often helps us accurately to diagnose present events, and to arrive at proper interpretations of difficult Scriptures. Many have been the attempts of critics to condemn the Bible because of its statement, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (loved less)”; but, knowledge of the custom then prevailing that the elder son must fast while the younger feasted upon the birthday of a prominent ancestor offers a clear and reasonable explanation of the matter. “The law of the Lord is perfect .... making wise the simple.” (Psa. 19:7)
In Detroit at present there is a reciprocal understanding among many of the ministers of the different sects regarding ‘mixed’ marriages to this effect: if, say, a Lutheran comes to his minister to be married to a Methodist, the Lutheran minister performs the service; then advises them to determine both to attend the same church. If the bride doesn’t like the minister who has just joined her in wedlock, or if she cannot accept the Lutheran faith, then the minister advises his own member to follow his bride to the Methodist Church; or vice versa. Thus, in the overall figures, all is balanced up – and every one is happy. This means there is no longer controversy over what is the “knowledge of God”; if there be any conflict, it is now chiefly over personalities – “there is no live coal to warm them,” no living doctrinal Truth in its purity to stir their icy spiritual blood (Isa. 47:14). “They are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isa, 56:11). Don’t expose my ignorance, and I won’t expose yours, they say; and each of us will prosper in our own bailiwick. (See Berean Comments on Isa. 56:11)
But, if we would be better used of the Lord, it is essential that we have a certain amount of knowledge, although some with limited knowledge and inherent wisdom (the proper application of knowledge) often accomplish more than others with greater knowledge but endowed with less wisdom. Therefore, Solomon says, ‘‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding.” Companion thoughts are excellently expressed by both Star Members in the May 14 Manna Comments: “What is it to grow in grace? It is to grow in favor with the Lord through an intimate personal acquaintance and fellowship of spirit with Him... To grow thus in grace and not in knowledge is impossible... If, therefore, we love and obey the Lord and desire to grow in His favor, His written word is our daily meditation and study; and thus we grow in knowledge.”
Errorists and superficial teachers offer just the reverse of the foregoing to their devotees. When the Church of Rome was in its heyday it is well stated that its motto was: Reading is doubt; doubt is heresy; and heresy is Hell. That is, any who endeavored to inform themselves were doubting the infallibility of their leaders; and such must certainly be only the course of the heretic. This was indeed the “doctrine of Balaam... the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” (Rev. 2:14-15) Such are the antitypical Baal worshipers, who endeavor by sleight-of-hand and great oratorical shouting to overawe the “unstable and the unlearned.” It should be noted that Baal was the Sun God – Lord of the Day – a fitting type of power-graspers and clericalists. At night the Heavens are filled with millions of stars, many of them much larger than our sun; yet they are all completely obscured during the daytime. They are still in their respective places, of course, but they are not visible to the human eye because of the daytime splendor of the sun. And such is much the condition of Gospel-Age power-graspers; they have outshone the true Star Members; have “cast their brethren out” and built up Great and Little Babylon; yet the promise is sure to all the fully faithful – “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” And this exaltation will be one without end!
In this connection, be it noted that the orbit of the sun is from the East to the South to the West. But those who follow Baal cannot ever receive any exaltation from the true God. Therefore, it is written, “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south” – that is, no promotion from God to those who follow the course of Baal. In 1 Kings 18 is recorded the experience of Elijah with Jezebel’s prophets of Baal – one against 450. There had been a long drought in the land, the country was blistering under the unrelenting rays of the burning sun. Therefore, Elijah gave those prophets of Baal every possible advantage when he told them to try their hand first – to kill their bullock, put it on the altar, and call upon Baal, their Sun God, at high noon to ignite the wood under their sacrifice. Well did they realize the mockery that would come upon them if they failed under such advantageous circumstances, which prompted them to call out, “O Baal, hear US... And it came to pass at noon that Elijah mocked them... and they cried aloud and cut themselves after their manner with knives.” Then, when they were forced to admit failure (about three o’clock in the afternoon – v. 29, “the evening sacrifice”), Elijah then instructed that twelve barrels of water be poured upon his offering, after which fire came from Heaven and consumed his sacrifice. “Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob... and built an altar in the name of the Lord,” which altar was typical of the Fully Faithful of the Gospel-Age spiritual Elijah, twelve being a Little Flock number – just as was true of the altar constructed by Joshua (Josh. 4:5,9).
While the Gospel-Age Elijah has always had the assurance that “Thou hearest me always,” fortified as they have been by the knowledge of God, which gave them a “mouth and Wisdom which none of their adversaries were able to gainsay nor resist,” seldom were they given the spectacular outward approval which came to the Prophet Elijah in his encounter with the Prophets of Baal that fateful day. In fact, in many instances during this Gospel Age the Baal worshipers (power-graspers) have gained the ascendancy – as instance the victory of Calvin over Miletus Servetus, etc.; yet the fully faithful have striven with the strength of Samson and the skill of the warrior David in their use of the knowledge of God. It should not be expected, of course, that all would demonstrate the ability of the Star Members in the use of this knowledge – although many have assumed they could do so. We recall the occasion when a gainsayer gave us the argument that Christ died and rose again “according to the Scriptures” – that this proved it was not actually true, but was only “according to the Scriptures,” which were unreliable in their records.
It has been contended by some in our midst that the Truth has always come first, then followed by error. This is only a half truth; and half truths are more misleading than whole errors. In the broad sense, the Bible, which is the Truth, has been first, of course; but Micah 5:5 clearly states that ‘‘when the Assyrian (the errorists) shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise up against him seven shepherds and eight principal men.” This is in keeping with Prov. 24:16 – “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” The “just man” of this Gospel Age has been the fully faithful justified Christ Company, which fell into obscurity as much error sprang up about them after the death of each Star Member. We need only look at the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, the Adventists and others to note the force of this contention. If the Star Members came back who originated these movements – Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Miller – they would be unable to find their teachings in those organizations that now claim to be their followers.
In our time we have the instance of Brother Russell, and with what speed the falling occurred after he died. Jehovah’s Witnesses bear no more resemblance to the truths he espoused and the organization he set up than does a vulture to a swan. The measurably faithful made quick havoc of his good work – just as uncleansed Levites are doing all about us – some more, some less. And, as we observe this state of affairs, it behooves us all the more to equip ourselves with “the knowledge of God” to the extent of our natural and acquired providential circumstances. The world in general, of course, “knows not God”; and the great mass of Christian believers quite evidently have very little of the “knowledge of God.” There is the constant and irrepressible conflict, the battle of darkness against light, and – ”The darkness hateth the light because it is reproved by it.” But the “knowledge of God” is for “the children of light,” who zealously try to pass it on to others, but with very limited success against the opposition of the “god of this world.” Therefore, it confers its greatest blessing upon its possessor; hence, the words of Solomon, “Buy the Truth (the knowledge of God), and sell it not.” To such, and to such alone, applies the promise of Psalms 91:10 – ”Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” Such are the members of that “one Church, which in its entirety is the steward and administrator of the Truth (the knowledge of God), to preserve and defend it from error and to administer it for the benefit of the responsive.” (E:8-253) And such will be in full agreement with the slogan on Brother Johnson’s letterhead as respects the Knowledge of God – ”The noblest science; the best instruction.”
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: – R. G. Jolly has often cited the Ancient Worthies in connection with Tentative Justification for his Consecrated Epiphany Campers. If the latter have the same kind of justification that the Ancient Worthies had, wouldn’t they have the same kind of standing before God, and receive the same kind of reward?
ANSWER: – The inferences in this Question are sound only if properly qualified. The infant children of the Saints during the Gospel Age all had Tentative Justification. Are we to assume from that that all of them will receive similar reward with the Ancient Worthies? We believe it is a very reasonable assumption that many such children – probably a large majority – “received the Grace of God in vain”; that is, they failed to use it in consecration. In the end of this Age – after September 16, 1914 – all the tentatively justified who failed to consecrate, and all those who do consecrate, but fail to abide therein – will have received “the Grace of God in vain,” and be remanded to the Epiphany Camp, as is clearly taught by Brother Johnson. Once these are ejected from the Epiphany Tabernacle Court, they lose their Tentative Justification, although it does not necessarily follow that such persons become evil. In fact, in E:10-209 Brother Johnson says such as remain in the Epiphany Camp – in the finished picture – will be the “truly repentant and believing, “BUT NOT CONSECRATED” Jews and Gentiles.” This, of course, is a direct contradiction to the hybrid “strange fire” (false doctrine) of a consecrated class in the Camp (either called “Campers” or “Quasi-elect” consecrated) with a similar justification to the Worthies.
Now, if there were such a consecrated class in the Camp, with a justification similar to the Ancient Worthies, and professing a similar consecration to be “dead unto sin, but alive toward God” (Rom. 6:11), such would certainly receive a similar reward – because “sin is still in the ascendancy” and it is indeed a “narrow way” for the consecrated. There is a certain appealing and irrefutable logic to all of God’s actions. He is perfect in His Wisdom (logic). Therefore, when R. G. Jolly (or J. F. Rutherford – or J. W. Krewson) attempts to create a Class with specified exactions the same as the Ancient Worthies, all Scriptural logic would demand and specify for them a similar reward – just as the Youthful Worthies will have a similar reward. Only a deluded crown-lost leader “befuddled by Azazel” would attempt a different invention and conclusion. Note the clear logic of Brother Johnson along this very line:
“First we will reason from the Divine Attributes in their relation to the earthly parts of the Oathbound Covenant in apportioning rewards to those who faithfully serve God, while sin is in the ascendancy (Note carefully, that R. G. Jolly expects them to tread the same “way” as the Youthful Worthies while “sin is still in the ascendancy” even more so than at any other period during the “reign of sin and evil” – so if his Epiphany Campers Consecrated are “similar to the Ancient Worthies, even as the Youthful Worthies, then they, too, should have a similar reward. R. G. Jolly expects them to tread the identical ‘‘way” as the Youthful Worthies, (he says – JJH) – i. e., some ‘which be of the faith of Abraham.’ In the Lord’s Plan His Wisdom arranged, and His Power, Justice and Love will cooperate to give Princeship as a reward. (Ps. 45:16; Is. 32:1; Gal. 3:6-9) in the MILLENNIUM to the Ancient Worthies, who (before Matt. 11:11-13; Heb. 2:3, the Ransom Merit was available for imputation, and the general call to the Divine nature and Joint-heirship with Christ began) were faithful to God amid conditions made very difficult by reason of the ascendancy and the dominion of Satan, sin, error and death among men. Accordingly, we reason that the Divine attributes would arrange for a similar reward for the Youthful Worthies in the Millennium for similar faithfulness to God (after the imputation of the Ransom merit was no longer available for certain consecrators.)” Please see E:4-329 (18)
Those who now cast aside such clear logic by the Eighth “Principal Man” do so at their own peril. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches” (Rev. 3:22) – the Spirit’s testimony having been given to God’s people for this Age only through Jesus and the specially- illuminated Star Members. We and all our house profess full harmony with the last Star Member on this subject.
In further corroboration of the foregoing, we cite Dan. 3:13-25 respecting Shadrach (royal), Meshach (guest), and Abed-nego (servant of the prophet) who type the three faith CLASSES in the end of this AGE experiencing fiery trials, the same being the Little Flock, Great Company, and Youthful Worthies. Not a hint here of a fourth Class of any kind.
Be it remembered that justification by faith does not make one right; it simply reckons him right (see E:8-318). Abraham’s faith “was counted (reckoned) to him for righteousness.” His case was slightly different from the children of the Saints, because it was his own faith that brought righteousness to him; whereas, it is the faith of the Saints that gives righteousness to their children. This is because they were born in the Court condition, where their parents already were.
Both Star Members taught there could be no acceptable consecration without first having Tentative Justification in the Court (See E:6-348); nor could there be any justification outside the linen curtain (outside the righteousness of Christ); and that Justification begins at the Gate of the Court. (See E:6-708/9, where Brother Johnson exposes the error of That Evil Servant for teaching Justification outside the linen curtains, even as R. G. Jolly is now doing). Those who are remanded, in the finished picture are the same as those who were faithful to their Justification during the Gospel Age – because the only reason they are remanded is because that the Court feature is finished for those who have not made a consecration in the Court. They are not remanded because of unfaithfulness – but only because the purpose for which they are justified has come to an end. In other words, they can no longer consecrate until the Highway of Holiness is opened for them. So when we offer such people anything more than the Scriptures allow, then we are perverting the Scriptures (Azazel means perverter). Of course, the quasi-elect will have a head start on the others – because they have ‘believed’ – but their ‘faith’ wasn’t sufficient for a full consecration to do God’s will amidst the “reign of evil” at all costs. Had they been thus minded, then they would have been of the full elect –. either one of those who have been tried for life and found faithful, or one who has been found faithful to his elect calling (‘faithful unto death’), such as the Youthful Worthies (one of the four elect classes). Let us not confuse the consecration ‘unto life’ with the consecration ‘unto death’ – even though we accept the fact that all consecrations are ‘unto God,’ although all consecrations are not treated the same way. But during the “reign of sin and evil” all consecrations are treated differently to what consecrations will be treated when the New Covenant is in operation – when the Kingdom proper is established, and the Highway of Holiness is opened for all Restitutionists. It is difficult to imagine that any one who has received the sober teachings of the two Principal Men, and “continued in what they have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom they have learned” this important doctrinal teaching, could go so far astray on the fundamentals of the Truth. But it was the same in the large Gospel Age – they, too, beckoned to the whole world!
We mention further St. Paul’s statement in Acts 20:27: “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” On this text note Brother Russell’s Berean Comment: “St. Paul said not one word”, etc. And he could well have added to his list that St. Paul also “said not one word about Campers Consecrated, Quasi-elect Consecrated (or Jonodabs!)” – although St. Paul did clearly define the four faith Classes that the “Lord knoweth to be His” in 2 Tim. 2:19-20, as he declared to us “the whole counsel of God.” “In all thy getting, get understanding!”
ANNOUNCEMENT OF GENERAL INTEREST
Our Memorial coming this year on March 18, we suggest as our Spring Special Effort in volunteer, sharpshooter, and lecture work, will be from March 11 through April 8. We suggest that the brethren volunteer Extras I and 2 (Where are the Dead and What is the Soul) at Protestant church doors on the first three Sundays, and Extras 3 (Resurrection of the Dead) on the last two. Please order the necessary literature in good time. We are happy to supply all who are seeking to serve Him in Truth and in Spirit all the Gideon tracts necessary for this Special Service – a Service that was given to us by the last Special Messenger. All of the Faithful know these Truths are ‘timely’ and not “timeworn and threadbare” until the battle is finished. With Brother Johnson, we believe that the Faithful will endeavor to participate in this “good fight” until it is finished, as well as the faithful Youthful Worthies. We wish all who participate a special blessing from our Beloved Lord and Master.