NO. 62: THE SPIRIT OF THE TRUTH VS. THE SPIRIT OF UNDERSTANDING

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 62

My beloved Brethren: – Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!

Inasmuch as it has been correctly stated that the Holy Spirit in God’s people is His “disposition” and His power in His people, and, since the Holy Spirit is basic to understanding the Truth and conforming ourselves to that Truth, it has been concluded by some that the two parts of our subject resolve themselves into one and the same thing. That such conclusion is not the correct one will become apparent, we believe, from our further analysis. At the outset, let us recognize that the Spirit of Understanding is of the mind, and precedes the Spirit of the Truth, which is of the heart; and that these are lost in the reverse order in which they are gained. The Spirit of the Truth is first “grieved” before one be­gins to lose the understanding of that Truth which once sanctified him. Therefore, let us keep clearly in mind that the Spirit of Understanding never departs from any one instantaneously; it must first be undermined by “grieving” the Spirit of the Truth in the heart; hence, the significance of the admonition, “Keep thy heart with all diligence.”

In Isa. 11:2 “the spirit of understanding” is in apposition to the “spirit of the Lord,” which proves these two expressions are an inseparable part of each other. However, in v. 3 we are told that the “quick understanding” which Jesus possessed was a result of “the spirit of the Lord that shall rest upon him.” Even in v. 2 it would hardly be technically correct to say the “spirit of the Lord” and the “spirit of understanding” are one and the same, because the “spirit of understanding” is only one of many qualities of the “spirit of the Lord.” Fundamentally, the “spirit of understanding” is God’s disposition in His people that enables them to perceive and to reason correctly, especially as respects Present Truth.

St: Paul has given us the truth that “the greatest of these (character qualities) is love” (agape), and St. Peter establishes agape as the crowning virtue (2 Pet.1:5-8) –­ the which, if we attain it, “will not permit you to be inactive nor unfruitful in the knowledge” (Dia.) – the Spirit of Understanding (the ability to perceive and reason clearly and correctly) will not depart from such characters. Therefore, regardless of the strivings, the laudable ambitions, the yearnings in some for “the more emi­nent gifts,” yet “a much more excellent way I point out to you” (1 Cor. 12:31––Dia.) –­ the “more excellent way” being the attainment and retention of agape love in the heart – the Spirit of the Truth.

In seeming contradiction to the foregoing, Solomon writes that “wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). It should be apparent that “understanding” is necessary for us to at­tempt the development of agape love in the heart; we must first learn about it, learn what it is, and its method of operation. This situation is thus akin to the old question, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That knowledge – the Spirit of Understanding – is basic to the acceptance of Christianity and the development of all the graces is clearly defined by St. Paul in Gal. 3:2 – “Received ye the Spirit by works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? .... So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”—Rom. 10:14-17 (how could it be possible to establish a faith on which to build agape love without the Spirit of Understanding?). Therefore, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded (have the Spirit of Understanding) is life and peace” (Rom. 9:6); “the King­dom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in a holy spirit” (Rom. 14:17) – the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth – understanding the Truth and conforming ourselves to it.

That some do not persevere as above described is only too sadly apparent; in fact, the Scriptures point out a “great multitude” who fail to do so. Only those who “abide in my word” – those who develop and retain the Spirit of the Truth – continue to “know the Truth that makes free indeed.” Such do not lose the Spirit of Understanding. But once the Spirit of the Truth is lost in the heart, the Spirit of Understanding is not long in departing from such people; and it soon becomes manifest to those about them – ­especially to those who have the Spirit of Understanding. Of course, such loss be­comes more precipitate where the deflection from the Spirit of the Truth is most pro­nounced. Brother Russell said of such that they “dream strange, unreasonable things.” Brother Johnson was still more direct and sharp: When these people are abandoned to Azazel (as the Lord lets go of their hand) they talk all sorts of nonsense, he said. He spoke thus of the “great multitude”; and the wording would apply exclusively to them, although the principle would follow through with the measurably faithful Youthful Worthies as well. As the Truth always imparts to its possessor “the spirit of a sound mind,” so its loss brings a corresponding unsound mind – moreso, quite often, than before such people knew the Truth at all. Therefore, the Lord’s words, “If the light that is in thee be(come) darkness, how great is that darkness!” But, while the measurably faithful may often go into extreme confusion of mind on the things they had once “learned and been assured of,” they do not lose fully the Spirit of the Truth unless they leave completely the Household of Faith. Nevertheless, the explana­tion is aptly set forth in James 1:15: “Then when lust (evil desire – selfishness, worldliness ) hath conceived (in the mind), it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished (in the heart, thus destroying fully the Spirit of the Truth), bringeth forth death” – the second death to the Great Multitude, and loss of Worthy­ship to others.

Manifestly, the degree of the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth is not the same in all even of the fully faithful. Jesus Himself had the Holy Spirit “without measure,” and this made Him of “quick understanding,” gave to Him the “spirit of wisdom (of a ‘sound mind’), the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the reverence of Jehovah.” (Isa. 11:2-3) In the twelve Apostles the Holy Spirit was also abundant enough to enable them to write by inspiration and to impart the miraculous gifts of the Spirit to others. All of the other 37 Star Members of the Gospel Age were men of unusual intellect, which enabled them to have more of the Spirit of Under­standing than did their fellows. And, while this made them lights of superior glory, it did not elevate them above the Class in which the entire 144,000 Saints are found. From the least to the greatest in that elect company all have had sufficient of the Spirit of Understanding in mind and the Spirit of the Truth in heart to enable them to “make their calling and election sure.”

Brother Russell has this to say in Parousia Volume 3, p. 94: “The oil, or spirit of consecration, and its attendant light cannot be communicated from one virgin to another. Each for himself must be filled with the spirit; each must get his own supply of oil (the Truth, and its spirit of consecration and holiness); and the cost is considerable in the way of self-denial and misrepresentation and fiery trial.”

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God to His faithful people; and, regardless of their heredity or providential circumstances, it develops in all the Spirit of Under­standing and the Spirit of the Truth.  This comes to all in ever-increasing measure as they continue faithful, just as it gradually decreases in the unfaithful, eventu­ally vanishing completely in those who “grieve the Spirit” unto death. But, as it gradually increases in the faithful, it makes them figuratively fragrant, comely and fully qualified to fulfill “His good pleasure” for each in the Household of Faith. This is graphically and forcefully portrayed in the anointing oil with which Aaron and others were inducted into office in the Jewish Age. Exodus 30:22-38 recites the formula for making the anointing oil, and the rules pertinent to its use. Aside from olive oil as its base, that oil contained cassia, calamus (or sweet cane) cinnamon and flowing myrrh – all to be the best and rarest of their kind.

All of these products were highly scented, used in the manufacture of perfumes. “Thou shalt make an oil of holy ointment... compounded after the art of the apothecary,” says Ex. 30:25; and the marginal reading states it was to be made “after the art of the perfumer.” Note, then, the beautiful reference of St. Paul in 2 Cor. 2:14-17 (Dia,): “We triumph with the Anointed One, who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. Because we are a sweet odor of Christ to God, among those who are being saved... an odor of life unto life.... We are not like the many, trafficking the Word of God: but really from sincerity, and as from God, in the pres­ence of God, we speak concerning Christ,” Thus, just as a rare perfume refreshes, relaxes and pleases all who smell it, so the Holy anointing in God’s people should make them ever more appealing to all right-minded persons; and especially is this true among those who have this anointing in themselves. It tends to attract them to one another, and enables them to sing with sincerity and ardor, “Blessed be the tie that binds,”

Of those thus “perfumed” St. Paul thunders forth the challenge: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Those of “low degree” who have succeeded in attaining to “His resurrection” – who faithfully preserved their anointing in full “fragrance” – have all the questions answered for them; the evil ridicule, the abuse, the derision are indeed “light afflictions” – they may all join in that grand anthem of their Lord and Elder Brother: “They shall see of the travail of their souls, and they shall be satisfied,” (Isa. 53:11) “By His knowledge (His “quick understanding”) shall my righteous servant justify many”; and this principle applies in its fullness to all those who faithfully “follow in His steps.” Especially in this Harvest period do we have the assurance that all the fully faithful have received the due Truth for them; and we are equally assured that the measurably faithful lose the words which once made them clean (John 15:3), thus clearly revealing their uncleansed condition.

Nor should this surprise us! “This is life eternal that they may know thee,” said Jesus. At first glance this seems very simple and easy of understanding – until we ask what it means to “know” God.  St, John gives us the answer: “And everyone that loveth (has agape love, the Spirit of the Truth, in his heart) is born of God, and knoweth God, He that loveth not (who has either lost the Spirit of the Truth, or never had it at all) knoweth not God,” (1 John 4:7,8) To all the latter – whether Great Company or Youthful Worthies – the judgment is clearly pronounced: “Because they admitted not the love of the Truth (did not develop the Spirit of the Truth in Their hearts)... on this account God will send them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood; in order that all those may be judged who believed not the Truth,” (2 Thes. 2:10-12) Timely indeed are the Berean Comments on this Scripture: “If we do not cultivate love for the truth until it outweighs all other things, we will not be fit for the Kingdom... All, in the end of the Gospel Age, who, having been favored with the Word of God, have failed to appreciate and use it... Great delusions are just before us, and some of these may come closest upon those possess­ing the most light of Present Truth,” The comments in Reprints, p. 5095, are good companion to the foregoing:

“Whatever may be the imperfection of mind and body resulting from the fall, those who receive the spirit of a sound mind are thereby made purer, kinder, gentler, less selfish and more thoughtful in regard to others. Those who are thus rightly exercised will develop the spirit of love increasingly until that which is perfect shall have come and that which is in part shall have been done away – 1 Cor. 13:10.

“The spirit of a sound mind makes one’s judgment clearer, truer, more trust­worthy than before, for it impels him to accept the instructions of the Word of God in respect to what he should and should not do, and to reject his own faulty judgment.”

When St. Paul speaks of some “who admitted not the love of the Truth,” it should be borne in mind that all who have ever received “the sweet odor of Christ” had at the time “a good and honest heart”; otherwise, God would not have accepted their sacrifice. A contrary instance is recorded in Acts 8:18-21, where St. Peter told the avaricious Simon: “Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” But of those who have received the “anointing” – these then developed into two classes – those who “admitted the love of the Truth,” and those who failed to do so. “The love of the Truth” carries with it two meanings: “Love of Truth until it outweighs all other thing” (Berean Comments on above), and the love (agape) which the Truth is designed to develop in the hearts. The very purpose of the Sarah Covenant is to perfect in love (agape) all who embrace it; and this prin­ciple would be pertinent to all during the reign of evil who have “made a covenant by sacrifice.”

How pertinent, then, are St. Paul’s words in Rom. 11:22—(Dia): “Behold, then, the kindness and the severity of God; severity, indeed, toward those having fallen (through failure to keep the spirit of the Law, and the letter of the Law to the extent of ability), but the kindness of God towards thee if thou continue in that kindness; for otherwise thou even shall be cut off,”

Therefore, we may conclude with Col. 2:6,7 (see also the Manna Comments for May 9): “As ye have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving,”

Sincerely your brother,

John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim

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QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST

QUESTION: – Will you please define Sectarianism, and give some explanation about it?

ANSWER: –  The dictionary defines sectarianism as “exclusive or narrow-minded attachment to a sect, denomination, party, school or the like”; and a sectarian is “one limited to denominational or partisan interests – a narrow-minded or bigoted denominationalist.” It has been clearly demonstrated over the centuries that political and religious sectarians want no criticism of their party or sect, regardless of how just and true and deserving such criticism may be. All of us know that the two major political parties here in the United States contain many thousands of rabid sectarians, many of whom are also even more sectarian in their religious beliefs. Such people often accept error and stop their ears to the truth. Those having such religious convictions have been among the worst enemies of our Bible, unintentionally so, of course. They are such as have burned their brethren at the stake – just as their Jewish forerunners crucified the Lord of Glory. They are the people who can bear no criticism, who are ever ready to crucify those they can­not effectively answer. They close their eyes, open their mouths, and swallow what is put therein.

The difference between a sectarian and an enlightened Truth person is that the former is steeped in error, whereas the latter is grounded in the Truth, and presents clear and unanswerable logical truth against the errorist sectarians. And it should be emphasized that defense of the Truth is not the label of a sectarian. We are specifically admonished in Jude 3 to “earnestly contend for the faith (the Truth) which was once delivered unto the saints. Inasmuch as the Bible exposes sectarianism as a great sin, it would under no circumstances offer instruction that would make one sectarian. If “contending for the Truth” brands one a sectarian, then Jesus was the worst sectarian the world has ever seen; and the Parousia and Epiphany Messengers would rate close to Him. Clearly, it is the bounden duty of all in the Household of Faith to “contend for the faith.” Some may call those “sectarian” who thus contend lawfully because they are unable to meet the Truths they present against their errors; name-calling is the only weapon left to such people – “they have ‘bad spirit’ and are too critical (of their errors, of course)”, they say. Nor should we view this from a limited standard. One of the four purposes of Divine inspiration is “for refuting” (2 Tim.. 3:16); and this would apply more to the sharp critical teachings than to the winsome corrections. It was not the Sermon on the Mount that brought Jesus to the cross; it was the unrelenting barbs of Matthew 23. Both Messengers repeatedly appealed to their readers to eliminate sectarianism from their characters; but it is clearly evident since their deaths that their appeal passed right over the heads of many of them – just as did also many of their other teachings. We, too, have attempted to wage a vigorous warfare against this great sin.

It has ever been a trait of sectarians to cry when they are hurt; thus, many of them in Little Babylon (the J.W.’s, Dawns, P. B. I., etc.) decried loudly their erroneous exposures by Brother Johnson.  “He’s always criticizing,” they said; but at no time did we ever hear of the last two Star Members whimpering because they were criticized, even though the criticism cast at them – was often rankly unjust.  They agreed with Solomon’s observation: “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” And the Faithful expect criticism for the good they would do, if they would “follow in His steps.” There are many who want no controversy – want no “contending” for the Faith (they want the Truth with peace, but there is no such peace for those who wage a good warfare against error and the errorists, although there is “the peace of God which passeth understanding” that Jesus left with the fully faithful. But a cheap and indolent peace is the opposite to what St. Paul urges us to be – “endure hardness as a good soldier.” Manifestly, the career of a soldier is based upon controversy; and those who want none of it can possibly be a “good soldier” – nor need we expect such among the elect classes of the Kingdom, wherever else they may eventually find themselves).

In our day many are being “slain” by the slaughter weapon of Combinationism (Ezek. 9:1-7), which in some respects is the other extreme of Sectarianism – and is an expedient of Satan to hold together the present order. Big Babylon is now more guilty of this great sin than of Sectarianism, although they are still sectarian in spirit toward their sects combined. They inculcate the thought that one should be affiliated with some sect of their choice – in the “Combination” – any one of them is all right, just so they are a “member – of one of them, just “go to Church” on Sun­day. While sectarians contend for their sect right or wrong, true or false, the Combinationists embrace the position that “we are all heading for the same place – ­just on different roads.” This is clearly contradicted by Jesus: “narrow is the way that leadeth unto life” – not many ways, only the way (of Truth, for which we are to ‘contend’). Those who weary of the battle can do so only by forsaking their “narrow way.” The Lord’s true army is not composed of runners (away from the battle), even as the Captain of our Salvation never forsook the battle. “When the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51); and “He left us an example that we should follow in His steps.” “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

Brother Russell has this to say about Big Babylon in Parousia Vol. 3, pp. 181 and 182, and we believe this has a similar application to Little Babylon today: “And since they will hold the errors at a sacrifice of truth, the latter is made void, and often worse than meaningless. This sin of holding and teaching error at the sacrifice of truth is one of which every sect of the Church nominal is guilty, without exception. Where is the sect that will assist you in diligently searching the Scriptures, to grow thereby in grace and in the knowledge of the truth? Where is the sect which will not hinder your growth, both by its doctrines and its usages? Where is the sect in which you can obey Jesus’ words and let your light shine? We know of none.”

Little Babylon in many of its sects is both Sectarian and Combinationist, except, of course, the Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim, even as their prototype, Big Papacy, that their “channel” is the only way ‘unto life.’ They, too, are only too willing to allow the real Truth people to go their way if they won’t bother them: They, too, are put to flight by those who have the Truth against their errors, as all faithful Truth people have witnessed when they have had opportunity to refute their errors.

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A CORRECTION: – In our May 1960 No. 60, we set out a quotation near bottom of page 1, which was obtained from the Jan. 1920 Present Truth.

In our comments we stated “it would have been most appropriate had R. G. Jolly included” that in his March-April P.T. We are now reminded that he did use what we quoted; and we are sorry we offered even a mild criticism of him because of it. This was just an inadvertence on our part, not in the least intentional (to accuse him of anything at all of which he is not guilty), as we have tried scrup­ulously over the past five years to be painstakingly just in our remarks about him. Certainly, his many gross revolutionisms and sins of practice have afforded more than enough for our analysis, without resorting to guile, trickery or perversion respecting anything he has taught or done. We believe all will realize the truth of this even in our May No. 60, because we had there plenty of Truth against his self-evident errors without using the quotation we did. Therefore, we ask the kind indulgence of all in this instance, with the hope it may not happen again. We know, of course, that this is hoping for much too much, as we freely admit our human frailties and limitations, believing with St. Paul in our efforts thus far, that “I am what I am by the Grace of God!”

When we realize what R. G. Jolly is trying to do to the Lord’s people in his false doctrine of Epiphany Campers consecrated, we well know that we cannot overdo our criticism of his subtle errors and presentations of Brother Johnson’s unpub­lished literature if we are to be faithful to the fundamental teachings of the last Two Star Members regarding such false doctrines promulgated by uncleansed Great Company Leaders (who attempt to do so under the guise that they are built on the fundamental teachings of the Parousia and Epiphany doctrines). This may cause us to make technical mistakes at times in our zeal to enlighten, strengthen and pro­tect the Lord’s people.

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LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST

Dear Friends: –

My neighbor received an envelope containing 2 pamphlets of the Herald of the Epiphany, one What is the Soul and one Where are the Dead. I am enclosing $--. I would like to have about 20 or 30 copies to mail to acquaintances and friends, whom I believe would be as interested as I am in seeing light and learning the Truth, or True Gospel.

I have studied and still do all that I can to find out about Prophecy... and of the Lord’s soon return, and the true Gospel of “The Kingdom of God.”

If you will tell me the amount to send for this number of pamphlets I will mail you a check.  Thanking you in advance, I am sincerely --------- Kansas