NO. 740: THE LESSON OF EASTER

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 740

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” (Rev. 1:18)

We must not allow Easter Sunday to pass without noting its unique lesson – the resurrection of the Savior from the dead. The above text comes to us as fresh as though delivered yesterday from the lips of the risen Redeemer. It is His special message to His people. How much is conveyed in these few words! They affirm positively that Jesus really died, “the just for the unjust,” that He might bring mankind back from sin and condemnation to harmony with God. (1 Pet. 3:18) With equal force they tell us that He is dead no longer. Although unseen by our natural eyes, we may recognize by faith that He arose from the dead and ascended up on high. (Heb. 9:24)

What was accomplished by His death and what is the value of His life to mankind?

His death was necessary because death was the sentence against Adam and all his race because of original sin – disobedience. St. Paul says, “Where­fore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) It was not an angel that had sinned and hence an angel could not be the Redeemer. The Divine Law was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; hence nothing but the sacrificial death of a perfect man could redeem the race from the death sentence. Any perfect man could have been substituted, but none existed in the whole world. Thus it was necessary that our Lord be “made flesh” so that He might redeem us. (John 1:14) As the Scriptures explain, “Though he was rich, for your sakes he became poor.” (2 Cor. 8:9) He left the perfection of the heavenly nature and came down to perfect human nature; He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26)

The death of Jesus did not redeem the world, but it constituted a ransom price for the world yet to be applied. Our Savior laid down His life, surrendering it to the Father, in obedience to the Divine will. As a reward He was highly exalted and given a name above every name on the spirit plane. (Phil. 2:9) He did not forfeit His human rights by sin; He laid them down in obedience to the Father’s wish, to be disposed of as a bequest to humanity.

Thus we see clearly the inestimable value of our Redeemer’s sacrifice of Himself. A further glance will show His resurrection to be of equal importance. Had the Father not raised Him from the dead, it would have implied some unfaith­fulness, some failure on our Lord’s part. And if He had not arisen, how could He have made application of His human rights on our behalf? No wonder St. Paul forcefully declares: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . . ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished . . . But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:14-20)

So the resurrection hopes of the Church and of the world hang upon the death of Jesus and His resurrection. The Scriptures differentiate these hopes. The Church is to share in the “first resurrection” (the chief resurrection), also called “his resurrection.” (Rev. 20:6; Phil. 3:10) It is a resurrection to the spirit nature of glory and perfection. On that glorious plane the Heavenly Bridegroom will soon claim His espoused Church as His Bride and joint-heir in His Kingdom.

Afterward the world’s resurrection will be due to begin. It will not be a resurrection change to spirit nature, nor will it be an instantaneous work. Theirs will be a gradual resurrection to perfect human nature. First they will be awakened, “every man in his own order.” (1 Cor. 15:23) Subse­quently they will be gradually raised up out of sin and death conditions to perfection of life, if they are willing to obey the great King of the Millennial Kingdom. Those refusing to obey will be destroyed in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23)

Regrettably, many Christians, including many of the clergy, fail to discern the great importance of the resurrection as taught in God’s Word. This serious omission has created confusion, leading many to reject the Word of God. Let us heed the testimony of the Bible on the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. In doing so we will surely be following the example of the Great Teacher and the Apostles. Are we wiser than they that we should leave their teachings or neglect them? Certainly not! “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1)


DOES OUR LORD NOW OWN THE HUMAN RACE?

If someone has signed a contract to purchase a building and has secured financing for the purchase, it would be appropriate to consider that person the owner of the building. Strictly speaking, however, he is not the owner until he pays the price, the documents are properly executed, and he has the deed instead of the contract. A contract is an agreement to enter into a transaction; the deed is proof that the transaction has been completed.

Our Lord Jesus entered into a contract with the Father, giving to the Father the ransom price: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) He already has a claim to being Lord of all in a prospective sense, although not in the actual sense. He is not Lord of millions of people on earth today. Their knees have not bowed and their tongues have not confessed. (Rom. 14:11; Isa. 45:23) So He is not their Lord in the absolute sense, but His work is progressing, and in view of the authority which will yet be exercised by Him and of the work which He will yet do, the Father speaks of Him prophetically as “Lord of all.” (Acts 10:36)

Let us consider certain Scriptures bearing on this subject. We cite first the passage which refers to the dead, both good and bad, as “them which are asleep” and those who “sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14) How are they asleep in Jesus? They sleep in Jesus in exactly the same way that Abraham and all the Old Testament kings and Prophets are said to be asleep. At the time of their death Jesus had not yet paid a ransom price for mankind, nor had He yet come into the world to do so. However, in the Divine Plan God had arranged for and guaranteed that a Redeemer would be found, that a ransom price would be given, and that all mankind would be recovered from the tomb. Further, God Himself spoke from that standpoint when referring to Himself as “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” speaking as though they were really not dead at all, but merely asleep, waiting for Him. (Exod. 3:15)

All who believed God then could speak of and think of the dead as merely asleep and awaiting the resurrection, even though Jesus had not yet come. The same is true since Jesus came and died. It is still more reasonable and proper for us now to say that all “sleep in Jesus,” because now He is identified as the one who has given Himself a ransom price for all. The price has not yet been applied for all, but He has placed in the Father’s hands His sacrificed life, which is His to appropriate and which is sufficient for the sins of the whole world. It has not as yet been appropriated for the world, but merely for the Church, for the price is first a satisfaction for the Church’s sins and afterwards for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2; John 3:16)

THE CHURCH ALONE REDEEMED THUS FAR

Next consider this text: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:18-19) The “ye” referred to here is the Church; the reference does not extend beyond the Church to the world. It does not imply that the world is redeemed as yet. Jesus’ merit, of course, is all-sufficient for the whole world, but He has not yet appropriated it for all men.

Consider another text: “For ye are bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:20) Similarly this text speaks not of the world, but of the Church. It is the “ye” class that were bought, but even they were not yet bought when Jesus died at Calvary. There He indeed committed to the Father’s hands a price sufficient for all (Luke 23:46); but it was not then appropriated for anyone until His resurrection and ascension, when He appeared “in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9:24) The “us” class, the Church, were then bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Another text: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) In one sense He was a propitiation, or satisfaction, for the sins of the Church when He died, but the satisfaction had not then been applied for the sins of the Church. When He ascended up on high He appeared for the Church (the “us” class), and made satisfaction for its sins. Therefore, as they believed and made conse­cration, their sins were remitted.

When He died, the merit of His death was also a satisfaction price for the sins of the whole world, but He has not yet applied it for the world. Hence the world is not free from the penalty of sin; it is still under condemnation. Concerning the Church, however, the Apostle says they have “escaped the corruption that is in the world.” (2 Pet. 1:4) And again he says they were “in times past . . . by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph. 2:3) The others, we see, are still children of wrath. The reason? It is because the satisfaction for their sins has not yet been applied. The great Redeemer has the satisfaction price; it merely awaits the due time for its application.

Notice another passage: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” (Rom. 14:9) This text succinctly states what our Lord accomplished. His death, His raising and His revival were all necessary features of the redemptive work. Further, He could not yet be Lord in any other way than by the Father’s proclaiming Him such, as when He declared Him Lord of all and when He said, “And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Heb. 1:6)

Although Christ is proclaimed to be Lord of all, it will take time for that to be recognized. In harmony with this the Apostle says, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Eph. 1:10) It will take the fullness of the Millennial Age to accomplish this gathering together under Him, making Him in fact Lord of all. So we see that prophetically and by Divine appointment He already has that office, but now He is waiting until His enemies are brought under Him and all things are subjected to Him. (1 Cor. 15:25-27; Heb. 2:8)

A RANSOM FOR ALL

Next consider this text: “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) As the man Christ Jesus, He gave Himself at Jordan, surrendering His all to the Father’s will. His work of surrendering His earthly life and all His earthly rights was completed at Calvary when He cried, “It is finished.” He finished the work the Father had given Him to do. He gave Himself a ransom for all, and the merit of His death will be sufficient to constitute a ransom for all as soon as it is applied. Thus far it has been applied only for believers. The time for its application for the remainder of the world will be the Millennial Age.

While our Lord’s merit is fully appropriated during the Gospel Age for all who come unto Him, it will be fully set free when the last of the consecrated ones have passed beyond the vail. His merit has been imputed to them for the very purpose of enabling them to sacrifice, following in Christ’s footsteps. When His merit has been released by the death of the last of the consecrated, it will be again at His disposal for appropriation to the world.

Then the great High Priest will make the second sprinkling of the blood – not on behalf of the Church, because they will have no further need of it. The second sprinkling will be on behalf of “all the people” – all who will come under the New Covenant arrangement. (Lev. 16:33) Once all come to sufficient knowledge under that New Covenant, those who desire to come under the merit of our Lord’s ransom price will receive the Restitution blessings. Those who will reject the ransom price will fail to come under the merit, thus rejecting the blessings of Restitution.

Restitution blessings will come gradually throughout the Millennial Age, not instan­taneously at the beginning. The blessings will not come merely in a reckoned sense by faith; they will be actual. Throughout the Millennial Age, Christ will give mankind the benefit of our Lord’s ransom price. The full benefit of this price will not be given until the work of the Millennial Age is finished and all desiring to be God’s people, upon God’s terms, have been brought to perfection. God never intended His blessings to go to any but those who desire to be in harmony with Him on His terms. God never intended to do anything for those who are willingly and intentionally out of harmony with Him, such as Satan.

Note the agreement of this text: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) This is God’s great work which He purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world – that the ransoming of Adam and all his race should be accomplished through the death of Christ. (Eph. 1:9-10) Thus Jesus tasted death for every man, whether the benefit of it was received on the Day of Pentecost or later during the Gospel Age, or whether they will get it in the Millennial Age. It is for every man that He tasted death, so that He might give them the blessings that will come to the world of mankind during the Millennial Age, blessings that will be theirs to all eternity if they are obedient.

“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive.” (Eph. 4:8) We think another translation states it more clearly: “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives.” (Eph. 4:8, RSV) This passage (a quotation of Psa. 68:18) shows He is the leader of the entire captive race. They will all be led forth, all delivered from the power of sin and death.

THE APPLICATION OF THE PRICE

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. 5:6) This passage does not say that Christ made an application of His merit for the ungodly; it merely states that God arranged His plan so that it was necessary for Christ to die for the ungodly. He arranged it on behalf of all the ungodly, not merely the Jews and those who may desire to be in harmony with God. The merit of His death was intended by the Father to apply to every member of the human race, the ungodly race of Adam, all of them sinners and more or less depraved and degraded and out of harmony with God.

The object for which the price was given is one thing and the application of it is another. The purpose of Christ’s death was to redeem the world, to be the world’s ransom price, that He might be the restorer of all. But time and order are crucial to this plan; the work progresses step by step. The first step was for Christ Himself to secure eternal glory by being obedient unto death, thus securing an asset that He could then give away – His earthly life, which He had not forfeited.

The next step was for Him to ascend up on high and apply this price. He appeared as advocate for a special class, those from among men who desired to come into harmony with God, who desired to accept God’s favor and to become members of the Body of Christ under a special plan that God had arranged. When He appeared for these He imputed the merit of His sacrifice on their behalf, and thus all this merit was absorbed in this one work of justifying and assisting this special class. He did not do this by first giving them earthly restitution, but by simply imputing His merit to them.

This imputation of His merit has covered the Adamic sin of those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, turning from sin and consecrating themselves to God. It has made up for all deficiencies of their flesh, allowing them to present themselves “a living sacrifice, holy, accept­able unto God.” (Rom. 12:1) In other words, He became their guarantor. Not being sufficient of themselves, He has guaranteed for them that if they faithfully performed this laying down of their lives, His merit would continue to be applied for all their imperfections. These are the Royal Priests, represented in one picture as His Bride and in another as members of His Body. These are “more than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:37) They are the “called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

However, not all of those called have made their “calling and election sure.” (2 Pet. 1:10) There have been those (probably few) who “fall away,” who “draw back unto perdition,” sinning willfully against full light and dying the Second Death. (Heb. 6:4-6; Heb. 10:39) For them there is nothing reserved but everlasting destruction. They are perished as brute beasts. (2 Pet. 2:12)

There is also a large secondary class, a “Great Company,” who have not voluntarily, heartily and cheerfully laid down their lives in the desire to please the Father and do His will. These, nevertheless, are loyal at heart but are restrained from full sacrifice “through fear of death,” through fear of what it will cost them. (Heb. 2:15) They could only be saved “so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:15) “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-14) They take a lower place than that to which they were called.

These three classes having finished their course, all the merit that Christ imputed will again be available and will be applied in the sealing of the New Covenant. The New Covenant will be made with Israel, but it will be broad enough to include all those of every nation of the earth who are willing to come under its terms. Through faith and obedience, they will become the children of Abraham.

THE PURCHASED POSSESSION REDEEMED

Now consider this text: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit granted to the Church is the earnest or foretaste of their inheritance. They are to “inherit all things.” (Rev. 21:7) First of all they inherit the Divine nature, and secondly they inherit the great Abrahamic promise that through them, in union with our Lord Jesus as members of His Body, all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 22:18; Gen. 28:14; Gal. 3:29) They are spoken of as the Lord’s purchased possession and this part of His possession will be complete when they are changed to receive His glory. They will then be perfect and under His direct control.

After this, another part of this same promise (another feature of the same possession) will become operative. The precious blood will then be applied to seal the New Covenant on behalf of the sins of all the people. The work of recovering the still larger possession will progress until the close of the Millennial Age, when the entire possession will be redeemed. Christ will have put down all enemies and accomplished His mission of restoring mankind to perfection. He will then deliver up His completed work to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24)

Also consider this passage: “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. 5:15) Here the Apostle evidently does not mean that the full abundance of grace had at that time reached the many, because that would be untrue. It is now nearly 2,000 years since the Apostle’s day, and the abundance of grace has not yet reached the majority of mankind. So we must understand him to mean that the abundance of grace in Christ according to the Father’s plan and purpose is yet to reach the many. The world is yet in its sins; Israel is yet in its sins and will not be recovered until after the glorification of the Church, as the Apostle points out: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:26-27)

Since this grace has not yet gone to the Jews nor to the Gentiles in general, the only way in which it has abounded is through the promise of God that the death of Christ will yet be made efficacious for all. Therefore, speaking from this prophetic standpoint, it is plain to be seen how Jesus is the Savior of the world, although the work of saving the Church will not be complete until the end of the Gospel Age. Similarly, He will not be the Savior of the world in the full sense until the end of the Millennial Age. Some will never be fully saved because they will refuse the grace of God; and yet He is, according to the Scriptures, the Savior of all men – the Savior of the world.

The Scriptures declare that He was the Savior of the world when He was born. The message of the angels was, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) He was then a Savior in the prospective sense – not because of what He was then, as a babe, and not merely because of what He has since accomplished through His sacrifice, but because of all that He will accomplish according to God’s promise by the time He delivers up the Kingdom to the Father. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25)

He now saves in a partial sense, by hope, those who come unto the Father through Him. The saving of the world will begin when He awakens them from death; but they will not be fully saved, will not attain full Restitution nor gain eternal life, except as they exercise faith and obedience. He opens the door; He makes the way; He provides all the arrangements by which they may know and obey.

The whole earth is a part of the purchased possession and shall be filled with the glory of God. And if any knee will then refuse to bow and any tongue refuse to confess and any fail to accept of the favor of God, there will be nothing further for that person; he will die the Second Death. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23)

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This paper is based on writings of Pastor Russell, primarily Reprints 4587 and 4632.


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QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST

Question: Are the Youthful Worthies of the Household of Faith?

Answer: We use the expression, the Household of Faith, from a variety of standpoints: . . . [1] In the Old Testament times all believers in the promises were of the Household of Faith. (Heb. 11:1-39) [2] All Gospel-Age believers in Jesus are of the Household of Faith . . . (Rom. 4:11-12) This was typed by all children – the afterborn as well as the firstborn – in each family in Israel partaking of the Paschal Lamb in Egypt. (Exod. 12:3-17, 21-28) [3] All new creatures, as a finished work, in the end of the Gospel Age, especially during the Epiphany, are the Household of Faith. (Heb. 9:24; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; Mal. 3:2-3; 1 Cor. 3:11-15) Aaron and his house on the Atonement day typed this Household of Faith. (Lev. 16:6,11) [4] The Little Flock, the Ancient Worthies, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies will be the Millennial Household of Faith. (2 Tim. 2:20) The Priests and Levites dwelling about the Tabernacle type this Household of Faith. (Num. 1; Num. 3:4) The Youthful Worthies, of course, are not of the New Creature Household of Faith, because they are not new creatures. But from the standpoint of having “the faith of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7,9) they are, of course, like him, of the Household of Faith. They are among the believers referred to under [2] . . . The reason why they are of the Household of Faith is that they are a faith class; for all that are of the faith of Abraham are of the Household of Faith. [See also R5358, page 358]

Question: If they are of the Household of Faith, what is their position with regard to the blood of the antitypical Bullock?

Answer: We understand that the blood of the antitypical Bullock is actually imputed on behalf of that Household of Faith only which consists of new creatures, those referred to under No. [3] . . . “He hath now appeared in the presence of God [in the antitypical Most Holy, with the antitypical Bullock’s blood] for us” (Heb. 9:24); hence for the firstborn only. “By one offering [imputation of His merit] He hath perfected [justified reckonedly] forever them that are sanctified” [the consecrated who become new creatures]. (Heb. 10:14) These are the antitypes of those for whom Aaron made atonement with the bullock’s blood. The Youthful Worthies are not among these, for their justification is not vitalized. While because of their faith God tentatively treats them as though the merit of the antitypical Bullock had been imputed on their behalf, actually there has been no such imputation made for them; actually they are not yet released from the Adamic sentence; and actually, with the Ancient Worthies and the Restitution class in general, they must wait for the application of the Lord’s merit on their behalf in connection with the blood of the Lord’s antitypical Goat; for they are counted in among the Ancient Worthies, of whom it is written, “That they without us [apart from the application of the Lord’s merit in the blood of the Lord’s antitypical Goat, and The Christ bringing them back from the tomb] should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:40 )

(Brother Paul Johnson, E-4, pages 405-406)


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