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VOL. II. PITTSBURGH, PA., OCTOBER, 1880. NO. 4.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
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"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
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THE NARROW WAY TO LIFE.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate, because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat." Matt. 7:14.
All life is the same. It all issues from the same fountain. God is that fountain. In him, and in him only, is life unlimited, exhaustless, ever-continuous and uncontrolled by any circumstances. The name which describes this perfection of life is Immortal. It signifies death-proof, consequently disease and pain-proof. Many, who have not closely noted the scriptural use of the word immortal, have used it with reference to man and to angels, but scripture ascribes it to God, the Father, only, as we will prove shortly.
The sun is the great fountain of light to earth, illuminating all things, yet it causes many varieties of color and shades of light, according to the nature of the object upon which it shines. The same sunlight shining upon a diamond, a brick, and upon various colored glasses, produces strikingly different effects. The light is the same, but the objects upon which it shines differ in their capacity to receive and transmit it. So, too, with life. It all flows from the one inexhaustible fountain, and it is all of the same kind. The oyster has life, but its organism is such that it cannot make use of much life, just as the brick cannot reflect much of the light of the sun. So with each of the higher grades of life in beast, fish and fowl. Like the various colored glasses under the sunlight, so these various creatures show forth differently the various qualities and powers they possess when life comes in and animates their bodily powers. And as the diamond is so perfect in its nature, and so adapted that it can receive fully and reflect so as to look as though it possessed within itself the light, and were itself a miniature sun, so with mankind, one of the master-pieces of God's creation, made only "a little lower than the angels." This perfect creature was made so complete in his organism (before sin marred it) as to be able to receive and retain life, and never grow dim.
Adam was formed grandly and perfectly, and filled with life. He was more grand than any other earthly creature, because of the grander organism, mental and physical. Yet let us remember that as the diamond could reflect no light except when shone upon by the sun, so man could possess and enjoy the life given him only so long as he was supplied from the fountain--God. Man is no more a fount of life than a diamond is a fount of light, and one of the very strongest reasons for knowing that we have no exhaustless supply of life in ourselves is that, since sin entered our race, it has lost life. Millions have gone and are going down into death. God had arranged that man should have access to life giving trees, and that, by continually partaking of their fruit, he should continually live,--"eat, and live forever." In this respect, also, he was like the diamond, for it must have the light supplied every moment. Sin entering, our race lost its right to life, and was shut away from the trees of life [plural], and so "in Adam, all die." But God has provided Christ a ransom for sin, and soon in, or by Christ, shall all be made alive, or be brought back to the original perfection of the race. As the diamond loses its beauty and brilliancy when the light is withdrawn, but is lighted up again with the sunrise, so mankind loses life when God withdraws life from him. "Yea, man giveth up the ghost [life], and where is he?" Job 14:10. "His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not, and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. Vs. 21. "For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." Eccl. 9:10. Because of the sin-offering and sacrifice of Christ, all shall go forth from this condition of death. "All that are in their graves shall come forth." There shall be a restitution of all things, a restoring to the condition [as at first] in which man can receive back again, and richly enjoy life as it is provided for him in full measure from the fountain--God.
But we asserted that we would prove scripturally that Divinity is the only fountain of life, and that all other forms of life--angels, men, fish, birds, beasts, etc.--are only vessels which hold, each its full, all differing in capacity and quality, according to the will of the Maker. First, then, we read that God "only hath immortality." [The fullness of life which could not cease under any circumstances.] 1 Tim. 6:16, and 1:17. Secondly, the Son, "the first-born of every creature," "the only begotten," "the express image of His [the Father's] person," he who was "in the form of God," and was "made so much better than the angels;" "for unto which of the angels said he [the Father]: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Heb. 1:4,5. This one, we are told, partakes of the Father's nature, and consequently of the same principle of immortal life. So we read--"As the Father hath life in himself [God's life is in himself, and not drawn from other sources, or dependent upon other things], so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." Thus, we see that immortality is possessed only by Father and Son. But amazing news! God purposed to call out of the human race a few, "a little flock," who, by obedience to certain conditions, shall become "sons of God," and these, instead of remaining men and continuing of the human nature, shall become "new creatures," "partakers of the Divine nature," receiving a Divine form (body) being made "like unto Christ's glorious body;" not a natural body, but a spiritual body, for "it is raised a spiritual body, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." "We shall be changed but "it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like Him" who is "the express image of the Father's person" and share in the "glory to be revealed." Nay more, not only will they be in the Divine form and nature, but being of that nature, they will possess the same kind of life--immortal life. Hence we read: "And this is the record that God hath given unto us [believers] eternal life and this life is in His Son"--"He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life." 1 Jno. 5:11.
Again it is written: "Thou hast given Him (Jesus) power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou (the Father) hast given him" (Jno. 17:2.) "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48.) "God hath called us unto eternal glory"-- "And this is the promise which he hath promised us even eternal life." (1 Jno. 2:25.) And though it is promised as a gift, yet it is only to a certain class that he ever agreed to give it, viz: to those believers in Jesus "who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor and IMMORTALITY." Rom. 2:7. To those who flee from iniquity and "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness --who "fight the good fight of faith (and thus) lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called." 1 Tim. 6:12.
But the way is a difficult one, hard to walk in "because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it (life)." Just how difficult the way is may be judged from Jesus' words: It is not only to believe on him, but to follow him, and obey his voice--"My sheep hear (obey) my voice and I know them and they follow me, ('take up their cross and follow me') and I give unto them eternal life." Jno. 10:27. Yes dearly beloved, if we would be of those who would receive immortality, let us seek it earnestly. Let us have our "fruit unto holiness (entire consecration) and the end thereof [will be] everlasting life." Rom. 6:22.
The new, Divine nature begins with us here, when we believe on Jesus as the ransom from sin, and covenant with God that we will "die with Him that we may also live with Him"--[conversion]. From that moment we are recognized as God's children and "he sends forth His Spirit into our hearts," "whereby [we] are sealed [marked off as separate from the world] unto the day of redemption." This is our new life begun. By this new life we are to crucify the old will--our will as natural men--and while in the world to "live according to God in the Spirit." The Spirit in us is the germ of immortality. Thus we even now are partakers of the Divine nature but the fullness is to be reached when we enter into life. We are now begotten of the Spirit by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits, but we do not reach birth until we are raised [from the dead] spiritual bodies. Our new nature lives in these mortal bodies as in a house--"But we know that if our earthly house of this [building] were destroyed we have a building of God, &c.--our spiritual, immortal body.
But beloved, the new life would be easily choked and Paul assures us that when thus begotten of the truth, "if [we] live after the flesh [we] shall die [lose our life principle] but if [we] through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body [human nature] we shall live;" for the sons of God are all those led by the Spirit of God. Rom. 8:13-14. The work of crucifying must take hold upon all our actions--"For he [begotten of the [R142 : page 2] Spirit] that soweth to the flesh [lives in willful sin] shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." Gal. 6:8. It is a rugged, steep, narrow way that leads to life, and were it not that strength is furnished us for each successive [R143 : page 2] step of the journey, we never could reach the goal; but His word encourages us--"Be of good cheer I have overcome;" "my grace is sufficient for thee." The whole world is in the broad road and going down to destruction --death. Jesus opened the narrow way bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel; i.e. he made it possible for us to reach it by paying our ransom on the cross and making us free from sin and becoming also our example and leader into the Divine life.
The balance of our race now thronging the broad road to death, are to be restored because their guilt and sin are atoned for and will be permitted. As through the disobedience of one man all were placed upon the broad road and swallowed up of death, so through the obedience of one [Christ] all will be forgiven and brought back to life. But when brought back to "their former estate"--the perfection of the original --they will not have life in the same sense that the Divine family will have it.
The restored race will no doubt live eternally. God will supply the means of continuing their life as long as they are obedient and that we are told will be forever. Doubtless their present experiences with sin will prove a blessing throughout eternity. The words incorruptible, incorruption, immortal and immortality are translations of the Greek words athanasia, aphtharsia and aphthartos which occur in all only 18 times and are always used in connection with God or the saints, and are never associated in any way with angels, mankind or lower orders of creation. With a glimpse of this "crown of life" and the honor and glory associated with it, who will say that our all-wise Father has made the pathway too difficult. Its difficulties will act as a separating principle to separate and refine a "peculiar people," "a little flock" to be "heirs of the kingdom," "heirs of glory," heirs of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ our Lord--if so be that we suffer [death] with him.
As we toil upward on the narrow way, Angels look on amazed at the grandeur of the plan which is able not only to rescue a fallen race from death but to display "the exceeding riches of God's grace and loving kindness toward us who are in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:7. And it will yet be more clearly seen in the ages to come. Yes, when the plan was first foretold through the Prophets, Angels desired to look into it and to know concerning the time, and manner of time of their fulfillment, (See 1 Pet. 1:12.) and an "innumerable company of Angels" still watch our progress and gladly become "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation" [Heb. 1:14,] and soon be their rulers: For, "know ye not that ye shall judge [govern] Angels?" [1 Cor. 6:3.] The Father, too, who has called us with so high a calling looks upon us with loving sympathy and desires that we make our calling and election sure by complying with the conditions. And there is another who watches us with intense interest; it is He who redeemed us from death by his own precious blood and invited us to become his Bride and joint heir. If he loved us with such love while we were yet sinners, judge of his love now that we are his betrothed. He knows all about the narrow way--was tempted in all points as we are, without yielding, and now he stands ready to succor and strengthen us as we need and ask his help.
In view of all these things, let us brethren and sisters, "come boldly to the throne of heavenly grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need," while we fight the good fight of faith [warfare of new and old nature] and lay hold on eternal life.
This word occurs five times, and is found only in John's epistles. Anti signifies against; hence, anti-Christ means against Christ. It will readily be seen, then, that the term will apply to anything or any person opposing Christ. Peter was anti-Christ when he endeavored to dissuade Jesus from dying on the cross, and Jesus so indicated, when, turning to him, He said: "Get thee behind me, Satan" (adversary). He was Jesus' enemy, because he sought to prevent His doing the Father's will. Paul, also, was at one time anti-Christ, when persecuting the body of Christ (the church), as Jesus said to him when stricken down on the road to Damascus: "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest (oppose, injure). All who, like Paul, persecute the church, or, like Peter, attempt to dissuade from duty and sacrifice, and put hindrances in the way to prevent the body from taking up the cross and following the head (Jesus)--all such are evidently anti-Christ. The adversaries of the body of Christ are more especially the latter, who, claiming to belong to the same family, cast a stumbling-block before the weak ones.
In this sense Anti-Christs have been numerous since the days of Jesus, and we are assured that the closing of the gospel age will be a time above all others in which the principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ will be antagonized and opposed by many Anti-Christs (opposition from many sources).
We should recognize a difference between false Christs (pseudo-kristos) and anti-Christs (anti-kristos). Jesus tells us (Matt. 24:24) that in the end of the age there shall arise many false prophets [teachers of error] and false christs. As all true believers in Jesus, obedient to their head, constitute the body of the true Christ [anointed], so, the various churches which recognize the authority of another head than Jesus constitute the body of a false Christ. Thus, the Roman church recognizes the Pope [papa; father] as the head of that church. The church of England recognizes its Government as its head, protector and "defender of the faith;" so, also, do the churches of Germany and Russia. These are false Christs, and the basis upon which they were established was false teachings of false prophets [teachers]. Of these, Papacy is especially noted as the chief in scripture, and is sometimes spoken of as "The Man of Sin," who ensnared and seduced so many of Jesus' virgin church with the delusion that the kingdoms of this world had become the kingdom of God, and that the time to suffer with Christ was over, and the time to reign begun. Thus was the church corrupted by the "Man of Sin," and so became the "harlot" and the "mother of harlots." [Rev. 17.] Many are her offspring. [See Z.W.T., vol. 1, Nos. 6 and 7].
But we must draw the line more closely, and suggest that every company of religious people who recognize as a head and authority any man or set of men, is in that proportion, false to the real head.
We know that the various Christian sects claim to recognize Jesus as their head and director, but by their works they deny it; for let an occasion arise for a church trial, and the condemned will be tried, not by the teachings and words of Jesus, but by the "Standards of the Presbyterian Church," or by the "Authorities of the Methodist Church," or otherwise according to the denomination in which it occurs. Thus they acknowledge other heads and authorities than Christ.
Again, as there is only one true Head, so there is only one true body of Christ. Jesus is the true head, and every follower and disciple united to that head by living faith is reckoned a member of the body, having his "name written in heaven." Whence, then, are these numerous so-called churches, or bodies of Christ, and their various heads? They are the offspring of error; false systems; false Christs; and give a confused idea to the world, who might well inquire, with Paul: "Is Christ divided?" No, but there are many false Christs, and we are glad to know that those Christians in various churches who most honor Jesus as the only Head, are earnestly inquiring whether the reason Christians are unable to have "one Lord (ruler), one faith, one baptism," is not, in great measure, due to their each "teaching for doctrines the [creeds or] commandments of men."
And among these we must, to some extent, class many religious denominations who worship the tenets and laws of their church--their body, over which they have appointed a head, or controlling power. Let us lay aside every such yoke of bondage, and be most fully Christ's freemen, receiving assistance in our pathway to the divine likeness from whomsoever and whatever we can, but never looking to any man or men as our leader, nor depending on any but "The Great Shepherd of the Sheep" and "Captain of our Salvation."
Now these false Christs (churches) are to a certain extent Anti-Christs. Also, in proportion as their teachings and systems are untrue, they are upholding error, and consequently are opposed to Christ and the truth. It is for this reason that "The Man of Sin" (Papacy) is said to oppose all that is called God. Attempting to gain the homage of mankind to itself as the head of all, it of course, in that proportion, antagonizes and opposes the true head of the true church.
But are these the only Anti-Christs, the only ones opposing Christ? By no means. The world is still opposed to the Christ of God, both head and body because it knoweth Him not. Infidels in common with Jews deny the man Christ Jesus--deny that Jesus is come in the flesh. In the early days of the church before false christs and false systems had come in, it was more easy to define a christian than now. So we read: (2 John 7.) "many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ. It has been suggested to us that the word rendered is come in this text, might be rendered is coming and thus be made to apply to the second coming of Jesus. We have examined carefully the word he translated, is come. It comes from the Greek--erkomai and is generally [R144 : page 2] used to indicate presence as of one who has come. It is translated coming only 26 times, and in many of these it, in our judgment could have been better translated otherwise: for instance (Matt. 25:27.) "at my coming, I should have received my own with usury." Evidently a master would not expect a settlement until he had come, not while on the journey coming. We should therefore translate--"on my arrival." The same word--erkomai --while rendered 26 times, coming, is rendered came 182 times, and this usual translation agrees with its use in the scripture under consideration --"who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; this is Anti-Christ.
We know that it could not mean that Jesus is coming in the flesh. This he did once when he came as a sin-offering in a flesh body prepared for the purpose--"A body hast thou prepared me, etc." But he comes not again to death and consequently would have no use for a body of flesh: "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet, now henceforth know we Him (so) no more." The same apostle continues the same subject saying: (1 John 4:3.) "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come (erkomai--came) in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of Anti-Christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come." Here again John is not discussing the second coming of Jesus but is endeavoring to prove his having come once. (See verses 14 and 15.) This was the only thing necessary to combat in that day. People believed that Jesus had lived, but denied his being--the Christ, the sent of God, as the same class of anti-christs do to-day who deny that "Jesus is the Son of God."
The same thought is expressed again (1 John 2:18.) "Ye have heard that Anti-Christ shall come; even now there are many anti-christs. Now he proceeds to describe as before whom he meant by Anti-Christ, using the same argument as before, vs. 22. "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the ANOINTED? This is the anti-christ--he who denies the Father and Son; no one who denies the son has the Father." (Diaglott).
Thus we have seen from various standpoints what constitutes Anti-Christ. Those against which we most guard are the power and influence of the various false heads and so called bodies of Christ, seeing to it that we recognize but one fold and one shepherd and that we heed not the voice of strangers but flee from them. And let us take heed lest we become adversaries of our Lord and Master as beloved brother Peter once did and thereby deserve the reproof--"Get thee behind me Satan." Let us not hinder by word or act any who are seeking to crucify the flesh--the human nature-- and to thus abide as members of the body of Christ, branches in the vine, else we shall to that extent be opposed to Christ or anti-christ.
MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD.Yes! a brighter morn is breaking,
Better days are coming on;
All the world will be awaking
In the new and golden dawn.
In the day of coming glory,
Men will show fraternal hand;
Each will tell to each the story,
Till it spreads to every land.
On the top of Zion's mountain,
God prepares His house again;
At its threshold springs a fountain,
Flowing for the souls of men.
From the earth's remotest stations,
Men will come to hear the word;
And, in all the world, the nations
Shall be nations of the Lord.
Why did Christ Come in the Flesh?
There can be no doubt that all that Christ has done or will do are proofs of Divine Love towards our fallen humanity. It is safe to assume that man's necessities are all taken into account in the gospel. More than man needs would not be gospel; less than he needs would be an imperfect provision; neither is possible to an Infinite Provider.
That Christ as an intelligent person had a glorious existence with the Father before the creation of the world seems clearly the teaching of the Bible. Proofs of His preexistence have been given. In this article we regard it as proved. From this stand-point we proceed.
When He left the glory He had with the Father, He did not die. The glory of that life and the life itself should not be confounded. There are some who regard Christ, while on Earth, as a mere man with a fallen nature. Others regard Him, during the same period, as a mere man with an unfallen or perfect human nature. Of the two we believe the latter view is nearer the truth. But we believe the Bible teaches that He was more than human.
That He was a mere man, whether with a fallen or a perfect nature, seems inconsistent with the idea of His preexistence; and yet both the classes referred to above believe in His preexistence. If He was Divine, and ceased to be Divine when He came in the flesh, where is the security that we will not lose our Divinity when we are made like Him?
It seems clear that His Divinity was retained in humanity because He repeatedly spoke of Himself as having come down from heaven, and because He, though passing through trial and sorrow as a man, was yet possessed of the authority and exercised the prerogatives of a God. He was the object of unreproved worship even when a babe, by the wise men who came to see the new-born King. Matt. 2:2-11. Even the angels delighted to do Him honor. "When He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, "And let all the angels of God worship Him." Heb. 1:6.
He never reproved any one for acts of worship offered to Himself, but when Cornelius offered such service to Peter--the leading apostle-- "he took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man." Acts 10:26. The great apostle of the Gentiles scarcely restrained the idolatry of the people in sacrifice offered to himself and his fellows, giving as a reason why it should not be done: "We also are men, of like passions with yourselves." Acts 14:15. Had Christ not been more than man the same reason should have prevented Him from receiving worship. This is emphasized by the fact that even a heavenly being sent to John on the isle of Patmos would not permit that mortal man to worship him, "See thou do it not, I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God." Rev. 19:10.
Christ spoke "as one having authority, and not as the Scribes." Matt. 7:29. The Fountain of truth was in Himself. The Creator could regulate and heal both moral and physical difficulties; so he forgave sins, and healed all manner of diseases. That He could do the latter He urged as proof that He had power to do the former. Matt. 9:6. Had he been only a man, strange indeed would have been the fact "That even the winds and the sea obey Him."
But the object of the present writing is not so much to give evidence of the blending of the Divine and human natures in Christ, as to present some thoughts as to the importance of such a combination. That such a union was a necessity, we regard, however, as the best evidence of its reality. This subject of the Incarnation and double nature of Christ, has received our attention to a greater or less extent, for quite a number of years, as is well known by many of our readers. It cannot then truly be said that we are taking such ground for the purpose of opposing positions that are of later date. We freely confess that the subject appears more important now than ever before, and as the Scriptures are examined more and more, it seems necessary to modify even our own former ideas on this and kindred subjects. No fallible man should "drive his stakes so deep as not to be able to pull them up when necessary."
In harmony with the idea of the two natures in Christ, as we now see it, is the fact that Christ was both Priest and Sacrifice, and so offered Himself--"gave Himself a ransom for all." 1 Tim. 2:6. This fact of the New Testament, is clearly illustrated, by the high priest under the law offering the beast--a lower nature --as a sacrifice for sin. The high priest, without a beast to offer, would have been an imperfect type of Christ. Paul reasons that as the high priest was ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, it is necessary that Christ should also have something to offer. Heb. 8:3. And in the tenth chapter he tells us what Christ took for the purpose of making an offering, or sacrifice. The sacrifices and offerings which were offered according to the law being types only, were insufficient, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Ver. 4. Instead of these beasts which the typical high priests offered, our High Priest had a body prepared for Him, and this body He offered. See verses 5 and 10.
This body He took, or assumed, so that it became a part of Himself. [R145 : page 3] This change in His condition is what the apostle had in mind when he said of Christ: "Who being in the form of God...took upon Him the form of a servant, and [so] was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:6-8. It will be observed that the death was the last act of his humiliation and not the first.
It is necessary to discriminate between Him and the body which He assumed. If as seems clearly taught, the body was the sin offering, or that which He as our High Priest sacrificed, then surely the sacrifice did not consist in taking the body. He took the body to sacrifice it, and His death closed that work. The body clearly refers to the humanity of Christ, and it was sacrificed by its life being taken away.
We fully believe the purpose of Christ taking our nature, or coming in the flesh was manifold, and we will consider different phases of the subject and their relation to one another.
The first we notice is that of a Ransom. This means to recover by paying an equivalent, or to buy back what was lost. He tasted death for every man. Heb. 2:9. "He gave His life a ransom for [the] many"-- "a ransom for all." Matt. 20:28 and 1 Tim. 2:6. "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood He also Himself likewise took part of the same"--[For what purpose?] --that through death He might destroy him that had the power [keys] of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb. 2:14-15.
The above is an important passage because it distinctly states that Christ took our nature for the purpose of delivering from death those under its power, by destroying that power. That it refers to natural death is clear because that is what flesh and blood are subject to. Had it been some other kind of death, it would not have been necessary to assume flesh and blood in order to suffer it, and so taste death for every man. This question involves the whole subject of our loss in Adam and gain in Christ, so far as pertains to all men regardless of their responsibility. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22. As all men were counted sinners and condemned to death on account of Adam, even so, in the same sense, and to the same extent, all men are counted righteous and justified to life on account of Christ. Rom. 5:12,18,19. It is not possible for us to limit one side of this statement, only by the other side-- and both are unlimited. Here is stated the "sin of the world, (Adam's sin was the world's sin because he was the world--the race of natural men being in him)--and Christ is the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." This is the atonement for what men sometimes call "original sin," and all its results.
Adam was a perfect natural man, and God dealt with him accordingly. He gave him a law adapted to that life, and gave him, until after he sinned, access to a tree that could preserve that life. The curse or penalty of his sin was "Dying thou shalt die," (Gen. 2:17, margin) and all that was necessary, in order to the execution of that penalty, was to shut him away from the life-preserving tree. This was done, and the consequence is that the whole race of mankind are either dead or doomed to death, and passing down.
Now if to ransom means to buy back by paying an equivalent (and we think no unprejudiced English reader will deny it) then Christ must of necessity assume a perfect humanity and lay down that life as a voluntary sacrifice. If it be asked, how could Christ be tempted if he had a perfect humanity? We answer by asking how could Adam be tempted if he had a perfect humanity? A fallen humanity is not the result of temptation but the result of sin, and a perfect nature could not have fallen if such a nature could not have been tempted. All that we claim on this point is that Christ as a ransom was as perfect as what Adam lost.
It does not appear from the record that Adam was created perfect in the sense of being strong and incorruptible. The opposite of this is true, for he sinned at the very first temptation, and corruption was the result. That which is incorruptible cannot be corrupted. Jesus, when speaking of those who have passed from corruption to incorruption, says of them "Neither can they die any more." Luke 20:36.
But if Adam sinned so easily, thus proving his weakness, why, if Christ was only as perfect as Adam, did not He sin? We answer: It seems clear to us that if Christ was only a fallen man He would have been as sure to sin as all other fallen men; and if Christ had been only a perfect man He could have sinned as well as Adam. We believe that the reason He did not sin, was not because of the innate strength of His humanity, but because of the all-sustaining indwelling Divinity.
Then why does He deserve credit? We answer, no credit is due to the humanity, or to the flesh, in the work of saving man. It is all of God, and the strength of all overcomers, whether it was Jesus or any of His followers, is due to the indwelling Divine Spirit. This brings us to consider another necessary use of the double nature of Christ.
The coming of the Divine One; into the flesh was necessary in order to ingraft, so to speak, Divinity into humanity. Some see one of these reasons and not the other. Like the two natures they are blended but not to be confounded.
Christ as a Redeemer, paid the ransom, but the object for which men are redeemed is that they may be regenerated. And Christ is not only a Redeemer but also a Second Adam--i.e. the head of a new and spiritual race.
First the natural and afterward the spiritual, is applicable to the relation between the two Adams, as well as to other features of the plan. Because the type was an earth man, does not set aside the truth that the antitype is a spiritual man--"the Lord from heaven." 1 Cor. 15:47.
All that a ransom secures is a recovery of what was lost--natural life--hence the ransom is the basis of restitution; and therefore if men ever receive more than they lost, it will be because Divinity is ingrafted into their restored humanity. It is God's plan for the race in general to save them by resurrection from the Adamic curse first, and afterward bring them to the knowledge of the truth, thus placing within their reach all that obedience to the truth can secure them; but He deals with us--Christians--as exceptions to the rule. As we are counted dead in Adam before we die, so we are counted alive in Christ beforehand, and brought to the knowledge of the truth. Being begotten by the Spirit, by the word of truth, through the exceeding great and precious promises, we become partakers of the Divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4. This is [R145 : page 4] called Christ, in us the hope of glory.
The Christian, like his Lord when He was in the flesh, has two natures, and this gives us the basis of the warfare between the Old Man and the New Man; between the flesh and the Spirit. On account of this fact, Christ is our Head--our example in suffering, in patience and in loyalty. He is also our Leader, our Commander and Forerunner. We follow Him not only as a pattern of life, but also in the order of development from the natural to the spiritual.
He is also our Leader in sacrifice, for the flesh nature must be destroyed. As He was both Priest and Sacrifice, so are we. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Rom. 8:13. Nothing seems more clearly taught in the New Testament than that the possession of, and being controlled by the Divine Spirit, is the only means of success in keeping the body under, and of bringing the members under obedience to our Lord.
The necessary condition of the higher life is the death of the lower one, by the crucifixion of its evil affections and desires. Thus it is we are to have fellowship with His sufferings and be made conformable to His death. Phil. 3:10. "For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Rom. 6:10,11.
This death and resurrection is that which is represented by baptism; that is, the real baptism involves the death to sin and mortality, and the resurrection to holiness and immortality, and water baptism is the appropriate symbol. Water baptism is not on that account less important, but rather more so, because of its depth of meaning. But if any see no further than the form or symbol, their faith will not lay hold on the reality, as expressed by the apostle: "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death. Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father [Divinity], even so we also should walk in newness of life." Rom. 6:3,4.
The Divine Spirit, or new nature, imparted to us, is the priest by which our bodies are to be made a living sacrifice. The object of this sacrifice is that sin should not reign in our mortal bodies, but that these same members of these mortal bodies should yield themselves "as instruments of righteousness unto God." Should there be in any mind a doubt of the correctness of this application, let him carefully read the whole sixth chapter of Romans.
Precisely the same thought in regard to killing and making alive these bodies of ours, by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, is expressed by the apostle in the eighth chapter. "But ye are not in the flesh [the old nature], but in the Spirit [new nature], if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not this Spirit of Christ he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead [put to death by the Spirit] because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [But the body is not to remain dead; only its old sinful nature or life was to be [R146 : page 4] destroyed]. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwelleth in you." Rom. 8:9-11. It is the Spirit that mortifies or puts to death the deeds of the body, and the same Spirit that gives the new life.
Whoever will read the sixth, seventh and eighth chapters of Romans may see that the apostle is seeking to teach them and us a great lesson for this life, of death to sin and resurrection to holiness, and that the work can only be accomplished by the Spirit in-dwelling, and overcoming the old nature which dwells in these members. Was not this then the great practical object of the Incarnation, to ingraft the Divine Spirit into humanity and thus save humanity?
The same principle of death and life holds good throughout the plan, whether in symbol or reality. All may see that the old nature or corrupt life is not to be restored to those who have the Spirit of Christ in them. The life it imparts is a new and spiritual life. The body is to be raised, but by "a process of Divine Chemistry which we may not fully understand" will be changed "according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." Phil. 3:21.
One more reason for the double nature of Christ we would notice is this: That He might both be able to sympathize with and help us. "For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Heb. 2:18. "Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched by a feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are and yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:14-16.
Two persons in the same weak and helpless condition might sympathize with each other, and yet perish together; but one standing on a rock can help the other out. Mere humanity, fallen or unfallen, is unable to rise into spiritual life. In Christ, both natures being combined, we have the sympathy which experience gave Him and also the power to help. He first lifted His own humanity ("Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up," and "He spake of the temple of His body." This is true of His own person and also of His body, the church), and from the standpoint of His perfect spiritual life He beckons us, and there He will meet us. What He is, we may well expect to be. "I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness.
J. H. P.
THE TWO NATURES.
Jesus' "being in the form of God," implies Divine powers, etc.; this on our account he left, taking "not the nature of angels," (which would have implied angelic powers and qualities) but he took the nature of men, which implies the qualities and powers of man, (before man sinned). He undoubtedly knew of His own pre-existence as he frequently referred to it as glory had with the Father before the world was; and "For this cause (death) came I unto this hour." (Jno. 12:27.) and "For this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. (Jno. 18:37.) In a word we understand that the man Jesus up to his 30th year was in every respect like Adam except that he knew what sin and death meant and had seen their destructive operation on the human family for 4000 years while Adam did not "know good and evil." Adam had never seen a sinner nor a sinner's punishment--death; therefore while created sinless and perfectly able to abstain from sin, yet not realizing "the exceeding sinfulness of sin" and its destructive effects, he sinned as God had foreseen and fore-arranged he should do.
This knowledge which Adam lacked Jesus possessed as we read: "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." Isa. 53:11. The man Adam was created by the operation of God's spirit (Gen. 1:2.) The child Jesus was formed equally by miraculous power of the same spirit. Both were holy [pure sinless]. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature until he reached his thirtieth year. Now the work for which He came into the world must begin. What was the work for which this body was prepared? Paul answers --"for the suffering of death." And now He is represented as saying: "Lo I come [as] in the volume of the book [bible] it is written of me, to do thy will O God." Heb. 10:7. Thus Jesus covenanted at 30 years to do the Father's will [the special work for which he came] and going to John at Jordan he made the same outward sign of His covenant which he asks us to make, of our covenant, when he was immersed. Thus he expressed his determination to die for our sins by being buried in water, and His trust in the promise of the Father to raise him again to the Divine life.
But even a perfect human being could not crucify himself so the Father imparted the Divine Spirit to the man Jesus and from that moment he is the anointed [the Christ] "The man Christ Jesus." And he went up out of Jordan in the power of the Spirit," filled with the Spirit for "the Father giveth not the Spirit by measure (in limited quantity) unto Him." Now He is different from Adam for Adam never partook of the Divine Spirit and nature. We saw in article on BAPTISM in last issue [a second reading of which we suggest,] that our baptism represents a similar covenant to die; to be "conformed to His death:" to be "Baptized into His death." And as Jesus could not crucify the flesh until anointed with the Spirit so with us; He is our pattern and fore-runner. We follow "in His footsteps" in every particular. Now, let us closely examine his death, for unto it we are to be conformed.
In our own view, it is a mistake to suppose that our giving of ourselves "living sacrifices, wholly acceptable unto God," is the giving up of the sinful desires of our human nature. Not so. It is the giving up of things that are right and proper enough for men. Let us look unto Jesus: As a man (tempted in all points like as we are, yet never yielding) with a human nature, He had to withstand the same temptations of the devil, and to avoid the use of His perfect human power for self-exaltation.
As the only perfect man, he could have placed himself speedily at the head of all earthly governments; could have inaugurated wise and beneficial reforms and laws, and could have had the respect and homage of all the fallen race. But instead of doing according to the desires of his earthly nature and will, he did as he had covenanted: "Lo, I come to do thy will, O, God." And so he did. Wherever he went, and whatever he did, he ascribed all the honor to the Father. "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." As the spirit in Jesus was the miracle working power, yet never used by him as a means of gratifying the human appetite, or of exalting self (see Matt. 4:3-7), so we, who possess a measure of the same spirit, would find it powerful to-day, if we could but have faith to exercise it. But it would be sin to use this spiritual power for the gratifying of our human nature when it was given us wherewith to crucify it. When the multitudes hung on his words, and said, "Never man spake like this man," he declared: "As I hear, I speak." (John 12:49.) Again, when the people, perceiving his real human greatness and perfection, desired to bestow earthly power upon him, we read: "Jesus, perceiving that they would take him by force and make him a king, withdrew himself to a desert place, alone."
These things were lawful to his human nature, but they were not expedient; for by so doing he could neither redeem the race from death, nor bring "many sons to glory and immortality. And often the conflict between the human and divine natures in Jesus was so great that he needed and spent whole nights in prayer. He came to the same "throne of heavenly grace" (not to obtain mercy, for he needed not mercy, being without sin), but to "find grace to help in every time of need." And when, at the close of his three and a half years of self-sacrifice for the good of others, the hour of death came, it was the severest trial to his human nature. To permit himself, pure and sinless and benevolent, to be crucified as a vile criminal, and open not his mouth in self-defense; to be regarded as an impostor, in some degree at least, by his followers; to permit the soldiers to mock and scourge and kill him, while having done no sin, he had a right to live. He could have asked the Father, and he would have given him more than twelve legions of angels to defend him. These things, one and all, were severe trials to the human nature, and he must have failed without the aid of the Divine nature.
No wonder he said: "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour! But for this cause came I unto this hour: Father, glorify thy name." (Jno. 12:27). No wonder if when he came to Gethsemane, he again found it needful to go to the Father for help to do his will, saying: "If thou be willing, remove this cup (death) from me." Then he obtains strength, and continues, "Nevertheless, not my (human) will, but thine be done." Luke 22:42. (Vss. 43 and 44 are omitted in old MSS.)
Now, we can readily see that to be conformed to his death does not mean that we should give up only sinful things to which we never had a right. Many things are proper enough to us as human beings, that [R146 : page 5] we covenanted to give up if we might have the Divine nature. To illustrate: It is proper enough for a [R147 : page 5] worldly man to seek the honor and respect of his fellow men by such lawful use of his talents as would commend him to their esteem. It would be right enough for him to participate in worldly governments, both by voting and holding office. It is right for him to seek all uninjurious pleasures; operas, concerts, games, &c.; to seek wealth and ease and human happiness. It is not wrong for earthly women to engage in the same pleasures, and to wear braided hair, jewelry and costly apparel, if rightly and honestly obtained. But if any man or woman be in Christ a new creature, these should remember that their covenant was to crucify the natural will and mind of the flesh, and to develop the new nature, and they will find that every such natural pleasure permitted in their hearts fills a place consecrated to God, and excludes a measure of the joys of the Spirit, as well as requiring some of the time which they have consecrated wholly to God.
A mistake is made by Christians in trying to apply to the world rules and laws given only to saints. The worldly man does not covenant to make his body a living sacrifice. We do. True, we must, as long as we abide in the flesh, eat, drink and wear, but the amount of time which we shall give for these necessary things should be decided according to our understanding of God's will as expressed by his word, and the example of Jesus. Our earth life should, like Jesus' life, be spent more for others than for self--"Doing good to all men, as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith." Each one has opportunity to carry out this principle of self sacrifice in the everyday affairs of life. The mother may spend her life and sacrifice her comfort for her children; the father for his family; the teacher for his pupils; the editor for his readers, &c.; for charity should begin at home, though it should not end there.
In our judgment, the common habit of speaking and thinking of the new nature as being an engrafting of a spiritual element into a natural man and of the blending in us of the human and divine natures, are serious and hurtful errors. There is no league, no blending or uniting of the two natures. When we receive the new nature, it is not that we may blend and unite it with our old human nature, but that we may crucify and put to death the human. Not my will and God's will, my plans and God's plans, my work and God's work, blended. They will not blend. Like oil and water, they are of different natures. My will, plan, work, &c., must all be lost. Though our wills were perfect human wills, as Jesus' was, we must ignore them, and say with him--"Not my will, but thine, be done." We can see no blending of two natures in our Master, but a complete control by the Divine, and a crucifying of the human. "Let us walk in his footsteps as he hath set us an example."
WHAT peace He bringeth to my heart,
Deep as the soundless sea,
How sweetly singeth the soul that clingeth,
My loving Lord to Thee.
IN most situations of life the consciousness of innocence is our best shield, and our firmest security.
AND AFTER DEATH THE JUDGMENT.
"As it was appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Heb. 9:27-28.
Perhaps no text of scripture has ever been more widely misapplied than the above; it is generally supposed to refer to mankind in general, and to mean that there comes a judgment to them after death. But by reading this 27th verse in connection with vss. 26 and 28, it will be seen that the "men" referred to were the various high priests of Israel. Paul is trying to show us that these "men" in the sacrifices which they "offered year by year continually," were but types of Christ; that though they offered and went into the Holy place every year, Christ as the antitype needed only to go in once. Christ's sacrifice was that of his own life, while that of these typical men was the blood of others, that is to say, these typical priests instead of laying down their lives and then being given a new, or spiritual life (as in the case with Jesus) were told to kill "a bullock" which was for, or instead of their own, natural lives; thus in figure the priest died, every time he slew the bullock. Now after thus killing the bullock it remained for the high priest to take the blood into the holy place and see whether it would be accepted. This was the judgment--trial. If the work had been all properly done, it was accepted of God and was the basis of at-one-ment for the people and the after blessing. Now notice that, "As it was appointed unto (those) men once to die, (as represented by the bullock) and after that the judgment, (to see if their sacrifice was acceptable) so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
Our head, Jesus, having given himself for us--the church (Eph. 5:25-27.) presented the evidences of his death in the flesh, (typified by the bullock.) Then came the trial-- Was it a perfect sacrifice? If so it would be accepted. It was perfect and was accepted of God and while the Head remained in glory, the spirit of the Head came upon all believers (at pentecost) anointing them as His body, to have share in His sufferings and to be made conformable unto His death, as represented in the goat sacrifice. Lev. 16.
Soon the body will have finished its work of "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." Col. 1:24. Then the Head comes to the body and takes it into the Most Holy, the sacrifice of the body being accepted through the merit of its Head. Then the appearing to bless all the people takes place. (Lev. 9:23.) When he thus appears to bless, is it the head alone which appears think you? No, "when he shall appear we also shall appear with him IN GLORY." "We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him." 1 Jno. 3:2. We will be like him when he appears not after he appears. Will he appear in the flesh and we in the flesh? No, that would not be "in glory." Besides if you will examine the context you will readily see that the spiritual body is meant.
He took a flesh body only as a sacrifice--"A body hast thou prepared me" (for sacrifice). "He took upon him the form of a servant for the suffering of death." But when he comes forth the second time (head and body complete) it will not be to repeat the work of sacrifice, "for this he did once" but he comes forth unto salvation and he comes "IN GLORY."
Thus the prophets foresaw and foretold "the sufferings of Christ (head and body) and the glory that should follow:" "For verily when we were with you we told you before that we should suffer tribulations. No man should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." 1 Thes. 3:3-4.
Take joyfully then dear brethren the sufferings of the present, that when they are ended, we may be joined to, and "appear with Him in glory," for then "ye shall be glad also with exceeding joy."
TO WHOM DO WE APPEAR?is a question of interest. The type (Lev. 9:23.) shows that the appearing is to "all the people." Their typical priest so appeared and so blessed "all the people" for whom the sin offerings had been made. Israel being the type of the world as the house of Aaron (type of Levi) had before been used as a type of the household of faith," from which the "little flock" of priests are selected: So our appearing will be to bless the people--the world of mankind; to raise up and bless the race fallen in death and sickness and degradation; to raise them up to perfect manhood as at first--"the restitution of all things which God hath spoken."
Throughout the "Day of atonement" --typical of the 6,000 years of sin's reign, in the latter part of which 1900 years the sacrifices have been offering--during that "day of atonement" the people were instructed (Lev. 16:29) that they should "afflict their souls" etc., typical of the world's painful and afflicted condition during sin's dominion and until their sins are blotted out and their at-one-ment with God completed. Theirs was only the type; the real atonement is almost finished and soon the blessing will begin.
Now it is these waiting multitudes --the people, who are awaiting the coming forth of the Great Prophet, Priest and King--"The Christ," "The Seed." Paul says so: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the SONS of God." The human family will not see Jesus the head or bridegroom when he comes to get His "Jewels," "His body," "His bride." He comes as he went away--quietly, unknown to the world. (But not again in the flesh for though we have known Christ after the flesh yet now henceforth know we him (so) no more.") Earth's millions are groaning for deliverance from "the bondage of corruption" and though they may not have clear ideas of how it comes, yet in due time the deliverance shall come and they will recognize it as being the work of the "sons of God." "And it shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear (obey) that prophet (teacher) shall be cut off [die] from among his people." And all who do obey him shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption [sickness, pain and death] into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. As redeemed human children they shall [R148 : page 5] come again into the same freedom from sickness and death as that enjoyed by angels, by Adam before he sinned, etc. Pain, corruption and death are only the accompaniment and bondage resulting from sin.
Though "every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him," we do not believe He will appear (and we with Him) to all at once, but that, as indicated in our text, it will be to those that "look for Him." The seeing will not be that of the natural eye, for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." The holy ones are the saints. "We shall see Him as He is," for we shall be like Him." There are other ways of seeing than by the natural eye. To see means to recognize; to perceive. When Jesus was present in the flesh, many saw Him with the natural eye. Few saw Him really. Eyes had they, but they saw not.
Again: "a blind man could truthfully say, "Wonderful things in the bible I see." Paul says we are to watch and "see the day approaching," &c. We thus use the word see as meaning to recognize. Now we understand that Jesus, our head, is now present as our "Morning Star" (day-bringer), preparing a "little flock." (We don't claim to know them all). The world and many of the virgins (pure ones; saints), are asleep, and know not of the "day star's" having risen. Soon the few prepared ones are caught away unknown, and, with the dead of the same class, constitute "the prophets and saints" of Rev. 11:18--the bride --the overcomers, who, under and in their leader and head, Jesus, are to "inherit all things"--be members of the "first-born"--therefore, "heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus," of whom He spake, saying: "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," whose kingdom, prayed for 1800 years, will then have come: "Thy kingdom come," and following gradually comes the next clause, "Thy will be done on earth as in heaven." It requires all of the millennial age to fully accomplish God's will on earth as in heaven, and to utterly wipe away sin and its results: corruption, pain and death.
Those who will first recognize this millennial day as begun, and its sun of righteousness as having risen, the kingdom of God as having been "set up," or commenced its reign, will be the "great company who go through the coming time of trouble and come up (to the family condition, as partakers of the Divine nature), but not being the overcomers --the bride--they do not sit in the throne, but therefore are they before the throne." We say that this class, the left of the church when the bride is taken, will be the first to recognize the kingdom as being established. As we see by Rev. 19:5-9, "A voice came out of the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all ye, His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great.' And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Allelulia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.'" They realize the reign as commenced, and the bride as being taken, and that they are left out of that little flock. But the plan of God begins to open out before them, and they find Him much more loving and kind than they had ever [R147 : page 6] supposed while they were bound in and to Babylon; at whose overthrow they rejoice. They begin to praise God, saying: "We may rejoice and exult, and give glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb came, and his wife prepared herself." [Diaglott].
Then (vs. 9,) a promise is made to this second company, viz,: that they come to the "marriage feast," when they, the "palm-bearers," shall be ushered into the presence and joyous and eternal fellowship of "the crown-wearers, the kings and priests unto God, and thus the entire family or "first-born" and many brethren be complete, and together unite in showing forth the praises of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to the world.
The second class who will recognize the kingdom as "set up" will be fleshly Israel. When toward or at the close of "the time of trouble" they shall have been gathered in great numbers and wealth to Palestine, and when the "nations shall come up to take a spoil and prey," etc., (Ezek. 38:11.) For "the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle,...and half of the city shall go into captivity, &c....Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives," &c. (Zech. 14:1-4). This, apparently the first realization Israel will have of the kingdom's having come (Chap. 12:2,3,7-10), seems to discuss the same topic and describe the effect upon them of their marked deliverance. They recognize (look upon) Him whom they have pierced. They seem to be able to establish the identity of the Deliverer as the one they had once despised, crucified.
Our understanding is, not that they will see Jesus or any one with their eyes, nor that Jesus and His church will appear in their midst and fight and kill their enemies (we war not with carnal weapons), but that after they have been badly beaten by the great multitudes of their enemies, the Lord will appear and show Himself and fight for them "as when he fought in the day of battle." But how was that? Think of it! How he overthrew great kings and strong nations before them; nations so much stronger than they that it was a miracle. Thus God was in the midst of Israel, and delivered them from all their enemies round about. As then, so again he will reveal himself as their deliverer, and they shall say: "Lo, this is our God: We have waited for him, and he will save us." So the work of revealing progresses until "all shall know him, from the least to the greatest," and "all nations shall come and worship before him, and thus every eye shall see (recognize) him, while only the holy shall see him as he is.
Thus, too, we see how "he will be revealed in flaming fire." [Judgments.] The judgments which come upon "Babylon" and cause her overthrow open the eyes of the first mentioned class to recognize the kingdom power. The overthrow (judgments) on the attacking nations open the eyes of the Israelites similarly while the balance of mankind, living and resurrected nations, will find abundant proof of the rulings of the spiritual kingdom in the crushing and destroying of their enemies, sin and death, for "when the judgments ["flaming fire"] of the Lord are abroad in the land, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
Thus each class, as they become interested and awakened to "look for him," shall see him. "To them that look for him, he shall appear," and we "also shall appear with him," and thus "the desire of all nations shall come."
WHEN AND HOW WILL CHRIST COME?
We have just read, in a contemporary which is seen by many of our readers, an article entitled "Christ, and Anti-Christ," in which the writer seeks to prove that Jesus, at his second advent, will come in the flesh. The proof of his position he bases mainly on, 1 John 4:2,3. He quotes the verses thus: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ erkomai [cometh] in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ erkomai in the flesh is not of God." "For many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Anti-Christ." 1 John 4:2,3, and 2 John 7.
He continues: "The rendering of erkomai, as it is given by the translators in these special texts, was merely because of the theology of these Episcopalian ministers. It is the word invariably used [mark!] by the apostles when speaking of his future coming." Then follows a list of texts, in which he asserts erkomai occurs, putting them all in the future tense.
We are obliged to say that he has made a very serious mistake, and one calculated to lead into error any one not familiar with the Greek of the New Testament. Yet it is but just to say that it was a mistake easily made. Not being familiar with the original, he evidently depended upon a Greek Concordance in making his quotations. The error probably crept in this way. In such Concordances, each word is given usually in its generic [general] form only, without reference to the changes it undergoes in passing through the various grammatical forms which distinguish its moods, tenses, &c. Thus, under the general head of "Erkomai" [come] he would find references to passages containing such combinations as these: have come, is come, will come, may come, also cometh, came, &c.
If unfamiliar with the Greek forms and without an examination of the Greek text he would be totally unable to distinguish between the tenses.
Looking in the concordance then under "Erkomai" he finds references to some passages which he knows speak of Christ's second advent. If he fails to look further he may conclude that "it is the word invariably used when speaking of his future coming." Of course a more thorough search would soon have revealed the error. Having thus reached a conclusion --unfortunately a wrong one --it is apparent that on finding other texts which his theory required to be in the future tense--that were translated in the past--he would at once jump to the conclusion that they were mistranslated.
This he has done. Both in his proof texts, and in his list which he has given to support his translation of the proof texts, he has been thus deceived. His argument briefly but fairly stated is this. "Erkomai meaning cometh," is the word invariably used by the apostles when speaking of his (Christ's) future coming." Proof: a list of texts referring to the future in which he asserts erkomai occurs. Now says he (we are using [R149 : page 6] our own words for brevity's sake.) Erkomai is the word used in 1 Jno. 4:2-3, in which it speaks of a coming of Christ in the flesh, therefore the coming in the flesh spoken of, is in the future, at his second advent; and all who deny this are by the same authority called Anti-Christ --those who are in harmony with the WATCH TOWER particularly included.
Well, we can pardon his allusion to the WATCH TOWER, and even excuse his mistake, but we cannot pass it by unnoticed; and now let us give briefly the facts in the case-- First then: In the texts he has quoted the words in dispute are not confined to the future, but are in various tenses. Secondly: The word erkomai (on which he hangs the whole argument) does not occur in any of them.
We will now quote the texts, and give the original words as they really appear:
"Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come [eleeluthota] in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus Christ is not of God." 1 John 4:2,3. The word does not occur in third verse "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come [eleusetai] in like manner," &c. Acts 1:11. "When the Son of Man shall come [elthee] in his glory," &c. Matt. 25:31. "Behold, the Bridegroom erketai!" [Word omitted in best authorities.] Matt. 25:6. "Behold, he cometh [erketai] with clouds." Rev. 1:7. "There shall come, [eleusantai] in the last days, scoffers." 2 Pet. 3:3. "Behold, the Lord cometh." [Eelthe--came; prophetic; like Isa. 9:6.] Jude 14. "Which is and which was, and which is to come." [Erkomenas.] Rev. 1:14.
A portion of an article from the WATCH TOWER on the latter part of Matt. 24, was rather sharply criticised in our contemporary's article, in which he also claimed to find erkomai again where it does not occur. The scripture reads thus: "Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." Brother Russell claimed, in WATCH TOWER, that the time spoken of was not at the instant of Christ's arrival, as generally believed, but after he has come. The Greek word here is Elthon, and it undoubtedly has this meaning. It signifies an arrival accomplished; a period after the coming, and during the presence of the Lord. It is a participle form of the word, and should be rendered "having come." We might quote a multitude of texts in which it occurs, but must be satisfied with a few. That we may not be charged with picking up scattered and stray texts, we will take a few in succession as we found them at the beginning of the book. "The star which they saw in the east, went before them, till, having come (elthon), it stood over where the young child was." Matt. 2:9. Notice, the star had been going before them, but at the period covered by elthon, it had ceased to go. Its arrival was accomplished: it stood.
Tell us, was not Jesus PRESENT? We do not know how long he was in the house till he saw the sick one, but we know that he had arrived, whether she knew it or not. His coming had been accomplished. He was present.
"And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels," &c. 9:23. We might read, "And Jesus, having come into the ruler's house," &c. He had arrived. "And when he was come (elthon) into his own country, he taught them in their synagogues," &c. 13:54. Surely he was present in this case. "Then he (the evil spirit) saith, "I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come (elthon), he findeth it empty, swept and garnished." 12:44. He had returned, and made search, and found this condition of things. "Blessed are those servants, whom, the Lord having come, shall find watching. Verily, I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Luke 12:37.
Have we been astonished at the wonderful feast of love and truth that has been placed before us, without any effort on our part? Marvel not; the Master has come, and has made us sit down, and with his own blessed hands is serving us a bountiful supply. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Rev. 3:20. Some have supposed that this text had an application all the way down the gospel age. It cannot be so. It was given only to those living in the Laodicean period of the church. The spirit so directed. We know that we have been feasting with him. Could we do so until he had come in to us? Nay, more: Could we have heard the knock until he first had arrived, and stood, waiting and knocking for admittance?
And now, dear brethren and sisters, let us look very carefully at Matt. 24:44-51 in the light that has been given us, viz.: that our Lord has come.
"Therefore, be ye (ye brethren) also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man comes." This was fulfilled. It was months after Christ came (in Fall of '74) before the company realized it. "Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, HAVING COME (elthon), shall find so doing." Was there such a servant? Of course, we do not understand that it means one individual, but evidently a small company, best symbolized by a single servant. There was such a one, giving meat in due season, and receiving the blessing, for at least a period of years.
"But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants," &c. Who is this? He is called that servant, i.e., one previously spoken of; one, then, who had been giving the household meat when the Lord came. What was that due meat? Surely, the time arguments proving [R149 : page 7] the presence of the Master. What then? Some part, large or small, of that little company must change their minds, and, taking back what they have said, declare, "My Lord delays his coming." Mark, there can be no delay until the time of arrival has passed. This one, therefore, must have known and taught the true time of the coming. Again, to fill the picture, he must begin to smite the remainder of the company; and as he is in opposition, and proclaiming a delay, it is evident that they must be teaching that there is no delay, but that the truth of the past remains true.
Brothers, sisters, how else could this scripture be fulfilled? When, but at this time, could it take place? Truly, the King has come in to the guest chamber, and is scanning those who have been privileged to enter. Can we bear that searching eye, looking clear through and through? Lord, help us to examine ourselves in the light of present truth.
W. I. M.
A LETTER TO THE WATCH TOWER.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: How true is it that our Heavenly Father can bring good out of evil, and cause the wrath of man to praise him. At the very time we are cautioned to "watch" and "beware," and that "the love of many shall wax cold," on account of iniquity abounding, He has arranged a mass of concurring events well calculated to increase our faith. I am reminded of this every day. I find men fulfilling prophecy; saying and doing many things, freely and voluntarily, which they have not the remotest idea had any connection with God or heaven, and yet which is of such a nature, or has such a relation to things which are of interest to the child of God who is watching closely every indication of the presence of his Lord, as to impress him forcibly with the thought that He is even at the door. While stopping in a certain city, not long since, a little incident occurred which had something to do with this train of thought.
I was in conversation with a gentleman (not a professor of religion, I suppose). We were in his place of business, and looking out of the window before me, I saw the tall, symmetrical spire of an adjoining fashionable church, which was surmounted by a weather-vane in the form of a cock. At first sight and thought it seemed to me to be a vain thing to be upon a Christian church, and your correspondent expressed his surprise at its being in such a place; for although it is a reminder of Peter's weakness and denial of his Lord, and inferentially of our weakness, yet it is so often used as the emblem of boastful power that it seemed quite out of place there, and it seems that the gentleman referred to was impressed the same way, for he said, looking archly at it, "O, it is in harmony with the principles of the churches in these days," giving a peculiar accent to the words "these days."
Soon after, looking out at the building from another point, I observed: "Those must be fine windows, judging from the appearance outside." "O, yes," said he; "it is a fine church inside, but that cannot be said of those who belong to it." And then, striking an attitude, and pointing with scorn toward the place, he said, "Why, sir, if you could take all the Christianity there is in there and boil it down, you would not get a piece as large as a pin's head."
Of course, I had nothing to say, but went off into reverie, and said to myself (the outgrowth of thoughts presented in the WATCH TOWER). That church is struck with lightning, and don't know it, but will some [R150 : page 7] day wake up to the fact when it is too late to rebuild it. "As the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming [parousia--presence] of the Son of Man be." The lightning has swept away "the refuge of lies," and the world sees the dead men's bones and all uncleanness." The lightning not only reveals things which were hidden, but it has a pleasing or displeasing effect according as the things revealed are pleasing or displeasing to the beholder. To children who, in the stormy night, watch for the absent father, the lightning, to their joy, reveals him near at hand; but to the burglar, that same flash reveals approaching justice and doom; but in either case the beholders get true views of their surroundings. They see the highest objects first and best. The churches are the highest objects, and men now see what they are and what they should be; although they do not yet see down into the valleys of social and civil conditions so as to adjust things, but as the storm increases, they will be able to see, and "will learn righteousness," and acknowledge "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men."
Let us lift up our heads "knowing that our redemption draweth nigh.""Cheer up, cheer up; the day breaks o'er thee,
Bright in the promised shining way!
Light from heaven is streaming for thee,
Proving thee near the perfect day."
Rejoicing in the light now shining from our Lord's presence and hoping for the soon coming change to the likeness of his glorious body, of all who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, I am your brother in Christ.
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
Questions of Correspondents.
Q. Bro. R., please give me your view of 1 Pet. 3:18-20, which says that Jesus Christ was "quickened by the Spirit by which also he went and preached unto the Spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing."
A. We understand this to teach that the Spirit which raised Jesus from death was the same which while the ark was preparing preached through Noah ("a preacher of righteousness") to the antediluvian sinners, now in the great prison house of death.
Q. Bro. R., you have shown, I think clearly and scripturally that the body of Christ, as well as the head give their lives as sacrifices for sins, and that as his was the ransom price of "the household of faith," the body's life given during the Gospel Age is accepted as "filling up," or completing the work of the head "for the people"--the world. I see too that it seems to be the clear fulfillment of the goat sacrifice of Lev. 16., but there is one text which troubles me, i.e. Col. 1:24, where Paul says: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake which is the church." My difficulty is that the sacrifice is for the church while the type (Lev. 16) teaches that the sacrifice for the church was completed in the death of Jesus as typified by the bullock's dying for Priests and Levites, and that Paul's sacrifice and that of every other member of the body of Christ is "for the sins of the people" (the world), and is represented by the goat.
Can you suggest how we may harmonize these scriptures?
A. God accepts the offering of the High-priest, head and body--the second Adam and his Bride as the ransom price of the world's life, as the offset of the disobedience of the first Adam and his wife.
Adam and Eve were one in the transgression; Jesus Christ and his bride are one in the redemption of the world. Now consider that God has covenanted to accept our sacrifice of earth-life and nature; and has promised us the higher--the Divine--and we, Jesus and His body have accepted the conditions and covenanted to die. Next the question arises--How shall we die? Shall we go to the altar and knife as did the bullock and goat in the type? No, we have only to remember that the goat was to suffer and die as did the bullock which means that we have Christ Jesus as a pattern of how we are to give our lives.
He spent His life according to the Father's will in "doing good unto all men as he had opportunity, especially to the household of faith." And this is just what the Apostle enjoins us to do also. There are hundreds of ways of spending our life-power according to the talents we possess; in the household, in the workshop, in temperance reform, and in any other way we can bless and benefit humanity and exercise the Divine attribute love. But while it is good to do for any one, yet, Paul esteemed it a special privilege to spend and be spent "for the church which is His (Christ's) body." Jesus' time was spent largely in instructing the disciples, and we should esteem it a special honor to be permitted to do much and suffer much for each other, as long as we have life or strength to spend.
Suppose I bought an article of you for $100, and came to you presenting the money and you said: Here is the article and the money too. I want you to spend this money, which is mine. Use it for the benefit of those you find needing it, especially any of my relatives. You will be acting as my agent and may use so much of it on yourself as you find necessary to the accomplishment of my work (only). This would illustrate how we give ourselves, and how our Father accepts us (the body of Christ) as part, with our Head, of the world's "sin-offering" and also permits us to be his agents in doing good. Thus we in spending our lives and all that God has given us, are merely his stewards and were given all powers and blessings, not for ourselves, nor to keep, but to use for Him. Let us so do.
A. This shows the double nature of one begotten of the Spirit--the body still human, the spirit of the mind Divine. Peter is exhorting to separateness from the world, not only our minds but also of our bodies as ruled over by our minds.
The gospel (good news of our redemption and the promise of glory,) was given us, that our lives should be influenced by it and that we should be separated from the world as "new creatures" thus living according to God in the Spirit and regarded by Him as "new [spiritual] creatures" while men who see no physical change in us, regard us still "as men in the flesh," and think it strange if we do not act as natural men.
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." He understands not the begetting to a new nature, new hopes and aspirations, and thinks a self-sacrificed life unnatural; and so it is unnatural. Therefore we must have the new nature implanted before we can crucify the old.
SEND A POSTAL CARD.
We desire to send the WATCH TOWER to all who are interested in it sufficiently to read it carefully, but have none to waste. We will not indulge in the begging, urging and dunning process so common to religious journals. You know that the second volume commenced July, 1880, and if interested in and desirous of its continuance, you should in some way signify your wish. You know that the paper is FREE to all who want to read it and consider themselves unable to pay for it. You know, too, that we expect at least a postal card from each subscriber each year. If, therefore, you desire a continuance of the WATCH TOWER'S visits this year, and have not so informed us, do so at once, or be neither surprised nor offended if you do not receive the November issue.
NOT UNTIL NOVEMBER.
In answer to a number of requests, we had purposed visiting several places in New York state, where little bands of subscribers reside, among others, Brockport, Honeoye, Dansville, etc., but will defer so doing until the early part of November.
We have had numerous and urgent calls for WATCH TOWER Tracts on various topics, and purpose (D.V.) issuing several as soon as possible. They will be cheap tracts for gratuitous distribution and will be furnished at a very low price to those agreeing to distribute them, or free to those so desiring them. We will use a portion of October in this way instead of traveling.
EXTRACT FROM LETTER.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I was very much pleased with article in last number on "Baptism." It is in harmony with my thoughts on the subject. I have thought for two years or more, that those who thought, only of water baptism, when thinking of being baptized into Christ, were taking the shadow and leaving out the substance; just as they do, who ask to be provided with daily bread, and mean, mainly, natural bread.
The real baptism is of vital importance; and it seems to me that when one has reached that point, he will give expression to it, by water baptism in a proper way, just as surely as it is true that out of the "abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Your brother, B. W. KEITH.
If the goat that was slain represented the saints, the "little flock," did not the scape-goat represent "the great multitude" that come out of great tribulation and wash their robes? After much thought, we had about come to this conclusion, but, on presenting it to others, difficulties became apparent, and we now suggest that the scape-goat represents that portion of the world, or "children of the devil," which are professedly Christian, and on account of whom the multitude of Christians are in the bondage of conformity to the world. It seems that the "little flock" represent the whole church, and will gather the "great multitude" around them as the lodestone will gather the particles of steel mingled in the dust. These particles of steel are treated as dust only till they are separated. So our thought is that the multitude of Christians, mingled with and in bondage to the worldly element, are counted as the scapegoat only till they are separated; then they are exalted to their proper relationship to the saints. "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord."
We think we see several scriptural facts that will serve to illustrate our view of the case.
First: The meaning of the word scapegoat seems to indicate the idea. The Hebrew word, Azazel, rendered scapegoat, is said to mean devil. This fact has led some to believe that the devil himself is to be the antitypical scapegoat; and does not the definition favor the idea?--One goat to represent the Lord, and the other the devil. Our idea is, that one goat represents the Lord's children, or wheat, and the other the children of the devil, or tares, as in the parable of wheat and tares of Matt. 13.
Second: It seems illustrated by the case of Israel in bondage in Egypt. Let Aaron be as the saint, the mass of Israel the "great multitude," and Egypt, who held them in bondage, as the scapegoat. Israel suffered with Egypt until they were separated, and the object of all the plagues was the complete deliverance of the "great multitude." But, as has been shown in another article, all Israel were exempt from the "seven last plagues," and therefore [R151 : page 8] the great burden of wrath fell on the Egyptians.
Take the case of the Jewish nation, as Christ found them, on this point. There we see a company of first ripe ones, those who accepted of Christ before their house was left desolate. All who accepted Him afterward, and before the wrath came on them to the uttermost, were wheat, though later ripe, but the chaff was burned with fire unquenchable. It was on that generation that Christ said all the righteous blood should come. Matt. 23:34-36. Does not this put them in the attitude of the scapegoat, receiving the sins at the hands of the priest? It was (as in Egypt) in their extreme calamity, that the Christians escaped from that generation by fleeing to the mountains, when they saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies. Luke 21:21. In this, we see the first fruit, the later fruit, and the scapegoat; and this is no less clear to our mind because the later fruits were the greater number, and because, until they were separated, they were included under the curse on that generation.
It seems clear to us that the manner of the disposition of the Jewish church was intended, in its important features, as a pattern of the manner of the disposition of the gospel church,--that this is the great event to which several types, parables and prophecies point. As in the pattern, there is the first ripe, the later ripe--both wheat--and the tares: the "little flock" not defiled with corrupt churches; the "great multitude," who are defiled by contact with Babylon, but who come out of Babylon, and thus wash their robes from the world spots; and, third, the Babylon element that does not come out, but drink the wine of wrath without mixture, and go down as a millstone into the sea. It is Egypt, the chaff of the Jewish nation, the tares of the gospel church, or Babylon, that, each in their turn, receive the uttermost wrath, or wrath without mixture, as represented by the "seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." Rev. 15:1.
This uttermost wrath did not come on Israel in Egypt, nor upon the later ripe wheat of the Jewish house. Neither did it come on the later ripe wheat of the gospel church; i.e., the great multitude who come out of Babylon in obedience to the call, and thus wash their robes. Does not the scapegoat represent those who receive the uttermost wrath, and thus bear the sin? They did leave the world by profession, and were a part of the nominal church, or kingdom of heaven, but were tares, or children of the devil, all the time. They were sown among the wheat, but they never were wheat. They never had been even counted holy in God's sight, as are all the wheat, whether first ripe or later ripe. They had never defiled their garments, for they had no garments given them. Nothing can be defiled that was never clean.
The defiled ones are like Esau, who lose their crown, their birthright. Heb. 12:14-17. Once lost, it can never be regained. But Esau was not cast out of the family. He took the place of the younger brother as a servant; and so those who defile their garments with Babylon, lose their crown, but, by washing their robes, become servants in the heavenly temple. Rev. 7:14-15. They come out of great tribulation, as did Israel from Egypt, but they are exempt like them from the "seven last plagues." Jacob and Esau are used by Paul to represent the first-born and later born in the same family, and he makes the defiled one take the place of the later born. But it is evident that the tares do not belong to either of these classes.
Whoever will read the sixteenth chapter of Revelation will see that the seven last plagues do not come on those that repent, come out from Babylon, and wash their robes, but upon Babylon itself, or those who have the mark of the beast, and do not repent of their evil deeds and give God glory. Verses 9-11. They have no part either as kings and priests or as servants with this gospel crop. The church, order and paraphernalia which they delighted to sustain, because it gave them power to enslave and control the mass of Christians, will go down to rise no more, and they will be lost in the great sea of mankind.
The parallelism between the ending of the Jewish and Gospel ages, and also the idea that the rejected portion of each house is the scapegoat, are sustained in our mind by comparing the words of Jesus in reference to the blood of the righteous: "All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23:35-36,) and the statement of John in reference to Babylon: "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all [that fear God's name] that were slain upon the earth." Rev. 18:24.
It seems clear that the downfall of Babylon is necessary to the deliverance of God's people, the line between the church and the world, and between truth and error must be drawn, hence Babylon in her fall, not only bears, but bears away the sins of God's people.
We would call attention to the judgment scene of Matt. 25, as having in it the illustration of much that we have said. The scene is laid after the saints have ascended to the Father with Christ who came forth to meet them in the holy place. They are now one in power and glory as were Moses and Aaron, and go forth to execute judgment. The nations are gathered before Christ and those whom He calls "These my brethren." Verses 40-45. That the nations here mean the Christian nations, is evident, because no others have been brought in contact with Christ in the persons of His saints. Here are included the "great multitude" of Christians called the "sheep" and the Babylon element, or tares-- the children of the Devil--called "goats." They are all as the same until they are separated, but as the object of Moses and Aaron when they went forth to execute judgment was to separate and deliver Israel, and to bring Egypt down; so here we see first the separation and the "Come ye blessed" to the sheep, followed by "Depart ye cursed" to the goats.
As we have seen it was after the first three plagues that the Lord said: "And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen in which my people dwell....And I will put a division between my people and thy people," &c. Ex. 8:22-23. Then follows on Egypt the seven last plagues. This looks like the separation of the sheep from the goats, followed by the "fire" on the goats.
Practically, we believe this separation will be fulfilled by the great body of Christians, who are left in the world when the saints or little flock are taken away to meet Christ, cutting them loose from their conformity to the maxims and customs of a worldly church, washing their robes and making them white and thus raising the standard of a pure Christianity to the world. The entrance into the temple in heaven cannot be immediately effected, as Israel was not delivered out of Egypt, until the fulfillment of the seven last plagues. Rev. 15:8.
It would seem that this washed or separated state, while men are yet mortal, may possibly be lost. This is the state of those on "as it were a sea of glass." This danger of losing it is implied in the statement made after six of the seven last plagues are poured out: "Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garment, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." Rev. 16:15. The coming as a thief extends over the whole period from His coming to meet His saints until these judgments on Babylon are complete; and it is clear that no man is absolutely above danger of falling until he is immortal.
We are impressed with the thought that a certain class who had been forgiven have that pardon revoked, and so share the fate of the world. The idea of pardon being revoked seems strange to many Christians, as it once did to us, but such an idea is clearly taught by the Saviour in the parable of the two debtors. Matt. 18:23-35. One owed his Lord "ten thousand talents," and "the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt." This was because he was willing to pay and could not. The other debtor owed this forgiven one an hundred pence, and he took him by the throat (just as some professed followers of Christ apply the law to their fellow disciples) and in the face of his inability to pay, and his plea for mercy, he cast him into prison. And when his Lord heard it, he was angry and delivered him to the tormentors "until he should pay all that was due him."
Here is a case of pardon revoked; and after giving this illustration the Saviour says, "So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Our sins are forgiven at conversion, but are not "blotted out" until the sanctuary is cleansed and the hands of the priest are laid upon the head of the scapegoat, or until "the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19. And the way to retain forgiveness is by forgiving others their trespasses. If we would be on the side of the Lord's goat instead of the Devil's we must follow the Lord's methods of dealing with others. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matt. 16:24.
J. H. P.
SOME NEW THOUGHTS.[R151 : page 8]
In the article above, Brother P. suggests some food for thought regarding the type of the sin-offering, scape-goat, etc. We fully agree with the general view expressed relative to tares, Babylon, etc., not representing the church in any sense, neither the "little flock" nor great company.
But we must yet hold to our views, as heretofore expressed, that the scapegoat represents the "great company," not Babylon, tares, etc., for several reasons. First: The scape-goat was brought to the door of the Tabernacle, and had been accepted of God. Surely this is not the case with hypocrites in the church. [R152 : page 8] If they present themselves, they may deceive men, but not God. Again: God intimates that as far as He is concerned, He has no choice (shown by casting lots) as to which shall be the sacrifice or sin-offering. This would not be true of a hypocrite. God would not accept of a tares sacrifice for sins; the offering must be pure, free from sin. Jesus was such in fact. We are so, because justified by Him, and we think that both goats standing thus before God must represent, not tares, but justified ones--Christians.
This class of true (though not faithful) Christians stand side by side with the faithful ones who do follow their Lord's example, and crucify the will of the flesh. These are overcome by the world, and though they would love the approval of their Lord, cannot bear the frown of men. Like the unfruitful branches, they do not bear the fruit of the vine, but merely leaves, and are, therefore, "castaways" from the high calling and honors of the overcomers. These are not accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world, and go through at least a part of the world's trouble, the object being the "delivering over to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus." This is made necessary by their having failed to crucify the fleshly nature according to their covenant. And as we have already seen, it is necessary for all to lose the fleshly nature and form, either by "destruction" or "sacrifice," in order to the obtaining of the Divine form and nature. "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God-- your reasonable service."