The following is an excerpt from Joseph Rutherford's A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens (1915):
UNITED STATES INVESTMENT COMPANY
Much ado has been made by his enemies about business corporations with which Pastor Russell is connected, particularly with reference to the UNITED STATES INVESTMENT COMPANY.
The fact is that this company was never a corporation in the strict sense of the word. It was a limited partnership organized under the Statutes of Pennsylvania. Its capital stock was $1,000. Pastor Russell furnished that $1,000 out of his personal means.
This company was organized for the purpose of taking title to certain property which it did take over and afterwards disposed of, and every dollar that was received therefrom went into the treasury of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, and was used for its religious work.
Pastor Russell did not receive one cent profit therefrom, nor has any other person ever reaped any pecuniary profit therefrom.
16 Capital-Income This company has been out of existence for more than two years, and does not own anything today, even its capital stock being expended by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY in its religious work.
There is no corporation in existence anywhere in the world in which Pastor Russell owns a single share of stock, nor in which anyone else holds any stock for his use or benefit.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The following is from an article that is often quoted (that is, by means of taking selected excerpts out of context) as though Russell approved of the "central authority" doctrine that Rutherford later introduced. The article is from The Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, beginning on page 297 (Reprints 4686). For reference sake, we are numbering the paragraphs
IS THE READING OF "SCRIPTURE STUDIES" BIBLE STUDY?
(1) THE plan of reading twelve pages of the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES each day, tried by so many, results in more Bible study than any other way that we know of. We believe that it is not so much the time that is given to Bible study, but the amount of study done and the amount of information gained, that counts. We all know people who have spent days and weeks and years in the study of the Bible and have learned little or nothing. We think the idea that Bible study is merely the time spent in handling a Bible and reading over some verses is a mistaken idea.
(2) It is a great deal like hunting or fishing. Some people go hunting every year, and though they do a lot of hunting, it is no sure indication of how much they get. Some do a lot of fishing, but do not get many fish. Bible study is very much the same. It is not the amount of time we spend in poring over a passage, but the amount of information we secure from the Bible.
(3) The six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are not intended to supplant the Bible. There are various methods to be pursued in the study of the Bible and these aids to Bible study are in such form that they, of themselves, contain the important elements of the Bible as well as the comments or elucidations of those Bible statements, on exactly the same principle that our Lord and the Apostles quoted from the Old Testament, and then gave elucidations of those Old Testament passages. Many of the elucidations were such that if we had not had them, had not had specific interpretations, we might never have been able to discern the proper application of them.
THE HARVEST THE DUE TIME FOR A CLEAR UNFOLDING OF THE TRUTH
(4)The applications of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES are, of course, based upon those of the Lord and the Apostles. We do not feel that it would be in our province to give any interpretation except that which would be either already given by our Lord and the Apostles or such as would so fit and dovetail with their interpretations as to leave, in our judgment, no doubt as to the proper application of the Scriptures referred to and explained.
(5) Those parts of the Bible which once we thought we understood well, we find that we did not understand at all. Some of the very things relative to the Ransom, relative to Salvation, we did not understand. Looking back over our experiences, we fully believed that there was a God and that he would reward those who diligently sought him, and that he had sent Jesus his Son, but how and why, we did not comprehend. We had wrong ideas as to what was the penalty for sin; wrong ideas as to why a Savior should come; entirely wrong ideas as to what the Savior did; wrong ideas as to what he was to do in the future, and as to what would be our relationship to the Father and the Savior. We knew, in some sense of the word, that we were called to be a son, but how to become a son and what was meant by the begetting of the holy Spirit, and kindred terms, we did not comprehend; and in our experience we have found none who ever did comprehend these things.
(6) So we believe that the thought for us to take in this connection is that it is because we are living in this particular time, in the ending of this Age, that we are favored with such a clear unfolding of spiritual things. It is also our thought that present blessings of a temporal kind, such as the electric light, are due for similar reasons. We believe that any other explanation would confer too great honor upon the individual connected with the production. The very ablest minds in the world have examined these subjects, but now, by God's grace, we have come to the place where the vail is taken away and where we can see the real meaning of God's Word--not merely one person can see it, but hundreds, thousands, see it.
(7) We think that we get the right conception to thus view it rather than to think that we had some great power which enabled us to put together a great system of theology, more wonderful than all other systems of theology put together--a thousand times more wonderful. Therefore, the simplest way to explain the matter is to acknowledge that the Lord's due time has come and that he has guided to the right understanding.
(8) If, then, the Lord has provided us with something in our day that other days than those of the Apostles knew nothing about, no matter how good nor how wise they were--for us to ignore the line of teaching which has been thus developed would be, in our judgment, to ignore the Lord's providences. It is for each one to think for himself, however, and to guide his conduct in every way accordingly.
(9) If the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are practically the Bible topically arranged, with Bible proof-texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes-- the Bible in an arranged form. That is to say, they are not merely comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself, since there is no desire to build any doctrine or thought on any individual preference or on any individual wisdom, but to present the entire matter on the lines of the Word of God. We therefore think it safe to follow this kind of reading, this kind of instruction, this kind of Bible study.
(10) Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the Divine Plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years --if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.
(11) Our thought, therefore, is that these SCRIPTURE STUDIES are a great assistance, a very valuable help, in the understanding of God's Word. If these books are to be of any value to us it must be because we see in them loyalty to the Word of God, and as far as our judgment goes, see them to be in full harmony with the Word and not antagonistic to it. Therefore, in reading them the first time, and perhaps the second time, and before we would accept anything as being our own personal faith and conviction, we should say, "I will not take it because these studies say so; I wish to see what the Bible says." And so we would study the Scriptures in the light of these SCRIPTURE STUDIES; we would prove every point, or disprove it, as the case might be. We would be satisfied with nothing less than a thorough investigation of the Bible from this standpoint.
(12) If, after doing that, we should find the books to be in accord with the Bible, then we would think we were logical in saying, "I will not need to go through that process now every time that I read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, for I have looked up those texts of Scripture and know certainly that the New Testament proves all those points." If, at the same time, in any future reading, we should come to a place where something did not seem clear to us and we thought of some Scripture which seemed not as harmonious with it as we had previously thought, we would think it our duty to refer at once to the Scriptures, because the Scriptures are the standard, and in that reference to the Scripture it would be with a view to discerning whether or not we had been mistaken in our previous examinations.
"THEY SHALL BE ALL TAUGHT OF GOD"
(13) We would conclude, practically, that we could not understand anything about the Bible except as it was revealed. We would, therefore, not waste a great deal of time doing what we know some people do, reading chapter after chapter, to no profit. We would not think of doing it. We would not think we were studying the Scriptures at all. We would think we were following the course that had been anything but profitable to ourselves and many others in the past--merely reading over the Scriptures. We would say that the same Heavenly Father who had guided us to this Truth, to this understanding of the Scriptures as his children, if he had some further information for us he would bring it to our attention in some manner; and therefore we would not see the necessity of reading the New Testament every day or every year; we would not consider that necessary. We would consider that the Scripture which says, "They shall be all taught of God," would imply that in his own appointed way God would bring to our attention whatever feature of Divine truth would be "meat in due season for the household of faith."
(14) Further, we would say that now, having satisfied ourselves respecting what the Divine Plan is, we would understand that we had reached the place that the Apostle speaks of as being a qualified ambassador of God, a qualified minister of the New Covenant, and that, as a servant or minister of the New Covenant, we now had a responsibility in making known these things that we had learned; that we were not put here primarily to read the Bible, but primarily to serve the Lord and his Truth. It was quite proper, however, that before we came to a knowledge of the Truth, and when we were in measurable discontent of mind as to what was the Truth, that we should refrain from telling anybody else.
(15) We remember very well in our own personal experience that after we had tried some street preaching, etc., we came to the conclusion that there was something wrong; that we did not understand what we were trying to tell to others; that we did not understand with sufficient clearness to properly present it and make sure that we were representing the Lord and his message aright, and we said to ourself, "I will stop any endeavor to teach others until I know what I believe."
(16) We think that should be the attitude of every one of us. Why should we attempt to preach or teach anything that we do not understand? So, after God favors us in this time with an understanding of Present Truth, he has given us a knowledge of more truth than we could have gained in a thousand years if we had read and [R4685 : page 299] studied unaided; and now we can attempt to present it to others. Why has he given us a knowledge of this Truth? He wishes us to be "thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work." Therefore, we should study that we may be able to speak the word of the Lord freely and know that we are not misrepresenting the Divine purpose and plan and character; and we ought therefore to give the more earnest heed to the opportunities for service and consider that the information which has been given us has been given for the very purpose that we may impart it to others--to those brethren and sisters of the Lord's family, some of whom are in Babylon yet, honest at heart, perhaps, and very desirous of knowing the truth, though perhaps very much blinded as we once were.
"SCRIPTURE STUDIES" NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE BIBLE
(17) This is not, therefore, putting the SCRIPTURE STUDIES as a substitute for the Bible, because so far as substituting for the Bible, the STUDIES, on the contrary, continually refer to the Bible; and if one has any doubt as to a reference or if one's recollection should lapse in any degree, one should refresh his memory, and, in fact, should see that his every thought is in harmony with the Bible --not merely in accord with the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, but in accord with the Bible.
(18) We might remark that quite a number of the friends in the Truth are making it a rule to read twelve pages of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES a day, and that we do not know one who has been following this course and making use of the various means of grace the Lord has provided (Dawn and testimony meetings and Sunday meetings and Pilgrim meetings and the Berean lessons, Manna text, etc.), who has gone out of the Truth. We know a great many who, on the contrary, have been of the opinion that they knew these things long ago, while in fact they do not know half of what they did know--they have forgotten more than half of what they read and they are those who are now stumbling--going into outer darkness.
(19) We are not wishing in this to say anything against one's poring over chapters that he does not understand and others do not understand, hoping that he might light on some truth. We have no objection to this. He has a perfect right to do so if he wishes. He has a right to spend weeks and years in this way if he chooses, but the chances even then are that when he does light on something he will have it all wrong.
(20) Furthermore, we would suggest that merely reading twelve pages of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES would not be studying in the proper sense of the word--neither studying the Bible nor studying the SCRIPTURE STUDIES. A proper study would be to think of the meaning of every word and every sentence. The thought is, it is not to see how much one can read, but to make sure that one goes no further than he comprehends or understands, whether that means one page or twenty pages. We should not consider it a Scripture study in any sense of the word unless our thought has grasped the matter from the standpoint of seeking to know what the Scriptures teach and seeking to call to mind these Scriptures that are being explained and to call to mind other texts, perhaps, that are not cited, or of which only a small portion is cited.
Our Comments:(21) If one will do all this it will not be merely a reading but a study; and from this standpoint, whoever reads two pages of SCRIPTURE STUDIES each day with the suggested passages connected with those two pages, would do more Scripture studying in that time than he could do by any other method. Whenever he reads these pages and calls the corresponding or connecting Scriptures to mind he is drawing from the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, with practically every page he reads. Now is it possible to find any other Bible study that would accomplish as much for us in the same time as this would do? If there is we ought to take it. If there is not, then we have our option.
Brother Russell certainly believed that his writings were in harmony with the light of the Bible; no Christian author should be writing anything about the Bible that would not be an endeavor to be in harmony with the Bible. However, if one believes that what he has written n in harmony with the light of the Bible, then that author must to also believe that anyone who is not in harmony with what he has written must be, to some extent, in darkness. This is not to say that Brother Russell thought that his work was without error, nor does it mean that I agree with all that Russell stated.
Regarding chronology and and his conclusions concerning time prophecy, however, Russell made no claims that either the chronology or his conclusions were without error, and stated so. He did not reject anyone as a brother in Christ for disagreeing with him on these matters; he even presented some other views in the Watch Tower, although he did not agree with them. He advertised the Edgar's books on the Great Pyramid in the pages of the Watch Tower, although the Edgars conclusions were not exactly the same as what he had presented in the Studies in the Scriptures. Anyone truly familiar with Russell's writings should know that he was not claiming that he thought that God was only using him to present Bible truth.
Related Searches of Russell’s writings for “only authority”
Did Russell believe in an "authoritarian leadership" such as exists with the Jehovah's Witnesses organization?
Many claim that Russell was a heretic because, as they often put it, he denied that hell existed. Such often also claim that Russell denied "eternal punishment". Walter Martin and Norman Klann list "eternal punishment" as a "cardinal doctrine of the Bible", and state that Russell denied this doctrine, along with some other doctrines claimed to be "cardinal doctrines of the Bible." (Jehovah of the Watchtower, page 24) Russell, however, never denied that the Bible hell exists, nor did he deny "eternal punishment" as such is mentioned in the Bible, but he did show from the scriptures what the Bible hell is, and what it is not. Since by doing this he exposed the false teachings presented by man's self-appointed "orthodoxy," Russell himself was thus labeled a heretic by those who held to man's "orthodoxy."
Likewise, Russell did not deny the Bible's teaching concerning "eternal punishment." He did show how this expression is used in the Bible.
Searches of Russell's works related to the Bible hell:
Google searches of mostholyfaith.com:
Click Here to search Russell's works for the word "Hell".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the word "Sheol".
Click Here to search Russel's works for the word "Hades".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "lake of fire".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the word "Gehenna".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "everlasting fire".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "eternal fire".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "eternal punishment".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "everlasting punishment".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "eternal torment".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "eternal torture".
Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "eternal hell".Click Here to search Russell's works for the phrase "rich man and lazarus". Click Here to see our own study on the rich man and Lazarus.
Click Here to search Russell's works for the word "Tartarus".
Actually, the noun "tartarus" never appears in the Bible, although many translations do insert the word at 2 Peter 2:4. Peter used a Greek verb, often transliterated as tartaroo, to describe the debasement of the angels that had sinned. Peter did not say that these angels had been cast into the Greek mythological "Tartarus". CLICK HERE to see our study on this.
Many do not realize that if what man's orthodoxy says about "hell" is true, then what the Bible says about Christ's redemption of mankind is false, since the very basis of Christ's redemption as presented in the Bible is denied by man's self-appointed "orthodox" teaching concerning hell. Russell, however, did not go into much detail about many aspects of the imaginations that have been presented by so-call orthodox supporters to support their false views of hell (indeed, many seemingly take the attitude, "if I can imagine it, it must be true."); we have sought to address many of these details in our "Life Now and Hereafter" site.
Walter Martin and Norman Klann, in the their books, Jehovah of the Watchtower (page 13, 1974 edition) and Kingdom of Cults (page 49, 2005 edition), make the following statement: “Charles Taze Russell was the founder of what is now Jehovah’s Witnesses and the energetic administrator that brought about its far-flung organization.” In reality, Russell did not believe in an authoritarian kind of organization such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor did he believe in the “gospel” (allged "good news" of bad tidings of great misery that will be for most of the poeple that they and their children will be eternally destroyed in Armageddon) that the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach.
An author on one site states:
Here’s the facts. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were started by Charles Taze Russell, who was associated formerly with the Second Advent Millerites, who became the Seventh Day Adventists.
Another states: "The sect now known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses was started by Charles Taze Russell."
Here's the real facts: The Jehovah's Witnesses were not started by Charles Taze Russell. Russell did have some association with the Second Adventists; some Second Aventists followed Ethel G. White and adopted her teachings (7th Day Adventism), but Russell was never associated with 7th Adventist Church, nor did Russell ever believe in the "sabbath" teachings of the SDA, nor did he ever believe that the earth would be with inhabitants for a thousand years. While the 7th Day Adventists eventually became the largest group to come out of the Second Adventists, there were many Second Adventists in Russell's day who were not 7th Day Adventists, and who did not believe in the SDA doctrine.
However, unlike the JW leadership, Charles Taze Russell was a non-sectarian who believed that the true church could be found among all Christian denonimations and sects. Russell did, however, urge Christians to give up such sectarianism, recognizing that God is going to destroy all such denominationalism and sectarianism, since such will not be permitted in God’s kingdom. (No, Russell was not preaching the eternal destruction of members of the various sects, as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He did preach that sectarian organizations will eventually be destroyed, thus freeing those who belong to such organizations so that they might be united to God through Jesus.
Many may not realize that Brother Russell did claim that only those associated with him are true Christians. I present below some statements from Russell regarding “the true church”:
Those in all denominations who have conformed to the conditions required of Christian discipleship, the saintly ones, constitute the True Church- “The Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven.” — Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3, page 498.
If we shall recognize these saintly Christians of every nation and denomination as being the one true Church, “whose names are written in Heaven,” and if we shall recognize all others as Gentiles, we shall be getting the eye of our understanding into true alignment with the mind of God as expressed in the Bible. From this standpoint only can the prophecies of the Bible be understood. — Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3, page 616.
Please read also the following:
Russell taught that the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes the preaching of the “ransom for all, to be testified (witnessed) in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6) Thus, he believed that every one who has been condemned by means of the sin of Adam will “in due time” benefit from that ransom for all, including Adam himself. In other words, Russell taught almost the opposite of what the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach.
The real founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization was Joseph Rutherford, who, after Russell died, almost immediately began laying foundations for his new “organization” doctrines. By 1928, more than 75% of the earlier Bible Students movement had rejected Rutherford’s new doctrine of a “God’s visible organization” and were carrying on their ministries totally separate from Rutherford’s new organization. In order to distinguish his new organization from the old Bible Students movement, Rutherford named his new organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931.
Pastor Russell Not the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (North Seattle Bible Students)
Written by Others
While we may be in general agreement with what presented by the authors below, we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given.
Friday, October 9, 2015
I am reproducing one of the sermons of Brother Russell below entitled, "Salvation is For All By the Grace of God". While Russell was a not a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization, the JWs usually claim him as one of their own. Most JWs, however, know very little about what Russell taught about salvation; although the JWs may speak of "undeserved kindness", many of them seen to have very little knowledge of what "grace" means. At any rate, I thought that the following sermon of Brother Russell might, at least, help some of the JWs (and others who think that Russell taught salvation as do the JWs) to see the difference between what Brother Russell taught and what is being taught by the JWs. Names of Bible books have been expanded to aid in computer searches; some scriptural citations left out have been provided. Please note that I do not necessarily agree with all conclusions presented by Brother Russell. Some links are provided for various words and phrases to related studies. -- R. R. Day, Sr.
by Charles Taze Russell, St. Paul Enterprise, May 9, 1916
republished in Harvest Gleanings Volume III.
Lowell, Mass., May 7 -- Pastor Russell gave a very interesting address in this city this evening. As usual, he was heard with close attention. His text was, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation for all men hath appeared." (Titus 2:11) The Pastor said in part:
The word grace is a term which is peculiar to this Gospel Age. As used in the Scriptures, it has the significance of unmerited favor. Whoever believes in the grace of God, believes that he is privileged to have a favor that he does not merit. That which is merited would be justice; and it is not justice which we are receiving from the Lord, but mercy, favor.
To the nation of Israel God offered, through the law covenant, something peculiar to them. He gave them the privileges of coming into relationship with Himself. This privilege was not given to other nations. But God's favor was not extended to them upon the terms of grace. He offered Israel life upon condition of terms of grace. He offered Israel life upon condition of perfect obedience to the law covenant. (Leviticus 18:5) But their endeavor to keep the law merely demonstrates what the Apostle Paul and our Lord Jesus Christ point out, namely, the fact that no imperfect man can keep God's law. (Romans 3:20; John 7:19) The Bible explains why this is so. It is because God's law is adapted to perfect men, not to the imperfect. Hence it is that the imperfect could never gain life under the law covenant. (Acts 13:39; Galatians 2:16; 3:11) God does not purpose to have a Kingdom with imperfect subjects. -- Matthew 5:48.
The Almighty Jehovah has made full arrangements that all who attain life everlasting shall be perfect. Here it is that the work of grace comes in. This grace of God was brought to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) It has appeared for all men, although it has not yet been manifested to all men; for the great majority have never yet heard of the grace of God in Christ our Redeemer. But it is for the benefit of all, "to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6) As yet the grace of God has appeared only to those who have heard and received the message of God "speaking peace through Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:36) It appeared to the disciples of Jesus who followed Him when He was on earth. It has appeared to all those who have since heard the message and become His followers. To these the Master says, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." -- Matthew 13:16.
GOD'S GRACE REVEALED TO BELIEVERS
The Christ, the Anointed of God, had been promised for many centuries. But until the time of the First Advent the grace of God had not appeared. For 4,128 years after Adam fell there was no grace manifested, only the law and justice. But when our Lord Jesus came, "herein was manifested the love of God," as the Apostle declares. (1 John 4:9-10) God had this love all along, but it had not been manifested; for He wished mankind to learn a great lesson in regard to the effects of sin. (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 9-15) He wished them to learn their own weaknesses and their need of Divine assistance. So He permitted them to take their own course of waywardness and sin, in order that they might see that it would result in depravity of mind, body and morals, that it would lead them down the broad road to destruction. -- Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 1:22-32.
If God had not intervened, had not provided a recovery, all mankind would have slipped down that broad road to eternal ruin and death -- death, not eternal torture. God never provided eternal torture for anybody. A great mistake has been made regarding this matter. During the night of the Dark Ages people got the idea that God had purposed a devilish thing -- that He had provided a way for the vast majority to slip down to an eternity of torment. Once born, they could not help themselves, unless they were of the elect. But not so! As Bible students, we are finding that the Bible most positively and clearly declares that the "wages of sin is death;" that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die;" that the broad road leads to destruction. -- Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Proverbs 2:22; Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10.
The justice of God has been manifested ever since the fall of man. The power and the wisdom of God are manifested in all His great works of creation, in the planetary systems, in the human body. (Psalm 19:1-4; 139:14; Romans 1:20) But the love of God, the grace of God, had not been made manifest until our Lord Jesus came; and it is not manifested even yet to the whole world. (Romans 3:21; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) Only a comparatively few have any clear perception of the grace of God as it shines in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.
REVEALMENT OF TRUTH GRADUAL
When our Lord came to earth to become the Messiah and to die for mankind, even His apostles were slow to grasp the real import of His mission. (Luke 24:25-27) They could not comprehend that it was necessary for Him to die as a ransom-price for Adam and his race. (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) When He was crucified, they were sadly disappointed; for they had hoped that the Man Jesus would set up God's kingdom upon earth, would deliver the Jews from the Roman yoke and would use Israel for the blessing of the world. (Luke 24:17-21) They hoped soon to reign with Jesus in His kingdom. After His resurrection they understood much more clearly. But it was not until after Pentecost that they grasped the matter in full. (John 7:39; Acts 1:4,5; 2:32,33; Romans 5:5) Then they saw that He could not set up His kingdom to bless the world until first He became the Redeemer of mankind by dying for them; and that they themselves could not reign with Him until they had first suffered with Him and died with Him. -- Acts 14:22; Romans 8:17; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:10-14.
The disciples then saw that as only one man Adam was sentenced to death all others dying in him so the death of only one man was necessary as a ransom, that the whole world might be purchased back from death. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 5:12,18) The penalty for sin is death. (Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Ezekiel 18:4,20; Romans 6:23; James 1:15) Our Lord Jesus died, and thus laid down the sufficiency of price on behalf of the whole world. (1 John 2:2) God had dealt with only the one man Adam. Only one man had been sentenced -- Adam. When Jesus died, therefore, He was the equivalent, or corresponding price to Father Adam. His death fully offset the matter. (1 Timothy 2:5,6) It was sufficient to procure the release of the whole world; for the whole world was under condemnation, under the curse. Through the one man sin had entered the world. Therefore the death of the Man Christ Jesus furnished the price sufficient to ransom Adam and all his race. -- Romans 5:12-19.
Such is the beautiful picture that God gives us in His Word the beautiful story of the operation of His grace toward man. The philosophy of God's great plan is indeed clearer today then ever before; for the fulfillment of all its parts is at hand. The more we study the wonderful plan of God for human salvation, the more we grasp its fullness, the more are we in love with the glorious character of our Heavenly Father. As we see its lengths, breadths, heights and depths (Ephesians 3:14-21), we are truly "lost in wonder, love and praise!"
OPERATION OF GOD'S GRACE
As we have just said, this grace of God has as yet appeared only to a few, a "little flock." (Luke 12:32) But the revelation of His grace to these does not mean that God will overlook all their sins and imperfections, call them to Himself and give them all His gracious promises, just as they are by nature. (Ephesians 2:3) The grace of God does not operate in that way. There has been a "grace fund" provided in the death of Christ, sufficient not only for the sins and imperfections of this class, but for the whole world. (1 John 2:2,3) But God has His own arrangement as to how the merit of Jesus' death is to be applied.
Thus far the death of Christ has only opened up the "narrow way" for the Church (Matthew 7:13,14), and provided for their cleansing. (Ephesians 5:25-27) The Lord is now seeking those who have the courage and the strength to climb this rugged pathway. (Luke 13:24) All the grace of God now manifested is in this narrow way. Of course, the world are recipients of God's unmerited favor in the sense that He causes the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sends His rain upon the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) He treats the whole world graciously; but He is receiving none into His favor now except those who have entered the strait gate and the narrow way.
God has not sent His message of grace to the heathen nations save to a very limited degree. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) It was first sent to the Jews, and took out from amongst them the "Israelites indeed." (Matthew 15:24; John 1:47; Romans 1:16) Then the nation of Israel was set aside and left in the dark regarding the message of the Gospel Age. (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34,35) God then opened the door of opportunity to the Gentiles, sending the Gospel principally to the civilized nations of Europe and later to America. (Matthew 24:14; Luke 24:47; Acts 10:15:14,19-48; Acts Chapters 13-20; 24-28) He knew what parts of the world would be most fruitful as respected His present message. -- Acts 26:17.
The Apostle Paul explains why it is that all mankind do not hear the message. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." (2 Corinthians 4:4) Even in the so-called civilized nations, the great majority have no ears to hear the message of God's grace; for they are under the same blinding influences. Only here and there is there a truly hearing ear. This class God is now taking out of the world to be a people for His name -- "a peculiar people, zealous of good works." -- Acts 15:13-17; Titus 2:14.
Some who for a time seem not to heed the message come later on to have a hearing ear. Perhaps something has occurred that changes the current of thought and purpose. Today there are many who have an ear to hear who did not have it a few years ago. The great European war has brought many people to their senses. They are listening now and asking, "What does this war mean?" Others have been sobered and set to thinking by severe afflictions. Some have lost friends whom they almost idolized. But these sorrows and sudden awakenings have proved to be their greatest blessings, for by these experiences their hearts have been turned to the Lord.
MEANING OF THE NAME CHRISTIAN
It is only with this peculiar people that the Lord is now dealing. The merit of Christ has as yet been applied only for these. Some may ask, "Do you mean that good, moral people, honest in their business and clean in their lives, are not Christians unless they are walking in this narrow way of self-sacrifice?" "Yes," we answer. Unless they have taken the definite pathway marked out by our Lord Jesus, they are not walking in His steps. (Matthew 16:24) Hence they are not Christians; for a Christian is a follower of Christ. To none others that the followers of the Master had God's grace come.
As others have watched God's dealings with His own people, they may have learned lessons of morality and obedience. Perhaps they have learned that fire burns, that sin brings punishment, and so have learned to walk decently and honestly; but they are still in the broad road. The only way to get out of that broad road is to get into the narrow way; and they get into the narrow way by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and making a full consecration of their wills and of their lives to God.
After one has entered the narrow way, there is still more for the grace of God to do for him. After one has come into Christ he is a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Of itself this new creature needs no grace. But this new "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16) must tabernacle in an imperfect earthly body (1 Corinthians 6:19), which needs continual cleansing from earthly defilements. (1 John 1:9; Romans 6:12; 8:13; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:13-16) The new creature must use all the force of the new will to control the thoughts, words and actions of the mortal body in order to serve and glorify God properly. But while he is in the imperfect flesh, he cannot perform perfect deeds, even as the best musician cannot render a perfect melody on a very imperfect instrument.
As the Apostle says, "Ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Galatians 5:17) But we are to fill up the measure of our ability, by Divine assistance. If we do this we are reckoned perfect, through the imputed merit of Christ. This is where the grace of God comes in, after we have become disciples of our Lord Jesus. The Lord has arranged that if we are overtaken in a fault, we are to go to the Throne of Heavenly grace to obtain mercy and help for every time of need. Thus "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." -- Hebrews 4:16; John 1:7
As we apply daily for forgiveness for our unwitting transgressions, the blood of Christ keeps us cleansed. If we have yielded our will to any extent, we must suffer stripes proportionate to the degree of willfulness (Luke 12:47,48; 1 Peter 1:6); for God will not cover willful sins with Christ's merit. Fully willful sin in a child of God would mean to such a one the second death. (Hebrews 10:26) So we see the responsibility resting upon each one who has become a member of the body of Christ. He must make good or lose life altogether. This is a very solemn thought. The true Christian learns valuable lessons from his mistakes, and gradually grows strong in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:10) As in his daily experiences he notes the loving providences of God, his faith is increased and his love deepened. Appreciating more and more his own weaknesses, he learns not to trust in self, but in the Lord alone. He gains greater control over his natural infirmities of character, and thus is gradually transformed into the likeness of Christ. Thus the "grace of God that bringeth salvation" is made applicable to him.
RICHES OF DIVINE GRACE
This salvation has not yet been brought to the children of God, however. As yet they are "saved by hope" only. (Rom. 8:24) We are not yet fully delivered. When we receive our new bodies and are freed from all imperfections, we shall be saved in the complete sense. The Apostle Peter speaks of this salvation as "the grace which is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13) So it was still future in the Apostle's day. But we believe that today we are very near to the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that the last members of the body of Christ will soon be with Him in glory. As they lay down their consecrated lives in death, they "will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye;" for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." -- 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.
This salvation we could never get of ourselves. We receive it only through the grace, mercy and favor of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever becomes a member of the glorified church, the bride of Christ, becomes a joint-heir with our Lord "to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away." -- 1 Peter 1:4; Romans 8:17.
But the grace of God only begins with the church. Just as soon as these are glorified with their Lord and Head, the narrow way will be out of commission at once; and another way will be opened up the Highway of Holiness, upon which men shall walk in the glorious new age soon to be ushered in. (Isaiah 35:5-10) This great highway will lead up to perfection of human nature; for the blessing to the world will not be a change of nature, as with the church, but will be the attainment of perfect human life and an Edenic earth. The redeemed of the earth shall walk upon this great highway, which shall lead to life everlasting upon the earthly plane. But only the willingly obedient shall walk up this highway. The willfully disobedient shall be destroyed. Oh, the grace of God is a wonderful thing! The grace that bringeth salvation to the entire fallen race, giving each member thereof a full individual opportunity to attain life everlasting.