Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Temple of God - Sermon by Brother Russell

The sermon below was delivered by Charles Taze Russell at in 1913, and appears in Pastor Russell's Convention Discourses, beginning on page 359. Some enemies of Russell have taken portions of this sermon out of context in order to make it appear the Mr. Russell was a member of the Freemason organization, or that he was being highly influenced by Freemasons. Of course, those who are familiar with Russell's writings know he was not a member of the Freemason organization, and that Brother Russell was only interested in the comparison of masonry (building) with the building of the spiritual temple of God as spoken of in the Bible, and the fact that the building work of God's temple is not understood by the world. The tens 9f thousands of pages that have been produced from the works give solid evidence that Russell was not in support of the goals of the Freemason organization. Indeed, in this sermon he plainly states: "I have never been a Mason."
We have reproduced the entire sermon here so one may see exactly what Russell was saying and in what context he was making his statements. One can take various statements out of context and give them a meaning that Russell never intended; in this regard, had Russell known that there would be those misrepresenting his statements years later, he might have been more careful in the way he stated the matters. His words were spoken, however, mostly to fellow Bible students who would have understood the meaning of his words.
Some of his statements show that Russell did not fully understand Masonic ritual or teachings as a whole, as, for instance, he fails to distinguish the difference between the Knights Templar and the Freemasons as a whole.
We have expanded the name of Bible books and added some comments in footnotes.
This discourse was delivered in San Francisco at a convention of Bible Students. The audience was mostly those associated with the Bible Students movement, but it is reported that others may have also been present. The address was to: "Christian people, Bible Students from all denominations." This discourse was not, as some have claimed, a sermon delivered to Russell's alleged Freemasons' brethren. The convention was held in Masonic Hall, but Russell often used meeting rooms of many different organizations and churches without any thought of condoning either the organizations or their practices and beliefs.
Our presenting this discourse here should not be construed as meaning that we agree with each and every statement in the discourse, although we do have a general agreement.
The Temple of God
MY TOPIC for this afternoon, dear friends, is found in the Apostle's words, "For the Temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Corinthians 3:17.)
As Christian people, Bible Students from all denominations, it would seem that we have something in our faith that is in sympathy and harmony with each denomination, the world over. Do our Presbyterian friends speak of the election? We more. Do our Methodist friends have the doctrine of free grace? We more. Do our Baptist friends understand the importance of baptism, to some extent? We more. Do our friends of the Christian denomination, and our Congregational friends, appreciate the great privileges of individuality in church government? We more. Do our Masonic friends understand something about the Temple, and being Knights Templars, and so on? We more. Do our Roman Catholic and Church of England friends believe in a Universal church? We more.
In other words, it would seem as though the message of God's Word has been more or less subdivided, and each denomination has taken hold of a piece of the truth, and around that bit of truth has gathered a good deal that we think is erroneous. But we are glad they have that little bit of truth.
If they had not had some truth at least they never would have had an existence at all. So one has taken a little line of truth, and encircled it with theories and made a separate church. God never said they should make a separate church. God never said to make a Baptist church, or Presbyterian, or Methodist church, etc.
The Lord intended to make one Church, and he intended that one Church should have not merely a little scrap of the truth, but all the truth. We are not finding fault with our neighbors and friends --not at all; for we remember we had very similar ideas, and not very long ago; but, without finding any fault with anybody, we are glad that we are coming to see a more reasonable and harmonious way, and, abandoning all church creeds and fences that so long have separated God's people, we come together upon the platform of the Bible, and everything that is in the Bible, and the Bible only. Is not that very happifying to us? Is not that what is bringing us so much blessing in the study of God's Word, as International Bible Students? It is.
So I am glad to address delegates especially here from the Bay cities, and also including some thirty-five states represented in the excursion party. I am very glad to have this particular opportunity of saying a word about some of the things in which we agree with our Masonic friends, because we are speaking in a building dedicated to Masonry, and we also are Masons. I am a Free Mason. I am a free and accepted Mason*, if I may carry the matter to its full length, because that is what our Masonic brethren like to tell us, that they are free and accepted Masons. That is their style of putting it. Now I am a free and accepted Mason. I trust we all are. But not just after the style of our Masonic brethren. We have no quarrel with them. I am not going to say a word against Free Masons. In fact, some of my very dear friends are Masons, and I can appreciate that there are certain very precious truths that are held in part by our Masonic friends.
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*See: Luke 6:47,48; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 3:9,10,12; 14:12,26; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Revelation 3:12.
I have talked to them at times, and they have said, How do you know about all of these things? We thought nobody knew anything about these things except those who had access to our very highest logic. I said that I had been in conference with the Great Master Workman, the Lord himself, and I have secret information through the Holy Spirit and guidance in respect to what the Bible says, and that contains all the truth, I believe, on every subject.* And so if we talk to our Masonic friends about the Temple and its meaning, and about being good Masons, and about the Great Pyramid, which is the very emblem they use, and what the Great Pyramid signifies, our Masonic friends are astonished. One who had been a Mason a long time recently bought a lot of books that had the Great Pyramid discussed, and sent them to I am sure a thousand Masons. He paid for them and sent them out at his own expense. He wanted the Masons to see something about the Great Pyramid. He knew they were greatly interested in that.
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Comments: Some have quoted parts of this paragraph out of context to make it appear that Russell was saying that he was a spiritualist, and claim that he was in contact with evil spirits. However, the context, as well as Russell's works as a whole, show that this is not what he meant.
But we are not going to discuss the Great Pyramid* this afternoon. We are going to discuss free and accepted Masonry -- the Bible Masonry, my dear friends. The Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter are our authority for saying that we are the Temple of God, and that the Temple of God is holy. What does the Lord mean by that? He means this: That God who condemned the whole world as sinners, and declared he would have no fellowship with sinners, has provided a way by which these sinners can come back into harmony with him. And they can only come back through the arrangement He has made in respect to this great Temple.
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For information on the Great Pyramid, see:
http://gp.reslight.net
Well, you say, where is the Temple by which the world can come back to God? I answer, the Temple that God purposes is not yet built. It must be a Great Temple, Brother Russell -- all of these centuries and the building not built yet? That is so. The Great Master Craftsman of our High Order of Free and Accepted Masonry, the Lord Jesus Christ, laid the foundation of it all; as the Bible says, Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ. He has the foundation for high and acceptable masonry, and all that pertains to it. And what has been going on since Jesus' day?
St. Peter says that God is selecting living stones to be parts of that great Temple he intends to construct. Who are the living stones, and what does it mean? You may be one of the living stones, and I may be one; St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, St. James, and all the holy people of God from their day down, have been invited to come in and be living stones in this great Temple which God is erecting.
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1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 3:12.
And this great Temple had its figure back in Solomon's day. The Temple which Solomon erected was a figure, or picture, of the great Temple which God is erecting. The Temple Solomon built had its peculiarities. One very especial peculiarity was that the great stones were taken out from right underneath the site. I was in that quarry once and saw it myself; and some stones were lying there that had been partly prepared and apparently abandoned. But the Temple was built of those stones brought from right near where it was built.
And Solomon's Temple, you remember, had the peculiarity that our buildings of today have; namely, that each stone when it is numbered is made exactly to fit the place in which it is to be located. And then it is marked definitely for that place with signs which the builders understand, and when they come to the construction one stone goes upon another, and everything goes up quietly and orderly, and no confusion about it. Just so it was in the building of that Temple, which is the first building we know of in the world's history that was built along the lines of our modern masonry. That great Temple of Solomon's was built and came together, every stone fitted to its place, and not the sound of a hammer; they did not need to chisel or do anything of the kind; it was not a particle out of true.
What does that represent? That represents you and I; we are the living stones, the Apostle says. And what about our chiseling, and polishing, and branding, for our places? You can see the fitness of it, dear brethren. I need not particularly dwell on that. The trials and difficulties of life are the chiselings that come to all of these stones that God is dealing with. The quarry is the world in general. We are taken out of the world, separated from the world, but we are chiseled in the quarry, made ready for our positions and then taken to the proper place.
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Isaiah 54:11,12; Daniel 11:35
And that has proceeded for how long? For 1,800 and more years, this work of chiseling and preparation. Brother Russell, don't you mean longer than that? No, my dear brother. Were there no living stones before that? No, Jesus was the foundation stone*; there were no stones chiseled out before he came; none could be accepted before that. He did the great work of founding this great order to which we belong, the order of Free and Accepted Masonry.
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*1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20
He is the Grand Master, and we are not to recognize any other. We may indeed recognize assistants in the work, and superintendents in this, that or the other division in the quarry, or in the building, etc., but there is the one Grand Master who has the supervision of the whole matter. He is our Lord and all ye are brethren; one is your Master, even Christ*.
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Matthew 23:10; Ephesians 1:22
You know what experiences you have had in the way of separating you from the world; it was a difficult matter to block out your character first of all and come to the place where you would be separated from the other surroundings of the present time. It was still more difficult perhaps in some respects that you should receive the chiselings, blow after blow, experience after experience, trial after trial, in order that you might be fitted and shaped and prepared for a place in the glorious Temple that is yet to be constructed.
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Ephesians 2:21.
The polishing process is also going on. The polishing properly comes last, I presume. I trust you are getting some of the polishing now. You know we get most of the polishing with each other. You may polish me a little, and I polish you a little; as the Scriptures express the matter, the Bride makes herself ready; it is a polishing process. And here I see a lesson for us as the Lord's followers: that while various severe difficulties, trials and tests may come from the world, yet this very finest polishing of all will come when in contact with the brethren. Therefore, if we learn to love the brethren, and to put up with all the various weaknesses and imperfections that they as imperfect beings may bring to bear on us (and that we bring to bear on them), and if we are rightly exercised by these rubbings together, we get on finally the polishing, the polishing that the Lord describes, you remember, as the fruitage of the Holy Spirit, saying, the fruits of the Spirit are manifest, which are these: meekness, gentleness, patience, long suffering, brotherlykindness, love. And if these things be in you and abound -- if they polish you -- ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. And so it is an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Galatians 5:22,23; Ephesians 5:9,10; 2 Peter 1:2-11.
Well, what about the Temple, Brother Russell? The Temple is in process of construction, we believe, now. And it has not been in process of construction all down through the age? No, simply the foundation was laid, and here we think we have the real picture of the Pyramid: that the foundation was laid in Heaven, and that is the top stone, as the Apostle says. Now that all seems very strange, but we must remember that all of these pictures are unnatural--they are heavenly pictures.
The top stone, Jesus, was first laid there, and all the stones must be fitted up to Him. So the Apostle says that you and I are to be built up into Him, into conformity with the laws of that great Master of ours; for you know the Head of the Pyramid is a perfect pyramid itself, and all the stones under that simply come into line with the top stone; and that top stone is what the Bible declares Jesus is -- the chief corner stone, the foundation of all, and we are being built up instead of being built down. You see how that can be?
The Apostle says we must all be changed, and the gravitation will be the other way -- changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. You could never gravitate upward unless you had the change; but; changed into spirit beings like the Lord, you will be built up and completed with Him on the heavenly plane, far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named. When will this Temple be completed?
To our understanding, with the end of this age comes the building of the Temple. Just as they first got ready all the stones and all materials for Solomon's Temple, and then began the building of it, so we understand that our great Master Workman, the Captain of our Salvation, has been getting ready these living stones all of this time -- supervising the matter under strict rules and regulations as to the shape, size, quality and everything -- and not until the whole number of stones is completed will the construction of the Temple begin. What will the construction be? The construction of the Temple will be that resurrection change from earthly nature to heavenly nature.
But, Brother Russell, all the stones, perhaps, were finished when Solomon began his building? I answer that I presume they were all practically finished, but I do not know that the last of the polishing had been put on all of the stones before some of the work began. So I am assuming now that the work of construction of the Temple has begun. And the Scriptures so intimate when they say that the dead in Christ shall arise first -- beforehand -- and then afterward we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to be with them and with the Lord. So we who are alive and remain, not yet being caught up, are still in the place of polishing and preparation; the good work of the Lord is going on with us, and it is getting us ready for our change. The Temple will not be completed until every living stone is there.
And then what? The next thing will be that which our Masonic friends make so much of, and which we make so much of, namely: the glorification of the temple. That is a grand thing in Masonry. They picture how Solomon, the wise -- the type of Jesus -- offered the sacrifice, and how God accepted it, and the glory of the Lord came into the Temple. Just so our Temple, the Church in glory, will not be the Temple of God until the Heavenly Father himself shall have recognized it. It will be the work of the Lord Jesus to build with these living stones, to shape them, polish them, and finally to translate them to glorious conditions by the resurrection change, and then, all changed, the Temple built, not another stone to be added, not a stone lacking, then it will wait for the Father's action. And what will that be? Pictorially, he shows us.
The glory of the Lord will come upon this living Temple, of which we hope to be the living stones beyond the vail--spiritual beings. This is represented, you remember, in various ways. One way is in the ninety-first Psalm, where the Lord Jesus is represented as introducing the Bride, and how she shall be brought in raiment of fine needle work and gold into the presence of the King.
The Bride class is one picture, the Temple class another picture, but from this picture of the Bride coming in we have the thought that Jesus must first, as it were, as the great Advocate for the Church, present us blameless and irreprovable before the Father in love. Then the Father accepts us. He has already accepted these living stones in the sense that they have received the spirit of the Lord.
The begetting of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle tells us, is the earnest of our inheritance; that which we are to inherit is the glorious fullness of the Father's favor and love beyond the vail. What we now have is a mere foretaste of it -- just a little sample. And if the foretaste is so good, what will the fullness be, when we shall be made like Him, and be filled with the Father's spirit and the divine power, to be thereafter forever God's agency, God's Temple, through which He will manifest himself to angels and to men!
What will be the use of this Temple after it is completed? And what is the Temple for? The use of the Temple was all pictured back in the Law Dispensation. It was to be a house of prayer for all nations. That is what the Temple at Jerusalem was particularly.
You remember it had different courts. First of all was the Most Holy, and the Holy, then came the court in which the Jews might come; then came the women's court, then the court of the Gentiles, and various divisions, representing different classes, as it were. So during the Millennial age -- and this was a picture of the Millennial age -- after the Temple shall have been glorified, God will be in the Church, the divine power operating in it, and all nations will begin to draw near to God! and in order to do so they must draw near to this Temple, because the glory of God will be in her. And this is the name wherewith she shall be named -- The Righteousness of Jehovah. That is to be the name of the church. Will we really be righteous, then? Oh, yes, none except those who are absolutely righteous will be there. All the nations, heathen and all classes, Jews and Gentiles, will come to the Father through this Temple.
Who will be the Priests is another picture. The Priests in this new Temple of the future will be, first, Jesus the great High Priest -- a King and Priest together, a priest upon his throne, after the order of Melchisedec. He is not on the throne yet; he is waiting. Where is he waiting? Why, the Bible says he is waiting at the Father's right hand.
What does it mean by right hand? That is the place of chief favor, right next to the Father. The Father said, Sit at my right hand until the right time comes for your foes to be subjected to you. It is not time yet; just wait awhile. And the time of waiting is the time for preparing those living stones for the Temple. The time in which we wait also represents the preparation of the Royal Priesthood. But we are not Royal Priests yet. Did not St. Peter say, Ye are a Royal Priesthood? Yes, but he was speaking prophetically. You are to be a Royal Priesthood. There is still a chance that you should not be. It is only those who will be declared worthy to sit with him in his throne that will be the Royal Priesthood. "Blessed and holy are all those who have part in the first (chief) resurrection; on such the second death shall have no power." They will be divine. They shall be priests unto God and unto Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years -- "A thousand years, earth's coming glory." Yes, a thousand years for the blessing of the world through this great Temple that God is preparing. A thousand years during which these Knights Templar are to scatter blessings to all the families of the earth. We may not wear our white feathers now, but we will have all white raiment by and by. "They shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy."
Now the question arises, How can we become members of this order? Would you like to become one of these Knights Templar on the heavenly plane. I am not saying anything against the earthly Knights Templar. You can use your own judgment. You know I never advise one way or another respecting what things we shall eat, or drink, or wherewithal we shall be clothed. I merely advise how we come into harmony with God, according to the Bible, and each man and woman must use his or her own judgment respecting the will of God.
If you think it is the will of God you should join the Odd Fellows, and don't feel you are Odd Fellow enough in becoming a follower of the Lord, go and join the Odd Fellows. If you feel that you want to become a member of the Free and Accepted Order of Masonry, and do not feel free and Masonic enough as a follower of Christ, God bless you, use your judgment; that is yours to decide, not mine. But now I am talking about this great order of masonry of which Jesus is the Grand Master.
This Order is to be entered in a peculiar way. There are certain conditions, -- the low gate, the narrow way, the difficult path. Although I have never been a Mason, I have heard that in Masonry they have something which very closely illustrates all of this. It is in riding the goat, etc. And the Bible calls for the goat, you know. The Bible tells you that your goat, which you have to ride more or less every day, is your own flesh. Our Masonic friends have it down very fine. I do not know where they got it so well. I have often wondered where they found out so many of the secrets of our High and Accepted Order of Masonry. From the time you come in to be a member of the Royal Priesthood.
A living stone, a member of the craft of Masonry, from the Lord's standpoint, to be chiseled yourself and to help chisel others, and help prepare one another for the kingdom, a place in the Royal Temple, -- from that moment on it was necessary for you to enter by that narrow, difficult way.
Jesus described it, saying, If any man will be my follower -- that means, if any man will be a living stone in the Temple, if any man will be a member of this High, Free and Accepted Masonry -- let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. And the Masons have another thing, I am told, that represents it -- every stitch of clothing is to be removed, nothing on at all: "nothing in my hand I bring." That is the way it reads with us.
The High Order of Masonry does not leave you a single thing when you enter it. You give up all to the Lord -- everything, yourself included. That is the condition. It is the most stringent condition known in any secret order in the world.
Do you mean that the Lord's Church is a secret order? Yes, surely it is. It is the most wonderful secret order the world has ever known. The mystery of God is not finished yet, the Bible says -- the mystery of God which he has kept secret from the foundation of the world -- will not be finished until the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The Bible tells us that the Church is the mystery -- the mystery is represented in the Church.
So we may walk through the world, and the world knows us not, even as it knew Him not. Did the world know the great Mason when he was here? No. Did the world slay the great Master Mason? Yes. And Masonry also has its chief Mason slain. It is the same picture. The Masons are accepting that first Mason that was slain, because he had the secret.
It is their theory that this first Mason had the secret plans for the Temple, and that when he was slain more or less of the mystery connected with the Temple was lost, and that certain features will not be completed until his resurrection. So the Masons as a body theoretically declare that they are waiting for the return of that first Master Mason who lost his life back in Solomon's day because of the secret of the Temple.
So you and I as under-masons are waiting for the return of our Master Mason who gave his life on this very account in connection with this secret of the construction of the Temple, the Church. So we might find other analogies, but this one of full consecration is the main thing.
The only way in which one enters this High Order of Divine Masonry is by the giving up of himself, full self-surrender--and by riding his goat to death. The goat represents your human nature. If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him; if we be dead with him, it is the condition on which we shall live with him.
It is interesting to know something about the degrees of our Masonry, too. There are some who take merely the initiatory degree, and never go on unto perfection. The first step, or degree, is recognition of Jesus as our Savior, and faith in Him. That will give us a right to go on to higher degrees. Then if we would become of those who have a right to enter into the secrets of the Lord, and know about the mysteries that belong to this High and Accepted Order of Masonry, we must go on to higher degrees, because those who are in the first degree practically know very little.
The Apostle tells us that the natural man, the world, receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. So then, since the mysteries of this Order must be spiritually discerned, you see there are secrets that nobody on earth can find out. More than that, our Masonic friends have great trouble in keeping their secrets from leaking out, but God in his great Secret Society has fixed it so that you can tell all you like about it, and the other man cannot understand it unless he has the key. Jesus preached in the world, preached out in public, and thousands heard him, but very few understood. And you and I might tell the good tidings of great joy, and the Bible says none of the wicked shall understand. Why? Because they must belong to this Order before they have the power, the hearing ear. "Blessed are your ears, for they hear." "Blessed are your eyes, for they see." Not everybody has the hearing ear and seeing eye. It is only those who have come into this divine masonry that have this spiritual insight, and this spiritual guidance, and may know the things that are freely given unto us. It is something that is freely given to one class, and not intended for anybody else.
Why not for everybody? Because God is not dealing with the world. He will deal with the world after he has built the Temple. But they will never be priests, or members of the temple. They will have a great blessing, restitution, human perfection. It will be grand for the world, but it would not be for them to know all about the secrets of this masonry God is carrying on; they would interfere with God's plan; as, for instance, if all the Jews had understood about our Lord Jesus, if they had understood his parables and dark sayings, they would not have crucified him. Then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled? How would God's plan have been carried out? St. Peter said to some of the Jews, I wot that in ignorance ye did this and also your elders, for if they had known they would not have crucified the Prince of Life. How wise then on God's part to keep a little part secret from the world and not let them know too much. Besides, in proportion as the world has knowledge in that same proportion it has increased responsibility.
The more I see of God and His Book, the more I appreciate his wisdom and love and kindness, not only toward this Royal Priesthood, this Temple Class, but also toward those who are ultimately to be blessed of Him through these. So, then, I repeat what Jesus said about the terms of membership. I do not know if we are all members of this order or not. You know our order is so secret we cannot know each other always. Is not that wonderful? I find that is so with Masons also.
Many Masons shake hands with me and give me what I know is their grip; they don't know me from a Mason. Something I do seems to be the same as Masons do, I don't know what it is; but they often give me all kinds of grips and I give them back, then I tell them I don't know anything about it except just a few grips that have come to me naturally.
But the Lord has so arranged this matter that you and I cannot know who are the approved Masons; He alone knows; He alone knows how true and loyal we are at heart. We might put on uniforms and wear feathers--and I think there are many Masons perhaps that go around and parade who do not come up to all the high standards of Masonry either, and some of their Masonic brethren are perhaps ashamed of them. So there are many who come in and have more or less of an outward appearance of being Christians and are not such really at heart.
I wonder how many of us here present have taken the first step, the first degree? I wonder how many have gone on to take the second and third degrees? I wonder how many have come into Knighthood--shall I say?--to be Knights Templar? That simply means to be very honorable in connection with this Temple service; as, for instance, to be leaders in the Church. That is getting up to one of the high degrees, to be leaders in the Church of Christ, to be Knights Templar, to be amongst those who are special functionaries in any matter pertaining of the interests of the Temple, and know most about the things of the Temple. You know that in these orders of Masonry, as they progress from one step to another, they learn more and more, and there are Masons in the thirty-second degree that know a great many things that Masons of the fourteenth or sixteenth plane would not know. And those on the fourteenth plane know a great deal more than those down in the third degree. It is a matter of increased knowledge.
So it is in the Spiritual Temple. The Apostle urges us to come up higher. He tells us to grow in grace, and grow in knowledge, and grow in character likeness of our Lord, and become more and more like the great Chief Commander, the great High Priest of our profession, the great Templar of all Templars, the one who died for us and set us an example; who not only redeemed us and gave us an opportunity to come in and be members of this higher fraternity, but also set us an example of how we also should walk.
A Mason will tell you with a great deal of pride, we Masons try to live up to a high standard. I am sure they do. So I say to you, dear friends. We of the Free and Accepted Order of Masons of the Lord Jesus Christ's Commandery have the very highest standard, and ours is not the cross that is on the head of the sword, but ours is the cross of Christ, the cross with which we must be marked day by day. And our marks are not uniforms and white feathers, but our commander has given us different kinds of marks if we belong to his high Commandery.
One of the very highest of this order of ours, a thirty-second degree spiritual Mason I will call him, was St. Paul. St. Paul in one of his epistles boasted about the kinds of marks he bore. He said, I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am one of His. What did he mean? Oh, they were not marks the world would appreciate! They were marks such as our Savior had, and such as all the high spiritual Masons must have. Where were they, Brother Russell?
St. Paul goes on to tell us, as Jesus had the mark of having been smitten and condemned, and beaten and crucified, those were his marks of faithfulness to God, to truth and to righteousness. So St. Paul says, so many times was I shipwrecked, so many times did I receive thirty-nine lashes over my back, and the salt then rubbed on to make it smart and leave a scar. And he said, in this will I glory. These are the marks and the Masonic Fraternity does not know much about that kind of marks.
It is generally very honorable amongst men, but our Society has its own marks, and there is one that knows all these marks. If you receive any marks in his service, he tells you, Faithful is he who called you who also will do it. What will he do? Oh, he will give us exceedingly, abundantly more than we could have asked or thought and all of these light afflictions which are but for a moment, transitory, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Where? Beyond the vail, in that Temple which is about to be constructed, in the Royal Priesthood, that is about to be established, of which Jesus is the head.
Now, have you taken the first step of humility to acknowledge your sins? Have you acknowledged you have nothing in your hand to bring to make you worthy to be accepted of God? Have you acknowledged that you are trusting in the precious blood of Jesus? Have you taken these degrees? Have you said, Simply to Thy cross I cling? Have you taken that degree? Have you gone on then to say, Lord, I give myself to Thee? And have you received the initiation into this high degree in which you may be called a Priest, a saint of God, a member of the Royal Priesthood? I hope you have.
And are you going on still from grace to grace, from knowledge to knowledge, from one degree to another degree? Are you laying aside the things of life that you may more and more practice or work these things that belong to our order of Free and Accepted Masonry? It is the grandest Masonry of all. It is the greatest Temple of all.
All the other Temples, all the other societies, are only shadows and pictures, or figures, of this one which is the great one of all. No matter where you may come from, no matter who you may have been when you came into the lodge of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be one of this Order, you have a right to the regalia and all that belongs to the Order. And you are not at liberty to go back on that which you have attained. There is only one way that anybody whom the Lord accepts and gives a degree of the Holy Spirit can go out. And if he is once in, there is only one way to put him out, and that must be according to the Lord's arrangements; because there is a secret writing of the names even in our Order.
Their names are written in Heaven. Everything is kept secret. Nobody even knows who the members are. What do you mean by Free and Accepted Masonry? We are free, my dear brethren; not free to do sin, thank God! we do not wish to do sin. Our very desire to come into relationship with God means that we do not love sin, but we are free from it, free from the domination of sin, free from the fear of death, free from that condition of sin and death in which we once were by nature when we were children of wrath even as others.
The shackles have fallen off. If the Son makes you free, then are ye free indeed. And thus every man made free by the Lord Jesus Christ, through the merit of his sacrifice, in thus presenting his body a living sacrifice and being received of God, and inducted fully into this Masonic Fraternity, into this Masonry of the highest order, into this Royal Priesthood, happy is his position, for the spirit of Glory and of God rests on him. And the more he is laying down his life, the more faithful he is, the more attentive to the rules of the Order, the more progress he will make, the higher will be his station; he will rise from stage to stage and from degree to degree until he shall have the highest rank and be in the fullest sense in favor with the great Chief Captain of our Salvation.
The Lord gives another picture of the Temple through the Apostle Peter. It is a very good thing to have this in view at the same time. It is one thing to think of the glory and another thing to think of the present time difficulties. He says to each of us, Know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? Those persons who have received the Holy Spirit are Temples of the Holy Spirit. It is not the world.
The world by nature knows not God; the world is under condemnation; the world are called in the Bible, "children of wrath." God has not begun to deal with them yet nor to give the blessings He intends for them. He is now only dispensing blessings that belong to the Church class, to those who come into this position of receiving the Holy Spirit. Now we have not received the Holy Spirit in full.
We explained a while ago that the Holy Spirit in full will be given beyond the vail, when all of these living stones as the completed Temple will be filled with the Glory of God. That will be the glorification in full. But there is a sense in which you received the Holy Spirit when you gave up your will to the Lord, and the Holy Spirit came into your own heart. And in that sense of the word this body of yours became a temple. Wherever God's spirit is, there is a temple. So the Apostle says, Know ye not that ye are the temple of the Holy Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you? Have you received it, my dear brother? And is it dwelling in you? I hope you have not grieved it or ignored it, or lived contrary to this new spirit with which you have been begotten. The Apostle says, Grieve not the Holy Spirit wherewith you were sealed unto the day of redemption. From the very time that stone was taken to be worked upon, from the time it was sealed, the preparation began. That is, it was marked as one of the stones of the Temple.
We have received the seal, the mark of the Holy Spirit. Now, then, the chiseling and polishing goes on. The Apostle says we have this treasure, the Holy Spirit, in earthen vessels that the glory may be of God. That is to say, God's Holy Spirit that you have received constitutes you a temple. It is not a very satisfactory temple, is it? No, it is not. It is more like a tabernacle, as the Apostle elsewhere calls it.
What is the difference between a temple and a tabernacle? A temple is a permanent structure, a tabernacle is a temporary structure. So the Apostle calls our present condition, in which the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, a tabernacle condition; it is not to last forever; it is to be for the present time. If we are rightly exercised by this power of God in us, and learn the lessons and have the experiences, then we will be ready for the Temple conditions.
They are different pictures--blended pictures. The Temple is one figure and the Tabernacle is another. But the thought is, if the Holy Spirit dwell in you, that means that you should regard your bodies very sacredly. The Apostle in that same connection, goes on to say, What communion hath light with darkness? What harmony is there between the Temple of God and the Temple of idols? Or, between the purity that belongs to the Temple of God and the impurities that belong to the flesh, the world and the devil? Do you see the wide distinction?
You have been accepted into this high Order of being Temples of the Living God, and he has placed his Holy Spirit in you, and now we see that as a Temple of God we should be pure and clean. We see that this sanctifying power of God extends and operates through all your powers, in your mind as well as in your tongue, and in your words, and in your hands, and where your feet should go. And so one of our hymns says most beautifully:
Take my life and may it be,
Lord, acceptable to thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift on errands, Lord, for thee;
Take my voice and let it bring
Honor always to my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Moved with messages from thee;
Take my silver and my gold;
Nothing, Lord, would I withhold.
We are all His Temple -- the whole Body is the Temple of God -- and here we see finally the threefold picture of the Body of Christ. We have the Body of Christ first of all in the sense that we become members of the spiritual company of which Jesus is the Head. That is the Body of Christ you enter when you make your consecration. That is one picture of the Body of Christ. Now another is that Body of Christ beyond the vail, the elect of God, the Royal Priesthood class -- all the Body of Christ of which He is the Head. But there are more of this present Body of Christ begotten of the Holy Spirit than will be in that after Body of Christ -- many more. Why? Because not all of those who have been called, not all of those who have been accepted, will be finally found worthy to be of that Royal Priesthood. Some of them will even be found worthy of going into the second death, and be utterly destroyed, if they turn to the flesh, and the world, and the devil, and live in these things.
Then there is still another class, a large class that will not prove disloyal but they will not be sufficiently zealous; they will not deny the Lord and go into the second death, as those who turn their back on righteousness; but having a love for righteousness, and a great love for the Lord, they still do not have enough zeal and fervency of spirit to make them worthy to be accounted members of that Royal Priesthood class.
What will be done with them? The Bible tells us that they will constitute a great company out of all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues, and that they must wash their robes. They do not keep their robes unspotted from the world, therefore they must wash them and make them white. But how? It will be in great tribulation they will wash them; but the power of cleansing is not in the tribulation; the power of cleansing is in the blood. They must wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
Now we are glad indeed that the Great Company class will thus be brought up even through great tribulation. They will be the anti-typical Levites, the Great Company class of Revelation. Do you wish to be of that class? Or do you wish to be of that class to which God has invited you? Remember they were all called in one hope of their calling. There was just the one invitation sent out. There was the same begetting of the Holy Spirit in every case, and the difference between the Little Flock, the Royal Priesthood, and that Great Company of the Anti-typical Levites who will be servants of the Priests in all of the glorious work of the future is that the one was more zealous, more like the Lord, and the others hung back.
Why? The Bible describes it -- through fear of death. Didn't they know they had consecrated to death? Yes. They knew they gave their lives but still they hung back. The pleasures of life, and family, and wealth, whatever it may be, held them back. They never really carried out what their own hearts desired. They wanted to do it, they saw the pattern, Jesus running in the race; they saw the Apostles running along in the same narrow way.
They have seen saintly ones since then going hastily along with good courage, and do not seem to be afraid of death at all; they plunge right in and seem to enjoy it; and they say, Here I am, fear of death -- Oh, I would like to be with them! But they hold back, fear of death and love of the world -- do not like to break it off. They look away awhile from the pathway, and get absorbed in the world and are crushed with the cares of life. By and by they look back and something calls their attention to the narrow way. O, yes, I would like to be of those running in the narrow way. I almost envy them! Why don't you go? Well, you know I cannot; I have so many things here; it seems to me I have more to break loose from than other people.
If you love the Lord more you will love the world less. We all love the world naturally to begin with. Therefore it is a test as to how much you love the Lord. The Lord says, in speaking of the Bride class, He that loveth father or mother or houses or lands, or self, or any other thing more than he loves Me is not worthy to be My disciple. That settles it.
So then, these dear friends -- good people, honest people, they love righteousness, they like to give money to good causes, they appreciate saintly living and all of that, but they are holding back through fear of what it is going to cost. They made the consecration else they would not be of this class at all. They gave their life to the Lord, but they have not faith enough, perhaps.
More faith would say, "Jesus says that all things shall work together for good, so He will make them work together for me, and I will go on, laying aside every weight and besetting sin and everything that would hinder me from running the race with patience. I need more faith and zeal, more love." How do we get more love? We get more love of the Lord the more we think about Him and about what He has done for us, and His glorious plan.
Well, says one, I have been that way, but Brother Russell, I get filled up sometimes, just running over with love for God and appreciation of His plan, then it seems to all go away. Why, yes, naturally enough. You know you have an earthen vessel that is leaky; you cannot hold in very much; you must come often and stay long enough at the throne of Heavenly Grace that you may obtain the streams of blessing from God, in order that you may keep full.
You cannot expect to pray once a week and keep filled with the Spirit. I do not think you could expect to pray once a day and keep filled with the Spirit. I would not expect to. I believe we need to go frequently to the throne of Heavenly Grace. What for? To obtain mercy.
Mercy for what? For your imperfections. There is none perfect, no not one, and if you do not acknowledge it and do not get these imperfections cleansed away day by day, your robe will not be fit to be seen when you come into the presence of the great King. You are on test to see where you will be fit to be. That is the thought the Bible gives us. We all know that none are worthy to begin with, and when we come into the Lord's company a robe is given to each one there -- a white robe representing purity covering all our garments.
Our own garments, you know, are like filthy rags; you haven't any righteousness at all. You would better not tell everybody all you know about your own natural robe. But the Lord's arrangement is that all those coming through the straight and narrow gate making a consecration and entering this high order of Priesthood shall be given clean, new garments. Oh! it is nice to have on something nice and clean, sweet, good, and to know that now we can come into God's presence and, figuratively speaking, He will not recognize our imperfections, but we will be there as one of His, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. It is so nice to come in amongst the Lord's brethren and to recognize that we all meet on a level, and part on the square, and all can feel that the robe of Christ's righteousness makes us all common members of the one fraternity. It is a very blessed thing.
One says, I knew that man ten years ago; he was a drunkard in the gutter. Never mind about what he was ten years ago. He has come into this High and Accepted Order of Spiritual Masonry, he has become a member of the Royal Priesthood; he wears the livery of God, given him through the Lord Jesus Christ, the robe of Christ's righteousness. There is not a spot on that robe. None may say a word against him truthfully, or properly. All his past is under the blood; Jesus has made him whole; he is accepted as a member of this spiritual Masonry. Thank God! That is the way we should view each other.
All of these spiritual Masons should know each other, not after the flesh but after the spirit. Now, what about this robe, Brother Russell? Can anybody wear His robe? Well, the instruction is to keep your garments unspotted from the world. So you watch from the time you become Christian. Oh, you say, seeing how much sin there is in the world, how many allurements and pitfalls there are, how can I ever keep from making a mistake or misstep, getting too close to something that would soil my garments?
The Apostle says to walk circumspectly. That means, looking all around at every step you take. That means that whether you move out to this ranch, or into that city house, whatever you do, you shall think first of all how it will affect you as a New Creature -- not how it will affect your pocketbook merely. When Lot went down and lived in Sodom he made a very bad choice, and if you go and live in Sodom in order to get the beautiful advantages of earthly things, you will be making a bad choice. With every one of us it is the same. So he that is begotten of the spirit and has this robe of Christ's righteousness is to walk very circumspectly. What he eats? Yes. You don't mean that, do you? Yes, I do. Whether ye eat, or whether ye drink, whether ye buy or whether ye sell, whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God. That is the Bible way. That is the way you will progress and keep your garments unspotted. If you are not careful you will get spots on them and if you are careful you will get some spots also.
Do you suppose anybody except the Lord Jesus ever walked through this world of sin and imperfection without getting some spots on his robe? None but He. You have gotten some on your robe, and I have gotten some on my robe--everybody has gotten some. Well, what shall we do? How can we walk through the world unspotted from the world and be in the end without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, as the Bible says, if you say it is impossible to go through the world without getting spots or wrinkles?
The answer is that God has provided a fluid that will take off these spots -- they are figurative spots and it is a figurative fluid. The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If you have a spot on your robe that is the thing to do, and the more earnest you are, the more you love the Lord, and the more you appreciate that grand prize of our High Calling, the more diligent you will be to keep your garments unspotted. What will that mean? That will mean that every morning you will go to God in prayer -- perhaps many times in the day, but at least every morning -- and say, Lord help me to so live today that I may walk with thee unspotted from the world. Will that do, Brother Russell? Well, that will do for a start, dear brother, then you must watch. The Lord said to watch and pray, so you have prayed, now go on watching and watch the best you can all day that you keep far away from all sin. You say, I cannot make more than half as much of a fortune. Better not have any fortune. Better enter into the Kingdom a bankrupt to some extent as far as earthly things are concerned than having much riches to be cast out as unfit for a place in the Kingdom.
Well, you say, suppose in spite of ourselves we get a spot? That is the thought, dear brother, you will get a spot in spite of yourself--perhaps the very moment you are not thinking; therefore it is all the more important to try to keep thinking, watching, watching, because even in spite of watchings you will get some spots and if you don't watch you will run into nearly everything.
Did you ever notice a lady with a white dress going down the street? If she has worn a white dress many times you will see she watches her steps carefully and when she comes near something likely to soil, she will turn the skirt over. That is the right idea.
You have a robe and I have a robe and every now and then we need to "keep" our garments that they may not be spotted with the world. And if you get a spot what would you do? The right thing would be to make some apology to the Lord at the very minute you noticed it, and say, Lord forgive me, I have made a mistake there; I will try to be more careful.
And then you may not have an opportunity to say more to the Lord on the subject before evening; but you need to go before you retire to rest, and it should be that you would be so anxious for the Lord's smile that you could not possibly go to sleep without being sure there were no earthborn cloud between your soul and the Lord. That is the only way to live close to God. That is the way to keep your garments. There is no patent way, dear brother -- no other royal road. That is the royal road that the Lord has marked out for all His followers who would gain the prize.
Then the next day perhaps it is the same thing in a little different form -- so much the same though that you feel more discouraged than you did the first time. Now! that is practically the same thing; it came just a little different. Before I knew it there it went, and I got that spot again. Now you feel more ashamed of that spot than you did of the other one? Why? Because you had told the Lord before that you would be very careful, and if possible you would never do that same thing again, yet it was pretty near the same thing. Oh, you felt sick almost at heart! What would you do? Well, there is just one right thing to do, even if it is the seventieth time seventy, and that is to do what the Lord has instructed you, through the Apostle, to do: To go with courage -- Oh, you say, Brother Russell, I had courage the first time. Well, brother, there is only the one way. I cannot go, Brother Russell. There is only one way to do, to go with courage to the throne of heavenly grace that you may obtain mercy and forgiveness, and may find strength, grace, to help you in future times of need. That is God's way.
Well, Brother Russell, I cannot see any good in that. There is a great deal of good in it if it is God's way. And He is pleased to have it that way. Besides, there is another good thing in it -- you will be humbled by it; it will bring you right down low in the dust. If we can go and acknowledge the same thing over a second time, or a third time, or a tenth time, Oh, it should make us all the more humble, so that we could hardly feel as though we could lift up our eyes to the Lord at all! Yet it is the only thing we can do.
Do you want to leave those spots on your robe? That is a mistake some make, and after they have gone once or twice and had forgiveness, then they make mistakes and grow cold, and the spots multiply on their garments. Then some might say, I see you have several spots on your robe? Oh, yes, everybody has them. They try to hide them, or they don't amount to much -- most people have more than that. Now that is just the wrong thought. That person cannot go to the Lord, and that is what stopped most of the family or individual prayer -- spots on the robe.
You have got to get right down and acknowledge those spots, or they will get the better of you--one or the other. If your robe continues in that way, and you do not get it cleansed, be sure that when the grand end of the age comes, and the Master will inspect, He will not say that you may walk with Him in white for you are worthy, and that your robe is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. If you are amongst those who have the spots and wrinkles, then you are in that class that is mentioned in Revelation -- the Great Company. There will be a good many of them.
They started well, and went on until they found faults coming, and they were not humble enough to accept God's arrangement for their sins, they broke off communion, and therefore the sins got more and more the better of them. So while they still loved righteousness, still preferred it -- they did not prefer sin, they did not prefer the devil and his service -- yet they are not fit for the Kingdom.
No one is fit to be of the Bride class except he wear that wedding garment without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But I am glad that God has something for these dear brethren. They will come through great tribulation -- more tribulation perhaps than they would have had if they had walked right in the footsteps of the Lord. We are not forgetting it says that through much tribulation we shall enter the Kingdom.
The Little Flock will go through great tribulation, but they have so much of the spirit of the Master that they do not feel the tribulation nearly so much. Notice Paul and Silas, their backs beaten with thirty-nine blows each, until the blood came, then washed with salt water, and yet they were able to sing praises to God in prison. That is the spirit of the overcomers.
Do you think they suffered nearly as much as someone else would have suffered under the same circumstances? I tell you no. And so it is with all of those who suffer with Christ. They have the spirit of loyalty and zeal, and the spirit of glory and of God rests on them. It compensates so much to know that these are only light afflictions in comparison to the blessings that shall come, and are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things of this present time, but at the things that are unseen --the things of glory beyond the vail. We trust that as we think over the gracious arrangements our Father has made for us, we are more and more determined that by His grace we will have that which He offers to us, that which He is most pleased to give us and that by His grace we will be--conquerors?
Yes, the Great Company will be conquerors. We read palm branches were given to them. Thank God, they will have the palms of victory! If they do not get the victory they would never be on the spirit plane at all. No one will ever get everlasting life unless he gains the victory. But they have to gain it by being pushed into the great time of trouble, forced to the point where they decide for God or for sin, and they will finally decide for God and come off conquerors. Oh, we are glad! Conquerors before the throne.
But the more than conquerors are those in the throne; they are such as rushed on toward the prize; presenting their bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, their reasonable service, they delighted to do God's will, even as their Leader did. These shall be accounted worthy to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom. Let us, dear brothers and sisters, choose the wise part. Let us count all other things as but loss and dross that we might win that pearl of the Kingdom.
You remember Jesus said that if you once got your eyes on that pearl to go and sell all that you have and buy it. You cannot give too much to get that pearl -- the prize of our High Calling in Christ.
Some Related Links
I Am a Free and Accepted Mason - Why did Russell make this statement?


This post has been updated slightly since its original of 2009; Latest Update: November 2014.

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