Faith

faithAn article on faith might be given when things are starting to roar in the world, as they might soon.  But we would rather think along the line of the Apostle Paul and our Lord Jesus, whose faith was so real to them.  Our Lord spent 3½ years of his life in faith.  The Apostle Paul, some thought to be beside himself (crazy).  Jesus and Paul were walking as new creatures–the way they saw things was by the eye of faith.

So maybe we can remind you of some of these things and encourage you to seek more fully the blessed walk of faith.  If we try to go this walk without faith, it is not joyous and we will not go very far; but how beautiful, how joyous it is walking as new creatures by faith with God-a joy unspeakable.

We’ll now mention some on what faith is.  The word faith in the New Testament comes mainly from the Greek word “pistis” which is also translated assurance, belief, believe, believeth and fidelity.  The word also has the thought of persuasion and conviction.  In Heb. 11:l the Apostle Paul gives a definition of faith: “Now faith is the substance (margin–confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  The Weymouth translation reads, “Now faith is a confident assurance of the reality of things which we do not see.”

What a wonderful thing!  Faith has two principal elements.  First, an intellectual assurance, which would be having an intellectual grasp of some of the basic doctrines: one supreme Almighty God, a Plan of Redemption, of which Jesus Christ and his ransom sacrifice for all are the central themes.  These and other features might be styled the foundation of our faith, the ground work.  The second part would be the trust and reliance on God’s promises to us, upon our Father, the one who has given us new life and who invites the implicit confidence and love of His children.  This latter part we might consider as making up the heart reliance.  Both of these are needed.

Our faith will become so real to us, if we are obedient.  The Pastor said: “Faith and obedience are like our two feet.  We put one forward, then the other, and so we develop in faith by continuing in the spirit of obedience, doing whatever the Lord would have us do.  Our faith will become a substance to our minds which will clarify things to us.”  Faith becomes as real and tangible to us as any material substance, even more so; for the things upon which our faith lays hold are eternal.  It is said that faith is the operation, the exercise of our minds in respect to God and His promises.

Not every one has faith.  Some because they do not have the knowledge of God or because they are too fallen, cannot exercise a trust a confidence in God.  Also the god of this world hath blinded men that they believe not, but think this to be foolishness.

When we approached God we had some measure of faith, some measure before we consecrated, yet the faith by which we were enabled to accomplish our consecration even unto death, was not of ourselves–we had no such faith when God first laid hold upon us.  He developed in us that faith by the revelation of His love, through His promises by the Word.

But when we become sons and come under the anointing of the Holy Spirit then Faith blossomed.  These new creatures then gladly sacrifice the things they can see and hold for the things that they can’t see or hold, but are convinced are there.  “God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit which searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10)  This is part of the Lord’s blessing for the church at the present time.  This spirit-begotten faith in things not yet seen is part of the saints’ present inheritance and would be closely linked with the sealing of the spirit.  The more we know of our God the more faith we can have.  This doesn’t mean though, the more we know of our God the more faith we will have.  Just to show this we mention Satan–he knows a lot about God, but he doesn’t have any heart-reliance on Him.  But if we do go in the healthy spiritual walk, a step of knowledge, a step of grace, we should do fine, and it will be a joy to study and learn more of our God, to increase our faith.

Yes, Faith is an all-important matter to the true Christian and none can please God without it.  Paul said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh unto God must first believe that he is and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

God created man to be higher than the brute creation–man can appreciate more than the mere physical senses.  “Man was made to glorify his Creator and to have a knowledge of Him in order to obtain the fullest happiness and blessing from the enjoyment of his God-given faculties.”  We’re now in what is called the “faith age” and God is specially pleased to deal with and reward His spirit-begotten children according to their faith.  It is a wonderful thing to walk by faith, to trust in the hand of our great Jehovah God.  It is a most wonderful way to test someone, and very soon this way shall be over and the people shall walk by sight.  But God shall reward not only the faithful Christians, those of this age but also those of times past that loved God and had faith in Him.  He will reward them shortly–the Ancient Worthies that Paul tells us about in the 11th chapter of Hebrews–their faith was counted unto them for righteousness.

The Ancient Worthies shall be rewarded with perfect human life when they are resurrected, before the world of mankind return.  They experienced character development during their lifetime. (Heb. 11:120)  Jude tells us a little bit more about Enoch. (Jude 14-16)  He must have been separated somewhat from the others by his faith, for the darkness hateth the light.  And Noah–they must have laughed at him as he said it was going to rain–it had never rained before: “For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, but there went up a mist from the earth.”  Noah probably worked at this for 100 years–that’s quite a while, but he had faith in God.  He trusted in God’s promises.  Abraham is the next one that Paul shows forth as a hero of faith.  Abraham is called, “The Father of the Faithful.”  With Abraham, God started a faith family, to whom were given many and great promises.  The Gospel was first declared to Abraham and all who believe in that gospel of a Messiah are called the children of Abraham.  And there is another way that we can view Abraham as the Father of the Faithful.  He typified the Heavenly Father; Isaac typified Jesus, and Rebecca typified the church.  It was by faith that he and his family left the land of the Chaldeans–faith in God’s promise to him; by faith he sojourned there and believed that he would have a seed even though Sarah was past age.  And then when the seed did come he was asked to slay it.  But Abraham accounted that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead.  What a blessing Abraham will get when he is resurrected–God will greatly reward his faith.  Yes, Abraham had faith, he had more than a hope.  If Abraham had just thought all these things up, that he would possess the land and that he and his seed would bless all the families of the earth –well Abraham might have hoped a lot but it wouldn’t be faith.  Faith is more than hope.  Faith implies a promise, and when the promise is given by the Great Creator of the universe, we see that Abraham had good reason to trust in the promises.

And so do we, for with Him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  We saw that this same God held out certain promises.  We saw that God planned to restore the world of mankind and that we would have a share in that if we continued on earth–but God held out the promise that if we gave up all that life on earth and lived a life of sacrifice now and gave ourselves completely to Him, even at the cost of suffering that He would let us be with Him and His Son as spirit beings of the divine nature, helping to uplift the world of mankind.  So we, by faith gladly gave up our future inheritance on earth.  By faith we completely gave ourselves to God forever to serve him.  By faith we lay hold upon the Lord’s promised grace to help in time of need.  By faith we believe that He that started this good work in us is able to finish it.  This good work that is done in us is sanctification, being sanctified, being set apart to God.  We are transformed into the image of God’s son by the renewing of our minds.  Faith is a very important part of sanctification.  It is by faith that we believe all things work together for good to those — who love God and are called of Him according to His purpose.  It is by faith we sacrifice present pleasures and suffer persecution believing that these work out a good character in us that they are God’s will, and that we shall be rewarded afterward.

By faith we try to use every ability, every talent in God’s service.  By faith we build one another up in this most holy faith which we believe is the true faith once delivered to the saints.  By faith we look forward to intimate communion and fellowship with our Father and Jesus, already having a foretaste this side of the vail.  Yes, when our spiritual eyes and heart are clear, we try as hard as we can, we say to ourselves “I’m going to be faithful; I’m going to extend every bit of effort to do the right things to become like Jesus.”  We believe this is the proper attitude and one pleasing to the Father.  When we look to Jesus by faith, what an example we see–the Author and Finisher of our faith, the One by His example and teaching has inspired our faith and who will, if we continue to follow His leadings, do His will, He will finish and establish our faith so that we will be immovable.

By faith Jesus left His pre-human existence, trusting in God that He would be born a man and if He proved faithful in His mission, He again would receive a spirit nature.  By faith He consecrated; and by faith He endured the self-sacrifice even unto death, even though He had no place to lay His head, He trusted in the Father.  By faith He accepted all things as of the Father’s overruling.  For 3 ½ years He wandered around Israel, things were so plain before His eyes of faith.

If we could continue to the end of our course as He did to the end of His–continue on as He did all the time.  In our imperfect state, how easy it would be to lay back awhile and forget the picture our eyes see when they are in tune with the true reality.  The true reality is that we are new creatures, running in a Narrow Way of loyalty, self-sacrifice and suffering.  We are sons of the Most High and should act like His sons.  Not that we would go about boasting of this, but that we should obey Him because He knows what is best for us, and if we’re in the right heart condition we should rejoice in His will knowing it is the best for our new creature interests, and that is what we want to prosper in, isn’t it?

Sometimes the old man would have it otherwise and starts to get our heart going the other way, and then our eyes of faith get dim and our Father’s will starts to seem grievous.  Then we need some eye salve.  But we should want to please our Heavenly Father, and make Him happy.  No doubt our Heavenly Father is very pleased about many things.  As it makes our earthly fathers happy when we do their will joyfully, so it pleases our Heavenly Father when we keep His commandments, joyfully and act as it becomes the sons of the Most High.

Ambassadorship is closely linked with this last part–we are ambassadors for a far-off country; and also we’re stewards.  Stewards–that’s easy to forget.  All we have to do is to forget about it.  So much depends upon our viewpoint.  Who’s viewing things–the old man or the new creature?  We only have one body at this time and two minds.  To the old man  these things are grievous, but to the New Creature, when the eyes of faith are clear, these things are marvelous.  Imagine, if we’re faithful.  We shall hear that “well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”

What wonderful joys they shall be!  We shall see God; shall live for eternity–that’s a long time.  And we shall be of the divine nature.  We shall be able to uplift the world of mankind from the dark pit they are in now.  Truly there are wonderful things set before us.  The prizes of this earth we should count as loss and dross if our eyes are properly focused and our hearts are in tune, if we are in the proper heart attitude.

The Apostle James tells us a little more along this line concerning our faith and how our actions will be if we have faith. (James 2:14-28)  The word “work” as used by James, can also be translated actions, and might be thought of as fruitage of character.  The apostle is not speaking contrary to the truth, that we are justified by our faith.  Maybe some in the early church had swung to the extreme of saying “I believe this, I believe that” and sitting down, and that is all.  James is saying that if the right kind of faith be developed in the heart, it will surely bear fruit and make an outward manifestation.  This would be in accordance with our Lord’s words, “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7: 16)

We are begotten by the Holy Spirit and if we keep that spirit, eventually a quickening will take place in us–a desire to serve the Lord, a spirit of activity.  We might use the example of an unborn infant.  The infant would correspond to faith.  By and by the infant would start to kick–a quickening.  This would correspond to the quickening of the new creature.  As in the natural unborn infant, the period of quickening may come sooner or later, but the strength, the vigor of the unborn infant is usually estimated by the degree of quickening.  So it is with the spiritual creatures, those not completely born.  When we have grown in faith properly, when faith has developed sufficiently, the degree of activity in obedience to God in the service of the Truth and righteousness and the brethren, will indicate the strength or the weakness of spiritual development as a new creature.  After having heard, seen and, tasted of the grace of God and enjoyed it, there should be a desire to serve our Father to show others these wonderful things.  But if we do not have such a desire we should try to stimulate the desire.  A faith that will not develop obedience in harmony with ability is in sore trouble.  For a New Creature, quickening is absolutely necessary before one could be born a spirit being.

So as the apostle says, as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith  without works is dead also.  Or faith without actions or a character is dead.  When we think about the parables of the pounds or talents, we can see what the apostle was saying.  The Apostles Peter, James and John were very energetic and zealous.  These were those that Jesus loved most; so we want to be burning with fervency of love for the Lord and appreciation of His great love and His beautiful plan of the ages.  So we see that we should want to increase our faith.

We might ask, “Well, how do I go about having my faith increased?”  One of the first things to do would be to ask it of the Lord as the apostles did, “Lord increase our Faith.”  That’s very fine.  The Lord will do His part if we do our part.  Some might say, “Well don’t the scriptures declare that faith is the gift of God?”  Yes, they do.  Every good and perfect gift cometh from above.  But how is this gift given?  We have some faith when we first come to God, but then He supplies the necessary ingredients for our faith to grow.  When He begets us of the Holy Spirit then it can grow wonderfully.  It is said because we have the divine instruction, we are taught by His Word and providences. (Rom. 10:17)  If God did not come and help us, would we have such faith?  Surely not, it is a gift of God.  The Scriptures also declare it to be His workmanship and a fruit.  So God will do His part, He will not withhold this thing from His children.

But we ask, what do we have to do to increase our faith?  First we would say prayer.  We would ask in faith, nothing wavering, and as Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  We have to watch for the Lord’s fulfillment after we have asked.  Maybe sometimes we forget to watch, but we have to continually guide ourselves in the right manner.  Our Father has promised us that he will give us certain things and we should believe Him.  It might appear at times that He has forgotten our requests, but we should persist in our petitions if we know it is a proper thing to ask of Him.  He might withhold the blessing until we are in the proper attitude to appreciate it.

Next, we would think of study as a means to increasing our faith–study of the wonderful plan of the ages, proving it to ourselves by the scriptures.  History also bears it out and by watching world events of the present day we see prophecies being fulfilled before our eyes.  As we go along day by day, we are watching, our mental eyes are watching different points, thinking how the plan fits together; and we may hear someone say something, something in the news, and we say, well, that confirms what I know to be true all the more.  As we go along, we become more and more convinced and know the things we have learned are real.

Next in our steps to increasing faith is the taking unto ourselves of God’s exceeding great and precious promises.  If we have made a full surrender of ourselves and have been accepted of the Father, we can take these unto ourselves, and should take them.  Having taken these unto ourselves we can have the rest of faith, if we are faithfully carrying out our covenant.  We can have, if fully trusting in Him, the peace of God which passeth all understanding.  Even though the sea roar and the mountains be moved into the midst of it, yea though we walk through the valley of the shadow death we shall fear no evil for God is with us.  These promises should be read and taken unto self.  When we are in sore distress we can take that beautiful promise given through Isa. “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  And there are so many wonderful promises.  Isn’t it wonderful how the apostle said, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”

Another step would be watching the Lord’s overruling providences of our experiences in life.  Sometimes we’re in a jam, it doesn’t look like things can be worked out, and then the Lord will so easily just click things into place.  Or He might overrule things so that we can meet with the friends at a convention, or maybe even as we drive along the road, keeping us from a near accident, or permitting us to be in one to learn some needed lessons.

Yes, the Lord has made wonderful provisions for us to have our faith increased, but we have to walk in the appointed way.  Seeking to put on the fruits and graces of the spirit would also be a way of having our faith increased; and also seeking to be used by the Lord in His service.  He will provide it if we really want it.  So often we hear the dear friends testimonies–how the Lord answered their prayers for opportunities of service.  Maybe they ask for witnessing opportunities and they get them in wonderful ways–this is strengthening to faith.

So we want to increase our faith as we see it is said by the Master, “According to your faith be it unto you.”  It is highly ranked as being something that we need to make our calling and election sure.  So we never want to lose our faith.  We realize that Satan would try with his fiery darts and many tricks that he has learned.  So we need to have the shield of faith.  And we should never doubt–we should never let slip our faith in God.  We should be like Joshua and Caleb and not like the ten spies and the rest of Israel who trusted not in the arm of the Lord.  We should be as the three Hebrew children. Jehovah is our God; He is our Father.  We should never entertain any thought of doubt.  That is what Satan wants us to do, sow seeds of doubt.

One should become established in the knowledge of the doctrines lest when a fiery trial of faith come upon us, and we would fall to Satan who would cut our foundation away–our faith in God, and faith in God’s Son along with the ransom work.  We should learn the doctrines.  Doctrines are teachings, God’s teachings concerning His Plan of the Ages.

Satan will come to one of the friends when maybe he has fallen in a shortcoming, maybe a serious shortcoming and will try to get into his mind and will start generating the thought that God will not receive him back again.  Maybe he has fallen short in the same thing quite a bit, and this time maybe he partially willfully walked into it.  Satan will try to stress the point of “willfully.”  He watches, we believe, for our weak points and tries to work on him.  But this point of “willfully”–we would think that if the brother had any remorse for doing the wrong thing, that it would not be considered a “willful” sin, one for which there is no recourse but second death.  Yes, Satan will really try to get one frightened, even terrified.  He will try to put him into the second death class; then if that doesn’t work he’ll quickly put him in the Great Company class.  You see how a knowledge of God’s teachings is so important.  What beautiful love and mercy we have shown us in the parable of the prodigal son.  Here is a knowledge of God.  But even when we see that we’re maybe not in the Great Company.  Satan might try to give us the thought that we’re going out of the truth, that we’ve got the wrong spirit.  We might feel that we have to wrestle with the Lord till morning to receive His favor back again.  But we have that heart reliance upon the Lord.  If we have partially, willfully, walked into something wrong, we might expect some stripes for it–maybe the Lord’s favor withdrawn for a short season.  But then we know we are His sons and that He loves us–he chastens us; and we know, that His favor will return.  “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.”  Satan will try to destroy our faith in the precious promises, but we have to use the two parts of our faith-intellectual and heart reliance.  He’ll try to get us to forget that the Father is overruling all things, that all things work together for good to those who are called of God, according to His purpose.

Satan will try his utmost to get us depressed and to get us to forget that the Lord wants to form in us that wonderful character trait of patient endurance, of sometimes patiently, cheerfully, enduring our own weaknesses.  But we have to have faith in God, that He will accept us if we’re of a contrite heart. (Prov. 24:16)  Yes it is quite a battle.  But so much better is the course run if we’re faithful, if we’re obedient.  We can rejoice knowing that the trial of your faith is very precious in the sight of the Lord.  Even if we’re faithful the Lord might withdraw His spirit for a short season so that we might have more of the experiences as our Lord Jesus had–of having the Father leave us.  If this should happen, we might think, well here is an opportunity to show the Lord that I trust Him, even though I can’t see Him–I trust Him.

So, dear Friends, we want to have faith and we want to be properly exercised by this faith to follow in the footsteps of our dear Lord; to have the new creature rule, sound in faith, with the Lord clear before our eyes in love and joy.  Especially we who are the last members to be here with our Lord reigning, we can lift up our heads and rejoice to see that our deliverance and that of the world draweth nigh.

So brethren, we hope you will have a victorious race “for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith.”  Always remember that the Lord is overruling things.  He is at the helm.  Even though you have a fiery trial with the brethren, or in the family, or whatever comes to be a fiery trial, trust in the Lord.  You are as the apple of His eye.  When things look bad, remember when almost all left Jesus, except for a few., the twelve, and Jesus asked Peter “will you also go away?”; and Peter said, “Lord to whom will we go, thou hast the words of eternal life.”  And He does!  Nothing else is like the Bible–it must be God’s Word.  And we have proven it to ourselves, and we have proven that which we call the “plan of the ages”–that it is in fact the DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES.  Our eyes have been anointed.  We have come under the anointing of the High Priest.  As one brother said, “Before I was blind, but now I can see.”  Let us appreciate this brethren, let us be truly thankful to the Lord THAT WE CAN SEE HIS SALVATION and love His righteousness.  Keep your shield up, rejoice in tribulation.  He will never leave thee.  You have entered into an amazing family, such love and goodness!  Keep on, our Father is pleased to have it this way.  Draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to thee.

The Binding of Satan

binding-of-satanThere are six pictures or Jesus establishing the Kingdom round in the last three chapters or Revelation.  The binding or Satan is the first or these six.  The restraint or Satan’s power is the keynote of Rev. 20:1-3.  Jesus is here correlating things that he had told the apostles and disciples before.  We will consider some or these in discussing this passage.  In reading the passage we see several important points.  In verse 1 we read about the angel which comes down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.”  The angel is Jesus, who has the keys to hell and death.  (Rev. 1:18)  The key is to the bottomless pit, and represents power to release and confine anything or anyone in the confines or its door.  The bottomless pit represents oblivion. The Diaglott translates it as the deep abyss.  It certainly represents a condition or complete restraint.  The second thing the Lord has in his hand is a chain.  We will examine this symbol later.

In the second verse the symbols continue.  The person referred. to by the four symbols emphasizes Lucifer, God’s archenemy, in all his various disguises and forms.  In Vol. 4 foreword, pages V to VIII, Bro. Russell identifies the Dragon as Rome, the world civil power.  This is elaborated in Reprint article, page 4609 (The Binding of “The Strong Man”).  The serpent identifies him as the father or lies and evil associated with deception.(John 8:44)  The word Devil” in the King James Translation is translated accuser’ in the Diaglott.  Satan has accused God’s people or various dishonesties, wearing them out in their stand for righteousness at any cost.  He is also the accuser of God Himself–“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’  (Gen. 3:4, 5)  Rather than “Satan” as in the King James version, the Diaglott renders it as “Adversary.”  Remembering God’s curse on Satan in the Garden or Eden, we see here the early stages of the execution of that curse of Gen. 3:15–“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

The rest of verse 2 (Rev. 20) says that God’s archenemy is bound 1,000 years.  Two very important elements are here, for an incorrect thought on either the binding, what it is what it is not, or the 1,000 years will give us the wrong thought entirely.

Binding here comes from the Greek word, “de’o.”  It means to bind, fasten, tie when translated literally. Vine’s commentary on the Greek text says that when used symbolically, it implies a restraint or collective process. Arndt and Gingrich suggest that it is used metaphorically.  Remembering that we are reading Revelation as signs, or symbolically (Rev. 1:1) we will do ourselves harm to read only the literal meaning out of “bound” and ignore its symbolic significance.  We will examine other uses or the word “deo” in the symbolic sense and will see the appropriateness or the thought or restraint in a collective way.  The 1,000 years here, as in other uses, refer to the length or time Jesus is to bind or restrain Satan, not less and not more than the length or time Jesus is to bind or restrain Satan, not less and not more than 1,000 years.  The time periods and numerical values or Revelation should evidently be understood literally to be consistent with other Scriptures about the same measures. Thus, the emphasis or verse 2 is that Satan is restrained in a collective sense, a period or 1,000 years.

Verse 3 (Rev. 20) also tells us that Jesus also puts Satan into the abyss. And there he shuts him up, absolute confinement from humanity, and sets a seal on him, without hope of anyone without the “key” releasing him.  The purpose is to keep the devil from the deception he had practiced for over. 6,000 years.  It is important to recognize here that even though Satan is spoken of as being restrained by the chain (bound) for 1,000 years, the Scriptures are not saying that he is placed into the pit (absolute confinement from humanity) for the full 1,000 years.  This distinction is very important for the Lord is telling us that Satan is restrained (bound) for the 1,000 years and that for the latter part of the 1,000 years, his restraint is so complete that it is likened to solitary confinement, (in the abyss).  The purpose of the abyss confinement is to stop the deception Satan has practiced on the nations previously.  It is not until he is put into the abyss, then, that he stops the practice of deception on the nations.  This distinction makes it clear that Satan is permitted to deceive the nations during the early part of his binding period, the part that is not also the time he spends in the abyss.  However, the binding of the first part of the 1,000 years when he is restrained, but not to the extent of absolute confinement, restrains him to some degree from the license he exercised prior to the 1,000 years.  So we have three conditions identified:  1)  Satan being fully at liberty to deceive the nations before; the 1,000 years, 2)Satan having his liberty to deceive the nations restrained, with his deceptions permitted only to the extent Jesus saw it could be used to destroy its own influence, and 3) complete restraint and confinement, that the nations would not be deceived by him until the end of the 1,000 years.  The last part of verse 3 tells us that he will be released from the abyss, complete confinement, to again serve the interests of righteousness by practicing deceit on the nations.  This condition is elaborated in verses 7 through 10.  We are assured there that his final loosing will serve the purpose of exposing the dishonest among the human family in the Kingdom, and finally end in Satan’s own complete destruction.

Satan’s Liberty and Restraint

Verses 4 and 5 (as corrected by the removal of the spurious part) are not part of the description of Satan’s binding, but serve to emphasize the condition of the Church during that time.  They show that the 1,000 years is coincident with the period of the first resurrection.

So we see that the power struggle of the two great enemies, Jesus and Satan, is described in a capsule. The 1,000 years is the time when righteousness is being exercised to restrain the power and influence of Satan for the eventual destruction of evil practices and finally Satan himself.  But to understand the process by which this is achieved we must investigate the doctrinal statements relating to the working of good and evil during the 7,000 years, and the triumph of Jesus’ power during the last of those 7,000 years.

First we must recognize that Satan’s power is restrained in varying degrees for the entire 1,000 years, though it is not eliminated until some time after the 1,000 years have started.  The Scriptures tell us the magnitude of Satan’s power before the 1000 years have started.  They say that he had great power.  1 John 5:19 tells us that the whole world lieth under the evil one (Diag. translation).  Eph. 2:2 calls Satan the prince of the power of the air, whose spirit works in the sons of disobedience. Both these Scriptures emphasize that Satan’s power included the domination of the world as well as controlling the evil spirit beings.  It is very significant that both apostles recorded the power of Satan over the world and evil spirits but not over the true church.

Satan’s power is referred to in symbol as darkness.  This refers to the darkness of the mind enchained by ignorance, dishonesty, superstition. As noted above, John 8:38, 41, 44 refer to Satan as a liar from the beginning and the father of lies.  2 Cor. 4:4 refers to him as the god of this world who has blinded the minds of the human family, to keep them from recognizing God.  2 Cor. 11:13-15 tells us that Satan is transformed into an angel of light.  The word here translated “transformed” is a very different word from that of Rom. 12:2.  In the Romans reference the word comes from the Greek metamorpho meaning an orderly change, as in the change of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and a justified, spirit begotten human being into a New Creature.  The word in 2 Cor. 11, referring to Satan’s change comes from the Greek metaschematizo, meaning to change in fashion or appearance.  It is not a real change that Satan makes, in-to an angel of light, only an appearance of a change.  He is really an angel of darkness, and is content to appear only as an angel of light. The Scriptures carry the thought of false angels of light over to Satan’s associate angels.  They too only appear as angels of light, while really remaining as angels of darkness.  Paul tells us, in 2 Thess. 2:1, 10 that Satan’s power and signs and lying wonders exercised with all deceivableness of unrighteousness extended to those under his influence. The devil’s power, dishonesty and deceit of the people, are referred to as that of a sorcerer, producing a child of the devil, full of subtlety and mischief.  Satan, joined by the consortium of evil angels, is a prince over his household.  (Eph. 2:2; 2 Pet. 2:4)  The great organizations of Christendom are his masterworks of deceit.  He has put the administration of its various religious, political, economic and social institutions under the authority of his loyal, evil angels.  Jude 6 tells us that Satan’s disciples are confined in chains of darkness. Satan’s superior control, through the chains of darkness, has kept the institutions loyal to his designs.  The chains of Jude 6 are translated from the Greek word desmos, meaning bonds.  The close association of deo–meaning bound in Rev. 20:2–and desmos–meaning chains in Jude 6, emphasizes the restraint of the victim, though in both cases the restraint alone does not mean immobilization.  In the Revelation Scripture, the complete immobilization is referred to by the abyss condition.  Therefore we see that Satan’s power is represented by darkness and is literally deceit, dishonesty (in their various forms) and ignorance, even over his own household.

However, great as Satan’s power is, it is not supreme.  The Scriptures record our need to be armed with the righteousness of God and exercise it as our faith.  (Eph. 6:11, 12; 1 John 5:4)  In so doing we will be free of the power of the evil one.  Satan’s power has always been restrained from doing injury to the New Creation.  Jesus reassures us of this in John 14:30 where he tells us that the prince of this world has nothing in him.  Paul also warns us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with Satan and his minions, to be victorious if we keep on the whole armour of God.  And we are delivered “from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.”  Thus we see that Satan held virtually complete power over the people of the world, the nations.  But when it came to his power over the church, he is deficient because of Jesus’ righteousness and our growth in the truth, the light.

In reviewing Satan’s power, we note three conditions of its restraint:  1) by God’s power, 2) at God’s time and by His discretion, and 3) by the use of the truth–as may have been specified.  We recall the experience that Job had, due to his faith in the Lord, and Satan’s jealousy of that faith.  God’s permission to Satan included the restraint of Satan’s power to take Job’s life.  God here literally restrained Satan’s power.  Just how He did it we do not know.  But we do know that His restraint was sure because Job’s life was saved.  Satan’s power is also restrained by Jesus and the Church.  The Scriptures tell us that both use the truth to destroy sin, with the symbolism of light destroying darkness. In Matt. 4:1-11 we learn about Jesus rejecting Satan’s influence, or restraining his power by a “thus saith the Lord;” Jesus’ use of the truth. In 1 John 3:8-12 the apostle John is telling us that Jesus’ power destroys the works of the devil.  The Apostle Paul emphasizes the restraining of Satan’s power over even the weak ones in the Truth because the power of the  Holy Spirit in Bro. Timothy was strong enough to recover the weak “out of the snares of the devil.”  In Rev. 12:9-12 the Apostle John sees the Christian overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of the Testimony.  Again Satan’s power is thwarted by the greater power of Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the Truth to overcome evil of any kind.  In 1 Pet. 5:8, 9 the apostle tells us to resist the devil by steadfastness in the faith.  Again the devil a power is restrained by the Truth and its faithful use.

Our Lord had a very important experience with the scribes when they accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub.  (Mark 3:22-27; Matt. 12:22-30; Luke 11:14-26)  .Reading these passages gives us an important insight into the relationship of Jesus’ and Satan’s powers.  The element of time is clearly shown as a vital part of their relationship.  And the delay of Jesus, to exercise his power over Satan, is in itself a special power.  In reading the passage in Luke, we note several points. First, Satan is not casting out himself when his scheme is failing. Second, the casting out of demons indicates the exercise of a greater strength than Satan’s, for if he seems to rise against himself, it means his schemes are failing and his defeat is near.  Also, the Lord said again that Satan’s empire would be near its end when his house was divided.  And he stressed Satan’s fall again by saying that when Satan’s kingdom was divided it meant its fall.  Jesus established the point of Satan’s loss of power three different ways.  It must be very important for us to understand our Lord to repeat it three times.  After the emphasis of three references, then Jesus explains that in order to break up Satan’s house, he, Satan, must first be bound.  The word here of bind is the Greek word de’o, meaning to bind, fasten, tie and thus to restrain.  Then Jesus explains that the binding would occur as a surprise, that it would be done by one who was stronger than Satan and one who would have the authority to restrain Satan.  And then, to make the timing of the binding very clear to us, Jesus said that the binding would occur before the spoiling of Satan’s goods.  It is important to note here something that Jesus did not say.  Jesus said that he would bind Satan, restrain his power.  But he did not say that we could recognize that restraint by a lessening of evil in the world.  He said that we could recognize that restraint by the dividing of Satan’s kingdom and his house.  The lessening of evil would have been an obvious sign of the dividing of Satan’s house, if it were a valid sign.  And the parable would have been an appropriate place for Jesus to include the lessening of evil as a valid sign, if it were.  But, we believe, the fall of Satan’s kingdom and house means greater evil than when Satan was in full power, not less. The Luke passage adds a portion of Jesus’ advice not included in the other passage.  Verses 23-26 of Luke 11 seem to allude to Satan’s minions of evil angels who revolt from Satan a power and now, for their own evil purposes, start using the part of Satan’s empire they formerly controlled for their evil prince.  In both cases their control is against Jesus (V. 23), but when they control the evil institution for their own benefit, rather than Satan’s, the evil seems to be uncontrolled.  It also seems to degenerate to an even lower level than when under Satan’s own power.

Recognizing that before the disintegration of Satan’s empire can start Jesus must have begun his restraint over the evil one, let us examine some Scriptural bindings where the Greek word deo is used.  In Matt. 16:19 our Lord commissioned Peter with power to restrain or loose as he was directed by the Holy Spirit in promoting the Kingdom message.  He told Peter that his actions would be recognized and honored in heaven.  And we see Peter explaining the freedom from the law and the liberty and bondage of Christ not only to the Jews but also finally to the Gentiles. Paul was bound in the spirit to go to Jerusalem.  (Acts 20:22)  A wife is bound to her husband (Rom. 7:2) by the law until her husband dies.  In Luke 13:16 the beloved physician tells us that Satan bound a woman to her infirmities.  There are many other general statements of binding.  They, as these, refer to restraint in some manner or form, and to a greater or lesser or unspecified degree.  As in the case of the married woman, she was to reserve certain rights to her husband only.  But the law did not prescribe that she had no rights of her own.  It did not incapacitate her as a person by binding her to her husband.  The binding in each of these cases of the use of deo refers to a definite restraint of the one bound but not the incapacitation of the bound one.

Now let us consider the binding of Satan in the context of what we have already considered here.  First we recognize that the parable Jesus gave about the binding of the strong man refers to the same binding as in Rev. 20:1-3.  We note that there is only one binding of Satan by Jesus because there is only one destruction here.  Secondly, we recognize that the act of binding of Satan began very early in the Lord’s second presence (Matt. 24:43) for if Satan had realized our Lord’s presence he would have avoided his own binding and the consequent binding of his goods and house. Thirdly, Satan’s binding is symbolic (Rev. 1:1) and represents restraint in some form, symbolized by the chain.  The chain representing the restraining force, must include more than one thing.  We do not know the actual description of everything used to restrain Satan as a spirit being. But whatever it is, it binds Satan to permit the collapse of his empire. As Bro. Russell points out, the chain includes the truth.  We have seen references of its power are symbolized in Isa. 27:1; Psa. 74:13, 14; 2 Thess. 2:6-10.  As these symbols of the sword, strength and brightness of his presence, Jesus uses the truth to destroy Satan’s power.  1 Thess. 4:16 refers to the shout of the archangel (Dan. 12:1) in establishing the Kingdom of righteousness to replace Satan’s empire.  Isa. 42:13-16 prophesies that the Lord will use jealousy, pain and discomfort, neglect and starvation, and disclosure of the truth as part of the chain to keep Satan from stopping the destruction of his house and goods.  These are all things that our minds can grasp as tools, or as the Revelator puts it, chains which the Lord uses to restrain Satan’s power.  There are probably other restraints of a strictly spiritual nature which our natural minds would find difficult if not impossible to comprehend.  We do not know what they are but leave it with the Lord to apply them as they are needed.

The fourth consideration about the binding is that it results in a divided Satanic house that falls.  It results in the evil angels working against Satan and his stratagem, Christendom and its orderly structures. It appears reasonable to view the evil angels as using parts of Satan’s goods to their own selfish purposes, now opposing Satan as well as Jesus. Nihilism, communism, socialism, humanism, the clergy challenging their hierarchical authority; people questioning all religious and other forms of authority, wanting more and more education, only to promote the decrease of faith in God and the imbalance of technological achievement versus the sociological values–these continue to disrupt Satan’s evil, but organized empire, precipitating an evil and chaotic revolution and the empire’s final destruction.  The structure of society is collapsing in disarray.

The shouts of liberty, to be free of Satan’s burdens, are being wrongly used to promote chaos and their own eventual destruction.  The false claims issue from the evil organizations only draw them to the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16).  Zech. 8:10, Rotherham’s translation, tells of the time when God looses every man’s hand against his neighbor.  Then the four winds of Revelation, loosed after the church is complete, will turn men to yearn for the higher authority.  Then the binding’s early stages, just enough restraint to bring chaos within Satan’s house, will have served its purpose and will completely enclose God’s archenemy in the bottomless pit, where he will have no influence at all.  That is the time, of course, when Jesus will have suppressed all evil in all the evil angels too, and all men are drawn to Christ (John 12:32).  It seems very important to recognize the difference between just the binding, or restraint of Satan, and the combined binding and absolute confinement in the bottomless pit.  The latter is completely restrictive while the former is restrictive only to the extent that it best serves the Lord’s purposes.

Before summarizing the thoughts of this study it is important to mention the keys from the Pastor used to gain the understanding here presented. The following reprint articles were most helpful:  THE BINDING OF THE “STRONG MAN” (Reprint 46O9); BINDING OF THE STRONG MAN (reprint 3784); THE WHEAT AND THE TARES (reprint 4635); THE DISPUTED CLAUSE (reprint 501); NOT IN VAIN (reprint 877); THE BINDING AND LOOSING OF SATAN (reprint 1233;1687, par. 2);  The Binding of Satan (Sermon Book, pages 94 to 106) was also most helpful.  Volume References include B 353; A 324; E 18 and 20; C 57 and the Foreword of Volume Four.  Also the notes from Brother Chester A. Sundbom’s talk on SATAN’S HOUSE DIVIDED helped in gaining the perspective of God’s viewpoint of Satan’s binding.

Now to summarize:  Satan’s binding of 1,000 years began at the Lord a second presence.  And the binding started then, is continuing progressively more restrictive until he is fully restrained, being placed in the bottomless pit.  Sin is everywhere worse than before.  Therefore it means that he is more active, but less in control of the evil angels who are now active on their own behalf.  The binding of Satan exposes his power as error.  It does not eliminate all sin.  The destruction of the nations and institutions is the restraint of their lies and methods by the truth and righteous methods and the use of evil against evil, as in the revolution of Satan’s house.  The increased activity of sin in Satan’s chaotic empire means that Satan is being bound rather than indicating that he isn’t being bound.  The binding of Satan permits the destruction of his house rather than the preservation of it.

As applied to our own lives, this truth should make us the more rejoicing Christians, that we may lift up our heads as we see these things coming to pass.  (Luke 21:28)  “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good  that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”   Isa. 52:7-12.

Do Not Be Deceived

donotbedeceivedWhen the disciples came to Christ, in Matthew 24, and asked about the sign of His coming and the end of the age, Christ prophesied things for them and us to be watching in the future. One thing that He warned against three times was deception. In Matthew 24.4-5

“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceive you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many.'”

Matthew 24.11 – “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”

Matthew 24.23 – “For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

We are going to look at:

  1. Examples of deception from the scriptures.
  2. How to know a false prophet.
  3. How to avoid deception.

Examples of deception from the scriptures.

We will start in Genesis 3. This is the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. We do not know how long they were there before Satan came. It would seem that they knew their way around and going about their daily business. Satan came on the scene and deceived Eve. Adam, while not deceived, also ate the forbidden fruit.

God then came to the garden and Adam and Eve hid from Him. God confronted them and inquired if they had eaten of the fruit.

Genesis 3.13 – “And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.'”

God walked out into Eden one day, knelt down and sculpted a man out of clay. He breathed life into this statue. God introduced Himself and told Adam that He had created him. He brought the animals for Adam to name. This was after God had brought Adam up to date on what was happening. Remember that Adam was like a newborn babe in an adult’s body. After the period of education, God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from him and made Eve. God then, along with Adam, educated Eve in what was happening and gave them both instruction in how to live and conduct themselves in the garden.

Take a look at what was occurring. Two perfect physical human beings, plenty of food, no inhibitions, they had everything going for them, and they had an opportunity for eternal life. They were taught and tutored by their Creator God. Then Satan came along and it all went away.

If Eve could be deceived and Adam follow along, how about us? They had it all, but it was not enough. Satan was a false minister. The result of Eve’s believing the lies and deception of Satan brought them a life of misery.

Look at James 1.14-16:

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Adam and Eve had it all. A false minister deceived them.

Genesis 31.6-7 – “And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”

Jacob prospered while with Laban, but it also brought him responsibilities he did not ask for. Jacob had a family conflict. He had to deal with Laban more than he wanted. All because Laban deceived Jacob.

Proverbs 20.1 -” Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

What addictions do we have? Do we have problems with alcohol? What about nicotine or illegal drug addiction? What is it that has a hold on us? Pornography, etc.? Do we deceive ourselves and say that we do not have a problem? First thing after work, we go to the bar for a drink. Before we turn on the light in the morning, we light up a cigarette. What has a hold on us? Do not be self- deceived.

Sin is a deceiver.

Romans 7.11 – “Paul speaking, ‘For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”

Sin looks good. The grass is greener on the other side we think.

Romans 6.23 – “For the wages of sin is death…”

Compare this to James 1.15. Sin will deceive and kill us.

How to know a false prophet.

II Corinthians 11.3 – “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

The christian life is not always easy, but it is simple. Remember Romans 6.23:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The christian life restricts our activities. We cannot do just what we want to do when we want to do it. There are things we must do and things that we must not do.

Matthew 7.13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 5.48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

I John 2.15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

This does not mean we cannot enjoy life and the things that God blesses us with, but our physical surroundings cannot become all consuming.

Matthew 5.17 – Christ says “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

I John 3.4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Galatians 3.19, 24-25 – “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of mediator. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we no longer under a tutor.”

When we leave the tutor, we do not throw away or forget all that we were taught.

See Matthew 7.21-22. In verse 23 – “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

If there is no law, we cannot practice lawlessness.

Those that say that the law is done away with are false prophets. The law defines sin and is the guideline to how we are to live.

Isaiah 8.20 – “To the law and the testimony; if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

The law is not, is not, is not our salvation, but it is the thing that keeps us on the right path. It keeps us “in the way”.

Read Matthew chapters 5-7. See what Christ had to say about the law and how we should live.

A person who prophesies in God’s name and whose prophecy does not come to pass is a false prophet.

Deuteronomy 18.21-22 – “And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.”

A false prophet may show a sign or miracle and then try to turn you from the Creator God.

Deuteronomy 13.1-3 – “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or wonder come to pass of which he spoke to you saying, ‘Let us go after other gods – which you have not known – and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

How to avoid deception.

Believe God. God says what He means and means what He says.

Read Genesis 6.13-14, 22; Genesis 12.1-4; Genesis 31.3, 16-17; Acts 9.6

These scriptures are accounts of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Paul. When God told them to do something, they responded and did it. To avoid deception we must exercise faith. Believe God. Have confidence in Him, in the sacrifice of Christ and the scripture. Grab hold of the trunk of the doctrinal tree. Do not get out on limbs and twigs. Stay close to that which we know is right. Stay grounded in the faith. Strive to rekindle the first love.

I John 4.1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Test the spirits. Check out what you see and hear.

Study – II Timothy 2.15. Watch – Matthew 24.42, Acts 20.28-30. Pray – I Thessalonians 5.17, I Peter 4.7

Be alert to what is going on around us.

I Corinthians 16.13 – “Watch, stand fast in the faith. Be brave, be strong.”

Stay close to God through prayer, study, and fasting. Ask for guidance and help. If we do this and keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, our savior, our sacrifice, and our great High Priest and keep our mind on the kingdom of God and our part in it, it will be virtually impossible for us to be deceived and turned away form God. Keep on keeping on.

The Promises of God to the CHOSEN PEOPLE

jews-chosen-peopleIt is a real joy for us to consider together this subject of the promises of God to the CHOSEN PEOPLE. It was on the third 1000 year day from the creation of Adam that an important promise was made to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob whose 12 sons became the typical people of God. It was at the death of Jacob that the Jewish age had its beginning.

Before we go further let us review this promise that has been so precious to us–it is the promise that was made to Abraham. This promise was made because of Abraham’s faith. You recall that Abraham was asked by God to offer up his son, his only son Isaac. The account reminds us that Abraham rose up early in the morning and went on his journey which was parts of three days. In Gen. 22:4 we are reminded that it was on the third day that Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Abraham went so far as to lift
his hand with the knife to slay his son Isaac. Then the angel of the Lord stopped him from doing so. His faith had been sufficiently tested.

We are told that the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham the second time and said, “By myself have I sworn saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I
will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:15-18) That was
a wonderful promise that was made to Abraham. As we have noted, at the death of his grandson Jacob, God began dealing in a special way with these descendants of Abraham.

In the book of Amos, chapter 3, verse 2, we read: “You only have I known (or recognized) of all the families of the earth.” Now may we turn to Exodus the 6th chapter, verses 6-8: “Therefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will
bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage. I am the Lord.”

We are told that at the first advent of Jesus our Lord came unto this chosen people of old. By the way, he came to them on the 3rd 1000-year day from the time this promise had been made by God to Abraham. This we believe did not happen by chance. In John the
first chapter beginning with verse 11, we are told that our Lord came unto his own (the Jewish people, the CHOSEN PEOPLE of God) and his own received him not. Now what John wrote is that as a whole this typical people, this chosen people of old, rejected our
Lord; but as many (that is as many of the Israelites indeed) as did accept our Lord, to them he gave power(i.e. the right or privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Those Israelites indeed who accepted Christ in the stead of
Moses were transferred from Moses into Christ. These as John reminds us in verse 13 were begotten of the spirit; they were begotten not of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God. They were begotten of the Spirit to the divine nature.

In Acts the 15th chapter we read beginning with verse 14: “Simeon (i.e. Simon Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written After this (i.e. after this people for Christ’s name had been selected) I (the Lord) will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.”

We well know that it has taken nearly 2000 years for the selection of the Israelites indeed. Not enough of the CHOSEN PEOPLE of old were in the right heart condition to accept this arrangement. So, therefore in 36 A. D. this invitation to become the bride of
Christ was extended to the Gentiles. Then we are told here in Acts that when this chosen people has been selected the kingdom will be established in the earth. It is this kingdom that will bless not only the Gentiles but also the Jews. This seems to be indicated in verse 17; the residue of men (the remainder of the Jews) will be blest and not only will they be blest but all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called saith the Lord who doeth all these things. The Apostle Paul reminded us in Romans the 11th chapter that natural Israel, the CHOSEN PEOPLE of God of old, would be blinded in part until this select class is selected from both Jews and Gentiles.

The majority of the “little flock” is being made up since 36 A.D. It is being made up of chiefly Gentiles, but any Jew accepting our Lord since that time can also come into Christ. “For I would not, (Rom. 11:25) brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” When we read this scripture we like to explain the difference between the “times of the Gentiles” and “the fullness of the
Gentiles.” As Bible Students, we have learned that the “times of the Gentiles” expired in 1914 at the end of 2520 years “The fullness of the Gentiles does not refer to the nations but rather to the selection of the “little flock” from the Gentiles; until this full number is selected from both Jews and Gentiles, Paul reminds us that natural Israel would be blind in part.

Paul continues in verse 26: “And so all Israel shall be saved.” Isn’t this a wonderful promise to the CHOSEN PEOPLE of old? “All Israel shall be saved”; i.e. they shall be saved from this blind condition that has engulfed them for so long. Not only will they be saved from this blind condition, but those who have died will be awakened from the
prison-house of death. “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer (Head and body), and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

Another promise made to them is found in Jer. 31:31. Paul quotes from this promise in Hebrews. the 8th chapter. As Bible Students we enjoy hearing these promises over and over again. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (the
CHOSEN PEOPLE of old), =after those days saith the Lord I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people.

After those days (i.e. after spiritual Israel has been selected) it will be possible for the blood of Christ to seal this new law covenant. The merit of Christ is passing through us, the consecrated, on its way for the sealing of the new law covenant. It is then that God will begin to put his law in the inward parts of not only natural Israel but also the
Gentiles. There will be many Gentiles who will quickly come in under this arrangement.

What does Jeremiah mean when he says that God will put his law in their inward parts? We believe that this is a beautiful way of saying that God is going to see to it (through Christ) that every individual (both Jews and Gentiles) will come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. There will be no misunderstanding then as to what is truth.
Every one will know the truth from the least unto the greatest. It will be in their minds.

They will know what God’s law is. Not everyone who knows the law  however, will obey it. It is only those who respond to this arrangement who will have God’s law rewritten, as Jeremiah brings to our attention, in their hearts.

Don’t you believe, friends, that most people will, under those favorable conditions of the kingdom, with Satan fully bound, accept this arrangement and have God’s law rewritten in their hearts? Should they not do so (and there will be some who will not) we are told in Acts 3:23: “Every soul (every being) who will not hear that prophet (the Christ) shall be destroyed (cut off) from among the people.” Yes, those who do respond, as Jeremiah brings to our attention, will become the people of God. They will become Israelites indeed. This arrangement we note will start with the natural descendants of Abraham, the CHOSEN PEOPLE of God.

There is another promise that we would like to briefly bring to our attention. It is found in Hosea the 6th chapter, verses 1 and 2: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; He hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days
will he revive us: in the third day he will raise up and we shall live in his sight.” Natural Israel experienced the blessings of the Lord for a period of 1845 years. As long as they were obedient, they experienced blessings; when they were disobedient they were
chastised for the purpose of bringing them back unto the ways of the Lord. Isaiah brings to our attention in chapter 40, verses 1 and 2 that there would be a “double.” Briefly we will note that Israel experienced 1845 years of favor from the death of Jacob to 33 A.D.
when our Lord was crucified. That is easy to remember: from the death of Jacob when the Jewish age began to the death of Jesus was a period of 1845 years. Isaiah brings to our attention that Israel would experience a like period of disfavor. Why would they have this like period of disfavor? It is because they rejected our Lord. He came unto his own and they rejected him. Because of this they have experienced a period of 1845 years of disfavor. When did this end?–in 1878, 145 years after 33 A. D.

The third 1000 year day from Adam was the time of the promise to Abraham. On the third 1000 year day from the Abrahamic promise, our Lord was on the world stage; his mother was a Jewess. On the third 1000 year day from the death of our Lord another important descendant of Abraham was on the world stage. In 1878 Disraeli,
Prime Minister of Great Britain, shaped important world events. Is it or is it not significant that in 1973 another natural descendant of Abraham is on the world stage? We think, friends, that it is significant.

In Hosea we notice that the Lord promised natural Israel that they would be torn; they would be smitten. After this period of 1845 years which would be the 3rd day from the rejection of our Lord, they would be raised up and live in his sight. Natural Israel, the
CHOSEN PEOPLE of old, is on the world stage again. They are still blind in part; they will remain blinded in part until the “little flock” is complete.

May we refer now to Ezek. 16:53. This is a promise which will have a future application to individuals. They have been restored as a nation, but it is not yet time for the new covenant to be inaugurated with that people. “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them.” Verse 55: “When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.” Isn’t that a precious promise to the CHOSEN PEOPLE of old?

In Ezekiel 38 we are reminded that Israel has a Northern enemy. It seems that the whole world will either be against or will sit back and do nothing for Israel in the final time of trouble. Let us note in verse 11: “Thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely (confidently) all of them
dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” Israel today is certainly confident. The time will come when Israel’s enemies would drive her into the sea if it were possible; however, that is not possible. At the close of Jacob’s trouble, God, through Christ, will fight for Israel as he did in the days of old. Israel is back to stay.

After the trouble is stopped a new covenant will be inaugurated with Israel; then their blind eyes will be opened; they will learn the truth. At that time the Gentiles will also begin to be blessed. Praise the Lord!

The Man of Sin – Satan’s Counterfeit of the True Kingdom

thZWJXFFDJ“And then shall that Wicked (man of sin) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (presence): whose coming (Christ’s presence) is after (accompanied by) the working (an energetic operation) of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” II Thes. 2:8-15

After reading the first letter to the Thessalonians, some of the brethren in that congregation got the idea that Christ was already present Paul wrote the second letter to them to correct that misunderstanding He explained that before the second presence of Christ there would come the rise, development and revealment of the “man of sin”. II Thes. 2:1-6

The mystery of iniquity was already at work in the apostle’s day, about A. D. 50 The spirit of the church became worldly. The things of the world were coveted Gradually the hope of the church became a false hope. a delusive snare by which Satan led from one evil and
error to another both of doctrine and of practice Insidiously.

Satan planted and watered the seeds of error and developed the greatest and most influential system the world has ever known This antichrist system took the place of the true Christ. The Apostle Paul calls “the man of sin” by several names: “that Wicked” one, “the mystery of iniquity”, and “the son of perdition” The “antichrist” is a name given to the system by the Apostle John Daniel calls it “the abomination that maketh desolate”. Our Lord calls it “the abomination of desolation” and a “beast”.

The book of Revelation is, in large part, a detailed symbolic prophecy concerning antichrist. “The man of sin” is a system and not a single individual. The history of Papacy fits the prophecies of the Bible The apostate church was not “the man of sin” until she united with her lord and head the pope – the claimed vicegerent of Christ. Then
the system became a religious empire, falsely styled Christendom.

At first Pagan Rome was in the way of the aspirations of Papal Rome. (II Thes. 2:7) Under Constantine’s reign all hindrance was removed and the organization of Papacy was speedily effected.

The popes came to be recognized as the Head of the Church, representing Christ, reigning in the church and over the nations. gradually, from about A.D. 300 to 494 ,Civil authority began to be exercised by the popes in A.D. 539. In A.D. 800 the pope crowned
Charlemagne as emperor. The pope recognized himself as King of Kings, “another God on earth”

Morally, the darkest hour of antichrist’s dark reign was just before the Reformation. It is estimated that Papacy has, directly or indirectly, caused the death of 50 millions(50, 000, 000) of people over a period of 1300 years. Those labeled heretics by the “man of sin” in the darker past were put to death by burning, racking, drowning, starving, shooting, by having molten lead poured into the ears, by having the eyes gouged out, by being hammered to pieces on anvils, etc., etc.

The “man of sin” began to be recognized by Luther and others of his day. This resulted in a great religious reformation. Papacy has lost power brought about by the awakening of the Reformation Papacy still possesses its will to persecute the saints, but the power to do so is curtailed by the increase of knowledge and liberty in which the Bible has been the principal factor.

Ignorance and superstition are bulwarks of Papacy. Schools and Bibles have ever been antichrist’s unendurable enemies. The invention of movable type made it possible for the Bible to be printed by A.D. 1456. It is interesting to note that this date marks the center of time from A.D. 38 to 2874. Five years were required for the printing of the Bible. Five years before A.D. 38 brings us to the time of Pentecost. Had an ambitious spirit already developed in the church by A.D. 38? For certain it had developed by Paul’s day. By the Bible, antichrist has gradually been rendered “powerless” to oppress and wear out the saints. Since the time of the end began (1799), “the man of sin” is being consumed by the spirit of the Lord’s mouth (the truth). After 1800 Bible societies sprang up; these
distributed Bibles to people in many parts of the world.

Antichrist’s policy has been somewhat softened and modified to seek to win back into sympathy and co-operation extremists of all Protestant denominations. Just recently Pope Paul VI canonized forty British martyrs of the Anglican reformation as saints and prayed that their blood might help heal the wounds of divided Christianity. The Pope extended a “respectful and affectionate greeting” to all Anglicans attending and said, “We indeed feel
very close to them.” Nevertheless the system is doomed to destruction. Soon the bright shining of Christ’s presence will utterly destroy this counterfeit system and wholly free the world from the chains of its delusive claims and errors.

In 1878 judgment began with the nominal church in condemning to destruction the nominal systems – not the people. Since that time particularly the light of truth is penetrating every subject. Two great parties in the world have formed. On the one side are socialists, freethinkers, infidels, discontents, and true liberty lovers. On the other side we find the rulers and aristocrats with the antichrist system in close sympathy. The faithful saints will remain
separate from both.

As an evidence of the signs of the time, we note the gradual destruction of the antichrist system by the brightness of our Lord’s second presence. Some of her own subjects feel that they no longer have to obey the commands of the pope. Many priests, nuns and
others have left the system. They no longer believe all the teachings set forth by Papacy. (See II Kings 9:32, 33.) Some of the revenues which have flowed into that system are also being withheld. As a further indication of the weakness of that system, we have recently
noted the words of the Pope who remarked that on past occasions he has offered his services as a mediator. He admitted, however, that no one wanted these services and that the most he could do was serve as a counselor.

The scriptures indicate that in this final death-struggle of antichrist, notwithstanding he shall seem to gain increased power in the world by new stratagems, deceptions, and combinations, yet the true Lord of earth, the King of kings in the time of his presence will prevail. During the great time of trouble antichrist will be utterly annihilated and his power and deception will be destroyed forever.

By divine intervention the trouble will be stopped. (Matt. 24:22) The earthly phase of the kingdom will be established. Righteousness will begin to prevail. Gradually all evil and evil doers will be cut off. It will take the entire time of Christ’s second presence to completely do away with the evil resulting from the antichrist system as well as other sources. By the year 2874 (evening time of the millennial age) it shall be light. (Zech. 14:6, 7)

Rights and wrongs are being exposed such as never before. A great time of trouble is resulting. Through the antichrist system as well as other agencies, the devil is making a most desperate resistance to the new order of things.

During this dawning of the millennial age while the “man of sin” is beginning to be destroyed, the apostle indicates (II Thes. 2:9-12) that Christ’s second presence would be accompanied by an energetic operation of Satan with all power, signs, lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. The father of lies is particularly endeavoring to stop the completion of the promised seed. (Gen. 3:15) Those who are being deceived were not sufficiently in earnest in seeking out and using the truth
provided as “meat in due season.” Those misled received not the truth in the love of it but rather through custom, formality, or fear. Those not believing the truth but having pleasure in unrighteousness (untruth, deception, two-facedness) will be judged unworthy to share the millennial kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ. II Thes. 2:12

To the brethren called to become the bride of Christ, Paul exhorts: “Stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” II Thes 2:13-15

Voice of Distinction

HVN_Iogo_largerWhen he hath put forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice – John 10:4

We might wonder how it has been possible for the good Shepherd to go before his sheep throughout the Gospel Age. Yet that is what has been happening, as the divine Word says. The Lord is our pattern, he goes before us always. The Adversary, who is the god of this world, rules all mankind; he dazzles them, but his light is darkness because it is selfishness and not love, the real light.

If you are able to distinguish the voice of the good Shepherd, you can follow it, and it is with self-renunciation that this becomes possible. The day you will no longer renounce, God’s Spirit withdraws, and you are no longer in the condition of a disciple of Christ. God leads his people, He blesses them wonderfully day by day; as you observe this faith increases. Trust is one of the essential foundations of faith, it is a part of love, whereas distrust is a part of hatred. The Lord tells us that no rich man shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; one must therefore be trustful and give up riches, or else give up the idea of being a disciple of Christ. That is the first step. The second step is to consecrate yourself fully to God, to deny your own will to go in quite another direction, to take upon yourself the wrongness of others, to pray for the guilty that the Lord forgive them. If we are prepared to pray for the guilty, to take their wrong-doing upon ourselves, it is the Lord who will bear our sins.

The dear Savior cleanses you day by day through faith, so that your sacrifice may become living, holy and acceptable to God. You make no more complaints, and if any man does you harm you forgive him; you associate in your beloved Savior’s work. As you follow that road faithfully the Lord gives you a little more of his Spirit which enlightens you and opens up new horizons to you.

Joy increases in your heart as you perceive that you can bring about a change in your sentiments till you attain to resemblance with the glorious character of our Lord Jesus. The Spirit of glory comes upon you because you follow after the dear Savior.

Our Lord never lacked for anything, and neither did his disciples. He showed us what it means to walk by faith; that is why we are glad to follow him either as consecrated disciples, or as members of the Host of the Lord.

 

I Believe in God

believe1“AS I PASSED by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” Acts 17:23.

As in the days of Paul, so today there are thousands who worship an unknown God. They believe in some kind of God, but they have no conception of what He is like. They have never experienced in their hearts that He is a God of love and mercy, and that He is kind and long-suffering. Sad to say, in this enlightened, intelligent, scientific, and so-called religious age many do not believe that God exists.  The atheists, the agnostics, and the materialists are not all dead. Some have found their way into religious circles. The atheist says, ‘There is no God,” but his statement is no proof that God does not exist. These boastful atheists often speak differently when they face death. The agnostic says, I do not know whether there is a God or not.” The materialist boasts by saying, I do not need God; I can run the world without Him.”  I have chosen to cast my lot with the Christian, because I believe in God and I need Him. The following reasons convince me that there is a God.

His Existence Is a Proved Fact  

 Proof of the existence of God is not necessary, because it is not based on a knowledge of chemistry, geology, or biology. Before these sciences were taught, men had definite proof of the existence of God. We do not need to prove that two times two is four. That is an accepted fact. Someone has well said, “If once there had been nothing, there never could have been something; hence something must be eternal, and that something is God.” A heathen philosopher once asked a Christian, “Where is God?” The Christian answered the heathen by asking him, “Where is He not? “

God Is Unsearchable 

 If we could understand all about God, could analyze Him, then He would cease to be God. The more we study His character, His divinity, and His power, the more wonderful and far reaching we find Him. Job asked, “Can thou by searching find out God? Can thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7). Job expected a negative answer. The apostle Paul expressed the same thought when he said, “0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). How good it is to know that although God is unsearchable, yet we can know Him. We are invited to become acquainted with Him. We are to know Him as our personal Friend and that “in him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).

Nature Reveals God 

 If I say there is no God, then I must believe that the earth was not created by Him. I must choose one of two things: God as the Creator, or the evolution theory. I refuse to accept the evolution theory, because of the many weaknesses that are part and parcel of all the hundreds of theories, hypotheses, guesses, and imaginings that have been brought forward to support it. There is much evidence against evolution, and this has been furnished by the evolutionists themselves. They are constantly proving one another’s theories wrong, and putting forth theories of their own. How much better it is to believe in God, the Creator of all. If there is no God, no revelation of Him, no future eternal life, then all this world in which we live, with all its sciences and glory, is nothing. The deep, earnest, honest, thinking man concludes that far-reaching thoughts preceded the birth of nature.  The order and system of the planets, the glory of the flowers, the planets, and the stars-all reveal their Maker. Some of the most reliable scientists have believed in God, and have so expressed themselves. An atheist said to a Christian, “We shall destroy everything that will remind you of God.” The Christian replied, “But you will leave us the sun, the moon, and the stars.” Through inspiration the psalmist cried out, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” His glory cannot be declared without declaring God Himself.

The Bible Reveals God 

 As we open the pages of the Holy Book, called the Bible, we immediately see the words: In the beginning God.” Turning to the last words, we read, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yes, God is revealed in His Book. His works and His Word always agree. They are harmonious-in perfect unity. The Bible gives light. It is reliable. It stands in spite of the fact that it has been fought against through the centuries, and it will continue to reveal the true God. David said, “The entrance of thy words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130). “Thy word is true from the beginning.” (Verse 160). According to these statements, the very first words of the Bible should cast light on the pathway of the searcher for truth.  The first ten words in the Bible correct many errors. The words “In the beginning” refute the idea of the eternity of matter. The words “In the beginning God” refute atheism. The two words “God created” oppose the doctrine of evolution. The statement “created the heaven and the earth” separates God from creation, thus precluding pantheism. Matter is not God, and this denies materialism. The more we study the Bible, the more and the better we know God.

Longing Desire In The Heart After God 

 Some years ago an infidel addressed a large crowd on one of the streets in London. He held the attention of his hearers as he presented his views on why he did not believe that there is a God. At the close of his lecture a young man who had listened to him said to the crowd, “Let us sing a song before we leave.” This the infidel resented by saying, “Infidelity sings no songs.” The young man, however, paid no attention to him and began to sing that old familiar hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The crowd picked up the strain and joined in singing heartily the words that, through the centuries, have expressed the convictions of those who believe that there is a God. What an answer to this infidel! This longing in the heart for God is the best proof that there is a God. The psalmist expressed this conviction when he said, “As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after thee, 0 God.” (Psalm 42:1).  There is a consciousness in man that there is a God. We were created in the image of God. Instinct tells us that He is our maker. This desire in the heart after God changes the life of the individual, not for worse but for better. Sad indeed is the condition of the one who has no desire after God, who does not believe in Him.  He who believes in God chooses to follow His way, which is outlined in the Bible; he has within his soul a bright hope of life eternal, which is given to those who accept Him and follow Him completely. Man is as nothing before God. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visits him?” (Psalm 8:4). We are so insignificant. We are counted as dust. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.” (Isaiah 40:15). Yet this great God, in whom we believe and whom we serve, loves us and has a tender care for us. He is kind, merciful, gracious, and longsuffering. He longs to reveal Himself to us. He desires that all shall be saved.  Is this wonderful God, before whom we are as nothing, still unknown to us? If so, shall we not become acquainted with Him now? May we demonstrate daily by the life we live that we believe that there is a God and that He will never leave or forsake us.

The Third Commandment

tc-threeThe third of the Ten Commandments states: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name (NIV).”

Now, most Christians will tell you that simply means ‘Don’t curse.’ That is not the intent of the third commandment at all; its intent is much greater in scope.

Anyone who calls him or herself by the name of God represents Him on earth. Anyone who claims to represent God, anyone who takes His name, had better make every effort to live a life without blemish, because everything they do is a reflection of God to believers and non-believers alike. For those who claim Christ as their savior to represent His name with anything but the utmost reverence is, at best, disgraceful and, at worst, can also be a sin. The name of the Most High should always be borne with reverence.

This is an age where nothing is held in reverence anymore. The common and the profane have been elevated and brutish, cynical and sarcastic attitudes abound. Everything, every value, every hero and every institution are fair game for the lowest kind of attacks these days. It is shameful and it is dangerous to have a society wherein nothing is sacred—where nothing is sacred, nothing is stable. That is the world we live in.

As Christians we are called on to be the salt of the earth. Salt is that which preserves the world. In some  Christian circles, it has become commonplace to take the most powerful name under Heaven, Jesus the Christ, and lower it to whatever is selling at the time. Coke is the ‘Real Thing’ so Christ becomes the ‘Real Thing’. ‘Got Milk?’ has become ‘Got Jesus?’ To drag His name down to pop culture is a sign of disrespect. It is not one of reverence, it is a misuse of His name and it does inestimable damage to the image of God.

For those who make the name Christ and Christianity a laughing stock to the world by their behavior and their language there is a stern warning. Behaving in such a way as to reflect badly on the name of God serves as a stumbling block to many nonbelievers. Of those who are such stumbling blocks it is said that “it would be better if a mill stone were tied around their necks and they be tossed into the sea…” We are called to be a light to the world! In representing God…we should always be on our best behavior. We Christians should clean up our behavior and our language like true Ambassadors for Christ—not defile the name of God by using it irreverently. We should be setting the example for the world, not lowering the standards of our own behavior to fit into it.

“If the salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

Twelve Tribes of Spiritual Israel

spiritual_Israel“I heard the number of them that were sealed; and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:4)

Our Lord Jesus, before He came into the world, was the Son of God on the Heavenly plane, the Only Begotten of the Father Jehovah’s only direct creation. (Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14) When in the flesh, He was still God’s well-beloved Son. This is the One who when on earth as a man gave Himself in consecration to do the Father’s will, even at the cost of His own life, that He might purchase back from death the fallen human race. For this, the Father highly rewarded Him, by raising Him from the dead a Divine Being. Our Lord has had three natures, being now a partaker of the nature of Jehovah the Divine. “Him hath God supremely exalted, and given Him a name above every name. Phil. 2:9-11

This perfect obedience on the part of our Lord Jesus was the basis, then, on which Jehovah God raised Him to His present high position. God might have let Him take at once His power as King of kings and Lord of lords, and begin His great work of blessing mankind. But God’s plan was different. In His Purpose the Father not only foreknew the Lord Jesus for this work, but foreknew also that certain ones chosen from the human family would gladly become fellow-sufferers with Jesus that they might be fellow-sharers in His glory to follow. How could God arrange this? The Answer–is that they may have a part in this arrangement by marriage, by becoming united to Christ Jesus as His Bride, His Body, which is to be composed of 144,000 members.

HOW THESE ARE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL

St. John the Revelator tells about this 144,000 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. How does the Church, the Body of Christ, come to be of the twelve tribes of Israel? In this way: God laid out the entire program of the Gospel Age on the Jewish basis. Provision was made for choosing the total number of the Bride class out of Natural Israel 12,000 out of each of the twelve tribes. God foreknew, however, that fleshly Israel as a nation would not receive Jesus as Messiah, and that those who would receive Him would be only a small remnant from all the tribes. But the elect Church was to number 144,000 12,000 from each tribe.

Of those of Fleshly Israel who came into the Gospel Church we do not know the proportion from each of the tribes. All twelve tribes were represented in Palestine when our Lord Jesus came, though chiefly Judah and Benjamin. During the Jewish Harvest there were approximately 25,000 gathered to the Lord from Palestine and adjacent countries an average of a little over 2000 from each tribe. So there was not nearly the required number.

Therefore, after the close of the 70 symbolic weeks of favor (Dan. 9:24) promised to the Jews, God turned to the Gentiles, to fill up the number lacking from the various tribes. (Acts 13:46) When we were received into Christ, the question was, Where would we be put? We do not know, however, where the Lord has put us; some will be in one tribe, and some in another, as God wills. But His decision will satisfy us.

ANOTHER COMPANY–A GREAT MULTITUDE

After we are told about these 144,000 from the twelve tribes who are to be of the Very Elect, who are to stand with Christ on Mount Zion (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5), and who only will be able to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, mention is made of a much larger company. This Great Company say that they will never deny God’s name or His cause. But they have not been living in harmony with their vows. Therefore they will not receive the reward coming to those who are ready to meet their Lord at any moment, those whose lamps are trimmed and burning.

This unfaithful class are the ones mentioned by the Revelator as having soiled their garments those who have failed to keep “unspotted from the world.” He says, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude, whose number no man knows, of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues; and they stood before the Throne and  before the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-14) These are the Spiritual Israelites who are not of the priestly family. As in Natural Israel the Levites were far more numerous than the priests, so in Spiritual Israel. The Angel said to St. John, “Who are these, and whence came they?” He replied, “Sir, thou knowest.” So the angel said, “These are they who have come up out of the great tribulation, and have  washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Nothing but the blood of Jesus will ever take away these sins. They must all be cleansed in “a Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” This class will have their portion with the hypocrites,” because they have failed to live up to their covenant with God. They hesitate to step forward boldly and say, “I am striving to be a footstep follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But here is our opportunity to take a stand before the world and to lift up the banner of the Lord. Let the people know where you stand! If you say, “Of course I am religious, but I do not wish to be extreme,” then your worldly acquaintances will say, “That is right. Don’t be extreme; come in and have a game of cards!” Such Christians get themselves into trouble at once.

Some of this class become so besmirched that they plunge into willful deliberate sin. This course would merit the Second Death,
so far as we understand the Word of God. But others say, “I will
never go deliberately into sin. I am no saint, I know; but I will
never deny the Lord; I will never deny the principles of righteousness.” There is considerable good character manifested
here, even though that person is not living up to the covenant
made with God. Such are still loyal at heart. Some of them have
been weak through fear of loss of worldly favor, or have been
hindered by the cares of this life. This is the class that will be in
the second company, the Great Company.

HOW THEY LOST THEIR CROWNS

You ask, “How do they get into such a condition?” We answer, There are various ways. The following illustrates one of these: Suppose you as a child of God should get angry, should speak a bitter word. Afterwards you felt that this was something against you. You hastened to the Throne of Grace and said, “O Lord, forgive! Cleanse me from my iniquity, and I will never do this again!” Perhaps a day or two afterward you made the same mistake; and you felt, oh, so abashed. It was more difficult to go to the Mercy-Seat the second time; but you went and said, “Lord, I am so ashamed, so sorry! I will try not to do this again!” But perhaps in a week, or perhaps in an hour or two, you had repeated the transgression. You were almost discouraged. You feared to go to the Lord. When you were preparing to retire at night, and the time had come for reviewing the events of the day, you said to yourself, “I cannot go to the Lord tonight, and own that I have failed again!”

You succeed in putting the matter off, but you are anxious. You try to get it out of your mind. The next morning you go about your duties, but you have not made the matter right with God. During the day something happens that causes you again to transgress. In distress you say, “I will not think about it. Everybody commits sins. There may be some who can overcome, but I cannot. There is no use to try.” So it goes on, the trespasses accumulating. From time to time you offer prayer; but it is largely a formality. If this condition of  things is not rectified by the proper steps, you will certainly lose your Crown and go into great tribulation.

All down the Gospel Age there have been some of this class; but the Revelator pictures those now living. “Judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17); and these slothful ones must Answer–for their unfaithfulness. But after their sore chastisement in the coming great trouble, they will realize that it has worked good to them, and will say, “Let us be glad and rejoice. Let us glorify God that we were finally delivered. We have not been faithful; we have allowed things to hold us back. But now the Marriage of the Lamb has taken place. Our robes have been cleansed; and we are invited to the Marriage Supper, even though we have missed being of the Bride class. What a pity that we did not yield ourselves up wholly to the Lord;” See Rev. 19:6-9.

NOT MANY WEALTHY, GREAT OR WISE CALLED

God’s faithful ones love to meet together and encourage one another in the good way. The association of the Lord’s true
people is like a bed of coals. One coal will not keep warm alone;
but when many coals are brought together, each warms the
others. Therefore the Apostle exhorts, “Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together,… and so much the more as ye
see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:25

It is not money that draws us together. There is not a millionaire
amongst the saints, so far as we know. Whoever wishes to get
into a club of millionaires will not find it in the Church of
Christ.. The true Church are not as a rule wealthy, nor are they as
a class the most learned, the most talented, the most refined, to
be found. If these things are what you are seeking in the Church
of Christ, then you are looking in the wrong place. On the other
hand, whoever is ashamed of the brethren of Christ is accounted
as ashamed of Him.

We are not to be ashamed of the brethren of Christ or of His
Truth. Our Lord says, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and
of My Word, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He
shall come in His own glory and His Father’s.” (Luke 9:26) In
other words, I will not have him in the Bride class. That Great
Company is represented as eventually getting the palms of
victory and as serving God in His Temple. But so far as you and
I are concerned, I trust that we are looking for something better
the Crown of Glory immortality. The class that will receive this
great exaltation with Christ is the class that “follow the Lamb
whithersoever He goeth.”

HE COMETH NOW TO REIGN

In Psa. 45:3, 4, the Psalmist tells us of the majesty of our Lord
Jesus when He comes to reign on earth. “Gird Thy Sword upon
Thy thigh, O most Mighty.” Our Lord here girds on His Sword,
that with it He should smite the nations. During all these
eighteen hundred years He has not until now girded on this
Sword. But now the time has arrived. The present great war is
the beginning of the work of disintegration. In this war we see a
general spirit of partisanship, even amongst professed Christian
people. We who are members of the Bride of Christ are to forget
that we are British or German or French, etc. We are to be rid of
all bias and false expectation, and thus be better able to see
God’s view of the whole matter.

The Lord wishes to have a judicial class. We are preparing to be
the judges of the world. “Know ye not that the saints are to judge
the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2) But we are not to attempt to be judges
now. We must not make that mistake. We see enough of this war
to know that, like all other wars, it is not of God, but of the Devil. We see that selfishness is at the bottom.

This war has been brewing for the past forty years. Each nation
has determined to have, if possible, what each considers its rights
upon the sea. Each nation has determined that rival nations shall
not have the supremacy. Jealousy and selfishness were rampant.
When the expense of naval and military armament became too
great to be longer borne, and there was imminent danger that the
people would revolt, the rulers said, “There must be war” not
expecting so much of it.

God is permitting the nations to take charge of the situation, but
He is overruling all to the accomplishment of His own glorious
purposes. In this war He will permit the world to try their power
and to come to the full end of their resources. God is saying, in
substance, “I have every thing ready. By the time that these
nations have used each other up, My Kingdom, that I have so
long promised, will take control. These nations can never bless
the world. I will let all the peoples of the earth see how foolish
their plans have been. Hitherto I have held back the winds of
strife; but now I am letting them loose; for I am ready to bring in
the blessings of My Kingdom.” Dan. 2:44

CITIZENS OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM

It would be very improper for us as Christians to have any prejudice one way or the other. We are to love all mankind. God’s true people are waiting to bless all the world. We do not wish to see any one injured; we are sorry that they do not know better than to injure and destroy one another as they are doing.

This spirit of selfishness which has prompted the war is spreading all over the world this antagonism, this striving for me and mine. What has the Spirit of the Lord to do with such selfishness? We are to remember that we belong to the Lord and to His Kingdom. If the whole world could get the spirit of our Master, what a changed world it would be! If all the churches in Europe had been teaching the principles of the Word of God, there would be no war. If all were Christians, there would be no soldiers and nobody killed. Over there in Europe the people claim to be practically all Christians. The Germans claim to be ninety-five per cent Christians; the British make the same claim. Italy is in the lead. It counts in all its people as Christians. These Christian-Italians have been studying the matter of going into this war, have been estimating how many would be killed and how much material advantage could be obtained by entering the war or by remaining out. For months they balanced it up and down. There they were, willing to barter the lives of millions of their own people and of others in order to get a little larger strip of territory under their king. How pitiable are such conditions!
“What manner of persons ought we (true Christians) to be!” We
should be the peacemakers of the world. Humanity are all deluded by their wrong doctrines. If they could see things properly, they would speedily bring this war to a conclusion. The Lutheran Church has been teaching the Germans and the Swedes, and the Church of England has been teaching the British, each in its place, that their kingdom is the Kingdom of God. Now they are in God’s holy war. (?) We are sorry. This is all that we can say. The war is a shameful spectacle. We whose eyes of understanding are opened know that all these earthly governments will meet with disaster, with ruin.
Let us, then, as true disciples of Christ, help each other. Let us
all be peacemakers and point others to the Kingdom of God’s
dear Son, which is soon to be inaugurated upon the ruins of the
present evil order, and which will prove to be “the desire of all
nations.” Then wars and all other calamities will be made to
cease forever; for nothing will be permitted to hurt or destroy in
all God’s holy Kingdom. Isa. 11:9

Your Reasonable Service

living-sacrifices“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to
love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” Mic. 6:8.

Who could find fault with these requirements? Who could say
that in setting such a standard for His creatures the Almighty
required too much? On the other hand, how could we imagine a
just and loving Heavenly Father requiring less than is here
stipulated. God’s law, variously stated, always amounts to the
same thing. The statement of it, as given to the Jews at Mt. Sinai,
embodied in the Decalogue, corresponds with this statement, as
does also the presentation of it set forth by the great Teacher,
saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind,
soul and strength; and thy neighbor as thyself”.

Many of us, after confessing with the Apostle Paul that the Divine Law is holy and just and good, have been surprised to find that that
which our minds heartily approve, we are unable to obey to the
full. For thirty-five hundred years the Jews have sought to keep
that Divine Law, under the promise of eternal life for so doing,
but none of them have been able to gain the prize. When as a
nation they realize their inability, and not sooner, they will be
ready to receive at God’s hands, as a free gift through the
Redeemer, the forgiveness of their violations of the Divine Law.
And then, under their New Covenant (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8-13),
they will have Messiah’s assistance in regaining that perfection
of mind and body and a “new heart,” which will enable them to
obey in every particular the Divine Law, which all our minds
recognize as just and true, but which, because of heredity, we are
unable to perfectly obey in the flesh.

That blessing, which is soon to come to natural Israel, under
Messiah’s Kingdom and the New Covenant, will be extended
through them, as the natural seed of Abraham, to every nation,
kindred and tongue, in harmony with the Divine promise made
to Abraham.

A different, although a corresponding favor, is now, in advance,
bestowed upon a small class gathered from Jews and Gentiles,
and Scripturally known as the “Church of the First-Borns, whose
names are written in Heaven.” These, in advance, realize their
inability to keep the Divine Law, and by faith lay hold upon the
Redeemer’s merit and consecrate their all to God through Him.
In the Redeemer they are accepted of the Father; their heart endeavors for righteousness are recognized, and the flesh and its imperfections are renounced and counted as dead and are offset by the merit of the Redeemer. These are Scripturally classed as members of the Great Prophet, Priest, King and Mediator between God and men.
The thought of our text will be completed when all the faithful,
as members of the Messiah, “the little flock,” shall be made joint
heirs with him, as “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.”

ANALYZING OUR SUBJECT

We may demonstrate to ourselves the truthfulness of the
foregoing: What is it to do justly? It means much more than not
to overcharge our neighbor for the goods he may purchase of us.
It means much more than not to defraud him in the making of
change. To deal justly means justice between servant and master,
mistress and maid, buyer and seller that we should do to others
as we would that they should do to us; it means the strict
following of the Golden Rule enjoined by the Great Teacher.
Applying this principle of justice to our words, it means that we
should not speak evil of either friend or foe; that we should not
even insinuate evil. It means that we should not tell
unnecessarily what we know to be the truth, if it would harm our
neighbor, disparage him and discredit him in the eyes of others.
It means that we should love our neighbor and his interests as we
love our own, and should defend his interests and guard them as
carefully as we would our own.

Justice, in order to thus operate in our words and deeds, must
operate in our hearts in our minds. “As a man thinketh, so is he.”
If he thinks unkindly, ungenerously, unjustly, he will find it
impossible always to avoid unkind, unjust, unloving words or
actions. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”
It follows then, that to do justly signifies absolute righteousness
in thought, in word, in conduct. Of this none of us is capable.
The nearest approach to this is the perfect or just intention of the
heart, covenanted by all those who become followers of the Lord
Jesus Christ. The intentions and good endeavors of these are
accepted of the Father.

As for the world, it will require long years of assistance and
uplifting out of weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh to
bring them to where their thoughts, words and deeds will be
absolutely just and in full accordance with the Golden Rule.
Their attainment of this will mean their getting rid of all the
imperfections of the flesh and, by full restitution, returning to the
image and likeness of God lost in Adam.

TO LOVE MERCY

All recognize mercy as a very proper, a very desirable quality.
All realize their need of Divine mercy. All should know that the
Divine purpose is that only those who show mercy to others will
themselves receive mercy at the Lord’s hands. Many, however,
while admitting all this and while seeking to practice mercy, do
not love it. Rather, they love vengeance, and are merely
constrained to mercy by the laws of the land, public sentiment
and the Word of God. Time and again this has been shown in the
case of lynchings. Mobs have gathered for the infliction of
punishment, glad of an opportunity for setting aside mercy and
letting loose justice, as they might express it. And in those mobs
have been many guilty of perhaps as great crimes as the one who
was mobbed. “O consistency, thou art a jewel!”

WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD

By a strange perversity of our fallen nature, those most able and
willing to follow the first two requirements are apt to be the most
delinquent in this third requirement. In a word, the just and
merciful are very apt to find themselves possessed of a spirit of
pride, a feeling of superiority to their fellows, a hindrance to
their having a humble walk with God. Those most humble
toward the Almighty are frequently those who have had great
sins and great weaknesses, which have helped to humble them.
Thus the Great Apostle, St. Paul, was allowed to retain a
measure of visual weakness as a reminder of the time when he
was a persecutor of Christ of the “Church which is his Body” as
a reminder of how the grace of God apprehended him on the way
to Damascus, and that without the Divine interposition he might
have continued hopelessly blind.

The Apostle refers to his weakness of eyes as a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan permitted to buffet him. The Lord declined
to remove the affliction, doubtless because it would keep the
Apostle humble enough to attend properly to the great work God
had for him to do without being puffed up to his own injury. The
Divine message was, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my
strength is made perfect in weakness.” Realizing the import of
this the Apostle cried out, “Rather, therefore, will I glory in mine
infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
And so may all God’s people, while realizing their inability to
live up to these Divine requirements, rejoice in the Divine
provision on their behalf that God’s grace is sufficient for them,
where their weakness is recognized and confessed and abhorred,
and his mercy appreciated, sought and accepted.

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:15