God’s Kingdom

kingdomofgod“Of those born of women there is not a greater prophet than
John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is
greater than he” Luke 7:28

There can be no better illustration of the sharp line of distinction
between the earthly and the heavenly classes and their calling
than is shown by our text. The great Teacher freely attested to
the loyalty and courage and saintliness of His cousin John, as
evidenced by the words of our text. But if so great and honorable
a Prophet, why could not John be a member of the Bride class?
Why could he not be numbered with the disciples of Jesus and be
an Apostle, or at least a footstep follower? The Answer–is that
he was not called to the heavenly plane, but to the earthly. He
was honored of God in being made one of the Prophets of the
Jewish Age the last of them. Although a different honor from
that conferred upon the Apostles, John’s was a great honor, and
we have reason to believe that, under Divine providence, when
perfected in the resurrection, he will appreciate the earthly
blessings and privileges which will be his, more than the
spiritual and heavenly privileges bestowed upon the Apostles
and the less prominent members of the Church.

The Lord “will choose our inheritance for us,” we read (Psa.
47:4). Happy are those who repose implicit confidence in Divine
goodness and who seek to obtain whatever may be God’s choice
for them. If we have been called with the heavenly calling, let us
not shrink back and declare ourselves unworthy and decline to
accept the favors of God and to choose an inferior position. Let
us, rather, be glad to say, Thy will be done in my heart, in my
life, in all my future. “Order Thou my steps in Thy Word.”

A FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

Jesus had a two-fold mission: (1) He came “that the world
through Him might be saved” that He might give Himself “a
ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6).
(2) Incidentally His mission was to proclaim the acceptable year
of the Lord the time in which God is willing to accept the
sacrifices of such as desire to walk in the Redeemer’s footsteps,
and to constitute these the Bride and Joint-heir of Messiah.
John the Baptist referred to the latter feature of our Lord’s work,
saying, He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom, but the friend
of the Bridegroom heareth His voice and rejoiceth greatly. This,
my joy, therefore, is fulfilled (John 3:29). It was not for him to
be a member of the Bride, but he rejoiced to be a friend of the
Bridegroom. As our Lord’s forerunner he announced the
Bridegroom; he called upon the nation of Israel to turn from sin,
to purify their hearts, to come back into harmony with God and
thus to be prepared to receive the Bridegroom and to become the
Bride. So far as the nation was concerned John’s mission was a
failure, as God had foreknown and foretold. but so far as the
Bride class was concerned John’s mission was a success, for, as
the Scriptures intimate, those who believed John’s testimony
accepted Jesus and He accepted them.

GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM

We must remember that the Church is the Kingdom of God now
in a formative or embryotic state, but in the end, by “the
resurrection,” to be spirit beings and partakers with Jesus, their
Bridegroom, in His wonderful glory, honor, immortality and
Kingdom work. This Kingdom class is not reigning now, but
merely forming. It is joined “on probation,” after the Methodist
style. If the probationary period of the present life be faithfully
used, the full induction into the Kingdom, its glories, honors and
immortality, will surely follow by participation in the First
Resurrection.

Amongst the faithful followers of the Master there will be
differences, as St. Paul explains, “as one star differeth from
another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41). We cannot know, and it is
not necessary for us to guess, who shall occupy the chief places
in the Kingdom. These shall be given to those whom the Father
prefers, as the Redeemer explained to the woman who asked that
her two sons might sit, one on His right hand and the other on
His left hand in the Kingdom (Matt. 20:21).

If we were to guess who shall be closest in position to the Master
we would suppose that St. Paul would be first, with St. John, St.
Peter and St. James near by in glorious excellence. And yet we
know not how nearly up to the Apostolic standard some may be
who have lived very humble and obscure lives, have fought a
good fight and finished their course with joy. Indeed, the twelve
Apostles seem to occupy, by Divine decision in advance, the
very highest stations in the Kingdom, next to that of the
Redeemer, Who said of them, “Ye who have followed Me, in the
regeneration… shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve
tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Again, they are pictured to us as
the “crown of twelve stars” to the Church in her future glory, and
again they are pictured to us as the twelve precious foundation
stones of the Church in future glory, as the New Jerusalem (Rev.
21:14).

Those called of God to this high salvation, as members of the
spiritual Kingdom which shall bless natural Israel and through
her all the nations, are required to demonstrate their loyalty to
God by faithfulness even unto death in the narrow way of self-sacrifice.

As there is no other name than that of Jesus whereby
any may be saved to eternal life, so, likewise, there is no other
path whereby any may reach the Kingdom except the narrow
way, “and few there be that find it.” All who attain to the
Kingdom must be overcomers of the world to the extent of self-sacrifice.

The gradations of glory will be because of special
manifestations of zeal for the Lord and His cause of
righteousness and Truth against sin and error.

A LESSER SPIRITUAL SALVATION

The Scriptures clearly show another class in process of salvation
during this Gospel Age, quite separate and distinct from the
Bride class. These are referred to in various parts of the
Scriptures. They will all be loyal, to the extent that they would
not deny the Lord nor willfully practice sin. Their failure to
reach the status of the Bride is indicated in an insufficiency of
zeal in connection with their loyalty. This class is described in
Rev. 7:14. They are represented as having failed to keep their
garments unspotted from the world failed to live circumspectly,
carefully enough.

Hence in a great time of trouble in the end of this Age these are
represented as washing their robes and making them white in the
blood of the Lamb and then coming up through that tribulation to
glory and honor, but not to immortality, nor to the same degree
of glory and honor as the Church, the Bride. The distinction in
their glory is indicated in that instead of being in the Throne they
are before it; instead of being the Bride, they will serve; instead
of wearing the crown, they will bear palm branches; instead of
being the Temple, they will be servants in the Temple.

This same class is referred to by the Apostle in his declaration
respecting the end of this Age. He intimates that some will have
an abundant entrance (2 Pet. 1:11) into the Kingdom, while
others will be “saved so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). The fire of this
Day will test every man’s work of what sort it is. Some will be
proved to be gold, silver, precious stones. These the “fire” will
not consume. Others will be proved to be an admixture of hay
and stubble, which will be consumed, though themselves will be
saved so as by fire (1 Cor. 3:12,13).

The tribe of Levi pictured the entire “Church of the First-born,”
but it contained two classes the “little flock” of priests and the
“great company” of Levites the Bride class and the servant class, none of whom have any inheritance in the earth, all of whom have the heavenly inheritance.

As Isaac typified our Lord, the Redeemer, and as Rebecca
typified the Bride class, so Rebecca’s maidens typified this
“great company ” class. This same thought is brought to our
attention in Psa. 45, where the Bride class is pictured as being
presented to Jehovah in the end of this Age in glory, honor and
immortality, illustrated by raiment of fine needlework and gold.
Following the Bride come “the virgins, her companions, who
follow her.” These also will be greatly honored, greatly blessed,
though theirs will be a lesser honor. This “great company” will
not constitute the Kingdom, although they will be identified with
it and its wonderful salvation and blessing for mankind.

KEEPING OR BREAKING COMMANDMENTS

The great Teacher’s declaration that they who break God’s
commandments and teach others so to do shall be called “least in
the Kingdom” has caused considerable perplexity in the past.
The question has been, How could anyone be fit at all for the
Kingdom who breaks God’s commandments and teaches others
so to do? The Answer–is that many of God’s people have
labored under more or less of blindness and have done things
which they ought not to have done and left undone the things
which they ought to have done. As an illustration, John Calvin,
noble man as he was, burned his Christian brother, Servetus.
Such violation of the Divine commands and such wrong teaching
must, according to our human judgment, assign Brother Calvin
to a lesser place in the Kingdom than if he had more carefully,
more earnestly sought the will and Spirit of God. However, it is
not for us to judge. We are merely seeking to ascertain the spirit
of our Lord’s words.

Begotten of the Holy Spirit and privileged of the Lord to be
disciples and to be guided of the Holy Spirit, we should be so
faithful in the study of the Scriptures as not to be mistaken in
respect to the general application of their meaning. Wrong
practice and false teachings do not always represent disloyalty to
God, but they surely do always represent slackness or inattention
to the Divine message; though we may be sure of the Lord’s
faithfulness in enlightening all who are of the proper, teachable
spirit.

JOHN THE BAPTIST CLASS

To what class does John the Baptist belong, and what will be his
share in the Kingdom, according to our text?

Since the call of God began with the call of the Church, and
since the Church began at the First Advent of Jesus, it follows
that no one was called of God to salvation prior to Jesus’ time
none for forty-one hundred and fifty years after sin entered the
world.

God did, however, recognize the loyalty of heart of His Prophet
Enoch and communed with him and blessed him, etc. God also
recognized Abraham’s faith and spirit of obedience, and Isaac’s
and Jacob’s, and that of Moses and Aaron and numerous
prophets and other faithful ones less notable.

Did He not call these? We Answer–that He did not call them to
salvation, for no salvation could be positively offered until the
Redeemer had sacrificed; nor were they called to the Kingdom,
for the same reason, God did tell them that in due time He would
bless all the world. He did tell them that in due time the great
Ruler of the world would come forth from Abraham’s posterity
in the line of Isaac and Jacob and the nation of Israel. But telling
them of a coming blessing and giving them eternal life are
different matters. St. Paul declares that none of them got
everlasting life, and that “by the deeds of the Law no flesh can
be justified before God.”

Israel’s Law Covenant served to instruct the Chosen People. It
was a call to do right, and a promise of eternal life if they would
keep the Law. “He that doeth these things shall live.” Israel
learned the lesson that a perfect Law could not be kept by
imperfect beings. Some of them and some of the Gentiles in due
time heard of Jesus and how God has provided justification
through His sacrificial death.

SOME BETTER THING FOR THE CHURCH
THAN FOR ANCIENT WORTHIES

St. Paul tells us the status of those noble characters, of whom
John the Baptist was the last. They were volunteer servants of
God, so to speak. Those of them who were born under the Law
Covenant, by their faith lived above it and will be fully
rewarded, although they lived before any specific call or offer of
eternal life was made. Their faith and obedience were pleasing to
God; as St. Paul relates, “All these died in faith, not having
received the things promised (them), God having provided some
better thing for us (the Gospel Church), that they without us
should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:13,40).

“The Church of the First-born” is to be perfected first, and on the
spirit plane, “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). In due
time those Ancient Worthies will come forth from the tomb to
receive the blessing which God declares shall be the reward of
their loyalty. As the Church will have the “better resurrection”
on the spirit plane, so those Ancient Worthies will have the
“better resurrection” on the earthly plane. They will come forth
from the tomb actually perfect, while the remainder of mankind
will be obliged to attain perfection by the slow process of faith,
works, obedience, during the thousand years of the Kingdom.

ANCIENT WORTHIES WILL BE PRINCES IN ALL THE EARTH

Moreover, those Ancient Worthies, while not members of the
Kingdom, per se, which will be spiritual, will be members of
that Kingdom in its earthly phase. They will be the Kingdom’s
earthly representatives, princes or rulers, in all the earth, as the
Scriptures declare (Psa. 45:16). We remember the words of Jesus
to this effect: “Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the
Prophets in the Kingdom,” but He said not a word about Himself
or His disciples being seen; properly so, because they, as spirit
beings, will be invisible to men.

The Scriptures still further intimate that during the thousand
years of Messiah’s reign, all the faithful of mankind, all the
obedient, will be privileged to come into relationship with the
King. This is figuratively represented in the statement that the
great ones of the earth “will bring their glory and honor into the
New Jerusalem.”

With such glorious hopes before us, with such appreciation of
our Heavenly Father’s glorious character and wonderful
Plan, with such a grand view of our Savior’s work, with such a
hope of a share with Him in His Kingdom, what manner of
persons ought we to be in holy living and godliness! Nor should
it be thought strange that any of the spirit-begotten now, or the
restored of the future, who would turn their backs upon the
gracious provisions made for their salvation, would be
considered unworthy of further favor or blessing at the hands of
God and should die the Second Death annihilation. As Paul says
they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the
presence of the Lord and the glory of His power (2 Thess. 1:9).
Soon the disciples of the Master will be one with Him beyond
the veil, sharers of His glory and Kingdom. Then will come the
time when the world will believe. The knowledge of the Lord
will fill the earth and all the blinding and stumbling influences of
the present will be at an end. The Savior will then exercise His
power on behalf of the world, overthrowing evil and uplifting
every good principle and all who love righteousness, and
destroying those who would corrupt the earth. Rev. 11:18

Prince Lucifer of Old is Now Prince of Demons

lucifer“The God of Peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” – Rom. 16:20
Doubtless many have been much surprised when told that Satan is  not in some far-off place stoking fires and torturing human or
other victims, but that he is present amongst men, an invisible
angel of evil, ably supported in his work as an Adversary of God
by legions of other fallen angels, of whom he is master a “Prince
of Demons,” either because of his superiority of nature, or
because of belonging to a higher rank or grade than the ordinary
angel. It is a surprise many to learn that Satan, so far from being
ill favored, is beautiful, according to the Scriptures, and that he is
supervising the work directly and through the fallen angels, his
servants, to mislead and to deceive humanity putting light for
darkness and darkness for light, error for truth, etc.

The time was not long ago when intelligent people made light of
everything in the Scriptures respecting invisible spirit beings,
good and bad the messengers of God and the messengers of
Satan. This, however, can no longer be done. Under the
increasing light of the New Dispensation man himself today can
do things which but a short time ago would have been
considered impossible. Can we not speak with our friends over
hundreds of miles with a telephone and recognize each other’s
voices? Yet there is no pipe, no tube to convey the sounds and
nothing, seemingly, carries it over the wire. We speak into a hole
in the wall and our friends hundreds of miles away hear plainly.
Still more marvelous is wireless telegraphy and wireless
telephony. If man can accomplish these things, what cannot the
Almighty accomplish? Who can deny the possibility of the
invisible presence of spirit beings and yet admit the possibility of
wireless telegraphy? We are safe, dear friends, in guiding our
judgments directly by the Word of God and reasoning inside and
not outside of its boundaries.

THE BIBLE IN PERFECT ACCORD

The Bible, and it alone, explains certain phenomena, and all of
the Bible explanations, although written, some of them centuries
apart, are in most perfect accord. Thus in Genesis the Bible tells
us respecting Satan’s deflection, and the book of Revelation,
written more than three thousand years later, tells us of his
binding for a thousand years, of Messiah’s reign and Satan’s
ultimate destruction. Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us of his being at one
time in full harmony with God, and that then he was the
“covering cherub,” glorious, grand, beautiful, and that his name
was Lucifer, which signifies the Morning Star.

All of the angelic, heavenly hosts are termed stars, bright ones;
but Lucifer, being of a higher order, was styled the Morning Star,
the Brightest Star. It was at that time, while in Divine favor, that
Satan permitted the lodgment in his mind of a disloyal thought of
how, indirectly, by being in higher responsibility, he could work
some wonders and do some things better than the Almighty. He
craved the opportunity to make a demonstration of what he could
do. But the Scriptures declare that, first of all, he said this merely
in his heart and uttered it not. “He said in his heart, I will ascend
into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God (still
farther above his angelic associates), I will be as the Most High”
a ruler.

THE OPPORTUNE TIME CAME

Never had there been sin in heaven. Satan was the first of all its
inhabitants to cherish, to entertain, a rebellious thought and to
bring it to a consummation. He held the thought in abeyance
until the opportunity afforded, and God Himself afforded the
opportunity, with full knowledge of the consequences, and with
the desire that this test of the entire heavenly host, and of a
human race as well, should be effected, because God seeketh not
the worship of constraint, but “seeketh such for worshipers as
worship Him in spirit and in truth,” voluntarily, joyfully.

It was when Satan beheld our first parents, in the image and
likeness of God, yet not spirit but flesh, earthly, that he perceived
the opportunity of gaining the coveted power for an empire,
separate from that of Jehovah. In the first pair the Adversary
beheld a new thing, a creature of Godlike qualities and possessed
of the power to propagate his own species. Satan realized that the
conquest of this pair and the bringing of them into subjection to
himself would signify the capture of a world full of people
eventually that the enslavement of the parents would signify the
enslavement eventually of the race.

SATAN’S METHODS WERE SUCCESSFUL

We cannot deny that Satan’s plans were logical and that he has
carried them out with great success so that the Scriptures declare
him “the Prince of this world” (John 14:30);and again, “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). Nevertheless, his victory was not so great a one as he doubtless expected it to be.

No doubt he expected that he was capturing an immortal race.
Quite probably he believed the falsehood he told mother Eve,
when he contradicted the Word of God that sin, that
disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, would bring upon
them the penalty of death, “dying thou shalt die.”

Satan’s charge was that God had misrepresented the facts for the
purpose of holding His creatures in mental slavery to Himself;
that He did not wish them to be wise, therefore He forbade the
eating of this particular kind of fruit and declared the penalty of
death for the transgression of His Law. “I, Satan, assure you that
you need not be afraid of the fruit; I assure you that it will do
you good, and that you will not surely die from the eating of it.”
Alas! Mother Eve believed the Adversary and disbelieved her
God, and then enticed her husband, still thinking, no doubt, that
she would not die and that the serpent had told her the truth and
that God had been the deceiver. St. Paul tells us that father Adam
knew better and ate the fruit, knowing that it would cause his
death, willing thus to disobey in order to maintain the fellowship
of his wife, whose life, he realized, was already forfeited.

When the Divine sentence began to go into execution, when our
first parents were driven out of Eden to battle with the thorns and
thistles until they should return to the dust, no doubt Satan was
disappointed. He would rather be the Prince of a noble, living
family of angels or of humans than the Emperor of a weak and
dying race. However, from that day to the present time he has
been fighting upon the same line; he has been contending with
mankind that the Word of God is false when it declares that “the
wages of sin is death,” and that “the soul that sinneth it shall
die.” From that day to this he has been using this falsehood to the
injury of our race, and surely he has succeeded wonderfully.
Today, not only in heathen lands, but amongst the most civilized,
it is freely believed (and by many Christians considered
Scriptural to believe the nonsensical) that a dead man is more
alive than before he died. People of good, sound, reasoning
faculties on ordinary subjects seem to be “hoodooed” by this
falsehood of Satan, “ye shall not surely die.” So true is this, that
it seems not inconsistent to them to say that a man hit over the
head with a stick and knocked senseless knows nothing, but a
man hit over the head harder and killed, knows everything.

THE FALLEN ANGELS

It was sometime after the fall of Satan and the fall of man that
the Lord permitted the great test to come upon the angels of
heaven, under which test a host of them fell into sin,
disobedience, etc. and since then are known in the Scriptures as
the fallen angels, and as devils more properly demons. These
fallen angels, demons, are under Satan as their great Prince and
they have been his active agents for long centuries in deceiving
mankind and opposing the Divine Program.

SATAN THE GREAT MURDERER

No less an authority than our great Lord and Redeemer tells us
that Satan is a murderer and a liar. He declares that “He was a
murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth; when he
speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is the father of lies.”
(John 8:44) It is well that we keep this Divine testimony in our
minds. It is well that we note just what the first great lie was,
namely, Satan’s misrepresentation saying, “Ye shall not surely
die.” It is important that we notice this, because so thoroughly
has Satan accomplished his deceptive work that practically
everybody, heathen and civilized, accepts Satan’s version of the
matter and discredits that of the Almighty.

Let us notice that Satan is a murderer; that he murdered Father
Adam and Mother Eve, and that his lie is still murdering our
race, under the just laws of heredity. The error of believing Satan
instead of God has gotten many into the confused situation of
disclaiming that God proposed that man should live forever on
earth in a Paradise, and, as his family would increase and
continue in harmony with His wise regulations, the boundaries of
his Paradise would be enlarged and be a Paradise filled with the
knowledge of God and the home of a perfect humanity, in accord
with God, privileged to maintain everlasting life here. And, says
this theory, by Satan’s lie and our first parents’ fall, we die and
by dying become more alive and some of us go to heaven and
the mass to some eternal, fiery hell, of which we have no
knowledge.

THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE (Rom. 6:23)

God, while permitting Satan and sin and depravity and death to
take their course, has not been idle. He has had, and still has, a
great plan for human salvation a plan for recovering man from
sin and from death and from all of his fallen conditions, a plan of
restitution to human perfection, a plan by which the Seed of the
woman shall yet, literally, crush the Serpent’s head, and undo
Satan’s great original misdeed recover man from his murdered
condition and from his fallen estate to all that he had at first plus
the knowledge and experiences of the present life and plus the
experience incidental to his uplift, during the reign of Messiah,
for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”

The Scriptures clearly show us that all of this recovery is to be
accomplished through the merit of Jesus” sacrifice—” the just for
the unjust.” That the work has not yet begun is evident. We are
still living under the reign of sin and death. The Messianic
Kingdom must come in power and great glory and be
established, the Scriptures tell us, in a great time of trouble. Then
the earth will be made to blossom as the rose, and the wilderness
and the solitary places will be made glad, and all mankind will
receive Divine blessing and opportunity to return to Divine favor
and eternal life as human beings. And the willfully disobedient
and the negligent of those opportunities will die the Second
Death, from which there will be no recovery, no resurrection, no
hope.

THE SAINTS SHALL JUDGE THE WORLD (1 Cor. 6:2)

These great blessings of restitution, for which Israel and the
whole world are waiting, cannot be brought about until first the
special salvation of a special class, the salvation of the very elect
not to human nature, but to a heavenly nature, as the Bride of
Christ shall be accomplished. The selecting of these has
progressed for nearly nineteen centuries and, apparently, is about
complete. The Divine blessing and work then to be inaugurated
will be restitution to earthy nature and perfection—” to the Jew
first.”

SATAN SERVES THE SAINTS

During all these centuries, while Satan has been the Prince of
ruler amongst the children of this world, and while he has
blinded them with his sophistries and falsehoods, he has also
done another work for the saintly few now being called to the
heavenly places. For these he has, so to speak, turned a polishing
grindstone to prepare them for the riches of the heavenly glory as
New Creatures, as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ
their Lord. Quite unwittingly, we may be sure, he has served the
Creator’s purposes and helped to prepare, through trials, this
class for the glorious things which God has in reservation for
those that love Him.

SATAN AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT

St. Paul declares of Satan, “We are not ignorant of his devices,”
and he tells us that Satan and his servants transform themselves
into servants of righteousness, etc. We see this principle in
operation as we read Church history. Satan, all through this Age,
has sought to pervert Christian hopes and distort Christian
doctrines by presenting counterfeits of Bible truths. Thus, for
instance, the Scriptures tell us that eventually the Church, “a
little flock,” will be associated with Messiah in His Kingdom of
glory, to reign a thousand years. It was Satan’s method to
counterfeit this hope, to suggest to men the establishment of an
earthly Kingdom with an earthly little flock, an earthly glory, an
earthly reign. This was set forth as the fulfillment of the second
Psalm.

And when later on some of Satan’s dupes began to get free from
some of his snares, he became their leader in an opposite
direction, called them Reformers and led them to claim that all
the civilized kingdoms of the earth are the kingdoms of Christ.
This is the status of affairs today. The world in general believes
that Christ’s Kingdom has come, even through they are still
praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is
in heaven.” Satan has led them away from careful attention to
making their own calling and election sure by Christian character
development, into the various reform movements of the world,
whose trial time has not yet come. Thus Christians of all
denominations have been bewildered, confused by the artful
wiles of our enemy. Now, however, as the morning of the New
Dispensation dawns, our eyes of understanding are opening. We
perceive that our Adversary has but a short time until he must be
bound for a thousand years; that the Messianic Kingdom must
prevail that all the families of the earth may be blessed through
the Seed of Abraham. Finally, at the close of that reign of
righteousness, the Scriptures declare, Satan shall be destroyed.
The Church is the Body of Christ, of Messiah. Hence the
Apostle’s words of our text apply to the Church in glory—” The
God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”.

What Does It Mean to “Prove all things”?

question-mark-man“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” What does it mean? Is there any substance to the idea that truth which is initially proven can be reproven? What if “reproven truth” differs from original truth?

No Bible teaching is more certain than the fact that to understand God’s Truth one must be called of God! Our Lord said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. . .” (John 6:44). While it is true those who sincerely seek God may find Him, this, too, is contingent upon God’s mercy and upon His purpose for each individual (Matthew 7:7, Romans 11:7). Whether one is ever called and chosen —depends on God (Acts 2:38–39).

Paul said, “. . .we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Therefore, the   knowledge of God’s Truth comes by divine revelation. Truth does not come by “scholarship,” superior human intelligence, or “research.” These may aid in Bible understanding—but without the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit leading the individual to perceive spiritual concepts, they are of little value. Many brilliant theologians and philosophers today are as much in ignorance of the real meaning of God’s Word as are those who have never been exposed to it. Bible truth is revealed! It comes only by divine revelation!

Jesus said, “. . . many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Those who are chosen are chosen “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thess. 2:13). God’s Spirit, working on their minds and setting them apart, leads them to perceive and believe what they hear or read. They are called to a knowledge of the truth which they believe and practice (II Thess. 2:14).

Those called understand and apply the rules of Bible study. They know all Scripture is inspired (II Tim. 3:16). They know the Bible does not contradict (John 10:35). They know all Scripture on a given subject must be put together in order to fully understand doctrine (Isa. 28:9–10). They realize no scripture of the Bible is of any private interpretation (II Pet. 1:20). Their minds are fully capable of proving what the Bible says. But they know this is only a part of proving God’s Truth.

Truth Is Absolute

Divine truth is absolute. It does not change. The same truth applies to all generations. The standard never alters. The truth revealed yesterday is the same truth today. There is no progressive revelation in the sense that “new insight” invalidates original truth. “New insight” adds to and complements that which precedes it (II Pet. 3:18—”grow” is auxano, meaning “increase or add thereto”).

Pastor Russell wrote:

“A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. “New light” never extinguishes older “light,” but adds to it. If you were lighting up a building containing seven gas jets you would not extinguish one every time you lighted another, but would add one light to another and they would be in harmony and thus give increase of light: So is it with the light of truth; the true increase is by adding to, not by substituting one for another.”

“New insight” never contradicts or disagrees with original truth. To say truth is subject to change is to say there is no such thing as absolute truth. If this is true, God’s Word is meaningless. Those who advocate doctrinal changes on the basis of “new insight” and “scholarship” have repudiated truth persay. If truth can be altered, it was never truth in the first place! Original, revealed truth cannot be altered.

Those who call themselves Christians — while advocating doctrinal changes — are in effect admitting they were never Christian, because the basis of true Christian doctrine is divine revelation (I Cor. 2:10)! Jesus said that revelation could never change (Mark 13:31)!

Truth Absolute to Every Individual

Furthermore, divine revelation is absolute to every individual. The idea that what is truth is truth for that individual only, is not sustained in Scripture. The Bible says there is one faith and one faith only (Eph. 4:5)! There is no allowance for each individual to decide for himself what truth is. Man is going to be judged on the basis of God’s Word, not on the basis of what he thinks God’s Word is (John 12:48). Truth, therefore, is not individualistic truth. It is absolute truth which applies the same way to each individual.

Since divine truth is spiritual, it can come only from a spiritual source. That spiritual source is God’s Spirit. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Spiritual truth, as well as full spiritual understanding, is divinely revealed (I Cor. 2:10). It cannot be ascertained through physical means! It is only by the Spirit of God that the hidden things of God are made known (I Cor. 2:11). The natural man cannot receive them (I Cor. 2:14). Therefore, proving God’s Truth begins with the understanding that through God’s Spirit one can understand truth. But this comprehension is only the initial step.

Proving Means Practicing

After the individual Christian is called, recognizes the call, accepts the knowledge revealed to him and is baptized, he must put to practice that truth. He must walk worthy of his calling (I Thess. 2:12). While the truth generally comes as a result of hearing others preach God’s Word, it is plain to the true Christian that what he heard was indeed the Word of God (I Thess. 2:13, II Thess. 2:13–14, John 10:4). While the same message applies to everyone, the true Christian knows what is said has been revealed to him specifically. When Peter said, “. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. . .” (Acts 2:38), he was saying that spiritual truth must be applied individually! He did not say spiritual truth applies to each individual as he interprets it. Rather, truth applies to each individual as God specifically reveals it. Thus, each individual —called of God—must live up to what is revealed to him!

Levels of Truth

Revealed truth, therefore, does not differ from one individual to another in the sense of variety, but only in the sense of quantity. To each individual, then, truth is not a matter of diversity but rather of measure (Rom. 12:3). The more knowledge and understanding one has, the greater the responsibility placed upon him (Luke 12:47–48). At any given moment of time, each individual must live up to the truth revealed to him. Thus, when referring to spiritual truth in its application to individuals, we are referring to levels of truth. We are never talking about variations of truth. Truth does not vary from individual to individual, but the level of understanding each person has at a given moment of time does! Spiritual babes obviously cannot comprehend and apply what older, mature Christians can (I Cor. 3:1). But they must grow in knowledge and understanding until they, as mature Christians, reach a level acceptable to God (II Pet. 3:18, Eph. 4:12–15).

Thus, spiritual growth is the acceptance and practice of new revelation! Paul said, in Philippians 3:15, that God continually reveals what needs to be known to help His true children grow spiritually. But this new revelation never contradicts previous revelation! If new revelation contradicts previous revelation, then one or the other is incorrect. Either it is the old, or it is the new. If it is the old, then truth was not revealed initially. If it is the “new” that is incorrect, then what is called “new revelation” is obviously error. In order to be true revelation, “new light” cannot contradict that which was previously revealed. New revelation will augment or add to previous truth, but will never oppose it. One cannot change a belief and claim “new insight” as justification—unless it can be proven there was no divine revelation initially. Either the old is wrong, or the new is wrong. Both cannot be divinely revealed, nor can both be correct, there is no such thing as “old light”, for God does not reveal error. God reveals only truth! Those who believe doctrinal changes can be justified on the basis of “new revelation” should ask themselves if what they previously believed was revelation also.

Character Proves Truth 

Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” How is it possible to prove anything without first trying it out? Common sense tells us the definition of “prove” demands a test! The Greek dokimazo used in I Thessalonians 5:21, means “to put to the test, to prove by testing.” Suppose you purchase an item which carries a guarantee. The product is warranted to perform a certain service. How does one tell if the item will perform according to promise? Obviously, by trying it out!

It is one thing to read the manufacturer’s promise of what the product is supposed to do, as opposed to testing the product to see what it will do. One can never know what a product will do until he tests it.

Why should the Truth of God be any different?

The Greek dokimazo and its cognates, often translated “prove” or “proof” in the King James Version, demonstrate clearly the meaning of “prove”—”to put to the test.” It is even translated as “experiment” in II Corinthians 9:13. It means to prove a matter by putting it to the test! Dokimee is translated “experience” in Romans 5:4.

Proving God’s Truth means putting it to practice in one’s life. “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:10) can be accomplished only by obeying God’s Word and observing the results in one’s life. This requires a change of mind and attitude which, in turn, leads to a willingness to perform spiritual service—rather than conforming to the desires of this fleshly life (Rom. 12:1–2).

It is only then that one is able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Make no mistake about it—one is not righteous unless he practices righteousness (I John 3:7). Likewise, one has not proven God’s Truth until he practices it. When he practices God’s Truth until it becomes habit, he has built character. Character cannot be built without two considerations. First, one must be able to distinguish right from wrong; and second, one must always choose the right in opposition to the wrong.

When God reveals spiritual truth to the individual, the first step is underway in the process of character building. But without the second necessary step, there can be no character. One can agree with what is right, but that does not build character. And it does not prove the truth. One must put the revealed Truth of God to practice in one’s life before any character can be built, and before truth is absolutely proven. The day is coming when every man’s work will be made manifest (I Cor. 3:12–15). It is then that all will know whether those who professed Consecration really believed it. Those who believed and proved it put it to practice in their lives!

Trials Enforce Truth

God allows trials or tests to befall His children. The reasons should be quite clear. So valuable are trials that James wrote, “. . . count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (Jas. 1:2–3). He then added, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (v. 12). Peter wrote, “. . . greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6–7). These apostles knew the purpose of trials. They knew trials enforce and build character in the life of the overcomer. They knew tribulation and trials were not intended to destroy character, but to help in the character-building process. But they also knew this could be accomplished only as each individual was able to act as a free moral agent. This is why, in the early Church, there was not the kind of enforced regulation that began to be practiced in more recent years.

For example: after the death of the Pastor in 1916, those who readily accepted the doctrinal changes—which were different from what they first believed—had never exercised true free moral agency in the character-building process. They did not prove what the Bible said. They did not prove where the Lord’s people were. But they did not prove God’s Truth by living according to their own personal convictions. They allowed the Organization to regulate their lives, actions, and convictions to the point where they were willing to accept anything they were told! Proving God’s Truth—by the kind of personal participation required to build character—did not take place in the lives of most of the brethren.

Many of those who left the organization, left because they were disillusioned with the leadership. Many among them were not convicted of God’s Truth, so they readily accepted the doctrinal changes advocated by the various leaders of the schisms. Those who remained in the organization after the doctrinal changes merely accepted what was taught—because they had been led to believe the Organization was now “God’s chosen vessel”, “Jehovah’s visible organization” on earth.  And those who left AFTER the doctrinal changes, did so with much of that baggage in hand. In neither case was the necessary conviction present to hold fast to the Truth.

Many were led to believe the Organization as a “divine channel” had the right to “change doctrine” and that these changes were “new light.” But what these brethren were not told was that these doctrinal changes were brought about to sustain the lifestyle of some in the leadership, who wanted to continue unscriptural practices. It never occurred to many at the time that the acceptance of these changes was the rejection of what had been Truth for some forty years!

Thus, the doctrinal confusion we witness today among the Lord’s people—a trial necessary to test His people—became the stumbling block for thousands who had never developed the necessary character to endure trials (Deut. 13:3). Had God’s people exercised free moral agency on their own—without the kind of pressure forced on them by the Organization—they would have been able to withstand the assault of Satan. But they didn’t. This trial—the enforcement of character and conviction—became the means for thousands to stumble and to reject divine revelation! 

Must Prove Self in Relation to Standard

“Proving the truth” means not only coming to understand doctrine as revealed by the Holy Spirit, but also putting this truth to practice in one’s life. Thus, the basis for conviction is the unchanging standard of God’s revealed Word! “Proving the truth” means proving self in relation to that standard. “Proving the truth” never means changing, or attempting to change, that standard! It is not our responsibility to challenge the truthfulness of God’s Truth. It is not possible to legitimately change revealed doctrine. Original truth cannot be “reproven” when doctrine is being changed. If one has the conviction and faith to believe that God did reveal truth, then further study substantiates it. If one does not believe truth is divinely revealed or never had the conviction to develop living faith in relationship to it, then “reproven truth” will indeed differ from original truth. But it will not be legitimate! It may be called “truth,” and arguments may be advanced to make it seem plausible—but it will not be truth!

Doctrinal changes cannot be the result of divine revelation if truth is revealed initially. For example, If the doctrinal changes made by Paul S.L. Johnson, the DAWN and other brethren are legitimate, then God never revealed truth in the first place! But God did reveal truth. It is impossible for Him to lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, He revealed truth! If we assume God left the church in error during the forty years of Pastor Russell’s ministry, then Jesus was derelict and professing Christians of the world were right all along! But Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide His followers into all truth (John 16:13). If Jesus did not keep His promise, then we have no Savior! The blessings and growth the Lord’s people enjoyed during the Pastor’s ministry did not diminish until doctrinal changes were made. God does not make mistakes! It is human beings who make mistakes—and the biggest mistake of our time period is the attempt to change revealed doctrine under the guise of “new insight.”

“Proving the truth” means living it! As a result, two things are accomplished: (1) The self is proved in relationship to the unchanging standard of God, and the results are clearly seen in the individual’s life; (2) one proves whether he is called or not. Paul said those who are reprobates are those who have failed to exercise the Spirit of God in their lives (II Cor. 13:5). They did not live up to their calling.

As long as there was doctrinal agreement among the brethren, the majority did not forsake the doctrine. But the moment a choice which seemed  legitimate was made available, thousands could find no reason for remaining loyal to original truth.

The question: Were they ever convicted in the first place?

Obviously not!

Had they proven themselves in relation to the unchanging standard of God, and had they really seen the results of God’s Way in their lives, they would not have been so eager to change. Those who jumped on the “bandwagon of doctrinal changes” have lost for the most part, the purpose and meaning of life. Ecclesia meetings and conventions have become largely a social involvement, to which personal conviction and faith no longer have significance. Most brethren would now readily accept any new doctrinal change, no matter how bizarre for the sake of unity. Those who think they wouldn’t change have no idea how badly damaged their character and convictions really are!

How Can You Know?

Can the Consecrated really know if they are following God’s Truth and living according to it?

Let Jesus give the answer!

“. . . My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16–17). This text states those who are willing to obey God will have no trouble understanding the true doctrine! Here again, we see the necessity to put God’s Truth to practice in one’s life in order to confirm its meaning. Jesus said one can know the truth by living it!

But knowing is not merely thinking one knows. Those who agree with true doctrine but do not put it to practice do not really know the truth. They think they do, but during a time of trial they would soon yield to temptation. One who thinks he believes a doctrine—but does not practice it—does not really believe it. For those who really believe a doctrine practice it.

In the acquisition of knowledge there are those who drink in knowledge and there are those who gargle it. Those who agree with doctrine intellectually—but do not put it to practice—are the garglers. They do not really take the truth into their lives. They play with it for a time, then eventually discard it. They do not really believe it and they are not really convinced. They do not know the truth! It is by experience only that one can truly know. It is one thing to know by instruction—and another to know by experience. When God said of Adam and Eve, “. . . Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. . .” (Gen. 3:22), He was referring to man’s experience in sin. Adam and Eve had now learned by experience, what sin was—and the results were disastrous. Knowing is knowing by experience. Those who experience God’s Truth—by living it—are the ones who really know it. There is no other way!

Faith in God’s Truth

A manifestation of God’s spirit is faith (Gal. 5:22). Paul said that without faith it is impossible to please God. Whoever comes to God must believe in His existence, as well as in His Word (Heb. 11:6). God’s Word is the Bible. When one is called and his mind is opened to Bible truth, he must not only believe the Bible to be God’s Word—he must also believe the truth revealed to him from the Bible. And Christ is that Word personified. We are Christians when that same Word lives in us. The Christian must have faith in the revelation of doctrine. The Christian who does not manifest faith in the revealed doctrine of God is like a wave tossed on the sea. He does not know what to believe! Spiritual stability means believing and adhering to the true doctrine (Eph. 4:14). In order to have any basis for his faith, one must have faith to believe God reveals true doctrine.

The Christian must have faith in the faith!

There is only one faith (Eph. 4:5). Unless the Christian comes to know that faith—believes and practices it because he knows it is the revealed truth—he has no real spiritual foundation! The exercise of faith in the Christian life, means believing and putting to practice that doctrine originally proven to be God’s Truth. The Christian must have confidence in the truth. He must not allow anyone to subvert the faith and conviction he has in that truth. He must maintain confidence and belief in the divine revelation! If he believes the Bible to mean what it says (and it says God reveals truth by divine revelation), the true Christian will not be swayed by those who would have him believe otherwise. Faith in the faith is a manifestation of God’s Spirit and is a proof of true Christianity!

Truth Revealed Once Only!

In conjunction with divine revelation is the realization that truth is revealed only once! The Truth of God, which encompasses the entire message of salvation, applies once only to each called and chosen son of God. After that, it is the responsibility of each “called out” Christian to hold fast to it. Jesus Christ was not sacrificed repeatedly to allow those who fall away to return again and again. Jesus Christ was sacrificed one time—and one time only (Rom. 6:10, Heb. 7:27; 9:26–27; 10:10; I Pet. 3:18). Therefore, His shed blood applies to each Christian one time only! One cannot accept that shed blood, repent, live God’s Way, and then later repudiate it with the idea he can return to God any time he likes.

The truth is: Once one turns from God’s Way and the truth revealed through divine revelation, it is impossible to return! This is what Paul said in Hebrews 6:4–6. Paul said it was impossible for those who fall away to come to repentance again. This is because the shed blood of Christ applies only once to each individual, and the divine revelation of this truth comes once only! The unpardonable sin is unpardonable because the individual who rejects divine revelation—revelation which leads to a knowledge of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—is never given revelation again!

When Jude admonished the brethren to contend for the faith once delivered, he knew it was the faith delivered one time only. It would not be revealed again (Jude 3)! God’s Truth cannot be treated lightly! Those who have accepted doctrinal changes are tampering with the very Truth of God! They are on dangerous ground! Of course, many do not know what they are doing. They assumed they have the prerogative to change doctrine. This is true only if that doctrine was not revealed! But if, indeed, that doctrine was revealed—then what has transpired with regard to doctrinal changes, has been the rejection of that revelation! Paul said this is a dangerous step—on the way to the unpardonable sin (Heb. 6:4)!

Requirements in Proving

In relation to “proving the truth,” there are certain requirements. We prove the truth by living according to the divine standard of God, given by revelation. This is not accomplished by agreeing only. This is accomplished by putting it to practice. It is only by living the Christian experience that one can know the results of God’s Way of life. This is the only way each called and chosen servant of God can truly know! This is the only way the Christian can prove the truth!

Understanding the Bible is one thing, but putting it to practice is another matter entirely. Character cannot be built on the basis of knowledge alone. Character can be built only by being forced to make a choice. The man who refuses to act on divine truth has already made a choice. Indifference is a negative response! Indifference accomplishes nothing. But understanding God’s Truth, and putting it to practice in one’s life, does. It is one of the requirements of proving the truth!

The truly consecrated will be living up to that truth to the best of their abilities. They will not be perfect, but they will not attempt to change doctrine in order to sustain questionable lifestyles. They know revealed doctrine does not change and they know they must live up to it.

“Proving the truth” never means to question, to challenge, or to change revealed doctrine. Those who feel they had a right to do so are saying “That Servant” never had the truth initially. We prove it by living it!  We prove its value in our lives by the benefits derived. Without putting it to practice there is no way to evaluate the results. But obedience to the truth must be done by a willing desire on the part of each Christian. Obedience is of little value if done through fear, peer pressure, the desire to belong, or by being “carried away” by the charisma of an individual. For the most part those who accepted doctrinal changes proved—by their willingness to change—they did not have the proof of God’s Truth in their lives!

“Proving the truth” never means that you, as an individual, can decide its validity. God has already decided that! The only prerogative you have is to decide whether or not you will obey. If God gave you the right to decide its validity you would be superior to God! We know better than that. Yet, when doctrinal changes were foisted upon the brethren under the guise of “new light,” a committee did indeed, set itself above God. God’s Spirit—as a source of inspiration to lead us to truth, as well as a source of power by which to overcome—was rejected. The doctrinal changes brought about by the Organization were an abandonment of the high standard of righteousness which Christ said Christians must eventually attain.

Truth is a revelation—given only to those called of God. Initial receipt of that truth

is a miracle in itself.

What about the necessity of proving that way? Most people have falsely assumed Acts 17:11 requires them to determine—prove—the veracity of God’s Word. Such a concept is totally unscriptural. Acts 17:11 states, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Were the Bereans “checking out” the veracity of God? Obviously not! Let us carefully note. They “received the word with all readiness of mind. . . .” How does one receive the truth?

By revelation!

Compare Acts 8:14, I Thessalonians 1:6, I Thessalonians 2:13, and II Thessalonians 2:10. In Acts 8:14, the apostles in Jerusalem learned that Samaria had received the Word of God. How did they receive it? Carefully read the story of that miracle, in verses 1–12.

Through the inspired preaching of Philip, those of that geographic area were made  recipients of God’s great blessing to man. They received it because God gave it. In I Thessalonians 1:6, the Thessalonians became followers of the apostles and of Christ because they received the Word! How? Through the Holy Spirit. Notice the last part of the verse. In I Thessalonians 2:13, Paul makes this point clear. We read,”For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Note very carefully, they did not receive it as the word of men—but as the very Word of God. Now, let us be honest! If one receives the Word of God, will he feel compelled to check the veracity of it? Not at all. That is how we would treat the word of men. But in the case of the Thessalonians, they received it not as the word of men.

Continuing our comparison, let us consider the last text listed above. II Thessalonians 2:10 states, “. . . with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth. . .” What is the problem encountered by those who have lost their way? They did not receive the love of the truth! What truth? The one and only truth which those called of God receive by revelation. That truth accepted by faith—the faith once delivered.

Note again Acts 17:11. The Bereans received the Word. Did they not search the Scriptures to see if those things heard were so? Indeed! But what does it mean? The word “searched” is the Greek word anakrino. This same word is used three times in I Corinthians 2:14–15. Paul was inspired to write: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” The order of spiritual understanding is obvious. The natural man cannot receive God’s Truth. He cannot understand spiritual things. Therefore, God must first call. Then, after the call the truth is given. Once it is given the spiritually-oriented man understands.

From the above principles it is very easy to understand Acts 17:11. The called of God residing in Berea received the Word of God. It was accepted. They were now capable of understanding the recorded Word—the Bible. This process cannot be reversed. That is, natural man with a carnal mind cannot choose to read God’s Word, understand it and then—from this basis of understanding—evaluate (prove) God. To accept such an idea simply implies that physical man can understand God’s Word and is capable of evaluating God.

Therefore the conclusion of the matter is this: Let us shore up our faith in that way initially revealed. To fail this responsibility is to reject the Spirit—the very means by which the truth was sent to us and we received it.

The Christian Continues to Prove

The process of “proving” God’s Truth must continue throughout life. The converted servant of God must live God’s Way continually. He must constantly evaluate himself in the light of the true doctrine—checking himself daily (II Cor. 13:5, I Thess. 5:21). This is an individual matter between each Christian and his Creator (Gal. 6:4). The Christian must constantly, through study, drink in of God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15). And he must pray regularly (I Thess. 5:17).

This process must continue until the servant of God dies, or until the return of Jesus Christ—whichever occurs first. Those who die in Christ look forward to the resurrection. What a glory awaits them! This is because they accepted the Truth of God when it was revealed to them and they held fast for the remainder of their lives. It is this process—and this process only—which builds character. Any other way is an attempt to “enter in through the back door,” which Jesus said was impossible (John 10:1). It is those who recognize the Truth of God revealed to them—and who continue to practice it the remainder of their lives—who really prove the truth!