Should Christians worship on the Sabbath (Saturday) or on Sunday. Why? Do we set aside or celebrate other Holy Days?
<Answer>–Sabbath-keeping on the seventh day of the week was a provision of the Law among the Jews, as stated in the Third Commandment. It reads, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work…. (Exodus 20:8-11)
If this is part of the Law whose control over us was removed by Jesus’ death, and which never was given to the gospel church, but whose righteousness (or right-meaning) is fulfilled in us, then all may see that, to any recognizing the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, there can be no bondage to the observance of anyday. And in harmony with this thought is Paul’s statement that “one man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike: Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5) And if he shall make up his mind on this subject, from the foregoing statements of the Apostle relative to the Law, he will, doubtless, be persuaded with Paul and with us, that since Jesus has “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; …therefore, henceforth, no man should judge us in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come. …Wherefore, if we are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?” (Colossians 2:14, 16, 17, 20.) To those in Christ there is no law on the subject except that of Love. They may celebrate any or no day according to their judgment as to what would glorify God and bless men.
The fact that the Law compelled a rest every seven days, and that mankind seemed to require it, is an excellent reason why such a day should be observed. And love to God and a desire to worship him and to commune with his children is one of the best reasons for observing such a day. As to which of the seven days should be the best to observe, the church very early in its history decided that the first day of the week would be very appropriate, since on it Jesus arose from the dead and met with them, causing their hearts to burn within them as he expounded the Scriptures unto them. (Luke 24:27, 32) Accordingly, we find that they commonly met on that day, even before they came to appreciate fully their liberty, and while they still frequently observed the seventh day also. For example, Pentecost came on the firstday of the week (Acts 2:1). Other examples of meetings taking place on the first day can be found in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. Paul, as the Lord’s special agency in leading the other apostles — and the Church in general — into true liberty, practiced as he taught: sometimes he met with the Church on the first day, and sometimes he went into the synagogues on the Sabbath, or seventh day.
In western culture, we find that Sunday is the only day of the week that has not been claimed by business or commerce. We are glad that we have such a day where meeting with those of like precious faith is not in conflict with our employment. If our culture would permit two such days every week we would all the more rejoice to rest, to worship, to study, and to engage in consecrated activities apart from the cares of this world.
The question of Sabbath-keeping, like that of circumcision, is one that depends on the spirit or intent of the observer. As Paul testified to those who practicedcircumcision in his day, so we testify to Sabbath (or seventh day) keepers now, namely: If they keep the seventh day or any other day as under “Moses’ Law,” and in hope of keeping that Law and gaining its promised blessings, they are “fallen from grace,” and at present Christ is “profiting them nothing,” for the Jew did just so before Christ came. (Galatians 5:2-4.)
We cannot gain life by keeping the Law, for none can keep it perfectly, and to keep the Third Commandment and to fail in any other point, deprives one of life and condemns one to death under the Law covenant just as surely as though the whole Law were violated, for “whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) Hence that entire covenant was set aside on account of human imperfection, and another covenant, written and sealed with the blood of Christ, takes its place – the covenant which speaks of favor, life and peace through the righteousness of him who bought us with his own precious blood.
Let us remember that under the Law the seventh day was commanded for rest only, and Paul gives us the key in Hebrews 4:3-10 where he declares that “we which have believed do enter into rest”; for he who trusts in Jesus as his justifier rests from attempting to do the work for himself and accepts it as a finished work – a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who thus rest in Jesus, do as God the Father did; for having created man, whose sin and fall he foresaw, Jehovah rested the entire matter in the hands of Christ to redeem men and destroy sin and death during the seventh day. (Seven thousand years from Adam till the end of the Millennium.) Whosoever thus believes in Jesus, as the propitiation for his sins, has “joy and peace (rest) in believing” (Romans 15:13) – a rest not transitory but permanent; not partial, but complete; not of one day, but of all days – a rest well-illustrated in the seventh day which typified it; for seven is the symbol of completeness. Since this rest is the gift of God’s love, and since we enter it when we come under the “royal law,” is it not, therefore, fulfilled in love? for love is the fulfilling of the Law – to all in Christ Jesus who appreciate their standing and walk as saints.
One may ask further, “How should we answer someone who feels strongly about selecting one day of the week over others as a holy day of worship or rest?”
We should gladly allow the selection of days to depend upon the religious belief of the one who feels so strongly. To the Jew the seventh day (Saturday) is the one to be observed, as it was commanded in the Law that was given to the Israelites that they should keep the seventh day as a holy day. That Law is still binding upon the Jews. If a Seventh Day Adventist, then let him keep the seventh day, for he believes that he is under the Law, and with that belief he certainly should keep the seventh day. To those who are members of some one of the various Protestant Churches, or of the Roman Catholic Church, let them observe the first day (Sunday) as the day of rest, as they believe that it is so commanded, and surely it would not be right for them to violate their conscience by doing otherwise.
To the true Christian, the consecrated child of God, let these keep every day holy unto the Lord and not merely one day in seven. And let these enjoy a rest by faith in the Lord and in His sure promises. Let no one attempt to judge another in respect to this matter of observing the Sabbath or holy days. No one has the right to judge his fellowman in this regard; but let every man be full persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:4, 5). If any one presumes to judge another in these matters, he is violating a direct command of the Lord as expressed by one of His inspired Apostles (Colossians 2:16). If any one should say that we are not saved and that we are lost because we do not observe some special day, ask him gently but firmly – “Who made thee a judge?”
As to other Holy days, the Jewish calendar had days set apart for ceremonial and other features of the Law. For example, the Atonement Day was set aside to bring the nation into typical justification with God. The Passover was celebrated as the anniversary of Israel’s first-born being spared on the eve of the Exodus. Since the time of Christ, numerous Holy days have come into traditional practice. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ; Easter celebrates His resurrection; Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church collectively, etc. Which of these holidays apply to us?
For the same reasons enumerated above, the Holy days prescribed by the Jewish Law no longer apply. Among Christian holidays, many would be surprised to learn that the only annual celebration specifically enjoined upon Christians is the anniversary of our Lord’s Last Supper, in which we memorialize His death. Jesus’ words were, “…As often as ye do this, do this in remembrance of me.” Paul explains further that “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26). Should we then shun other days, such as Christmas and Easter? Our answer is that we would never wish to discourage our fellowman from meditating upon or rejoicing in our Lord’s birth, His resurrection, or any event which would give pause for sanctified or reverent thought. Consecrated Christians observe what Jesus and the Apostles enjoined upon the Church, but give full liberty to others to observe or celebrate according to conscience or tradition. Finally, we encourage any inclination within those around us to reverence our Lord, regardless of days, dates, moons, etc.
“In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt.” (`Isa. 19:19,20`.) What may we understand by this Scripture?
<ANSWER>–There is but one structure in all the earth that could by any possibility fulfill the requirements of the text, and that is the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The whole of northern Egypt forms a sector shaped country the center of which is marked by the Pyramid. To mathematicians and scientists the center of a sector is also at the border thereof, and thus, as to location, the Pyramid is clearly indicated. It has always stood as the greatest wonder in the world because of its enormous dimensions, great antiquity and marvelous exhibition of engineering skill. With its original casting-stones in position, all highly polished like white marble, and so accurately joined together that it was almost impossible to distinguish the joints, this immense structure of solid masonry, covering over thirteen acres of ground and nearly five hundred feet in height, was truly a magnificent spectacle as it glittered in the rays of the dazzling Egyptian sunlight. To the ancients it was known as “The Terrible Crystal.” Recent investigation of the interior passage ways and chambers has revealed the fact that these form a wonderful system of symbols in which the entire plan of salvation as presented in the Scripture is outlined. Because it is such a great “witness,” in that it so clearly corroborates the teachings of the Lord’s Word, it is now becoming generally known as “The Stone Bible,” Melchizedek, “a Priest of the Most High God,” is reputed to have been the builder, and the date of its construction has been well established as being the year 2170 B.C. It is, therefore, the oldest building on earth.
Most church denominations throughout the world have adopted the Apostles’ Creed. Why is it called the “Apostles Creed”? Was it written by the Apostles, and where do we find it in the Bible?
<ANSWER>–What is known among the Christians as the “Apostles Creed,” was not written by the Apostles of our Lord, hence it is nowhere found in the Bible. As to its origin, we quote from Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, a recognized authority by scholars, as follows: “There is indeed extent, a brief summary of Christian doctrines, which is called the Apostles’ Creed; and which, from the fourth century onward was attributed to Christ’s ambassadors themselves. But at this day, all who have any knowledge of antiquity, confess unanimously that this opinion is a mistake, and has no foundation. Those judge far more wisely and rationally who think that this creed arose from small beginnings, and was gradually enlarged as occasions required in order to exclude new errors from the church.” It was probably given its name by those who prepared it, as signifying that in their judgment, it contained only truths taught by the Apostles. It contains many truths, but it is not wholly Scriptural. For instance: “I believe in the resurrection of the body,” whereas nothing in the Bible teaches that our bodies are to be resurrected. The Bible teaches that the soul will be resurrected. Of the resurrection the Apostle says, “Thou sowest not that body that shall be. But God giveth it (the soul-being) a body as it hath pleased Him and to each seed its own body.” Surely the Apostle was not speaking of the body when he uses the word “it,” otherwise the body would have a body, therefore two bodies, which is absurd. Further he states, “It (the soul-being) is sown a natural body; it (the soul or being) is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” (`1 Cor. 15:35,37,44`).
What is the difference between Noah’s ark and the ark which the children of Israel had in the wilderness of sin?
<ANSWER>–You have probably heard of the preacher who said to his congregation: “I can bring myself to believe that Noah built an ark, in which he and the wild animals were sheltered during the flood, but when it comes to making me believe that the children of Israel toted that ark around on their shoulders in the wilderness for forty years, that’s too much for me to swallow.” Evidently he thought there was no difference in the two arks. Noah’s ark was a large boat or vessel, larger than any now made. The ark which the children of Israel had in the wilderness was a rectangular box made of wood overlaid with gold, the lid or cover of which was made of pure gold. The approximate size of this ark was 4 feet long, 3 feet broad and 3 feet high, a detailed description of it being given in `Exo. 25:10-22`. Inside the ark was kept the golden bowl of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the two tables of the Law (See `Heb. 9:4`). The ark, together with all other furnishings of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, was a shadow or picture of good things to come. (See`Heb. 8:5`; `Heb. 10:1`; `Col. 2:17`.)
What does it mean to be born of the spirit? What happens when that takes place? Some have said that I am not saved unless I have been born of the spirit, and received some miraculous evidence of this. This has made me a trifle anxious, as I earnestly desire to be saved, and thus far haven’t experienced anything remarkable in the way of supernatural demonstrations, although I am endeavoring to live a Christian life.
<ANSWER>–The Scriptures abound with illustrations which were intended to portray the varying conditions of the Christian’s experience, and, unless we give careful attention to the details of these word pictures, we are liable to become confused as to their true significance. In the conversation which Nicodemus had with our Lord Jesus (`John 3:1-8`), the Master, in explaining the matter of spiritual regeneration, used the natural order or arrangement to represent the spiritual–“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” Just as there is the begetting of the fleshly being, then the quickening and finally the birth, so also with the spiritual ones. The Christian is first begotten of the spirit (Begotten again–`1 Pet. 5:3`), then quickened by the spirit (`Rom. 8:11`) and then having attained to full development as an embryotic “New Creature” he will be “born of the spirit” in the resurrection–“changed” from a fleshly, human being to a heavenly spiritual one–See `1 Cor. 15:50-53`. All who experience the new birth will be invisible, powerful, even as are the angels and all spirit beings. Observe the force of the Master’s words–“Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit.”
How does the manner of reckoning time in the age in which Moses lived compare with the chronological methods now in use, and if there is any difference would it not account for the great age of Methuselah as given in the Scriptures?
<ANSWER>–The Jewish method of reckoning time which was in use in the days of Moses, was a combination of solar and lunar time. It was a simple, automatic self-adjusting system, which, so far as the final results were concerned, was as accurate as the present methods in use. The Jewish months were thirty days in length corresponding to the lunations of the moon. Ordinarily twelve of these made up the year of three hundred and sixty days. The discrepancies resulting from this method were rectified by the unique arrangement of starting the new year with the new moon nearest the vernal equinox. Some years by this method contained thirteen months instead of twelve. The length of years, therefore, in Moses’ time was in the aggregate the same as today. The extreme old age of the antediluvians can reasonably be accounted for by considering the Bible narrative to the effect that originally the human race was perfect, and because of death entering into the world as the result of sin, the race began to deteriorate. In its more perfect state, the average length of life of the race would be far more than it is today after the past six thousand years of degeneration. This of course is in opposition to the theory of evolution, which maintains that the condition of the human race is gradually improving. However, no one has ever been able to advance a single proof in evidence of the truth of this theory, and those most advanced in scientific knowledge are now rejecting it.
When the Lord said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (`Mat. 22:40`), what did He mean by the “law and the prophets”? (M.A.M.)
<ANSWER>–The Lord was answering a question propounded by a lawyer who was of the Pharisees, a religious sect, the members of which made great professions of morality and piety. They were great sticklers for the various features of the letter of the Law; and, as far as outward conditions of morality were concerned, they were shining examples of righteousness; making examples of righteousness; making long prayers on the street corners; contributing largely to the support of the priests and the expenses of the Temple with its religious duties and ceremonies; and so particular were they in their habits of cleanliness, that the Lord sarcastically said of them on one occasion that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel! Yes; they were a self-righteous and self-loving class who swallowed the camel of hypocrisy and injustice, but strained at the observance of the mere letter of the law. For one of the most scathing arraignments of any class to be found in any language, read the `23rd chapter of Matthew`. Is there such a class of moral and religious people in existence today? Then let them give heed to the awful denunciations of the Lord. How fitting, then, was the Master’s reply to this lawyer! Summing up all the instructions of the Law and the Prophets (the faithful servants and teachers of the law) He set forth the very essence or spirit of these instructions in the one word- -Love. The Jewish Law was engraved on two tablets of stone. The first tablet contained the Laws relating to man’s obligations to his Creator. The other tablet set forth the duties of man toward his fellowman. Therefore, “Thou shalt love thy God with all thine heart…and love thy neighbor as thyself.”
<What is conscience?
<ANSWER>–Man when created was endowed with the moral faculties; that is, the faculties with which to determine between the right and the wrong. The faculties were perfect in the first man formed by the Creator. The Divine Law was written in the very nature of the perfect human being–Adam. When man disobeyed the Almighty Being who had formed him, he knew that he had violated the principles of righteousness and justice and therefore his conscience reproved him–his moral facilities were offended–and with the woman he hid himself from the presence of the Lord. The sense of discerning good and evil, differentiating between right and wrong, has been sadly marred and fulled by the long centuries of the experiences of the race with sin, evil and degradation, until the conscience alone is no longer a safe guide to direct life’s affairs. The conscience, even of the best, is now and then erroneous and doubtful. Therefore, as individual timepieces need to be regulated by some standard of time, so our consciences require constant regulation by some standard of morality and righteousness–the Word of God, the Bible.
Can you tell me where I can find it stated in the Scriptures that our Lord was forty days old when He was presented in consecration to the Heavenly Father by His parents? Is this the basis for the custom observed by some in presenting their children to the Lord?
<ANSWER>–As narrated in the second chapter of Luke, verses 21-23, (`Luke 2:21-23`) the mother of Jesus, in conformity with the Law which had been given to the Israelites by the Lord God through Moses, presented Him in consecration to the Heavenly Father. (See `Exo. 13:12,15,6`.) This presentation could not take place until the time of the mother’s purification had been fulfilled; which, according to the Law, (`Lev. 12:1-4`) would require forty days. All of the first-born of the children of Israel are represented as belonging unto the Lord, and to redeem these from sacrificial service the Law required that a substitute should be offered, either a lamb, or two doves, and these must be sacrificed. (`Exo. 13:12-15`.) We believe that it was this Jewish custom that is largely responsible for the consecration services observed by some of the Lard’s saintly people of the present day. –`1 Sam. 1:22-28`.
What did Christ mean when he referred to John the Baptist as Elijah? (`Matt. 17:2,12`). Is this an evidence that he recognized re-incarnation as the truth?
<ANSWER>–The theory of re-incarnation is nowhere taught in the scriptures. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostles never, in all their teachings, said a word about re-incarnation. As to the meaning of the Savior’s words referred to in the question, we recognize that He was calling to mind the prophecy of `Mal. 4:5,6`. John the Baptist was one of the greatest of the prophets, and it was his mission to prepare the way of the Messiah, the Christ, by performing a reformation work in preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and declaring the kingdom of heaven at hand. This message was to the Jews and to them only, as they had been the Lord’s chosen people for many centuries. But now a new dispensation was about to be ushered in. The kingdom of heaven was at hand. And it was John’s mission to prepare the people for the new order of things. This He did in the power and spirit of Elijah. (`Luke 1:16,17`.) We know positively that John was not Elijah for we have his own testimony on the subject. “And they asked him, what then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.” (`John 1:21.`)
`Heb. 11:5`, we read that Enoch was translated that he should not see death. Then in the `13th verse` we read that these all DIED in faith, referring to those mentioned in the preceding verses. Would this include Enoch among those mentioned? And if so please harmonize the two statements. (F.G.)
<ANSWER>–From the Genesis statement (`Gen. 5:22-24`) and the Apostles’ words in the 5th verse of this 11th chapter of Hebrews, (`Heb. 11:5`) we are inclined to believe that the Lord translated Enoch that he should not see death; that in some way Enoch’s life was preserved. As the scriptures do not say where the Lord placed Enoch that he should not see death, it would be idle speculation an our part to attempt to set forth just where to look for him. If Enoch, then, is alive somewhere as the 5th verse indicates, the expression of the `13th verse`–“these all died in faith”–would have no reference to him. The Apostle was evidently referring to those mentioned in the `12th verse`, and not to those mentioned in the preceding verses. “Therefore sprang from one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith.”
What did Jesus mean when he said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions”?
<ANSWER>–In the larger sense, the Universe is God’s home or house, and this earth is His footstool. We know not how many angelic orders there are, but the Scriptures intimate that there are spirit beings of various grades, of different nature, each perfect, but differing one from the other. The Divine Plan, in connection with their creation, made full arrangement for their comfort and happiness to all eternity. Similarly, when God created man He provided for his welfare to all eternity, giving him an earthly home, mansion, or apartment in the great House. Our Lord, in calling His Church, invited them to become God’s “New Creation.” He promised those who would become His footstep followers, bearing their cross after Him, that eventually they should be with Him, sharing His glory on the heavenly plane. They should be like unto the angels, but higher than the angels–His Bride. There is no place yet for this “New Creation,” except in the Father’s purpose, or plan, in which provision for the Church, as the Bride of Christ, had already been made. But it needed to be prepared for them, and they needed to be prepared for it. This preparation has gone on from the time our Lord said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (`John 14:2,3`).
The Apostle says–“We are fools for Christ’s sake!”–what did he mean by this expression? How are Christians made fools? See `1 Cor. 4:10`.
<ANSWER>–The Apostle Paul, because of his zeal and earnestness in the cause of Christ, had suffered opposition and persecution of various kinds and had even endured hunger and thirst and hardships, as he proceeds to narrate in this same chapter. To those without faith in Christ and His teachings this was all foolishness on the part of the Apostle. To them he seemed to be a religious fanatic–a fool. And evidently some of the Christian brethren at Corinth got this same idea, deeming it needless to endure so much contempt and hardships for the Master’s cause. These conditions have prevailed all down throughout the Christian Era, the consecrated, devoted people of the Lord, who have given their all, sacrificing ease, comfort and worldly fame and riches in their desire to serve Him who endured so much for their sakes, have ever been ridiculed and despised by the common lot who, because of their diminutive mental and moral caliber, could not appreciate the grandeur and the nobility of the characters and teachings of these who truly deserve the name of Christian. Well has one expressed the matter in the following lines– “The few by whom high truth was recognized Who foolishly their full hearts left unguarded Revealing to the crowd their noble vision Have always banished been crucified.”
Please explain what is meant by Preaching the Gospel, and what is the Gospel?
<ANSWER>–The word gospel signifies a message of glad tidings. Preaching the Gospel means proclaiming the good tidings, or massage of gladness, to others. When the Lord Jesus came He declared, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” During the three and a half years of His ministry He preached the good news of the coming Kingdom and the blessings it is to bring to the human race. He commissioned His true followers to do the same thing, and those who have been telling others of the redemptive work of Christ and the blessings of His coming Kingdom have thus been preaching the Gospel. In these modern times the public press has become the most effective way of getting great truths before the people and the Gospel is being preached through the press wheresoever the glad tidings of Messiah’s Kingdom is being published. From this it will be seen that much that is preached is mislabeled “Gospel.” All sorts of bad tidings of great misery are many times improperly styled “Gospel.”
If hatred is not a virtue, why does it say in `Eccl. 3:8` “There is a time to hate?” Why does Christ say in `Luke 14:2` “If any man come to me and HATE not his father and mother, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple?” (F. W.)
<ANSWER>–Our Lord in all of His instructions to His followers continually admonished them to love one another, and not only this but that they were to love their enemies as well. (`John 13:35`; `Mat. 5:43,44-46`; `1 Pet. 2:23`.) Therefore, it would not be consistent to think that the Lord would counsel His followers to HATE those that were near and dear to themselves, and towards whom there was every incentive to love and esteem. The Lord evidently used this word to impress the thought upon the minds of those who would be His followers, that the terms of discipleship are very rigid and exacting. In other words; none could become disciples of the Master unless they loved Him more than all earthly ties, or considerations. None can ever be recognized by the Lord as His follower unless they have taken the step to be obedient to the Divine will even though it meant the loss of every valued object and the sacrifice of life itself! The thought conveyed in the expression found in `Eccl. 3:8`, is that there are times and seasons when it would be proper to “hate,” or despise that which is contrary to the principles of righteousness and justice. All should hate injustice and be out of sympathy with those who oppress and injure the weak and helpless. Also, those who are in opposition to the Lord and His just laws and arrangements, and who wilfully go contrary thereto, should be righteously shunned and despised–“hated with a perfect hatred.” –`Psa.139:21,22`.
Is it true that the “Highway of Holiness” is opened now and that the way of salvation is so plain that a “wayfaring man though a fool shall not err therein” (`Isa. 35:8-10`)? If the way is so plain and clear and simple that a foolish person need make no mistake about it, then why is there so much confusion among the learned clergymen, Doctors of Divinity, etc., as to the proper methods of salvation, some teaching one thing and some another? As an honest skeptic and one seeking to know the way of salvation, can you direct me to this “Highway?”
<ANSWER>–We are not surprised that you have failed to find the “Highway.” The Lord Jesus referring to the conditions of salvation during this present Gospel Age, declares that “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.” As a matter of fact the Scriptures point out three ways: –“The broad way, leading to destruction,” “The narrow way to life,” and the “Highway of Holiness.” (`Mat. 7:13,14`; `Isa. 35:8,9`.) It is very evident from the conditions which you mention, that the latter of these ways has not been in existence thus far, but as the Scriptures affirm, it will be opened up for the world at the time of our Lord’s second coming. Then when Satan, that old “lion” (`1 Pet. 5:8`), is bound (`Rev. 20:2`), the Prophet’s words shall be fulfilled–“No lion shall be there,” and “the redeemed of the Lord (the world of mankind) shall go up thereon with everlasting joy and singing upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” (`Mark 10:14`). Does this not mean that there will be infants in heaven?
<ANSWER>–There is a simplicity and gentleness about a little child which all good people appreciate. The Master was not so overwhelmed with His great work as to be unable to realize the desire of the Jewish mothers to have Him give their little ones a blessing. Therefore, when the disciples would spare Him the annoyance, He rebuked them and, calling for the little ones, He blessed them. The statement, “For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven,” must not, however, be understood to imply that the Lord is electing or selecting such little children for His joint-heirs in the Kingdom; we must interpret Scripture by Scripture. We must remember His words that only “overcomers” can share with Him in the Kingdom (`Rev. 2:7,11,17,26`; `Rev 3:5,12,21`); and again, we are to remember His declaration that those who would be His disciples must take up their cross and follow Him. Such things could not be true of infants. Heart purity and simplicity are necessary for the Kingdom, but more than these are required. The text of the question should be understood in harmony with our Master’s words, “Except ye . . . become as little children ye shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven” (`Mat. 18:3`). The emphasis lies upon the word “as” in the sense of like. Only the child-like and trustful disciples can experience God’s highest favor–a share in His Kingdom.
How and to what extent were the Apostles inspired?
<ANSWER>–There are some at the present day who believe that modern authors, teachers and poets are as fully inspired as were the Apostles. Even some clergymen apparently have the thought that they themselves are as authentic and reliable authorities, and should be regarded as such. If this view is the right one, then inspiration is a cheap article, and wholly unreliable when we reflect upon the many conflicting theories and doctrines that have been promulgated by modern theological authorities. The Apostle Peter, in referring to the inspiration of the Sacred Writers, declares that “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (`2 Pet. 1:21`.) That is to say, God’s holy power or influence operating upon the minds of the Prophets caused them to speak and to write of future things in relationship to the Divine purposes, which even they themselves did not understand. (`Dan. 12:8,9`.) The Apostles likewise were caused to write of matters that would be necessary to the spiritual interests and welfare of the Lord’s people in after times. (`2 Tim. 3:16,17`.) Plenary inspiration has not existed since the days of our Lord and the Apostles, and is not needed, as the Scriptures are complete and sufficient of themselves.
We know what becomes of the obedient and disobedient, but there is another class, which really cannot be called obedient nor yet disobedient. I mean the irresponsible, and they who love this present world and have not even a desire to know what God requires of them, and which, in my opinion, form the vast majority of mankind even in this enlightened age (so-called). What becomes of them? (P.E.I.)
<ANSWER>–The answering of this question involves the consideration of the doctrines of “Election” and “Free Grace,” both clearly taught in the scriptures, as all Bible Scholars recognize. It is only within recent years that the beautiful harmony existing between these two doctrines has been recognized. From many Scriptures, of which we will only cite a few, it will be seen that the entire Christian Era, from the time of our Lord Jesus’ first advent down to the time of His second coming, is the period in which the “Election” takes place, the election or selection of those who shall constitute the Bride, the Church of Christ. (See `1 Pet. 1:2`; `Eph. 1:4`; `2 Pet. 1:10`; `Acts 15:14-18`.) When, at the close of this Christian Age, the work of election is consummated, then God’s free grace will be extended to all the remainder of mankind, through the selected class, who were elected to be kings and priests unto God and with their Lord Jesus to reign for the space of a thousand years over the nations of the earth for the purpose of lifting them up out of sin and death to human perfection and eternal life. Now is the Church’s opportunity to make her calling and election sure; then will be the world’s opportunity of receiving God’s free grace. Election now and Free Grace then. See `Acts 15:14-18`; `Rev. 22:17`; `Acts 3:19-21`.
Was Job a real personage, or only an allegorical character?
<ANSWER>–We believe Job to have been a real person–a man. He is so referred to in the following Scriptures: `Job 1:1`; `Eze. 14:14-20`; `James 5:11`. This does not alter the fact, however, that a great allegorical lesson is taught by Job’s experiences. As a whole, his life represented the experiences of the human family in the loss of everything. Job lost his children, friends, home, health, the affections of his wife–all –and he was nigh unto destruction in the tomb. Then came the turning point. He was restored to Divine favor and to all the blessings which he had formerly enjoyed, and had more abundance than he ever had before. This pictures the experiences of the human race. Adam, in Eden, was perfect, joyful and rich in life and a perfect home. He lost all of these, being driven from Eden and compelled to battle with the sterile soil of the earth. By and by, when the “Restitution of all things, spoken by Jehovah through His holy prophets,” shall have come to the world, the human race will likewise be restored to Divine favor and receive greater blessings than ever before experienced.
What is the “key of knowledge” referred to in `Luke 11:52`, where the Lord Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees “Ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered?” (Y.E.K.)
<ANSWER>–Some one has said “The summary want of the age is that last philosophy into which shall have been sifted all other philosophy, which shall be at once catholic and eclectic, which shall be the joint growth and fruit of reason and faith, and which shall shed forth through every walk of research the blended light of discovery and revelation.” The Bible is just such a revelation and contains that true philosophy which is the basis for all philosophies. It is the “key of knowledge,” the Standard of Truth, and all lines of investigative thought which ignore this Standard and are contrary thereto, are “vain philosophies and science falsely so-called.” (`1 Tim. 6:20`.) The “lawyers,” Doctors of the Law, the Doctors of Divinity of our Lord’s time, had made void the Word of the Lord through their traditions and speculations. (`Mark 7:13`.) The people, looking to these “lawyers” for true instruction regarding the Lord’s Word, were deceived and confused by their false teachings.
What is mean by the expression, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”? (`Exo. 21:24`.)
<ANSWER>–The Law given to the Israelites by the Lord, through Moses as the Mediator for that nation, was designed to emphasize and impress the lesson of the Divine principle of JUSTICE on the minds of the people. All through that wonderful system of laws this principle is boldly prominent. Justice is inexorable, demanding an exact equivalent for the thing that is lost or injured by a violation of the principles of righteousness. The scales must balance perfectly. Just as the laws of the material or natural realm are fixed and absolute –and any violation of these laws of nature must exact the penalty–so also in the moral realm. As surely as cause and effect are related, so any violation of the principles of righteousness demands a recompense and the penalty is exacted. There is no escape. Let no one deceive himself on this point. If one wilfully injures another, he has to the same extent injured himself. The law of action and reaction operates in the moral realm just as positively as in the arrangements of the material universe. He is happiest who observes the principles of righteousness most fully, and he is unhappiest who violates them most. It follows, therefore, that love is the fulfilling of the Law. Love for the Lord would prompt one to be obedient to His just commands, and love for the neighbor would induce one to do good unto all men as the opportunities were presented. This great truth was beautifully set forth by the Master and His Apostles. See `Matt. 22:37-40`, and `Rom. 13:10`. And yet how few are observing this rule! Consequently, how much unhappiness there is in the world!
Did Ananias tell the first lie, and is that the reason why we often speak of an “Ananias Club” whose members are reported to be notorious liars?
<ANSWER>–The Lord Jesus declared that Satan told the fist lie, saying, “He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it.” (`John 8:44`.) The first lie told was by Satan in Eden when he said to Mother Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” (`Gen. 3:4`.) This was false because a contradiction to God’s plain statement, “Thou shalt surely die.” (`Gen. 2:17`.) It may truly be said that all the false doctrines of “Heathendom” and “Christendom” have had their foundation in this falsehood told by Satan. Satan’s falsehood was the cause of the disobedience of the first man which resulted in the sentence of Adam to death, and which death sentence by inheritance has passed upon all of his offspring. (`Rom. 5:12`.) Ananias was an offspring of Adam. He was born under the condemnation of death, shapen in sin and brought forth in iniquity. (`Psa. 51:5`) Therefore, the natural tendency was downward, hence all who would be honest and upright must fight against evil.
Is a lie ever justifiable? (H.V.D.)
<ANSWER>–The development of character is the main purpose of our present existence. The importance of this work is manifest when we reflect that our interests throughout eternity depend entirely upon the kind of character we develop in this life. It is by contending against adverse influences that character is formed. Nearly all of the influences of the conditions of this life are opposed to the principles of righteousness. Those who are willing to fight the good fight of faith, struggling to rise against the downward tendencies of this present evil world, are assured of a high and heavenly reward in the life to come, as well as receiving the reward in this present time of a clear conscience and the glorious satisfaction of having lived a noble, honest life! Those who follow the lines of least resistance, drifting with the tide, may think theirs is the easiest way, but this is only a vain delusion for, after all, they have travelled the hardest way. “The way of the transgressor is hard.” (`Pro. 13:15`.) A lie is never justifiable; and not only so, it is unprofitable. It weakens one’s character in proportion to the enormity of the offense involved in the relating of the lie. Every step away from truth will have to be retraced either in this life or in the life to come. Throughout the Scriptures lying is condemned. Satan is called “a liar from the beginning.” The character of the Lord Jesus is the standard of righteousness set before us, and in all His earthly experiences He set forth the truth and condemned the error. He spoke the truth at all times, and when it was not expedient to tell the truth, He was silent.
Can you explain the words of the Apostle Paul (`1 Cor.7:14`): “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the (believing) wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the (believing) husband; else were your children unclean (sinners under condemnation, unjustified, unrelated to God, aliens from His care and blessing, but now are they holy”)?
<ANSWER>–As the disobedience and alienation of Adam and Eve from the Heavenly Father brought alienation to all their offspring, so the reconciliation of the Lord’s people through the merits of the great atonement, not only brings them back to harmony with God, but their children as well are counted as justified through their parents, up to such a time as the child shall have an intelligence and will of its own. The question is more complex, however, when one parent is the Lord’s and the other is a stranger and an alien from Him; but the Apostle assures us that in such a case God counts the child as His, through whichever one of its parents is the Lord’s disciple. The standing of the believing parent is counted as offsetting and overruling the standing of the unconsecrated parent, so far as the child is concerned.
What are we to think of the amazing occurrences, accounts of which are appearing in the daily press and in the monthly publications, to the effect that messages have been received from the noted English publicist, Wm. T. Stead, who was drowned when the Titanic sank mid-ocean; and that he has appeared and conversed with several well-known people on different occasions? Does this not prove that the dead are not dead but more alive than ever? (Aviator.)
<ANSWER>–It is true that many remarkable manifestations of an unseen, supernatural power have been reported through the daily press of late. There is no doubt as to the authenticity of these demonstrations. They are vouched for by the very best of human testimony. As the Scriptures unmistakably teach that the dead are unconscious in the tomb and will not be awakened until the resurrection morning, we are forced to the conclusion that these supernatural phenomena are not created by those who have gone down into death. The Bible explains the mystery to those who are willing to accept its testimony. It tells about the fallen angels, demons, who left their former habitation, their spiritual estate, in the antediluvian times, and went contrary to the Divine will, for which they have been restrained in chains of darkness (the darkness of the night) until the judgment time. These have manifested their power all down through the ages, obsessing people, impersonating the dead, and otherwise deceiving mankind. Note carefully the following Scriptures: `Exo. 22:18`; `Deut. 17:9-12`; `Lev. 19:31`; `Lev. 20:6`; `2 Kings 21:2,6,11`; `1 Chron. 10:13,14`; `Acts 16:16-18`; `Gal. 5:10-21`; `Isa. 8:19,20`; `Isa. 19:3`.
One of the commandments of the Bible reads, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” How may I know who is my neighbor?
<ANSWER>–Our Lord gives a clear answer to this question in `Luke 10:29-37`. He describes a man in distress and need. A priest came along and seeing the man passed by on the other side as if he were afraid he would be contaminated by even paying attention to the sufferer. A Levite did likewise. Then came a Samaritan (Samaritans were a mixed people, common and despised by the priestly class of Jews), and ministered unto the wants of the sufferer. The principle here taught is, that every man is your neighbor and should be treated kindly, generously, according to the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love your neighbors as yourself” and show that you do love them by dealing with all honestly, fairly and exactly as you would like others to deal with you. The Apostle Paul announces the proper principle saying, “Do good unto all men as you have opportunity.” (`Gal. 6:10`.)
Please explain this Scripture found in `1 John 3:8`: “Whosoever is born of God doth not sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God.”
<ANSWER>–A better translation from the original Greek manuscripts renders the passage thus: “No one who has been begotten by God practices sin; because His Seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten by God.” This begetting takes place at the time of the receiving of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is the beginning of the new spiritual life, the living of the Christlike life. This “new creature” (`2 Cor. 5:17`) is in an embryotic state or condition while in the flesh and will be born of the spirit in the resurrection. The spirit of the Lord God is the power or influence exerted upon the minds and hearts of those who have surrendered their own wills and are obedient to the Divine will. This holy power of the Lord gradually transforms the mind of the Christian, shaping the mental faculties so that earthly hopes, desires and ambitions die, while heavenly spiritual ones are developed. The spirit-begotten New Creature becomes spiritually minded, develops a new mind; his mind is renewed for so states the Apostle: “Be not conformed to the things of this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” (`Rom. 12:2`.) Because of the weakness and the imperfections of the flesh we sin almost constantly, not willfully; the new mind, the mind of Christ cannot sin. All who are honest with themselves will acknowledge that they are imperfect and cannot do the things that they would, perfectly. (See `1 John 1:8`; `1 John 2:1`.) The embryotic New Creature (the mind of Christ dominated by the Holy Spirit) cannot sin (willfully) as long as “His Seed (the spirit) remaineth in him.”
If Noah was a just and respectable old gentleman of some six hundred years of age, how is it that we find him getting intoxicated–becoming drunk–as recorded in `Gen.9:21`?
<ANSWER>–How true are the words of the poet: The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones. But one instance of straying from the path of rectitude and sobriety in a long life of fidelity to the principles of righteousness will stand out with startling distinctness and will be the subject of more consideration than all of the individual’s noble acts and traits combined. However, we shall not leave Noah defenseless, but will call attention to the fact that his intoxication was after the flood and was wholly unintentional. The flood wrought great changes in the atmospheric conditions of our earth. To our understanding the deluge was produced by the precipitation to the earth of an immense quantity of water which previously had surrounded the earth at a distance as a cloudy canopy. The dissolution of this canopy or envelope of water not only produced the flood, but altered the conditions of nature so that storms, rains, etc., resulted–things which had never been before. (`Gen. 2:5,6`.) Another result, we believe, was the development of an acidulous condition of the atmosphere tending to produce ferment, which directly affected human longevity, so that according to the Scriptures the average of human life decreased from eight and nine hundred years to one hundred. This ferment from the changed atmosphere, affecting the grape, generated “mold,” and hence the alcoholic condition which produces drunkenness. According to the record, Noah’s drunkenness was the result of the first vintage of grapes after the flood, and it evidently was contrary to all of his experiences preceding the flood. We are justified, therefore, in supposing that this one instance of Noah’s having been intoxicated was the result of ignorance respecting the changed character of the grape product fermented.
What is the Scriptural method of ordination? It seems to me that the laymen should have something to say as to who shall be their representatives. Have the clergy arrogated to themselves privileges in this connection to which they are not entitled? (American)
<ANSWER>–Priestcraft, and not the teachings of our Lord and His Apostles, is responsible for the division of the church into two classes, called “clergy” and “laity.” It is still the spirit of priestcraft that seeks to lord it over God’s heritage in every way possible–proportionately to the density of the ignorance prevailing in any congregation. The word “ordain,” in respect to elders–those who preside over the church- -occurs in `Titus 1:5`. It is from the Greek which signifies “to place down.” “Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I gave thee charge.” (R.V.) On the fact of it, this text seems to imply that Titus was empowered to appoint these elders, regardless of the wishes of the congregations (churches, ecclesias); and it is on this view that the whole clerical system rests. The leading churches all claim for their bishops an apostolic authority to set, to place or appoint, elders for the congregations–without the stretching forth of the hand, or vote of the church. This text is the bulwark of this idea; but it appears to be rather a weak support when we notice the last clause, “As I gave thee charge,” and reflect that the Apostle would surely not give Titus “charge” or instruction to do differently from what he (the Apostle) did in this matter. The account of the Apostle’s own procedure, rightly translated, is very explicit: “And when they had elected them elders by a show of hands in every ecclesia, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord.” (`Acts 14:23`)
Considering Paul’s positive claim to be an Apostle, specially called of God, who saw Jesus, and that the choice of Matthias to be the successor of Judas, by the Eleven, was before the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, are we to consider him (Paul) as the successor of Judas, remembering that there were to be but twelve Apostles, and that Matthias was not afterward heard of?
<ANSWER>–It is evident from the Scriptural account that the Eleven were acting without due warrant and authority in selecting Matthias to be the successor of Judas. They had been instructed to tarry at Jerusalem and wait for enduement from on high by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and it was during this waiting period and before they were endued with power, that they mistakenly cast lots and chose Matthias. The Lord did not reprove them for this undesigned meddling with His arrangement, but simply ignored their choice, and in His own time brought forward the Apostle Paul, declaring, “He is a chosen vessel unto Me.” There can be no question but that the Lord arranged that there should be but twelve Apostles, and in evidence of this note how the Lord particularly chose those twelve, calling to mind the prominence of the number twelve in sacred things pertaining to this election. And we cap the climax by pointing to the symbolical picture of the glorified Church furnished in Rev. 21:1. In the picture the statement is most distinctly made that the twelve foundations of the City are precious, and in them were written the names of the “twelve Apostles of the Lamb . . .”–no more, no less.
How shall we understand the Prophet’s words: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (`Isa. 2:4`) in view of the fact that all of the nations are learning war and making vast preparations for a great international conflict? Think of the armies and navies and munitions of war! Have in mind also the frightful instruments of destruction that are being devised, such as submarines, airplanes, murderous machine guns and terrific explosives, etc. Will peace never be established in the earth?
<ANSWER>–The Prophet Joel foretold just the conditions that we see about us in the world today (see `Joel 3:9-11`). The Lord Jesus also informed His followers that “wars and rumors of wars as well as dreadful calamities would continue all down through the centuries until the time of His second advent (`Mat. 24:6,7`), and then in the very end of the Age, “the last days,” would be the great tribulation, a time of war and trouble involving all nations, the preparations for which are fulfilled in the conditions of the present. When the final great cataclysm, the overwhelming flood of trouble, has drawn to its close, then Messiah’s reign of peace begins. A universal government will be established in the earth, the Kingdom of God, and “the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called . . . The Prince of Peace; of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.” (`Isa. 9:6,7`) The connecting verses to the one quoted in your question, show that the conditions of peace referred to will not be established until after the “mountain” (Kingdom) of the Lord is set up in the earth. (See verses 2 and 3)
Is it proper for a Christian to engage in physical exercises, or physical culture? I would like to have your thought on this matter and, if possible, any Scriptures bearing on the subject, as I know of some people who seemingly think it a sin to devote any thought to the care of the body. (J.E.M.)
<ANSWER>–The mind or will is the master of the body. The condition of the mind is largely affected by the condition of the body. A sound mind in a sound body is the ideal condition. To keep the body and the mind in proper condition, it is essential that they be exercised, for it is a law of nature that inaction produces decay and disease. Any stagnant pond is a good illustration of this law. The Christian, whose desire is to serve his God and his fellow-man, and who wills to do so, should recognize that he can work out his will and desires more effectively with a sound mind and a sound body than with those that are disabled or injured through neglect or disuse. Considering the body from this standpoint, as an instrument or a machine to be utilized by the will in accomplishing good works, it would be the part of wisdom to have it in excellent condition in order to achieve the best results. The orderly, systematic care of the body tends to develop those very traits of character that are essential to the Christian development. Temperance, self-control, determination, patience, self-denial, etc., are naturally acquired by those who pursue a regular course of training with the object of devoting their time and energies to the service of their Lord. The Apostle says, “Bodily training is profitable for a little; but piety is profitable for all things, having a promise of the present life, and of that which is future.” (`1 Tim. 4:8`)
Please explain the Scripture, “The poor ye have always with you.” (`John 12:8`.) Does this mean that there will always be poor on the earth?
<ANSWER>–Jesus was addressing His disciples, and through them all consecrated Christians. At Jesus’ second coming all of His faithful followers, then remaining on the earth, will be taken away to heavenly conditions, as He stated that He would go away to prepare a place for these, and He would come again for them, and when Christ’s Kingdom is fully established and the blessings flow out therefrom to the people, there will be neither rich nor poor, but all shall be brought to one common level (`Isa. 11:4,5`). Messiah’s reign will result in peace, joy, happiness, health and plenty to all the righteous. Then “they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (`Jer. 31:34`; `Jer. 33:6`; `Micah 4:3,4`.)
Were Adam and Jesus in any sense representatives of the race?
<ANSWER>–Adam, as the federal head of his family, was its representative in Eden. This is demonstrated by the fact that all of his posterity are involved in everything affecting him. Thus the sentence of death which directly passed upon Adam affected and impaired every one of his offspring. Jesus was not a representative in this sense; He was made a man, a “little lower than the angels, that He might, by the grace of God, taste death for every man.” (`Heb. 2:9`) He becomes Adam’s substitute, his Redeemer. He pays for Adam the penalty demanded by divine Justice. He gave His life “a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (`1 Tim. 2:6`) Since Adam was the representative of the whole human family, therefore, all of the human race must share with him in the benefits to accrue through the redemption provided by Jesus, his substitute. Thus the death of Jesus is made efficacious to all who will accept the benefit thereof, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read: “As in Adam all die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.” (`1 Cor. 15:22`)
Does the religious wave over the country indicate anything, or is it a “flash in the pan?” (Reader)
<ANSWER>–We believe that it is indicative of much that is important to the welfare of the entire race of mankind. Not that we anticipate that it will result in converting the race to Christianity, or “save the world for Jesus,” but that it indicates that mankind in general is longing after the higher and holier things. All honor to the noble men and women who are striving to better human conditions, and who are sacrificing much in their efforts! However, the Lord in His Word, the Bible, has pointed out a more excellent way than all of the religious and reformation movements combined. In the first place, the Scriptures foretell that the world will never be converted to Christianity until after the Lord Jesus’ second coming. (See the following Scriptures and note carefully as they relate to the “last days,” or “the time of the end.” `Mat. 24:37-39`; `2 Tim. 3:1-5,13`; `Jam. 5:1-5`) From these statements of the Sacred Writers, we see that the world will be far from being converted to Christ at His coming and will have very little regard for the teachings of the Master. Are not the facts in harmony with the Scripture prophecies? In spite of all the missionary efforts put forth, there are more than double the number of heathen in the world today than there were a century ago, according to the latest compiled missionary statistics! What are the conditions in Christendom so-called? There are far more bloodshed, wars, crimes, greed and graft than in all the heathen lands combined! Christians may well pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” for that is the only hope for the world.
What did Christ mean when He referred to John the Baptist as Elijah? (`Mat. 17:11,12`) Is this an evidence that He recognized reincarnation as a truth?
<ANSWER>–The theory of reincarnation is nowhere taught in the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostles never, in all their teachings, said a word about reincarnation. As to the meaning of the Savior’s words referred to in the question, we recognize that He was calling to mind the prophecy of `Mal. 4:5,6`. John the Baptist was one of the greatest of the Prophets, and it was his mission to prepare the way of the Messiah, the Christ, by performing a reformation work in preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and declaring the Kingdom of Heaven at hand. This message was to the Jews and to them only as they had been the Lord’s chosen people for many centuries. But now a new dispensation was about to be ushered in. The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand! And it was John’s mission to prepare the people for the new order of things. This he did in the power and spirit of Elijah. (`Luke 1:16,17`) We know positively that John was not Elijah for we have his own testimony on the subject: “And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered, No.” (`John 1:21`)
What about the “River of the Water of Life, clear as crystal?” (`Rev. 22:1,2`) Is it an actual river? If so, how may one get a drink out of it?
<ANSWER>–If we were disposed to accept this as a literal statement, we might well do as the old Spanish explorer, Ponce De Leon, did–search for the Fountain of Perpetual Youth! And we might have the consoling thought that surely there would be enough water in this river of the water of life to put out all the fires of the “lake of fire and brimstone” mentioned in the eighth verse of the preceding chapter! Dispensing with absurdities, we recognize that a wonderful symbolical picture is here presented to our mental gaze–a gloriously beautiful city of vast proportions and all of gold and precious stones, reflecting the radiance of the marvelous light that glows within and which emanates from that great Being who is the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, the Almighty God! And forth from the street of gold, there flows this lovely river whose waters are as clear as crystal and whose banks are adorned with trees “whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations!” The city is “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife,” the Church of Christ glorified. The river is the stream of truth and not the muddy waters of the traditions of men that shall flow from the Church when it is complete and highly exalted. The Lord had promised that whoever would drink of the water (the truth) that He should give, it would make of him “a well of water springing up into eternal life.” (`John 4:14`) These wells or springs of water have been in course of development throughout this Christian Era and when they are all brought together–the 144,000 mentioned in the `7th` and `14th chapters` there will be formed a mighty flow of truth, of which all the nations will be invited to partake. The Spirit and the Bride will then say, Come, and whosoever is athirst may come and partake of the Waters of Life freely. (`Rev. 22:17`)
Which day should be observed as the Sabbath Day, the first day or the seventh day of the week? (I.B.S.A.)
<ANSWER>–It would depend upon the religious belief of the one who asks the question. To the Jew the seventh day (Saturday) is the one to be observed, as it was commanded in the Law that was given to the Israelites that they should keep the seventh day as a holy day. That Law is still binding upon the Jews. If a Seventh Day Adventist, then let him keep the seventh day, for he believes that he is under the Law, and with that belief he certainly should keep the seventh day. To those who are members of some one of the various Protestant Churches, or of the Roman Catholic Church, let them observe the first day (Sunday) as the day of rest, as they believe that it is so commanded, and surely it would not be right for them to violate their conscience by doing otherwise. To the true Christian, the consecrated child of God, let these keep every day holy unto the Lord and not merely one day in seven. And let these enjoy a rest by faith in the Lord and in His sure promises. Let no one attempt to judge another in respect to this matter of ob serving the sabbath or holy days. No one has the right to judge his fellowman in this regard; but let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (`Rom. 14:4,5`). If any one presumes to judge another in these matters, he is violating a direct command of the Lord as expressed by one of His inspired Apostles (`Col. 2:16`). If any one should say that we are not saved and that we are lost because we do not observe some special day, ask him gently but firmly–“Who made thee a judge?”
We read in the Bible that as Lot and his wife were fleeing from Sodom, his wife looked back at the city and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt; can that be literally true?
<ANSWER>–We see no reason for thinking otherwise than that the statement with reference to Lot’s wife is a literal one. We can conceive of no reason why the record should be otherwise than literal. The Great Master, Himself, referred to the incident and made no criticism of the narrative (`Luke 17:32`). Why then should we criticize it? The Scriptures show that the Angels of the Lord had warned Lot to take his wife and daughters and flee out of the City of Sodom, and they started in their flight, but instead of keeping steadily on after once starting, Lot’s wife turned to look back–evidently desiring the things left behind–and she was turned into a pillar of salt. The Apostle shows us that these lessons or examples were for the benefit of others. In other words, types and shadows of greater things. Space does not here permit us to discuss the type and anti-type.
Who are “The spirits in prison?” (`1 Pet. 3:19`.) (Secretary).
<ANSWER>–The “spirits” or spirit beings, are the ones referred to by the Apostle in the following verse as having been disobedient during the antediluvian period of time, in the days of Noah. Turning back to the early records of the Scriptures, we find that in `Gen. 6:1-4`, it is narrated how and in what manner these spirit beings disobeyed, and why they were cast into prison. Note the contrast in the expression, “The sons of God (the angels–`Job 2:1`) saw the daughters of men.” These spiritual sons of God left their habitation, the spiritual realm, and materializing as human beings, took unto them wives of the daughters of men. In this way the “men of renown,” “the mighty men,” the “giants in the earth,” were brought into existence. This was contrary to the Lord’s arrangements, and therefore we read that those angels were deprived of their liberties under certain limitations: “And the angels which kept not their first estate (their spiritual state) but left their own lasting chains, under darkness (the darkness of the night, for they can operate only under the cover of the night or conditions of darkness), unto the judgment of the great day.” (`Jude 6`.) The Apostle Peter also refers to them when he says, “God spared not the angels who sinned, but degraded them, and delivered them into chains of darkness.” –Corrected Translation. (`2 Pet. 2:4`.) All history, both sacred and secular, is replete with instances of obsession, or demonizations, by these demons, or fallen angels. It was to these “spirits” that our Lord, by His death and resurrection, Preached a powerful sermon in pantomime.
Kindly explain `Matt. 25:29`; “From him that hath NOT shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (E.M.)
<ANSWER>–This verse occurs in the Parable of the talents, and if we supply the word increased after not, the thought is clear. During the Gospel Age–that period between the going away and the coming again of Christ Jesus–His servants have been entrusted with the Gospel of the Kingdom. All professing Christians have obligations and responsibilities to tell out the “good tidings of great joy,” according to their knowledge and opportunity. Those who improve their talents increase them, and because faithful to the light and privileges granted to them, will receive the “Well done” of the Master. All who neglect to use their talents for the blessing of others will not have the Lord’s approval. On the contrary, they will lose not only the light they once enjoyed, but also the reward of faithfulness. Let us then heed the exhortation of our Lord, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
We read in the 10th chapter and the 8th verse of the Gospel of `John` the following words of the Savior–“All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” Who are referred to by the terms “thieves and robbers?” (A.N.F.)
<ANSWER>–The Lord Jesus was narrating a parable illustrating certain arrangements and conditions. Every sheepfold must of necessity have a door or gate and this would be for the use of the shepherd and the sheep. As stated in verse 1, any person attempting to enter the sheepfold in any other way than by the door would be a thief and a robber. Our Lord Jesus, as the “Shepherd,” by fulfilling the terms of the Law Covenant, entered the “door” and secured all the blessings and privileges which had been promised in the Law. The Scribes and Pharisees–“the thieves and robbers”–on the other hand, had been endeavoring to “climb up some other way,” by a hypocritical observance of the letter of the Law, rather than by a heart observance and fulfillment of the spirit of the Law. Jesus, as the “Good Shepherd,” laid down His life for the “sheep.” The Scribes and Pharisees neglected the interests of the people and were engaged in seeking their own gain–wealth and fame–while piously posing as religious leaders.
What is the meaning of the expression found in `Dan. 12:7`–“Time, times and a half?” How long was a “time?”
<ANSWER>–A year, or “time,” according to the old Hebrew method of preserving chronological records, was ordinarily a year of twelve lunar months of approximately thirty days each, or 360 days. In the symbolic prophecies of the Scriptures, a day stood for a year. (See `Eze. 4:1-8`; `Num. 14:33,34`.) A “time” therefore, of three hundred and sixty days in a prophetic sense, would signify 360 years. In the expression under consideration there are three and one-half times, or 1,260 years. The same period is mentioned in the book of `Rev; in chapter 12:14`, it is called three and one-half times (360 x 3® = 1,260); in `chapter 13:5`, it is termed forty-two months (30 x 42 = 1,260); and in chapter `12:6`, it is called twelve hundred and sixty days. Bible scholars in general have reached the conclusion that these twelve hundred and sixty years came to an end in the year 1799 A.D. Noting the fulfillment of this prophecy at that time, and following this clue, a number of students of prophecy are expecting that the “seven times” (`Lev. 26:17`, `Lev. 18, 24,28`) or 2520 years, in which the Jewish people were to be subject to the Gentile powers and kingdoms, will terminate in the year 1914 A.D. as their kingdom was overturned and destroyed in the year 606 B.C. “Seven times,” or two thousand five hundred and twenty years, bring us to the date 1914, when the Jews will be restored to their own land, to have a government or kingdom of their own, which will be the nucleus of the coming universal government so frequently referred to in the Scriptural prophecies.
The Lord Jesus taught the Christians to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on earth.” Does that mean that all Christian people should join together and vote for the election of only Christian men to office in order that God’s will might be done on the earth?
<ANSWER> –The true footstep followers of the Lord Jesus are called to a “heavenly calling” (`Heb. 3:1`), to the “high calling of God” (`Phil. 3:13`.) They are running for the office of joint heirship with Christ Jesus in His Kingdom. The Apostle Paul was one of these runners. He realized that a man cannot well run for two offices at the same time. He said, “Do not be conformed to this world.” (`Rom. 12:2`.) That is to say, do not become entangled with the things of this world. Again he said, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (`Phil. 3:13,14`); and in harmony with this Jesus said, “Ye are not of this world”; and again, “My kingdom is not of this world,” meaning this present evil order of things; therefore we come to the conclusion that the chief duty of the Christian is to avoid entangling alliance with worldly systems, and to devote himself to preparing for the kingdom of our Lord when He comes. All good citizens should desire righteous men in office, but a righteous government cannot be established by imperfect men, hence the hope of the Christian is in the Bible teaching that Christ Jesus, the great Messiah, will, in God’s due time, set up His kingdom, and establish righteousness in the earth.
Does God give orders for the weather every day?
<ANSWER>–No; nor does He every day order the stars in their courses, nor the earthquakes, famines and pestilences. At the present time, because of sin, the entire course of nature is permitted to be out of joint, so far as this earth is concerned. Our weather is not ideal at all times; God knows this and permits it as a part of the penalty of death upon Adam’s race. Present conditions are not what God would have provided for Adam and his posterity had sin not entered into the world. Extremes of heat and cold, floods and droughts, death-dealing tornadoes and cyclones are the world’s portion as criminals under death sentence; they are parts of the curse. Christians are not exempted from these, but are required to walk by faith, sharing the world’s experiences; yet by this faith and the Holy Spirit to recognize themselves as “sons of God without rebuke” (`Phil. 2:15`), learning through all life’s experiences lessons which will fit them for their future work of glory with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom. God’s promise is that then there shall be no more curse–no more dying, no more crying. Instead, the time will come for the restitution of man and his earthly home to the perfection of grandeur of the Edenic condition (`Acts 3:19-21`.) Thus God will make the place of His feet, the earth, “glorious.” Paradise lost will be Paradise regained.
I am sure all Christians want to do God’s will, but how can we determine his will in our affairs?
<ANSWER>–If we have not wholly become God’s people by consecration, His message to us is, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (`1 Thess. 4:3`). If we are His people we are to search His Word, which has been written for our benefit. In it He says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (`Pro. 3:5,6`). When we are perplexed we should go to Him in prayer, resting content with whatever He may permit, study His Word and seek to be guided thereby. He has said to us, “All things shall work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose” (`Rom. 8:28`). We will, if we follow this course, soon learn to appreciate the fact that all the precious promises in the Bible are for the guidance and benefit of the Christian. Exercising faith in these, we should use our best judgment to follow the Lord’s will in all things, carrying no anxious thought respecting the future and watching for His providential leadings.
In `Jude 9`, is described a contention and dispute between Michael, the Archangel, and the Devil over the body of Moses. Why this dispute? (C.W.W.)
<ANSWER>–We quote from an eminent authority an explanation as to the reason for the contention between Michael and the Devil: “The Lord Himself buried Moses, hiding the place of the sepulchre. The primary reason for this probably was to hinder the Israelites from carrying his corpse as a mummy, which in after time might have become a temptation to idolatry. The passage in `Jude 9`, which mentions Michael contending with Satan concerning the body of Moses, is a hint along this line that Satan desired to have the corpse to use it for the further misleading of the people, but that the Lord through Michael the Archangel hindered, prevented this, and kept the burial place a secret from the Israelites. But there is another view of this matter which is interesting because it relates to spiritual Israelites. Jesus and the Church unitedly constitute the antitypical, or greater Moses–the Spiritual. Their inheritance is not to be earthly but heavenly, and a grave is a symbol of hope as respects an earthly resurrection. Hence it was appropriate that the type should not show an earthly grave since the antitype has no hope in that connection.”
At the transfiguration of Jesus, `Matt. 17:3`, states that Elias and Moses appeared and talked with Him. Will you please explain how it was possible for the Apostles to recognize that these two who were with the Lord were Moses and Elias? (W.C.C.) <
ANSWER>–As the Scriptural narrative does not contain the information as to the modus operandi by which the Apostles recognized the Patriarchs, we are forced to rely upon our own resources, and to accept that which would appeal to us as the most reasonable solution of the matter, without forming a too positive conclusion. There are two ways by which it would be reasonable to suppose the Apostles were made aware of the identity of the two who appeared with the Lord. In the account it says, “There appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking with Him.” During this conversation it would be the most natural thing in the world for the Lord to address them by their names. Then again, as they were coming down from the mountain with the Lord, He may have informed them as to the identity of the two they saw in the “vision.” They did not actually see Moses and Elias but merely a “vision,” as stated by the Savior when He said, “Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen from the dead.” (`Mat. 27:9`.)