None but the "Called" EligibleWhen This "Great Salvation" Call BeganA Call to Repentance not a Call to the Divine NatureThe Jewish CallThe Gospel CallWhy not Many "Great," "Wise" or "Mighty" are calledExaltation the Premium upon True HumilityCharacter a Condition of the CallWorld During Millennium not to be Called, but CommandedTime of Gospel Call LimitedThe New Creation Called or Drawn by the FatherChrist Our WisdomChrist Our JustificationActual and Reckoned Justification DifferentiatedDoes the "New Creation" Need Justification?The Ground of JustificationJustification of the Ancient Worthies Different from OursMillennial Age JustificationChrist Made unto Us SanctificationSanctification During Millennial AgeTwo Distinct Consecrations in Levitical TypesNeither had Inheritance in the LandThe Great CompanySanctification of Two PartsMan's PartGod's PartExperiences Vary with TemperamentsSanctification not Perfection nor Emotion"Who Healeth All Thy Diseases"Necessity of the Throne of GraceHow Justification Merges into SanctificationConsecration since Close of the "High Calling"The Church's Salvation or Deliverance.
OPPORTUNITY to become members of the New Creation and to participate in its possibilities, privileges, blessings and glories, was not thrown open to the world of mankind in general, but merely to a "called" class. This is most distinctly set forth in the Scriptures. Israel according to the flesh was called of the Lord to be his peculiar people, separate from the other peoples or nations of the earth: as it is written, "You only have I known [recognized] of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2) Israel's calling, however, was not the "high calling" or "heavenly calling," and consequently we find no mention of heavenly things in any of the promises pertaining to that people. Their call was to a preparatory condition, which eventually made ready a remnant of that nation to receive and profit by the high [F86] calling to the "great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." (Heb. 2:3) The terms of the high calling or heavenly calling are not, therefore, to be sought in the Old Testament but in the New; although, as the eyes of our understanding open to discern "the deep things of God," we may see in his dealings and providences with fleshly Israel certain typical lessons profitable to the spiritual seed who have been called with a heavenly calling; because, as the Apostle points out to us, fleshly Israel and its laws and God's dealings with it were shadows or types of the better things belonging to those who are called to membership in the New Creation.
Since in all things Christ was to have the pre-eminence in the divine plan, and it was thus necessary that he should be the first, the chief, the High Priest, who should become the leader of this New Creation of sons of God, the Captain of their salvation and their exemplar, after whose course they might pattern, in whose steps they might walk, we see a most satisfactory reason why the ancient worthies could have no part nor lot in this New Creation. Our Lord's words respecting John the Baptist attest this: "Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11) Thus also the Apostle declares, while speaking in terms of highest praise of the faith and noble character of those brethren of the past dispensation"God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:40
Besides, we are to remember that none can be called while still under condemnation on account of Adam's sin. In order to be called to this "high calling," it is necessary that justification from the Adamic sentence must first be secured, and this could not be granted even to fleshly Israel through the blood of bulls and goats, because these can never take away sin, and were merely types of the better sacrifices which do actually meet the demands of Justice [F87] against our race. Hence, it was not possible that the call should begin until after our Lord Jesus had given the price of redemption"bought us with his own precious blood." Even the Apostles were called and accepted to the New Creation only in a tentative manner until the Redeemer had given the price and had ascended up on high and had presented it on their behalf. Then, and not until then, did the Father, on the day of Pentecost, directly recognize those believers and beget them by his holy Spirit to be "New Creatures." True, our Lord said to the Pharisees during his ministry, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Matt. 9:13) But we are to recognize a great difference between calling men to repentance and calling them to the high calling of the divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ. No sinners are accepted to it; hence it is that we, being "by nature children of wrath," all require first to be justified freely from all things by the precious blood of Christ.
It is in full accord with this that we read in the introduction to the Epistle to the Romans (1:7) that the epistle is addressed "to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints "called to be holy ones, partakers of the divine nature, etc. The introduction to the Epistle to the Corinthians reads"Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:2) The exclusiveness of this call is still further emphasized in a succeeding verse (9), which declares the author of our calling; saying, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord." This implies an association, oneness; and, hence, the thought is that the call is with a view to finding from amongst men some who shall become one with the Redeemer as New Creatures; joint-heirs with him of the glory, honor, and immortality accorded him as a reward of his faithfulness.
Here we are reminded of the Apostle's words to the effect that we shall be made joint-heirs with Christ only upon certain [F88] conditions, namely, "If so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together." (Rom. 8:17) In the same chapter to the Corinthians (verse 24) the Apostle shows that the call he is discussing is not by any means the same call that was for a time confined to the Jews; and his words indicate, further, that not all are called. He says, "Unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God"though to the uncalled Jews he was the stumbling block and to the uncalled Greeks foolishness. In his letter to the Hebrews (9:14,15) the Apostle points out that the call of this Gospel age could not be promulgated until first our Lord had by his death become "surety" for the New Covenant. His words are, "For this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament [Law Covenant], they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Heb. 7:22
We might naturally suppose that this special call, if restricted at all, would be restricted to the very finest specimens of the fallen racethe most noble, the most virtuous, the most talented; but the Apostle contradicts this thought, saying, "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence." (1 Cor. 1:26-29) The reason for this condition of things the Apostle explains to be God's intention that no man should be able to boast that he had in any sense or degree merited the great blessings to be conferred. The whole matter is intended to be both to angels [F89] and to man an illustration of the power of God to transform characters from base and despised to noble and pure, not by force, but by the transforming power of the truthworking, in the called ones, through the promises and hopes set before them, both to will and to do his good pleasure. This divine arrangement will result not only in the Father's glory, but also in the humility and everlasting good of those whom he will bless. We find, reiterated throughout the New Testament, various statements of the fact that this call and the salvation under it are not of man, nor by his power, but by the grace of God. Nor is it difficult to see why the call is, as a rule, less attractive to the noble and more so to the ignorant.
Pride is an important element in the fallen nature, and must continually be reckoned with. Those who are less fallen than the majority of their fellows and who are, therefore, more noble by nature than the average of their fellow creatures, are apt to realize this condition and to feel a certain amount of superiority and to pride themselves on it. Such, even if they are seeking the Lord and aspiring to his blessing and favor, would be inclined to expect that they would be received by the Lord upon some different basis from their more fallen, less noble fellows. God's standard, however, is perfection; and he declares that everything not up to that standard is condemned; and every condemned one is pointed to the same Redeemer and to the same sacrifice for sins, whether he has suffered much or comparatively less from the fall. These conditions of acceptance were sure to be more attractive to the mean and more fallen members of the human family than to the more noble onesthe weak, the fallen ones, realizing the more keenly their need of a Savior, because they appreciate much more their own imperfections; while the less fallen, with a measure of self-satisfaction, are not much inclined to bow low before the cross of Christ, to accept justification as a free gift, and to approach upon this basis, and this alone, to the throne of heavenly grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help. [F90] They are more inclined to lean to their own understanding, and to have that well-satisfied feeling which will hinder them from coming in by the low gate and narrow way.
God is evidently putting a premium upon humility in connection with all whom he invites to become members of this New Creation. The Apostle points this out, saying, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Pet. 5:6) Paul points them to the pattern, Christ Jesushow he humbled himself and made himself of no reputation, seeking a lower nature and suffering death, even the death of the cross, etc.; on account of which obedience and humility God highly exalted him. Then Peter points the lesson, saying, "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble." (1 Pet. 5:5) Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many great or wise or learned are called, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. With the premium which God sets upon humility, there is also a premium which he sets upon faith. He would have for New Creatures those who have learned to trust him implicitly, who accept his grace as sufficient for them, and in the strength which he supplies attainas incidental to their exaltationthe victory to which he calls them.
Although God does not call the wise or the great or the learned, we are not to understand from this that his people are base or ignorant, in the sense of being evil or corrupt or debased. On the contrary, the Lord sets the highest possible standard before those whom he calls; they are called to holiness, to purity, to faithfulness and to principles of righteousnessto an appreciation of these things in their own hearts and the showing forth of them in their lives to the glory of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. (2 Pet. 1:3; 1 Pet. 2:9) The world may know them according to the flesh only, and according to the flesh they may not be more noble or refined than othersfrequently less sobut their acceptance with the Lord [F91] is not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, according to their minds, their intentions, their "hearts." Consequently, from the moment they accept the grace of God in Christ and the forgiveness of their sins, and make a consecration of themselves to the Lord, they are counted as freed from those blemishes which were theirs naturally as children of Adam; they are counted as though their flesh were robed in the merits of Christ, hiding all of its defects. It is the new mind, the new will, that is the "New Creature" accepted of God and called, and it alone is being dealt with.
True, the new mind as it develops will show itself to be noble, honorable, upright, and gradually it will come more and more to have power and control over the flesh, so that those who recognize not the New Creatures, even as they did not recognize the Lord, may ultimately come to marvel at their good works and holy living and spirit of a sound mind, though even these may at times be attributed by them to some ignoble motives. And notwithstanding the gradual growth of the new mind more and more into harmony with the mind of the Lord, these may never get full control over the mortal bodies with which they are connected, although it will surely be their object and effort to glorify God in their bodies as well as in their spirits, their minds, which are his. 1 Cor. 6:20
Let us notice some of these specifications and limitations as respects character in the "New Creation." The Apostle's exhortation to one of these called onesbut applicable to all of themis, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called." (1 Tim. 6:12) These New Creatures are not to expect to gain the victory and the great reward without a battle with the adversary, as well as with sin abounding in all their associations and the weakness of their own flesh, though the latter is covered by the merit of Christ's righteousness under the terms of the Grace Covenant. The Apostle again exhorts this class to "Walk worthy of God who hath called you unto his Kingdom and glory." (1 Thess. 2:12) The New Creature is not only to recognize his calling and its ultimate reward in the Kingdom [F92] and glory, but he is to remember that in the present life he has become a representative of God and of his righteousness, and he is to seek to walk in accord therewith. Thus we read, "As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy.'" (1 Pet. 1:15,16) Again, in the same epistle (2:9) we read, "Ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
Spiritual Israelites of the New Creation were not put under bondage to specific laws, as were the fleshly Israelites; but were put under "the law of liberty," that their love for the Lord might demonstrate itself, not only in respect to voluntarily avoiding the things recognized as disapproved of the Lord, but also in respect to voluntarily sacrificing human rights and interests in the service of truth and righteousness, for the Lord and for the brethren. It is in accord with this that the Apostle declares "God hath not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness." (1 Thess. 4:7) He declares again, "Ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh" (Gal. 5:13), an occasion to do evil: use your liberty rather in sacrificing present rights for the sake of the truth and its servicethat thus you may be sacrificing priests of the royal priesthood who, by and by, shall reign in God's Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ to dispense divine blessings to the world.
Many are the scriptures that point out that the call to be "New Creatures" is a call to glory, honor and immortality (Phil. 3:14; 2 Pet. 1:3, etc.), but everywhere the Lord indicates that the path to this glory is a narrow one of trial, testing, sacrifice; so that only those who are begotten of his spirit, yea, filled with it, will be able to come off conquerors in the end and attain to the glorious things whereunto they are called, the way to which has been made possible to the called ones through him who has promised, "My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in your weakness."
Nor are we to think of different calls, but are to remember [F93] the declaration of the Apostle (Eph. 4:4), "Ye are called in one hope of your calling." It is a mistake, therefore, for any to think that they have any choice in this matter. Indeed, so far as the world is concerned, in the next age there will be no call: God will not, during that age, be seeking to select a special class separate and distinct from others and to a special position. Instead of calling the world during the Millennial age, the Lord will command themcommand obedience to the laws and principles of righteousness; and every creature will be required (not requested) to render obedience to that Millennial government, otherwise he will receive stripes for his disobedience, and ultimately will be destroyed from amongst the people, as is written, "He that will not hear [obey] that prophet shall be cut off from amongst the people"he shall die the Second Death, from which there will be no hope of recovery.
Neither is there a second call during this Gospel age, though, as we have previously seen, there is a second class of saved ones selected during this agethe Great Company (Rev. 7:9-14) "whose number no man knoweth, out of every nation and kindred and tongue," who shall serve God in his temple and before the throne in contradistinction to the Bride, who will be in the throne and members, or living stones, of the temple. But these of this second company have no separate and distinct call. They might as easily, and with much more satisfaction, have attained to the glories of the divine nature had they rendered prompt and hearty obedience. They do come off victors in the end, as is shown by the fact that to them are granted the palm branches; but their lack of zeal hindered them from being accepted as of the overcoming class, thus preventing their eternal joint-heirship and glory as participants in the New Creation, as well as depriving them of much of the joy and peace and satisfaction which belongs to the overcomers and is enjoyed by them even in this present life. The place to which they will attain, as we have previously seen, will apparently be one similar in many respects to the estate or plane of the angels.
Another thought in connection with the call is that its time is limited, as the Apostle declares, "Now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation." "Today if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts." (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:15) This acceptable day, or acceptable year or acceptable period or epoch, began with our Lord Jesus and his consecration. He was called. He took not the honor upon himself, and it has continued ever since"No man taketh this honor unto himself." (Heb. 5:4) Bold indeed would be the man who would assume the right to a change of nature from human to divine, and from being a member of the family of Adam and joint-heir in his lost and forfeited estate, to being a joint-heir with Christ in all the riches and glory and honor of which he, in response to his call, became the rightful heir in perpetuity.
The close of this call, or "day of salvation," or "acceptable time" will come no less certainly than it began. A definite, positive number were ordained of God to constitute the New Creation, and so soon as that number shall be completed the work of this Gospel age will be finished. We might observe also that as soon as the proper number shall have been called, the call itself must cease; because it would not be consistent for God to call even one individual more than he had predestinated, even though he foreknew how many of the called ones would fail of obedience, fail to make their calling and election sure, and, therefore, need to be replaced by others. Consistency seems to demand that the Almighty shall not even seem to trifle with his creatures by extending a single invitation which could not be made good if accepted. The Scriptures hold out the thought that for this limited, elect number of the Royal Priesthood a crown apiece has been provided; and that as each accepts the Lord's call and makes his consecration under it, one of the crowns is set apart for him. It is not, therefore, proper to suppose that the Lord would call any one who, on presenting himself and accepting the call, would need to be informed that no crown could be apportioned to him yet, but that he must wait until someone who would prove unfaithful [F95] should forfeit his claim. Our Lord's exhortation, "Hold fast,...that no man take thy crown," seems to imply not only the limited number of crowns, but that ultimately, in the end of this age, there would come a time when those who had not faithfully lived up to their covenant would be rejected, and that others at that time would be in waiting for their crowns. Rev. 3:11
To our understanding the general call to this joint-heirship with our Redeemer as members of the New Creation of God, ceased in 1881. But we apprehend that a large number (in all the various denominations of Christendomprobably twenty or thirty thousand) who at that time had made full consecration of themselves, have not proven faithful to their covenant of self-sacrifice. These, one by one, as their full measure of testing is reached, if found unfaithful, are rejected from fellowship in the called companyto the intent that others who meantime have consecrated, though not under the call, may be admitted to full relationship in this fellowship with Christ and his joint-heirs, that they, in turn, may stand their testing and, if found unworthy, be similarly rejected and their places be filled by still others who will be waiting in an attitude of consecration. Evidently, by such arrangement, no necessity has existed for any general call since 1881. Those now admitted can as well be granted their privileges and opportunities without coming under the general call or invitation which ceased in 1881they are admitted on application, as opportunity permits, to fill up the places of those who are going out. It is our expectation that this work of going out and coming in will continue until the last member of the new order of creation shall have been found worthy, and all the crowns everlastingly apportioned.
The Apostle declares, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (1 Thess. 5:4) In harmony with all the various precedents of Scripture, we are inclined to believe that in this harvest time of the Gospel age a knowledge of the truth respecting the divine plan of the ages, and the presence of the Son of Man, and the [F96] harvest work will be brought to the attention of all the Lord's consecrated ones. We apprehend that thus "present truth," will be quite a testing or proof of proper heart conditions amongst the consecrated here, even as the message of our Lord's presence and the harvest of the Jewish age served to test earthly Israel at the first advent. It is a part of our expectation that those who in this time come to a clear knowledge of the truth and give evidence of sincerity of faith in the precious blood and the depth of their consecration to the Lord's service, and who are granted a clear insight into the divine plan, should be considered as having this proof that they have been accepted with the Lord as prospective heirs with Christ Jesus, even though they consecrated since 1881. If their consecration was made long ago, before the call ceased, we may understand that after so long a time they are coming into the proper attitude of consecration, and that, therefore, the knowledge of present truth has been granted to them as a blessing and as an evidence of their fellowship of spirit with the Lord. If they were not amongst the consecrated in 1881, or before, the inference would be that they had now been accepted to association in the called class by being given the place of some one previously called, but who had proved himself lacking in zealneither cold nor hotand therefore spewed outto have his portion properly in the time of trouble coming, and there to learn valuable lessons under disciplines and chastisements which he should have learned from the Word of God, and to come up through a time of great tribulation to a place in the "Great Company," whereas he should have come willingly and joyfully through tribulation to a place with Christ in the throne.
"Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness [justification] and sanctification and deliverance." 1 Cor. 1:30
Wisdom is here given the first, and in that sense the most important, place amongst the steps of salvation. The Wise [F97] Man's testimony agrees with this, saying, "Wisdom is the principal thing...with all thy getting get understanding." However well disposed we may be, however weak or strong, wisdom is the prime essential to our taking the proper course. And this is generally acknowledged amongst men. All of any intelligence are seeking for further knowledge and wisdom; even those who take the most foolish courses, as a rule take them in following paths which do not appear to them at the time to be unwise ones. It was thus with mother Eve: she longed for knowledge, wisdom; and the very fact that the forbidden tree seemed to be a gateway to wisdom constituted her temptation to disobedience to her Creator. How necessary then is a wise counselor to guide us in wisdom's ways of pleasantness, and through her paths of peace.
And if mother Eve, even in her perfection, needed a wise guide, much more do we, her fallen, imperfect children, need such a guide. Our Heavenly Father in calling us to membership in the New Creation foresaw all our needs: that our own wisdom would not be sufficient for us, and that the wisdom of the Adversary and his deluded followers would be exercised to our injuryto make light appear darkness and darkness appear light; hence the provision of our text that Christ should be our wisdom. Before ever we come to God, before ever we receive the merit of the atonement or through it reach the relationship of sons, we need help, guidance, wisdom, the opening of the eyes of our understanding that we may discern the supply which God has provided in his Son.
In order to have a hearing ear for the wisdom that cometh from above, an earnest condition of heart is necessary. We must possess a measure of humility, else we will think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and will fail to discern our own weaknesses, blemishes, unworthiness, from the divine standpoint. We need also to have a certain amount of honesty or candorto be willing to admit, to acknowledge, the defects seen by the humble mind. Looking from this standpoint, those who long for [F98] righteousness and harmony with God are pointed by the Lord's providences to Jesus as the Savior. However imperfectly at first any may understand the philosophy of the atonement accomplished for us, they must at least grasp the fact that they "were by nature children of wrath even as others"sinners; that Christ's sacrifice was a righteous one and that God provided and accepted it on our behalf; that through his stripes we may be healed, through his obedience we may be accepted of the Father, our sins being reckoned as laid upon him and borne by him, and his righteousness and merit reckoned as applicable to us for a robe of righteousness. We must see thisChrist must thus be made unto us wisdombefore we can act upon the knowledge, and by hearty acceptance of his merit be justified before the Father and accepted and sanctified, and, by and by, delivered and glorified. But Christ does not cease to be our wisdom when the next step is taken, and he becomes our justification. No: we still need him, as our Wisdom, our wise Counselor. Under his guidance we need to see the wisdom of making a full consecration and the wisdom of following up that consecration in a life of sanctification, to the doing of the Father's will. In every step that we take wisdom is the principal thing; and all through the life of consecration, or sanctification, at every step of the journey to the Heavenly City, we need the wisdom which cometh from above, which the Apostle describes"first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." (Jas. 3:17) Earthly wisdom operates along the lines of selfishness, self-will, self-esteem, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency; and, as the Apostle points out, these things lead to bitter envying and strife, because this wisdom, instead of being from above, is "earthly, sensual, devilish." The heavenly wisdom, on the contrary, is in harmony with the divine character of love, which "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, behaveth not itself unseemly, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth."
There is order in the operation of this wisdom, too; for [F99] while it takes hold upon all the conditions mentioned by the Apostle James above, there is a difference in the rank it assigns to each. While the spirit of wisdom from above is peaceabledesires peace, and seeks to promote itnevertheless it does not put peace first, but purity"first pure, then peaceable." It is earthly wisdom which suggests "peace at any price," and commands the conscience to be still that selfish peace may be promoted. The wisdom that is pure is simple, is guileless, honorable, open: it loves the light; it is not of darkness, of sin, nor favorable to anything that needs to be hidden: it recognizes the hidden works as usually works of darkness, the secret things as usually evil things. It is peaceable so far as would be consistent with honesty and purity; it desires peace, harmony, unity. But since peace is not first, therefore it can only be morally at peace, and fully in harmony with those things which are honest, pure and good.
This heavenly wisdom is gentlenot coarse, rough, either in its plans or methods. Its gentleness, nevertheless, follows its purity and peaceableness. Those who possess it are not primarily gentle and then pure and peaceable, but first, or primarily pure, sanctified with the truth. They are desirous of peace and disposed to promote it; therefore they are gentle and easy to be entreated. But they can only be easily entreated in harmony with purity, peace and gentleness: they can not be easily entreated to assist in any evil work, for the spirit of heavenly wisdom forbids such a course.
Heavenly wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits: it rejoices in mercy, which it sees to be an essential element of the divine character it essays to copy. Mercy and all good fruits of the holy Spirit of the Lord are sure to proceed from, and be thoroughly ripened and developed in, the heart which is illuminated with the wisdom from above; but this mercy, while taking hold of the ignorant and unintentional evildoers with sympathy and help, cannot have sympathy or affiliation with wilful wrongdoers, because the spirit of wisdom is not first mercy, but first purity. Hence the mercy of this wisdom can only exercise itself fully toward unintentional or ignorant wrongdoers.
This heavenly wisdom is declared to be "without partiality." Partiality would imply injustice; and the purity and peace and gentleness and mercy and the good fruits of the Spirit of wisdom from above lead us to be no longer respecters of persons, except as character demonstrates their real value. The outward features of the natural man, the color of the skin, etc., are ignored by the Spirit of the Lordthe Spirit of wisdom which cometh from above: it is impartial and desires that which is pure, peaceable, gentle, true, wherever found and under whatever circumstances exhibited.
This wisdom from above is furthermore "without hypocrisy"it is so pure, so peaceable, so gentle, so merciful toward all that there is no necessity for hypocrisy where it is in control. But it is bound to be out of harmony, out of sympathy, out of fellowship with all that is sinful, because it is in fellowship, in sympathy with all that is pure or that is making for purity, peace and gentleness; and under such conditions there is no room for hypocrisy.
Heavenly wisdom in respect to all these matters God has given us through his Sonnot only in the message of his redemptive work, but also in his exhibition of the graces of the Spirit and of obedience to the Father, thus instructing us both by word and example. Moreover, this wisdom from above comes to us through the apostles, as Christ's representatives, through their teachingsas well as through all those who have received this Spirit of wisdom from above, and who daily seek to let their light so shine as to glorify their Father in Heaven.
We have already, to some extent, discussed the atonement between God and man, in which our Lord Jesus was made unto all those who accept him Justification.* But here we want to examine more particularly the meaning of this common word, Justification, which seems to be but imperfectly [F101] understood by the majority of the Lord's people. The primary thought in the word Justification is (1) justice, or a standard of right; (2) that something is out of accord with that standardnot up to its requirements; (3) the bringing of the person or thing that is deficient up to the proper or just standard. An illustration of this would be a pair of balances or scales: on the one side a weight would represent Justice; on the other side something representing human obedience should be found of equal weight, to balance Justice. This is more or less deficient in all, and the deficiency requires to be compensated for by having something added to it, in order to its justification or balancing. Applying this illustration more particularly, we see Adam as originally created, perfect; in harmony with God and obedient to him. This was his right, proper, just condition, in which he should have continued. But through sin he came under divine sentence and was straightway rejected, as being no longer up to the divine standard. Since then his posterity, "born in sin and shapen in iniquity," have come forth to life on a still lower plane than their father, Adamstill further from the standard required by divine Justice. This being conceded, it is useless for any of Adam's posterity to ask the Creator for a fresh balancing, or trial, to see whether or not he could come up to the standard of infinite Justice. We concede that such a trial would be absolutely useless; that if the perfect man by disobedience forfeited his standing, we who are imperfect, fallen, depraved, could have no hope of meeting the requirements of Justice, or of balancing ourselves, justifying ourselves, before God"We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God" wherein our race was originally created, representatively, in father Adam.
If, then, we see that as a race, we are all unjust, all unrighteous, all imperfect, and if we see, too, that none can by any works meet the requirements of Justice, we see assuredly that "none could give to God a ransom for his brother." (Psa. 49:7) None could make up the deficiency for another, because not only has he no surplus of merit or [F102] weight or virtue to apply to another, but he has not even enough for himself, "for all have sinned and come short." We ask, therefore, Can God accept and deal with the unjust, the fallen oneshe who already has condemned them and declared them unworthy of his favor, and that they shall die as unworthy of life? He shows us that he has a way of doing thisa way by which he may still be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. He shows that he has appointed Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant, and that Christ has bought the world with his own precious bloodsacrificeand that in due time, during the Millennial age, Christ will take to himself his great power, and reign as the King of earth, and bless all the families of the earth with a knowledge of the truth and with an opportunity for restitution to the image of God as represented in father Adamand fortified by the experiences of the fall and of the recovery. This work of bringing back mankind to perfection will be the work of Justificationactually making perfect, as distinguished from our justification, a "justification by faith" imputed to the Church during the Gospel age. Actual justification will start with the beginning of our Lord's Millennial reign, and will progress step by step until "every man" shall have had the fullest opportunity for return to all that was lost through father Adamwith added experiences that will be helpful. Thank God for that period of actual justificationactual making rightactual bringing of the willing and obedient of the race from imperfection to perfectionphysically, mentally, morally!
But now we are specially considering the New Creation and what steps God has taken for the justification of this little class of humanity whom he has called to the divine nature and glory and immortality. These, as well as the world, need justification, because by nature "children of wrath even as others"; because as God could not deal with the world while under sentence of death as sinners, neither could he deal on that basis with those whom he calls to be of the New Creation. If the world must be justifiedbrought to perfectionbefore God can again be in harmony with [F103] them, how could he fellowship the Church, accept her to joint-heirship with his Son, unless first justified? It must be conceded that justification is a necessary prerequisite to our becoming New Creatures, but how can justification be effected for us? Must we be restored to absolute, actual perfectionphysically, mentally, morally? We answer, No; God has not provided for us such an actual justification, but he has provided a justification of another kind, which in the Scriptures is designated, "justification by faith "not an actual justification, but nevertheless vital. God agrees that all those who during this period of the continuance of the reign of sin and death shall hear the message of his grace and mercy through Christ, and shall come so into accord with the wisdom from above that they will confess their wrong condition and, believing the Lord's message will surrender themselves to him, repenting of sin and so far as possible make restitution for their wrongthese, instead of returning to actual human perfection, he will reckon as having their blemishes covered with Christ's merit. In dealing with them he will reckon them just or right, justifying them through faith.
This reckoned justification, or justification by faith, holds good so long as the faith continues and is backed by endeavors to do the Lord's will. (If faith and obedience cease, at once the justification ceases to be imputed.) But faith-justification does not cease as the Sanctification work progresses. It continues with us as New Creatures, not only covering us from the Adamic condemnation, but from all the weaknesses and imperfections of word, thought and deed which are ours through the weaknesses of the flesh, through heredity (not wilful). It continues thus to cover the Lord's people as New Creatures even to the end of their journeythrough all the testings and trials necessary to them as candidates for, and probationary members of, the New Creation. It is in line with this that the Apostle declares, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit"notwithstanding the fact that the treasure of the [F104] new nature is in an earthen vessel and that on this account there are continually unwilling blemishes, the least of which would condemn us as unworthy of the rewards of life everlasting on any plane were they not covered by the merits of our wedding garment, the robe of Christ's righteousness, our imputed justificationjustification by faith. We will need this justification, and it will continue to be our robe so long as we abide in Christ and are still in the flesh; but it will cease completely when our trial ends in our acceptance as overcomers and we are granted a share in the First Resurrection. As the Apostle explainsit is sown in corruption, dishonor and weakness, but it will be raised in incorruption, in power, in glory, in full likeness to our Lord, the Quickening Spirit, who is the express image of the Father's person. When that perfection shall have been attained there will no longer be a necessity for an imputed righteousness, because we will then be actually righteous, actually perfect. It matters not that the perfection of the New Creation will be on a higher plane than that of the world; i.e., so far as the justification is concerned it matters not; those who will receive God's grace in restitution to human nature in perfection will be just or perfect when that work is completed; but perfect or right on a lower than spirit plane. Those now called to the divine nature and justified by faith in advance, so as to permit their call and testing as sons of God, will not be actually justified or perfected until in the First Resurrection they attain that fulness of life and perfection in which there will be nothing of the present imperfection in any particularthe perfection now only reckoned or imputed to them.
Confusion has come to many minds on this subject by reason of neglect to compare the declarations of God's Word. Some, for instance, noting the Apostle's expression that we are "justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1; 3:28; Gal. 3:24), hold that faith is so valuable in God's sight that it covers our imperfections. Others, noting the Apostle's statement [F105] that we are "justified by God's grace" (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7), hold that God justifies or clears whomsoever he wills arbitrarily, irrespective of any quality or merit or faith or works which may be in them. Still others note the Scriptural declaration that we are "justified by his blood" (Rom. 5:9; Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7), and reason from this that the death of Christ effected a justification for all men, irrespective of their faith and obedience. And still others take the Scripture statement that Christ was "raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25), and, on the strength of this, claim that justification comes to us through the resurrection of Christ. Still others, taking the Scripture which says "by works a man is justified" (Jas. 2:24), claim that after all is said and done our works decide the matter of favor or disfavor with God.
The fact of the matter is that these expressions are all true, and represent merely different sides of the one great question, just as a great building may be viewed from front, from rear, from the sides and from various angles. In giving the above expressions, the apostles at different times were treating different phases of the subject. It is for us to put all of these together and see in that combination the whole truth on the subject of justification.
First of all, we are justified by God's grace. There was no obligation upon our Creator to do anything whatever for our recovery from the just penalty which he had placed upon us. It is of his own favor or grace that, foreseeing the fall even before our creation, he had compassion upon us, and in his plan provided for our redemption the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Let us settle this question of our reconciliation to the Fatherthat it is all of his grace by whatever means he was pleased to bring it about.
Secondly, we are justified by the blood of Christby his redemptive work, his death: that is to say, the Creator's grace toward us was manifested in making this provision for usthat "Jesus Christ by the grace of God should taste death for every man," and thus pay the penalty for Adam. And [F106] since the whole world came into condemnation through Adam, the ultimate effect will be the cancellation of the sin of the whole world. Let us make sure of this point also, as of the first one, that God's grace operates only through this one channel, so that "he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life," but continues under the sentence of death. 1 John 5:12
Thirdly, that Christ Jesus was raised from death for our justification is equally true; for it was a part of the divine plan, not only that Messiah should be the redeemer of the people, but that he should be the blesser or restorer of all desiring to return to harmony with the Father. While, therefore, Jesus' death was of primary importance as the basis of our reconciliation, he could never have been the channel for our blessing and restitution had he remained in death. Hence the Father, who provided for his death as our redemptive price, provided also for his resurrection from the dead, that in due time he might be the agent for man's justificationfor humanity's return to a right or just condition, in harmony with God.
Fourthly, we (the Church) are justified by faith in the sense that the Lord's provision is not for an actual justification or restitution of any during this age, but for merely a reckoned, or faith restitution; and this, of course, can apply only to those who will exercise the faith. Neither our faith nor our unbelief can have anything whatever to do with the divine arrangements which God purposed in himself and has been carrying forward and will accomplish in due time; but our participation in these favors proffered us in advance of the world does depend upon our faith. During the Millennial age the lengths and breadths of the divine plan of salvation will be manifested to allthe Kingdom of God will be established in the world, and he who redeemed mankind, and who has been empowered to bless all with a knowledge of the truth, will actually justify, or restore to perfection, as many as desire and will accept the divine favor on the divine terms.
True, faith may even then be said to be essential to restitution [F107] progress toward actual justification, for "without faith it is impossible to please God," and because the restitution blessings and rewards will be bestowed along lines that will demand faith; but the faith that will then be required for progress in restitution will differ very much from the faith now required of those "called to be saints," "joint-heirs with Jesus," "New Creatures." When the Kingdom of God shall be in control and Satan bound and the knowledge of the Lord caused to fill the earth, these fulfilments of divine promises will be recognized by all, and thus sight or knowledge will grasp actually much that is now recognizable only by the eye of faith. But faith will be needed, nevertheless, that they may go on unto perfection; and thus the actual justification obtainable by the close of the Millennium will be attained only by those who will persistently exercise faith and works. Although of that time it is written, "The dead shall be judged out of the books according to their WORKS," as in contradistinction to the present judgment of the Church "according to your FAITH," yet their works will not be without faith, even as our faith must not be without works to the extent of our ability.
The Apostle's declaration that God will justify the heathen through faith (Gal. 3:8), is shown by the context to signify that the reconciliation by restitution will not come as a result of the Law Covenant, but by grace under the terms of the New Covenant, which must be believed in, accepted and complied with by all who would benefit by it. A difference between present and future justification, is that the consecrated of the present time are, upon the exercise of proper faith, granted instantly fellowship with the Father, through reckoned justification, by faith; whereas the exercise of obedient faith under the more favorable conditions of the next age will not bring reckoned justification at all, and will effect actual justification and fellowship with God only at the close of the Millennium. The world in the interim will be in the hands of the great Mediator, whose work it will be to represent to them the divine will and to deal with them, correcting and restoring such as obey, until he shall [F108] have actually justified themat which time he will present them faultless before the Father, when about to deliver up his Kingdom to God, even the Father. 1 Cor. 15:24
Now the Lord is seeking for a special class to constitute his New Creation, and none have been called to that heavenly calling except such as have been brought to a knowledge of God's grace in Christ, and been able to accept that divine arrangement by faithto so fully trust in the grand outcome of God's plan that their faith therein will influence and shape the course of their lives in the present time, and cause them to esteem the life to come as of such paramount value that, in comparison, the present life and its interests would appear to be but as loss and dross. Exercising faith in this dark time, when the prevalence of evil seems to impugn the wisdom, love and power of the Creator, the Church are reckoned of God as though they had lived during the Millennial age and experienced its restitution to human perfection; and this reckoned standing is granted to the intent that they may present in sacrifice that human perfection to which, under divine arrangements, they would by and by attainthat they might thus present their bodies (reckonedly perfect) and all their restitution privileges, earthly hopes and aims and interests, a living sacrificeexchanging these for the heavenly hopes and promises of the divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ, to which are attached, as proofs of our sincerity, conditions of suffering and loss as respects earthly interests and honors of man.
Fifthly, this class, now justified by its faith, must not expect to deny its faith by wilfully contrary works. It must know that while God is graciously dealing with them from the standpoint of faith, not imputing their transgressions unto them, but counting them all met by their Redeemer at Calvarynot imputing their trespasses unto them, but dealing with them according to their spirit or will or intention, and not according to the flesh or actual performancesnevertheless, he will expect that the flesh will be brought into subjection to the new mind so far as possible, "so far as lieth in us," and that it will cooperate in all good [F109] works to the extent of its opportunity and possibilities. In this sense and in this degree our works have to do with our justificationas corroborative testimony, proving the sincerity of our devotion. Nevertheless, our judgment by the Lord is not according to works but according to faith: if judged according to our works we would all be found to "come short of the glory of God"; but if judged according to our hearts, our intentions, the New Creatures can be approved by the divine standard under the terms of the Grace Covenant, by which the merit of Christ's sacrifice covers their unintentional blemishes. And surely none could object to the Lord's expecting us to bring forth such fruits of righteousness as may be possible for us under present imperfect conditions. More than this he does not ask, and less than this we should not expect him to accept and reward.
As an illustration of this general operation of justification by grace, by the blood and through our faith, and the relationship of works to the same, consider the electric car service. The one central powerhouse will to some extent illustrate the source of our justificationthe grace of God. The wire which carries the current will imperfectly represent our Lord Jesus, the Father's Agent in our justification; the cars will represent believers and the trolleys represent the faith which must be exercised and which must press against the wire. (1) Everything is dependent upon the electric current. (2) Next in importance is the wire which carries that current to us. (3) Without the arm of faith to touch and press upon the Lord Jesus, the channel of our justification, we would receive no blessing. (4) The blessing received by us from contact with the Lord Jesus would correspond to the lighting of the car with the electric current, indicating that the power is there and can be used; but (5) the motorman and his lever represent the human will, while (6) the motor itself represents our activities or energies under the power which comes to us through faith. All of these powers in combination are necessary to our progressthat we may make the circuit and ultimately arrive at the car barns [F110] which, in this illustration, would correspond to our place as the New Creation in our Father's house of many mansions, or conditions for the many sons of many natures.
Looking back, we can see from the apostolic record that in the remote past, before the precious blood had been given for our justification, there were ancient worthiesEnoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and various other holy prophets who were justified by faith. Since they could not have had faith in the precious blood, what faith was it in them that justified them? We answer as it is written: "They believed God and it was counted unto them for righteousness [justification]." True, God did not reveal to them, as he has revealed to us, the philosophy of his plan, that we may see how he could be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; and, hence, they were not responsible for not believing what had not been revealed. But they did believe what God had revealed, and that revelation contained all that we now have, only in a very condensed form, as an acorn contains an oak. Enoch prophesied of the coming of Messiah and the blessings to result; Abraham believed God that his seed should be so greatly favored of God that through it all nations should be blessed. This implied a resurrection of the dead, because many of the nations of the earth had already gone down into death. Abraham believed that God was able to raise the deadso much so that when he was tested he was willing even to part with Isaac, through whom the promise was to be fulfilled, accounting that God was able to raise him from death. How distinctly he and others discerned the exact methods by which God would establish his Kingdom in the world and bring in everlasting righteousness by justifying as many as would obey the Messiah, we cannot definitely know; but we have our Lord's own words for it, that Abraham, at least, with considerable distinctness, grasped the thought of the coming Millennial day, and, possibly, [F111] also to some extent grasped the thought of the sacrifice for sins which our Lord was accomplishing when he said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." John 8:56
All do not see distinctly the difference there was between the justification of Abraham and others of the past to fellowship with God before God had completed the ground of that fellowship in the sacrifice of Christ and the justification to life during this Gospel age. There is quite a difference, however, between these blessings, though faith is necessary to both. All were under sentence of death justly, and, hence, none could be counted free from that sentence, "justified to life" (Rom. 5:18), until after the great sacrifice for sins had been made by our Redeemer; as the Apostle declares, that sacrifice was necessary first in order "that God might be just" in the matter. (Rom. 3:26) But Justice, foreseeing the execution of the redemptive plan, could make no objection to its announcement in advance merely, as an evidence of divine favor, to those possessing the requisite faithjustifying such to this degree and evidence of fellowship with God.
The Apostle refers to "justification to life" (Rom. 5:18) as being the divine arrangement through Christ, which will be opened eventually to all men; and it is this justification to life that those who are called to the New Creation are reckoned to attain now, in advance of the world, by the exercise of faiththey realize a justification not only to terms of fellowship with God as his friends, and not aliens, strangers, foreigners, enemies, but additionally, it is possible for them by the same faith to grasp the restitution rights to life secured for them by the Redeemer's sacrifice, and then to sacrifice those earth-life rights as joint-sacrificers and under-priests in association with the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
While the ancient worthies could come into harmony with God through faith in the operation of a plan not fully revealed to them and not even begun, it would appear that [F112] it would be impossible for divine justice to go further than this with any until the atonement for sin had been actually effected by the sacrifice of Christ. This is in full accord with the Apostle's declaration that "God...provided some better things for us [the Gospel Church, the New Creation], that they [the humble and faithful ancient worthies] without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:40) It is in harmony also with our Lord's declaration respecting John the Baptist that, although there had not arisen a greater prophet than he, yet, dying before the sacrifice of atonement had been actually completed, the least one in the Kingdom of heaven class, the New Creation, justified to life (after the sacrifice for sin had actually been made) and called to suffer and to reign with Christ, would be greater than he. Matt. 11:11
We have already noted the fact that Christ and the Church in glory will perform a justifying (restoring) work upon the world during the Millennial age, and that it will not be justification by faith (or reckonedly), as ours now is, but an actual justificationjustification by works in the sense that although mixed with faith the final testing will be "according to their works." (Rev. 20:12) Now the New Creation must walk by faith and not by sight; and their faith is tested and required to "endure as seeing him who is invisible," as believing things that, so far as outward evidences go, are improbable to the natural mind, unreasonable. And this faith, backed by our imperfect works, has the backing also of the Lord's perfect works on our behalf, and is acceptable to God, on the principle that if under such imperfect conditions we strive, to the extent of our ability, to please the Lord, and so partake of the Spirit of Christ that we rejoice to suffer for righteousness' sake, it is proof that under favorable conditions we would be surely no less loyal to principle. When the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and the darkness and mists which now surround the Lord's faithful shall have disappeared, and the great Sun of Righteousness be flooding the world with truth, with absolute knowledge of God, of his character, of [F113] his planwhen men see the evidences of God's favor and love and reconciliation through Christ in the gradual uplift which will come to all those who then seek harmony with himwhen mental, physical and moral restitution will be manifestthen faith will be to a considerable extent different from the blind faith necessary now. They will not then "see through a glass darkly [dimly]"; the eye of faith will not be strained to see evidences of the glorious things now in reservation for them that love God, for those glorious things will be more or less distinctly manifested to men. While men will then believe God and have faith in him, there will be wide difference between thus believing the evidences of their senses and the faith which the New Creation must exercise now in respect to things which we see not. The faith which God now seeks in his people is precious in his sight, and marks a small, peculiar class; therefore, he has placed such a premium, or reward, upon it. When the Millennial age shall have been fully ushered in it will be impossible to doubt the general facts, and hence it would be out of order to continue to offer a special reward to those who will not doubt.
But although the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and there shall be no need to say to one's neighbor, Know thou the Lord! nevertheless, there will be upon man a different testnot of faith but of worksof obedience; for "it shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear [obey] that prophet, shall be cut off from amongst the people." (Acts 3:23) It is during the present time of darkness as respects the fulfilment of the divine plan, when sin abounds and Satan is the prince of this world, that our Lord puts the premium upon faith; saying, "According to thy faith be it unto thee" (Matt. 9:29); and again, "This is the victory which overcometh the world, even your faith." (1 John 5:4) But respecting the world's trial, or judgment in the Millennial age, or Day of Judgment, we read that all will be judged according to their worksbacked by faith; according to their works it will be unto them, and they shall stand approved or disapproved at the close of the Millennial age. Rev. 20:12
Justification, as we have already seen, signifies the bringing of the sinner into full accord with his Creator. We nowhere read of the necessity for the sinner to be justified before Christ, but that through the merit of Christ he is to be justified before the Father, and it may help us to understand this entire subject to examine why this is so. It is because the Creator stands as the representative of his own law, and because he placed father Adam and his race under that law in the beginning, declaring that their enjoyment of his favor and blessing and life everlasting was dependent upon obedience, and that disobedience would forfeit all these favors. That position cannot be set aside. Therefore, before mankind can have fellowship with God, and his blessing of life everlasting, they must in some manner get back into full accord with their Creator, and, hence, back to that perfection which will stand the full light of divine inspection and full test of obedience. Thus the world, so to speak, lay beyond the reach of the Almightywho purposely arranged his laws so they would be beyond the reach of Justice and make necessary his present plan of redemption and a restitution, or justification, or bringing back to perfection of the willing and obedient, through the Redeemer, who, meantime, would stand as their Mediator or go-between.
The Mediator, although perfect, had no law to maintainhad pronounced no sentence against Adam and his race which would hinder him from recognizing them and being merciful to their imperfections. On the contrary, he bought the world in sin and imperfection, fully realizing its undone condition. He takes mankind as he finds them, and during the Millennial age will deal with each individual of the world according to his own particular condition, having mercy upon the weak and requiring more of the stronger, thus adapting himself and the laws of his Kingdom to all the various peculiarities, blemishes, weaknesses, etc., as he finds them, for the "Father...hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22) The Son will illustrate to mankind the perfect standard of the divine law to which they must eventually attain before they can be just [F115] and acceptable in the sight of Godat the close of the Millennial age; but he will not insist upon that standard and hold that any who do not come up to it are violators of it, needing an appropriation of grace to cover every transgression, however unwilful and unintentional. On the contrary, all this atonement for violations of God's perfect and immutable law will be finished before he takes the reigns of government at all.
Christ has already given the price in his own sacrifice. He already has graciously imputed that merit to the household of faith, and by the close of this Gospel age he will make definite application of the entire sin-offering on behalf of "all the people"the whole world of mankind. God has shown through the Day of Atonement type that it will be accepted, and that it will be as the result of that acceptance that Christ and his Church will then take over the government of the world under what might be termed martial law, or a despotic rule, which sets aside the ordinary laws and standards because of the exigencies of the case, and ministers law in a manner suited, not to those who are in a perfect, or right condition (as are the laws of Jehovah's empire), but suited to the condition of rebellion and anarchy which has been produced in the world as a result of sin. This emergency dominionin which the King will rule not only as king but also as judge and priest supremeis designed, as we have just seen, to justify the world actually, not reckonedly, by works as the standard or final testbacked by faith. This actual justification will be effected, not at the beginning of the Millennial reign, but as a result of the reignat its close.
The justification by faith of the present time is with a view to permitting a few, whom God designed to call to his special service, to participate in the Abrahamic Covenant as the Seed of promise, as joint-sacrificers, and, hence, joint-heirs with Jesus. Even with these God can make no direct contract, but, so to speak, even after they are justified through faith and by the merit of their Redeemer they are treated as incompetents and are informed that they are accepted only in the Belovedin Christand all of their covenant [F116] contracts to sacrifice, unless indorsed by him, would be of no validity.
How evident it is that the sole object of this Gospel age is to call out a little flock from mankind to constitute members of the New Creation, and that the arrangement to justify believers unto life, by faith, is with a view to giving them standing with God whereby they may enter into the covenant obligations required of candidates for the New Creation. As already noted, the condition upon which they will be accepted to the New Creation is that of self-sacrifice; and since God is unwilling to receive as a sacrifice anything that is blemished, we, as members of the blemished and condemned race, could not be acceptable until first we were actually justified from all sin; that thus, as the Apostle expresses it, we might "present our bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service." Rom. 12:1
In view of this, what shall we say of those who come to the standpoint of faith in God and a measure of justification, and who, seeing that further progress in the Lord's way means self-sacrifice, self-denial, etc., nevertheless hold back, declining to enter the strait gate and narrow way of so full a consecrationeven unto death? Shall we say that God is angry with them? No: we must suppose that up to a certain point, progressing in the ways of righteousness, they were pleasing to God. And that they receive a blessing, the Apostle seems to declare, saying:* "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." This peace implies some discernment of the divine plan in respect to the future blotting out of the sins of the believer (Acts 3:19); it implies also, a good degree of harmony with the principles of righteousness, for faith in Christ is always reformatory. We rejoice with all who come thus far; we are glad that they have this advantage over the masses of mankind whom the god of this world hath thoroughly blinded, [F117] and who, therefore, can not at the present time see and appreciate the grace of God in Christ. We urge such to abide in God's favor by going on to full obedience.
But however much we may rejoice with such, and however much peace and joy may come to such believers, seeking to walk in the way of righteousness but avoiding the narrow way of sacrifice, we must in candor point out that such "receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6:1)because the grace of God in the justification which they have received, was intended to be the stepping-stone to the still greater privileges and blessings of the high calling of the New Creation. God's grace is received in vain by such, because they do not use this grand opportunity, the like of which was never before offered to any, and, so far as the Scriptures indicate, will never again be offered. They receive the grace of God in vain, because the opportunities of restitution which will be accorded to them in the coming age will be accorded to all of the redeemed race. God's grace in this age consists merely in the fact that they were made aware of his goodness in advance of the world, to the intent that through justification they might go on to the attainment of the call and to the sharing of the glorious prize to be given to the elect body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood.
Looking out over the nominal "Christian world," it seems evident that the great mass even of the sincere believers have never gone beyond this preliminary step of justification: they have "tasted that the Lord is gracious," and that has sufficed them. They should, instead, by this taste have been fully awakened to a greater hungering and thirsting after righteousness, after truth, after further knowledge of the divine character and plan, after further growth in grace and knowledge and love, and the attainment of a further comprehension of the divine will concerning them, which we will consider next, under the head of Sanctification.
So far as we can discern, the advantage of the tentatively [F118] justified refers merely to this present life, and the relief which they now feel in respect to God's gracious character and his future dealings with them. And yet their knowledge along these lines is so meager that they sometimes sing,
The fact is, that although Christ has been their wisdom up to the point of showing them their need of a Savior, and, further, of showing them something of the salvation provided in himself, yet it is not the divine plan that he should continue to be their wisdom and to guide them into "the deep things of God" except as they shall by consecration and devotion become followers in his footsteps. The unconsecrated believer is in no sense whatever a New Creature, even though, seeing something of the ways of God and his requirements, he be seeking to live a moral, reasonable, honest life in the world. He is still of the earth, earthy; he has never gone forward to exchange his human, earthly rights (secured through Jesus) for the heavenly things to which the Lord through his Sacrifice opened the door. As in the type the Levites were not permitted to go into the Holy places of the Tabernacle or even to see the things therein, so in the antitype, unconsecrated believers are not allowed to enter the deep things of God or to see and appreciate their grandeurs, unless first they become members of the Royal Priesthood by a full consecration of themselves.
To expect special preference and favor at the Lord's hand during the Millennial age because of having received his favor in the present life in vain would seem a good deal like expecting a special blessing because a previous blessing had been misused or little valued. Would it not be in general keeping with the divine dealings in the past if we should find that some who have not been favored during this Gospel age would be granted the chief favors during the coming age? Would not this be considerably in line with our Lord's words, "There are last which shall be first and first which shall be last"? Indeed, the Apostle distinctly points out that when the New Creation shall have been [F119] completed and the Millennial age ushered in, God's special favor will pass again to natural Israel, from whom it was taken at the beginning of this Gospel age. Rom. 11:25-32
Those justified to fellowship with God previous to this age, who maintained their justification, and who, as a reward, will be made "princes in all the earth" under the heavenly Kingdom, maintained it at the cost of earthly self-denials. (Heb. 11:35) Those of the present age, who will rightly use and maintain their justification, must do so at the cost of the flesh. The little flock, faithful to an exceptional degree, will lay down their lives in the service of the truth and of the brethren, and thus be copies of the Captain of our Salvation. The second class, considered elsewhere as the "Great Company," must attain to their reward at the cost of the flesh also, though because of less zeal in sacrificing, they lose the great reward of the New Creation and its Kingdom privileges. These three classes seem to be the only ones profited beyond the present life by the special opportunities of this age of justification by faith.
The operations of the Kingdom, under the light of full knowledge and along the line of works, will, for various reasons, evidently appeal most strongly at first to Israel after the flesh, who, when their blindness shall be turned away, will become exceedingly zealous for the Lord's Anointed, saying, as represented in the prophecy, "This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us." (Isa. 25:9) But while Israel will naturally be the first to fall in line under the new order of things, the blessings and opportunities of the Kingdom shall, thank God! be rapidly extended throughout the worldto the intent that all nations may become children of Abraham in the sense that they will participate in the blessings promised to himas it is written, "I have made thee a father of many nations; in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
As the wisdom or knowledge of God came to us as a result of our Lord Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, and as justification [F120] then came through his merit, when we accepted his atonement and fully consecrated our all to God, so also is our sanctification through him. No man can sanctify himself in the sense of causing himself to be accepted and adopted into God's family of the New Creation, begotten by his Spirit. (John 1:13; Heb. 5:4) As the merit of Christ was necessary to our justification, so his acceptance of us as members of his body, the under-royal priesthood, and his continued aid, are indispensable to the making of our calling and our election sure. The Apostle condemns some for "not holding the Head" (Col. 2:19), and we perceive that such a recognition of Christ Jesus, as not only the Redeemer from sin but as the Head, representative, guide, instructor, and preserver of the body (the Church) is essential to each member of it. Our Lord points out this necessity of our continuance under his care, saying repeatedly, "Abide in me; ...as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4) "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7) The Apostle points out this same necessity for abiding in Christ; saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31) He proceeds to point out his meaning by quoting from the prophecy: "For our God is a consuming fire." God's love no less than his justice burns against all sin, and "all unrighteousness is sin"; "he can not look upon [or recognize] sin"; hence, he has provided, not for the preservation of sinners, but for their rescue from sickness and from its penalty of destruction.
This assures us, in harmony with various declarations of Scripture, that the time is coming when sin and sinners, with the concomitants of sin and pain and sorrow and dying, will be done away. Thank God! we can rejoice also in this feature of the divine character, that God is a consuming fire, when we know that he has provided for us a refuge in Christ Jesus for the period of our unwilling imperfections, and that he has provided in him also for our ultimate [F121] deliverance from sin and death and every weakness, into his own perfect likeness; for the New Creation, the perfection of the divine nature and its fulness; for the "Great Company" the perfection on a plane somewhat corresponding to that of angels; to be the ministers, companions of the glorified Church"the virgins, her companions, which follow her." (Psa. 45:14) The ancient worthies, next, will be perfected in the human nature, images of God in the flesh and glorified representatives of the heavenly Kingdom, and channels of divine blessing to all the families of the earth. Ultimately, when the trials and opportunities and testings of the Millennial age shall have brought all the willing and obedient to perfection, and have demonstrated their loyalty to God, these also shall have attained to the human perfection, the image of God in the flesh; and amongst all these God's will shall then be so perfectly understood and obeyedand that heartilythat he will no longer be to them as a consuming fire, because all their dross shall have been purged away under the discipline of the great Mediator, to whose charge all were committed by the Father's love and wisdom. Christ shall then "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied" with the results.
Sanctification signifies setting apart to holy service. Sinners are not called to sanctification, but to repentance; and repentant sinners are not enjoined to consecration, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unto justification. Sanctification is only urged upon the justified classupon believers in God's promises centered in Christ and assured by his ransom-sacrifice. This does not mean that sanctification or holiness is not the proper thing for all mankind: it simply means that God foresaw that so long as a man occupied the position of an unrepentant sinner, it would be useless to invite him to set himself apart to a life of holiness; he must first realize his sinfulness and become penitent. It does not mean that the penitent one should not become sanctified, set apart to holiness of life, but it does mean that a sanctification which left out justification would be utterly futile. [F122] In God's order, we must learn first of divine goodness in the provision made for our sins, and we must accept his arrangement as a free gift through Christ, before we would be in a proper attitude to consecrate, or to sanctify ourselves to his service. Besides, the object of all this arrangement of the Gospel agethe call to repentance, the declaration of the good tidings unto justification and the invitation to all believers to sanctify or consecrate themselves to God, are all elements or parts of the one great plan which God is now working outis the development of the New Creation. God has predetermined that all who will be of the New Creation must be sacrificersof the "Royal Priesthood"; and they each must have something to offer to God, even as our High Priest who "offered up himself to God." (Heb. 7:27; 9:14) The under-priesthood must all offer up themselves to God, also; as the Apostle exhorts: "I beseech you, brethren [brethren, because justified and thus brought into fellowship with God], by the mercies of God [the forgiveness of sins already experienced], that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, and your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1) Now, then, notice that since our bodies are not actually "holy," they must be made so reckonedly before they could be "acceptable unto God," could be counted "holy"; that is to say, we must be justified by faith in Christ before we would have anything holy and acceptable to lay upon God's altar; and it must be laid upon God's altar, sacrificed, and accepted of him at the hand of our great High Priest, before we can be counted as of his "Royal Priesthood."
Sanctification will be the requirement of the great King during the Millennial age. The whole world will be called upon to sanctify, to set themselves apart from uncleanness, from sin of every sort, and to render obedience to the divine will, as represented in the Kingdom and its princes. Some, then, may conform to a sanctification or holiness of outward life without being sanctified in heart: such may make progress mentally and morally and physicallyup to the full limit of restitutionto full perfection, and so doing they [F123] will, meantime, enjoy the blessings and rewards of that glorious period, up to its very close; but unless their sanctification shall by that time extend to the very thoughts and intents of their hearts they will not be fit for the everlasting conditions beyond the Millennial age, into which nothing shall enter that is not in absolute conformity to the divine will in thought, word and deed.
But while thus tracing sanctification as a general principle and its operations in the future upon the world, let us not lose sight of the fact that the Scriptures were written specially "for our admonition"for the admonition of the New Creation. When the world's time shall have come for its instruction along the lines of sanctification, it will have the Great Teacher: the Sun of Righteousness will then be flooding all the earth with the knowledge of God. There will no longer be a Babel of confusing theories and doctrines; for the Lord has promised respecting that day, saying, "I will turn unto the people a pure language [message], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:9) The Apostle is addressing the New Creation only, when he declares that Christ "of God is made unto us wisdom, justification, sanctification and deliverance." Let us, therefore, give the more earnest heed unto these things written for our instruction and evidently necessary to us if we would make our calling and election sure to participation in the New Creation.
As the Lord said to the typical Israelites, "Sanctify yourselves" and "I will sanctify you" (Lev. 20:7,8; Ex. 31:13), so also he directs the spiritual Israelite to consecrate himself, to present his body a living sacrifice, to offer up himself to God in and through the merit of Christ's atonement; and only those who do this during the "acceptable time" the Lord accepts and sets apart as holy, writing their names in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 3:5), and apportions to them the crowns of glory, honor and immortality which shall be theirs if they prove faithful to all of their engagements, which, we are assured, is only a "reasonable service." Rev. 3:11
As the consecration of the Levites in the type was a measurable consecration to follow righteousness, but not a consecration to sacrifice, so this next step of sanctification which belongs to those who accept God's call to the Royal Priesthood was symbolized in the type by the consecration of Aaron and his sons in the priestly officea consecration to sacrifice. It was symbolized by white linen robes representing righteousness, justification, and by the anointing oil and by the sacrificing, in which all the priests participated. Heb. 8:3
In the Levitical types two consecrations are distinctly shown: (1) the general consecration of all the Levites; (2) a special consecration of the few Levites who were sacrificers or priests. The first represents the general consecration to holy living and obedience to God which all believers make, and which by God's grace, through Christ, accomplishes for them, tentatively, "justification of life" and peace with God. This is what all true believers understand and experience in this age. But, as the Apostle explains, "the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart" (1 Tim. 1:5); that is to say, God foresees that our compliance with our first consecration, our compliance with the terms of our justification during the present age will, in its end, lead us up to the second consecration as priests for sacrifice.
How so? Because holy living and obedience to God includes "love out of a pure heart" for God and for our fellowmen. Love for God means "with all our heart, mind, being and strength"; and such love will not wait for commands but will appeal for service, saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Every faithful "Israelite indeed" at the first advent had this primary consecrationtypified in the Levitesand to such the Lord gave the special Gospel call, to consecrate to death, to sacrifice their earthly interests for the heavenly, to fall in line as footstep followers of Jesus, the Captain of our Salvation, in the narrow way to glory, honor and immortality. Such as obeyed the invitation were accepted as priests, members of the body of the High Priest of our Profession, "sons of God." John 1:12
Throughout the Gospel age the same plan of procedure prevails: (1) the consecration to obedience and righteousnessas antitypical Levites; then a finding that righteousness means supreme love to God and a desire to know and do his will; then, later, a realization that now all creation is so warped and twisted and out of harmony with God that harmony with him means inharmony with all unrighteousness in our own flesh as well as in others; then a looking and crying to the Lord to know why he called us and accepted our consecration and yet seemingly has not made this possible except by self-sacrifice. In answer to this cry the Lord instructs that, "Ye were called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4), and that the calling is to joint-heirship with our Lord in the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom (Luke 12:32; Rom. 2:7), and that the way is narrow and difficult because the successful enduring of these tests is indispensable to those whom he would thus honor. (Matt. 7:14; Rom. 8:17) It was when we heard God's call through the Apostle, "I beseech you, brethren, ...present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God, and your reasonable service," and accepted the same and consecrated ourselves unto death, that we were counted priestsof the "Royal Priesthood," members of the Great High Priest of our profession (or order) Christ JesusNew Creatures.
Such believers as, after coming to a realization that "the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart," refuse to go on to that end, refuse to accept the call to sacrifice, and thus refuse to comply with the object of God in their reckoned justification, come short of the covenant of obedience to righteousness, because of the narrowness of the way, and so refuse the "one hope of our calling." Do not these "receive the grace of God [reckoned justification of life] in vain "? Looking back to the ancient worthies, and noting how it cost them much to obtain "a good report through faith" and to "please God" and thus to maintain their justification to fellowship (Heb. 11:5,32-39), can we expect that the justification to life, granted during this Gospel [F126] age to those who become antitypical Levites, can be maintained by a less degree of loyalty of heart to the Lord and to righteousness? Surely we must conclude that those tentatively justified believers (antitypical Levites) who when they "count the cost" (Luke 14:27,28) of discipleship to which their consecration, already made, leads, and who then decline to exercise faith in the Lord's promised aid, and refuse or neglect to go on to perform their "reasonable service," by making their consecration completeeven unto deathsuch have been favored of the Lord in vain. Surely they cannot be considered as really having justification to life; or even justification to special fellowship with God; thus they drop from the favored position of antitypical Levites and are to be esteemed such no longer.
But amongst those who do appreciate God's favor, and whose hearts do respond loyally to the privileges and "reasonable service" of full consecration, and who undertake the covenant of obedience to God and to righteousness even unto death, are these two classes:
(1) Those antitypical Levites who gladly "lay down their lives" voluntarily, seeking ways and means for serving the Lord, the brethren and the Truth, and counting it a pleasure and an honor thus to sacrifice earthly comforts, conveniences, time, influence, means and all that compose present life. These joyful, willing sacrificers, the antitypical priests who ere long shall be glorified and, with their Lord, constitute the "Royal Priesthood" who, their sacrificings then completed, will be no longer typified by Aaron and his sons performing sacrifices for the people, but by Melchizedeka priest upon his thronedistributing to the world, during the Millennium, the blessings secured by the "better sacrifices" during the antitypical Atonement Daythis Gospel age.
(2) Another class of believers at heart loyally respond and joyfully consecrate their all to the Lord and his "reasonable service," and thus demonstrate their worthiness to be of the antitypical Levites, because they receive not the grace of God in vain. But, alas, although they respond to [F127] the call and thus come into the "one hope of our calling," and into all the privileges of the elect, yet their love and zeal are not such as impel them to perform the sacrificing they covenanted to do. These, because their love and faith are not intense enough, fail to put, or to keep, their sacrifices on the altar; hence, they cannot be counted full "copies" of our great High Priest, who delighted to do the Father's will; they fail to overcome and cannot therefore be reckoned amongst the "overcomers" who shall share with their Lord the heavenly Kingdom as members of the "Royal Priesthood"; they fail to make their calling and election sure by full compliance with their covenant.
But what of these? Have they lost all by reason of running for the prize and yet failing to reach the required test of zeal and love to win it? No, thank God; even if under crucial tests their faith and zeal were not found sufficient to classify them among the priests, nevertheless their sufficiency of faith and zeal to consecrate to death demonstrated their sincerity of heart as Levites. However, it is not enough that they consecrated fully; it must be demonstrated that they at heart love the Lord and would not deny him at any cost, even though not faithful enough to court sacrifice in his service. What is this test which will confirm these as worthy the Levites' portion under the Kingdom? and how will it be applied?
We have already referred to this "great company" of the Lord's truly consecrated people whose picture is outlined in Revelation 7:13-15. "These are they which come out of the great tribulation and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before [and not in] the throne of God, and they serve him day and night [continually] in his temple [the Church]: and he that sitteth in the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them" [shall associate them with himself and his glorified Bride in the spiritual condition and its services]. "Foolish virgins!" They let slip their opportunity for becoming members of the Bride; but they are, nevertheless, virgins, pure in their heart-intentions. They miss the prize, but gain, [F128] later, through severe testings, a share at the nuptial feast with the Bridegroom and Bride as "the virgins her companions that follow her"; they also shall be brought near before the King. "With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King's palace." (Psa. 45:14,15) As Levites they have failed to get the prize of Royal Priesthood, but they are still Levites and may serve God in his glorified temple, the Church, though they cannot be either "pillars" or "living stones" in that temple. (Rev. 3:12; 19:6,7; Psa. 45:14,15) The verse following the last citation calls to our attention the antitypical Levites of the previous time, known to Israel after the flesh as "the fathers"; and assures us that they shall be rewarded by being made "princes in all the earth."
Similarly, Levi's three sons (Kohath, Gershom and Merari) seem to represent four classes. (1) Moses, Aaron and all the priest-family of Amram (son of Kohath), whose tents were in front [east] of the Tabernacle. These had full charge of all things religioustheir brethreneven all the Levitesbeing their honored assistants or servants. (2) Camped on the south side was the Kohath family, their closest of kin, and these had charge of the most sacred articlesthe Altars, the Candlestick (lampstand), the Table and the Ark. (3) Camped at the north side of the Tabernacle were the Levites of the Merari family, next in honor of service, having charge of the gold-covered boards and the posts, sockets, etc. (4) Camped at the rear, was the Gershom family of Levites, having charge of the least important servicesthe porterage, etc., of the cords, outer curtains, gate, etc.
These distinct families of Levites may properly represent four distinct classes of justified humanity when the reconciliation is completed: the saints, or Royal Priesthood, the ancient worthies, the "great company," and the rescued of the world. As is not unusual in respect to types, the names seem to be significant. (1) Amram's family chosen to be priests: the name AMRAM signifies high people, or exalted people. What a fitting name for the type of the "little flock" whose head is Christ Jesus! "Highly exalted," "very high," are the Scriptural declarations of these priests. (2) KOHATH [F129] signifies ally, or comrade. It was from the Kohath family that Amram's sons were chosen to be a new house of priests. The Kohath family of Levites might, therefore, properly represent the ancient worthies whose faith and obedience and loyalty to God and willingness to suffer for righteousness was so fully attested, and with whom we feel so close a kinship. They were, indeed, the Lord's allies and ours; and in some respects come nearer to the Christ every way than do any others. (3) MERARI signifies bitterness; hence, the Merari family of Levites would seem to represent the "great company" of spirit-begotten ones who fail to win the prize of Royal Priesthood, and are "saved so as by fire," coming up through "great tribulation" and bitter experiences to the position of honor and service which they will occupy. (4) GERSHOM signifies refugees, or rescued; hence, the Gershom family of Levites would seem well to represent the saved world of mankind, all of whom will be refugees succored and delivered, rescued from the blindness and slavery of Satan.
So, then, first in order as well as in rank amongst these antitypical Levites, or justified ones, will be the Royal Priesthood, to whose care the Millennial Kingdom and every interest will be committed. On their right hand will be the closest of kinthe ancient worthieswhom they shall "make princes in all the earth." Next on their left will be their faithful brethren of the Great Company.* And last of all will be those rescued from sin and death during the Millennium, whose loyalty will have been fully attested in the great trial with which the Millennial age will close. Rev. 20:7-9
*The Author's later thought is that certain scriptures seem to teach that the Ancient Worthies will not precede, but rank lower than the Great Company during the Millennium, but that they will be received to spirit nature and higher honors, at its close.
All of these classes of Levites will be such as have been tested and have stood their tests of heart -loyalty. This does not, however, imply that those now justified by faith, in the tentative sense, and who neglect or refuse to go on and accomplish the end of the commandmentlove out of a [F130] pure heartand who, therefore, receive this grace of God in vain will have no further opportunity. If when they "count the cost" of participation in the priestly service of sacrifice they decline the offer, their estimate of a "reasonable service" to God is surely not to be praised and rewarded, but neither would their unwisdom justly merit punishment; otherwise, the call to glory, honor and immortality is not of grace, but of necessitynot an invitation, but a commandnot a sacrifice, but an obligation. The lapsing, or annulling of their justification leaves them still a part of the redeemed world, just as they were before they accepted Christ by faith, except that their increase of knowledge increases their responsibility for right doing. In other words, the trial for life or death everlasting at the present time involves only those who willingly make a full consecration of themselves to the Lord "even unto death." The remainder of the race is not yet on judgment for life or death everlasting, and will not be until the Millennial Kingdom has been established. Meantime, however, each member of the world is, in proportion to his light, either building or destroying character, and thus making his Millennial conditions and eternal-life prospects either better or worse, according as he either obeys or disregards his knowledge and conscience.
With the fully consecrated, however, the matter is different. By their fuller consecration, unto death, they renounce the earthly life in toto, exchanging it for the spiritual, which is to be theirs if faithful unto deathbut not otherwise. Hence, to these, disloyalty will mean deatheverlastingly; as surely as to the unfaithful of the world in the close of the Millennium.
The Levites had, none of them, any inheritance in the land of Canaan. This is significant of the fact that having consecrated their all to the Lord, and being at heart fully in accord with his righteousness, the imperfect conditions of the present time of sin are not their inheritance. Canaan represented the conflict condition of the trial-state; the conquering of enemies, overcoming of evils, etc., especially during the Millennium; but God has provided a better, a sinless and perfect inheritance for all whom he fully justifies [F131] as antitypical Levites. The first to enter this better inheritance will be the Priests, who will constitute the First Resurrection and be perfected to the divine nature; the "Ancient Worthies" will come next, and enter perfect inheritance by resurrection as perfect human beings;* the "Great Company" will be next in order and will be perfected on the spirit-plane; and last of all the Gershom class, educated and uplifted and tested during the Millennium, will enter its inheritance by that gradual resurrection, or uplifting from death to life, to be fully attained at the close of the Millennium.
As only those believers who make consecration to the utmost"even unto death"are begotten of the holy Spirit and counted members of the Great High Priest, so the types illustrated; for the Levites in general did not receive of the holy anointing oil, typical of the holy Spirit, but only the sacrificers, the priests. These were all sprinkled with the oil mixed with blood, to show that the holy Spirit granted to the members of Christ is theirs only by virtue of the shedding of blood: (1) the sacrifice of Christ Jesus on their behalf, justifying them; and (2) their pledge to joint-sacrifice with Christlaying down their lives in his service. Exod. 29:21
The anointing of the High Priest was a still different matter, and represented the oneness, the solidarity, of the elect Church; for this anointing came only upon the one who was to officiate as chief priestupon Aaron only at first; but upon each of his sons as they succeeded to the office of chief priest "to minister unto me in the priest's office." (Exod. 28:41; 40:13,15) Christ Jesus our Lord, as the Head of the Church which is his body, "was anointed with the oil of gladness [the holy Spirit] above [head over] his fellows" or joint-heirs, the under members of the "Royal Priesthood." It was all poured upon him, and "of his fulness [abundance] have all we received, and favor upon favor." It was an "unspeakable gift" that we were pardoned and justified through the merit of his sacrifice; yea, it is almost beyond belief that we [F132] should be called to be his joint-heirs in the Kingdom and have our consecration "sealed" with the sprinkling of the blood and oil and come under the anointing of our Head.
The prophet David was guided by the Lord to give us a pen-picture of the Anointing, and how it was all poured upon our Head and must run down to us from him. (Psa. 133:1-3; 45:7; Luke 4:18) The members of the Church are the "brethren" whose spirit impels them to "dwell together in unity." All who are one with the Head must be in sympathy with fellow-members of his Body the Churchand only proportionately do they receive of the holy Spirit of Anointing.* This holy anointing oil represented the holy Spirit and the enlightenment which it gives to all those whom God accepts as probationary members of this Royal Priesthood, the New Creation, each of whom is "sealed," or marked, or indicated by the holy Spirit given unto him, as already shown.+
All thus marked by the holy Spirit as prospective members of the New Creation are assured by the Lord, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "I have chosen you [out of the world], and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." "If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:16,19; 17:16) Although these marks of sanctification may, to some extent, be discerned by the world, we are not, therefore, to expect that they will bring the world's admiration or approval; but, rather, that they will consider these evidences of the holy Spirit upon the New Creatures as evidences of weakness and effeminacy. The world appreciates and approves what it would designate a robust and strenuous lifenot righteous over-much. Our Lord explains to us why the world would not approve his followers; namely, because the darkness hateth the lightbecause the [F133] standard of his Royal Priesthood for thought and word and action would be higher than the standard of mankind in general, and would, therefore, seem to more or less condemn their course. The world desires rather to be approved, to be flattered; and whatever in any degree casts reflection upon it is to that extent avoided, if not opposed. This disapproval of the worldly-wise of Christendom constitutes a part of the testing of the Royal Priesthood; and if their consecration be not a most hearty one they will so miss the fellowship of the world and so crave its approval that they will fail to carry out in the proper spirit the sacrificing of earthly interests which they have undertakenfail to be priests; hence, fail to be of the New Creation. However, on account of their good intentions, the Lord may bring them through the fiery trials, for the destruction of the flesh which they had not the zeal to sacrifice: thus they may be counted worthy of a share in the blessings and rewards of the Great Company that shall come up out of great tribulation to serve before the throne, in which the little flock will sit with the Lord.
Sanctification has not only two parts, namely, man's part of entire consecration, and God's part of entire acceptance, but it has additionally an element of progression. Our consecration to the Lord, while it must be sincere and entire, in order to be accepted of him at all, is nevertheless accompanied by a comparatively small amount of knowledge and experience; we are, therefore, to grow in sanctification daily, as we grow in knowledge. Our hearts were filled at the beginning, casting out all self-will, but the capacity of our hearts was small: as they grow, as they enlarge, the sanctification must keep pace, filling every part: thus the Apostle exhorts, "Be ye filled with the Spirit"; and again, "Let the love of God be shed abroad in your hearts and abound more and more." The provision made for this enlargement of our hearts is expressed in the words of our Redeemer's prayer for us, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth." John 17:17
It was the Word, or message of God, the "wisdom" of God through Christ, which began to manifest toward us divine [F134] favor and which led us step by step up to the point of consecration; and now it is the same Word, or message of God through Christ, that is to enlarge our hearts as well as to fill them. But while it is for God to supply the truth that is to fill and sanctify us, it is for us to manifest that consecrated condition of heart in which we will hunger and thirst after that sanctifying truthwill feed upon it daily, and thus be enabled to grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. It is not sufficient that we make a consecration to the Lord; he desires not mere candidates for the New Creation. These must be drilled, disciplined and tried in order to the bringing forward and developing of the various features of character, and each feature submitted to a thorough proof of loyalty to God, thus to insure that, being tested and tried in all points, these New Creatures should be found faithful to him who "called" them, and so be accounted worthy to enter into the glorious joys of their Lord by participation in the First Resurrection.
As this justification to fellowship brought peace with God, so this next step of a full consecration to the Lord of every interest and affair of life, every hope and ambition, exchanging earthly hopes and ambitions and blessings for the heavenly ones proffered to the New Creation, brings a great and grand relief, a great rest of heart, as we realize more and more, and appropriate to ourselves, the exceeding great and precious promises which God has made to the New Creation. These promises are briefly comprehended in the one that, "All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called [ones] according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28) This is the Second Blessing in the true sense of that expression. Not, however, that it is accompanied by outward manifestations of the flesh, but that it ushers our hearts into a profound rest, into a full confidence in God, and permits a hearty application to ourselves of the exceeding great and precious promises of the Scriptures.
On account of differences of temperament, there will, necessarily, be differences of experience in connection with [F135] this full consecration. To some a full surrender to the Lord, and a realization of his special care for them as members of the prospective elect Church, will bring merely a satisfying peace, a rest of heart; while to others of a more exuberant nature it will bring an effervescence of joy and praise and jubilation. We are to remember these differences of natural temperament, and to sympathize with those whose experiences are different from our own, remembering that similar differences were exhibited amongst the twelve apostles; that someespecially Peter, James and Johnwere more demonstrative than the others in respect to all of their experiencesincluding those of Pentecost. Let the brethren of exuberant and effervescent disposition learn the moderation which the Apostle commanded; and let the brethren who by nature are rather too cold and prosaic, pray and seek for a greater appreciation of, and greater liberty in showing forth, the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Let us remember that James and John, two of the specially beloved of the Lord, called the "sons of thunder" because of their zeal and impetuosity, needed, on one occasion at least, admonition and correction along this lineto remember of what spirit they were. (Luke 9:54,55) The Apostle Peter, another of the beloved and zealous, on the one hand was blessed for his prompt acknowledgment of the Messiah; yet on another occasion was reproved as an adversary, because of misdirected zeal. Nevertheless, the Lord showed distinctly his appreciation of the warm, ardent temperament of these three, in the fact that they were his close companions, the only ones taken with him into the Mount of Transfiguration, and into the room where lay the maid, Jairus' daughter, whom our Lord awakened from the sleep of death; and they were, also his special companions, a little nearer than the others, in Gethsemane's garden. The lesson of this to us is, that zeal is pleasing to the Lord, and means closeness to him; but that it must always reverence the Head and be guided by his Word and Spirit.
Sanctification does not mean human perfection, as some have misinterpreted it: it does not change the quality or order of our brains, nor remove the blemishes of our bodies miraculously. It is a consecration or devotion of the will, which through Christ is accepted of the Lord as perfect: it is a consecration of the body to sacrifice"even unto death"and that body, as we have seen, is not made actually perfect through justification by faith, but merely reckonedly perfect according to our will, our heart, our intention. The new will, as the Apostle exhorts, should seek to bring every power, every talent, every opportunity of its body into full accord with the Lord, and should seek to exercise an influence in the same direction upon all men with whom it comes in contact. This will not mean that in the few short yearsfive, ten, twenty, fiftyof the present life, it will be able to bring its own poor, imperfect body (or the imperfect bodies of others, of which it is a specimen) to perfection. On the contrary, the Apostle assures us in connection with the Church, that in death it is "sown in corruption, sown in weakness, sown in dishonor, sown an [imperfect] natural body"; and that not until in the Resurrection we are given new bodies, strong, perfect, glorious, immortal, honorable, will we have attained the perfection which we seek, and which the Lord promises shall be ours eventually, if in the present time of weakness and imperfection we manifest to him the loyalty of our hearts.
However, heart-loyalty to the Lord will mean continual effort to bring all the conduct of our lives, yea, the very thoughts and intents of our hearts, into subjection to the divine will. (Heb. 4:12) This is our first duty, our continual duty, and will be the end of our duty because, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." "Be ye holy; for I [the Lord] am holy." (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:16) Absolute holiness is to be the standard which our minds can gladly and fully endorse and live up to but to which we will never attain actually and physically so long as we are subject to the frailties of our fallen natures and the besetments of the [F137] world and the Adversary. But day by day as we are "taught of God," as we come to a fuller knowledge of his glorious character, and as the appreciation of it more and more fills our hearts, the New Mind will more and more gain influence, strength, power, over the weaknesses of the flesh, whatever they may beand these weaknesses vary with the different members of the body.
True sanctification of the heart to the Lord will mean diligence in his service; it will mean a declaration of the good tidings to others; it will mean the building up of one another in the most holy faith; it will mean that we should do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith; it will mean that in these various ways our lives, consecrated to the Lord, shall be laid down for the brethren (1 John 3:16) day by day, opportunity by opportunity, as they shall come to us; it will mean that our love for the Lord, for the brethren, for our families and, sympathetically, for the world of mankind, will increasingly fill our hearts as we grow in grace, knowledge and obedience to the Divine Word and example. Nevertheless, all these exercisings of our energies for others are merely so many ways in which, by the Lord's providences, our own sanctification may be accomplished. As iron sharpeneth iron, so our energies on behalf of others bring blessings to ourselves. Additionally, while we should more and more come to that grand condition of loving our neighbors as ourselvesespecially the household of faithyet the mainspring back of all this should be our supreme love for our Creator and Redeemer, and our desire to be and to do what would please him. Our sanctification, therefore, must be primarily toward God and first affect our own hearts and wills, and, as a result of such devotion to God, find its exercise in the interest of the brethren and of all men.
From the foregoing it is manifest that the sanctification which God desiresthe sanctification essential to attainment [F138] of a place in the New Creationwill not be possible to any except those who are in the school of Christ, and who learn of himare "sanctified through the truth." Error will not sanctify, neither will ignorance. Moreover, we are not to make the mistake of supposing that all truth tends to sanctification: on the contrary, although truth in general is admirable to all those who love truth and who correspondingly hate error, our Lord's word for it is that it is only "Thy truth" which sanctifies. We see the whole civil world ostensibly racing, chasing each other and contending for truth. Geologists have one part of the field, Astronomers another, Chemists another, Physicians another, Statesmen another, etc.; but we do not find that these various branches of truth-searching lead to sanctification. On the contrary, we find that, as a rule, they lead in the reverse direction; and in accord with this is the declaration of the Apostle that "the world by wisdom knows not God." (1 Cor. 1:21) The fact is that in the few short years of the present life, and in our present fallen, imperfect and depraved condition, our capacity is entirely too small to make worth our while the attempt to take in the entire realm of truth on every subject; hence, we see that the successful people of the world are specialists. The man who devotes his attention to astronomy will have more than he can do to keep up with his positionlittle time for geology or chemistry or botany or medicine or the highest of all sciences "Thy truth "the divine plan of the ages. It is in view of this that the Apostle, who himself was a well-educated man in his time, advises Timothy to "beware of human philosophies" (theories and sciences) falsely so-called. The word science signifies truth, and the Apostle, we may be sure, did not mean to impugn the sincerity of the scientists of his day, nor to imply that they were intentional falsifiers; but his words do give us the thought, which the course of science fully attests, that, although there is some truth connected with all these sciences, yet the human theories called sciences are not truthnot absolutely correct. They are merely the best guesses that the most attentive students in these departments of study have [F139] been able to set forth; and theseas history clearly showsfrom time to time contradict each other. As the scientists of fifty years ago repudiated the science of previous times, so are the deductions and methods of reasoning of these in turn repudiated by the scientists of today.
The Apostle Paul was not only a wise man and a fully consecrated one, and a member of the Royal Priesthood, better qualified naturally than many of his fellows to run well in the footsteps of the great High Priest, but, additionally, as one of the chosen "twelve apostles of the Lamb," taking the place of Judas, he was a subject of divine guidanceespecially in respect to his teachingsdesigned of the Lord to be an instructor to the household of faith throughout the entire Gospel age. The words of such a noble exemplar of the faith, no less than the example of his consecration, should be weighty with us as we study the course upon which we, as consecrated and accepted members of the Royal Priesthood, have entered. He exhorts us that we lay aside every weight and every close-girding sin, and run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, until he shall become the finisher of it. (Heb. 12:2) And as an admonition, he holds up his own experiences to us, saying, "This one thing I do." I have found that my full consecration to the Lord will not permit the diffusion of my talents in every direction, nor even for the study of every truth. The truth of God's revelation, as it has come into my heart and increasingly directs its already sanctified and consecrated talents, has shown me clearly that if I want to win the great prize I must give my whole attention to it, even as those who seek for earthly prizes give their whole attention accordingly. "This one thing I doforgetting the things that are behind [forgetting my former ambitions as a student, my former hopes as a Roman citizen and a man of more than average education; forgetting the allurements of the various sciences and the laurels which they hold forth to those who run in their ways] and reaching forward to the things which are before [keeping the eye of my faith and hope and love and devotion [F140] fixed upon the grand offer of joint-heirship with my Lord in the divine nature, and in the great work of the Kingdom for the blessing of the world], I press down upon the mark for the prize of the high calling." Phil. 3:13,14
There is much confusion of thought amongst Christian people respecting the evidences or proofs of the Lord's acceptance granted to the faithful sacrificers of this age. Some mistakenly expect an outward manifestation, such as was granted to the Church at the beginning in the Pentecostal blessing.* Others expect some inward, joyous sensations, which expectation, if not realized, causes disappointment and lifelong doubt respecting their acceptance with the Lord. Their expectations are built largely upon the testimonies of brethren who have experienced such exuberance. It is important, therefore, that all should learn that the Scriptures nowhere warrant us in such expectations: that we "are all called in the one hope of our calling," and that the same promises of forgiveness of past sins, of the smile of the Father's countenance, of his favor assisting us to run and to attain the prize he offers usgrace sufficient for every time of needbelong alike to all coming under the conditions of the call. The Lord's people differ widely, however, in the manner in which they receive any and every promise, temporal or spiritual, from man or from God. Some are more volatile and emotional than others, and, hence, more demonstrative both in manner and word if describing the very same experiences. Besides, the Lord's dealings with his children evidently vary to some extent. The great Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus, when at thirty years of age he made a full consecration of his all, even unto death, to do the Father's will, and when he was anointed with the holy Spirit without measure, was not, so far as we are informed, granted any exuberant experiences. Doubtless, however, he was filled with a realization that his course [F141] was the right and proper one; that the Father approved it, and that it would have the divine blessing, whatever experiences that might mean. Nevertheless, instead of being taken to the mountain top of joy, our Lord was led by the Spirit into the wilderness; and his first experiences as a New Creature, begotten of the Spirit, were those of severe temptation. The Adversary was permitted to assail him, and sought to move him from his devotion to the Father's will by suggesting to him other plans and experiences for accomplishing the work which he had come to doplans which would not involve him in a sacrificial death. And so we believe it is with some of the Lord's followers at the moment of, and for a time after, their consecration. They are assailed with doubts and fears, suggestions of the Adversary, impugning divine wisdom or divine love for the necessity of our sacrificing earthly things. Let us not judge one another in such matters, but if one can rejoice in an ecstasy of feeling, let all the others who have similarly consecrated rejoice with him in his experience. If another, having consecrated, finds himself in trial and sorely beset, let the others sympathize with him and let them rejoice, too, as they realize how much his experience is like that of our Leader.
Those dear men of God, John and Charles Wesley, undoubtedly were consecrated men themselves; and yet their conceptions of the results of consecration not only did good to some, but, in a measure, did injury to others, by creating an unscriptural expectation which could not be realized by all and, therefore, through discouragement worked evil to such. It was a great mistake on their part to suppose and teach that consecration to the Lord meant in every case the same degree of exuberant experience. Those born of Christian parents and reared under the hallowed influences of a Christian home, instructed in respect to all the affairs of life in accord with the faith of their parents and the instruction of the Word of God, and who, under these circumstances had ever sought to know and to do the divine will, should not expect that upon reaching years of discretion and making a consecration of themselves individually to the Lord, [F142] they would have the same overflowing joy that might be experienced by another who had up to that time been a prodigal, an alien, a stranger, and a foreigner to holy things.
The conversion of the latter would mean a radical change, and turning toward God of all of life's currents and forces previously running away from God and into sin and selfishness; but the former, whose sentiments and reverence and devotion had, from earliest infancy, been properly directed by godly parents toward the Lord and his righteousness, could feel no such abrupt change or revolution of sentiment, and should expect nothing of the kind. Such should realize that, as the children of believing parents, they had been under divine favor up to the time of their personal responsibility, and that their acceptance at this time meant a full endorsement of their past allegiance to God and a full consecration of all their talents, powers and influences for the Lord and his truth and his people. These should realize that their consecration was only their "reasonable service"; and should be instructed from the Word that, having thus fully presented their already justified humanity to God, they may now appropriate to themselves in a fuller degree than before the exceeding great and precious promises of the Scriptureswhich belong only to the consecrated and their children. If, additionally, they are then granted a clearer insight into the divine plan, or even into the beginning of it, they should consider this an evidence of divine favor toward them in connection with the high calling of this Gospel age, and they should rejoice therein.
The Apostle's expression, "We walk by faith and not by sight," is applicable to the entire Church of this Gospel age. The Lord's desire is to develop our faiththat we should learn to trust him where we cannot trace him. With a view to this, he leaves many things partially obscure, so far as human sight or judgment is concerned, to the intent that faith may be developed in a manner and to a degree that would be impossible if signs and wonders were granted to our earthly senses. The eyes of our understanding are to be opened toward God through the promises of his Word [F143] through a discernment and understanding of the truthto bring us joy of faith in the things not seen as yet, and not recognized by us naturally.
Even this opening of the eyes of our understanding is a gradual matter, as the Apostle explains. He prays for those who are already in the Church of God, addressed as the "saints" or consecrated, that the eyes of their understanding might be opened, that they might be able to comprehend with all saints (as none others can comprehend) more and more the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the knowledge and love of God. This thought, that the spiritual blessings of the New Creature, which follow his consecration, are not tangible to his earthly senses, but merely to his faith, is illustrated in the Tabernacle picturesthe outer veil of the first "Holy" hiding its sacred contents, typical of deeper truths, even from the Levites (types of the justified). Those might be known, or appreciated, only by such as entered the Holy, as members of the Royal Priesthood.*
The exuberance of feeling which comes to some because of temperament, is not unfrequently lost by them for the same reason; but the experience and blessing and joy which they may have perpetually, if they continue to abide in the Lord, seeking to walk in his footsteps, are the joys of faith which earthly clouds and troubles cannot dim, and which it is the divine will shall never be obscured in matters spiritual, except, perhaps, for a moment, as in the case of our Lord when on the cross he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" As it was needful that our Master, in taking the place of condemned Adam, should taste all of Adam's experiences as a sinner, hence he must pass through these experiences even though but for a moment. And who will say that such a dark moment might not be permitted even to the most worthy of the followers of the Lamb? Such experiences, however, surely would not be long permitted, and the soul which trusted the Lord in the dark moment [F144] would be abundantly repaid for the exercise of faith and trust when the cloud had passed and the sunshine of the Lord's presence again shone in.
The clouds which come between the fully consecrated children of God and their Heavenly Father and their elder Brother are usually earth-bornthe result of allowing the affections to gravitate to earthly things instead of setting them upon the things above; the result of neglecting the consecration vow; neglecting to spend and be spent in the Lord's service; laying down our lives for the brethren, or doing good unto all men as we have opportunity. At such times, our eyes being attracted away from the Lord and his guidance, the clouds speedily begin to gather, and ere long the sunshine of communion and faith and trust and hope is measurably obscured. This is a time of soul disease, unrest. The Lord graciously permits such an affliction, but does not cut us off from his favor. The hiding of his face from us is but to permit us to realize how lonely and unsatisfactory our condition would be if it were not for the sunshine of his presence, which illumines our way and makes all of life's burdens seem light; as the poet again has expressed the matter:
"Content with beholding his face,
My all to his pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place
Can make any change in my mind;
While blest with a sense of his love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus still dwelt with me there."
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalms 103:2-5
While the Lord permits such diseases as we have just referred to to come to the New Creatures, he stands prepared to heal them when they come into the proper attitude of heart. The throne of the heavenly grace is to be approached for such soul diseasesuch leanness of the New Creaturethat spiritual life and vitality and health may return in the light of divine favor. The Apostle's exhortation is that we "come boldly [courageously, confidently] unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) All of the New Creatures have experiences along this line; and those who are rightly exercised by them grow stronger and stronger in the Lord and in the power of his might, so that even their stumblings and weaknessestheir necessity of calling for help and laying hold by faith upon the arm of the Lordare means of spiritual blessing to them by which they grow in a manner that they could not do were they freed from trials and difficulties, and if the Lord did not withdraw his shining countenance from their hearts when they become cold or overcharged or neglectful of their spiritual privileges. Every time the New Creature finds it necessary to seek mercy and help, he has a fresh reminder of the necessity of the Redeemer's atoning workrealizing that Christ's sacrifice not only sufficed for the sins that are pastfor Adam's sin and for our personal blemishes up to the time that we first came to the Father through the merit of the Sonbut that, in addition, his righteousness by his one sacrifice for all, covers all our blemishes, mental, moral and physical, that are not willingly, wilfully ours. Thus the New Creature has a continual reminder throughout his sojourn in the narrow way that he was bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ; and his experiences, even in his failures, are continually drawing him nearer to the Lord in appreciation both of his past work as Redeemer and his present work as Helper and Deliverer.
Many New Creatures, however, have not learned how to deal with these soul sicknesses or diseases and are rather inclined to say to themselves"I have failed again. I can not approach the throne of heavenly grace until I have demonstrated [F146] to the Lord my good intentions by gaining a victory." Thus they defer what should be their very first procedure. Seeking in their own strength to gain the victory, and with their minds harassed by their previous weakness, they are in no proper condition to "fight a good fight of faith" with either their own flesh or the Adversary, and defeat is tolerably sure to come; and with it will come a gradual cessation of appealing to the Lord, and a growing submission to the intervening clouds which hide from them the sunshine of divine favor. These clouds they gradually come to esteem as in their case unavoidable.
The very opposite course should be pursued: As soon as the error of word or act or deed has been recognized and the injury to another made good as far as possible, the throne of grace should be promptly soughtsought in faith, nothing doubting. We are not to think of our Lord as wishing to find occasion against us, and as inclined to judge us harshly; but are, on the other hand, to remember that his goodness and mercy are such that he was prompted to provide for redemption while we were yet sinners. Surely, after we have become his children and have been begotten of the spirit, and are seeking, however stumbling may be our best efforts, to walk in his waysafter the spirit, not after the fleshunder such circumstances his love must abound to us yet more than when we were "children of wrath even as others." We are to remember that like as a proper earthly father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth those that reverence him. We are to consider our best earthly friends and their sympathy and love and compassion, and are to draw an analogy, and to consider that God would be much more kind and faithful than the very best of his creatures. He invites such faith, such confidenceand he rewards it. All who had faith enough to come to the Lord originally, have faith enough to come to him day by day with their trials, difficulties and shortcomings, if they will. If they suffer the clouds to come between, and decline the invitation of the Word to come to the throne of grace for peace and restored harmony, they will ultimately be counted unworthy a place amongst the [F147] special class whom the Lord is selecting: "The Father seeketh such to worship him"such as both love and trust him. "Without faith it is impossible to please him." "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." John 4:23; Heb. 11:6; 1 John 5:4
There are, of course, difficulties in the way, but the helps and counsels necessary the Lord provides, both in his Word and in those brethren whom he "sets" in the body for this very purpose. (1 Cor. 12:18) It is a help, for instance, to see just wherein lies the error of the course alluded toto see that in putting off our visit to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, until we can bring something in our hands to justify ourselves, is to show that we do not fully appreciate the great lesson which for centuries God has been teaching; namely, that we are all imperfect, and that we cannot do the things we would; therefore, it was necessary that the Redeemer should come for the purpose of lifting us up. He who goes about to justify himself attempts the impossible, and the sooner he learns it the better. Our reckonings with the Lord should be day by day; and if the difficulty be considerable or only a light one, and the heart of the consecrated one is very tender and accustomed to continual communion and fellowship with the Lord, he will find a blessing in retiring to the throne of grace promptly as soon as any difficulty arises, waiting not even for the close of the day. But certainly nothing should be carried over night, when the throne of grace is open to us at all times; to neglect it would be to show a disposition contrary to that which the Lord's Word inculcates.
The difficulty which some experience is, that after they do come to the throne of grace they do not realize the blessing that they seekthe forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Father. Their difficulty may be one of three: (1) They may lack the faith; and since the Lord's dealing in the present time is according to faith, nothing can be obtained without the faith. "According to thy faith be it unto thee." (2) Their difficulty may be that they have not undone the wrong which they did and are confessing; that they have [F148] not made amends for injury done to another; or that, if the transgression has been against the Lord, they are seeking peace without making confession to him and asking for his forgiveness. (3) In not a few cases of this kind under our observation, the difficulty has been that the suppliants never had made a proper consecration to the Lord; they were seeking divine peace and joy and the sunshine of favorseeking the blessings represented in the light of the Golden Candlestick and in the Shewbread of the Tabernacle, while they were still in reality outside of these things, outside of consecrationoutside, therefore, of the Royal Priesthoodmerely Levites who thus far have received the special grace or privilege of the present time in vain.
The proper remedy for the lack of faith would be its cultivation through study of God's Word, thinking upon his goodness past and present, and striving to realize that he is gracious, "exceeding abundantly" more than we could have asked or thought. The remedy for the second difficulty would be a prompt, full, thorough apology, and, so far as possible, undoing of the wrong or compensation for the damages, and then a return to the throne of grace in full assurance of faith. The remedy for the third difficulty would be to make the full consecration which the Lord demands on the part of all who will enjoy the special privileges and arrangements of this Gospel age.
Another class of the consecrated, but spiritually diseased, needs consideration. These, apparently justified by faith and sincere in their consecration, seem to make little or no progress in controlling their flesh. Indeed, in some instances, it would appear that their faith in God's goodness and mercy, removing the brakes of fear, have left them rather more exposed to temptation through weaknesses of the flesh than they were at firstwhen they had less knowledge of the Lord. These have experiences which are very trying, not to themselves only, but to the entire household of faith with whom they come in contact; their lives seem to be a succession of failures and repentances, some along [F149] the lines of financial inconsistencies, others along the lines of moral and social delinquencies.
What is the remedy for this condition of things? We answer that they should be distinctly informed that the New Creation will not be composed of those who merely covenant self-denials and self-sacrifices in earthly things and to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; but of those who, because of faithfulness in the willing endeavor to keep this covenant, will be counted overcomers by him who readeth the heart. They should be instructed that the proper method of procedure for all the consecrated is that, being made free by the Son, they should be so anxious to attain all blessings incident to divine favor, that they would voluntarily become bond-servantsputting themselves under certain restrictions, limitations, bondage, as respects their words, their conduct, their thoughtsearnestly desiring of the Lord in prayer the aid he has promised them, expressed in his words to the Apostle, "My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness." Each time they find that they have transgressed they should not only make amends to those injured, but also make confession to the Lord, and by faith obtain his forgivenessthey should promise greater diligence for the future, and should increase the limitations of their own liberties along the lines of weakness ascertained by their latest failure.
Thus watching and praying, and setting guards upon the actions and words of life, and bringing "every thought into captivity" to the will of God in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), it will surely not be long until they can assure themselves and the brethren also respecting the sincerity of their hearts, and walk in life so circumspectly that all may be able to discern, not only that they have been with Jesus, but also that they have learned of him, and have sought and used his assistance in gaining victories over their weaknesses. The cases of such brethren or sisters would come under the head of what the Apostle terms "walking disorderly"not after the example of the Lord and the apostles. In another chapter [F150] we will see the Lord's direction respecting the manner in which those weak in the flesh and who bring dishonor and discredit upon the Lord's cause should be treated by the brethren.
Here we remark, however, that so long as they give evidence of repentance for their wrong course and a desire of heart to go in the right way and of continued faith and trust in the Lord, they must be esteemed as brethrenhowever necessary it may be to restrict fellowship with them until they have given some outward, tangible demonstration of the power of grace in their hearts in the restraint of their fleshly weaknesses. Nevertheless, they are still to be encouraged to believe that the Lord is very merciful to those who trust him and who at heart desire his ways, although they cannot be encouraged to expect that they could ever be counted worthy of the overcoming class unless they become so earnest in their zeal for righteousness that their flesh will show some considerable evidence of its subjection to the New Mind.
We have seen some of the Lord's consecrated people in a lean and starved conditionearnestly desiring a fulness of fellowship with him, yet lacking the necessary instruction as to how it should be attained and maintained. True, they had the Bible; but their attention was called away from that and they learned to look more to teachers and catechisms, etc., running after the traditions of men and not after the Mind or Spirit of God, and have, therefore, lacked the proper spiritual nourishment. The result has been that they have felt dissatisfied with formalism, and yet knew not how to draw nigh unto the Lord with their whole heart, because they knew not of his goodness and the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus, and of the grand plan of salvation for the world by and by, nor of the call of the Church to the New Nature. This starved condition needs, first of all, the pure, "sincere milk of the Word," and afterward the "strong meat" of the divine revelation. Such dear ones are not to be despised nor neglected even though, after realizing the [F151] emptiness of churchianity in general, they have been inclined to seek for something else to satisfy their heart-hungersomething of worldly entertainments, etc. We have known some of this class who had settled down to seeming indifference to spiritual things after having vainly tried in various directions to find some soul-satisfaction; but receiving "Present Truth" they blossomed forth in the spiritual graces and knowledge in a most remarkable manner. We believe there are many more of such in the various denominations, and that it is the privilege of those who have received the light of Present Truth to lend them a helping hand out of darkness into the marvelous light; out of spiritual starvation into a superabundance of grace and truth. But to be used of the Lord in blessing such, it is necessary that both wisdom and grace from on high be sought in the Word, and that these should be exercised kindly, faithfully and persistently.
We have observed that tentative justification is not merely a mental assent to the fact that Christ died as man's Redeemer and that certain blessings of reconciliation to God were thus secured for the race, but that, additionally, in order to become a justified believer a certain amount of consecration is implied. Such justification implies a recognition that sin is exceedingly sinful (Rom. 7:13), and a desire to cease from itto be free from its power as well as free from its penaltiesa desire, therefore, to be righteous in harmony with the righteous Creator and in accord with all of the laws of righteousness. It implies, moreover, that the believer has set his mind, his will, to follow righteousness in all of life's affairs. Faith in Jesus, accompanied by such consecration, gives tentative justification, but does not imply sacrifice. God has a right to demand that all of his creatures shall approve righteousness and hate iniquity, or else consider themselves aliens from himhis enemies. But God does not demand that we shall sacrifice our lives in his service, [F152] nor for any other cause. Sacrifice, therefore, is set forth in the Scriptures as a voluntary actnot demanded by the law, even though it be, as the Apostle declares, a "reasonable service," and he urges us"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." Rom. 12:1
With some, a consecration to sacrifice may follow very soon after faith in the Lord and the desire to walk in his ways of righteousness have been reached; but it must follow, it cannot precede, because, as we have already seen, we must be at least tentatively justified by faith before we could have any dealings with God whatever, or enjoy fellowship in any sense with him. With others, this justified condition is attained and followed some time before any thought of a complete consecration, or sacrifice of earthly interests to the Lord and to his cause is even contemplated. But, under present conditions, those who start to walk the path of justification, the path of righteousness, the path of harmony with God, will not go very far along this path before they encounter opposition, either from within or from the world or from the Adversary.
They find the path of righteousness a gradually ascending one, becoming more steep, more difficult. To continue along this path of righteousness, in the midst of present sinful conditions, will ultimately cost the sacrifice of earthly interests, earthly ambitions, earthly friendships, etc. Here the parting of the ways is reached: the one, the upward path leading to glory, honor, immortality, can be entered only by a low gate of humility, self-denial and self-sacrifice. Entered, it will be found to be a rugged way, in which, however, the unseen ministering spirits help the pilgrims; and in which the gracious promises of Christ, the Leader, shine forth here and there for their encouragement, assuring of grace sufficient, and help to the end of the journey; and perseverance will show all things conspiring for their highest good, their ultimate membership in the New Creation and participation in the glorious work of the Millennial Kingdom. [F153] At this gateway, which signifies full consecration even to sacrifice, many tentatively justified believers stand for quite a little while counting the cost before they enter, listening to the voice of invitation from the Word, and strengthening their hearts to undertake the journey under its good assurances.
Outside this gateway are numerous by-paths, by which many who have come thus far have sought an easier road to glory, honor, immortalitybut all in vain. There are hundreds of these by-ways, some creeping upward a little and implying a certain amount of self-denial; others yielding and going downward more and more toward the blessings and prospects of the world. In none of these by-paths, however, are the inspiring promises to be found which belong only to those who enter the low gateway of sacrificeto the "narrow way" of fellowship with their Lord in the renouncement of earthly ambitions for the attainment of intimate association with Christ Jesus in the glory that shall follow.
Joy and peace come from the moment of faith in the Lord, the acceptance of his atonement, and the resolve to follow righteousness and shun sin. This joy and peace are complete until the low gateway to the narrow way is reached; but when the pursuit of righteousness involves self-denial and self-sacrifice, and this sacrifice is not made, and the low gateway is not entered, the joy and peace of divine favor are dimmed. They will not be entirely withdrawn, however, for a time, while the sincere believer seeks for other ways of serving righteousness, still loving it, and still valuing divine favor, but holding back and refusing by neglecting to enter it. Fulness of joy and peace cannot be the portion of such, for all the while they realize that a full consecration of their every power to the Lord would be but a "reasonable service," a rational acknowledgment and return for the divine favors already received in the forgiveness of sins.
Many continue for long years in this attitude, while others wander off in the ways of the world. None even become [F154] candidates for the New Creation unless they enter the low gate of self-sacrifice. The Lord does not, for a considerable time, cut these off from special privileges, granted them merely with a view to leading them to the low gate; nevertheless, in neglecting to enter it they virtually confess that they have "received the grace of God [the forgiveness of sins and leading up to this gate] in vain"; because, having come to this condition, they refuse or neglect to avail themselves of the "one hope of our calling." The Lord might properly say to suchI withdraw from you at once all special privileges of every kind. You were not more worthy of my favor than the remainder of the world, and you shall have the same privileges and opportunities that I intend to extend to all humanity during the Millennial age; but no further special privileges, mercies, care, attention, etc., from me in the present life, nor preference in the life to comebut he does not do this at once and has long patience with many.
The exceeding great and precious promises of the Lord's Wordsuch, for instance, as those which assure us that "all things work together for good to them that love God"will apply only to those who have been favored of God and led to the low gate of self-sacrifice, and have gladly entered it, for only such love God in the supreme degreemore than self. "All things are theirs, for they are Christ's and Christ is God's." They have entered the school of Christ, and all of the instructions and encouragements and disciplines of life with them shall be overruled accordingly, for their ultimate preparation for the Kingdom. But such lessons and instructions and blessings are not for those who refuse to enter the schoolwho refuse to submit their wills to that of the great Teacher.
Strictly speaking, those who receive the grace of God in vain have no proper ground on which to approach the Lord even in prayer; for why should any expect special care and special privileges with the Lord while neglecting to make a proper return for the blessings already received? Should he reason that, because he has already received a blessing from [F155] the Lord unto wisdom and tentative justification, the Lord would be bound to give him more mercies? Should he not rather reason that, having received these blessings of the Lord above and beyond the general favor thus far bestowed upon the redeemed race, he already has had more than his share?that failing to follow on in harmony with the Lord's will he should, rather, expect that further divine mercies and favors would go beyond him to those who had not thus far been so greatly privileged, and who, therefore, had not to the same extent disdained the Lord's gracious offer? But the Lord is very pitiful and of great mercy, and, hence, we may expect that so long as any shall abide in the attitude of faith the Lord will not wholly reject them.
What would be the remedy for those who find themselves in this attitude, and desire to be fully the Lord's and fully to claim his favors? We answer that their course should be to make a full consecration of themselves to the Lord, surrendering to him their wills in respect to all thingstheir aims, their hopes, their prospects, their means, and even their earthly loves should all be surrendered to the Lord; and in exchange they should accept, as the law of their being and the rule for future conduct, the guidance of his Word and Spirit and Providences; assured that these will work out for them, not only more glorious results as respects the life to come, but also greater blessings of heart in the present life.
How shall they do this? We answer that it should be done heartily, reverently, in prayerthe contract should be definitely made with the Lord and, if possible, in an audible voice; and divine grace, mercy and blessing should be requested, as needful assistance in the carrying out of this sacrifice.
And what should be done if any are "feeling after God," yet do not feel fully ready to make this complete surrender to his will? We answer that they should go to the Lord in prayer about the matter, and ask his blessing upon the study of the Truth, that they might be enabled more and more to realize, first, the reasonableness of the service; secondly, [F156] the sureness of the blessing to result; and, thirdly, his faithfulness in keeping all the gracious promises of help and strength made to the self-sacrificing class. They should ask also that the Lord would enable them rightly to weigh and value earthly thingsthat they might be enabled to realize and, if necessary, to experience, how transitory and unsatisfactory are all things connected with the selfishness of this present time, and those things after which the natural mind cravesthat they might thus be able to make a consecration and to appreciate the privilege of setting their affections upon things above and not on things beneath, and of sacrificing the latter for the former.
Another point arises here: In view of the fact that the "high calling" is closed, and that, therefore, the consecrating one could not be fully assured of an opportunity to attain to the prize of the new nature and its glory, honor and immortalitywhat difference would this make in respect to the consecration? We answer that it should make no difference: consecration is the only reasonable, proper course for the Lord's people anywayfull consecration will be required of those who would live and enjoy the blessings of the Millennial agenothing short of it. As for the opportunities and rewards to accrue: we have already pointed out that, to our understanding, many will yet be admitted to the privileges of the "high calling," to take the places of some who have already consecrated but will not "so run as to obtain" the prize, and will, therefore, be counted out of the race. But none, we may be sure, will be admitted to those privileges unless first they have entered this low gate of consecration and sacrifice.
It has probably been true of all who have entered the low gate, that they did not see clearly and understand fully the great and rich blessings which God has in store for his faithful New Creation; they merely saw, at first, the reasonable service, and afterwards learned more concerning the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of God's goodness and their high-calling privileges. So with those [F157] now entering: they cannot fully appreciate the heavenly, spiritual things until first they have reached the point of performing their reasonable service in a full consecration. And we may be sure that any consecrating and performing a full sacrifice of themselves in the interest of the Lord's cause after the heavenly class is complete, will find that the Lord has plenty of blessings of some other kind still to give; and that all of his blessings are for such consecrators, self-sacrificers. Possibly they may be counted in with the ancient worthies who had the sacrificing disposition that is pleasing to God, prior to the beginning of the "high calling."
Considering the general confusion of thought prevalent amongst Christians in respect to the divine plan, and the justification and sanctification called for in the Scriptures, it is not to be wondered at that considerable confusion prevails. One erroneous viewheld, however, by a comparatively small proportion of the Lord's people, but by them much to their own injuryis the claim of actual holiness and perfection, represented sometimes in the statement of its votaries that they "have not sinned for years," etc. These find their parallels in the Pharisees of our Lord's day, who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others," and who, feeling this self-righteousness, neglected the privileges and mercies provided for them by the Lord in his redemptive work.
These so-called "Holiness People" and "Sinless People," nevertheless, have their minds turned by this error to a considerable degree away from faith in the Lordfaith in his redemptive worktrust in the merit of his sacrifice, etc.; for why should they rely upon his merit or grace if they can and do keep the divine law perfectly? One difficulty leading to their position is a lack of reverence for the Lord, and another is a too high appreciation of themselves. A proper reverence for the Lord would see his greatness, his majesty and, [F158] as his standard of holiness, the perfection of his own character; and a proper estimate of themselves would speedily convince them (as it does convince others) that they come far short of the divine standard in word, in act and in thought.
Another class of so-called "Holiness People" do not go to the same extreme in this matter of claiming sinlessness, but, acknowledging imperfection, claim holiness, entire sanctification, etc., on the ground of seeking to avoid sinto live without sin, etc. As already shown, we fully concur in the thought that all the truly consecrated must seek to avoid sin to the extent of their ability. The mistake of those whom we are criticizing is, that they consider that this avoidance of sin is the sole object and purpose of their consecration. They have misunderstood the matter entirely: no creature of God ever had a right to sin; and, hence, abstaining from sinfrom that which he had no right to docould not in any proper sense be called or be considered a "sacrifice." God's Word does not anywhere call upon us to sacrifice sins. These dear friends, who go no further than such a consecration to avoid sin, have gone only so far as all the justified should go; and have not yet entered the low gate of self-sacrifice, which means the giving up of those things which are right, lawful and properthe voluntary surrender of them that we may the better serve the Lord and his cause.
The word redemption here is used in the sense of deliverance, salvation, as the outcome of the redemptive workthe result of a ransom, or a corresponding price given. The thought contained in the word carries us down to the full end of the Church's victory, the full-birth condition of the New Creationalthough in our text it may very properly be applied also to the intermediate and incidental deliverances of the faithful all along the narrow way, culminating in salvation "to the uttermost" in the glory, honor and immortality of the First Resurrection.
The Apostle assures us that our Lord's sacrifice has obtained for us "eternal redemption," completed an everlasting deliverance from bondage to sin, and from its penaltydeath. (Heb. 7:25; 9:12) True, this redemption is for the whole world; and our Lord will ultimately secure to all who will come into harmony with the divine requirements an everlasting redemption from both sin and its penaltydeath; but, as we have already seen,* this everlasting deliverance, which will in the next age be made applicable to the whole world, by bringing all to a knowledge of the truth and under the domination of the Kingdom of God, is in the present time applicable only to the household of faithand of these, only completely to those who now walk self-sacrificingly in the footsteps of the High Priest as members of the "Royal Priesthood." Their "eternal redemption" from sin and death will be as members of the New Creation, crowned with glory, honor, immortality.
Let us examine some other texts in which the same Greek word Apolutrosis (deliverance, salvation) is rendered redemption. Our Lord, pointing us forward to the salvation then to be brought unto us through the First Resurrection, says to some living at the end of the age, who discern certain signs of the times, "Lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28) The Apostle, speaking to the same class of New Creatures, exhorts them, saying, "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30) In these texts, also, we are referred not to the work of redemption accomplished in the sacrifice of our Lord, but to the results of that work as they shall be accomplished in the perfecting of the Church, which is his body, in the First Resurrection. In the same epistle (1:7) the Apostle declares, "We have redemption through his blood." He here refers evidently to the blessings we enjoy in the present time through the merits of our Lord's sacrifice, covering our blemishes and working out for [F160] us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory by working in us to will and to do God's good pleasure. The thought we would impress is that Christ is made unto us deliverance in the present timegiving us the victory in present conflicts, as he shall ultimately give us the complete victory by making us perfect in his own likeness.
This thought is still further brought out by the same writer, who assures us (Rom. 3:24) that God's grace has justified us freely (and continues to maintain our justification while we abide in Christ) "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus," and which will reach its completion, so far as we are concerned, when we shall be made like him, and shall see him as he is, and share his glory in the day of redemption (deliverance). In the same epistle (8:23) the Apostle speaks again of the completion of our redemption or deliverance, and of how we must wait for it until God's appointed time. After pointing us to the fact that "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together...waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God [the glorified New Creation]," he adds, "and not only they, but we ourselves also [called and begotten to the New Creation] which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption [deliverance] of our body"the body of Christ, the Church, of which Jesus is the Head and we prospective members. This will be the end of the redemptive work with us; for although we share many blessings and advantages through the redemption in the meantime, we will not attain our redemption in full until then. Rom. 8:20-23
Concerning our present conditionthe share in the redemption which already is oursour Lord declares, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47), and the Apostle also, "He that hath the Son hath life." (1 John 5:12) We are not to understand this believing to be merely a mental assent to some facts connected with the divine plan of salvation, but a faith in the atonement sacrifice and conduct in accord with its opposition to sina living faith which manifests itself in obedience of heart. Likewise we are [F161] not to understand the meaning to be that believers have everlasting life in the full sense of the wordin the sense that it shall be theirs eventually, through a share in the First Resurrection. Rather we are to understand that consecrated believers are begotten to newness of life, have the new life begun in them, in the sense that their wills are accepted of God as beginnings of the New Creatures which they shall be in the First Resurrection.
We are to understand these statements in full harmony with the Apostle's declaration that "we are saved by hope"by faithreckonedly saved, not completely saved. Hence it is that we are to wait with patience for the completion of the good work which God has begun in usto wait for "the grace [salvation] that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,""when he shall come to be glorified in his saints." 2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:13
The redemption (deliverance) which is in Christ Jesusthat which we enjoy now, as well as that which shall by and by be completed in usis everywhere in Scripture identified with the sacrifice which our Lord made on our behalf. While his death constituted the price of our penalty, his resurrection was essential; for a dead Savior could not aid the redeemed to get back to that which was lost. And our Lord's own experiences in connection with the sacrifice, we are assured, qualify him all the more for the great work of delivering the groaning creation purchased by his blood. The Apostle declares, "In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted"able to deliver them from temptations which otherwise might overpower them. "He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape." He may suffer us to stumble, but so long as we trust in him he will not suffer us to be utterly cast downto fall in the Second Death. Heb. 2:18; 1 Cor. 10:13
Permitting us to stumble may be his means at times for teaching us valuable lessons respecting our own weaknesses and our need to look unto him as our Shepherd as well as [F162] our Redeemer, and to feel our own weaknesses, that thereby we may become strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. He is held out before us as our High Priest, capable of being touched with a feeling of our infirmities, while possessing full power to succor us in the hour of temptation. He is specifically mentioned as having "compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way," and as being able to save "to the uttermost" those who approach the Father through his advocacy and who continue to abide in him in living faith, which implies obedience to the extent of ability. Thus we are to rejoice in our Redeemer as a present Savior, Deliverer, as well as the by-and-by Deliverer from the tomb, by a resurrectionthe Finisher of our faith. Heb. 2:17,18; 4:15,16; 5:2; 7:25,26