Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 23 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

Lyrics

1.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

2.
Blest are the sons of peace,
Whose hearts and hopes are one,
Whose kind designs to serve and please
Thro’ all their actions run.

3.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

4.
We share our mutual woes;
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

5.
When we asunder part,
O may this mutual love
Encourage ev’ry fainting heart,
His zeal and faith to prove.

6.
Our glorious hope revives
Our courage ev’ry day,
While each in expectation strives
To run the heav’nly way.

*******

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

Acts 2:42 (NASB) — “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Romans 14:19 — “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

1 Corinthians 12:20-27 (NRSV) — “(20) As it is, there are many members, yet one body. (21) The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ (22) On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, (23) and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; (24) whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, (25) that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. (26) If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (27) Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (NRSV) (4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never ends. (13) And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Galatians 3:28 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:27 (NASB) — “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

Philippians 2:1-8 (NASB) —(1) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,(2) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (3) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (4) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Ephesians 4:3 (Amplified) — “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NASB) — (24) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (25) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

1 John 1:3, 7 (KJV) — “(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 Peter 3:8 (Amplified) — “Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).”

*******

The History Of This Hymn

Author John Fawcett (1740-1817) is attributed for writing the original lyrics for “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” which in the “Hymns of Dawn” constitute Verses 1, 3 and 4 of hymn no. 23, “Christian Fellowship.”

John Fawcett was a British-born Baptist theologian, pastor and hymn writer (Wikipedia). “In 1772 he was invited to London, to succeed the celebrated Dr. J. Gill, as pastor of Carter’s Lane; the invitation had been formally accepted, the farewell sermon at Wainsgate had been preached and the wagons loaded with his goods for removal, when the love and tears of his attached people prevailed and he decided to remain” (https://hymnary.org/person/Fawcett_John1740).

Composer — Lowell Mason (1792-1872, who is considered “the father of American church music”) arranged this hymn’s tune titled “DENNIS” which he first publishing in The Psaltery in 1845 (a hymnal he compiled with George Webb). Mason attributed the tune to Johann G. Nageli (Switzerland, 1773-1836) but included no source reference (https://hymnary.org/tune/dennis_nageli).

*******

The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 647 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one

CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

True fellowship implies love, sympathy, a mutual sharing of good or ill, common principles, common interests, and a common aim. It may exist between parties on equal footing, or between those whose conditions are widely different. Where the latter is the case, benevolence [kindness, goodness, compassion, thoughtfulness, decency, charity] on the part of the superior is shown in acts of favor and blessing, and on the part of the inferior, in gratitude and such returns in action as are possible.

Than such fellowship there is nothing more desirable and more helpful to the saints in the narrow and difficult way they are called to tread. But while we should ever seek and cultivate such fellowship, we need to be very careful to see that our fellowship one with another, is based upon correct principles, else that which was designed as a blessing, will be found to our great disadvantage.

Realizing this, the Apostle Paul admonishes us, saying: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness…or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor. 6:14,15.) “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” It is impossible. Let us see to it, then, that our fellowship is based upon the sure foundation referred to in this text—the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanseth us from all sin—and that our rejoicing and communion be of the increasing light as we walk together.

And this great blessing, the Apostle John tells us, it is our privilege to have. He says we may have fellowship with our Father, and with his Son, and also with other saints who are walking in the light—the truth.

“This then,” says John, “is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The truth is all clear and plain in God’s sight, and he, by his Spirit, through his Word, will lead all of his children into light (truth) in its due season, if they are in actual fellowship with him. John states this very emphatically, saying, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not [practice] the truth” (Ver. 6.) …

God speaks to his children through his Word, and he is acquainted with all our circumstances and hears our prayers, but it is a great mistake to imagine that we have communion and fellowship with God, when we only speak to him in prayer, and never examine the Word to hear him speak to us. We may speak and then listen, but we need to hear much more than we say. Thus we have communion, interchange of thought, fellowship. None can thus commune with God without becoming acquainted in some measure with his truth, and if they are in harmony and fellowship with him, his plans and purposes will become theirs. If they do not desire to obey the truth, they will deceive themselves in an endeavor to disbelieve it, and to substitute something else in its place. And while doing this many hold to the form of sound words while denying their import.

But if as children of the light we walk in the light, not only shall we have fellowship with our Father and our Lord, but we shall also have fellowship with other saints who are walking in the same narrow way.

R. W.

*******

The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 1278 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: www.htdb.one

This one page article from the Reprints of the original “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” is something that “appeared on the inside front cover of each issue during 1891.”

WE CONTEND EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH

—ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.—

“We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men—specially [or most fully and everlastingly] of those that believe.”1 Tim. 4:10.

“To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”1 Cor. 8:6.

All we are brethren, and one is our Master, even Christ. (Matt. 23:8.) Our Master declares: “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” “And this is his commandment, that we love one another.”

WE SEEK TO WALK

Worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to preserve the unity of the spirit [oneness of mind] in the bond of peace. There is ONE BODY [Church], with ONE SPIRIT [one sentiment or disposition], even as we are called in ONE HOPE of our calling; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, who is above all and through all and in us all.—Eph. 4:1-6.

THE ONE BODY—is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth;” “the Church of the first-born” “whose names are written in heaven;” the “little flock,” to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom; the members in particular of the body of Christ; prospectively, Christ’s Bride and joint-heir; the “Seed of Abraham,” of which our Lord Jesus is Head. Since Pentecost this Church of Christ has been in process of selection from among justified believers, or the general “household of faith;” and its members, when complete and glorified, unitedly shall inherit the Abrahamic promise and bless all the families of the earth.—Gal. 3:16,29.

THE ONE SPIRIT—is the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of God, the spirit of adoption as sons of God, which actuates and governs all who are of the ONE BODY, in vital union with the one Head, Christ Jesus. It is the spirit of holiness, and chief among its fruits is Love.

THE ONE HOPE—which inspires all the members of the one body of Christ, who have the one spirit of the Truth, is the hope set before us in the gospel,” and not hopes suggested from our own or other men’s imaginations or conjectures. The one hope is a “good hope” (2 Thes. 2:16), a hope of eternal life by a resurrection. (Titus 3:7.) The ground of this hope is found in Jehovah’s promises, confirmed unto us by the death of our Lord Jesus as the ransom price for our sins, and by his resurrection from the dead for our justification.—1 Pet. 1:3; Acts 17:31.

THE ONE LORD—is the Head or Chief of the one body—his Church possessing the spirit of the Truth and actuated by the one hope of becoming his Bride and joint-heir. He and his Father are one, even as he and his church are one. (John 17:11.) He is the Redeemer of his church as well as her Lord, Exemplar and Master. And he is the Redeemer also of the whole world, and by virtue of that office he is to be the world’s Deliverer from Adamic sin and death. He it is who in all things has the pre-eminence in Jehovah’s plan and work. He was not only “the beginning of the creation of God,” “the first-born of every creature,” but more: he was the “beginning and the ending,” he was the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,” of Jehovah’s direct creation; for all other “things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (Col. 1:15,18; Rev. 3:14; 1:8; 21:6; 22:13; John 1:3.) He it is who, to carry out the Father’s gracious plan, willingly left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was created, and became a man—a little lower than the angels—that he might, as a man, present himself in sacrifice for the sins of man. Thus we behold him as the “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL.” (1 Tim. 2:5,6.) By his willing sacrifice of himself for men he bought Adam and the entire race condemned through his fall, and became Lord of all—not only of the living, but also of the dead, with full power and authority to awaken and restore to all that was lost whosoever accepts of the New Covenant of divine favor which, by his death, he sealed and made effective to all. But our Lord is no longer in the flesh, no longer a human being. He has finished the work of ransoming us, for which the taking of the flesh was needful. He was indeed put to death in the flesh, but was quickened [made alive] in the spirit. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him [so] no more.” As he was begotten of the spirit at his baptism, so he was born of the spirit at his resurrection; and “that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” “Now the Lord is that spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:16; John 3:6; 2 Cor. 3:17.) Because he showed his obedience to the Father, and his confidence, in that he humbled himself to become a man and tasted death for every man, therefore God highly exalted him—far above manhood, far above the angelic nature; even far above his own glorious previous station, and gave him a name [title] above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father. He made him partaker of the divine nature and honor, “that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” “He is Lord of all.”Phil. 2:8-11; John 5:22,23,26; Acts 10:36.

THE ONE FAITH—is that we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, who died for our sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God; by whom we have accepted the at-one-ment with God, offered unto us. Wherefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; being cleansed by his blood [sacrifice], we are brought nigh to God and are no longer strangers and foreigners, but children and heirs of his favors, prepared for those who love him when brought nigh through the precious blood. Through this faith we grasp the exceeding great and precious promises of God as rapidly as we see them, and gladly appropriate them to ourselves. Faith anchors our hearts securely to the precious things of the future, though unseen as yet except to the eye of faith. Faith is the power of God to every one that believeth.

THE ONE BAPTISM—Those of the one BODY and one HOPE, joined to the one LORD, possessing the one FAITH, are all baptized or immersed into Jesus Christ. (Rom. 6:3.) As individuals they have reckonedly ceased to exist: henceforth, for them to live is for Christ to live. With their wills buried or immersed into the will of Christ, they thenceforth live, not unto themselves, but unto him that bought them with his own precious blood. Their own wills are dead, and henceforth they recognize only the will of the one Lord, the Head of the body, which is his church, whose names are written in heaven. Justified believers attain membership in this Church of Christ through this burial or immersion of their hearts, their wills, into the will of Christ. And as the Apostle further declares, this immersion of our wills (ourselves) into Christ is acceptable only when it is an immersion even unto death—an entire, a complete immersion forever. “Know ye not that so many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by immersion into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also [from the time of our consecration, the immersion of our wills into that of the one Lord,] should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be [sharers] also in the likeness of his resurrectionthe first resurrection, to be with him and like him, partakers of the divine nature. (Rom. 6:3-5; Phil. 3:10,11.) This is the only real baptism, of which immersion in water is only the beautiful and appropriate symbol.

====================

Acknowledgment & References

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated-to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn – the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA


Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

 

Suggested Further Reading

Making Peace by Br. Rick Suraci.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2018C.pdf

Doing and Saying the Kindest Thing in the Kindest Way
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/18/doing-and-saying-the-kindest-thing-in-the-kindest-way/

Hebrews 10:25 — Not Forsaking The Assembling Of Ourselves Together
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/26/hebrews-1025/

John 13:14-15 — “Washing One Another’s Feet — A Privilege.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/27/washing-one-anothers-feet-a-privilege/

What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

Are You In the Little Flock?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/03/are-you-in-the-little-flock/

How Is Your Zeal?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/06/how-is-your-zeal/

Who We Are. BIBLE Students DAILY
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/who-we-are/

OUR BELIEFS — What Does The Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

 

This post’s URL:
biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/10/07/christian-fellowship-hymns-of-dawn-no-23/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,283 other followers

Wondrous Grace – Hymns of Dawn No. 21

Wondrous Grace – Hymns of Dawn No. 21

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 21 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Lyrics

1.
Behold, what wondrous grace
The Father hath bestowed
On members of a fallen race,
To make them sons of God.

2.
By His dear Son redeemed,
By grace then purified;
What favor that we should be named
For Christ’s joint heir and bride!

3.
Nor doth it yet appear
How great we must be made;
But when we see our Saviour here,
We shall be like our Head.

4.
A hope so much divine
May trials well endure;
May purify our souls from sin,
As Christ, The Lord, is pure.

5.
Now in our Father’s love
We share a filial part;
He grants the spirit from above
To dwell within each heart.

6.
We can no longer lie
Like slaves beneath the throne;
Our hearts now Abba, Father, cry,
And He the kindred owns.

*******

 

The History Of This Hymn

Author Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Verse 2 in the “Hymns of Dawn” is not contained in the lyrics written by Isaac Watts and could not be found in any other Hymnal other than in the Hymns of Dawn.

ComposerNo information. From a Google search, the earliest record of the same tune as contained in the Hymns of Dawn, has been found in the “Songs for Social and Public Worship” published in 1863, on page 144.  Another tune arrangement (nearly identical to the “Hymns of Dawn” score) is found in “Every Sabbath: A new collection of music adapted to the wants and capacities of Sunday-Schools, the home circle, and devotional gatherings,” page 147 Hymn No. 145a published in 1874

 

*******

 

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

John 1:11-13 (ESV)—(11) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Acts 15:10, 11 (ESV) — “(10) Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (11) But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Romans 3:23, 24 (NIV) — “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Roman 5:1-2 (KJV) — “(1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:13, 14 (ESV) — “(13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (14) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

2 Corinthians 6:1 — “(1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Ephesians 2:8, 9 (ESV) — “(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) — “(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, (12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) — “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 3:1-3 (KJV) — “(1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

*******

The words below are from Reprint No. 2283, from the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

“BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED.”

EPHESIANS-2-8-9.jpg

“For the grace of God that bringeth [leads to] salvation hath been manifested for all men—teaching us that renouncing ungodly desires we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age, waiting for the blessed hope, even the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, devoted to good works.”Titus 2:11-14.

[Note: The definition of “renouce” (or “say no to”— NIV Bible): formally declare one’s abandonment of (a claim, right, or possession). Synonyms: reject, refuse to abide by, refuse to recognize, desert, discard, disown, cut off, cast off, lay aside, refuse to fulfil, invalidate, nullify, disclaim, repudiate (which means reject, divorce from, refuse to accept).] 

“GRACE, ’tis a charming sound,” sang the poet, nor did he exaggerate; for to all who have learned the true meaning of divine grace, that word, like the word “gospel,” is a synonym for all the divine mercies which God’s people may now or ever enjoy…

The word grace signifies favor—particularly unmerited [not deserved] favor. Acts of grace are thus to be clearly distinguished from acts of justice and from obligations… Every testimony to the effect that God is extending his “grace” to humanity or to the Church is a testimony to their unworthiness to justly demand those favors or blessings.

The spirit of the world in general is that of self-sufficiency and independence; following their own wisdom and lacking the instruction and wisdom from above, the worldly-wise regard themselves with complacency; they believe themselves to be quite sufficiently righteous to merit a good deal of divine blessing and reward: true, they admit also that they have imperfections, but these they expect to pay for to the full according to some law of divine retribution. Hence they are undisposed to look for or to accept pardon, forgiveness, justification through the great sacrifice for sins which God has provided… And so they regard all of the laws governing humanity as merciless, graceless—strictly just.

The Scripture presentation of the matter does not overlook the law of retribution—that sin of any kind, the transgression of any law, will surely bring its penalty, whoever may be the sinner and whatever may be the conditions. And the propositions respecting divine grace, rightly understood, are not in conflict with this universal law of retribution: the proposition of grace is … not to prevent the wages of sin from following transgression, but to succor the repentant who desire to reform, and to help him back to divine favor and full recovery, along the lines of strictest justice;—by a willing ransom-price.

And since this succor is wholly unmerited on man’s part and without just obligation on God’s part, it is purely of divine favor—”grace.” Indeed, if it were not for sin and its retributive punishments, there would be no room for grace: it is man’s necessity for grace that constitutes the divine opportunity for its exercise. Grace, however, operates in harmony with the divine laws, and not in violation of them.

Remembering that divine grace signifies God’s unmerited mercy and favor, let us examine its operation in the light of Scripture:—

(1) The first movement of divine grace toward mankind was the exercise of benevolence, love and compassion toward mankind in his fallen and sinful condition. There was nothing in man to merit this compassion and sympathy; quite to the contrary: we were aliens from God and enemies of his righteous rule through wicked works,—the depravity wrought in us through sin voluntarily committed by father Adam.

(2) It was in harmony with this thought of grace on God’s part, or, as we might term it, God’s gracious plan, that he revealed something respecting his purpose of ransom and restitution to father Abraham;—thus preaching first, beforehand, to him the good tidings of a coming blessing or grace, saying, “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blest.” Abraham, and others who believed God, rejoiced in mind under the influence of this gracious promise—altho even the beginning of its fulfilment was still nearly two thousand years off.

(3) The third step of grace was in the great gift of divine love, our Lord Jesus Christ. It included the gracious arrangement made with the only begotten Son of God, on account of which he joyfully laid aside his heavenly glories and conditions and humbled himself in death as the ransom or substitute for the first Adam and thus incidentally a “ransom for all” [1 Timothy 2:6] the race of Adam.

(4) It was a fourth step of grace when God, having determined to select a Church, a “little flock,” to be heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ their Lord, in the dispensing of the divine favors or grace, promised through Abraham, began the work of selecting this Church—receiving at Pentecost the first installment, from the house of servants into the house of sons and joint-heirs. (John 1:12,13.) Altho tests were applied to those received into the family of sons, and altho character qualifications were imposed upon them and will be imposed upon all who will be called and accepted to this high calling [Philippians 3:14], nevertheless this also was a step of grace, because there were no obligations resting upon God to confer upon us such a “high calling,such “riches of his grace in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

(5) Throughout this Gospel age the same grace has been in operation doing a twofold work; (a) justifying repentant believers from the guilt of their moral obliquity, and giving them thus a standing before God in Christ’s imputed righteousness;—thus making them eligible to the “high calling” to divine sonship and to joint-heirship in God’s Kingdom to come, and (b) then extending to them that “high calling,” inviting them through the divine Word to become the “very elect.” True, there are conditions imposed, and not all the many “called” will be among the few “chosen;” but nevertheless it is an inestimable privilege to be “called” and to have put within our grasp the opportunity and all the needful helps, whereby we may make our calling and election sure.

(6) The grace of God will still further be manifested when the “elect” Church shall all have been sought, found, tried, disciplined, and “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;” for the blessings which will be conferred upon this glorified Church will not only be such as were not merited, such therefore as were not of obligation upon God’s part, but according to the divine testimony they will be additionally great, super-abounding in grace, “exceedingly abundantly more than we know how to ask or expect;” for “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath in reservation for those that love him.”1 Cor. 2:9.

(7) Even then, God’s grace will not have exhausted itself;—even after having thus honored and blessed and exalted the Church, the body of Christ, whose only merit consisted first in an honest confession of sin and an acceptance of the divine favor, and second, in their “reasonable service” in rendering their lives in obedience to him who bought them and in and through whom the divine graces were extended.

Then divine grace will begin to be fully manifested—then all shall see it, all shall know it, and all who will may share it; for then will begin the glorious [R2284] “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”the Millennial age of a thousand years; the time when the knowledge of the Lord shall graciously be caused to fill the whole earth; the time when all the sin-blinded eyes shall be opened; the time when all the prisoners of the pit (death) shall come forth, that they may be instructed in righteousness. Then, according to the grace of the divine promise, he who redeemed the world shall judge the world in righteousness, a trial, an opportunity, that whosoever will, with a knowledge of sin and its penalty, and with a knowledge of righteousness and its rewards, with a knowledge of the goodness and grace of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, may then stand trial and be judged as to whether they will receive God’s grace and its provisions of eternal life, or whether they will reject these and die the second death.

Here we behold the wonderful steps of grace. No one can intelligently believe in divine grace who holds the theory of evolution or any other theory of salvation than the Scriptural one, which recognizes man’s original creation in the divine likeness, his fall into sin and death, his redemption therefrom by the death of our Redeemer, and his hope for recovery through divine grace extended now to the Church and to be extended by and by through the Church (under Christ its Head) to all the families of the earth.

Coming now to consider present manifestations of divine grace toward the Church, we note that many professed followers of the Lord fail … to appreciate this grace which it is their privilege to enjoy. This is attributable largely to false teaching and preaching… For instance, how common it is for people to hear and to believe that if they “do right” they will have divine rewards at the end of life’s race; but if they “do wrong” they shall have divine punishment at the end of the race. Such views ignore grace entirely…

If we are to be punished in proportion to our shortcomings and rewarded for our obedient deeds, where would be the grace? Where would be the mercy? Where would be the necessity of a Savior, a sin-offering, an atonement and a reconciliation with God? Where would be the peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? None of these mercies and blessings can be rightly recognized except as the grace of God (his unmerited favor) is seen in them.

The fact is that the divine standard of righteousness is much higher than men generally understand: with God righteousness is synonymous with perfection; and hence “all unrighteousness [all imperfection, however or whenever or wherever]—is [a proof of] sin. Thus all men are proved to be sinners,—because all are imperfect, un-right. And the divine law is that the sinner, the wrongdoer, the un-right, the imperfect, shall not live. “The wages of sin is death.” Whoever [R2285] understands this can see at once that man’s only hope of eternal life lies not in his own perfection, but in divine mercy, grace.

But, says someone, That is not a fair statement of the case. God made me as I am, imperfect; and justice requires that he shall not demand of me an impossible perfection, nor punish me for weaknesses and imperfections beyond my control. Such reasoning implies a misunderstanding of the case. It is a mistake to assume that God made us imperfect. All “his work is perfect.” (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 18:30; Matt. 5:48.) He neither created idiots nor other physical and mental malformations of humanity, but, as the Scriptures declare, we were “born in sin and shapen in iniquity—in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Our blemishes come to us from our parents, not from God.

The Scriptures not only point out to us father Adam’s sinless perfection, saying that he was created in the image of God, but they plainly declare that it was by his disobedience that the divine sentence of death passed upon him and passed as an inheritance, a legacy of evil, to his offspring, saying, “By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world and death as a result of sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all are sinners [imperfect].” Truly also, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape [disobedience] and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”Rom. 5:12,17-19; Jer. 31:29; Ezek. 18:2.

The very basis of all our hopes, then, is this grace of God, operating toward us through Jesus Christ our Lord. God’s grace does not subvert or set aside God’s law, however, and he who would rightly appreciate and use the divine grace should recognize this fact. God’s grace was not intended to frustrate the spirit of his own law: it was not intended to clear the guilty, the wilful transgressor. It acknowledges the divine law, attests its justice, and has fully met its requirements in the person and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on behalf of Adam and all his race involved in his transgression and his penalty—death. Hence it was that “Christ died, the just for the unjust” in order “that God might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”

The only condition upon which God’s grace is offered is:

  • our acknowledgment of our sin, weakness and imperfection,
  • a sorrow for these and
  • a repentance and
  • reformation to the extent of our ability and
  • an acceptance of Christ Jesus as the personification of divine grace.

Upon no other condition can we step into this grace of God or walk in its way and inherit its rewards.

And even after we have received Christ and God’s grace in him, and are no longer recognized as strangers, aliens to God, but sons, as servants of righteousness and no longer servants of sin, being imperfect, we are not free from blemishes of word, thought and deed; yet, God’s grace … continues with us to cover our blemishes until perfected in the resurrection. Under its provisions whatever is contrary to our wills, and purely the result of hereditary weakness, may be forgiven; and our obliquity and blameworthiness be gauged only by the measure of wilfulness or assent connected with the wrongdoing. Nevertheless, to some extent, chastisements or natural penalties for violations of law may be expected: but to those under grace these will come as helps by the way, causing them more and more to detest sin, as corrections in righteousness, as chastisements and disciplines for their blessing. And even these sure penalties may be to some extent ameliorated in accordance with the wisdom of our great High priest, who, having borne all our sins in his own body on the tree, is freely empowered to abate for us so much of the penalty of our misdeeds as grace may be able to cover as un-wilful [accidental, not deliberate] transgressions.

There is a disposition in our day, as there was a disposition in the days of the apostles, for those who have once accepted of divine forgiveness, the grace of God through Christ, to turn aside therefrom and to attempt to justify themselves by works. Even while first experiences were those of humble dependence upon divine mercy, subsequent experiences sometimes lead to the rejection of the grace that at first was so thankfully received. The Apostle wrote to some thus affected, saying, “Christ has become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4.)

Judged from this same standard, how many Christians today have backslidden—fallen from grace—lost the trust in the merit of the precious blood and in divine favor extended to us through the great atonement sacrifice. Now, as then, the disposition is to trust to works of our own righteousness, which … our own consciences should prove to us are imperfect, “filthy rags” unfit and unable to cover us. Yes, we need a covering before we could in any manner or degree hope to be acceptable to God, and this covering of our imperfections with the imputed righteousness of Christ, is another statement of the grace of God extended to us. This tendency to depart from a recognition of God’s grace in Christ as our only hope for eternal life, and to take instead a hope of being able to walk righteously and to do justly, and thus to merit eternal life, is what the Apostle very properly calls “another gospel”a false gospel.—Gal. 1:6.

This thought of the divine grace as the basis of all our mercies is interwoven with all the promises of God’s Word. Thus the Apostle speaks of the gracious plan of God, and Christ as the exponent of that plan as “the grace of God and the gift by grace.”Rom. 5:15.

Our approach to God in prayer is spoken of as an approach, not to the throne of justice and equity, but as an approach to “the throne of grace,” where “we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.”Heb. 4:16.

Hebrews-4-16.jpg

Again we are exhorted that our hearts be established in grace; and again told that unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of our faith; and again the Apostle declares of himself, “By the grace of God I am what I am” [1 Corinthians 15:10].

According to the testimony of our text this grace is general, for ALL men,” and must therefore ultimately in some manner or other be extended to all men,—the dead as well as the living. The translation of our Common Version is manifestly faulty here; all men, even in this most enlightened day of the world’s history, have not yet beheld God’s grace in any degree, nor has it as yet brought them salvation. But since it has been provided freely for all, so ultimately it shall be extended to all, that all may avail themselves of it.

The teaching of this grace is not that we may continue in sin that grace may abound; for divine grace is intended to benefit only those who renounce sin and become servants of righteousness: and thus, as our text declares, God’s grace teaches us that we should repudiate sin and live separate from every ungodly desire, in righteousness, soberness and godlikeness. Furthermore, as our text declares, this grace of God does not claim to have reached its completeness, and to have accomplished in us and for us the grand designs of the God of all grace. On the contrary, it teaches us to WAIT for the consummation of this grace until the glorious manifestation of the Son of God in the majesty and power of his Kingdom, to unite his Church with himself as his Bride and joint heir, the channel of mercies and blessings through which God’s grace shall flow to all the groaning creation.—Rom. 8:18-22; 11:31.

“RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.”

“We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”2 Cor. 6:1.

This exhortation is addressed to such as have already recognized God’s gracious character and the gift [R2285] of his grace toward mankind,—the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The Apostle has just been explaining this matter of how God’s grace had provided a reconciliation; “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them [but unto him who died for them]. He declares himself an ambassador on behalf of God to declare this grace and exhorts his readers not only to accept of God’s grace in the forgiveness of sins through Christ, but additionally that they also should become fully reconciled or completely in harmony with the Lord, as would be represented by full consecration to him and his service, after the example of the Apostle himself.

We take it that this exhortation of our text is the equivalent of the same apostle’s exhortation elsewhere, namely, “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God [already brethren because already believers in Christ and partakers through him of divine grace], that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”Rom. 12:1.

The Apostle was here urging progress on the part of the believers, advancement from “justification by faith” to the next higher step in divine grace and privilege,—full consecration even unto death, in response to the “call” to joint-heirship with Christ in his Kingdom,—to suffer with him in the present time, and to reign with him by and by in glory. These two steps are contrasted by the same Apostle, who says of himself and others who had taken both steps, (1) “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2) “By whom also [additionally] we have access by faith into this [further] grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of [sharing] the glory of God.”Rom. 5:1,2. [R2286]

In our text the Apostle distinctly implies the possibility that some may receive the grace of God in vain—to no purpose.  We see from the connection as we have examined it, that he refers to the grace of God in justification, the forgiveness of our sins, and not to the second step of grace, our acceptance to the new nature through the begetting of the spirit. This implies, therefore, that the only object of justification by faith in this present age, is to give us a footing, a standing of acceptableness with God, from which we may be able to advance and take the second step of self-sacrifice, and become joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom. Nevertheless, this first step and all the privileges and blessings connected with it would be “in vain,”profitless to us, if we fail to take the second step, the particular feature of the divine plan which belongs to this Gospel age.

We are not to add to the Word of God, and to say that to receive justification in vain (by not making use of it to progress to a complete consecration and newness of nature) would mean eternal torment, or even the second death: we are simply to understand it as it reads, that the intention of the grace of justification, the first step, being to qualify us for the second step, those who fail to take the second step will have no particular benefit accrue to them from the first step, which would thus have been taken in vain, profitlessly, without permanent results and advantages.

… Only those who take the “narrow way” will gain any prize offered during this Gospel age, which is specifically the age set apart for the development of the “royal priesthood,” devoted to good works—to self-sacrifices in the service of the Lord and his cause. Indeed, there is only one prize and one hope of our calling during this age—the other prize and other hope and other call will be in the age to come. We cannot therefore expect that any who take the first step of faith in Christ, and who are therefore temporarily justified because of their faith, will have a reward for a faith which did not work by love. The faith that works by love speedily goes on to full consecration and self-sacrifice, and is a sure indication of the kind the Lord is seeking for his “little flock,” the “royal priesthood,” the “joint-heirs.” The faith, therefore, which refuses to work by love, cannot be considered an acceptable faith in God’s sight. Nor can we expect that this class will be counted worthy to share in the earthly phase of the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets.

… While not favored with the “high calling” to the divine nature and jointheirship with Christ, because this “call” was not yet due to be proclaimed, nevertheless, these ancient worthies manifested a faith and a trust in the Lord and his promises which worked, and by their works manifested a love for the Lord and a loyalty to him which did not hesitate to sacrifice reputation, wealth and life itself, in obedience to the principles of righteousness revealed to them… [R2286]

A much misunderstood text respecting grace is the one used as a caption for this article, namely, “By grace are ye saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8.) The erroneous thought given by many is that our faith is not our own faith, not of our own volition, but an impartation, a gift from God. Of course, in one sense every gift and blessing which we enjoy is indirectly if not directly from God; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17.) But the proper understanding of the Apostle’s words, we believe, is this: It is of God’s grace and not of personal merit on our part that salvation is offered to us; and altho that salvation is offered to us as a reward of faith (including true faith’s obedience), yet we cannot even boast respecting our faith as tho it merited the Lord’s favor,—for our faith is something which is the indirect result of divine providence also; there are millions of others in the world who might exercise just as much faith as we if they had been favored of God with as much light, intelligence, knowledge, as a basis of faith: hence our faith is not to be credited as a meritorious condition but we are to be thankful to God for it, for the circumstances and conditions which have made it possible for us to exercise faith are of his grace.

====================

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:

The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/
The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

  • Br. Charles Taze Russell

IMG_1071

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated-to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn—the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA

——-

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

 

Suggested Further Reading

Debtors To His Marvelous Grace, by J.J. Blackburn. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, July/August 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_4.htm#_Toc36907878

The Foreshadowing of Grace, by F.A. Essler. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January/February 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_1.htm#_Toc36905444

A Special Calling by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July /August 2016.
https://herald-magazine.com/2016/07/01/the-bride-class/

The Bride and the Bridegroom by Br. Carl Hagensick. A Verse-by-verse Study of Psalm 45. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_4.htm

A Chaste VirginThe Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/chliv_38.htm

His Loving Kindness – Hymns of Dawn No. 19
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/19/his-loving-kindness-hymns-of-dawn-no-19/

Awake My Soul — Hymns of Dawn No. 20
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/27/awake-my-soul-hymns-of-dawn-no-20/

The Sacrifice
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/05/the-sacrifice/

Give Thanks In All Circumstances
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/01/03/1-thessalonians-518-thankfulness/

The Truth About Hell. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/hell.htm

Hope Beyond the Grave. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/grave.htm

Christ and His Bride. BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/25/christ-and-his-bride/

Our Beliefs — What Does the Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

Bible Students’ Links and Bible Study Resources
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/25/wondrous-grace-hymns-of-dawn-no-21/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,283 other followers

EZEKIEL 18:4 – What the Bible Teaches About SOUL and SPIRIT

EZEKIEL-18-4.jpg

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression “immortal soul,” sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read, “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22). Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast “have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says “let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10, “… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh. “There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10). If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God: “Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this. (1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says “As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.” (2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God “let this child’s soul come into him again.” In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman, “her soul is vexed in her.” Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words. “The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].” This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35). “I lay down my life (John 10:17). “They seek my life (Romans 11:3), and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43, “fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus “now is my soul troubled.” Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” In Ezekiel 18:4 God said, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.” This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in Adam all die,” adding to this, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And again, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22). The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he “poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18). Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die. “It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna] (Matthew 10:28). Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38 ‘Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’ Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything. “The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time, ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9). ‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2). In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead. “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body. “The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45). It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale. “There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

——-

Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,283 other followers

 

 

ACTS 3:19-21 – The Restitution of All Things

ACTS-3-19-21.jpg

The King of kings has come! We are even now in the parousia (presence) of the Son of Man! Soon the last members of his “elect” body, the Bride of Christ, will be gathered to him—glorified and invisible to men,—and then he will begin the rule of the iron rod which shall break the world’s vaunted institutions as potters’ vessels (Revelation 2:27).

He declares, I will “gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. And then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zephaniah 3:8,9).

This symbolic burning and breaking will be the new missionary method, by which the glorified Bride of Christ and Church, will, after 2043, under and with her glorious Head, “bring in everlasting righteousness.”

“When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

“The glory [majesty] of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5).

Through the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 3:19-21, Christ Jesus, intended his disciples to understand that for some purpose, in some manner, and at some time, he would return. True, Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and by his spirit and by his Word he has been with the Church continually, guiding, directing, comforting and sustaining his saints, and cheering them in the midst of all their afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the Lord’s knowledge of all her ways and of his constant care and love, yet she longs for his promised personal return; for, when he said, “If I go, I will come again” (John 14:3), he certainly referred to a second personal coming.

Some think he referred to the descent of the holy Spirit at Pentecost; others, to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc.; but these apparently overlook the fact that in the last book of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation—written by the Apostle John some sixty years after Pentecost, and twenty-six years after Jerusalem’s destruction, he that was dead and is alive speaks of the event as yet future, saying:

“Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me.” And the inspired John replies, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:12,20).

Quite a number think that when sinners are converted that forms a part of the coming of Christ, and that so he will continue coming until all the world is converted. Then, say they, he will have fully come.

These evidently forget the testimony of the Scriptures on the subject, which declares the reverse of their expectation: that at the time of our Lord’s second coming the world will be far from converted to God; that “In the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4); that “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (Verse 13). They forget the Master’s special warning to his little flock:

“Take heed to yourselves lest that day come upon you unawares, for as a snare shall it come on all them [not taking heed] that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34,35).

When it is said, “All kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,” when they see him coming (Revelation 1:7), no reference is made to the conversion of sinners.

Do all men wail because of the conversion of sinners?

On the contrary, if this passage refers, as almost all admit, to Christ’s presence on earth, it teaches that all on earth will not love his appearing, as they certainly would do if all were converted.

Some expect an actual coming and presence of the Lord in the future, claiming that through the efforts of the Church in its present condition the world must be converted, and thus the Millennial age be introduced. They claim that when the world has been converted, and Satan bound, and the knowledge of the Lord caused to fill the whole earth, and when the nations learn war no more, then the work of the Church in her present condition will be ended; and that when she has accomplished this great and difficult task, the Lord will come to wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn sinners.

However, when God’s Word and plan are viewed as a whole, we learn that Christ comes before the conversion of the world, and reigns for the purpose of converting the world; that the Church is now being tried, and that the reward promised the overcomers is that after being glorified they shall share with the Lord Jesus in that reign, which is God’s appointed means of blessing the world and causing the knowledge of the Lord to come to every creature. The Lord’s special promises include:

  • “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Revelation 3:21).
  • “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

There are two texts chiefly relied upon by those who claim that the Lord will not come until after the Millennium (the 1000 years of Christ’s reign with his 144,000 Bride “body” members):

1. “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

They claim this as having reference to the conversion of the world before the end of the Gospel age (the 6000 years of permission of evil). But witnessing to the world does not imply the conversion of the world. 

The Apostle (Acts 15:14) tells that the main object during the gospel age is “to take out a people” for Christ’s name—”the Church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23) which, at his second advent, will be united to him and receive his name. The witnessing to the world during this age is a secondary object.

2. “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

The vague, indefinite idea regarding this text seems to be that Christ sits on a material throne somewhere in the heavens until the work of subduing all things is accomplished for him through the Church, and that then he comes to reign. This is misconception. The throne of God referred to is not a material one, but refers to his supreme authority and rulership; and the Lord Jesus has been exalted to a share in that rulership.

Paul declares, “God [Jehovah] hath highly exalted him [Jesus] and given him a name above every name.” He hath given him authority above every other, next to the Father.

If Christ sits upon a material throne until his enemies are made his footstool [all subdued], then of course he cannot come until all things are subdued. But if “right hand” in this text refers, not to a fixed locality and bench, but, as we claim, to power, authority, rulership, it follows that the text under consideration would in no wise conflict with the other scripture which teaches that he comes to “subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21), by virtue of the power vested in him.

Right hand—signifies the chief place, position of excellence or favor, next to the chief ruler. Thus Joseph was at the right hand of Pharaoh in the kingdom of Egypt—not literally, but after the customary figure of speech. Jesus’ words to Caiaphas agree with this thought: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64) He will be on the right hand when coming, and will remain on the right hand during the Millennial age, and forever.

The specific work of :

(a) the first adventwas to redeem men. In Hosea 6:3, this period is referred to as the time of the “former rain.”

(b) the second advent—is to restore, bless, and liberate the redeemed. In Hosea 6:3, this period is referred to as the “latter” rain. Having given his life a ransom FOR ALL (1 Timothy 2:6), our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, thus making reconciliation for man’s iniquity. He tarries and permits “the prince of this world” to continue the rule of evil, until after the selection of “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,” who, to be accounted worthy of such honor, must overcome the influences of the present evil world. Then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings secured to them by his sacrifice will be due to commence, and he will come forth to bless all the families of the earth.

True, the restoring and blessing could have commenced at once, when the ransom price was paid by the Redeemer, and then the coming of Messiah would have been but one event, the reign and blessing beginning at once, as the apostles at first expected (Acts 1:6). But God had provided “some better thing for us”—the Christian Church (Hebrews 11:40); hence it is in our interest that the reign of Christ is separated from the sufferings of the Head by this 2000 years of waiting since Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary in 33 A.D.

The period between the first and second advents, between the ransom for all and the blessing of all, is for the trial and selection of the Church, which is the body of Christ; the “little flock” and “joint-heirs”; otherwise there would have been only the one advent, and the work which will be done during the period of his second presence, in the Millennium, would have followed the resurrection of Jesus. God has designed the permission of evil for six thousand years, as well as that the cleansing and restitution of all shall be accomplished during the seventh thousand.

Jesus has been absent from earth—in the heaven—during all the intervening time from his ascension to the beginning of the times of restitution—”whom the heaven must retain until the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).

We find the Scriptures teaching a further step in the divine plan—a RESTITUTION for the world, to be accomplished through the elect Church, when completed and glorified. The “little flock,” the overcomers, of this Gospel age, are only the body of “The Seed” (Galatians 3:16, Romans 4:13) in or by whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed. The fact that the world has not yet been converted, and that the knowledge of the Lord has not yet filled the earth, is a proof that it has not yet been sent on that mission.

Election and Free Grace 

While an election has been in progress during the present and past ages, what is by way of distinction designated free grace is God’s gracious provision for the world in general during the Millennial age.

Election—as taught in the Bible, is not the arbitrary coercion, or fatalism, but a selection according to fitness and adaptability to the end God has in view, during the Gospel Age.

God’s grace or favor in Christ is ever free, in the sense of being unmerited; but since the fall of man into sin, to the present time, certain of God’s favors have been restricted to special individuals, nations and classes, while in the next age all the world will be invited to share the favors then offered, on the conditions then made known to all, and whosoever will may come and drink at life’s fountain freely (Revelation 22:17).

Glancing backward, we notice the selection or election of Abraham and certain of his offspring as the channels through which the promised Seed, should come (Galatians 3:29).

The selection of Israel from among all nations, as the one in whom, typically, God illustrated how the great work for the world should be accomplished—their deliverance from Egypt, their Canaan, their covenants, their laws, their sacrifices for sins, for the blotting out of guilt and for the sprinkling of the people, and their priesthood for the accomplishment of all this, being a miniature and typical representation of the real priesthood and sacrifices for the purifying of the world of mankind.

God, speaking to the people, said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2).

This people alone was recognized until Christ came.

Afterwards, Christ’s ministry was confined to the Jewish people, and he would not permit his disciples to go to others—saying, as he sent them out, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.”

Why so, Lord?

Because, he explains, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24).

All his time was devoted to them until his death, and there was done his first work for the world, the first display of his free and all-abounding grace, which in “due time” shall indeed be a blessing to all. However, God’s grandest gift was not limited to nation or class. It was not for Israel only, but for all the world; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).

When the called-out company (called to be sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord—who have made their calling and election sure) is complete, then the plan of God for the world’s salvation, will be only beginning.

Not until it is selected, developed, and exalted to power, will the Seed (Christ—”head” and “body” in glory) bruise the serpent’s head (Romans 16:20Genesis 3:15). The Gospel age makes ready the chaste virgin, the faithful Church, for the coming Bridegroom.

In the end of the age—when she is made “ready” (Revelation 19:7), the Bridegroom comes, and they that are ready go in with him to the marriage—the second Adam and the second Eve become one, and then the glorious work of restitution begins.

In the next dispensation—the new heaven and the new earth, “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! And let him that heareth say, Come! And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

For this promised and coming blessing, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:22,19).

Thus, free grace in fullest measure, not merely for the living but for those who have died as well, is provided in our Father’s plan as the blessed opportunity of the coming age because Jesus died for all. 

The United Nations expects the global population to reach 9 billion in the year 2043. (www.thoughtco.com/most-populous-countries-in-2050-1435117) What then will happen to the vast multitude who have not heard about nor accepted Jesus as their personal savior and redeemer? Did God make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many of his children claim? Not at all. The opposite is true. God has yet in store for mankind an opportunity for all to come to the knowledge of that only name, and, by becoming obedient to the conditions, to enjoy everlasting life. When the Bride class is complete, then they, together with Jesus Christ, will regenerate the world.

Satan will be bound so that he cannot intrude his deceptions upon mankind.

In Revelation 20:1-3 (ESV) we read,

(1) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. (2) And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

The saints will reign with Christ for a thousand years, as priests, to bring mankind back to God (Revelation 20:6). The whole creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

To Be Testified In Due Time

For those who will be of the “Church of the firstborn,” the bride of Christ, and share the kingdom honors, the present is the “due time” to hear; and whosoever now has an ear to hear, let him hear and heed, and he will be blessed accordingly. Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our “due time” to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all: in God’s due time it will be testified to all, and all will then have opportunity to believe and to be blessed by it.

Since God does not propose to save men on account of ignorance,  but “will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4); and since the masses of mankind have died in ignorance; and since “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9:10); therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence God’s plan is, that “as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive, but each one in his own order”—the Gospel Church, the Bride, the body of Christ, first; afterward, during the Millennial age, all who shall follow Godly righteousness during that thousand years of Christ’s reign with his Bride.

Everything and Everyone To Be Restored To Perfection

As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who believe into the second Adam. When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God’s gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of perfect obedience, and the perfect ability to obey will be given under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace (Pastor Charles Russell, Volume 1 of “Studies In The Scriptures”, p.107).

All mankind shall be fully released from the slavery of sin, and the corruption of death, into the glorious liberty of children of God. But attainment to all these blessings will depend upon hearty compliance with the laws of Christ’s Kingdomthe rapidity of the attainment to perfection indicating the degree of love for the King and for his law of love. If any, enlightened by the Truth, and brought to a knowledge of the love of God, and restored (either actually or reckonedly) to human perfection, become “fearful,” and “draw back” (Hebrews 10:38,39), they, with the unbelievers (Revelation 21:8), will be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:23). This is the second death.

Restitution Concerning Typical and Antitypical ISRAEL

Peter tells us that this restitution is spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21). They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the valley of dry bones, “These bones are the whole house of Israel.”

And God says to Israel, “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I …shall put my spirit in you, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:11-14).

To this Paul’s words agree (Romans 11:25,26)—”Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles [the elect company, the bride of Christ] be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved,” or brought back from their cast-off condition; for “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew” (Verse 2). They were cast off from his favor while the bride of Christ was being selected, but will be reinstated when that work is accomplished (Verses 28-33).

The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant Israel again, and they shall be no more plucked up (Jeremiah 24:5-7; 31:28; Jeremiah 32:40-42; 33:6-16).

“In those days, they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every one [who dies] shall die for his own iniquity” (Jeremiah 31:29,30).

This is not the case now. Each does not now die for his own sin, but for Adam’s sin—”In Adam all die.” The day in which “every man [who dies] shall die for his own sin,” only, is the Millennial or Restitution day.

While Israel as a nation was typical of the whole world, its priesthood was typical of the elect “little flock,” the head and body of Christ, the “Royal Priesthood”; and the sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the “better sacrifices,” fuller cleansings and real atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” of which they are sharers in, by God’s grace.

After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing Israel the most blameworthy (Ezekiel 16:48-54), the Lord says, “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them.” In death all are captives; and Christ comes to open the doors of the grave, and to set at liberty the captives. (Isaiah 61:1Zechariah 9:11) In verse 55 this is called a “return to their former estate”a restitution, when Jehovah says to Israel:

“(60) I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (61) Then, thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters…. (62) And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; (63) that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, SAITH THE LORD GOD” (Ezekiel 16:60-63).

To this Paul adds his testimony, saying, “And so all Israel [living and dead] shall be saved [recovered from blindness], as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins.’…They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; because the gracious gifts and callings of God are not things to be repented of” (Romans 11:26-29).

A Summarized Explanation of Acts 3:19-21

Acts 3:19speaks of the “refreshing” that comes from the face of Jehovah (“presence” is not the Greek word parousia here, but prosopon, Strongs 4383) whenever they would convert and come to Jesus.

Acts 3:20The sending mentioned in verse 20 means sending Jesus not at his second advent, but sending him to bless them in their repentance. (As in verse 26, “Unto you first God, having raised up his son Jesus [by the resurrection] sent him to bless you [early Gospel Age work, not the second advent], in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”)

Acts 3:21This verse explains that Jesus will remain in heaven until the times of
restoration, and then he will return. We understand those times of restoration have begun as evidenced in the restoration of Israel, which is what these Jewish hearers of Peter were interested in. Since Christ’s second presence (“parousia”), the saints here who are still living, continue on here for some time, before their service here is complete as we read about in Luke 12:36-37. Here it speaks of a time when Jesus returns, knocks, and asks those saints the living to “open unto him.”  Further explanation about the Second Presence of Christ is provided in the “Further Reading” links, below.

As we continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), may we rejoice in knowing that “great joy shall be TO ALL people” (Luke 2:10“in due time.”

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Taze Russell. The above post was based on content from Study 6 of Volume 1 of “Studies In the Scriptures.” The series of six volumes by Br. Russell can be read at http://www.htdbv8.com

Br. David Rice. Editing and content.

Further Reading

Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) In 1874.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/

“Where Is The Promise Of His Advent. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. Sept/Oct. 2014 issue.
URL: https://herald-magazine.com/2014/09/01/where-is-the-promise-of-his-presence/

The Prophetic Date, 1874. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. March/April 2003 issue.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_5.htm

Signs of Christ’s Presence. Beauties of the Truth. Volume 3, Number 1, February 1992
URL: http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB92.PDF

A chapter by chapter studies of the Book of Daniel in the “Journal” section at www.2043ad.com

Free Booklet titled: “I Will Come Again – John 14:3”
https://chicagobible.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/I-WILL-COME-AGAIN.pdf

Jesus – The Name. BIBLE Students DAILY website.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

Time and Prophecy by Br. David Rice.
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/02/acts-319-21-the-restitution-of-all-things/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,283 other followers

Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

Where Does CHRISTMAS ORIGINATE from.jpg

The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/23/where-does-christmas-originate-from/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,283 other followers

Save