SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONS
MOSES AND THE LAW COVENANT
Question.--Was Moses out from under Adamic Condemnation?
Answer.--If he was a member of the Jewish nation then he was in this special covenant-relationship with God. Adam, when he sinned, lost his covenant standing with God and was sentenced to death. God made a new arrangement with the Seed of Abraham, that he would enter into a Covenant with them as though they were perfect; and to this end Moses became their mediator. We have every reason to suppose that Moses was also a participator in the arrangement as well as being the mediator of it. So we suppose that Moses was under the Law the same as were his successors, and this Covenant, by its arrangement year by year continually, not only put them, at the first, in this condition of typical justification or covenant-relationship with God, but it gave them a whole year of that favorable condition; and only at the end of the year, when the period for which the sacrifice had been offered had lapsed, were they no longer in covenant-relationship with God. Then they put on sackcloth and ashes and, like the remainder of the world, they were sinners, under condemnation, but under more condemnation than the rest of the world because they had the additional condemnation of the Law.
We understand, then, that if Moses could have kept the Law under that Covenant, God would have been bound to give him eternal life according to the promise-- [R4696 : page 317] "He that doeth these things shall live by them." God did not say anything about Christ or believing in Christ or anything of that kind; merely, he that doeth these things shall have eternal life by doing them. And so we think that this promise applied to Moses and all the Israelites under the Law, and still applies to the Jews. And we believe God would give eternal life to anyone who could do those things perfectly, but this offer was made only to the Jews. They were out from Adamic condemnation in that tentative sense; not that they had escaped, for since they still bore unchanged the same imperfections as the remainder of the children of Adam, they could not do what they wished to do; as the Apostle says, "We cannot do the things that we would." So they had a condemnation as a people which other nations did not have. Adam, individually, had been sentenced to death. His children did not have, individually, that condemnation. They were born in "prison"--in this death condition. But in the case of the Jews, God treated them as though they had been separated from the remainder of the world.
It was as if they had said, "We did not do anything wrong, Lord; why do you not give us a chance?"
"I will give you a chance; I will give you my Law to keep."
"What will you give us if we keep your Law perfectly?"
"I will give you eternal life."
"We will keep it. We agree to keep your Law, and you agree to give us life." So, then, these children of Adam, the Jews, who, like the rest of the world, were not on individual trial previously, and had not, therefore, been sentenced as individuals, but were merely sharing the effect of Adam's condemnation--all these Jews were now put on trial for life, and when they failed it meant a special penalty upon them, because they now had an individual trial and failed. Therefore, we see that it was necessary that the Jew, under this second condemnation, or this individual trial and individual condemnation, should all be under Moses as the Mediator, so that Christ could take the place of this Mediator and effect something for that nation. Moses was merely typical of the better Mediator. Therefore, since they were in that Mediator, who was only a type of Christ, God was merely showing to them in a typical way what he will do for them by and by, when Christ will be Mediator of their New (Law) Covenant.--Jer. 31:31.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
Question.--Will any of the Gentiles be justified by faith during the Millennial Age?
Answer.--We understand that justification by faith applies to the present age and to our salvation--the Church's salvation--which is called "salvation by faith" in contradistinction to the salvation that was offered to the Jews in their Age, the salvation by works, under the Law Covenant, and also in contrast with the salvation that will be offered to the Jews and to the world in the next Age, which will be a salvation by works under the New (Law) Covenant. In other words, this Gospel Age is the only Age in which faith takes the place of perfection. It is true, of course, that no Jew could have been justified before God by keeping the Law Covenant unless he had believed in God; and it is equally true that no one will be justified under the New Covenant arrangement except he believe in God and is in harmony with the arrangements that will then be open to all. However, this will not make it a faith-salvation, a salvation by faith, but a salvation by works--the works of the Law.
The works of the Law were unable to save the Jews during the Jewish dispensation because they could not keep the Law, and because there was no arrangement made through an efficient mediator to lift them up out of their degradation, but this arrangement has been made future for all Israel and all who will come in under this arrangement in the Millennial Age. They will be enabled to perform the works. They will be helped out of their degradation. So we read in Revelation that the sea will give up her dead, the grave will give up the dead that are in it, and that they shall all stand before the great white throne during the Millennial Age, and shall all be judged out of the things written in the book; according to their works shall they be judged, then. The distinctive statement made regarding us now is that it is not according to our works that we are judged, but according to our faith. So, then, there will be faith and works in the Millennial Age, and there are faith and works in this Gospel Age; but the faith of the Millennial Age will be less meritorious in proportion because everything will be very plain and easy to believe, and hence it will not be the faith that will be specially rewarded then, but the works. In this Age faith takes the most important place, and we are not rewarded according to our works, for we have none to reward. But it is the faith that will be rewarded.
Faith and works apply to both ages, but in the one age it is the faith that is rewarded, and in the other the works will be rewarded. In the one, faith is the standard or test of whether one is worthy or unworthy and in the other works will be the standard or test of whether one is worthy or unworthy of eternal life.
Galatians 3:8seems very particularly to show that the reference is to the Gentiles who are justified through faith and not by works; hence, we understand that this text applies to the Gospel Age in the sense that God foresaw that during this Gospel Age he would justify certain of the Gentiles through faith, just as he intended also to justify some of the Jews through faith. The Gentiles never were under the Law of works, but are accepted under the Gospel arrangement, by faith.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE LORD'S WILL
Question.--Suppose some one has in mind an undertaking which he believes is of the Lord's leading, and yet others who are as consecrated to the Lord as himself, seem to think it may not be of the Lord's leading, is there any way whereby he can assure himself that he is right?
Answer.--We think that it is a good rule, when one is uncertain as to what is the right course, to simply stand still and wait, if the matter can be dealt with in that way. But if it is a matter that cannot be delayed but must be determined at once, it would not do to stand still; but it would be well in many instances to merely stand and wait.
For instance, a gentleman asked us as to whether he should build a house or not. We were not hasty in giving him advice, and he urged us to tell him our thought. After he had told us all the conditions, we advised him not to build, and gave our reasons. We did not attempt to urge our views upon him at all, but left them there. It is well for us to remember not to give too much concern about things that are not in our hands to decide; we would thus save ourselves a deal of trouble. In everything, however, that is in our hands to decide, we should use a great deal of care and judgment and try to find out the Lord's will in the matter.
In the case of people having different opinions about [R4696 : page 318] things, we think it well for one, if the responsibility rests with him, to hear what others may have to say and then consider the matter with as much wisdom and judgment as possible, and proceed to act according to his best judgment, taking into consideration the reasons advanced by his friends, bearing in mind, however, that the responsibility of decision is with himself.
FAITH THE GIFT OF GOD
Question.--Is faith the gift of God?
Answer.--"By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." The Apostle seems to intimate that grace is God's favor; in fact, the word "grace" has the signification of gift, or that which is favor. Our salvation is of Divine favor--not of any necessity on God's part, not because Justice required it, not because anyone could have demanded it from him, but it is his own merciful, gracious provision, and this salvation in our case is through faith. And the faith is not of ourselves, as a matter of course. Hence we think that when the Apostle says "it is not of ourselves," he must refer to faith. However, faith, in a very important sense, is of the individual; we are urged to "have faith unto God." One cannot have faith for another. The individual must exercise his own faith in God; and yet in this text we are told that our faith is of God. [R4697 : page 318]
In what sense could this be of God? We answer that it is of God in the sense that every good and every perfect gift comes down from the Father. Our faith must have a foundation, must have a basis. We must have knowledge of a matter in order to have faith in it. We have knowledge of God, and this knowledge which is granted us as a grace or favor brings us to the place where we are enabled to exercise the faith. The faith in a great measure rests upon the knowledge. The knowledge shows us God's character; the Divine Revelation makes known to us certain facts respecting God's purposes, and we see the purposes thus outlined to be in harmony with the character of God, and this enables one to believe the promises; and believing them, we are enabled to act upon them; and this is faith.
So, then, our faith, while it is of ourselves in the sense that we must exercise it, is of God in the sense that he supplies the necessary elements from which that faith is to be compounded.
IS THE CHURCH A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD NOW?
Question.--Is the Church in the flesh a royal priesthood?
Answer.--We recognize that we are not a royal priesthood, in the full sense of the word, yet, because we are not yet certain that we shall be in the priesthood finally. We must first make our calling and election sure.
It will have to be determined whether we shall be in the "Little Flock" or "Great Company"--whether Priests or Levites--or whether we shall be worthy of life at all. Since this matter, then, is in process of determination and will not be fully settled until our death, it follows that we are not in the fullest sense of the word officiating priests, but candidates for this priesthood, and temporarily acknowledged as priests and counted as priests-- just as some time you might meet a gentleman who had been nominated for Governor. By way of compliment you might say, "Good morning, Governor." He is not really a Governor yet. That will be determined by the election, but before he is elected it might be proper or courteous to call him Governor. And so with us. We hope we shall make our calling and election sure; that we shall be of that royal priesthood in the fullest sense, and in one sense we are now members in the Body, in that we have already received a begetting of the Spirit, acknowledgment of the Lord as ambassadors of God. This is an acknowledgment in one sense of the word of our priestly office, for these priests are "ambassadors," and to whatever extent we are conducting ourselves as ambassadors of God, to that extent we are priests of God--of the probationary kind, and not fully of the Melchisedec kind, which we shall be when our change shall come and we shall be like our Lord.