These two articles, published August 1, 1913, are soul-searching and remain edifying in our day. — Pastor Charles Russell, The Watch Tower, R5284 (both articles)
Why There is Diversity Amongst God’s People
“Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
WHILE it is true that all men are born with inalienable rights and privileges, yet no man is born without sin. The Scriptures very properly declare that the race in Adam was sold under Sin six thousand years ago. In this sense, therefore, we were not born free, but slaves of Sin. Neither are we born equal. No two persons are exactly alike in opportunity, talent, and ability. We differ from one another. God did not create some better and some worse — some more richly endowed and some less richly endowed. We are to take the Bible statement of the origin of humanity, and understand that God made Adam perfect. All the imperfections which encumber the human race are the results of the dying process. Sin has made us all to differ, then, from the original image and likeness of God. Satan brought about this difference through Mother Eve.
In our text, however, the Apostle Paul has in mind a New Creation in Jesus Christ — a new order — amongst whose members there is a difference. Some in the Church have many talents, others, few talents; some have special talents, others have ordinary talents. But Satan is not charged with having given the greater or lesser talents to these. The Apostle says that it is God who has set the various members in the Body as it has pleased Him; and that both this setting, or apportioning, of the different members of the Body and the bringing forth of the different degrees of fruitage are manifestations of God’s grace in our hearts. Thus we are made to differ from each other.
Cause of Diversity of Attainments
The matter of growth in the holy Spirit is one that is dependent in large measure upon each one’s zeal to know, to do, the will of God. We are put into the School of Christ to learn of him. Some learn more rapidly, others less rapidly. In proportion as they learn, they have greater opportunities and blessings. All are granted a measure of the holy Spirit — all granted some blessing. Those who are anxious to know the will of the Lord and to study it grow the more rapidly, and thus have more of the holy Spirit. These are zealous to do the Lord’s will. Their progress is not attributable wholly to themselves, but especially to the favor of God.
The Apostle goes on to say, Ye are God’s workmanship; “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” We could not do this work ourselves. The power that is working in us is of God. He is preparing a glorious Temple. He has provided who shall be the chief cornerstone of this Temple, and who shall be the members of the Temple class. We could not choose the place for ourselves. But in God’s providence we each responded to the call to be a living stone. The stones were first cut out of the dark quarry, and now they are being shaped and prepared for places in the glorious building.
Diversity of Another Kind
The great Master Workman is doing a work upon us. He is chiseling and fashioning us. He is making us what we are. Consequently, there is to be no boasting. There is a certain amount of personality connected with each one, however, and if there is too much cross grain in the stone it will be abandoned. As the Apostle Peter exhorts, we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time. The same Apostle also reminds us that we should look up to God and give Him praise for all that we have and are (1 Peter 5:6, 4:11).
We are colaborers with God. We give God the praise that He has made us to differ from our former selves, that He is making us thus to differ more every day, and that He will continue the good work as the days go by and as we seek to do His will. What have we of ourselves? Nothing! We were wholly dead through Father Adam’s disobedience; we were born in this condition, having no right to everlasting life. But God has a Plan which is world-wide in its scheme of blessing. He has proffered the blessings of the highest feature of this Plan to us, and invited us to come to Him in advance of the world. And this we receive through His grace.
Doctrines More or Less Important
THERE are certain features of the doctrine of Christ which are fundamental and indispensable, and without which none would be recognized of the Lord as one of his followers. There are other features which would seem to be useful, helpful, blessed, but not fundamental — not essential to membership in the Body of Christ. The fundamentals have been enjoyed by good, saintly ones from the Day of Pentecost until now.
We, the same class now, have the same fundamentals and are permitted to have other privileges, truths, “meat in due season,” for our strengthening. These latter are not necessarily essential to our membership in the Body of Christ; otherwise our forefathers who did not have them would not have been members of Christ, and there would have been no Christ Body for centuries.
The fundamental theory of the Atonement is as follows:
(1) All men — all of Adam’s children — are sinners.
(2) None can be reconciled to God without a Redeemer’s sacrifice.
(3) Jesus came into the world to be that Sacrifice — and later to apply that Ransom-price for the sins of the world.
(4) On the basis of faith in the Redeemer’s work, the believer may consecrate himself to the Divine service, in acceptance of the Divine invitation, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
(5) So doing, the believer may — up to the time of the completion of the Elect number — exercise full assurance of faith that his sacrifice will be accepted of the Father; and that he will receive a share of the anointing of the Holy Spirit — the begetting.
(6) Such as meet these conditions are to be accepted as brethren in the highest sense of the term. This much would seem to have been always necessary, and more than this we believe is not necessary today. But if by reason of our favorable day we have more knowledge, we may also have corresponding trials, which our greater knowledge will offset.
Our advice to the Lord’s dear people everywhere is that they put no yoke upon each other, beyond the fundamentals specified above — that otherwise they stand free, and leave each other free, and fellowship and agree as much as they can with each other.
If there be a disposition to crowd each other on more than this basic faith, and if it be considered necessary to separate in order to the progress of either of the parties, then doubtless rather than a continual contention a separation would be the wise course.
We are not criticizing the views of any one. Each has a perfect right to hold whatever he believes the Bible to teach, and our views are doubtless well known to all of our readers. Briefly stated, they are as follows:
(1) That the one that sinned was Adam, and that he and all his posterity were involved.
(2) That a Redeemer was necessary, that Jesus became that Redeemer, and “gave himself a Ransom for all.”
(3) That God has invited some of the redeemed sinners — not to be the Ransom-price, nor to redeem anybody else, but — to be associates of the Redeemer, members of his Body, his Bride.
(4) The terms and conditions upon which these may have fellowship are that Jesus as the great Advocate shall accept them as His members — their flesh as His flesh — and that He shall impute to them the share of his merit which would be coming to them as members of the Adamic race. Then they are legally justified from all the shortcomings, weaknesses, and imperfections inherited by them; and their own wills and all their remaining powers and talents being consecrated, their sacrifice may be acceptable to God — as part of the Sin-Offering by the great High Priest.
(5) Sharing thus in the Redeemer’s death, these are privileged to share in his life, by the First Resurrection. The Redeemer does not now make application of his merit to the world, aside from the newly-accepted and added members. He will carry out the Divine Program, and sacrifice all his members before presenting, at the end of the age, the merit of his sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the whole world, and will thereby seal the New Covenant for them.
In our judgment many err in attaching too much value to the Church’s sacrifice; whereas other dear brethren err, we think, in that they do not see any value in the Church’s sacrifice, nor that she is permitted a share in the Master’s sacrificings at all. To us it seems like the swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other; whereas our view lies in the center, as we have stated the matter.
If after fully considering these matters, a class finds that it cannot agree, and would make better progress as two classes, we would concur in that conclusion as a wise one, as much as we would deplore the necessity of a division. Such a separation would not necessarily alienate either class from the Lord’s people, nor from the Society, because both acknowledge Jesus as their Redeemer, and both acknowledge that his blood is primarily efficacious.