"TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES"
"Remember Lot's Wife."Luke 17:32
IN CONNECTION with our dear Master's prophetic warnings respecting the trials and testings of the present day, He uttered the words of our text. The significance of these words should be comprehended by all who are walking in the light of "Present Truth." The lesson is that those who, under the special guidance of the Lord, are now fleeing for safety to the Mountain of the Lord's Kingdom, will be held to a much stricter account than are others. Lot's wife was not accused of having shared in the evil practices of the people of Sodom, but she had been instructed by the angel of the Lord to leave Sodom at once, as it was doomed.
Her fault was that of looking back to that which she had been commanded to leave, and which she had left. She was told to flee from the condemned city, and not to look back as she fled, but to hasten on to the mountain of safety. We may reasonably suppose that her turning and looking back toward Sodom implied a heart not fully in harmony with her deliverance, but in some degree sympathetic with what she was leaving. She at heart clung to the accursed things condemned to destruction and was loath to give them up. Therefore the Lord brought her no further. She became a monument of the folly of sympathizing with evil, and with evil-doers, after God has given them up.
We believe there are some now who need to have their attention called to the antitype of this typical incident referred to by our Lord. Quite a number are disposed to sympathize and fraternize with those who have come under Divine condemnation. We are told by St. Jude that the destruction of Sodom was "set forth as an example," or type. Those who assume to be more gracious and long-suffering than the Lord, make of themselves opponents, who instead of being students of the principles of righteousness, attempt to be judges and teachers of Jehovah. The proper attitude of heart accepts God's decision as not only wiser but more just than our own. Consequently, when we see any who have enjoyed the light of Present Truth abandoned by the Lord and led into outer darkness, we are to conclude that before being thus abandoned there must have been in them "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." "He is faithful who hath promised" that "if any man will do His [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." (John 7:17.) Whoever, therefore, loses the doctrines of Christ after once having had them, has surely done more than get his head confused. His heart must have been separated from the Lord previously; for so long as we abide in Him, it will not be possible for any of the snares of this "evil day," this "hour of temptation," to entrap us; none shall pluck us out of the Father's hand; He is fully able to take care of us.
At the very foundation of all Christian doctrine lies the doctrine of the Ransom, the Scriptural teaching that "we are bought with a price," a corresponding price for Adam's sin. Any teaching, therefore, which either openly denies or quietly ignores this foundation doctrine, "the Ransom for all, to be testified in due time," must be a doctrine at variance with God's Revelation. Whether it be old or new, whether it be advocated by friends or by foes, by the learned or by the unlearned, in the name of Evolution or in some other name, our attitude toward it should be prompt and decided opposition. If others waver, we who have learned that the Ransom is the test by which all doctrines are to be proved, need not waver, and should not.
If our friends get into the quicksands of no-Ransom errors, whose name is now legion, and the numbers entrapped growing continually, we should lend them a helping hand wherever possible, "pulling them out of the fire," by reminding them of the Rock Christ Jesus, whereon our feet are firmly established, and by throwing to them the rope of Divine promises, throughout which is woven the scarlet thread of the Ransom of Christ, and exhort them to come back to the Rock and not to attempt to find another rock at the bottom of the quicksands. And we must use great plainness of speech in showing them their danger and in pointing out the way of escape.
But we must not accept their invitation to join with them in exploring what men can say or write which would tend to make the Word of God of none effect, which would claim that God has all along been the sinner and man the dupe; or that the hope of mankind is in their own evolution, and not in the Ransom and Restitution of the Scriptures; or that there is no sin and no death, really, and that man therefore needs no Redeemer, but can be his own savior. If after kind and faithful remonstrance on your part they still persist in exploring and delving into and feeding upon such evident contradictions of God's Word, let them go. Remember that there must be something wrong at their hearts, if they have ever been God's children [R5949 : page 262] at all, else they would have no pleasure in the unfruitful works of darkness, but would reprove them, and their delight would be in God's great Plan of the Ages.
Let us remember, too, that God has promised to keep and guide the minds of those whose hearts are loyal and true to Him. We should therefore conclude that if the Lord is thrusting any one out of the light as unworthy of it, into the outer darkness of the world, if He is permitting unfaithful ones to be seduced by the great enemy, it is not our mission to follow them into the outer darkness by reading, conversation, etc. We are to remain with the Lord and those who are walking in the light, and to seek others to take the places and crowns of those who now deny or ignore the precious blood of the Covenant wherewith they were once sanctified.
Neither are we to waste sympathy upon those who depart. If we can neither persuade them nor pull them out of the fire, we must let them go, and should turn at once and render aid to others more worthy. When the Lord has put any out of the light (Matthew 22:13, 14), we cannot hope to bring them back. Had it been proper for them to remain in the light, if they had been worthy of it, He would not have permitted them to be put out of it.
We do not here refer to slight differences of understanding, which should be patiently dealt with and explained or overlooked, as all children in the School of Christ have not attained to the same "step," or degree of knowledge; but we do refer to those radical differences, all of which may be quickly proved by the test of the Ransom doctrine. If they agree not with this, "it is because there is no light in them." And such are no longer to be to us brothers or sisters in Christ, but should be considered and treated as of the world"as a heathen man or a publican." These are not to be numbered among our friends; for the friendship of such is enmity against God. We are not to receive or entertain such at our houses, nor bid them or their work God-speed in any manner. (2 John 8-11.) Some who have neglected the plain statement of God's Word on this subject have suffered spiritually for their disobedience.
Let us more and more be of one mind with the Lord. His friends must be our friends; His enemies our enemies. If we affiliate with the Lord's enemies, we shall at least get into a luke-warm condition towards Him and His friends; and the luke-warm, God declares He will spew out of His mouth. We should cultivate warmth of heart toward all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to our Redeemer as their Lord and Head. There must be no lukewarmness there. Whatever their peculiarities according to the flesh, we cannot be other than brethren to them in spirit, with all the helpfulness and sympathy which brotherhood in Christ implies. But we must not, cannot, have any fellowship with the ungodly, the sinners against light and Truth, and scorners of the grace of God. And although if they were destitute we would feed them, yet so long as they are the opponents and adversaries of the Lord's Cause and His Truth, they are our adversaries and we theirs. The Lord loves positiveness with harmlessness, and of us it should be true as it is prophetically written of our Lord and the true members of His Body in Psalm 139:19-24.
This injunction of our Lord, to "remember Lot's wife," also applies particularly to the Lord's people who have heard His call of the present time to "come out" of Babylon, and have left this condemned "city." Whoever, therefore, is being led of the Lord's angels (messengers) to a place of safety ere the foretold destruction overtakes the present Order, as were Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom, let him not look back or otherwise manifest sympathy with that which is condemned of the Lord to overthrow and destruction.
In the next Age, when the world shall have been brought to a knowledge of the Truth, the opportunity will be granted them to show forth what is the real attitude of their hearts toward God. Some after coming to see the goodness and loving-kindness of the Lord, will still prefer sin; and God's sentence upon them will again be the sentence of deathSecond Death. A certain period will be granted them to learn of the great goodness of the Lord and of their opportunity of gaining eternal life. If they do not then manifest an interest in their own salvation and an appreciation of God's goodness in Christ, and a desire to be helped up out of sin and degradation, they will receive the final wages of sin, utter and eternal destruction in the Second Death.
There will apparently be some in that time who will seem to desire assistance up to a better life, a righteous life, who will yield obedience in perhaps only an outward way to the laws of the Kingdom. These, we understand, will be permitted to live on and be gradually brought up to a condition of physical and mental perfection; they may live through to the full end of the thousand years of Christ's Reign. At the end of that time they, with all others then living, will be turned over by Christ to the [R5949 : page 263] Father for a final crucial testing. If these then prove that their wills have not been wholly given up to God, that they do not yet appreciate the costly provision made for their salvation, and the value of righteousness, they will be destroyed as unworthy of Divine approval and unworthy of everlasting life. If the demonstration which will then have been given them of the Wisdom, the Justice and the Love of God will not have changed their hearts to entire devotion to Him and to His glorious and righteous will, any further opportunity would be utterly useless. They will be cut off from earth as cumberers of the ground, that only the righteous, the holy, may live throughout the ages of eternity.
Of the world God will require a full consecration to do His will. It must include their entire selves, their wills, their bodiestheir whole-hearted allegiance. It will not be a consecration unto sacrifice, unto death, as is now the case with the Church; but they must become wholly devoted to God and must realize and recognize that they belong to God, that they have been bought, purchased back from death, and may, if obedient, live forever. We all see how reasonable is this requirement. Adam, who was created in God's likeness, should have said, "I belong to God. He gave me my life and all I have." But he had not fully learned to trust the Wisdom and Love of his Maker. He had a perfect brain, a perfect organism; but he lacked full knowledge of the character of the Lord and of the justice of all His requirements. His incomplete knowledge, therefore, rendered him to some extent excusable in God's sight. If he had taken the stand of opposition to the Lord with clear knowledge and experience, apparently he would not have been accounted worthy of redemption. The whole world will, then, when they reach perfection, realize that they owe everything to God, and, if loyal at heart, will wish to render all to Him in glad serviceto the praise of His name.
While it would have been eminently proper for the world, as with Adam, to render perfect obedience to God, even if man had never sinned and been redeemed, the fact that they have sinned, and yet have been redeemed through God's abounding love and mercy, and will be given another opportunity, a full individual opportunity, to gain life eternal, furnishes a double reason why they should devote themselves fully to God and His service forevermore. Those who are bought with bloodthe precious blood of the Son of God, through whom they were createdwho were redeemed by such a Sacrifice, should rejoice to bind themselves to all eternity to the God who so loved them, and should count it their most precious privilege to render homage and worship and praise forever to such a Creator and such a Redeemer.
The Church of Christ realize, as none others can, the mighty significance of the words, "Ye are bought with a price, and ye are not your own." Our decision has been made that we will indeed be the glad bond-servants of Him who thus loved and bought us. We have no rights left. Our all is on the altar of sacrifice with our Lord; and God has ratified our decision. We are now under the most binding of obligations. Unless our lives are laid down in harmony with our contract we can never have eternal life on any plane.
Of these who have assumed this obligation there are two classes. There is one class who will do all they have covenanted to do. These will "receive the full reward." (2 John 8.) Then there is the other class who, having made the same covenant, fail to fulfil their contract. But just as the endorser of a note is responsible, so the Lord Jesus will see to it that these finish the sacrifice which they have covenanted to make. Their lives must be yielded up. If they rebel against the enforced destruction of their flesh, they will be sinning wilfully, and will die the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery.
All the Covenantors have agreed to glorify God in their bodies, to lay them down faithfully in His service. Anything less could not be acceptable; and we should not think of rendering anything less. Let us, then, proceed with the work of sacrificing these earthly bodies, which are the Lord'snot that we should use them up in a suicidal way, without regard to the strain upon the flesh, but in a reasonable, sane manner let us daily, hourly, glorify God in our bodies, continuing our sacrifice even unto the end, whether that end be a few weeks off or a few months or a few years.