"NOW ARE WE THE SONS OF GOD"
QUESTION.--Are consecrated believers actually or only reckonedly sons of God? Answer.--Consecrated believers are actually sons of God. The Scriptures so state the matter. "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." (I John 3:2.) Old things have passed away and all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17.) Either you are a son of God or you are not a son of God. If you have made the proper consecration and God has begotten you of the Holy Spirit, you are a son of God. It is just as well, dear friends, that we have this matter clearly before our minds.
In England a business man said to us after one of the great Albert Hall Meetings, "I was out to hear you at Albert Hall, and you discouraged me very much." At first we did not know what he meant. As he proceeded we found out. He said, "I had been thinking that I was a good Episcopalian, and that if God had anything good to give away I should be sure to get it if any one would. From the way you talk I see you think there is only a 'little flock' which gets these good things which the Father has. You have quite upset my faith."
When we came to understand what the gentleman meant we told him that we were very glad, for we wanted to wake him up before he should die with such a misunderstanding of God's terms. God is not calling people who say, "I would rather serve You than go to hell, but that is all the interest I have in you." God is calling those people who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Of that kind He is getting the number He wants for His special place--to be joint-heirs with His Son. He is not calling the remainder of mankind. After this Gospel Age will be the time for those on the earthly plane to receive their blessing, to reach human perfection.
But the only ones who will ever get the spiritual or high calling are those who are saints. How can we suppose that God will exalt to association with Jesus, as members of His Body, any who are not saints at heart, pure in their intentions, especially pure--loyal to God to the very core? Would you expect Him to take any others? You would not even respect the Government of God if you knew He would have all sorts of people in highly exalted places and give them the divine nature. If you believed such to be the case you must lose all respect for the Almighty's Government. But when He tells you that all those who will be highly exalted to association with Jesus will be copies of His Son, you will say, "That sounds right." It is right. The Lord's ways are just and righteous altogether. If we should never make our calling and election sure we would say, "True and righteous are Thy ways, Lord God Almighty."
But we could never count it right if anyone should be roasted through all eternity or in Purgatory for a time. We could never agree to the righteousness of that. Such [R4932 : page 446] ways would be most unjust. There is no one who for his shortcomings could ever warrant the sentence of eternal torment, or even one hundred years of torment, or even one year of torment. It could not be right for poor, imperfect human beings to be held responsible for perfection and to be tormented because of coming short of it. But you know, and everybody knows, that to whatever extent you co-operate with evil, to that extent you will bring upon yourself degradation, mental, moral and physical; and every step you go downward must be retraced, if you attain to anything good in this life or in the life to come. [R4933 : page 446] There is a righteous recompense of reward, as the Scriptures say, to the righteous as well as to the evildoers.
THE LAND WAS FORCED TO KEEP ITS SABBATHS
Question.--In a chapter in Vol. II of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES it is shown how the Israelites while in captivity were forced to observe the Sabbaths which they did not observe before. Why are these Sabbaths called Jubilees in Vol. II?
Answer.--What the Second Volume of STUDIES says is, not that the Jews were forced to keep their Sabbaths while in Babylon, but that the land was forced to keep these Sabbaths, while the Jews were in Babylon. God says so. (2 Chron. 36:20,21.) The Jews were commanded that in the Jubilee year the land should rest. Like the rest of humanity, somewhat selfish, they were afraid that if they should let the land rest a whole year they would get behind in their taxes, etc. So they did not properly keep those Jubilees. Israel had kept nineteen Jubilees up to the time when they went into captivity; and the Lord was greatly dissatisfied with them. He said: While you have had the land, the land did not observe the Sabbaths. You did not keep the Sabbaths properly. We are not herein blaming the Jews, for we believe that if the Lord should put such a commandment upon the United States or any other country, very few would keep it.
According to the Law, the Sabbath year occurred every seventh year. The people were instructed to count seven times seven years, and then came the fiftieth, the Jubilee. Thus two Sabbaths came together, one of which, the fiftieth, was the great Jubilee year. The Jews kept these Sabbaths in a half-hearted way; so the Lord put them out of their land into the enemy's land, until their land should accomplish her Sabbaths. Evidently God did not wish the Jew to understand the full import of these time features; for the Jew does not understand even to this day. If God had meant for the Jew to understand, the Jew would have understood. But we believe that these time features were meant chiefly for the Spiritual Israelite, and that the number 70 was put there to show us when the time should come for the Lord to bless Israel and the whole world. When the time comes, then the Jews will understand about their Sabbaths, the captivity and the fulfilment of all things. But we get this information from the spiritual source, a higher source than the Jews and the remainder of the world.