(Sigrid Charlotte Clementine Marie Knoch)
JANUARY 12th, 1967, marked the falling asleep of the wife and helpmeet of our founder, A. E. Knoch. She was put to rest in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, beside the body of her beloved “Philo,” on Monday, January 16th. Surviving are a brother, Hans Graf Kanitz, of Bad Eilsen, Germany, a sister, Paula Grafin Finckenstein, of Hannover, Germany, and their families; a stepson and stepdaughter, Ernest and Alberta Knoch, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
At the memorial services, a prayer was offered by her grandson, Albert Knoch, and a few words from the Scriptures were read at the graveside by her other grandson, David Knoch. Her favorite hymn, “It is Well with my Soul,” was sung by Luise Rocke, and the service was given by the co-editor of this magazine, Herman H. Rocke. Since the details of her life were given in the service, we have thought it well to publish it here.
TOWARD A BETTER EXPECTATION
OUR DEAR SISTER SIGRID KNOCH, after a long life in His service, is now asleep and waiting for her Lord. Her path, suited to transcendence, had three characteristic features:
(3) a better expectation.
Let us begin by reading, Hebrews 6:18,19, “We might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.” In this quotation from the Authorized Version, the keyword is hope. But hope alone seems to be incompatible with sureness and steadfastness, as our Sister Sigrid learned late in her life. Then she preferred the Concordant translation: “We may have a strong consolation, who are fleeing for refuge to lay hold of the expectation lying before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul, both secure and confirmed.”
There is another occurrence of the word EXPECTATION in Hebrews 7:18,19, “For, indeed, there is coming to be a repudiation of the preceding precept, because it is weak and without benefit, for the law perfects nothing; yet it is the superinduction of a better expectation, through which we are drawing near to God.”
It has been said that hope affords inspiration to youth, gives balance to middle life, and is the sure solace of old age. In the life of our Sister, the first statement proved to be true: Hope was indeed the inspiration of her youth. But in her case, hope did not seem to give any balance to middle life. She learned by trial and error that hope is neither secure nor steadfast, but expectation is indeed both secure and confirmed. She also learned that religious law-keeping perfects nothing, since the precept of the church in which she grew up was weak and without benefit.
It was our glorious expectation which gave her the impetus to slave for her Lord as long as she was able. Hope might have been her solace when she reached the landmark in life which is called “retirement age,” yet the better expectation gave her the strength to carry on with her workload for another twenty years.
Sigrid von Kanitz was born on July 20th, 1876, in Pansewitz Castle on the German island of Rugen. When she was still very young she lost her mother, and, as a result, her Bible became to her a most valuable treasure which accompanied her everywhere in the years to come. Her father, Count Hans von Kanitz-Podangen, was a well-known politician who defended the interests of the Prussian farmers in the Reichstag, the German Parliament. Young Sigrid was educated by English governesses. As a daughter of nobility, she was surrounded by many servants. There seemed to be no chance for her ever to lead an active life as her father did.
On their large estate in East Prussia, Sigrid became aware of the marked contrast between her own breeding as the daughter of a nobleman as against the uncouthness of the villagers who worked on the family estate, in much the same way as their ancestor bondsmen had once slaved for their feudal lords. Young Sigrid saw the villagers' daughters of her own age toiling in the fields during the summer heat. She saw them on chilly mornings in the fall bringing in the crop of beets and potatoes, their hands and naked feet bluish-red from the cold. Under the circumstances, young Sigrid felt that she was doomed to a life of permanent leisure if she made no earnest effort to contribute toward improving living conditions for others. And she tried hard to do so.
Later, however, God's spirit awakened young Sigrid to a lifelong response. As a deaconess of the Protestant order of Saint John, she served her Lord Jesus Christ with all the enthusiasm of her youth. Later, she was placed in charge of an orphanage. She was granted the rare freedom of leading a useful life long before the first world war erased both the privileges and the limitations of the daughters of nobility. Sister Sigrid, who once had many servants, had herself become a servant to many. In her own life, she had repudiated the preceding precept which was mainly religious law-keeping, because it was weak and without benefit. Now the Lord prepared her for the superinduction of a better expectation, through which she drew nearer to God.
Since Sister Sigrid had a keen and logical mind she was not satisfied with the traditional answers to many questions, such as: What is the object of creation? Why did God create doomed sinners? Why did God not cast Satan into the lake of fire before he could do so much damage? Why did God not warn Adam and Eve that an eternal hell would await them if they sinned, and not only them, but all their descendants? No one could give her a satisfactory answer.
To Sister Sigrid, the Bible seemed to be one vast chaos, beyond understanding, and full of contradictions. There was an omnipotent God from Whom the devil takes almost everything. There was a God Who knows all beforehand, yet hinders nothing. There was a God Who is even concerned with the cattle of Nineveh, Whose Son is moved with compassion when He sees a mourning widow or a blind beggar, and yet He invents a hell of fire and keeps it going forever!
If men were responsible for their eternal fate, as is generally taught, why did God not elaborate upon this problem in the Bible? At what age does responsibility begin? And what about the responsibility of those who never heard about Christ?...or heard only once?...or twice? What about the responsibility for our foul dispositions, our environment, our education, our inherited alienation from God? Why does not everyone come into this world as enlightened and privileged as Adam? He had intercourse with God Himself, with the power to resist sin, and apparently was free to choose for himself either obedience or sin.
During those years of doubt, her mother's Bible did not provide, as before, a strong consolation, even though she continued fleeing there daily for refuge to lay hold upon the hope which once had seemed so precious, such a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. But now this hope no longer gave balance to her life, nor did it erase the torturing doubts from her mind. However, even in her weakness, she experienced the power of Christ tabernacling over her.
In the prime of her life, Sister Sigrid, together with her co-worker, Freiin von Bissing, became the publishers of the German edition of the Overcomer, a bimonthly magazine which had come into existence as a result of the revival movement in Wales during the early years of this century. Sister Sigrid made the cross of Christ the center of her own life, as well as of her magazine: “With Christ have I been crucified, yet I am living; no longer I, but living in me is Christ” (Gal.2:20).
As an editor, she received many letters from believers all over Europe and elsewhere. One day a friend in Berlin sent her an article written in English by a certain A. E. Knoch of Los Angeles. She found the contents so interesting and revealing that she wrote him and asked for permission to publish a translation in her German magazine. The permission was granted, not only for this one article, but for everything published in the Unsearchable Riches magazine. It was in the late twenties of this century when Sister Sigrid began translating and publishing those articles, which revealed the answers to problems unsolved heretofore, not only for herself, but also for many readers of the German Overcomer who lived not only in Germany proper, but also in eastern France, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, and elsewhere in the world.
In the years to come, Sister Sigrid experienced the superinduction of a better expectation through which she was drawing even nearer to God while she became acquainted with the purpose of the One Who is operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His will, that we should be for the laud of His glory. She learned that the Son of His love is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, and that, through the blood of His cross, all will be reconciled to Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens. For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.
Sister Sigrid also learned to appreciate the advantages of translating the Scriptures concordantly. She was sufficiently familiar with this subject, that she could serve as Brother A. E. Knoch's interpreter when he came to Germany in 1931 and gave lectures on the Concordant method of translation. The interest was so gratifying that a committee was formed for setting up German standards for the Greek words of the New Testament. Brother A. E. Knoch left Europe the same year and stayed in Palestine for a few months. While he was there, Sister Sigrid changed the name of her magazine to “Unausforschlicher Reichtum,” which is the German equivalent for “Unsearchable Riches.” The change of name had become imperative since, of late years, there was little left to identify her German magazine as a branch of the English Overcomer. Rather it had become an offshoot of Unsearchable Riches.
While Brother A. E. Knoch was in the Holy Land he realized that Countess Sigrid von Kanitz was the one he wanted for his helpmeet. When he returned to Europe, they were married in Potsdam, Germany, on May 25, 1932, when he was 57 years of age, and she was almost 56.
While the story of her own life seems to end here and is amalgamated with that of A.E.K., much of her work went on as before. For almost thirty years, she continued to translate into German, articles from the American Unsearchable Riches, along with many other tasks which she gladly assumed as the indispensable helpmeet of Brother A. E. Knoch.
When he passed away in March 1965, at the age of ninety, she was almost 89 years old. Her strength was nearly consumed, after having slaved for her Lord over a period of three score and ten years, serving her husband as a faithful helpmeet for over thirty years. Early in 1966, she became bedridden. Her memory failed, and there was a gradual weakening as the days went by, until she passed quietly away on January 12th, 1967, after a life as rich as a woman's life can be, who responded to her Lord's call while still in her teens.
It was the superinduction of a better expectation, even a glorious expectation, which had become the secure and confirmed anchor in Sister Sigrid's life. She is now asleep. While in oblivion, she awaits Him Who will awaken her with a shout of command and will change her frail form into a glorious likeness of the image of the Son of God, not in order to enter upon a life of leisure, but rather to serve her Lord even better among the celestials.
In Proverbs 31:31 we read, “Let her own works praise her.” And, we may add, let us not grieve, but rather praise the Lord that, because of her works, she progressed from hope to expectation, even to a better and more glorious expectation, “retaining the avowal of the expectation without wavering, for faithful is He, Who promises” (Heb.10:23). To Him be all the glory! Amen!
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