The Spirit World
FAITH is the first requisite in pleasing God. Even conduct must take a lower place, for faith alone can give it the flavor which is acceptable to Him. Yet, in these last days, when the faith has been so seriously diluted with tradition, the emphasis should be placed, not on faith alone, but on its object. We must believe God. All of us have absorbed much tradition, which we imagine to be God's truth. It is a most difficult thing to be rid of. Thinking it to be of God, we cling to it tenaciously. After thirty years of close application and examination of the Scriptures, I found myself still holding fast to a baseless tradition. I by no means claim to be clear yet, and am always on my guard against it. I have a profound sympathy for those who, when they first come into contact with the truths we teach, immediately imagine that they are not scriptural, because they do not agree with the faith which they have accepted.
It is remarkable how a really honest student of God's Word can read over a passage year after year which directly denies what he believes, yet this does not dawn on him. When it does, he seeks to “explain” it first so as to agree with his convictions. It is only when he begins to see that these convictions are not actually expressed in the Scriptures, that his heart may be opened to really believe God. For instance: I was interested in the career of Satan from the time I first believed. I eagerly devoured books purporting to explain his creation and subsequent fall. When I read, “the Slanderer is sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8), it made very little impression. But when I came to comment on it, I tried to “explain” that the beginning could not be his own beginning because that conflicted with what I supposed was taught elsewhere in the Word. But further searching showed that my faith was only tradition, for the Slanderer's “fall” was nowhere to be found. Not till then was I able to actually believe this passage.
This experience will help to explain the mission of our little magazine. Like ourselves, most of the Lord's saints are still clinging to tradition, fondly thinking that it is faith. It is not enough that we point out the passages which are almost universally rejected by earnest students of the Scriptures. We must also clear away the traditions which prevent them from accepting these. Indeed, this is our main task, for they are exceedingly delusive and tenacious and difficult to displace. Once they, are gone, it is easy to believe the Scriptures.
To illustrate the point we will give a list with a few of the most important passages of Scripture which are usually rejected or explained away by intelligent searchers of the Word, not because they will not believe them, but because they cannot, seeing that they already hold otherwise, and feel sure that they have a Bible basis for their belief.
THE DIVINE BACKGROUND
FOR UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES.
The Source, Course, and Consummation of All is God.
All is of God (Rom.11:36; 2 Cor.5:18).
(Tradition: Only good is of God: evil is of the Devil).
I [Yahweh] create evil (Isa.45:7).
(Tradition: Evil is created by the Devil).
The Slanderer is sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8).
(Tradition: The Devil fell from his first state).
God operates the universe in accord with the counsel of His will (Eph.1:11).
(Tradition: Satan defeats God's Intention).
It is not of him who is willing, nor yet of him who is racing (Rom.9:16).
(Tradition: Men are morally responsible).
God locks all up together in stubbornness, that He may be merciful to all (Rom.11:32).
(Tradition: There is no hope for unbelievers).
The universe has its cohesion in the Son of God (Col.1:17).
(Tradition: The powers of evil are independent).
All mankind will be saved, justified, and vivified (1Tim.2:4; Rom.5:18; 1Cor.15:22).
(Tradition: Most of mankind will suffer or die eternally).
The whole universe will be reconciled (Col.1:20).
(Tradition: Christ's blood avails only for humanity).
Death will be abolished and all made alive (1 Cor.15:26).
(Tradition: The second death knows no resurrection).
Sin will be repudiated at the conclusion of the eons (Heb.9:26).
(Tradition: Sin is eternal).
God will be All in all (1 Cor.15:28).
(Tradition: God will be much in a few).
This list is not intended to be convincing, but suggestive. We wish to awaken a desire in the hearts of our readers to test the foundations of their faith. Few indeed realize that the time has come when the saints have turned their ears away from the truth and have turned aside to myths (2 Tim.4:4). Begin by believing that, and look upon the accepted, orthodox teaching as apostate, and do not reason that the many must be right, and you are in a fair way to learn God's truth.
There is only one safe basis for faith: a clear, definite, correctly translated statement of Scripture. Deductions, however logical, symbols, however interesting, are not faith. They are admissible only when they accord with plain declarations. I once held that the prince of Tyre was a figure of Satan, and it led me to doubt 1 John 3:8. Now it seems to me that certain passages concerning the creation of the serpent may be applied to him. These do not prove the apostle's statement to be true, but they agree with it, and allow me to believe it without modification or reservation.
It is astonishing how often we are told that the Scriptures do not reveal anything on this or that subject. It is always better to say that we do not know that it does, for tradition has obscured many a plain declaration, and we are apt to overlook it if it does not accord with our creed, if, indeed, we do not deny it on that account. Of the origin of all, the Scriptures plainly declare, “all is of God.” “But!” — I hear many a reader say — “that, can't be.” And why? “Well, there is the devil.” Where did he come from? “The Scriptures do not say.” Yet that is precisely what this passage does say! It is faith to believe this, not philosophy. The consequences are far reaching, and may be disturbing, for almost all traditional teaching is based on two creators, One of the good, and one of the evil, and orthodoxy has founded its whole philosophy on this. It is, indeed, little more than the primary truth of revelation; there is one God, not two or more. This is another point on which Christendom clashes with the Scriptures while affecting to believe them, for they rob God of the essentials of deity and transfer them to Satan.
Our religious background has a vast deal to do with our interpretation of the Scriptures. The best antidote we have found for the blindness of tradition is to take the very passages which seem to need so much explaining, and yet are never satisfactorily settled, and put them behind all of our thoughts. Indeed, “all is out of Him and through Him and for Him” is the most comprehensive statement in the Scriptures, and really does underlie all else. Once we give it even a partial place in our thinking, deep difficulties will dissolve, and many a passage will be brought within the reach of our faith.
We would not perform any great service for our readers if we simply reminded them of that which they know, or what is obtainable from other sources. Our investigations of the Scriptures are fresh, and we have unearthed truth which has been forgotten and rejected, which reveals the very depths of God. God alone can open hearts to receive it, for it is hardly less than a miracle to be freed from the religious apostasy of these last days.
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