RIGHTEOUSNESS BY GRACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH, AND THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST
TEXT FOR PRAYER
Measure not God’s Work With Man’s Yardstick
I shall read from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 79, paragraph one:
“The great leaders of religious thought in this generation sound the praises and build the monuments of those who planted the seed of truth centuries ago. Do not many turn from this work to trample down the growth springing from the same seed today? The old cry is repeated, ‘We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow [Christ in the messenger He sends], we know not from whence he is.’ As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned or too wise to believe the word of God. ‘For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.’“
This reading commands to pray for those who are considered wise, for today as in times past the so-called great leaders of religion are on the one hand sounding praises, building, as it were, monuments to God’s servants of centuries before, while on the other hand trampling down God’s messengers of their own day! They, too, in effect say “We know that God spoke unto Moses; as for this fellow we know not from whence He is.” We should pray that they realize their mistake of measuring the work of God by the yardstick of man. And pray, too, that we ourselves not fall unto such a practice.
RIGHTEOUSNESS BY GRACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH, AND THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, JULY 31, 1948
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
There is much talk among us about “righteousness by grace” and “righteousness by faith,” also about “the righteousness of Christ.” But of what profit will all this talk be to us unless we do something to find out what these really are, and how to make them our own. We should therefore not fail in this, and we cannot fail if we seek the Lord wholeheartedly as we study through the concrete examples which the Spirit of Truth has placed at my hand.
To begin the study I shall read two verses of scripture, first from Romans, then from Hebrews:
Rom. 11:6 – “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
We are called into the election of God, says the scripture, not because of any good works of our own, but through God’s grace. We are, therefore, invited to become Christians, the children of God, not because we deserve to be adopted by Him, but because of His favor toward us. Indeed, there is no other way by which we can be Γ4 saved, for we all have sinned and, therefore, how can we be saved except He, through His grace, forgive us our sins and start us out anew? This is what is called a new birth, the sum of which is that we deserve no credit for coming into the household of God. The credit is His.
By our natural birth we are born sinners, but by our spiritual birth we are born righteous. As born sinners we serve sin, but as born righteous we serve righteousness. Hence it is not by works, but by “grace” that we are what we are.
Heb. 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
By faith, not by sight, we know that we are the sons of God, citizens of His government. And as such we submit ourselves to His rules and laws. As such we honor and revere Him as our Saviour and King.
Let us now for example go back to Noah’s day. Noah lived in an exceedingly wicked world, as you know. It was so wicked that, as merciful as God is, He could no longer contain Himself while the wickedness went on. At long last He commanded Noah to build an ark, and promised that all, whether righteous or wicked, who would go into the ark would find deliverance from the awful flood. Since they did not merit such a favor, they were, therefore, offered deliverance from the flood only through “righteousness of grace” – they were to be credited with righteousness and be given life which they did not merit. Thus we see “grace” taking occasion to save sinners even back in Noah’s day. And so, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Rom. 5:20.
In Abraham’s time, too, only about 400 years after the flood the world had sunk deep in idol worship, and God commanded Abraham to get out of his father’s house, out of his idolatrous country, and to go to another land, a land that was to be for his own and for God’s people only. And as any, good or bad, who joined Abraham and his God were as freely permitted to enter into the Promised Land as were the antediluvians permitted to enter the ark, they too, therefore, were given “righteousness by grace”; that is, they were privileged to take their stand for God with Abraham, and to share the blessings, but not because of any good works of theirs. Having endured to the end, Abraham, whose faith failed not, became the father of all who through “righteousness by grace” attain “righteousness by faith.” Hence you see that “righteousness by grace” starts us out into “righteousness by faith,” the reward of which is, “the righteousness of Christ.”
Later in history came the time that whosoever, good and bad alike, joined the Exodus out of Egypt, found deliverance from Pharaoh’s taskmasters and from his pursuing army. This deliverance they obtained not because they deserved deliverance, but because of the “grace” of God toward them. (See Ezekiel 20:1-8.) Thus they “all…were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:1-4. Yes, through “righteousness by grace” none were excluded from participating in the blessings then offered.
Having been given “righteousness by grace” sufficient to cross the sea, and having come into the desert, they were then given the finest chance to exercise “righteousness by faith.” But only those who did exercise “righteousness by faith” lived on and entered the Promised Land. Those, though, who made no more use of “faith” in the desert than they did in Egypt perished in the wilderness.
Finally, came the time for the faithful to possess the land. And so it was that only those whose “righteousness by faith” sustained them, crossed the River Jordan. None others did. And for our benefit the Apostle has left this counsel: “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb. 4:1, 2.
So far in our study we have seen that God is impartial, that He has endeavored to save all peoples at all times in the same way as He is endeavoring to save us; that He is not experimenting with Himself – not saving us one way and others another way.
The kingdom was at last set up in the Promised Land and the people were left to continue in “righteousness by faith.” But as in times past “faith” again waned, and the nation became unbearably wicked, – so wicked that God could no longer tolerate it to be called by His name while living in His land. Forthwith both the temple and the palace – the spiritual and the physical – were leveled to the ground, and the people were Γ7 carried away.
God nevertheless clung to His people as a mother clings to her children, and after seven decades, having once again extended to them righteousness by grace, God gave them the opportunity to return to their homeland where they enjoyed revival and reformation, but only for a little while. Rather than continue in “righteousness by faith,” they fell from “grace” and became seven times worse than their predecessors.
Thus it was that if God was then to save any one member of the nation He could do it only by offering another chance of “grace.” This time He gave the gift of His only Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour upon Whom the iniquities of us all were laid. And hence, as mean and as wicked as were both Jew and Gentile, they were all invited to the greatest gift of “grace,” the grace which only the life of the Son of God can give. The Apostles themselves were not for any good deed of their own, but through this gift of “righteousness by grace,” privileged to partake of the “righteousness by faith.”
And so the unjust, the violators of the law of God, have always through “righteousness by grace” been invited to come into “righteousness by faith,” the only righteousness that actually receives the reward of “Christ’s righteousness” and of eternal life. “Now,” says Inspiration, “the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Heb. 10:38. The just, you see, live by faith, but the unjust by grace. “Grace,” you note, is not the final touch of salvation. Γ8 “Grace” plus “faith,” plus “the righteousness of Christ,” are what earn eternal life.
The law, moreover, does not save. It condemns sin and upholds righteousness. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3:20. Being already a sinner, man is by the law condemned to death. Only by “grace,” therefore, can he be set free from the condemnation of the law. The sinner, consequently, is a law-breaker, and the righteous is a law-keeper. “Grace,” therefore, pardons, the sinner, lets him out of prison, so to speak, and gives him another chance to overcome sin; but “faith” keeps him free. The sum of the matter is this: “Righteousness through grace” is righteousness through pardon, while “righteousness through faith” is righteousness through behaving, and it is crowned with “the righteousness of Christ.”
To repeat: “Grace” pardons our sins and sets us free – gives us another chance to make life what it ought to be. Consequently, if you are under “grace” you are not under the law, for “grace” has made you free from the penalty which the law imposes.
Having failed to attain “righteousness by faith,” the Jews again fell from “grace”; and being by the law, condemned to eternal death, they were again given “grace” – a second chance – through the death of the Son of God. Those who availed themselves of the “grace,” came into the Christian church henceforth to remain free, and were to sin no more save through mistake, mishap, or through short-sightedness, sins of which we are forgiven if we do not continue Γ9 therein.
“My little children,” says Inspiration, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” 1 John 2:1-5.
The Christian church, though, did not long continue in “grace,” but it, too, in time fell even lower than the Jewish church. Necessarily something had to be done for her also if any of her members were to be made free, and if God was still to have a church on earth. Unquestionably, this “something” was none other than the Protestant Reformation. But since we all know that the Reformation has not yet accomplished its Divinely appointed purpose, has not reached the accord and faith which the Church enjoyed on the day of Pentecost, it is obvious that another attempt of revival and reformation is an absolute necessity. But to know all this for a certainty, we must turn to “the more sure word of prophecy,” to the prophet Ezekiel.
Ezek. 4:1, 2 – “Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: and lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.”
Here the prophet was commanded to portray a city, a Jerusalem – the capital of the church. This Jerusalem, of course, is not really the geographical Jerusalem, but a city that stands for what Jerusalem itself stood – the Church scattered throughout the “Gentile” nations. Moreover, Ezekiel himself was actually told that this symbolization is concerning the church while scattered among the Gentiles. (See verse 13.) Furthermore, Ezekiel is commanded to lay siege against it, to take it! Now, since this Jerusalem stands for the Church while among the Gentiles, and since God commands His own servant, the prophet, to besiege it, to protest against it, and to take it, it is therefore obvious that the Church, the Jerusalem here portrayed, is shown as having been drawn away from God, and that God is endeavoring to rescue her, to effect a reformation in her midst. For such cause, therefore, is Ezekiel’s siege.
Finally, since the Christian church, Jerusalem, away from its original geographical location, was for the first time in history so attacked, or besieged, by Martin Luther – by the Protestant Reformation – the fulfillment of this prophecy obviously commences with Luther. This fact will be seen throughout the chapter as we continue to study it verse by verse.
Verse 3 – “Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.”
The wall of iron, illustrated by the iron pan, is a perfect symbol of the separation which Γ11 existed between Luther and the so-called Jerusalem, the Church. This was to be a sign, not to Judah, the antitypical two-tribe kingdom among the Gentiles but to Israel, to the members of the antitypical ten-tribe kingdom while scattered among the nations.
Verses 4, 5 – “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.”
To lay one’s iniquity upon someone else, is to free the sinner from the penalty which he deserves. It is an act which credits the sinner with “righteousness” which he has not earned, and this is what Inspiration calls “righteousness by grace.” Previously the iniquity of the Jews was laid upon Christ, and the nation was given a chance to step out of her death-cell, so to speak, and to stand free in Christ. Many, but not all, then availed themselves of this “righteousness by grace” and stepped into “righteousness by faith.” This same “grace,” you see, was again offered to the church in the sixteenth century, for to lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon Ezekiel means practically the same as to lay the iniquity of us all upon Christ.
This grace through Ezekiel continues 390 days – years (verse 6). After this period of time, the house of Israel, the Protestant churches, bear their own iniquity; that is, after this given period of time runs out, then this extended “grace” ceases and there is to be no other. Γ12 Ezekiel then bears their sins no longer. Then is the time in which they must hold fast to “righteousness of faith” if they are to be rewarded with “Christ’s righteousness” and with eternal life.
Verses 6, 7 – “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.”
Ezekiel was to lie down on his right side, not only for the iniquity of the house of Israel, but also for the iniquity of the house of Judah and thus bear their iniquity, too, for forty years. And so both houses (the whole of Christendom), are given the same chance, the same opportunity. The one comes first in time, and the other last. Three hundred ninety years of “grace” are given to the former, and 40 years to the latter, a total of 430 years. During this period of time they are to triumph over sin, and at last to attain “righteousness by faith,” and to be rewarded with “the righteousness of Christ.” The exact year in which this period of 430 years begins, we shall see as we continue our study.
Verses 7, 8 – “Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.”
The uncovering of Ezekiel’s arm, of course, means that the might of the Reformation shall be seen, and the sins of Jerusalem shall be laid open – shall be prophesied against.
Moreover, the things spoken of here are sure to take place, for Ezekiel is bound down so that he cannot turn over and change the symbolization. He cannot get up at will, until he has accomplished God’s command, until he has ended the days of his siege. Then in the end of this time he is to arise and from then on let everyone bear his own iniquity. Ezekiel, therefore, while lying down is symbolizing conditions during the Reformation from Luther’s time down to the end of the 430 years. Then Ezekiel arises and is made the watchman: “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” And since this prophecy is now unfolded for the first time, Ezekiel, obviously, is especially figurative of this final effort of revival and reformation, of the effort after Ezekiel is through lying down and while he is up and active. Consequently, the same effort which Luther put forth in the sixteenth century is to be carried out in a greater way now in the twentieth century, for such is the prophet’s charge.
The difference between the Reformation during the 430 years and the one after, is this: During the 430 years “grace” lingered, whereas after this period of time has run out, and while Ezekiel is up, those who fail to attain to “righteousness by faith” will themselves have to pay the price of their sins. No longer are their sins laid upon Ezekiel, and no longer is Ezekiel lying down and inactive; no longer are Γ14 they to be excused upon the ground of ignorance after the warning has been sounded in their ears, for Ezekiel is plainly told:
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the Word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. Ezek. 3:17-21.
Verses 9-11 – “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.”
The cereals mentioned in verse 9 are six in number, and are of course symbolical of spiritual food, the food with which the flock has been fed during the 390 years. Six kinds of cereals not only denote six kinds of truths, doctrines, handed to the flock during the 390 year period, but also denote incompleteness of Truth, for number seven, not six, is the Biblical denotation of completeness. They are consequently the doctrines which the reformers brought in:
(1) The doctrine of faith that made the Lutheran denomination; (2) the doctrine of the Spirit that made the Presbyterian denomination; (3) the doctrine of grace that made the Methodist denomination; (4) the doctrine of baptism that made the Baptist denomination; (5) the doctrine of the second Advent of Christ that made the First-day Adventist; (6) the doctrine of the cleansing of the sanctuary along with the Seventh-day Sabbath that made the Seventh-day Adventists. (All other sects with their additions, omissions, and deductions, have obviously branched from these six denominations.)
One may raise an argument, though only a losing one, over the denominations here named, but one can hardly raise any honest argument against the fact that these six doctrines (cereals) are the main doctrines upon which Protestantism as a whole is built. However, be they these or other doctrines, the truth that they are only six, means that a seventh truth is to be unfolded. Moreover, these truths, says Inspiration, were to be given sparingly, by weight, – not everything that pertains to the subject, – and all Christendom knows that this has been the case.
Verses 12-15 – “And thou shalt eat it as barley Γ16 cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them. Then said I, Ah Lord God! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth. Then He said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.”
As the barley cake that smote and ruined the Midianite tent did forecast Divine aid for Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, so the cereals eaten as barley cakes do signify that the truths accepted were as of the Spirit, as of Divine origin. In the preparation of them, though, is where the objectionable part comes in, for Inspiration points out that these were baked on “dung” instead of on wood, emphatically denoting that these truths were defiled by men while being prepared for the flock. And what else could the preparation be but the private additions, omissions, perversions, and misapplications by uninspired men who preach from the pulpits on these subjects, and who write the so-called pure Bible truths and hand them to the people?
There is no mystery in this, for everybody knows that the winds of doctrine blowing from all directions, one contradicting the other, cannot all be pure Bible truth. The only surprising part is that Inspiration foresaw it so long ago, and that no one discovered it before Inspiration Itself did unfold it.
God, of course, is not holding this against Γ17 anyone, for He says: “Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.” Ezek. 4:13.
Thus prophecy declares that such has been the spiritual food with which the flock has been fed for 390 years, the years during the Reformation. And who can deny it? Are we, then, still wondering which denomination is dealing out unadulterated Truth to its members? Prophecy declares that none is, for such was to be the food for all throughout the 390 years! And if they do not get new Heaven-inspired Truth after the 390 years are passed, then they must feed on “dung” baked food forever, and die with it.
This, I say again, should not be a surprise to any, for everyone knows that since all the denominations disagree with one another on the doctrines, they cannot possibly all be right. It may, however, be surprising to know that not even one is absolutely right.
The scarcity of even these man-contaminated truths, prophecy declares, is brought upon the Christian world so that they be “astonied,” that they realize their poverty, their need of an absolute truth, so that when the Spirit of Truth shall come, It shall find a responding chord in the hearts of men, else they be consumed away in their iniquity.
To find exactly the beginning of the 430-year period, we must first find the year the period ended, the year in which antitypical Ezekiel arose and began to sound the warning, the year in which the Spirit of Truth unrolled the scroll and brought in an abundance of Divinely inspired, Γ18 pure and unadulterated Truth (not baked upon dung), not by weight and not by measure either, – the truths which we have been feasting on from this series of studies and which the Association has so freely and faithfully published in the Timely Greetings and other publications, and has scattered world-wide as leaves of Autumn – a phenomenon which the Church has never before seen! And when I say as the leaves of Autumn, I really mean just that, for these leaves – yes, millions of them – are dropped everywhere among the Laodiceans unsparingly, without price, and without obligation.
This message, as some of you already know, began to unfold in 1930. Hence, if we subtract 430 years from 1930, we are taken back to 1500, the time Martin Luther’s call came, the time he began to study the Bible, the time he started to prepare for the work of the Reformation. This message was, therefore, by God Himself planned and timed back in Ezekiel’s time, all for your good and mine! How thoughtful God is! And how unworthy we are.
As the 430-year period during which our sins were laid upon Ezekiel, is behind us, we ourselves, not Ezekiel, are henceforth to be responsible for our sins if we now fail to give heed to the message of the hour and to attain to “righteousness by faith.” How important, then, that we not neglect our opportunity now to accept what God sends, and to attain to “righteousness by faith” in order that we be rewarded with “the righteousness of Christ.” Thus only can we expect to escape the slaughter weapons of the angels and to live and reign with Christ during the thousand years.
According to this fresh unfolded prophecy there is to be no other chance, you see, no other opportunity for the Laodiceans, the house of Judah. This message to the Laodiceans, therefore, is the last message, their final chance! Looking forward to the people of this cleansing the prophet Isaiah wrote: “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean…. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Isa. 52:1, 7.
Since we have seen that the 430 years ended in 1930, we had better now find out when the 390 years ended, the time the 40 years of grace began. To find this date we subtract 40 years from 1930, which takes us back to 1890. What happened then to mark the beginning of the 40 years? – Just this: The denomination then wholly rejected the message that was to unfold the truth of “righteousness by faith” and the “righteousness of Christ,” the very truth that again began to unfold years later, the Truth that we are now feasting on! God in His mercy, therefore, laid their iniquity upon the prophet Ezekiel during those 40 years, – gave them a chance through “righteousness by grace” so that they might have opportunity now to enter into “righteousness by faith,” and thus reap the reward of “the righteousness of Christ.”
Here we see that history repeats itself: Ancient Israel’s giving ear to the evil report which the ten spies brought caused them to lose Γ20 faith in the power of God, and did therefore, set themselves back 40 years from entering the Promised Land.
In like manner, the Denomination, you see, has from 1890 to 1930 been wandering in the wilderness, as it were. They have, we might say, been put on trial. Here is where you plainly see that the ancient wilderness wandering was typical. Here type meets antitype. And their rejecting “righteousness by faith,” you perceive, did not mean that God was defeated and that He would therefore never again bring to us the same Truth which could have been theirs forty years ago.
Moreover, just as those who in Moses’ time refused to advance by faith died in the wilderness, so the men who in the years 1888-1890 were responsible for refusing to advance in Truth, died before God came back with it the second time. Finally, as the second ancient effort to take the land succeeded immediately after Achan, the last sinner in that day, was stoned, so the second effort of today must, too, succeed right after the Achans of today are destroyed by the angels of Ezekiel Nine.
What a rebuke for the leading brethren this is! What a lesson for us! And how little chance they stand if they continue blindly to fight back! The laity, though, who come in contact with this Truth could be of great help to them if instead of consenting to the opposition’s unreasonable demand that the laity give up studying these scriptures upon threat of losing their membership, they would themselves demand from the opposition a better, or at least an equally reasonable, Γ21 exposition of the scriptures in question rather than give up. Foolish it is to reject Truth in order to retain your name in Laodicea. Better to accept the Truth and retain your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I say it is foolish to reject Truth merely on someone’s say so rather than to go to God in prayer and to act in harmony with your own convictions through the Spirit that leads into all Truth. To do otherwise is to deny any personal connection with Heaven, and to put your trust in man, to make “flesh your arm.” Isa. 2:22. Do not, therefore, let the enemy talk you out of this Truth, especially in the face of the fact that the opposition has nothing substantial, nothing authoritative, or official, nothing to take its place. And how foolish for one to try to ascertain Truth by the mind of the opposition! It is as sensible as if you should solicit the opinion of a Republican politician about your desire to vote on a Democratic ballot! There would be some sense in going for help to someone who is unbiased, but never any sense in going to one who is as opposed to this Truth as were the priests, scribes, and Pharisees opposed to Christ’s teachings.
If you do not see every point as clearly as you would like, why not take the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy? Let me read to you a few paragraphs:
“…if a message comes that you do not understand, take pains that you may hear the reasons the messenger may give, comparing scripture with scripture, that you may know whether or not it is sustained by the word of God. If you believe that the positions taken have not the word of God Γ22 for their foundation, if the position you hold on the subject cannot be controverted, then produce your strong reasons; for your position will not be shaken by coming in contact with error. There is no virtue or manliness in keeping up a continual warfare in the dark, closing your eyes lest you may see, closing your ears lest you may hear, hardening your heart in ignorance and unbelief lest you may have to humble yourselves and acknowledge that you have received light on some points of truth.” – Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pg. 29.
“Precious light is to shine forth from the word of God, and let no one presume to dictate what shall or what shall not be brought before the people in the messages of enlightenment that He shall send, and so quench the Spirit of God. Whatever may be his position of authority, no one has a right to shut away the light from the people. When a message comes in the name of the Lord to His people, no one may excuse himself from an investigation of its claims. No one can afford to stand back in an attitude of indifference and self-confidence, and say: ‘I know what is truth. I am satisfied with my position. I have set my stakes, and I will not be moved away from my position, whatever may come. I will not listen to the message of this messenger; for I know that it cannot be truth.’ It was from pursuing this very course that the popular churches were left in partial darkness, and that is why the messages of heaven have not reached them.” – Id., pg. 28.
“There is yet much precious truth to be revealed to the people in this time of peril and darkness, but it is Satan’s determined purpose to prevent the light of truth from shining into Γ23 the hearts of men. If we would have the light that has been provided for us, we should show our desire for it by diligently searching the word of God. Precious truths that have long been in obscurity are to be revealed in a light that will make manifest their sacred worth; for God will glorify His word, that it may appear in a light in which we have never before beheld it. But those who profess to love the truth must put to the stretch their powers, that they may comprehend the deep things of the word, that God may be glorified and His people may be blessed and enlightened. With humble hearts, subdued by the grace of God, you should come to the task of searching the Scriptures, prepared to accept every ray of divine light, and to walk in the way of holiness.” – Id., pg. 25.
Moreover, you never see the whole world at a glance. You only see a part of it at a time. Likewise you cannot expect to see the whole Truth all at once, but only a little at a time. Cling to that little, and as you continue in prayer and study, it will all become as clear as the sun and you will begin to comprehend the subject in its entirety.
Brother, Sister, no longer pass up your opportunity. Act now and make peace with God. Flee now from the abominations, and take your stand at God’s right hand if you wish His blessing and life forevermore. “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Heb 4:7. Realize that God Himself is speaking to you, that these are not mortal words, not myths, that this is a message which has remained sealed through the centuries, and which is now unsealed and brought to you as fresh as lilies covered with summer’s dew.
One of the most important parts of this study, you see, is the fact that during the 430 years – from 1500 to 1930 – the iniquity of us all has been laid on the prophet of God. I say, because of this abundant “grace” that has prevailed all through the years, we are permitted to be here today. Men, though, have taken advantage of God’s “grace,” and have come to think that He has forsaken the earth, that He has left us to do as we will, and to get along as best we can. We all will change our minds as soon as God’s forewarning is completed.
Hence, those Laodiceans who would avail themselves of the opportunity to partake of this feast of fresh and unadulterated “meat in due season,” who would now at the last call hold to the “righteousness by grace” already given them, – they all may enter into the “righteousness by faith” that is to be rewarded with “the righteousness of Christ,” and thus crowned with eternal life. Obviously, all others will have to bear their own iniquity and pay their own penalty. They will have to perish.
True, you think you have need of nothing, but God Who really knows says you are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” in need of everything. Would you not take His advice and anoint your eyes with the eyesalve that you may see?
Finally, when the warning message has reached the people, then those who do not profit by it, who do not reform, – who fail to “sigh and cry for all the abominations in the midst thereof,” – then it is that those who do not now attain to “righteousness by faith,” shall find themselves without the “mark.” They will consequently have Γ25 to pay the penalty for their sins, perish under the slaughter weapons of the angels. (Read Ezekiel Nine; Testimonies For The Church, Vol. 3, pp. 266, 267; Vol. 5, pp. 210, 211.)
Plainly, the house of Judah, since 1930 stands in the same need as the house of Israel stood after 1890. They all now need the message of today if they expect to have a home in the kingdom of God. Moreover, it is plain to see that what the house of Judah failed to accomplish after 1890 we must now accomplish against greater odds and in less time.
The lessons that are taught in this chapter are these: First it is pointed out that the period of “righteousness by grace” is now in the past; that we have now come to the time in which our safety lies only in practicing “righteousness by faith,” if we expect to be rewarded with the “righteousness of Christ,” and crowned with eternal life. The second lesson teaches that the Church does not yet have all the Truth, and that which she does have is contaminated, “baked on dung.” Hence the great need that we have Inspired Truth from the Throne of God; for with it we are saved, and without it we are lost.
THE EDUCATION OF CHRISTIAN YOUTH – WHERE AND HOW OBTAINED
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, NOVEMBER 13, 1948
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
The well-rounded education of Christian youth is in three phases: the moral, the sacred, and the secular. These are obtained in three different schools: the home, the church school, and the public school.
Each of these schools has its own particularly important duty to perform for the child’s welfare. The public school teaches the child how to get along in society. The church school teaches him how to enter into life eternal. But the home school, besides teaching him moral behaviour, lays the foundation for all phases of education.
Moreover, the child not only begins life in the home, but also spends most of his time there. The home school, therefore, plays the most important role in shaping the child’s life. From this we can quickly see why a broken or an unorganized, careless home can never meet the needs of the child. Only by a miracle can a child brought up in such a home become a decent, law-abiding citizen of the nation, and a respected member in the church.
Yes, I say, only by a miracle can he climb to the top of the ladder in the society of earth, to say nothing of his poor chances in the society of Heaven.
Let me illustrate the work of the home: The farmer casts the seed into the earth, and proper conditions make it sprout and shoot its little blade through the soil. To begin with, though, the tiny plant feeds on the pulp of the seed while piercing its delicate blade upward and sinking its tiny roots downward. Thus while within the shell (the home) is the little plant (the child) enabled to begin to shift for itself in getting food from the soil and sunshine from the air to maintain life. This very same principle works within the home: The child while at home must be gradually at first and then fully put on its own by the parents. If the parents fail to carry out this duty to their child, then the child does not stand the fair chance in life which the Creator has ordained that he should have.
Examples Of Good Homes
At this point I shall read to you something about successful home schools:
Gen. 18:16-19 – “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”
It was Abraham’s hospitality that brought such a great blessing to his home – the three Heavenly guests Who reaffirmed the promise of an heir. And his accommodating act of showing Γ28 Heavenly guests Who reaffirmed the promise of an heir. And his accommodating act of showing them the way to the city by walking some distance with them, caused the angels to confide to him their sad mission concerning Sodom. No home, therefore, should be “forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Heb. 13:2.
In the verses which we read a moment ago, we are told that Abraham was to become a great and mighty nation because he would command his children and his household after God, to keep the way of the Lord, to do “justice and judgment.” God recognized that Abraham’s home was to be a model home school, and thus this Patriarch of the Ages became a “friend of God,” and the “father of the faithful.” God, you see, honors parents who run their homes right, who command their households after Him.
Shall we now examine to see to what extent Abraham’s was a model home school? – His son, Isaac, you know, was only about seventeen years of age when the word of the Lord came to Abraham that he should sacrifice his only son. The father faithfully obeyed the command, and took Isaac on that trying historical as well as educational journey. Not until the very last minute was he told that he was to be the sacrificial victim. But did he become upset or did he resist when told of it? – No, indeed. On the contrary, he did all that he could to comfort his father, and willingly and cheerfully laid himself upon the altar!
What does all this mean? – It means that Isaac had received a perfect training in his home, and so he respected both the father’s Γ29 judgment and religion. He was submissive to his God, and full of faith. Knowing that God’s way was for his best interests, he resolved that it would be better to die than to disobey either God or his father.
We shall now go further and look for an example in Isaac’s own home to see what kind of parent and teacher he was. Esau and Jacob were his twin sons, you know, and both of them were raised in his home. If you read between the lines in this familiar Bible story, you will find two teachers and two sets of students in Isaac’s home: Isaac loved Esau, and Rebecca loved Jacob.
Jacob was a helping hand to his mother, and thereby learned how to prepare food that was both attractive and tasty. Thus was he able to make a bowl of pottage which sold higher than any other dish ever sold. Besides learning the culinary art, he was intensely interested in religion, and fitted himself to sit on the patriarchal throne.
On the other hand, Esau was interested only in temporal things, and sacrificed his heirship to the throne for the sake of sports and ungoverned appetite. Rather than become skilled in his religious duties, he became skilled in hunting. Consequently the heirship to the patriarchal throne meant no more to him than the price of a bowl of pottage.
In these two youth we see two opposing aims in life – one was given to sports, the other to religion. Isaac was well aware of this, but since he loved Esau more than he did Jacob, and since Esau was the eldest son, he saw no reason Γ30 that Esau should not receive the blessing and sit on the patriarchal throne. Rebecca, however, was quick to discern that Esau was unfit for the position, and that Jacob would make good at it. So it was that while on the one hand Isaac instructed Esau to prepare a feast and come to him for the blessing, on the other hand Rebecca advised and helped Jacob to impersonate Esau and obtain the blessing by taking advantage of his father’s dim eyesight. This deception, of course, worked out as it did only because Providence was at work.
Now, let us see what we have learned about the training of Esau and the training of Jacob: Since Isaac was closely attached to Esau, and Rebecca to Jacob, and since Esau was a failure and Jacob a success, can it not be concluded that Rebecca succeeded in properly schooling Jacob, whereas Isaac overlooked Esau’s need of getting acquainted with God and with the duties in the home that were his?
From this comparison I take the liberty to say that Isaac was a somewhat indulgent father, and that Rebecca was a more firm and strict mother. True, there must have been one kind of material in the make-up of Jacob and another in the make-up of Esau, but Esau should have been reproved; and if reproof could not help him, then the blessing should not have been offered to him. No, firmness should never give way to indulgence.
Next we shall peek into the home school which Jacob himself conducted, and see what were the results. Considering the facts that his family was larger (thirteen children in all) than the families of his forefathers; that all of his sons Γ31 were accepted to become the progenitors of the subjects of the church eternal; that his son, Joseph, had perfect control of himself, nurtured a forgiving spirit, respected his father, clung to Heaven’s precepts, and found favor with God and man; – I say that by all these facts we know that Jacob gave his household the finest training possible. At the very least, he raised one of the greatest and the most noble characters the world has ever seen.
I believe that time will permit us to consider another good home school, the home into which Moses was born.
Knowing that Abraham and his seed were to sojourn in a strange land only 430 years, Moses’ mother realized that the time of deliverance from Egyptian bondage was at hand in her day. But Pharaoh’s decree demanded that every Hebrew male child be cast into the Nile, and so in spite of it she determined to hide her newborn son. Peradventure, she thought, he might be the one to lead the Hebrew host out of Egypt and into the promised land, and if so, God would spare him.
Three months later, though, she found that she could no longer hide Baby Moses, and so rather than take the inevitable risk of losing him, she made a little ark, put the infant into it, and placed it in God’s care on the Nile. God took charge of the situation and the child lived. Now note the miracle: As soon as the king’s daughter saw the child, she knew that it was a Hebrew child, but rather than let him be put to death as Pharaoh had decreed, she adopted him! Moreover, Providence designed that the child should be raised in a Hebrew home. Thus Γ32 it was that Baby Moses was Providentially returned to his own mother for care, and all home expenses were paid from the king’s treasure!
Evidently after witnessing all these miracles, the mother knew positively that Moses was to be the deliverer. And the home training which he was given during those twelve years with his mother, Moses never forgot even amidst the rank and file of the world’s greatest royal throne of his day.
Indeed, the training one receives in the home, you see, is the foundation of his entire future.
Examples of Bad Homes
In vivid contrast to these good homes, I shall call your attention to one or two bad home schools, and the results of them.
First I am thinking of Lot’s home. O, yes, I know that Lot was a great figure in Sodom, but no one would hear his plea the night Sodom was to be reduced to smoke and ashes for the winds to carry away and for the Dead Sea to lodge over. No, not even his own children who were comfortably situated in their respective homes would listen to him. Only two of his daughters escaped the great conflagration, simply because the angels snatched them out as brands from the fire.
What a failure was Lot’s home! What a great loss! Two causes underlay all that came upon him: first, because he pitched his tent toward Sodom; and second because he neglected to bring up his household in the fear of God. Moreover, Γ33 had Lot led into Truth and righteousness even ten souls out of that vast population of Sodom, he would have spared both Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction.
May I now speak to you of another bad home, that of Eli’s, the ancient priest of Israel. He, as did Lot, made a complete failure of his home, although time and again he was warned about his neglect.
1 Sam. 2:27-35 – “And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon Mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at My sacrifice and at Mine offering, which I have commanded in My habitation; and honourest thy sons above Me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel My people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before Me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from Me; for them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall no be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in My habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from Mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine Γ34 heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise Me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in Mine heart and in My mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before Mine anointed for ever.”
These verses reveal that Eli was reproved for his carelessness in not commanding his household after God. He was even forewarned of the inevitable results of his laxness; that his household, his entire posterity, would die in the flower of age if he thus continued on. But Eli did nothing about it, and therefore suffered the results which he had been warned about.
Are not these things written for our learning, for our ensamples? Why, then, are more homes wrecked today as a result of bad home training, or no training, than were wrecked in the days of Eli? And, strange as it seems, this catastrophe occurs more often than not in homes where the parents are so very particular that their children not enter a public school but obtain their entire education in the church school. Indeed, the fault does not lie with the church school itself, but in the fact that the parents expect the parochial school to assume the responsibilities of parenthood – to do that which the parents themselves fail to do. And let me tell you that be it the church school or the public school, neither one can take the place of the home school.
Besides, since the church schools are largely a family affair, to a great extent ordered by the parents themselves, these schools already Γ35 have proved a miserable failure! If you doubt this alarming statement, then poll your church membership, and to your surprise you will find that the majority of them are the product of the public school, and that the majority of the church school graduates are out in the world. After hearing these remarks, a sister polled her church and found that 70% were educated in the public school; 27% in both public and church school; and 3% in the church school only!
This is not all: You will find that the church members who are half converted, or not converted, are usually, if not altogether, the product of the church school. Still further, you will find that the greatest champions against timely Truth, against “meat in due season,” and the promulgators of abominations in the church, are generally the product of the church school!
My experience for years in the gospel work has proved to me that what I am saying is true. Do not misunderstand me; I am not accusing anyone. I am only trying to help each of you for your own good to awake to the situation, and to take heed to the Word of God. Soon the authorities may begin to jail the parents, too, upon the arrest and misdemeanor of the children, if the homes continue to carry on as they now do.
A noted writer and authority on social relations and problems, Leon J. Saul, has this to say in his book entitled, Emotional Maturity: “There are no problem children, only problem parents and problem environments.”
And if I now become your enemy because I tell you the truth, then will you not yourself confirm these things?
God’s System Of Education
We have now seen the results both of good home schools and of bad home schools, but we shall be most helped by looking into the system of education which Inspiration recommended, and by making it our system for teaching the young. It is this:
Exod. 12:22-27 – “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as He hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, Who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.”
Josh. 4:5-7 – “And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the Ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: that this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, Γ37 saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”
God, we see, sets memorials for the important things of life so as to provoke inquiries. Parents should do likewise to create interest in the things they want their children to be instructed in.
Deut. 6:4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
The important things of life should ever be held before the children, and always in an interesting way, – never in a way to make them tired of religion, and never in a way that will cause the study to become a drudgery.
A Bad Tree Cannot Give Good Fruit
Both parents and children should ever remember that God is counting on them, and that they themselves can either build or restrict Γ38 their futures. This we see most notably in the following:
Because the work of Jesus was of tremendous importance and of great consequence, God was exceedingly particular about the parentage of Jesus. For this reason he chose the lineage of Abraham (a good tree), of Isaac, Jacob, Judas, Jesse, David, and down through the line of lineage to Joseph, who became the husband of Mary. Even though Joseph was to be but a foster father to Jesus, God was particular in choosing him.
And as careful as God was about who the foster father of Jesus should be, He was even more particular in the selection of a mother for Jesus. Thus God chose the Saviour’s mother from the line of Joseph, the son of Jacob.
How do I know what was the parental lineage of Jesus? – Well, His foster father’s lineage I know from the chronology which Saint Matthew gives. And His mother’s lineage I know from Moses’ prophecy of which I shall now read: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel).” Gen. 49:22-24.
Not only was Jesus’ parental lineage carefully selected, but so also has been selected the lineage of every one of God’s men who were entrusted with weighty responsibilities. Why, I ask you, would such precautions be taken if the parents do not bear the most important part Γ39 in the life of the children?
It must now be remembered, then, that though the child obtains his properly rounded education in three schools – the home, the church school, and the public school, his most important school is the home, for the child is largely what the home makes him.
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” Deut. 28:1-6.
It would do your soul good if you read at home about the parents’ duty as set forth in Counsels To Teachers, pp. 158, 159; Testimonies For The Church, Vol. 3, pp. 143, 144; and the children’s duty in Exodus 20:12; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Cor. 6:15-20.