PhotoDrama of Creation
Thomas the Doubter
the following Sunday, Jesus again appeared--in the upper
room--St. Thomas being present. He had rebuked his brethren
for being too easily convinced that they had seen Jesus,
and said that he would not believe unless he felt the
print of the nails and the spear wound.
appeared again in a body like that of His humiliation,
with the marks of the spear and the print of the nails.
He urged Thomas to be convinced, but told of still greater
blessings for those who without those proofs were able
to fully believe.--John 20:26-29.
Bible tells that Jesus is no longer flesh, but a spirit
being, since His resurrection. As St. Paul declares,
the Church must all be changed, because "flesh
and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." We
must all be changed that we may be spirit beings--like
Him, which surely means that He is no longer flesh.
He was "put to death in flesh, and quickened in
spirit," writes St. Peter.--1 Peter 3:18.
appeared to His followers three times on His resurrection
day, and five times more during the succeeding thirty-nine
days--briefly. This was a part of the great lesson that
Jesus was no longer dead, and no longer flesh--that
He is "highly exalted."--Philippians 2:9;
of Tarsus caught a glimpse of the risen, glorified Jesus,
unveiled by flesh, shining above the brightness of the
sun at noonday, and the brief glimpse cost him his eyesight.
If Jesus had thus appeared to His disciples during the
forty days after His resurrection, they would have been
alarmed, bewildered, unable to comprehend the matter.
St. Paul refers to his glimpse of Jesus, saying, "He
was seen of me as one born before the time." His
words are explained to mean that all of God's people,
the Church of the First-borns, are to be born into spirit
conditions by their resurrection. Thus changed they
will see Messiah as He is, in His great glory. But Saul
saw Him before the time.--1 John 3:2.
the fiftieth day, was the Jubilee day, as the fiftieth
year was the Jubilee year. The fiftieth day followed
a Sabbath Day cycle (7x7=49), as the Jubilee year followed
a Sabbath Year cycle (7x7=49). As the antitype of the
Jubilee Year will usher the world into the glorious
rest in Messiah's Kingdom and in the New Covenant relationship
with God, so the antitype of the Jubilee day ushered
believers into a rest of faith at Pentecost. So St.
Paul explains, "We who believe do enter into rest."
All truly Christ's are enabled to keep a Sabbath rest
of faith and trust all the time, not merely on the Seventh
Day, or on the First Day. Every day to them is a rest
by faith in Christ's sacrifice--a Sabbath to the soul--foreshadow
of Heavenly Rest.
could enter into this true Sabbath rest, until Jesus
had opened the way. His death was necessary as man's
Ransom price. His resurrection was necessary to enable
Him to apply that price on our behalf. He ascended on
High, there to appear in the presence of God as the
Advocate for His disciples. He imputes His merit to
cover their imperfections, and to make their sacrifice
acceptable to God, that they may suffer with Him and
be glorified with Him. For the faithful there remaineth
a rest, still more complete--to be attained in their
resurrection "change."--Hebrews 4:3, 9, 11.
Jesus' direction, the Apostles, His followers, were
not to begin their work until they received the Pentecostal
blessing--the Holy Spirit--the evidence of their acceptance
as sons of God. The only thing they did during that
time before their own acceptance, was the choosing of
a successor for Judas' place; but evidently God never
recognized their choice. In His own due time God brought
forth St. Paul to be the twelfth Apostle--one of the
twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. (Revelation
21:14.) The error of supposing Apostolic Succession
in the Church's bishops was a costly one. It led to
many grievous errors.
The Twelve were specially ordained to Apostleship, to
be mouthpieces of Jesus to the Church. Their decision
would bind on Earth the things bound in Heaven, and
loose on Earth things loosed in God's sight. Even these
did not receive the Heavenly Father's sanction until
Pentecost, when they received the Holy Spirit. Scripturally,
no one is authorized to preach or teach except he has
received the Spirit of God. And every one who has received
that Spirit has Divine authority to preach, wholly irrespective
of earthly ordinations.--Isaiah 61:1.
we are told is the import of the prophetic words respecting
Jesus the Head and the Church His Body: "The Spirit
of the Lord God is upon Me, for He hath ordained Me
to preach good tidings to the meek." All who have
received that Divine anointing, have the Divine commission
to preach the good tidings. Whoever has not received
that Heavenly authority cannot be a Divine ambassador.
fulfilment of Jesus' words, "I give unto you the
Keys of the Kingdom," St. Peter symbolically used
two Keys in connection with the Gospel: the first Key
on the Day of Pentecost, to open the door of invitation
to all Jews to become members of the Body of Christ,
the Church, through begetting of the Holy Spirit. Three
and a half years later he used the other Key and threw
open the door to the Gentiles. Cornelius was the first
Gentile admitted to membership in Christ.
of the holiest Jews by obedience to God's command came
yearly to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. Thousands
thus were attracted to the Pentecostal preaching and
carried their blessing and enlightenment throughout
will yet be a second Pentecostal blessing. Only the
special servants and handmaids of the Lord share the
first and attain the Kingdom. Under Messiah's Kingdom
God's Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. They will
see that of which their ancients prophesied.--Joel 2:28,29;
St. Paul, Jesus said, "He is a chosen vessel unto
Me to bear My Name to the Gentiles." (Acts 9:15.)
is first brought to our attention as one of those who
consented to the death of St. Stephen. Subsequently,
he went about "breathing out threatenings and slaughter
against the disciples of the Lord."--Acts 9:1.
we see the power of the Truth in its transforming influence
upon the human mind, we are amazed. Yet we should remember
that God never coerces the free will. In St. Paul's
"conversion," Jesus merely showed an honest
man wherein he was wrong, and what privileges he would
have in connection with a Divinely-directed course.
Paul became the successor of Judas. There were to be
twelve Apostles of the Lamb--a crown of twelve stars
on the Church's brow--and twelve foundations to the
New Jerusalem, and in them were the names of the twelve
Apostles of the Lamb. We are sure St. Paul's name is
amongst them. This is in accord with the testimony that
he was not one whit behind the very chiefest of the
Apostles, and was more abundant in visions and revelations
than they all. Matthias was chosen before Pentecost
and was never recognized by God.
Paul is the most prominent amongst the Apostles, all
of whom were glorious characters, especially chosen
of God for His special service. Like the other Apostles,
St. Paul had nothing to say respecting an eternity of
torture for anybody. He declared that those ultimately
found unworthy should "be punished with everlasting
destruction." It is St. Paul who especially set
forth that Jesus must come a second time, and then must
reign until He shall have put all enemies under His
feet. Through this noble mouthpiece Jesus sent us particulars
of the resurrection of the just and the unjust, the
"change" of the Church at Christ's Second
Coming, the character of Antichrist, etc. If St. Paul's
Epistles were omitted, how great would be our ignorance
on many subjects!
Covenant with Abraham gave assurance that all the blessings
God purposed for mankind would come to them through
his posterity. The Jews were the natural seed of Abraham,
and properly to them belonged the promises. But when
all Jews possessed of the faith of Abraham had been
privileged to come in with Jesus and become His joint-heirs
in the Messianic Kingdom, then God through St. Peter
used the second Key to the Kingdom. He threw open the
door of opportunity to the Gentiles, that they might
become fellow-heirs with the Jews in the Messianic Kingdom.
and a half years after Pentecost the angel of the Lord
appeared to Cornelius. He told him that now God was
ready to accept his prayers and his devotion. He told
him to send for St. Peter at Joppa. From him he would
hear "words" necessary to be believed in order
that he might be fully accepted of God and receive the
messengers were sent to fetch St. Peter. Meantime God
prepared the Apostle. He was told that what God had
cleansed he should not consider any longer unclean.
St. Peter associated his dream with his visitors, and
promptly went to Cornelius' home. He found Cornelius
and his family devout and ready to hear. He proceeded
to tell them the true story of Jesus: His death, His
resurrection, the call of the Church to be His Bride
class--proving their worthiness by loyalty and faithfulness
even unto death.
St. Peter was speaking, these consecrated people, drinking
in the Message, fully accepted the terms of discipleship.
Then God gave a manifestation of His acceptance of them
by the gift of the Spirit, such as was common to all
Christians at the beginning of this Age. St. Peter,
astonished, then said, If these have received the Holy
Spirit, who can forbid them water baptism, which is
only a symbol of their consecration to be dead with
Christ? Here Gentiles first began to be grafted into
the "Olive Tree" of Romans 11:17.
Church at Antioch
the Gospel Message found hearing ears amongst the Gentiles,
but fewer in number. The Law training of the Jews had
been God's special blessing to them, preparing some
of them for the Gospel. The first Church in which Gentiles
seemed to predominate in numbers was at Antioch. Barnabas,
Silas and others were prominent amongst the brethren
there, and later St. Paul. It was at Antioch that the
followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Many
Christians wish that no other name had ever been accepted.
Antioch Church, according to the Bible record, had very
simple arrangements, similar to those practiced by Jesus
and the Apostles. Forms and ceremonies had not yet entered,
to crowd out the simplicity of Christ with mere forms
of godliness. They met for growth in grace, knowledge,
love and to assist each other in the narrow way. When
fairly under way in their studies, they partook of the
missionary spirit, and authorized and financed a mission
which was conducted by St. Paul and Barnabas. Other
missions were also conducted, as recorded in the Book
of Acts.--Acts 13:1-5.
long after this, the terrible persecutions of Nero and
Diocletian came upon the Church. These Roman Emperors
found diversion and relief from ennui in the horrible
tortures they inflicted upon the inoffensive followers
of Jesus, whose mission in the world is merely to "do
good to all men as they have opportunity, especially
to the household of faith," and to prepare themselves
and each other for association with their Redeemer in
the coming Kingdom.--Galatians 6:10.
did God permit persecutions? The answer is that testings
of faith and loyalty to God are as necessary to Jesus'
followers as they were to Himself, and for the same
reason-- to develop and crystallize character. These
corresponded to Jesus' own persecution and crucifixion.
Thus He explained, saying, "It was necessary that
The Son of Man should suffer and enter into His glory."
The Elect walk in His steps.
little gathering of believers at Berea is famous amongst
God's people by St. Paul's declaration: "They of
Berea were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in
that they searched the Scriptures daily to see if these
things [which St. Paul preached] were true." (Acts
17:11.) They were but a little class, yet their faithfulness
to God's Word caused them to be known as Berean Bible
Students. The early Church met not in costly temples,
nor did their elders and deacons have rich robes of
office, nor did the services consist of showy display.
They simply gathered as children of God, begotten of
the one Holy Spirit and inspired by the One Faith once
delivered to the saints. They gathered as the brethren
of Jesus, that they might be under His direction and
care as the only Head of the Church--as He declared,
"One is your Master even Christ, and all ye are
brethren." They met to study the Message of Jesus
and the Apostles.
students in our day have much advantage over these.
We have convenient cheap Bibles, ability to read them,
and good lights such as our forefathers never thought
students today are encouraged also when they consider
that the Bible distinctly teaches that when men shall
be running to and fro, and world-wide knowledge shall
be increased, then the Wise Virgins, the Lord's people,
will understand certain features of the Divine Plan
previously kept hidden by Divine intention. They perceive
that we are in this day of running to and fro by every
means of conveyance, and that free schools, compulsory
education, etc., are bringing the foretold increase
of knowledge. These things mark the time for the wise
of God's people to understand the Bible. How needful
for this special light, when so many are falling away
from all faith in the Bible, under the teachings of
so- called Higher Criticism, which denies that the Bible
is the Divinely inspired Message of God! (Daniel 12:1-10.)
We should not only awake, but "put on the whole
armor of God."
Christians claim that there were erroneous doctrines
taught in the past which cannot be supported in the
clearer light of our Day. All rejoice in the spirit
of greater amity spreading amongst Christians of various
denominations-- Catholic and Protestant. How did Christianity
get into such a befogged condition that followers of
Jesus thought they were honoring God in torturing their
fellow-men? With great unanimity, Bible students seem
to be reaching the conclusion that the difficulty started
in the doctrine of Apostolic Succession--the doctrine
that Bishops of the Church were Apostles, inspired in
the same sense as The Twelve.
Pius X realizes that the people no longer regard the
Bishops as inspired authority and successors to the
Apostles in office. Evidently himself dissenting, he
has recently commanded that Roman Catholics be instructed
to study the Bible, thus to come under the influence
of the teachings of the inspired Twelve Apostles. All
are gradually seeing that The Twelve Apostles of the
Lamb (St. Paul taking the place of Judas) are the only
Divinely inspired authorities of the Church.
Church, after the death of the Apostles, not having
the conveniences of Bibles and education, looked too
implicitly to their Bishops, or Pastors, and without
authority accredited them with Divine inspiration similar
to The Twelve. After two hundred years the mistake was
partially recognized, and an attempt was made to rectify
it, but in the wrong direction. It was found that the
different Bishops taught widely different, contradictory
doctrines. It was realized that these contradictions
were not inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Emperor Constantine
(not baptized) called the Nicene Council of all the
"Apostolic Bishops," at Nicea, A.D. 325. About
one- third, 384, came. These were commanded to decide
on a Creed. They wrangled for months. Then the Emperor
decided and the Nicean Creed was the result. The Emperor's
edict was that all not consenting to it should be exiled.
Holy Roman Empire"
the name of Christianity spread among the peoples of
Europe, without its Master's Spirit. The name "Christian"
became popular. In the day of King Charlemagne, the
title, "Holy Roman Empire," was established.
The significance of the title is illustrated by a famous
picture in the Chapter House at Florence, Italy. It
shows the Emperor and the Pope seated side by side upon
a throne, and descending from each by steps, the various
officers of the Empire; on the Emperor's side, generals,
etc., and on the Pope's side, bishops, the clergy, etc.
Some claim this as a public acknowledgment of the marriage
of the professed Virgin of Christ to Civil Power, in
the Book of Revelation styled harlotry.--Revelation
basis of the alliance was the doctrine which then obtained,
that the Second Coming of Christ as the Messiah to rule
the world for a thousand years was thus fulfilled. The
claims set forth were that it was the Divine intention
that Christ should be represented in the earth by the
Papacy, and that His government should be carried on
through earthly princes. This condition of things prevailed
in Europe for centuries. In the Sixteenth Century the
Reformation movement sprang up. These daughters of the
Church of Rome married earthly power, and started "Holy
Empires" of their own.
entire theory and its Systems received a severe blow
when Napoleon Bonaparte took the Pope a prisoner to
France. The spell of sacerdotal rule was broken. In
September, 1870, Victor Immanuel took possession of
Rome--a fatal blow.
students are generally agreed that Church and State
union is contrary to the spirit of the Bible, an error
of the Dark Ages; that the Church of Christ is not to
reign with the princes of the Earth, nor to be married
to them, but to wait for her marriage till the Second
Coming of her Redeemer, to be united with Him in the
First Resurrection. Then she shall reign with Him forever.--Revelation
name Christian had become popular in Europe. Nearly
everybody was recognized a Christian unless he disavowed
it and claimed to be a Jew. The drowsy spell was broken
by what some would term a fanatical outburst of fervor,
which claimed that Christians should wage war on the
Turks, Jews and others. The Crusades made their mark
in history. Under the spirit of the time, thousands
of the noblest of their day traveled hundreds of miles
by land and sea to fight for the Cross against the Crescent.
It was considered specially grievous that Jerusalem
was under Moslem control, and thousands of lives and
fortunes were spent in "Crusades to deliver the
Holy Sepulchre from the Infidel Turk."
our present-day standpoint and clearer perception of
things, people generally style the Crusades an outbreak
of foolishness, wasted effort, manifest ignorance and
bigotry. But perhaps Christians today have something
equally foolish and irrational. The human mind will
be active in some way. The folly of others is easier
to recognize than our own.
day it will be owned that Christendom today is as foolish
in some respects as in the days of the Crusaders. Do
not the great kingdoms of earth style themselves divisions
of Christendom (Christ's Kingdom)? Are they not building
great Dreadnaughts that cost a fortune for every discharge
of their cannons? Are they not drilling vast armies,
and equipping them with costly implements of war? For
what purpose? Either because they have evil designs
upon the other so-called Christian nations, or that
they distrust the others. How foolish this shall yet
much better it will be when the Word of God is fully
accepted, and when its spirit of Justice and Love will
govern the world! Then the wealth and energy wasted
in Crusades, Dreadnaughts and armament will be used
to the general betterment of the people. Only Messiah's
Kingdom can restore man to God's image and make God's