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
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
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 [Jehovah] 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
(Tradition: Satan defeats God's Intention).
It is not of him who is willing, nor yet of him who is racing
(Tradition: Men are morally responsible).
God locks all up together in stubbornness, that He may be merciful to
(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 (1 Tim.2:4;
Rom.5:18; 1 Cor.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
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.