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I Ledbury Corn Market. I







[Am RIGHTS RESERVED.] BIBLE STUDIES CONDUCTED BY PASTOR RUSSELL. BAD CONFESSION v. GOOD CONFESSION. The Lesson :—Luke xii. 1-12. The Text:—"Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man con- fess before the angels of God/'—v. 8. A large crowd surrounded the Saviour, anxious to hear him who "spake as never man spake." Jesus addressed his disciples, saying, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Here, as elsewhere in his teachings, Jesus used leaven as a symbol of an evil influence. We know not of one instance in which leaven was used to represent anything good or pure. During the Passover season Jews were prohibited from using it, thus symbolising the putting out of sin. Jesus declared that the hypocrisies prac- tised by the Pharisees—the learned people of that time-were leaven, impurity, sin, con- taminating in its influence. His disciples should be honest, sincere, pure, free from cant and deception. He declared that ulti- mately all hypocrisies and sins will be un- covered, revealed. Undoubtedly he meant that during his Kingdom, when the power of the resurrection will be exercised, all the hidden things of darkness will be abolished, the secrets of mankind will be exposed. No doubt this will constitute the basis of the shame and contempt which will be the punishment of many, as foretold. FEAR NOT PERSECUTIONS. Jesus intimated that honesty of life would bring his followers persecutiorr from the hypocrites; but that tlley should not fear, even though the persecution resulted in their death. The present life is but ephemeral at best. The life that is worth considering is the everlasting one, which God has provided for all the willing and obedient, and which may eventually be at- tained through the merit of Jesus' sacrifice. Those who thus believe should have no fear of what man could do to them, but rather should be fearful of anything that would separate them from God and His gtacious provisions of a future life. "Fear Him who aftef He hath killed hath power to cast into helL" The word Hell here is Gehenna in the Greek. Primarily, this is the name of the valley outside Jeru- salem, into which the offal of the city was cast for utter destruction, and into which the vilest criminals were cast after execu. tion-not to torment them, but to imply symbolically that there was no future for them. Jesus used Gehenna as a type of the Second Death, which will be the portion of all who wilfully, intelligently, deliberately, sin against light and knowledge. The fear of God is the beginning of wis- dom, and a reverential fear is always proper. But as God's people become inti- mately acquainted with Him, learning of His Justice, His Wisdom, His Love and His Power, and realise that He is the Friend of all who love righteousness, they come to love God; and, as the Apostle declares, "Perfect love casteth out fear. The Lord's disciples were to realise that as their Heavenly Father forgets not the sparrows, so He will not forget them; and that not even a hair of their heads could be injured without His knowledge and permission; that everything He permits to come to His people, to His children. He assures them will work out for them some blessing. "CONFESS ME BEFORE MEN." I Whoever would be in accord with (iod must confess Jesus, His Representative, whom He sent into the world. Whosoever confesses Jesus confesses the Father who sent him. All such will be in the Lord's favour, and ultimately be acknowledged in the resurrection by the Father and the holy angels, as members of the Bride of Christ. But those who, after becoming disciples of Christ, deny him. he will not acknowledge as disciples in glory. Jesus' words were ad- dressed to the disciples, not to the masses. None could deny him who had never ac- knowledged him. He is to be confessed, not merely bv baptism, nor by any outward form, but in the life. in the conduct, in the words, of his followers. Whoever makes a profession of being a disciple, and then ignores the Master's teachings, misrepre- sents him, slanders him, denies him, and will not share in the glorious presentation of the Bride, in the end of this Age. The masses, of course, were in doubt, and dii not become disciples at all. Some even derided Jesus, saying that he had a devil and was mad. The Master declared that such misunderstanding of him and such slanders were quite forgivable if done ignor- antly, but when .some went beyond this, and declared that his good works of the Holy Spirit were accomplished through the power of Satan, Beelzebub, they were committing inexcusable sins, which should not be passed over. Such sin must be wilful, for their accu- sations had no basis whatever. The Master's teachings were purity itself. His conduct, his sayings, and his miracles were all good works. Only a wilful perversity could attri- bute these to Satan. The fact that they would never be forgiven does not signify, however, that the vilifiers were hopelessly lost. They would suffer punishment propor- tionate to their degree of wilfulness. If the punishments brings reformation, well and food; if not, they will eventuate in utter destruction—the Second Death. SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT. I Few subjects are lesai understood than this —the sin against the Holy Spirit. The word spirit, in such a case as this, stands for power, or influence. For instance, the spirit of Satan would be the power, or influence adverse to God and to righteousness. 'Hie spirit of error would be the power or influ- ence of falsehood. Contrariwise, the spirit of the Truth, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, represents Divin e iiilfii-oizee, and power wherever recognised. The responsi- bility of each individual is proportionate to his enlightenment. The mentally and morally blind have comparatively little re- sponsibility, because they do not appreciate clearly the distinction between the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error, the spirit of God and the spirit of Satan. Man was not created in this condition of inability to discern right and wrong, good and evil. He was created perfect, in the image and likeness of God. Sin has wrought death, not merely to man's body, but also to his mind, his conscience. The ability to discern between right and wrong varies therefore. Additionally, sonic have opportunities for instruction more than others, and thus their responsibility is in- creased. The world in general knows not God, and hence could not sin against the Holy Spirit in that full degree which would be punished with the Serond Death. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not. "-2 Cor. iv. 4. Some knowledge is necessary to bring UB to an appreciation of Christ ail "the Sent" of God. Then if we accept him and become his consecrated .followers, we receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit. This brings us to a vantage point where our eyes of understanding open more and more widely in proportion its we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility increases with our ioy in the Lord and our preparation for the Heavenly glories to which we have been called. It is these advanced disciples of Jesus that are in danger of grieving the Holy Spirit whereby they were sealed-of quenching the spirit of holiness in their hearts.—(Eph. iv. 30; 1 Thess. v. 19);. While the quenching- and grieving are not instantaneous works, they lead to the Second. Death. Every Christian, therefore, should press on toward perfection of holiness—the filling with the spirit.