Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 16
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3: 18
D. Christlikeness in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power Toward the World
By beholding as in a mirror God’s dealings with the world in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power, we will be enabled to take the same viewpoint and develop by imitation the same characteristics. God views the world from a variety of standpoints. From the standpoint of sin, He knows that it is for the best interests of all that sinners die; therefore, His Wisdom decrees their death. His Justice requires this because their life has not been used in harmony with the conditions upon which its continuance was offered. His Love, delighting in good principles, approves to the death of the world because He sees that these principles are constantly violated; therefore, to prevent this, it would be better that the sinner cease to exist. His Power exercises itself in self-control to see that the dictates of Wisdom, Justice and Love toward the sinner are carried out; and if obstacles should come, His patience cheerfully perseveres in permitting such conditions as will bring death to the sinner. He does, however, give him such good things while he is alive, as is in harmony with His character and compatible with the death sentence upon the sinner.
By viewing the world as God views it, we will realize that their sin is debasing and injurious to their continued existence, therefore, we approve of God’s Wisdom in condemning the world to death. We will take the same view from the standpoint of justice, for we see that justice inflicts no injury upon others and therefore brings the death sentence on the unworthy in order to prevent their living forever in suffering. And more and more, as we attain the Father’s love for good principles – love for righteousness and hatred for wickedness – we will see that it is better that they die than that the principles of righteousness be forever violated. So, too, we would use the necessary self-control and patience of power in controlling our qualities of heart and mind, even if obstacles arise, in order to willingly approve of the Father’s Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power in bringing about the sinner’s death. Such a view prevents our treating the world as though they were not under the curse, and thus keeps us out of various reform and social uplift movements. Instead, we will wait until God’s time for restitution, and, in the meantime, prepare ourselves to be able ministers at that time for the world’s uplift. This view, however, does not make us executors of the curse, but well-wishers and well-doers to our fellows.
God’s Viewpoint of the World from the Standpoint of the Ransom
God also views the world from the standpoint of the ransom related to an experience with evil now and an experience with righteousness in the next Age. From the standpoint of the experience with evil He views the world as having been indirectly sentenced to death in Adam, and being treated cruelly at the hands of Satan. From the standpoint of the experience with righteousness during the next Age, He views them as being profited by the experience in evil, in that they will learn to avoid evil and cleave to righteousness from abhorrence of evil, because of its terrible nature and awful consequences; and from love of righteousness, because of its glorious nature and its blessed consequences. To bring about the experience with righteousness, He sent His Son into the world to become a ransom for Adam, in whom the race was indirectly sentenced to death and thus exposed to the experience with evil.
In this, the Father’s attributes shine out marvelously. His Wisdom, realizing that an experience with evil followed by one with righteousness would ultimately instill hatred for sin, arranged for the ransom sacrifice of Christ to put aside the death sentence due for Adam’s sin, intending to have the ransom merit applied for the world’s release from the curse in the next Age, so that they may have an experience with righteousness. His Justice likewise shines out, requiring the ransom as a corresponding price in offset to Adam’s debt. Further, His Justice acts toward Christ; for Christ, by applying His ransom for the world, will receive from the Father’s Justice the privilege of taking the world out of the experience with evil into one of righteousness. God’s Love is likewise manifested, so great that it even gave up His Son unto death for His enemies. His Power also acts in self-control and patience to make it possible that the experience of righteousness may come.
We may imitate the Father’s four great attributes toward the world in its relationship to the experience with evil, the ransom and the experience with righteousness. We will recognize the wisdom of His Plan and in our consecration will devise methods by which we may be enabled to carry out our consecration to advance this Plan. In justice to God, we will gladly serve God’s Plan. In love, delighting in the prospect of the world’s being made perfect, we will gladly carry out our consecration. We will use all the self-control and patience of power necessary to keep ourselves faithful in our consecration.
God’s Viewpoint of His People During the Gospel Age
The Father also looks upon those who are willing to come into harmony with Him now. His Wisdom moves Him to devise plans to bring them to justification. His Justice, in view of our Lord’s providing for their debt, owes it to Jesus to justify them to keep His promise to Jesus to win for Him the elect and quasi-elect. His Love goes out to them, desiring and expecting their reformation. His Power exercises the necessary self-control and patience in carrying out the dictates of Wisdom, Justice and Love to bring the properly disposed from sin to righteousness.
We may imitate the Father’s four great attributes toward those who are willing to come into harmony with Him now. Wisdom will plan ways to bring them to justification. Seeing how the Father from His obligation to the Son works in this matter, justice will influence us to imitate Him, in view of our covenant with God to so act. Love, through imitation, will prompt us to the same course. Our desire to see people turn from sin to righteousness will move us in preaching justification to this class. Power will exercise itself in self-control and patience in helping them come to justification.
God’s Viewpoint of the World as Candidates for Restitution
The Father looks upon the world as candidates for restitution in the Millennial Age, so He is doing a work preparatory for them to gain an easier entrance into the blessings of restitution – the work of proclaiming in all the world the Gospel of the Kingdom, as a testimony to all nations, as well as reproving for sin and righteousness (Matthew 24: 14) ( John 16: 8-11). He uses His people to give these proclamations. In Wisdom, He has devised such arrangements as will enable His people to bring these messages to all the nations. His Justice, which owes it to Christ in view of the promise He made Christ by virtue of the ransom, that this witness should come to the world in order to better prepare them for the Millennium, will make sure that these proclamations go forth. His Love, appreciating the principles for which the Kingdom will stand, appreciating in advance the characters that will be developed by the world of mankind, makes sure that these proclamations are made. Therefore, He exercises the necessary Power in self-control and patience to carry out this purpose.
We may imitate the Father’s four great attributes toward the world, realizing that they await deliverance at the hands of the Christ. In wisdom, we will vary our plans in order to adapt them to the different needs of those with whom we come in contact. Our justice toward God, in view of our covenant with Him, will exercise itself for their good. Love, delighting in the principles for which God stands, and which ultimately must prevail, seeing prospectively the world of mankind lifted out of degradation and misery at that time into the glorious perfection of humanity, with perfect human characters in the obedient and faithful, will be glad to proclaim these messages to them. We will, therefore, put the dictates of wisdom, justice and love, with the motives that they supply, into the hands of power for execution. Power will carry them out in self-control, and when obstacles come from within or without, patience will persevere cheerfully until the proclamation is made to the best of our ability.
(to be continued)