OUR RELATIONSHIP to God and that to our fellow men
should be kept entirely distinct in our minds when considering the dais. There is nothing
between us and God to require such a session, but there is much between us and our fellows
that needs to be settled by the illumination of that day. We grope in comparative darkness
in regard to each other, and misjudge one another. Not only must our false and fleeting
doctrines face the fire, but our good and bad or evil practices, as regards our fellows,
must be requited. Many a matter have I left in the hands of Christ to be dealt with
in the light of that day (2 Cor.5:10).
We have been justified
before God by the work of Christ, but we are not justified among men by our own works. One
was settled long ago and is everlasting. The other cannot be determined until our course
is run and we are presented at the dais. We are to judge nothing before the time because
the spring of human actions and its complexities are hid from us and are beyond our
adjudication. Besides, no judge is competent to sit on a bench where he himself is brought
to trial. Let us not judge now, but wait for the day of requital, when all
will be rewarded in the light of perfect knowledge, and without the least danger of sin or
PAUL NOT JUSTIFIED
more insistent than Paul that we are justified gratuitously by Gods grace? Yet, when
it comes to the dais, although he is conscious of nothing against himself, he insists that
he is not justified by this (1 Cor.4:4). Such a contrast should show us the great
difference between what is ours before God because of what Christ has done, and what is
ours in relation to those with whom we come into contact by reason of our own actions.
Moreover, if Paul did not justify himself, how can anyone else think of such a
thing? We are all too prone to think we are right, and to demand that others acknowledge
this publicly. We are not satisfied with the righteousness we have from God, but we want
one of our own to flaunt before men, especially if our conscience is clear. A clear
conscience is no criterion today.
(As I am revising this, a
letter comes from a brother who has had some differences with others as regards his
service. To me he seemed to be in the right. Nevertheless he now writes, thanking God that
He has humbled him, so that he wrote to the others, asking their forgiveness! No wonder he
is having such marvelous results in his efforts to make known Gods grace and glory!)
It is not the easiest thing
in the world to bear with injustice and calumny. Personally I can do it, but when it harms
others or the work I am strongly tempted to set matters right. As an example, I have just
heard that two fellow helpers, to whom I had given large sums of my own hard-earned money,
and for whom I had ventured much in order to provide them with a living, are circulating a
rumor that I am using the funds of the Concern in order to gamble in business! And some of
my dearest friends are swallowing the slander, notwithstanding the fact that I have given
thousands to the work, as well as my own home, during the last few years. Besides, the
materials bought in the venture doubled in value, and have saved the Concern a
Self-righteousness in view
of our fellows is due to our ignorance of the flesh and to darkness as to our mortal
state. Our condition is such that even a man like Paul prefers not to press the matter,
but to leave it to the illumination of the dais, when we shall be immortal and free from
infirmity and failure. The probabilities are that the most righteous act we have ever
achieved was tinged with self and sin. By all means let us not seek to justify
ourselves or demand that others recognize our righteous acts or character. Let us postpone
all this until the gloom of our dying state gives place to the glory of eternal life, when
all will be manifest, and self will have no cover under which to hide.
SIN OR SINS NOT AT THE DAIS
neither sin nor sins are mentioned in connection with the dais, it is difficult for us to
avoid injecting these. Indeed, is it not logical to reason that bad practices (2
Cor.5:10) must be sins? And if we shall give account concerning ourselves, would this not
involve many mistakes? Such reasoning, even though it seems to be logical, is not wise,
because it is not of faith. Faith would rather deduce that, since the word sin, or
sins, is not employed of the dais, the character of our acts as viewed there must be
different, and accord with the terms that are used. If this is so, then there is no such
thing as the adjudication of sins at the dais, and the apparent contradiction vanishes.
If the different usages of sin
and sins were clearly defined, it would help us to see why sin is not in
view at the dais. A single mistake is a missing of the mark, or a sin. Several of
them would be sins. But the singular, sin, or missing the mark, is also used
as a name for the inclination, the tendency, which resides in our mortal flesh. It is
usually called a principle or a sinful nature, but these terms are
vague and misleading, for human nature leads us to do what the law demands
(Rom.2:14) and sin is unprincipled. Death, or dying, is what makes us
sinners (Rom.5:12). We will not be sinners in this sense at the dais, because, at
that time, we will be immortal and will have no inclination to sin.
Immortality not only makes
us sinless at the dais, but makes us immune to the penalties due to sin, the affliction
and distress which will be the portion of all the dead who stand before the
great white throne (Rom.2:9; Rev.20:12). The body which we will then possess will be an
incorruptible, powerful, glorious, spiritual body (1 Cor.15:42-44). The inflictions which
will be the portion of the sinner must be kept within his endurance or his soul would
leave his body and the suffering would end. But we would not find even the lake of fire,
which is the second death, unbearable. Even if the sins of the believer had not been borne
and put away by Christs sacrifice, the judgment due to them could not be inflicted
at the dais. The problem there belongs to another and different realm.
When we treat another
badly, or are injured ourselves, this will be transmuted into a righteous act in
Gods great program through the sacrifice of Christ. But that does not requite us
for our injury, nor does it recompense another for the bad that we have done. This
injustice still remains so far as we are concerned, notwithstanding our relationship to
God and Christ. Besides, many a good act and some whole careers devoted to the service of
God, demand recognition and approval and reward, quite distinct from the glory which will
be the portion of all the saints in this display of transcendent grace.
Good or bad, the lack of
full faith, due to the activity of the flesh or to the wiles of the adversary on one hand,
and faithfulness and the leading of Gods spirit on the other, have caused unnumbered
debts and deserts to be entered to the account of Gods saints and servants, that
have never been paid. All of these must be balanced, and the books closed at the dais, for
there will be no further need to keep a record, seeing that there will be no evil or bad
acts to enter, and the good will be rewarded without delay, for God no longer needs to
hurt and humble us, for we will be able to please Him without hindrance.
REQUITAL AT THE DAIS
conception of the special term requite will help us to understand more clearly the
procedure at the dais of Christ. Its stem, in Greek, denotes FETCH. The woman who rubbed
our Lords feet with attar fetched it in an alabaster vase (Luke 7:37). In the
middle voice, however, it corresponds with our recover or requite. It is not
a term used in law courts connected with crime, but denotes compensation, reparation,
rather than vengeance or retribution. I was told many years ago that the
Chinese settled all their accounts every New Years day. All debts were paid and
accounts collected. No one went to jail. All were requited. The books were balanced, and
the year was begun with a clean slate. I doubt that this was ever fully accomplished,
nevertheless it may serve as a weak illustration of the dais.
REQUITAL FOR GOOD
agree that some of Gods servants deserve a special reward for their deeds. Hitherto,
those ancient worthies who died in faith were not requited with the promises, but they
certainly will be rewarded in the kingdom (Heb.11:13). So also the elders who supervise
voluntarily, not avariciously, models for the flocklet, when the Chief Shepherd is
manifested, will be requited with an unfading wreath of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4). The
Circumcision saints who do the will of God will be requited with the promise. In their
case definite promises have been made to them, and these will be their requital. To some
extent this is true of us also.
Let us take one example
which concerns all who use the Concordant Version. A certain Greek scholar, who enjoyed
quite a reputation in this country, thinking that the Concordant was the Emphatic
Diaglott, wrote a stinging criticism, accusing us of following Pastor Russell. Although he
was shown his error, he made no public correction. One of the leaders of the
Fundamentalists spread his slander. Since then others have taken it up. It recently
reappeared in the publication of an eastern Bible Institute. A western magazine, devoted
to prophecy, republished it lately. The organ of the Fundamentalists has also repeated the
slander. And so it will probably go on until all concerned stand before the dais of
Christ. We have no means of stopping this slander, nor of estimating the loss to our
ministry. But we rest serene, knowing that all will be made good in due time. The eventual
loss will not be ours, but theirs.
No doubt all these men
consider that they have done a good service for God in exposing the Version. They think
that they are right. The possibility that they may be wrong does not occur to them.
The thought of being gracious is far from them, even though they all profess to be
saved by grace and some of them use the word to characterize their work. We might sit in
judgment on them and ask, why did not the great scholar publicly right the wrong he had
done? Why do others repeat his slander without making any effort to determine the facts?
When the evidence is produced, why do they not retract? Is it right to repeat any
accusation without the evidence of two or three witnesses? The sad conclusion cannot be
evaded, that they have no hesitancy in doing wrong in the service of God, because of the
good they think will come of it.
None of these men have done
anything even approaching the systematic examination of the Originals which is the basis
of the Concordant Version. Justice demands that they do this before they presume to take
the place of a judge and teacher of those who have. None of them have even taken the pains
to examine the evidence which is spread before them, beyond comparing their conclusions
with tradition. The later ones try to shift the responsibility on others who have
slandered us before, without examining their findings. The motive behind it all is clear.
The great truths that have been recovered do not agree with the traditions they have
received, hence the basis must be discredited.
What should we do about it?
Shall we demand our rights? Is it not right to defend Gods truth, dug
out of the rubbish of tradition by so much drudgery and toil? Shall we sue these
slanderers and obtain large sums with which to publish abroad the great truths which we
have discovered? But how do we know that we are right? Even if the Version is
right, our actions are not right if we do not act according to it. We are not to seek
justice before unbelievers. And it would be judging at a time when grace reigns. It
would cause much ill-feeling contrary to the peace which should prevail among the saints.
It would be premature and need to be done all over again at the dais. Our conscience is
absolutely clear, but that does not justify us. In fact, we want no justification of our
own. Even if acknowledged by men, it could never stand before God, or the illumination of
When we look at it in the
light of Gods purpose and the object of this administration, we can see that such
deplorable deception is right in Gods sight. At present He is displaying the
transcendence of His grace to the universe. It is marvelous grace that he offers to
sinners of the nations in the evangel. But how can he show grace by means of His
saints? Should their conduct not be such that no grace is needed or possible? Alas! In
view of their light, they seem to be sometimes more deserving of condemnation than before,
especially in the treatment of their fellow saints who are more faithful than they. It
may turn out that some evangelistic reformers of the unsaved are greater sinners than
those whom they denounce, because of their greater light.
Let us remember that
Gods Word demands apostasy at the end of this administration. Consequently there
must be a withdrawal from the faith and opposition to the truth. To be effective,
especially in its last phases, we must expect to find this among the very ones who
proclaim themselves defenders of the faith. Such is Satans stratagem, and such is
Gods plan. Those who say they see are far more guilty in these last days than those
who are blind. And these may be the most brilliant exhibitions of Gods grace.
In the vicious violation of the grace to which these self-constituted defenders of the
faith were called, the universe will see the most guilty of mankind, but, at the same
time, the supreme examples of His favor.
REQUITAL FOR BAD
before God does not requite those whom we have injured, nor does their justification
requite us for wrongs which they have committed against us. Ideal were it if all such
things could be fully adjusted in this life, but this would not accord with the character
of Gods present operations. He deals in utmost grace, and the very wrongs which we
are called upon to endure are opportunities which we should seize for displaying His grace
to others. If there were a competent tribunal and we would have all our wrongs redressed
as they occur, that would lower our whole life to the level of the kingdom eon, in which
Gods righteousness is revealed.
The fact that there is no
one capable of deciding what is right or wrong, or the proper recompense, makes it futile
to settle such matters now. They would probably be appealed to the dais anyway, as most of
us are inclined to judge that we are right and others are wrong, because we cannot see
beneath the surface or read the counsels of the hearts. In another connection Paul warns
against judging before the season. Even he, with the clearest conscience, refused to
forestall that day. All of us must be manifested in front of the dais of Christ
before there can be a correct requital of what has been put into practice through the
body, whether good or bad (2 Cor.5:10,11).
It is worthy of note that
one of the best manuscripts, Vaticanus (B) reads evil in place of bad or
FOUL in 2 Cor.5:10. This confirms the thought that bad belongs in the same category
with evil, rather than with sin. We have shown elsewhere that God creates
evil yet does not sin. So it is with our bad or evil acts. It seems that they,
when viewed in the light of that day, are used by Him to humble us and give us the
experience of bad or evil, and the corresponding grace, which is needed to prepare us for
our place in His purpose. I am thankful for the bad which comes to me, in a personal way,
yet I realize that the exposure of my own evil and the loss it entails is just as
essential as a firm basis for the future.
We should be most thankful
if, in this life, we are able to requite for anything bad that we have done. It may mean a
serious loss, yet all who have the spirit of God should not rest easy so long as they have
injured a fellow creature. It may not be possible always to do this. I am sure no one
would view the future glory with equanimity if anything of this sort still is against him.
To requite all might be an intolerable burden now, added to our other infirmities. How
gracious, then, is the postponement of requital until we are immortal, and well able to
forfeit all that is necessary to square accounts with those who were associated with us in
A. E. Knoch