by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXII

December, 1942

Number 5

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

When our Lord said, John 12:31, "Now is this world's judging," He did not mean the time had come for mankind to judge Him.  They had been doing this all the while.  He used the word, "SYSTEM," and this, when used in the scripture, means the order of human society.  This is its literal meaning.  It carries the idea of adornment, I Peter 3:3, and really means that which adorns the earth during a given eon.  It has no reference to customs, for they may differ in different localities, and thy change many times during an eon.  It is something that is common to all the earth, and lasts throughout an eon.  A system, or world, begins with each now eon, and lasts while the eon is running its course.  Paul speaks of "the eon of this world," Eph. 2:2.  Each eon has a different system.  The one before the flood was anarchy, and it was as wide as the human family.  a new eon began after the flood, and God established the system of government of man by man. 

Different countries have different brands of government, but all countries—even heathens— have some kind of human government.  This is the system.  It is earth-wide, and will last until the close of this eon.  (An eon is a long segment of time).  When the next eon begins, a new system, or world, will be inaugurated.  It will be the reign of the Christ. 

Sometimes the word for system, which is KOSMOS, is used for the people of earth.  When it is s used it is a figure of speech.  An instance is II Cor. 5:19, "In Christ, God was conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offences to them."  The pronoun, "they," shows that Paul is speaking of people.  In every place where the word, "world," is used as a figure of speech, something in the passage or its context will show this to be the case.  But the literal meaning of world is system.  

Judaism is called the elements of the world, or system, because it is human government.  But it is far below civil government for the present administration, and is spoken of as "poor and infirm," Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20.  Neither Judaism nor any other "ecclesiastical" government can fill an need now.  It is the poor and infirm element of human government.  Civil government is not so characterized.  It is beneficial for imperfect humans.  Saints are told to be subject to civil government, Rom. 13:1-5, but are forbidden to be subject to Judaism.  The latter is so poor and infirm that it serves no good purpose.  This is true of any and all "religious" government over the liberties of mankind, whether it bears the label of Judaism, Catholicism or Protestantism.  

This time had come for Christ to come into court and be tried by the system of human government—the very system that He had establishes under the direction of His Father, in the days of Noah following the deluge.  Human government, as represented by Pilate, a governor appointed by the greatest government on earth, was to judge the Chief of the system.  Christ was Chief because He had establishes it.  

Let us notice that He did not say He was to be found guilty.  He said He was to be cast out.  Cast out of what?  Out of the system—deprived of the protection human government gives to others.  And this is what took place.  Perhaps He is the only One who ever stood before a court and was pronounced NOT GUILTY, and yet CONDEMNED TO DEATH.  

This was done because the system had reached the bottom of depravity.  It was controlled by politics of the same brand that mover officials today, in many cases—the brand of politics that will condemn others to suffering, if the officer may, thereby, hold his job.  The Jews had threatened to accuse Pilate before Caesar.  This was more than he could bear.  His job must be kept; even if the Christ had to die!  He cowardly washed his hands, and tried to throw the responsibility on others.  

It would seem, humanly speaking, that, in establishing human government, Christ had created a monster that had turned and destroyed Him.  But not so.  There is a God side to the crucifixion.  Not only the people of Israel, but Pilate as well, did what God's hand and counsel designated beforehand, to occur, Acts 4:27, 28.  When the system, in the person of Pilate, gave Him up to be crucified, it was done by the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God, Acts 2:23.  

 This does not excuse the viciousness of those who demanded that He be crucified, not the cowardice of Pilate in giving Him up.  He was gibbeted and assassinated by lawless hands.  Is the law, as represented by Pilate, had said He was guilty, the crucifixion would have had some semblance of legality.  But nothing is more lawless than delivering up a prisoner to be put to death, by the same court that had said he is not guilty.  And equally lawless is the demand made on a court, that an accused person be sentenced to death, no matter what the evidence is. 

Let us remember that the same system that gave Christ up to death—cast Him out—is yet in existence.  It cannot cease until the eon has run its course.  The system is locally characterized by totalitarianism, or democracy, but it is all the same system—government of man by man, instead of absence of human government, as prevailed before the flood.  And let us not flatter ourselves that the system is based on a regard for Christ and His Father.  The beginning of what is called present civilization can be traced back to the sons of Noah, and partakes of the spirit that undertook to build the tower of Babel—"to make a name for ourselves," Gen. 10.  No law has ever been enacted by the system, purely for the purpose of either the progress of the evangel of grace, or the protection of those who seek to avoid ritualism and offer divine service to God in Spirit.  Whatever brand of religious liberty promises the greatest earthly benefit is adhered to by the various nations.  In totalitarian countries religious toleration embraces only that which is desired by the dictators.  In democracies all religions—Christian, Jewish and Pagan—are tolerated, because, thereby, the people are kept satisfied.  God's hand provides such measures, for because of them, even those who refuse to be counted among the denominations, but who, nevertheless, offer divine service in spirit, find protection.  

Christ refused to fight against the system.  He established it, and it did what was probably the greatest reason for its existence, when it cast out the Chief of the system.  He said, "My kingdom is not of this system," John 18:36.  His deputies would have fought to keep Him from being given up to the Jews, if there had been anything in the system that could produce the kingdom. Those who believe a better form of human government can usher in the millennium, are mistaken.  The kingdom will not come out of anything that is now in existence, in the way of human government, nor will it be produced by any change in the system.  The system, itself, will be at an end when the kingdom is established.  There will be a new system—the government of Christ. 

The system did not recognize Christ.  Neither does it do so, today.  He is the great Man of Christendom, even as Buddha is, of another religion.  What are supposed to be His teachings, and especially His humanitarian spirit, are encouched in our laws. This is the best man can do.  No law was ever made because the teachings of Jesus Christ to us through Paul, is believed and loved.  

Religion, being one of the elements of the world, partakes of the spirit of the system.  Human government cannot make its citizens perfect, and must, therefore, provide punishment for violators.  Religion sees God as impotent—like human government—and imagines that He must provide endless punishment for those whom He is unable to manage.  They look to see Christ wreak vengeance on those who demanded His death.  How else can He be as men have pictured Him?  

But how disappointing are His words that follow the ones referred to in the beginning of this editorial!  He says, "And I, if I be exalted out of the earth, will be drawing all to myself."  If He should do otherwise, He, too, would show the spirit of the system.  Man can punish those who harm him.  Is the Lord to do no better than that?  He will chasten, yes.  But chastening has a result that no human government can produce.  It benefits the ones who are chastened.  This is its function. 

When the Lord mentioned being exalted out of the earth, or being "lifted up from the earth," as the King James Version has it, John hastened to assure the readers that Christ was talking about the death He was about to be dying.  It is the height of unbelief, when preachers tell us that we are to lift up the Lord by preaching and living.  Christ said that if He should be "lifted up," He would be drawing all to Himself.  

What a wonderful promise!  That those who brought about His crucifixion must suffer chastening, is necessary.  They would never appreciate salvation without it.  But Christ's goal for them, as well as His goal for all mankind, is Justification, (Rom. 5:18); Salvation, I Tim. 2:3-6); Vivification, (I Cor. 15:22-28); and Reconciliation, (Col. 1:20).

Like our Lord, this doctrine does not partake of the spirit of the system. 

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