Precious Doctrines of the Truth

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” —Deuteronomy 32:2-4

THE words of our text are part of a song by Moses. Since Moses was one of God’s holy prophets, and a type of Christ, we unquestioningly accept what he says as coming from the Lord. When he speaks of ‘my doctrine’, and ‘my speech’, we properly think of these as being the Lord’s doctrines and the Lord’s Word. The word doctrine simply means ‘teaching’, and it is by publishing the teachings which reach us through the Lord’s Word that we ascribe greatness unto our God. It is through these doctrines that we recognize that our God is the Rock, the great foundation upon which our hopes are built. It is through the doctrines that we recognize that all God’s ways are judgment, and that he is a God of truth and without iniquity—that he is just and right.

The doctrines of the Lord as set forth through the Old and New Testaments are likened by Moses to rain or dew, to the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. The tender herb and the grass would soon wither and die without the rain and dew; just so, we need the refreshing waters of truth in order to maintain a healthy spiritual life. Without the waters of truth we, too, would soon wither and die as new creatures in Christ Jesus.

We often refer to the doctrines of the Bible as the divine plan of the ages. In the New Testament the combined doctrines are styled the Gospel. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16) In Romans 1:1-3 Paul speaks of “the Gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures), concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”

The word Gospel means ‘good tidings’. This was the good news proclaimed by the shepherds on the night Jesus was born, when the angel said to them, “Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10,11) Here the good news is clearly indicated to be the fact that God had sent a Savior into the world, one who would save the people from their sins, and consequently from death.

First to Abraham

But this was not the first time that the Gospel was preached. Moses records a promise which God made to Abraham—a promise that through his seed “shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) The Apostle Paul refers to God’s promise to Abraham as the Gospel. He wrote, “God … preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Then Paul identifies the promised seed: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.”—Gal. 3:16

How refreshing this promise must have been to Abraham! As Moses said, it was like rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass, and this good news is still refreshing the Lord’s people today. What an all-comprehensive Gospel it is! To Abraham, God promised to bless all the families of the earth, and thousands of years later when Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord referred to the event as good news to all people. During that entire span of time, God’s design on behalf of his human creation had not narrowed. And today it is our privilege as well to proclaim this same universal Gospel as widely as possible.

The Prophetic Testimony

The promise to Abraham was that all families of the earth would be blessed. The question naturally arises as to the nature of this promised blessing. When Paul wrote of the Gospel of God, he explained that it was the Gospel which God had promised by his “prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” (Rom. 1:2) What do the prophets say concerning blessings which are yet to reach all families of the earth? Let us examine, in part, what the Prophet Isaiah has written.

Isaiah 2:2-4 reads, “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Here, as is usually the case throughout the Scriptures, a mountain is used to symbolize a kingdom. Isaiah informs us that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. This means that the Lord’s kingdom will occupy a commanding position over the affairs of all nations. What a refreshing blessing this will be! Isaiah explains that under this arrangement the people will learn the Lord’s ways, which will be the paths of peace and righteousness. The Lord will then judge among the people, and any nations which resist his sovereign power will be rebuked. Mankind will no longer use the resources of the earth to make war, for nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

The Birth of Christ Foretold

Isaiah also wrote concerning the birth of Jesus: “Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice, and with righteousness, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7, RSV

How invigorating this promise must have been to the natural descendants, of Abraham! Here was a further assurance that the promised ‘seed’, the Messiah, would come and establish his rulership over the earth, bringing justice and peace to the people. How much more exhilarating it is for us who know that Jesus, through the merit of his redeeming blood, will establish peace between God and man, and that this will be followed by peace among men! How precious is this doctrine of the ransom and the assurance of the kingdom blessings which it guarantees to all families of the earth.

People Enlightened

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9) No longer will the people be held in bondage to heathen gods, nor to a torment deity. Instead, they will become acquainted with Jehovah, the true and living God, the God of infinite wisdom, exact justice, abounding love, and unlimited power. What a blessing this will be to all the families o\f the earth. And to know about it in advance as we do, is indeed refreshing to the soul!

Isaiah forecasts further blessings of the Lord’s mountain, the messianic kingdom, saying, “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord bath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isa. 25:6-9

What joyful blessings are here described as reaching the people through the administration of Messiah’s kingdom! Much symbolic language is used, of course, but how full of meaning it is! There will be a feast for the people, a feast of wine on the lees, well refined. The veil of superstition and misunderstanding will be removed from the people, for then they will know the Lord, and his glory will fill the earth.

Death is man’s greatest enemy; but we are assured that in Christ’s kingdom, death will be swallowed up in victory. This itself will wipe away most of the tears of the people, for the destruction of death will be so complete that it will involve the restoration to life of all who have died. These, we are told, will return “with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”—Isa. 35:10

And when the people receive these promised bounties in fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all families of the earth, they will heartily respond. “Lo, this is our God: we have waited for him, and he will save us: … We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Yes, those who have known about God’s promise of kingdom blessings have waited long to see their fulfillment. In due time the waiting will be over, the blessings will be here, and all the peoples of earth will have an opportunity to enjoy them. What a refreshing doctrine this is! May we be more and more inspired by it, and give all diligence to make it known to all who will hear.

Jesus’ Testimony

Jesus came as the seed of promise, to be the Messiah, and king of Israel and of the world. It is interesting to note the manner in which his doctrines harmonize in every respect with those of the Old Testament. This is not surprising, for, as he explained, his words were those of the Father. He did not proclaim his own doctrines, but, rather, the doctrines of the great Author of the divine plan. He was ‘the greater than Moses’, and his teachings confirmed those of the great Lawgiver of Israel as well as those of all God’s holy prophets since the world began.

With this thought in mind it is interesting to examine the conversation between Jesus and the young man who came to him asking what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life. (Matt. 19:16-28) Jesus replied to this young man, saying, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (vs. 17) This was a logical reply to the man’s request, for, after all, it had been promised that those who could keep God’s Law as represented in the Ten Commandments, would gain life.—Rom. 10:5; 7:10

The young man replied to Jesus: “All these have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Let us assume that this young man had made an earnest and sincere effort to keep God’s commandments, but had found, as Paul testified, that that which was designed to give life was not doing so. Instead, just like everyone else, this man realized that he was aging, and that if this continued, sooner or later he would die. Perhaps he remembered the promise that death would be swallowed up in victory, but from his own experience he was being swallowed up by death; so he asked, “What lack I yet?” What else must I do to preserve my life?

One Thing Lacking

Jesus’ reply to him was, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21) We read that “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (vs. 22) Jesus had asked for sacrifice—the sacrifice of all that the young man possessed—and it was more than he was willing to give.

There was another aspect to the Master’s reply which might have affected the young man’s attitude toward it. Jesus told him that if he would make this great sacrifice he would have treasure in heaven. This was something new to the young Jew. The prophets of Israel had not promised a heavenly reward in return for faithfulness in keeping the Law. Actually, this young man had asked what he could do to assure himself of continuing life on earth. But when he received Jesus’ final reply, it called for the sacrifice of all he had of earthly goods, with a promise of a reward described as ‘treasure in heaven’.

Jesus’ disciples had been listening to this conversation, and he turned to them and said, “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” They were perplexed by these words and asked him, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” This was a reply, but not an explanation. So Peter, turning to Jesus, inquired, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?”—vss. 23-27

The reason for this question is obvious. In becoming the followers of Jesus the disciples had forsaken all, just as he asked the rich young man to do. They believed Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that if they were faithful to him they would have a share in his messianic kingdom. Starting at Jerusalem, they believed that this kingdom ultimately would extend its sphere of influence over the entire earth. But now Jesus seemed to be saying something different to them; instead of having a share in an earthly kingdom, they would have treasures in heaven. What did he mean?

The Regeneration

Up to this time Jesus’ disciples had been given no special reason to expect a heavenly hope; now they wanted to make sure just what discipleship would lead to. Jesus’ reply to Peter’s question is enlightening: “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”—vs.28

The regeneration here referred to by Jesus is the restoration of the human race to life on the earth. The race, originally generated by Adam, will be regenerated by Jesus, the second, or “last Adam.” (I Cor. 15:45) This restoration of Adam’s race to life on earth is described by the Apostle Peter as restitution, and the period in which it will tie accomplished as “the times of restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21) Peter explained that this work of restitution had been foretold by God’s holy prophets, and we have already quoted some of the forecasts concerning it which were made by the Prophet Isaiah.

By referring to the regeneration in his reply to Peter, Jesus would be assuring his disciples that he was not overlooking the great objective of the divine plan as foretold by the prophets. This was the great work to be accomplished by the exercise of messianic kingdom authority and power throughout the earth. It was to be in the regeneration that he would sit upon the throne of his glory. When he did, then those who had faithfully followed him, laying down their all in sacrifice, even unto death, would share his glory; and part of that glory would be the position of judges which would be given them—sitting upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Joint-heirs with Christ

Here was a further unfolding of the Gospel of the kingdom, a further disclosure of the precious doctrines of God’s plan which Moses said would fall like rain upon the grass. The disciples had some idea that they would be associated with Jesus in his kingdom, but it is doubtful if they then understood that through the kingdom a worldwide work of regeneration, or restitution, would be accomplished. Nor did they realize that they would be judges as well as kings in Messiah’s kingdom.

After the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the apostles understood this point clearly. The Apostle Paul, for example, after identifying Jesus as the promised seed of Abraham through whom all families of the earth would be blessed, further explained, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” and “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:27,29

To be baptized into Christ means to be immersed into the doing of his will—and the will of the Lord for Jesus’ disciples is that they suffer and die with him. Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3) It is this that is involved in following in Jesus’ footsteps. Those who thus dedicate themselves fully to the doing of the Lord’s will, and who are faithful even unto death, as Paul explains, will be part of the seed of Abraham—that messianic seed through whom all families of the earth will be blessed.

The Apostle Paul again wrote, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16,17) To be glorified with Christ is to be highly exalted in the resurrection—to live and reign with him. Those who attain this high position are described in Revelation 20:4,6 as coming forth in the first resurrection to live and reign with Christ a thousand years.

A Heavenly Reward

These will indeed have treasure in. heaven, just as Jesus explained to the rich young ruler. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (I Pet. 1:3,4) Again in Hebrews 3:1 we read, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.”

It is clear from the Scriptures that there is a heavenly salvation for the faithful followers of the Master. Their future treasures will not be on earth, but in heaven. Sincerity and zeal are required on the part of the consecrated followers of the Master in order to lay up these treasures in heaven. The spirit of sacrifice must also be manifested; a willingness to give up all that we have, take up our cross and follow the Master. To these Jesus made the promise, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) And once more, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”—Rev. 3:21

It is not merely a matter of having a home in heaven. Jesus’ faithful followers are called and are being prepared to reign with him, for the destruction of sin and death in the earth. That future age of blessing will also be a time of probation for mankind, termed in the Bible “the Day of Judgment.” It will be then that the overcoming saints will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. It will be then that they will sit on the throne of glory with Jesus and share with him in judging the people of all nations.—Matt. 25:31,32

The worthy and unworthy in that future Day of Judgment are referred to symbolically as ‘sheep and goats’. To the sheep, those found worthy to be on the right-hand of the Father’s favor, it will be said, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34) This is the kingdom that was given to our first parents when God commanded them to multiply and fill the earth, and have dominion over it. (Gen. 1:27,28) It is an earthly dominion, and those who enjoy it forever will be the restored human race—all families of the earth. God promised to bless these through the seed of Abraham, which seed will be Jesus and his overcoming church—those who have been baptized into his death and, in the resurrection, are glorified together with him.

Two Salvations

So, among the galaxy of precious doctrines which the Lord sets forth in his Word, we find that there are two salvations. There is the heavenly salvation of those who will live and reign over the earth with Christ; and there is the earthly salvation of all who, during the thousand years of coming judgment, will prove themselves worthy of everlasting life on earth. A knowledge of what constitutes these two salvations greatly increases our appreciation of the glorious harmony of the Scriptures. It is this and other precious doctrines of the Word, which drop as the rain and distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass!

Moses, in the words of his song, added, “I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” The precious teachings of God’s Word have not been revealed to us to be held merely for our own refreshment and joy. As we continue to publish them far and wide as we have, and can make, opportunities, thus showing forth the greatness of our God, they will continue to increase their refreshing power in our own lives. For how great is the privilege which has been given to us to declare of God, through the doctrines of the truth, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he!”—Deut. 32:2,4

Dawn Bible Students Association
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