HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
Restoration: Abram ArticleWhat follows is a reprint of several articles by Victor P. Abram, former leader of the Kingdom from Sandford's death in 1948 until his own death in 1977. Originally appearing in "The Standard" in 1951, these articles were subsequently then re-edited and assembled in book form and published by the Kingdom Press as "The Restoration of All Things".
The doctrine is predicated on the interpretation of the last few verses in the Old Testament from the book of Malachi. If Sandford's interpretation was accurate, then the Christian church is to expect a prophet who will precede the second advent of Christ, as John the Baptist preceded his first advent. It is just this prophet who Frank Sandford sincerely believed himself to be.
If, however, Sandford's interpretation of that passage is in fact erroneous, then the whole concept of restoration, as taught and preached by The Kingdom, is rendered moot. (He himself did not consider it an interpretation, for he maintained and believed God told him he was the Elijah of Malachi.) Abram's article, along with others in this section by Joseph Harriman and Frank Murray, are reprinted here in order to demonstrate the circular logic used by the Kingdom to justify their prophet. Notice as Abram presents his thesis that his arguments eventually come full circle, back to the interpretation of Malachi, and Mr. Sandford's say so. Proofs are never sought or given, as with most topics in the realms of faith. The reader must take their word at face value that Sandford was this prophet of Malachi, and his movement the restoration of all things.
We have gleaned from the following 22 pages a list of attributes which, to Abram, defined the Restoration. They are as follows:
1) unifies Christianity
2) means "place down again"
3) is to "place down again" God's laws
4) is needed because:
a) holy ways are lost
b) even those who choose Christ are all mixed up.
5) represents the climax and pinnacle of all religious development
6) restores all God's laws
7) removes the smudges and grime on God's laws
8) gets people to obey God's laws
9) makes it clear the Word can be literally lived
10) points souls to Christ as has not been done since the first century.
11) changes souls attitudes of hopelessness to expectancy of something better
12) starts the Millenium
13) prepares the hearts of believers for the millenium
14) restores heart religion
15) constitutes what Frank Sandford was and taught
16) is the re-establishment of pure Holy Ghost religion on the earth
Evidently in order to adequately explain the restoration, it was necessary to constantly and consistently contrast the relative ignorance and weakness of the rest of Christianity to the light made available to Frank Sandford and his followers. We have, therefore, compiled a list of some of the broad brush stroke, stereotypical remarks made by Abram regarding other religious organizations and denominations from the same articles:
1) the utter weakness of the so called church today
2) the ruling force of the denominations is composed of theorists, orators, semi-believers and rank unbelievers
3) they ignore the revealed plan of God regarding Elijah the restorer
4) "true" Christians [not in the Kingdom, Ed.] are confused and mixed up because of varying denominational teachings
5) most "true" Christians are not willing to pay the price, but still wish to wear the name.
6) religion is in a hopeless muddle, shorn of all power to deal with the devil
7) any who [are critical of old testament justice] demonstrate how little they understand God and His Word.
8) the accepted attitude of Bible readers today has become one of mild academic interest... something to be discussed and torn to pieces by "higher critics".
9) Denominational religion ... has a very sorry understanding of God.
10) The world is full of confusion along religious lines... and they have played into the hands of the devil
11) the trouble with ... most forms of religion is that the heart of man has wandered, and been driven from God... [merely] a mental allegiance to Him
12) the stiff ceremonies, dogmatic doctrines, mental formulas and all the rest of the trumpery of formal heady religion...
13) the numerous perversions that go under the name of religion ...
14) the emptiness and sham of existing religious organizations ...
15) There are those who use a form of religion simply as a salve for their consciences
16) such abuses make the cause of [Christ] look sordid and cheap
17) No matter along what line a person may be pursuing truth with an aim to make this world a better place... the realization of such aims is [only] found in ... the scriptural plan. [restoration] All labor for good that leaves out this divine scheme is doomed to ultimate failure.
18) [The Kingdom] must never tire of dispelling the devilish lies that have misrepresented Sandford's work.
19) God moved the restorer to break with the spiritual death he found in the denominational organizations [He was, however, a wildly successful pastor while preaching in these centers of spiritual death, Ed.]
and from Joseph Harriman's article:
1) I was brought up in a home where the backsliding of the Church was thoroughly deplored...
2) I saw that sects abounded, with all sorts of claims; but orthodox believers held out little if any hope for better things...
3) ...the Fundamentalists today, like the Jews then, have not taken all the prophecies into account.
4) I was taught that we live in the time of the Great Apostasy (2 Thess. 2: 3) and that Jesus will soon be here to straighten things out.
5) And on the other hand, it is a sad fact that most of those who stand for "British-Israel" are themselves only groping in the half light.
6) Through the many other restorations that followed by His clear leadings was true religion brought back to earth.
7) the dreary, shepherd-less gropings that so many earnest Christians today are experiencing-and as some of us experienced years ago - God planned of old and in these last days has brought to pass something better.
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The Restoration of All Things
WHEN the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He left a promise, which was repeated by the angels, that He would return. It has been this hope in the hearts of genuine Christians through the centuries that has prompted them to live in constant readiness to meet him. He purposely emphasized the element of uncertainty as to when He would return, knowing that the best incentive for His disciples to keep ready would be for them to be always expecting Him.
Some statements in the Bible sound as though it is impossible for anyone to know when that time will be. See, for example, Matthew 24:36 "But for that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son. but the Father only." In the parable of the ten virgins and the coming of the bridegroom, He charges us: "Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour" -Matthew 25:13. Again, in Matthew 24:44, this warning: "Be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh."
All of these scriptures draw attention to the fact that there will be those who are not ready for Him when He appears. They also indicate that the exact day and hour of His coming is a divine secret.
But there are other scriptures that give very definite hints that those who are watching for Him need not be taken unawares, but may rather make ready so as to welcome Him with joy. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, "Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. When they are saying. Peace and safety. then sudden destruction cometh upon them ... and they shall in no wise escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light. and sons of the day:... so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch, and be sober" 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6. This encourages us to believe that those who walk in the light and are children of God need not be in darkness concerning the time of the second coming.
The Lord Himself, in His talk to one of the "seven churches," implied that those who are true will not be in ignorance as to the time of His coming. Revelation 3:3--"If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief. and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." He practically says that if they will watch carefully, and walk in white, they will know when He is coming: not the exact day and hour. but near enough not to get surprised. Jesus said that the signs of His coming would be as plain as the signs of summer. But He also said that only a spirit of devotion and constant watching would enable His disciples to recognize these signs. Various Bible passages make it clear that certain things must take place before Jesus comes. Some of these word pictures describe the mountain wickedness of the time. "As were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man" Matthew 24:37. Paul declares in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that the Lord will not come "except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." These passages and others like them move many people throughout Christendom to realize that we are in the last days, or those just preceding the coming of the Lord. While the "man of sin" has not yet been revealed, there are ample evidences of evil prevailing as it did in the days just before the Flood. People who recognize these signs of the times are moved to live righteously according to all the light they have, and to expect the downpourings of God's wrath on a rebel world.
But not all the statements in the Book concerning this time deal with the apostasy of the age. There are others that plainly foretell the great movings of God in men's hearts at the same time. While evil is increasing and "evil men" are "waxing worse and worse," right in the midst of it all, hardly noticed because of the "hiding of His power," God is doing things that are actually setting the stage for the Millennium. It is a strange thing that so many people who ardently long for His coming, and who recognize the progress of evil, should fail to notice the promises concerning the restoration that precedes the second coming. The Apostle Peter made a plain statement concerning the time of the Master's return: "whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things" Acts 3:21. What grounds do any of us have, no matter how much we long to see Jesus again, to expect His return until there are definite indications that "the times of restoration of all things" are here?
It is understandable that people may not believe in any one of the several individuals who during the past hundred years have claimed to be Elijah, the prophet of the restoration. But those same people are either blind or dishonest unless they face the fact that Jesus stated plainly: after John the Baptist was dead* that " Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things"-Matthew 17:11. The return of the Lord and the "great day" of God's wrath come at nearly the same time, and we may not in our minds distinguish finely between them. Jesus spoke of the two without making any sharp distinction. This fact grows in importance when we look back to the promise made in Malachi: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come." If Christians imagine that Christ will come, and the consummation of the age be effected. without the appearance of a Prophet called by God "Elijah," who will usher in the restoration of all things, they ignore the plain teaching of Scripture.
There is always the danger of false prophets, and especially of the false prophet: but that danger does not give anyone a right to conclude that no man of God can possibly be the Elijah promised. It is the responsibility of those who love the Lord's return to search the Scriptures so as to know what the results of his ministry will be, and to watch eagerly for a work of that kind in progress.
The burden of Jesus' last prayer for His disciples was for unity among them, unity such as there is between the Father and the Son. He was not praying for it to be achieved after they got to heaven but rather right here on earth, and for the purpose "that the world may know" that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, sent by the Father to redeem men from the curse of sin. The answer to this prayer calls for a unity among believers that is so absolute that it constrains the rest of men to believe the truth concerning God and His love. It is so powerful that it confounds all infidelity and shames all atheism. With such unity the Christian religion becomes more than a good example, and sweeps on to the evangelization of the entire globe.
Take this picture set forth in the Master's prayer and compare it with the present condition of those who profess to follow Christ, and we have a vivid illustration of what must be done and will be done by the restoration. To expect the return of Christ without looking first for the restoration is the height of folly.
The power and efficiency manifested by the machinery of Satan has brought consternation to those who know the utter weakness of the so-called Church today. Among the great body of higher critics, theorists, orators, semi-believers, and rank unbelievers that make up the ruling force of denominationalism, the few holy and devoted men who are still enrolled with them do not dare to face the facts. Or if they do face them, and try to organize a movement to counter these evil tendencies, they ignore the revealed plan of God to send a restorer, Elijah. to do this very thing, with all of heaven's authority behind him. Any other effort is helpless to accomplish this end; any such man-organized attempt, however pure its motives, lacks an authority and power to rally true hearts to stand against the great sweep of antichrist Power that is loose on the earth. They hope that "something will turn up," basing that hope on some sort of mechanical unity, while all the time they know there is nothing to work on.
The true Christians that are left on earth must be united, and unity calls for authority. But there can be no authority except as Christians return to the first principles revealed in the Bible. The building called Christendom has been remodeled so many times to fit the ideas of successive generations that it hardly resembles the structure that Jesus erected. Another remodeling job will not fill the bill today. The word "restore" translated means "to place down again." Men's jerrybuilt additions must be torn away and the first foundation principles "placed down again": then the power will appear.
But where are we to look for these first principles?
Where else but in the Bible? Reading its glorious pages we are thrilled as we see God's dealings with Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel and the prophets. Studying the books of Moses we stand in awe at the majesty and justice of the law there laid down for men. The long record of Satan's hellish opposition only makes the almightiness of God the more marvelous: for He has seized on every occasion to expose and confound the lying would-be god and all his works. No matter what subject it touches on, the Word of God inspires us. Such Gospel, for instance! The wickedness of the natural man, and his proneness to turn against God, sicken us; but always the love of His Father heart, and His power to wash the vilest rebel white as snow, fairly stagger our understanding. "God so loved the world"! And such promises for the future! The revelations to His prophets of God's plan for the years to come have furnished hope and inspiration to the people of God through all succeeding generations.
From every aspect the Word of God is superlative. No human problem of any age is not covered by its wisdom. The purpose of the "restoration," then, is not to devise new schemes for man's betterment, but to uncover and "place down again" the ways that God set forth long ago for His creatures. Thus, and only thus, will the earth be prepared for Christ to take His throne and reign.
It is a tremendous design that the Creator has been working out. Through His dealings in all ages with men who responded to His will He has outlined the pattern for what might be called the structure of eternal society. The foundation of the system and all parts of the glorious building, have been seen in one way or another through the lives and teachings of the prophets and apostles and martyrs, the Son of God Himself holding the preeminence. That is why Peter, speaking in the Holy Ghost. declared that the "restoration" comprehended "all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
With such a grand program in the heart of God since man's creation, why is there now such a need for the restoration? The reason is that not all men choose to serve the true God. No one is forced to do so: all are allowed to decide for themselves. The arch rebel made his choice long ago, and is bent on influencing as many of Adam's race as possible to follow him in his rebellion. His doings and those of his human slaves have written the sad and sordid pages of human history. Each generation has had its opportunities to choose one side or the other; and while God seems to stand back and bide His time for concluding the matter, the devil makes the most of what looks like a chance for him to establish his position. Consequently, in this time of final struggle the great and glorious truths and revelations of Jehovah's holy ways seem to be lost or terribly twisted from what they were originally.
Enough of truth has been preserved, and enough power furnished to enable each individual soul to make his way to God if he wishes; but still the over-all picture is not clear. Even those who choose the right path are all mixed up and divided because they differ in their understanding of God's requirements. Part of the confusion is simply because so many of them demonstrate that they are not willing to pay the price, yet still wish to be known as Christians. Then the mixture is further complicated because one soul sees one bit of the whole structure of truth and glories in that, while another gets a glimpse of another portion of the great eternal building and is all carried away with that. Then when someone else who has no real love for God injects his carnal or devilish ideas into the picture, the whole business of religion, which is only the proper relation between God and men, seems to be in a hopeless muddle, shorn of all power to grapple with a determined devil.
The Great Judge lets this state of affairs go on long enough to give all a chance to have what they want. But we utterly fail to understand the character and purposes of the Supreme Being if we think He will allow the history of the Christian church to close up in such a condition of mixture.
It is this determination in the heart of God that has produced the promise of "restoration of all things" before the great day of His judgments, when He finally manifests the authority of His Son over the whole earth. His movings in the hearts of men through past millenniums have not been feeble flickers. Each of those experiences was, so to speak, "in part," but those parts are all necessary at the time of the grand climax, "when that which is perfect is come." They are all to be gathered and bound into one united whole in these last days, as we who love Him meet the final charge of evil led in person by the antichrist. The time when the restoration of all things is accomplished is the grandest imaginable, for it ushers in the glories of the Millennium.
Many if not most of those who are reading this now will conclude that I am only building up to another declaration of my convictions concerning F. W. Sandford as the promised Elijah. I have repeatedly stated what I know on this matter, but that is not my point here. The question as to what man is Elijah is not the principal consideration at the moment. What I am here emphasizing is that we who are expecting the Lord to return soon will recognize the time of that coming by two definite signs. On the side of Satan we will see such an increase of evil that the whole earth will be "corrupt... filled with violence." We do see that. On God's side we will see a prophet who will come and restore all things. If we do not know that he has come we had better be praying mightily for his appearing, and watching for it closely. If we do believe he has come, it is our solemn duty to proclaim that fact to others.
We will seek in following issues of THE STANDARD, as God enables us, to tell what we know further concerning the meaning of the restoration of all things, and also to bear testimony to what we know has already been accomplished along this line. These things should bring great encouragement to the hearts of all those who genuinely love His appearing, and who expect the Lord Jesus to get an exact answer to His prayers for unity among His followers. We recommend that all who read these words remember that the Master spoke thus in prayer: "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes." A fitting prayer for all of us would be: "Oh God, save us from our big heads that know it all, and give us childlike hearts that can receive the revelation of truth!" His promise is. "Ask and ye shall receive."
*The account of the martyrdom of John the Baptist is found three chapters earlier in Matthew's Gospel (14:1-12), which is the most accurate of the four Gospels in its chronological order.
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Vol. III May 1951 No. 5
The Restoration of All Things
THE Scripture makes it clear that the Son of God is to return to the earth to reign as King for a thousand years. That will be the most glorious period this world has ever known. When He comes, His presence and authority will not be a side issue to the regular doings of men. All the activities of all the nations that remain on the earth will be geared to Him and to His dominion. No one who will have survived the horrors of the "Great Tribulation" will be thinking it strange to order his life so as to please the King of kings, nor will it seem odd to governors and presidents to carry out exactly what He directs. That world-wide state of affairs will be the fulfillment of what He taught us to pray--"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Then will the earth and its inhabitants experience the full blessing of life on this planet at its best. All creation will be glorious, as the Creator intended it to be; and the earth will indeed "be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea."
God does not change; and it is the comfort and encouragement of believers that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." What the Creator was when He willed the recreation in Adam's time He will likewise be in that future "day" when He manifests His great power to the limits of the universe. And what His mighty Son was, both before and since His birth in human form, He will also be when He comes again to reign. To be sure, God reveals Himself in many ways, depending apparently on what or whom He is dealing with; but there is no variation in Him. He is not governed by whim or mood, nor does He grow and develop as His creatures do. That which God is, He always has been, and always will be. His very name is "I AM" because of His constancy. His Son, who is "one" with Him, partakes of this same unchangeableness.
Thus when the glad day arrives for which we so eagerly and longingly wait, the Being who comes in the clouds of heaven will be the very "same Jesus" who was here nearly two thousand years ago. It is true that mission will be different this time, for one death on His part was all that was needed to put away sin and make our redemption sure. He comes this time to reign as the conquering Son of God "the Crown Prince of eternity," as He has been called.
But the King who sits on the throne of David and rules all the nations with "a rod of iron" will be the same Being who taught men on the mountain side in Galilee. He will he the same One who stilled the storm on the lake, who rebuked the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, who opened the blind eyes. who forgave the sins of the helpless man and of the woman who washed His feet, who spoke with such power and authority that His hearers were amazed, who so lived and taught and loved as to make men feel the heart of the Father.
This triumphant God-Man has many titles. but when He again comes to this planet, it is stated that "His Name is called The Word of God." John, who by revelation saw the conquering return of the, Master, also wrote concerning His first coming: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. and the Word was God. .....And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us."
What He spoke as He journeyed over the Land was the Word of God. He made men understand what Moses and the prophets and the psalmists meant, or rather what the Spirit who spoke and wrote through them meant. He declared to them, "Think not that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I came not to destroy but to fulfill." He did not "destroy"--did not say that Moses was wrong or that the prophets made mistakes, but "fulfilled" by being Himself the example of what the written Word required. Because He was the Word in human form, He could make its meaning and application clear. No one who heard and knew Jesus of Nazareth was able to feel that the Divine utterances were unimportant. Listening to Him, men sensed that God's words were the revelation of Himself, and that the "certain indication of their attitude toward the Author was their attitude toward what He said. Even when Jesus seemed to be contradicting or superseding something that Moses had written, He was but illuminating the point at issue so that there could be no mistake as to God's meaning.
In the most solemn language He warned of the folly of trifling with the Holy Words, whether His Father's or His own. "The Scripture cannot be broken." "He that rejecteth Me... the word that I have spoken. the same shall judge him in the last day." "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law. till all be fulfilled." "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away." He told them that a life built on obedience to His own sayings, which comprehended all of the Scriptures then written, would be on a foundation able to stand any storm: while a life not so built was without foundation, and sure of total loss. By adding to His apostles, "He that heareth you heareth Me," He made it clear that the rest of the New Testament, which all the world so cherishes today, is likewise part of the Divine Word that God has given to men as The Standard.
Now we are looking for His return, and are expecting Him to have the secret that will solve the problems of the whole race. The plans and schemes of men have failed miserably. and millions long for Him to appear and usher in the reign of peace. He will surely come, as surely as we know the sun will rise tomorrow morning. But He will not come with some new master plan that His Father and He have devised during these twenty centuries. They have not concluded that the state of affairs on earth has now become so complicated that it is necessary to produce a Divine "new deal." He was "the Word made flesh" back there, and when He next appears the prophecy says, "His name is called The Word of God." He is "the same, : yesterday, and today, and forever." He will be successful in making this world a lovely place to dwell in because He will apply the Word to every individual that is left, and to every detail of earthly affairs. Men will finally come to see that what God has spoken can be practiced; and when they practice it every whit, all the problems that have plagued men since the beginning will be solved, from physical ills to the international scourge of war.
Since Christ's dominion over men is founded in the Word of God, and all His rule will be but the application of that Word, we should expect to see God preparing for His advent by magnifying that Word among men. That is exactly what is promised in the Scriptures. To repeat what we quoted last month: Peter said of Jesus, shortly after the day of Pentecost, "Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things"--what things?-- "all things which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Since God's recorded utterances--what we commonly call "the Bible"--are to be the laws of the world for a thousand peaceful years, they are all to be restored in connection with the ushering in of that glad age.
I have heard people inquire as to what it means for the Word of God to be restored. They say that we all have the Bible and can read it for ourselves, that it never has been destroyed or lost. In other words, "restore" means, they think, to uncover or discover what has been hidden or missing, just as would be the case if some Renaissance masterpiece, that had been lost for centuries, had been found and "restored" to society.
But that is not a true parallel. The proper meaning of the word "restore," to use the same illustration, would be to remove the smudge and grime that has discolored the painting, until it stands forth in all its original richness and beauty. True it is that more people in all parts of the earth own Bibles than ever before in history. It is also true that many people read it and remember what it says, just as crowds might visit the museum daily to look at the old masterpiece. But as long as the grime is there, the painting is not restored; people do not see it as it really is. And as long as they simply read or hear the Book it is not restored to them. Jesus pointed out that only the "doers" were right.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had it very clear in their minds exactly what God had said concerning the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That word of God had not been lost to them. But along came a suggestion that it was not necessary to observe that command, inasmuch as the results of eating the fruit would be improvement, not punishment. So they disregarded the Word of God in favor of their own desires. The Word still stood, but they immediately suffered the dread penalty for thinking it was something to be trifled with. After that they had a different respect for all that their Creator had said to them. His Word began to stand out sharp and dear: restoration had set in.
All Israel heard the Voice of God from the top of Mount Sinai giving utterance to the Ten Commandments, one of which was "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." Specific directions were added as to how to keep it holy. A few days later a man decided it was to his advantage to collect some fuel on that day. He could not have forgotten the commandment. He just ignored it or explained it away to himself, and proceeded to do as he liked. But neither had God forgotten what He had said. Sentence was swiftly passed and as quickly executed. After that "restoration" of the fourth commandment, Israel had a healthy respect for God's directions about the Sabbath. Any who play with the idea that such strict dealing was entirely too narrow and arbitrary simply demonstrate how little they understand the Being whose Word is the expression of Himself. He doesn't say something to suit His fancy or to demonstrate His power and authority over us. His name is "I AM." and what He says IS.
All the troubles of the race are directly traceable to the failure to take seriously what God has said. There are and always have been countless reasons in men's minds why the Word could not exactly apply, or why it meant something different from what it said. Because the judgment for disobedience has not been always as immediate or apparent as in the above instances, people have been led to believe that while it is a good thing to read the Book there is no responsibility on anyone to do exactly as it reads. Thus the Word of God becomes to them nothing more than a collection of ancient writings containing some very good moral doctrines, and telling of some wonderful things that took place long ago. It is read by more people than ever before, but the accepted attitude has become one of mild academic interest rather than of whole-souled veneration and instantaneous obedience. It has become something to be discussed and torn to pieces by "higher critics" rather than the way of eternal life revealed by the Supreme Being.
The work of the restoration and thus of the restorer is to get people to do something more than read the Bible. It is to bring home to hearts the fact that it means just what it says. The restoration prepares the way for the age when the darkness of unreality with God will have passed away, and all men will walk in light. Then the liar, who is always suggesting subtly that God never means what He says, will be out of the picture, and his influence will be gone. It will then be clear that every human problem is well cared for by the Word of God.
Another work of the restorer is to make it clear to our hearts that the Word can be lived. It is the failure to live it that has covered it with grime. and made restoration necessary. The doctrine of the liar, which is echoed by multitudes of well-intentioned people, is that the requirements of the Book and thus of God are too strict, and no one should be expected to do exactly as He says. The work of the restoration will spike that lie and make it plain to all who love decency that "God's commands are His enablings." It will be clear that He never laid a requirement on His creatures without providing the way for them to meet that requirement.
Thus the restoration will point souls to such saving power in the Gospel as has not been felt since the days of the early apostles. Men will again know that "the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation." The Word written on tablets of stone was the basis of the first covenant between God and His people. That same Word written on the heart is the New Covenant that was established by the Saviour, and the restoration will see to it that the New Covenant is a reality. Of the final result it is stated, "they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah." The damnable lie that no one can be just right is to be exposed, and the grip of sin and the devil over men's hearts is to be broken. The restoration will demonstrate that what is good for the Millennium is also good for the ways preceding the Millennium. It will get the machinery in operation that is going to govern the world during the personal presence of the Master.
The Son of God stated that "Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things." He knew what He was talking about: and in some way or other that prophet accomplishes that very thing. It nowhere states that all the glories that are promised for the Millennium will be fully realized before that age begins. But certainly the "restoration of all things" will include the tasting of the power of the coming age. Nothing but restoration can get souls out of their present condition of hopelessness into readiness and expectancy for something better. When He does come He will be looking to see where He can find genuine faith in hearts for what He comes to bring. "When the Son of man cometh will He find faith on the earth!" The restoration gets the Millennium started in hearts before the Christ comes, and those who know the restoration will be intelligently co-operating in the divine activity that comes just before His advent.
It is a dark hour for this earth, and any man is irresponsible who does not sense that we are in the throes of the greatest trouble that has ever engulfed the human race. Those professing Christians who have no better hope for the future than what is presented by denominational religion, with its intermingling of godlessness and tearing of God's Word to pieces, have but a very sorry understanding of the God they claim to serve and the power of the Saviour whom they profess to love. The blackness of the clouds around us is but an indication of the grandeur of the divine plan that is unfolding before the eyes of those who have taken the counsel of the Master and anointed their eyes with eye salve that they may see. If your eyes, O reader, are not open to the meaning and power of the restoration of all things, I suggest humbly and in the love of Christ that you cry to God to give you the eyes of the Spirit so that you may have an honorable part in preparing for and welcoming the coming King.
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Vol. III June 1951 No. 6
The Restoration of All Things
OUR first article under this title we called attention to several clear statements in the Bible that tell of a period of restoration preceding the second coming of the Son of God. We saw that while God keeps the exact time of His mighty acts a divine secret, He has declared beforehand the general pattern of affairs in this closing epoch of the age, so that all who have eyes anointed to see may not be in the dark as to just what He is up to. The Scripture makes it clear that not only will there be a sweeping increase of evil just before the millennial advent of Christ, but there will also be the glorious movings of God through a spiritual regime called "the restoration," which will prepare the hearts of believers for the reign of peace.
Last month we dwelt at length on that part of the promised restoration which makes the Bible a living and up-to-date standard of life for all who profess to serve God. Everything that has dishonored the Book, explained it away as a guide of life, torn it to pieces by sneering criticism, or simply ignored it, must give place to the same attitude that was manifested by the Lord Himself when He declared: "Till heaven and earth pass away. one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished." The world-wide peace that we all so long for will come through His personal presence and control. And the secret of His ability to rule righteously and successfully over the whole earth lies in His oneness with the Word of God, and His absolute identification with it, so that He is Himself called "The Word of God." The understanding of God's way for peace in the Millennium stirs hearts of sincere believers to co-operate in the restoration of the Bible, and in its application to their whole lives. so that there will be a worthy nucleus for His kingdom when He appears. This sort of work is included in what Peter foretold when he spoke of "the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
There is a phase to this work of restoration, pointed out by one of the passages we have already quoted, that I wish to dwell on in this article. It is found in the final chapter of the Old Testament. Malachi was the last of the prophets to write, some four hundred years before Christ, and his prophecies were included in Jesus' statement, "The Scripture cannot be broken." I will quote his closing sentences. "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come and smite the earth with a curse"--Mal. 4:4-6.
As we have already seen, Elijah, who comes before Christ's second advent, is the restorer. And this statement by Malachi shows that the restorer's ministry is to the heart: "he shall turn the heart of the fathers to [margin "with"] the children, and the heart of the children to [margin ""] their fathers." This indicates heart action, whether in reconciling members of the family to each other, or reconciling them all to God.
The world is full of confusion along religious lines because the head has so largely taken the lead over the heart, even where there is a genuine intention of serving God. Head religion has played right into the hands of the devil, who knows just how to move the carnal mind against God at the same time the lips are professing to love and serve Him. Where the head and the mind control without having the heart in the lead there is but a multiplication of confusion. A mental understanding of what God requires does not make a person godly. Until the heart is moved to conform to all the meaning of God's commands there is no real oneness with Him. This is what He was getting at, back at Mount Sinai, when, after giving the ten commandments, He cried with divine emotion, "Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!" God knew that if the heart was right the deed would be right, and if the heart was not right no amount of talk or argument could produce the proper results.
We know ourselves that until our hearts are touched, we have no incentive strong enough to keep us going along any line of action that our head may tell us is proper. When the heart is set, the head and the hand and the heel all fall into line to act with a vigor and a determination that cannot be turned aside.
The trouble with the world today, including most of the forms and institutions of religion, is that the heart of man has wandered. and been driven away from God. There is no lack of talk about Him. There is no scarcity of organization that maintains a mental allegiance to Him. The devil does not fight mere head religion, for he knows it is powerless to control the soul. In every place we find an abundance of theory and doctrine that is all head action and has left men's souls starved and weary, drifting with the tide of evil and being swept on to certain destruction.
The world is not in need of more moral essays, nor of an increase in philosophical lectures that will instruct the minds along the lines of right and wrong. The great crying need is for a turning of the hearts of men and women, so that there will be a motor inside that propels them God- ward. The great apostle Paul declared, "with the heart man believeth"; and when the heart is moved to believe, all the hellish meanness of a Nero cannot sway that heart or the owner of that heart away from loving devotion to the Lord who loved and died for him. And, as in Paul's experience, that believing heart in him enables him to leave a stamp on the human race for good that cannot be approached by the lives of all the Caesars combined.
The time of the restoration is a time when heart religion is restored. Such religion was the very core and center of all that Jesus brought by His personal presence. It was carried on by His apostles, as they spread to others what they had received from Him. It was heart action that enabled the early church to grow and increase. and, instead of being swallowed up by Rome, to swallow Rome up.
Centuries before this, it was heart religion on the part of David, shared by those who co-operated with him. that established Israel as a world-wide power. It was heart work with God that made Samuel a great prophet who led his people wisely and well for a whole lifetime. .Joseph's heart religion, even in the mire of licentious Egypt, made him the preserver of the world. Because Abraham had a heart to love and serve God in absolute obedience, and that even when his heart had good reason to rebel. he became the "father of all them that believe." Thus the glorious promises made to the seed of Abraham become the inheritance of every believer, no matter what his national origin.
And so we could go over all the history of the world since the beginning of time as we know it. The head is needed, and fills a tremendously important place, but it must be controlled by the heart. If the heart is wrong everything is wrong. When the heart is right and in the lead, everything improves, the true meaning of God's requirements becomes plain, and it is not difficult to walk wisely.
I want to recall for a moment the experience that Elijah, the ancient prophet, had with Israel on Mount Carmel. Through disobedience and apostate leadership the hearts of the people had been led astray from Jehovah, and they had been influenced to think that Baal was God. They were not established in this belief, but were uncertain in their minds what to believe. Then Elijah appeared, at God's direction. His soul boiled over at the deception and lying that had made of Israel a nation that was "limping between the two sides." "If Jehovah be God, follow Him!" he cried. He gave the directions that set the stage for the contest, and then awaited his turn to call fire on the offering. Baal's prophets having failed, Elijah cried to his God, "Hear me, O Jehovah, hear me, that this people may know that Thou, Jehovah, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again." The fire fell on the offering, all Israel saw it, felt their hearts moved with revulsion for the claims of Baal and his impure prophets, and fell on their faces crying, "Jehovah,He is God! Jehovah, He is God!" Through Elijah loyalty and devotion, God had been enabled to turn the hearts of His people back to Himself.
And that is the very core of the work of the restorer and the restoration. Malachi's last words point out that there will be heart action through the ministry of another "Elijah the prophet" There will not merely be a thunderous reminder of all that was said on Mount Sinai, but there will be something that makes the heart feel that it wants to draw close to the God of Sinai. The Creator has been grossly misrepresented and His righteous requirements have been made out to be but tyrannical orders. The restoration will make men and women and children see how wonderful is the Being whom Jesus taught believers to address as "Father." When the character of God is set forth in the light of truth, honest hearts are moved as was Israel of old to love and serve Him.
The law was written on stone in the first place. and delivered to Moses, who put it in the ark of the covenant. But those words. graven on stone, had no power to make men obey. The children of Israel miserably failed, just as each one of us today fails to please God before our hearts are changed through faith in Christ. The restoration, in these days just preceding the Lord's return, connects with the full power of the New Covenant that God made with His people when He sent Christ. Jeremiah expressed it (31:33) : I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it." Then comes one of the grandest promises in the whole Book. "And I will be their God. and they shall be My people." That is the result of having the heart get to work again.
Oh, my friends: I would God I were able to proclaim with a voice that could be heard and understood to the ends of the earth what my soul has come to understand and know of the plan of the Almighty in these days, when it looks as though Satan had a killing grip on the earth! It is time for all believers to look up, and know that the blackness of the scene but indicates that He is about to arise and sweep away once and for all the whole dark cloud of unreality. It is no time to be fearful, to question the existence of God, to imagine secretly that we must compromise with evil or else be exterminated. The heads of the great are all baffled, but the hearts of those who love God know that He who showed His hand on Mount Carmel is again going to show His hand, and move their hearts eternally to Himself.
We will see the grand climax of God's plan when His mighty power is manifested in judgments on the nations. But before He is seen in person, there is found to be a moving in hearts that corresponds with the great world-wide working. If we cling to all the mental angles of things that have made a "limping" crowd out of professors of religion, we are playing into the hands of the false god. But if we will hearken to the call for heart action, respond to the ministry that is now working to write the requirements of God on our hearts, we will find an encouragement to our souls that will keep us singing through the blackest experiences that these days can bring.
The stiff ceremonies, dogmatic doctrines, mental formulas, and all the rest of the trumpery of formal, heady religion are going to give place to as simple and hearty a oneness with God as was manifested by Jesus Himself in His relationship with His Father. That is what the restoration of all things is going to bring to all the hungry-hearted people of God whom He calls "the sheep of My pasture. "
All hail the gladness and triumph of the peaceful Millennium when ''He shall reign from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." But I also say, all hail the "times of the restoration of all things," when the power of God so works in human hearts as to give the lie to all of Satan's boast, and when the way is prepared for the coming One! He is such an absolute Conqueror already that it is unthinkable that the earth should not be made ready for His triumphant return. If you choose to have your heart turned by the ministry of the God-sent restorer, you may have a part in the program which prepares for the King of kings.
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Vol. III July 1951 No. 7
The Restoration of All Things
OUR understanding of the work of God through the restoration may appear to some readers as mere wishful thinking. Far too many persons who once were full of faith, with souls inspired by the mighty promises of the Book, have now been swallowed up in the unbelief and materialism of the age. The Prime reason for this stagnation of soul has been a lack of deep heart loyalty to the Creator. based on obedience to His Word.
In spite of the numerous perversions that go under the name of religion, there is such a thing: as pure heart devotion to a Creator who is wise, just, holy and loving, as well as almighty. There are many men and women today who have an unexpressed belief in God and a desire to serve Him, yet who, because of the emptiness and sham of existing religious organizations, are actually like sheep who have no shepherd.
There are those who use a form of religion simply as a salve for their consciences. There are others who use denominational organization as a means toward gaining political power. Such abuses make the cause of our God and Saviour look sordid and cheap to the impartial observer. Yet we still maintain that there is pure religion in existence on earth today, and that it is not vain idealism or foolish hopefulness to take the promises of Scripture at face value. In no other way can humanity triumph over the hateful and vile powers that are by stages trying to enslave all nations, body and soul. The fact that the history of the human race since Adam has been so very far from Utopian is no reason why we should discard our inner longings for a world society where everything is perfect. Our first parents were thrust out of just such a stainless paradise, but not without a hope that there would some day be a ret;urn. We must not allow the disappointments of succeeding generations to rob us of our confidence in the promises of Scripture that good shall yet win an absolute victory over evil. In other words, true religion that springs from the greatest commandment of the Law--"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength"- -can never be taken as a mere side issue of life. No matter along what line a person may be pursuing truth with an aim to make this world a better place to live in, the realization of all such aims for betterment is found in the working out of the scriptural plan. All labor for good that leaves out this divine scheme is doomed to ultimate failure.
I am well aware that the picture I have painted in previous issues makes the "times of restoration" sound like an impossible vision to those who do not know the Book, or the power of the Being who wrote it. Sensible men have learned to turn a deaf ear to the starry eyed enthusiasts who are always propounding some brainy theory for our betterment. Many of those theories are based on the mental ramblings of some godless "revolutionary"; yet, sorry to say, there seem to be millions who will fall for such unworkable trash, while only a few will stick to the tried and proved Word of the Living God. The enthusiasm of the theorist is based on deception: but the enthusiasm of the one who sticks to God and His Book has its foundation and fulfillment in faith.
As it was faith that took Noah through the Flood, that made Abraham the friend of God, that empowered Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, and that has filled the rest of sacred history with equally sublime accomplishments, just so it will be the pure faith of God in human hearts that will co-operate with Him in bringing about the restoration of all things in our day. There is a vast difference between wishful thinking and genuine faith.
I have heretofore written a little of what the Bible makes plain as the divine plan of restoration. All that I have touched on might be enlarged in many directions but it has been necessary to be brief. I do not want to take up so much time and space in pointing out the Scripture promises that I delay in recording their fulfillment. In our first article under this heading I stated: "The question as to what man is Elijah is not the principal consideration at the moment. " What we were there emphasizing was the fact that God had promised in the Bible that a restorer shall appear in the last days. That knowledge must be our foundation in understanding this matter. Those who have not yet found him should be looking for his coming, just as the Jews back in the first century were looking for a forerunner to precede the Messiah. Those of us who do know that this character has appeared must never cease to tell what we know; hence my testimony concerning the life of Frank W. Sandford. Moreover, in telling what we know we must never tire of the job of disproving the devilish lies that have misrepresented the work of a God-sent man. Paul declared that he was "set for the defense of the Gospel." We feel our souls set for the defense of the Restoration.
The things that the Bible promises would come to pass through Elijah the restorer we have seen fulfilled under the ministry of Mr. Sandford. The fact that his work was not understood on a world wide scale while he was living does not make any argument against his being the prophet. For that matter, very few men understood that Jesus of Nazareth was the anointed Son of God until after His earthly life was finished. In the time of the apostles, the world was not obliged to depend on the lies and half-truths of the Scribes and Pharisees in order to learn about Jesus. The Glad Tidings were proclaimed by men who had known Him intimately, and also by Paul, who came to know Him by revelation. Just so, God will not allow His workings through a prophet today to be kept hidden from the humble by the lying prejudice of hypocrites. There are those of us who have known this man day in and day out for many years. We have good news to tell about what he has restored. By the grace of Christ, those who are truly God's children, and who are being driven away from good pasture by hireling shepherds, are going to know the facts concerning a prophet's work.
Some people may suppose that Mr. Sandford, in his study of the Bible read the prophecies concerning Elijah, came to imagine that he was that individual, and began to build himself up to the such a thing might be possible in the heart of an anyone who had no comprehension of the character of the Almighty. But that sort of dealing with God and His word was utterly out of the question in a man who took his Maker as seriously as did Mr. Sandford.
Nothing will demonstrate this fact any better than a review of his Christian beginnings. The fact that he was brought up in a godly home by a devout, praying mother did not give him any illusions as to his status in God's estimation. He was a proud young worldling, and he knew it, bent on getting the most out of life from a worldling's standpoint. The family was not well to do, and he was irritated at his mother for giving the money she earned from a small flock of hens to the support of a missionary in India. He held her religion in the highest esteem--for her--and was ready to fight at a moment's notice anyone who would ridicule it; but personally he wanted no part of it. Many a time he laughed to himself in mockery at the absurd idea of Frank Sandford on his knees praying ! At the time of which I write he was seventeen years old, was graduated from high school, and had just finished teaching a term of grade school away from home. He was about to enroll in what was then known as a "fitting school" in a nearby city, preparatory to entering college. Coming home on vacation in February, 1880, he found a revival of religion in progress, and his mother anxiously seeking for his conversion.
He had always felt that some time he would probably begin to serve God, but at this time all the entreaties and prayers of his mother and friends seemed to have no effect on him whatever. He did consent to attend the meetings, simply to please his mother, whom he loved very dearly. Then and there the Spirit of God began to convict him of sin. One evening an old man (whom he knew to be a regular hypocrite, by the way) spoke words that fell like a fallen tree across his path: "We have no promise of the morrow."
The young man had never thought of that. Like most young men he looked forward into a bright and vigorous future filled with many things more interesting than the dreary business of Christian self denial---as it appeared to him. Some time in the indefinite future had always seemed near enough for him to consider the claims of God on his life. Now, all of a sudden, the assurance of plenty of time was snatched away. He could not be sure of another day in which to act.
A few days of this, and he finally realized that he could not put off decisive action any longer. Since there was no certainty of tomorrow he would choose for God that very night. Then commenced the greatest fight of his life. Once he had made up his mind to rise and express his desires so the minister and people would pray for him, he found himself powerless to move. Satan had him bound hand and foot. "I'll start after that man gets done speaking," he said to himself, but when the man finished, he still sat there as though paralyzed. Again and again he made the resolution, only to fail every time.
Then in the utter desperation of his soul, realizing that it might be his last chance to get right with God, he said in his heart, "I'll do it if it kills me" That broke the devil's spell, and he straightway rose to his feet and said. "I want to be a Christian; will you pray for me?" I have heard him recount that story scores of times, and always with the deepest emotion. He went on into a lifetime of service to God, but nothing ever crowded out the reality of the night when he first found the Saviour.
How seriously he took this step can easily be seen by a little experience that immediately followed. He had been a smoker of tobacco for some time, and had just bought a new cigar holder; but without anyone mentioning the matter to him, he felt in his heart that probably smoking was wrong for a Christian. The Sunday after the young man's conversion, one of the leaders among the professing Christians who worshiped in the nearby meeting house stopped at the Sandford home for dinner. Taking the opportunity to learn from an older man what was proper for a Christian to do, the boy asked him if it was right to smoke. The reply was incomprehensible to him. "It is not right for you to, but as for me, I have got the habit. He did not presume to argue with the older man, or even to express his bewilderment, but his soul was aroused at the very idea that a thing could be wrong for one man and right for another, simply because of the latter's habit!
I am recounting these events in Mr. Sandford's early Christian life so that those who are looking for the restoration may know something of the man who declared that God said to him: "Elijah is here. Testify." I have heard that there is a company of Christians in England who will not listen to a preacher until he first gives the facts of his experience at conversion. It is proper and needful that the spiritual foundations of Mr. Sandford's life be made plain and clear to all. His commencement of the Christian life was simple and forthright, very much like that of millions of others.
A few months after his conversion Mr. Sandford, with sixteen others, followed his Lord in baptism. This was a very definite act of faith on his part, when he knew his sins were washed away. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." He had believed, and now he was baptized. Nearly seventy years after this experience, in the last year of his life, I had the Pleasure and Privilege of driving with him to the scenes of these first acts of his Christian experience. I parked the car outside the old meeting house, which is still in fine condition, and he described to me the exact location in the room where he was sitting when he surrendered to Christ. The building was locked so we could not get in, but I looked through the window and saw the place. Then we drove down the little road to the brook where he was baptized, and it was with the greatest joy that he pointed out the spot where he and the other candidates for baptism stood, where the minister stood, and where the singers stood, as well as the pool where the deed was done. He declared that the singing was so wonderful that day that he never expected to hear the songs of the angels sound any sweeter. Christ counseled the members of the church at Ephesus to get back to their "first love," i. e., the depth of heart love for the Lord that they had had when they first believed. Certainly Mr. Sandford was caused by the Holy Ghost to maintain the ardor of his first love for Christ even through a long lifetime of devoted service and unspeakable suffering in the cause of His Saviour.
If these anecdotes had been told only for the sake of effect, there would be no value in here recording them; but because they are the record of the deep and thorough workings of God in the heart of a young man that was to act as the restorer of all things, they are of the greatest interest to all of us who love the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and expect it to triumph over all the lying work of Satan. The life of the man we are bearing witness to as the restorer was that of a devoted follower of his Master. And what he himself was, by the grace of God. was what he taught others. What he was and what he taught make up the restoration.
We will continue, with God's permission, to develop his life in following issues. There is no way to understand the restoration except by understanding the restorer. It is no easy task we are undertaking, but I feel a responsibility like that of Jesus' disciples, to whom He said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." I bear witness freely to what I have received.
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Vol. III August 1951 No. 8
The Restoration of All Things
THE only standard there can possibly be for any Christian is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It would be a very good thing if all who profess to follow Him would pause a moment and compare the lives they live with what He lived and taught. Sadly enough. almost no one considers that a Christian life should either be exactly true to Him or else on the face of it be demonstrated a farce and sham. When a religious system gets such a grip on people's souls as to dare to set up creeds and dogmas in direct variance with the words of the Son of God it is time for every honest heart to take its stand boldly as did the apostles when called before the rulers of the Jews. "Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye."
Loyalty to the Father and to His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, has fearfully failed when all men who take the Scripture seriously are considered extreme and fanatical, while the man who can suavely explain away the very foundations of righteousness is the fine and popular fellow. It should not seem strange to us that God moved the restorer to break with the spiritual death he found in the denominational organizations. Nor should he be thought "queer" because he set out to live as the Master taught the apostles to live, and to preach as he taught them to preach --- " teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you."
It was not that Mr. Sandford failed to make good in his two denominational pastorates. He was most strikingly successful. Of the experiences in his first one he wrote, "For three years we had a continual revival spirit, during which about three hundred sinners and backsliders professed to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and about one hundred were baptized received into the denomination." It was much the same in his second pastorate. "During the three years I spent at this place, a well-nigh continuous revival spirit was maintained; one hundred converts were baptized, and the denominational body permanently increased and strengthened. .... When I went there I was told that our theological professor considered this the second hardest field for a young man in the denomination, and yet, near the close of the pastorate, the State Agent pronounced it ' the best work in the State'."
Through these early years, while any ordinary young man would be deeply gratified with such striking results, Mr. Sandford became more and more dissatisfied, his soul experiencing almost unendurable pressure. God was moving His chosen servant on into the divine plan for his life. I again quote his own words concerning his experience at this time. "Apparently I had every reason to be satisfied with religious success and delightful fellowship with my ministerial brethren. but the great hand of God seemed to be pressing me to something broader than denominational limits would permit. Two hundred million more heathen in the world than on the d;the denominations began their mission work in foreign lands! And this after one hundred years of labor! The century had proved that something was horribly wrong. The heathen were not even hearing of the Name of Jesus as fast as children were being born.
I saw that the difficult ties in effecting the evangelization of this world were simply insuperable. It was God, and God alone, with mighty signs and wonders as in the days of the apostles, that must arise, lay bare His arm and cause the ends of the earth to see His salvation. How dare I continue in methods which had already proved a failure to effect the desired result? How dare I, with my own written promise, God's revelation concerning my life work and the fact that one hundred thousand souls were going every day unprepared to meet God, how dare I as a man of God, with these things staring me in the face, longer continue methods radically differing from those which had once proved a success, methods which had enabled the apostle Paul to write of his day and generation, that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven.'
"Thus the pressure grew more intense until one day, to my unspeakable delight, God whispered a word that changed my entire life, the gladdest I had ever heard Him utter. He made me understand by this message that I was never to take another collection, never to take another salary, never again to be bound by any existing organization, but that, like my Master, I was to step out in absolute abandonment to His will, His word, and His providences. That little word was the word 'Go'."
It was at this time that he one day questioned his wife somewhat like this: "How would you like to go out with me and preach the Gospel as Jesus did ? We would never again take up a collection or have any pledged support, but would go about as God leads carrying the glad tidings absolutely free of charge to needy souls. We might have the same experiences as did the Lord when He declared 'the Son of Man has not where to lay His head' or it might lead to a cave. " She replied immediately, "I think that would be lovely. "
And so on January 1st, 1893, he severed his connections with the Free Baptist denomination and set out in utter devotion to God's will. He withdrew all his money from the bank and sent it to the mission field, stepping out in simple faith for the supply of every need.
The narration of all the interesting and inspiring as well as suffering steps by which God led him on would take up too much space and I fear would not convey what we intend by these articles, for it is necessary to have something more than curious interest in order to sense the workings of God through the restorer of all things. At the most we can touch only on the major movings of the Almighty in this man's life and leave the details for honest hearts to search out as they may. To all who love truth and desire to co-operate with the divine plan in these last days we extend our hearty invitation to make any request they wish that may enable them to understand the movings of God through the restorer. We stand ready to share all we know with those who feel a heart response to what we write of this prophet
In the summer of 1893 Mr. Sandford started meetings in and around his native town in the State of Maine. There were several workers who co-operated with him in his work, and some of the districts were swept by such a revival spirit and such moving of the Holy Ghost as we find recorded in the Book of Acts. In spite of many sufferings and disappointments there were the most amazing results in turning hardened sinners to God and breaking the bands of lifelong habits that had enslaved men and women. God here bore witness to the genuineness of this young man's absolute loyalty to the whole Bible, and demonstrated beyond a doubt that he indeed responded to a Divine call when he broke loose from all denominational connections.
It was just following these triumphant revivals that God led Mr. Sandford into one special Bible truth that distinguished his work from others, and made the restoration of all things possible. It is impossible to understand that restoration if one omits this chapter in his life.The thing that stirred Mr. Sandford to break away from denominational organizations and methods was his clear perception that the standard of the early church was almost entirely lacking in modern religion. Because the apostolic way had proved successful back there, he knew that nothing else could be successful now. And the heart and center of the apostles' religion and activity was their absolute personal control by the Holy Spirit. This young man of God recognized that the authority and power that made the Acts of the Apostles a fact came solely from the indwelling of the Third Person of the Trinity. There was marvelous power manifested through the Lord Jesus, as He moved up and down through the land, because He was the Son of God. But Jesus had promised that the Spirit who was "with" them as their hearts responded to His teachings would be "in" them after He, the Master had left them. "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you" was what he told them just before He was taken up. They waited on God for ten days and then came the day of Pentecost.
After Pentecost the Spirit in the apostles was as irresistible as He had been in Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman power was no match for the authority that was manifested by a Holy Spirit-controlled company of believers in Christ. The might of His movings thrills the soul of every reader of the Book of Acts today.
Mr. Sandford saw that the promises the Master had made concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit were not confined to any one period of the Christian era. "He [the Father] shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever." Since we haven't gotten beyond "forever" these words stood out to him as a promise to be experienced in the present. This searcher after truth saw that Jesus planned for the Holy Spirit to take His place while He was absent. This then plainly indicated that as long as Jesus should remain away the Spirit would be here to dwell in and control the hearts of believers and to empower them to herald the glad tidings just as He had empowered the apostles and the early church. On the day of Pentecost Peter declared to the multitude that was under conviction, "Repent and be baptized every one of you and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise. and to your children, and to all ... even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him."
Seeing this truth in the Bible made Mr. Sandford hungry for the same indwelling of the Spirit as the Bible promised and the apostles experienced. In theological school he had studied about the Holy Spirit and had come to think of Him as a Person just as Jesus Christ is a Person. He had eagerly listened to great and godly men like Stephen Merritt discoursing by the hour on the wonders and character of the Spirit. He had read everything he could find that would help his soul to understand the matter and get into the heart of it. He found many who talked eloquently and wrote voluminously about the Holy Spirit but no one that could tell him how to receive this wonderful Being as Jesus had said believers would receive Him. Around New Year's Day of 1894 Mr. Sandford was exercised to the depths of his soul in this matter. He begged the Spirit to come into his heart, and immediately felt all changed over. For a short time he was conscious of Divine power within, and was glad beyond description. Then came some experience that he could not understand and he began to doubt that the Holy Spirit had ever actually come into his heart. Soon he was off on the same old quest, seeking Him, begging Him to come in, but not being sure that He had truly come to abide, as Jesus had said He would.
Such experiences continued for several months before he got the matter settled. It was no selfish desire on his part for a spiritual blessing merely for the sake of a good feeling around the heart, nor was it an ambitious desire to acquire power. The young man of God felt a terrible responsibility to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world. He knew he was helpless to break through the satanic grip that enslaves men's minds and hearts. He had to connect with supernatural power before he could properly represent Christ. He saw that the secret of that power was the indwelling of the Mighty Spirit of God. He had faith to believe that if he could receive Him he had a right to expect just such power to be manifested as was seen in the lives of Joshua, Caleb, Gideon, Samson, Peter, John and the rest of the apostles,--yes. and in the Son of God Himself. As far as he was concerned the salvation of a lost world and the overthrow of the antichrist hinged on whether human hearts could again become as real with the Third Person of the Trinity as they were in the days of the early church.
And so through disappointments (because he could get no satisfaction from religious leaders) and through discouragements (as he struggled with unbelief and doubt) he pressed on in his search for the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God had said to him while attending theological school,"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Now, if never before, he was feeling that hunger and thirst, and God was as good as His word. On August 2, 1894, while attending a camp meeting of the Christian Alliance at Old Orchard, Maine, his soul was met and satisfied. God Himself showed him how to triumph over unbelief and questioning and know that he received the promise that was freely offered to all who should be called to God by faith in Jesus. On this day he had just listened to a long talk about the Wonderful Being he was seeking after. He stood in the back of the audience and entered into a contract with this Friend.
I quote his own words used in describing this perhaps the most important experience of his life. "I had prayed and longed and begged for Him since New Year's, 1894. I had shed tears again and again, so strong had been my desire to receive, not a blessing, but the Blesser; and had consecrated and reconsecrated until I wearied of the exercise. I did everything but believe and receive. August 2nd, standing under the pines of Old Orchard at the close of an address on the Holy Spirit by Stephen Merritt, without the slightest feeling or emotion I said to God, 'I do now yield my spirit to the Person of the Holy Spirit; will be led, guided and controlled by Him hence forth: and I solemnly promise that from this moment I will never again doubt that I do now and here receive the Holy Ghost.' "
This act was always referred to by Mr. Sandford as the time when it was "settled forever." From that day on, God Almighty had a man who had utterly abandoned himself to be used by the Spirit of Jesus as He might see fit to use him. Thus was God developing;and empowering an agent that he could use in the restoration of pure Holy Ghost religion on the earth. What he learned he passed on to others who loved God well enough to follow his example, and who came to feel the same responsibility for the whole human race. The control of the Great Being dwelling within this prophet has set the machinery of restoration going that will carry on till we see the Master again on earth. As Jesus Christ could not fail to accomplish the work He was sent for, so His Mighty Spirit is carrying on till all the will of the Father is done for this age. This was the apostolic religion that the young man's soul had been longing for, and to which he devoted the remainder of his earthly existence. Because he did not live or labor in vain, the human race has a gleam of hope that would otherwise be lacking in these dark days. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost produced in him the character that could restore pure heart religion and save the earth from destruction at the hands of an angry God. "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come... lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
V. P. A.