Who Shall Stand?

“Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” —Malachi 3:2,3

WHO SHALL WITHSTAND this experience, at the time of the Lord’s appearing? At the First Advent, Jesus came to his own—the Jewish people—but as a nation they rejected and crucified him. There were only a few who stood the test. John the Baptist had said of him: “He will thoroughly purge [or cleanse] his floor, and gather his wheat into the gamer.” (Matt. 3:12) Here was a testing and cleansing work.

Further, throughout the Gospel Age our Lord has been making himself known to those in the right condition of heart, that he might cleanse, test, purify and assist them in walking in his steps, and in being conformed to his image. And now, in the days in which we live, during our dear Lord’s Second Presence, there are very definite testings. He is proving his people, individually. Each member of the true church is being tested, refined, and purified; who shall stand these experiences?

Here is clear evidence that before long the church will be completed and glorified with her Lord beyond the veil, through which spiritual, heavenly structure, God’s glorious kingdom in the earth will be fully established.


We are today living in one of the greatest dispensational changes in the world’s history, and a pressing question for us is, ‘Who may abide the day of his coming?’ In Revelation 6:17, John asks this question, “Who shall be able to stand?” but here the context makes reference to the world in general, and to the climax of trouble toward which it is now rapidly approaching—the great collapse of present arrangements in the earth.

Our Lord, the apostles, and prophets also prophesied of this period, in which the old order is to pass away, and the glorious kingdom of God is to be ushered in, which kingdom will stand forever. We rejoice in the knowledge that we are living in the Lord’s Second Presence, and in this connection the prophet Nahum (2:3) speaks of “the day of his preparation.”

We see around us today “distress of nations, with perplexity [with no way out].” (Luke 21:25) Selfishness, hatred, pride, and the spirit of aggression have led to the mustering of vast armies, and the creation of cruel and powerful tyrannies. Sin, corruption, and injustice surely bring their legitimate awful consequences.

However, the human race will not be permitted to destroy itself. The Scriptures reveal that human selfishness would ultimately lead to this, if not restrained by divine intervention; and Jesus speaking of the climax of the period of distress toward which the world is now moving, said: “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” (Matt. 24:22) But to this he added that the days of trouble “shall be shortened.” This will mean the rescuing of the human race from the result of its own madness.

All national and international problems will be solved by Christ’s kingdom. We are promised over and over that it will also entirely eliminate from the earth all sickness, sorrow, pain, and death.

Meanwhile, we are living in the “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1) which is developing and coming upon the world as a thief, and as a snare. “Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts are overpowered by dissipation and drunkenness and worldly anxieties, and so that day catches you suddenly like a trap. For as a snare shall it come upon all dwellers on the face of all the earth. From hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these things that shall come to pass, and in standing before the Son of Man.”—Luke 21:34-36, Moffatt Translation

If we are to ‘succeed’ we must continue to be prayerful and watchful; meditating upon our Father’s Word and will. Also, we must be on guard, so that this great worldwide trouble—which has not come upon the true church unawares—does not so completely fill our mental horizon as to hide from us another kind of experience, which is especially for the church, and which must reach us, also test and prove us, individually.


“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Pet. 4:12) “Though now, for a little while [since it is necessary] you are distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being much more precious than that gold which perishes, though proved by fire, may be found to praise and glory and honor, at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 1:6,7, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) And who shall stand these experiences?

Our faith, indeed our whole being as individuals, is on trial. And we are exhorted: “Be thou faithful unto death.” (Rev. 2:10) Faithfulness of the members of the church unto death means joint-heirship with Christ in glory and the privilege to bless all families of the earth. This is the greatest and grandest theme in life, and the grandest position we could take in all the universe. It is well worth striving to attain, and to seek to be prepared for.

The Lord asks for faithful loyalty and character-likeness to himself. He desires to purge out of us everything in the nature of dross, including self-will and all the works of the flesh. As a refiner he wishes to purify us.

As we picture a refiner in olden times, we see him seated at his crucible of valuable ore positioned over an intensely hot fire. By means of bellows or blowpipe, the furnace was made sufficiently fierce to reduce the metal to a fluid state. The refiner, adding certain fluxing agents, and giving every attention to his work, watches the process very closely. It is his business to see to the separation and removal of the dross from the pure precious metal. ‘For he is like a refiner’s fire’, and he wishes to refine, cleanse, and purify us individually.

And he is ‘like fullers’ soap’. There is in Mark 9:3 an indication respecting the trade of the fuller. Concerning the shining brightness and whiteness of our Lord’s raiment on the Mount of Transfiguration, this verse reads: “His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” The work of the fuller, as he used a soap which had strong cleansing properties, consisted chiefly in cleaning garments and whitening cloth. ‘For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.’

In all this the Lord is able to read our heart; no human being is able to do this. He can discern our thoughts and intentions, also the extent of our faith and love. We may be able to deceive those very near and dear to us on the human plane, but we cannot deceive the Lord. And it is his will that we be cleansed, purified, refined. There are experiences which are especially needful for the church, and we are to be purged of pride, selfishness, bitterness, impatience, and all the works and deeds of the flesh.


It will always be necessary during this time of testing that “thou standest by faith.” (Rom. 11:20) We must “stand fast in the faith,” (I Cor. 16:13) as declared in God’s Word. And if this right kind of faith is developed in us it will surely bear fruit and make an outward manifestation, according to circumstances.

The Apostle James, in dealing with this feature, would awaken those who have a measure of faith, but who have not progressed and gone on to the quickening degree, making it a living faith. He asks in James 2:14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” The answer is no, and the Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott rendering of that verse confirms this: “What advantage, my brethren, has anyone, though he say he has faith, but have not works? This faith is not able to save him.”

If we are to endure, and stand fast before the Son of Man, we must have a living, operative faith. This matter is clearly dealt with in James, the second chapter: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”—James 2:17,18

Works are essential, and although they are vital, works without faith will not, of course, enable us to stand fast. And the same is true of faith without works. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20)—unproductive, and can never bring life. A faith that will not develop obedience—in other words, he whose life is not in harmony with his faith—dishonors that faith, and that faith is dead.

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he brought up Isaac his son to the altar? Thou seest that the faith cooperated with his works; and that the faith was made complete by the works.”—James 2:21,22, WED

If Abraham and other faith heroes had merely discussed their faith with one another they would never have been faith heroes, obtaining “a good report through faith.” (Heb. 11:39) The Scriptures reveal that they ventured in faith; works cooperated with their faith; they were very courageous, and their faith was made complete by their works. Our faith, also, must be alive; it must be active, working in us by love.


We learn from God’s Word that the true church is the body of Christ, and that here is a very wonderful cooperative arrangement. In this “body” of which Jesus is the Head, or controlling power, the Apostle Paul explains in I Corinthians, 12th chapter, that there are various activities: “There are diversities of operations.”—vs. 6

When there cease to be ‘operations’ or activities, that member of the body which thus becomes inactive, unfruitful, must either be revived or be in danger of losing his place in ‘the body.’ In this chapter—I Corinthians 12—the apostle explains that there is given to each member of the body some function or activity, and that these all combine to accomplish the Lord’s will, he, the Lord Jesus, being our Head.

One member cannot truthfully say to another, “I have no need of you.” (vs. 21) Nor can any true member of the body say, (paraphrasing): “There is no service that I need render; I will just enjoy the benefits of the ‘body’, but will certainly not exert myself to do anything for the other members, or for the ‘Head’, Christ Jesus.” There must be that assistance “which every joint supplieth.”—Eph. 4:16

Activity, wherever it is physically possible, is one of the very valuable lessons of this ‘body of Christ’ illustration. And there are various kinds of activities, including teaching, exhortation, sound judgment in administration. Those, in authority, should be energetic and alert. In public speaking one should speak in exact proportion to his faith, that no word be spoken but from the conviction that God gives. “He who gives should be liberal; those who succor the afflicted are to do it cheerfully; love is to be perfectly sincere.” See Romans 12:4-9, Weymouth Translation.

We are to be obedient to the Holy Scriptures, and this will include compliance with Philippians 2:14-16: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of life.” We are to make these deeds cooperate with our faith.

Inactivity is an unnatural state for any of God’s intelligent creatures. However, the mere fact of being active is not sufficient. It is, perhaps, for this reason that immediately following the 12th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul follows up his lesson on the active functioning of the ‘body of Christ’ with the grave warning that without love as the motivating power, nothing we might do would have the Lord’s approval.


The importance of this attribute of love cannot be overemphasized. Not that we are to suppose, however, that it can take the place of other important considerations in the Christian life. For example, love cannot take the place of doctrine, but it does guide us in the proper use of doctrine. Love cannot take the place of faith, or activity in the Lord’s name, but it is the only motive for faith and for service acceptable to God.

So, while we stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, cooperating vigorously for the faith of the Gospel—the good news of the kingdom—we are to love each other from the heart, fervently. We are to consider one another, to provoke, incite, or encourage to love and to good works; not to antagonize, avoiding every word and every act, so far as possible, that might incite to misunderstanding, strife, envy, bitterness, hatred, and to bad works, all of which are of the flesh and of the Devil. Faith and love must go hand in hand. And if we stand fast in a faith which is impelled —made alive—by love, through such a living faith we are kept by the power of God.

The love of many may wax cold. But our love toward others, as we stand fast in the faith, must remain fervent, even though it may be spurned by others. We may be abused in language—in other words, ‘reviled’—but we must see that we revile not in return. We may be persecuted, but let us never join the ranks of the persecutors.

We need a stronger and ever stronger faith, and an increasing measure of the loving Holy Spirit, and this should be our sincere desire and earnest prayer. God’s precious Word is the firm foundation for our faith, and ours must be a faith which works by love.


To us the question comes, “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” Will we bear up under trials and stand fast while our beloved Lord refines, purifies, and cleanses us, that we may offer unto the Lord in the final, complete sense, our “offering in righteousness” which has already begun?

It will mean, even as Jesus clearly stated, that we must deny self utterly, take up our cross daily and follow him. If we are doing this, the ‘refining’, the ‘cleansing’, is in progress. Titus 2:14 explains that our Lord Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

The beloved Refiner is graciously working upon us, and we, individually, are to submit willingly to his refining. We all need refining, cleansing, because of the dross inherent in the earthen, fleshly vessel in which our spiritual treasure resides.

“If thou, Lord, shouldest mark [observe or watch] iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps. 130:3) How true it is that at the onset, and onward throughout our pilgrim journey, we could not possibly have any standing before God without the covering robe of righteousness of which the Scriptures speak: “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10); even as we read in Romans 3:22: “The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” And we are exceedingly grateful for this gracious provision which is by faith.

In all this we are to see to it that we are cleansed. “If we confess our sins, he [the Father] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) And II Corinthians 7:1 reads: “Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

We shall be tried and tested. There will be subtle tests as to what we believe, and why. Depend upon it that our Lord is always with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He lovingly desires that we be conformed to his image, and that we reflect his image. It is for us to bear up courageously under his refining and cleansing.

Do not become “weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9), and remember that our test is not one simply of well doing, but “patient continuance in well doing.” (Rom. 2:7) Then, keeping on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in this our day (Eph. 6:13), we shall surely be able to say in the words of Job: “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”—Job 23:10

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