"Then, the End, when he shall give up the kingdom to the God and Father; when he shall have abrogated all government and all authority and power. For he must reign till he has placed all enemies under his feet." 1 Cor. 15:24,25.
So we find it foretold. Six thousand years of man's suffering and dying experience is ended, and we are in the beginning of the seventh (thousand year) day of human existence. This seventh millennium is to be the most marked and eventful day in the history of the race, a day to be specially remembered throughout the multiplied ages to follow. For six thousand years death has been swallowing up the human race as fast as it came into existence. The elements of decay, both physical and moral, are at work at the heart of every opening bud of human life. But the now dawning seventh day shall witness the reversing of this order, the undoing of all this work of destruction.
It is variously designated in the Scriptures as the Day of Judgment, the Times of Restitution, the Resurrection Day, and the Day of Christ. In the dawn of this day the kingdom is to be set up, and so thorough will be its work that when this seventh day shall close, no force or governmental power will be necessary to secure obedience to God's will; for his will shall then be done on earth as it is done in heaven, without compulsion, freely, and from choice.
The great work of Christ during this age is Resurrection, Restitution. Few can believe that such a work is possible, even with God; and in order to exercise faith in the promise of a resurrection, and at the same time to help themselves over the difficulty of a seeming impossibility, the majority of Christians ignore the true meaning of death, and claim that after death the being is more alive than ever. But admitting the true significance of death as the Scriptures so clearly define it, viz.: extinction, annihilation, we ask, with Paul, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" Acts 26:8.
It is not presumable that we should be able to fully comprehend the philosophy of the resurrection or re-creation. The work of creating a living intelligent being is a work which we find it impossible to understand. Many men have great inventive genius, and have done many wonderful works, yet not one knows the secret of creative power: it is superhuman, beyond both our power and our comprehension. But to re- create an intelligent being who had once been utterly destroyed, so that it and others will recognize its identity, is a still greater work; but why should it be thought beyond the scope of divine power? It is not surprising that the world does not believe it, but the child of God led by the Spirit should find no such barrier to his faith. The world will, in due time, be convinced of the truth by actual demonstration, while the Church is taught by a different, yet equally convincing method; if we continue under the Spirit's leading, and turn not back to the darkness of unguided human reason.
The awakening from death will be one of the early events in the day of Christ, though not one of the first. As we have learned, the living nations must first be brought to a degree of readiness for such an event. The dead shall not be awakened until surrounding circumstances, etc., are more favorable for their discipline and development. The great "day of his preparation," "The Day of the Lord," the Day of Wrath upon the Nations, must first do its work in overthrowing the oppressing kingdoms of this world, in casting down great Babylon with its deceptions and snares, and in binding Satan, the great enemy.
The new, the heavenly kingdom, must be fully established, and its power and authority recognized by all the living, and the work of reformation among them be under way first. We do not presume that any of the dead will be brought back to be subjected to the same temptation and snare which now make shipwreck of the virtue of so many. There will be no licensed evils, and allurements to vice will not be permitted under that reign.
When the angry nations, worn out with their own vain endeavors to adjust human affairs, shall realize that only [R763 : page 5] anarchy is the result, and shall learn to be still and to know that Christ is Lord (Psa. 46:10), and shall recognize His authority and power, then the preparatory work will be accomplished, and the proper work of the new kingdom may begin—the glorious work of restitution; bringing mankind back to their "former estate" of human perfection and Godlikeness. Gen. 1:26,27.
The awakening from death, as well as the healing of those who have not completely died, are only the beginnings of restitution or resurrection, which will not be complete until the original perfection of mind and body, lost for the race by Adam, and redeemed by Christ, shall have been restored to all who would come to the waters of life and drink freely.
The awakening will find men morally and intellectually as they were when their existence terminated; hence the raising to perfection will require training, discipline, etc., etc.; and we are told that Christ shall reign until the work shall be fully accomplished—"He must reign till he has placed all enemies under his feet. Even death, the last enemy, will be rendered powerless," [or, Death shall finally be rendered powerless]. Vs. 25,26. When sin is completely eradicated; when sickness and pain are no more; when all sorrow and sighing and tears are forever banished; then, and not until then, will death be destroyed, Adamic death, the great enemy, will be rendered powerless, destroyed, blotted out completely under the reign of him who obtained this authority and power by the sacrifice of himself. The object of Christ's reign is to bring about the grand results for which he died. The world redeemed by his death shall be saved by his life. Rom. 5:10. We are assured by the prophet, as well as by the Apostle, that he shall not fail, but shall come off victorious over death. Isa. 25:8; Hos. 13:14; 1 Cor. 15:25,54-57. Jesus shall not fail to accomplish his great mission. He must reign until he has accomplished it, when he will deliver up the restored empire to "God even the Father." Were we to guess how long a time this restitution would require, we would probably estimate differently, some longer, some a shorter period; but we are not left to conjecture. We are informed that it will be fully accomplished in a thousand years, during which time Satan and evil will be under restraints, and the saints, with Jesus their Head, shall live and reign. Rev. 20:3,4. And how fitting, six days of evil and degradation, and one day of restitution, ushering in the countless ages of everlasting righteousness and happiness on earth as in heaven, among men as among angels.
It follows then, that the thousand years of Christ's reign shall complete the great work of salvation, and beyond it there is no probation for any; all will have had a full opportunity, with every favorable advantage. In the end or closing period of that age Satan is to be loosed for a little season for the final testing of mankind, and at its close he and those who follow his spirit and leadership shall be destroyed. That will be the "second death," from which there is no recovery. Rev. 21:7,8.
Jesus ransomed no one from the second death; the ransom he gave was in settlement of the first or Adamic death only (Rom. 5:17-19), and it is it, that [R764 : page 5] he shall destroy during his reign, by releasing from its dominion, all whose liberty he purchased with his own precious blood. All Jesus' enemies shall be subjected to his power, and every person and principle wilfully opposed to his and the Father's righteous law shall be destroyed. The second death is not Christ's enemy, but becomes a servant of righteousness in the permanent removal of everything opposed to righteousness. Nothing will be left to mar the perfectly restored creation. Then Christ shall present his finished work to the Father—a work whose perfection and glory will highly honor both the Father's plan and the Son's execution of it—a work which will make manifest the wisdom, power, justice, and love of God to all his intelligent creatures, and which will lead men to honor the Son who executed the plan, even as they honor the Father who arranged it.
When the work of restoration is complete and mankind has regained the image of God obliterated by sin, there will no longer be necessity for coercion. Obedience will be cheerfully and joyfully rendered when God's law is written in every heart. Hence, when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father, his will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven—freely and from choice—joyfully. The language of every heart will then be, "I delight to do thy will O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." The perfect human nature will then be as it was at first, a law inscribed nature. (Jer. 31:33.) There is no necessity for the exercise of compulsory power where knowledge and ability are perfect, and where love reigns supreme in the heart.
To deliver up mankind to Jehovah's government before they have been perfectly restored, would be to deprive them of the protection of the precious blood before they had obtained all the blessing it was designed to afford them. To deliver them over imperfect to God's government, would be to deliver them to sure destruction; for God's law is perfect and approves only those who are absolutely perfect, and condemns all others as it did Adam, for even one sin. Therefore as Paul expresses it (Heb. 10:31), when speaking of some who would ignore and deny Jesus' ransom and protection: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." It is fearful because of the absolute perfection of God's law, and the fact that His only allowance for imperfection is through Jesus, until the imperfect ones have been restored. But when at the close of the Millennial reign the whole world shall be delivered up to God, even the Father, it will no longer be a fearful thing, because having been perfectly restored by the Redeemer, all will then delight to do God's will perfectly.
It has been suggested and publicly taught by some that the ages to follow the Millennium will afford opportunity for the perfecting of such as during the Millennial age will not submit to the authority of Christ; and that by repeated endeavors, through ages if necessary, the incorrigible shall all be brought to obedience to God; and that thus, not one of God's creatures shall ever be destroyed—even Satan not excepted.
This idea is regarded by its advocates as a marked evidence of their superior generosity, love, and good will toward all. But leaving this out of the question for the present, let us consider briefly if the suggestion has any real foundation.
First, we have seen that the reign of Christ is foretold to be of a thousand years' duration (Rev. 20:4), and that at the end of that time he gives up the kingdom. (1 Cor. 15:24.) From this we must conclude that if there is to be any probation, or reconciliation of any beyond that time, it must be accomplished through some other agency than that of Christ.
If the above suggestion were true, if it could be proven from the Scriptures, then it would follow that Christ shall fail to fully accomplish the work assigned to him, and that he will give it up at the end of the thousand years because of his inability to complete it, and that some other agency shall accomplish it.
But is this true? We answer unhesitatingly and emphatically, No. We are sure that the entire work of reconciliation—restoration, is to be accomplished through Christ, because it is written, that God "hath committed all judgment unto the Son," that "He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he have set judgment in the earth" (Isa. 42:4), and that "He must reign till he hath placed all enemies under his feet,"—in subjection.
We are not left in doubt that the work of reconciling the world will be accomplished within the limits of Christ's reign (Rev. 20:4), because this is the very object of that reign. And beyond doubt God is able to undo in one thousand years, the work which Satan has accomplished in six thousand years.
There is absolutely no ground for believing in a probation for any beyond that time, because it is expressly stated, that in the end of that time, Satan and those who follow his leading shall be destroyed, and that Christ shall have put all enemies under his feet. (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 20:15).
On the strength of these scriptures we consider it clearly proven that God can and will make a thorough end of evil, and of evil doers who prove themselves incorrigible, and that speedily; and that the ages following the Millennium shall be ages of eternal blessedness, without the least alloy of sin. The righteous shall flourish and "evil doers shall be cut off"—"in His day"—the Millennial day.
Generosity, benevolence, and good will, are beautiful and commendable traits of character when centered on proper objects, but if extended towards the enemies of God, they become obnoxious in his sight, and worthy of condemnation. When the law of God condemned a guilty criminal to death, all Israel was commanded to stone him, thus expressing their acquiescence and approval of God's judgment. (Deut. 13:9.)
To claim a generosity and benevolence beyond that expressed in the Word of God, is to assume superiority to God, and is very un-Christlike. He who sympathizes with the evil doer whom God condemns, is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 11; Psa. 15:4.)
Let us seek God's will in God's way and it will speedily reprove and correct the vanity of frail humanity, should it attempt to be either wise or benevolent above and beyond what is written. "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach His way." Psa. 25:9. Let all the meek answer with assurance, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways."