"I will stand upon my watch, and fix my foot upon the Tower, and I will watch to see what will be said to me." Habakkuk 2:1.
Human judgment in its fallen condition is very much inclined to take extreme views on whichever side of a question it looks. Like the pendulum of a clock, men go from one to an opposite extreme. The way to steady and settle our judgment is to conclude that we can know only what God has revealed, and come to the Bible as His revelation; and leaving our own opinions, make new ones strictly and entirely therefrom.
This disposition to fly to opposite extremes frequently manifests itself in those who for years have believed that ninety-nine out of every hundred of the human family were en-route to everlasting torture. When they come to realize that the love of God would sanction no such thing, but that the extreme penalty of sin is destruction of being; and that from the destruction (death) which came upon the entire race through Adam's sin, a full ransom has been made by Jesus, and that a full RESTITUTION of all the forfeited rights, privileges and enjoyments of perfect life is to come to all in God's DUE TIME—when they see this, they become so overjoyed that they go to an opposite extreme and conclude that God is so loving that he would never be happy unless ultimately every human being shall be everlastingly saved. From the extreme view that God was all JUSTICE and without LOVE, they unintentionally run to the opposite extreme that He is all LOVE and destitute of justice.
Beloved, let us BALANCE our warped and perverted and unbalanced judgments by the testimonies of God's Word. Let us remember that EXISTENCE is a boon from heaven, to be forced upon none. It is a favor, a blessing, designed only for those who shall appreciate it; and who will use it in harmony with the LAW OF RIGHT, the law of God; others cannot have it, and must cease to exist; not only for their own good, but for the good of all and the everlasting purity of God's kingdom in earth and heaven.
Surely God has stated to us plainly that justice and equity are the very foundations of his throne (Psa. 89:14); and not only so, but for over four thousand years he illustrated the penalty of sin and the unrelenting, positive character of his justice, which not only condemned Adam (and all the race as represented in him) to death, destruction, but refused to FORGIVE that wilful sin, because God could not do so and be JUST. Rom. 3:26.
Surely such a demonstration of justice, as God manifested in giving His Son to be a ransom ["corresponding price"] for all, before that sin could be blotted out, evidences a firmness and a justice on God's part that is simply sublime. It should not only be an assurance to us that those once justified from Adamic guilt have nothing further to fear therefrom (1 John 1:9), but should also assure us beyond question, that all who are fully released from Adamic penalty and guilt when on trial individually, would be dealt with in the same inflexibly just manner that Adam was. If obedient, life will be sure, as the reward; if disobedient, death [this time a second death], as surely as in Adam's case. And the conditions would be the same, in that Justice could no more forgive the personal wilful sins which invoked the second death, than it did the Adamic sin which invoked the first death.
But, some one inquires: Will God's love every change? And if not, will not the same love which planned the ransom through Christ and the coming restitution as a result, prompt God to again redeem with another ransom those who go into the second death?
We reply: God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and will always pity and love any of His creatures who unwillingly or without their own will or choice, are under the penalty of His law; but from the very nature of things He can have neither sympathy nor pity for those who with a full knowledge of the heinousness of sin, a full experience with its penalty, and a full knowledge of what it cost for their redemption from it once, and full ability to resist it, shall, notwithstanding all this wilfully, and designedly, despise His goodness and love, and violate the laws which they know divine wisdom enacted for the lasting good of all: with such, God cannot be pleased. As God hates sin because it is wrong and works evil, so he must "abhor" and be "angry" with such WILFUL sinners as we have just described.
It is declared that Christ shall reign until he has subdued all enemies. Sinners are enemies through wicked works; and such as will not be RECONCILED to God's laws and arrangements must be destroyed, as it is written: "All the WICKED [wilfully so] will He [God] destroy." (Psa. 145:20.) The wicked shall be [re]turned [Heb., Shub, turned back, returned;] into hell [sheol—death; hence SECOND DEATH]. (Psa. 9:17.) This agrees also with the statements of Revelation regarding the results and termination of that Millennial reign: Satan and all who in that time of trial, shall willingly and persistently follow his example, and be thereby his co-workers in evil (his messengers) shall together be cast into the "Lake of fire," symbol of destruction—the second death. Rev. 20:14,15.
Nor can any one consistently claim that the second death is to be destroyed by a resurrection of its captives out of it, BECAUSE it is stated that present death—the first (the death which resulted from Adam's sin) is to be destroyed by resurrecting ALL who went into it; because redeemed from its power by the precious blood of Christ. These two deaths are not the same; hence the first can and will be destroyed, while the other everlastingly blots out of existence, and thus everlastingly punishes all who go into it. Those who cannot see more, should at least recognize the difference by the fact that the one is cast into and destroyed in the other. (Rev. 20:14.) That this destruction of all willful evil doers who, under the favorable opportunities of the Millennium refuse to hear [heed] that Prophet (Acts 3:23), will take place, is evident, from the statement that this is at the close of that reign (Rev. 20:7-9), and that immediately following it everything is described as pure, holy and happy—no sin, and hence none of its results. Rev. 21:4,22.
The only one of Jesus' parables which furnishes a clear outline of that age (Matt. 25:31-46), shows the same termination of that age, in which "the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory" and judge the world. It shows that those who at the end of that trial are of the "goat" class, having refused to become his sheep, will be delivered into everlasting punishment [DEATH being the punishment or wages of sin] prepared or designed [only] for the Devil and [those who wilfully and persistently follow his precepts and example] his angels.
To claim another redemption and another chance beyond that which the Millennium brings, as a result of the ransom given by Christ, is not only to add to God's Word, but to contradict it; for it declares that those who sin WILFULLY after knowing the truth, show that they despise the ransom-sacrifice and do despite to the spirit of FAVOR which God therein manifested toward them; and that for such, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall DEVOUR these adversaries of God and his law. "Christ dieth no more"; and even if he did, it is declared that such put themselves in such a condition by opposing and despising God's [R770 : page 1] once manifested goodness, that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO RENEW THEM AGAIN UNTO REPENTANCE. See Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31 and Rom. 6:9.
The results of the Millennial Age will be so complete and perfect, that not one being who appreciates God's favors, and desires to please him, will be destroyed in the Second death; and not one will escape it who is not, at heart, as well as outwardly, in fullest sympathy with God's government and its beneficent laws in support of righteousness, peace and love. Christ will do this work so thoroughly that when the kingdom is delivered up to God even the Father, nothing by way of making it more perfect will remain to be done in the successive ages. He must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have ESTABLISHED righteousness in the earth on a lasting basis. 1 Cor. 15:26, and Isa. 42:4.
Besides, suppose a case: Suppose a being to have lived through the Millennium under the full light and teaching of the Christ, with all of its lessons fully impressed upon him, who yet cherished such love for evil doing, that when evil is given greater liberty of action in the end of that age—as a test of the heart sentiments—he would follow that evil willingly, and knowingly and eagerly, and as a result of resisting Christ is "cut off from among the people," in the second death. (Acts 3:22.) Suppose for the moment, such an one resurrected from that Second death and tried again; what assurance could there be that with the SAME knowledge and liberty again at his command he would not do the same again? And if some one suggests that God COULD coerce his will, and thus compel his everlasting obedience, we answer, Yes; but God declares that such is not his design. He seeketh not such as he can compel, for he could compel all; but, "The Father seeketh such to worship Him" as "worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23,24.) Besides, if God is going to compel their acquiescence to his laws, why not do so at first without having a "second death;" and without marring the perfectness and bliss of future ages by trying over and over again to get some to consent and worship him in spirit and truth whom in the end he must compel? This is unanswerable.
Again, if such were to be compelled to obedience would it not be degrading them below the level of manhood? Is not manhood's chief glory his will, his power of moral choice? And would not such a change as would deprive him of this freedom of choice, deprive him of manhood and make him merely a machine? and if so would it not be far more to God's glory to blot out such unworthy beings and create such "new machines" as he wanted—if he wants mere machines?—which evidently he does not.
The mistake of those who fall into this error is that they do not fully appreciate the opportunities of the Millennial Age, and the abundant arrangement there, provided by divine wisdom. They think of it as though the sin of disobedience might possibly be one act, and it perhaps induced by a measure of ignorance or lack of experience or weakness. But no; God's provision has been complete: Man will not be suddenly brought to perfection and then suddenly exposed to trials which might sweep away his judgment, and over-riding his past experiences, sweep him into evil; but he will be brought gradually to it during that age, as in a [R770 : page 2] school. He will be helped to surmount the weaknesses of the fall, and to regain the summit of manhood's estate; helped by the Redeemer who purchased for him the right to return to that estate. Christ, in restoring to man "that which was lost" (Luke 19:10, and Acts 3:21) will do it in such a manner as will do the man most good. He will make known to him its advantages and opportunities [bring him to "a knowledge of the truth"] while saving him out of Adamic death (1 Tim. 2:4). He shall in that schooling learn what wilful sin is and the sureness of its punishment, and be fully acquainted with the fact that at the close of the age all must be in heart, in will, holy, and in harmony with the holy God, else they will be condemned to death—destruction everlasting—as wilful transgressors unworthy of God's blessings, and unfit for the ages of perfectness then to be introduced.
We cannot suppose, judging from our own feelings, that MANY would thus sin WILFULLY and despise God's favors; nevertheless the fact that Satan has done so for the past six thousand years, and that he will when "loosed," at the end of the next age, be of the same disposition, notwithstanding all that he shall have witnessed of God's love, etc., (as God's Word positively declares;) proves that some are not affected to repentance by a knowledge of God's goodness, and reasonably leads us to conclude that there may be some of mankind whom it will be as "impossible to renew ...unto repentance" as Satan. And this conclusion Scripture sustains by positive declarations.
Out of the billions of the race who have lived and will there have trial, it would not be many if ONE MILLION should prove incorrigible and be returned to sheol—destroyed in the everlasting destruction of the second death; but for the sake of an argument let us suppose that only one thousand would be of this incorrigible class. Let us suppose the suggested theory of some, that these who go into the second death will be redeemed out of it by a "ransom" [corresponding price] as all the race were redeemed out of the Adamic death. In that case it would be necessary that one thousand perfect beings should die to "ransom" this thousand wilful sinners. One Saviour could not give a ransom [a corresponding price] for all these, as Jesus did for the entire Adamic race numbering millions; because this thousand were each one, WILFUL sinners, while in the case of the Adamic race, there was but ONE perfect person tried; ONE only sinned wilfully; and hence ONE perfect being freely offered, was a full ransom—a corresponding price. See Rom. 5:17-19 and 11:32.
But to continue the supposed case and show its further inconsistency: Suppose that at the close of the Millennium one thousand of the perfected race were to present themselves as ransoms for the one thousand incorrigible, what a scene it would be—a thousand Calvarys at once. And who would put them to death? Not the holy and righteous; they should and could no more slay their brethren than could the Apostles have crucified Jesus. Then we must suppose to carry out this incredible supposition that the ONE THOUSAND INCORRIGIBLES would add this to their wilful sins; that they would kill their redeemers: And surely no better proof of their incorrigibility could be imagined than a willingness to shed innocent blood. Jesus could pray for his murderers, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do," because they were blinded by the devil, and depraved by the fall; but no such prayer could be made for this class—brought to a full knowledge of the truth.
But some may want still further to suppose:—Suppose after all this, they come to realize the great sacrifice these redeemers have made for them, would it not melt them to love and obedience? We answer, No; "it is impossible to renew" SUCH "to repentance." In the first place they could not "come to realize it," because if perfect and doing it wilfully, they must have realized their offence all along. In the second place, if the love and sufferings of Christ did not move them, no love and sufferings would; for "GREATER love hath no man than this." If with a perfect knowledge of the love of God for men, manifested in him who was rich yet for our sakes, became poor that we through his poverty might be made rich, if this love of Christ does not constrain them nothing would: And it is perfectly absurd for us to think of God trying to outdo his own superlatively grand exhibition of love. John 15:13.
So far from mourning for their loss, the balance of the race will be so ashamed of them, that they will be relieved by their utter blotting out of existence. Yea, all the righteous, from Jehovah to his humblest intelligent creature, must rejoice, when after full opportunity for reformation, the Universe shall be cleansed of the incorrigible. Their destruction will be a mercy to themselves, as well as for the lasting happiness of all the righteous.