DEAR PAPA:—We have for next Sunday's lesson "The Ten Talents." One of the questions is, "Will those be saved who die in childhood, before they know good and evil?" The answer given is, "They will, for Jesus said, 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.'" It doesn't seem to me that this is what Jesus meant; please explain this as soon as you have time.
MY DEAR MARION:—When you have read Millennial Dawn through carefully you will understand God's plan of salvation for both young and old, better than I can explain it in letters, but if you will follow me closely, I will try to make your question plain to you.
If the whole world were now—in this life—being tried for their own sins, and were not affected by the sin of Adam, and if they came into the world with a pure nature, then babies and lunatics and very ignorant people (heathen, etc.,) not being responsible for their actions,—therefore not sinners strictly—would not be condemned; and so might, in God's loving kindness be saved. If this were God's plan then heaven (as the popular idea is expressed) would be filled with babies and idiots and the most ignorant people of the world; while the other place (if orthodoxy were true) would receive nearly all the intelligent people, and all who were simply good, moral and kind hearted, but not Christians. Do you think God, who is infinitely wise and intelligent, and who made man originally in his own likeness as to intelligence, wants to have all the knownothings, and to give all the wise to Satan? In this age very few of the wise (as to the world's wisdom) are converted to God. The simplicity of the Gospel is foolishness to them. It was so intended. Paul said "Behold your calling, brethren, how that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong,—that no flesh should glory before God." Read 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:1-10,13,14.
God intends also to save the wise, and will in the coming age reveal to them his saving plan in all the richness of its wisdom and glory. But in this Gospel age, he has a special message adapted to the simple and CHILDLIKE, (the teachable, believing, trusting ones) "Of such [not babies] is the kingdom of heaven"—now. God's children are those who love, obey and trust their Heavenly Father, as good, loving girls and boys do a faithful earthly father. Through God's plan these simple, faithful children of our Father, who learn his truth now, and search and study his wonderful "Plan of Salvation" will in the age to come be the teachers of "all men;" (1 Tim. 2:4-6; 4:6-10) the "Royal Priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5) who will be God's instruments in filling the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters fill the depths of the sea.—Habak. 2:14.
Perhaps you are ready to ask Why do you call the way of salvation a plan? Because it is a systematic arrangement; a design prepared beforehand, and followed out to the end for a certain result, also seen and intended from the beginning.
Briefly, God's plan is this: Adam—a perfect man—was created and placed on trial in Eden as the representative of the whole race of mankind, who were to follow. He sinned and the penalty of sin—death—passed upon him, and through him upon all his descendants. He had a perfect mind—being a perfect man. He was capable of being taught wonderful things, but was really untaught, being without experience. God foresaw the Fall and had the remedy also provided. In due time He sent Jesus our Lord to earth to become a man; (a perfect one,) just like Adam—so he is called the Second Adam, (1 Cor. 15:45) to preach, and to show us an example, and then to die, TO GIVE HIS LIFE FOR THAT OF THE FIRST ADAM, and all those who had been represented in Adam—ALL HIS DESCENDANTS.
Suppose you were at a party where they had parlor games. One game had forfeits. That is if you failed to pass some test agreed on, your penalty was either to pay ten cents or go to jail—jail being a corner or another room. Now if you failed and had no money you would be put in jail. But suppose some one wanted you out to help them play, they might pay the ten cents for you, and you would go free.
So God, to show that finally only the good and obedient would be permitted to live, told Adam he would lose his life if he failed to obey. He failed and God sent him away from the tree of life so that his life would not be sustained by it, and he began to die that day, and finally reached death. Jesus came, and after proving himself a perfect man, gave his life as the forfeit for Adam's, thus PURCHASING for Adam (and for us in Adam) a resurrection back to life again. Jesus left his human nature (which was like Adam's) in the tomb. His Father took him out of death as a different being—that is a DIVINE, a spiritual being.
Now read carefully Rom. 5:12-21. This shows how by the SIN of one man—Adam—death came upon all; and also how by the OBEDIENCE of one man—Jesus—all were redeemed, justified again.
For this reason (Christ's redemption) all will have a resurrection. (Acts 24:15.) You may ask "If ALL have been redeemed by Christ, will not ALL be saved?" So Universalists think, and they quote 1 Cor. 15:22, but the verse before tells us that the resurrection is what is referred to. All are brought up again in a resurrection by Christ Jesus, but all do not live forever, unless they submit themselves to him. If they remain willful after the opportunities of that glorious day, they die for their own [R1043 : page 6] sins. We do not die now for our own sins, else Christians would not die—having been forgiven. All—good and bad—die "in Adam," because we are sharers in his fallen nature. Or to be more exact, because we were in him—in the sense that he was the father of the whole human family—when he sinned and was put under the dominion of death.
When we have been freed from Adam's penalty (death) by the resurrection, we will be ready to be tried for ourselves. Now see the advantage the world will have in their trial, over Adam in his. I now say "the world" because "we" of the Gospel church "are not of the world" (John 17:16), and we are an exception to the rule. Adam when tried having had no previous experience with sin, did not know how dangerous, how exceedingly sinful sin was. The world having had a life experience (longer or shorter) with sin will after their resurrection, and under Christ's righteous rule (for he will reign then) be PREPARED, by experience, to go on trial for themselves. And this is God's plan,—that all mankind (except the exception, the Gospel Church), should first experience the bitterness of sin and death, and after that rise to be put on trial for themselves; after they have found out how strong sin is; how weak they are; and how much they need a Saviour to redeem and lead them out of sin and death. Out of death he has already ransomed them and will lift them, and then stand ready with a "Whosoever will," (Rev. 22:17) the call of the Bride (the Gospel church AFTER the marriage with Christ), from the New Jerusalem to all the nations of earth. Then, in the Millennial age, ALL babies, little and big; the foolish, both by nature and by false teaching and reasoning; the blind, both naturally and spiritually; the lame and dumb and the deaf shall all be restored and brought to a knowledge of the truth. It is a foundation doctrine of the Bible that there is "no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we may be saved." (Acts 4:12.) Neither innocence nor ignorance, nor any other natural condition will save. Jesus is "the WAY, the truth, and the LIFE." Again, "without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God." (Heb. 11:6.) So neither babies, nor the ignorant can be saved until they learn the way of faith—to Christ. This will all be done in God's "due time." He is not in such a hurry as we sometimes are.
Let us not remain "Babes in Christ," for there are such; (1 Cor. 3:1) but while always retaining the childlike—trusting—spirit, let us grow in the favor and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), "unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, ...but speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into...Christ."—Eph. 4:13-15. Papa.