Some, when they read that the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), at once get the impression that the word lost signifies doomed to everlasting torment, and that the word save means to secure everlasting bliss, whereas no such thing is even hinted at. To understand what is to be saved or recovered, we must first learn what was lost. For information on this subject we are wholly dependent upon God's revelation. Whatever our father Adam possessed before he sinned, that he and his race do not now possess, has been lost, and that is what the Son of Man came to save or restore.
God's Word informs us that, as originally created, father Adam was a mental and moral image of his Creator. How quickly the race fell from that noble state! How far from this are men to-day! Originally, because pure and good, our father Adam had intimate communion with his God; he was God's son, as well as his image. (Luke 3:38.) So grandly perfect was he in physical constitution that even under the sentence of death he lasted nine hundred and thirty years; and his physical strength but illustrates his mental and moral perfection, which must have corresponded. How great has been the loss experienced by all who in his loins shared his disobedience and its penalty, death! Now, even with the aid of six thousand years of experience in seeking for remedies and panaceas, the average of human life is only about thirty years, while the mental and moral powers are similarly vitiated, though this deterioration is less appreciated because perfection is now a thing unknown, because education has become more general, and especially because the light of the incoming age, which God is letting in, to prepare the way of the Lord, is now elevating men above former conditions. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., pages 157-167.) How much we have lost none can appreciate, except as we occasionally meet with prodigies whose wonderful powers in one direction or another so far transcend our own as to excite our astonishment. We can scarcely imagine a man possessed of all the wonderful powers and abilities of all these prodigies, nor think how, even then, such would probably be far short of the original capacities of our father Adam, and what might have been our powers had they not been lost.
But, thank God, all that was lost is to be saved. Our Lord Jesus came into the world on this very mission. Carrying out the Father's plan, he became a man for this very purpose and gave his life as our ransom-price; he redeemed, or bought back from the penalty and loss, Adam and all who suffered the loss in him. Thus the arrangement to save the world of mankind is complete; but they are not yet saved. It will be the great work of Christ's Millennial Kingdom to save them. They will be saved by a restitution process, a resurrection (anastasis), or lifting up to the condition and powers and blessings and opportunities lost in Adam.
God had this plan of salvation in mind long before he took the first step toward it in sending his Son to redeem us. He even made known his plan to some extent before he began to execute it. Abraham and the holy prophets were made slightly acquainted with it by his declarations and by the types and illustrations which were given them. Such as believed and proved their faith by acting accordingly were granted a measure of the restoration from the loss, in the privilege of fellowship and communion with God which had been lost; and these were assured that in due time they would have back full life and vigor, mental and physical, and all that was lost, through a great Messiah, who would have all power to bless and to lift them up. This was before the ransom had been actually given.
Since the ransom has been given (during the Gospel age), God has revealed himself and his plans yet more fully to those who are seeking communion and fellowship with him through obedience. He shows them how broad a foundation he has laid in the ransom of all by the second perfect man, even as all had come under sentence through the first perfect man. (Rom. 5:17-19.) Those who have believed God and accepted of the Messiah, during this age, have not only been granted a restitution of heavenly communion and a realization of joy and peace through faith in the pardon extended to them through the Redeemer, and hopes of full restitution to all that was lost, but they have been granted something more—an additional favor. This additional favor is in the offer that if they will now consecrate themselves fully to the Lord and give up present and future earthly or restitution rights, privileges and blessings, and sacrifice these in his service now, God will give them in exchange for these sacrifices something that will be still grander and higher. Instead of a perfect earthly body with its full measure of perfect powers, which, though very grand are still a little lower than the powers of angels, God proposes to give them a divine nature and body—far superior in power and glory to those of angels. (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Cor. 6:3.) In a word, if these who have ears (willingness) to hear of God's gracious plan now, and who believe and receive restitution to human perfection by faith, will present themselves as sacrifices in the service of the Lord as his agents and ambassadors, God will reckon these in as Christ's bride, and make this "little flock" joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of his nature and glory and Millennial work and honors. This work is about complete; the last members of the "bride" will soon be fully tested and proved worthy of his love and of the promised blessing; and then all, glorified with and like their Lord, will begin the
All are to be saved, as all were ransomed. "The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:5,6.) As this salvation reaches now those who "have an ear to hear," so it will in the Millennial age reach all—for the deaf ears shall be unstopped and the sin-blinded shall see, out of obscurity (Rev. 2:7; Isa. 29:18), the gracious provision God has made for all. And for all to be thus reached by the knowledge, ability and opportunity of salvation is for all to be saved: whether they make a good or a bad use of God's gift after it has reached them is another matter.
This salvation from what was lost is a gift from God through Christ Jesus, our Lord. We do not merit it, and could not demand or secure it for ourselves in any way: it is a loving gift in the fullest sense. But whether or not men shall everlastingly retain and enjoy the things saved depends on the men and not on God, he having arranged that all who receive his gift shall be tested. Those who delight to do his will may keep the gift forever, but those who then sin wilfully shall lose it just as father Adam lost it. But such will be more culpable than Adam, because of more intimate acquaintance with God's justice and love, gained during their experience with sin and during their recovery from it. Thus a blessing, a recovery of what was lost (Adam's perfections and opportunities), comes to all, but God's gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, is only to those who obey him.—John 3:36; Heb. 5:9; Jude 5.
In every case where the second death is represented as being inflicted, whether in symbols, parables or literal statements, there is something associated which shows that the persons mentioned as condemned to the second death have been saved from the condemnation of Adamic sin and death and have had a full opportunity for life everlasting, and that they lose it a second time only by their own known and wilful disobedience to God.