There is another sense in which some are said to be in Christ. While, as we have just shown, all believers are represented in Christ for justification, just as they were formerly represented in Adam for condemnation, some come into Christ as members of the Christ body, of which Christ Jesus is the head. The term "Christ" signifies the Anointed, and the ceremony of anointing in olden times, from which this term is borrowed, signified the consecrating or setting apart of some one for the office of king, etc. So the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, was anointed, consecrated or set apart by God for the offices of prophet, priest and king. He is, therefore, the Anointed, the Christ; and since it is the purpose of God to select from among [R1442 : page 264] men some to be joint-heirs with him in this inheritance—"a royal priesthood," of which Christ Jesus shall be the head or high priest—all who are of this anointed company are said to be in Christ. Such are said to be baptized into Christ: they come into this anointed company, into the body of Christ, by baptism; not by baptism in water merely, but by baptism into the spirit, the disposition, the mind and will of the head, Christ Jesus, which proves eventually to be a baptism even unto death. "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death." But those who are thus planted in the likeness of his death shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection—the first order of resurrection, which is to the spiritual, divine nature.—Rom. 6:5; Rev. 20:6; 2 Pet. 1:4.
But this high calling is not the special salvation referred to in the above text. (1 Tim. 4:10.) True, that special salvation of justification must be obtained (reckonedly, by faith) by every one of this class, before he is even called with this high calling to come into Christ as a member of his body and a fellow-heir with him of the coming kingdom. This high calling is not salvation at all, but a gracious favor of God beyond the favor of salvation; or, as John expresses it (John 1:16.—See Emphatic Diaglott), it is grace upon grace, favor upon favor. The special salvation referred to by the Apostle is one which will be bestowed upon all who believe: not only of this age and of past ages, but also of the Millennial age; while the favor of the high calling is proffered only to believers during the Gospel age.
Thus we have seen that the Lord clearly points out the conditions upon which his special or actual salvation, which is provided for all men, may be realized by all men. And none can realize it in any other way; for our "God is a consuming fire" to any who claim or demand his salvation on any other terms than through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 3:24.) Any who seek to climb up to life in any other way he declares to be thieves and robbers (John 10:1,8,9); and to such the Apostle gives fair warning, saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31)—a fearful thing to stand trial before God in our own righteousness, which is but "filthy rags," and without the covering of the robe of imputed righteousness secured for us by our Redeemer, who according to our Father's gracious plan becomes the representative and Mediator for all who accept his grace. It is the folly of some, nevertheless, to claim that none can lose or miss this salvation—notwithstanding all that the Scriptures say about the conditions of salvation, and their warning against the possible loss of it. In the face of the testimony of the Scriptures to the contrary, such a suggestion is a forcible reminder of the subtle tempter's language to our mother Eve in Eden. Said he, "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." God says to all men, "You may have salvation upon these terms," while some men say, "There are no conditions, there are no terms, but the everlasting salvation all will have." But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you: let God be true, though it prove every man a liar.
The theory of a universal, eternal salvation is not a new one: it has had some adherents for many centuries. Indeed, it is older than the doctrine of redemption; for it was announced by His Satanic Majesty to our mother Eve in Eden, when, tempting her to despise the word of the Lord, he boldly said, "Ye shall not surely die." For those who have never been enlightened with a clear knowledge of the plan of God, and who have been confronted all their lives with the horrible nightmare of eternal torment for a large majority of the race, there is some excuse for swinging to the extreme of liberalism. In such cases, it may be regarded more in the light of a benevolent and hopeful reaction from old superstitions. But the case is very different when one turns away from a clear knowledge of the divine plan of redemption and restitution through faith in Christ and [R1442 : page 265] repentance and submission of heart and life to God, to embrace a theory which is antagonistic in its nature to the whole scheme of redemption and restitution as set forth in the Scriptures. Let those who have been once enlightened take heed, "lest as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ"—the simplicity of Christ's doctrine.—2 Cor. 11:3.
It is true that God has provided salvation for all men, and that the fullest opportunity for realizing it will be granted to each and all; but the terms upon which the favor may be realized are also distinctly stated, and that together with the fact that there will be no compromise as to terms; and, further, that those who reject the terms reject the proffered salvation, and hence die the second death, from which there will be no redemption and no deliverance. (Heb. 10:26-31.) The Scriptures also abound in warnings as to the danger of coming under the penalty of death the second time, after having been released from the first death, either reckonedly or actually.—Heb. 6:4-8.
But some, still anxious to maintain this delusive hope, are willing to press every lame argument into its service; and they do so until by logical deduction, based upon this false premise—that the eternal salvation of every man is so secure that it cannot be forfeited—they are driven to the denial of the whole plan of God from its foundation in the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to its glorious finish at the end of his Millennial reign in the restitution of all things to the perfect condition and happy estate from which man fell through sin.
Those who determine to make this theory of a universal, eternal salvation the rallying point in their theology begin by asserting that it must be so, because God is love; then they go farther and say, it must be so, because God is just. Thus they presume upon the love of God and claim his salvation upon the score of justice; and upon this hypothesis they do all manner of turning and twisting to force the Scriptures into harmony with their theory. They make light of all the Bible warnings of a second death, by claiming that they do not mean actual physical death, but that the term is figurative and signifies a death to sin; that it is the opposite of the first death, which was a death to righteousness; and that it was this figurative death to which God referred when he said, "In the day thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die." Thus the actual death loses its sting as a penalty for sin, and it is generally regarded by them as a necessary step in a process of evolution by which man is evolved to a higher condition or nature—the spiritual.
To attain this spiritual nature it is therefore necessary, in their estimation, for every man to die the second death, which they regard as a blessing and not a curse. And since physical death is, presumably, merely a step in a process of evolution to a higher condition, and not a penalty for sin, therefore there is no necessity for a ransom from it. Hence the death of Christ is regarded only as an extreme measure of self-sacrifice, as an exhibition of the martyr spirit, in his zeal to show men how to live; and the idea of a vicarious or substitutionary sacrifice being required for the satisfaction of divine justice, so that God could still be just and yet be the justifier, or savior, of him that believeth in Jesus (Rom. 3:26), is indignantly scouted as a barbarous view, and the "precious blood of Christ wherewith we are sanctified is counted a common thing" and of no more value to us than the blood of any other martyr.
But while these would-be philosophers make this preposterous claim, that the second death, against which the Scriptures so faithfully warn us, is only a death to sin and the dawn of a new life to righteousness, and that it is therefore nothing to be feared, but rather to be desired, they seem at times to forget this hypothesis, and, inconsistently enough with their own theory, they tell us that if a man actually experiences a second physical death, or even a third or fourth, these like the first could only be regarded as further necessary steps in the process of evolution, and out of each the persistent sinner will be recovered without a redemption, as he was presumably out of the first death. So they claim that the process of physical death and resurrection may be repeated over and over until the sinner is prevailed upon to submit to the [R1442 : page 266] will of God. And since the Scriptures declare that some will die at the end of Christ's Millennial reign, they claim that the work of reform will continue into the ages to follow—ignoring entirely the positive statement of the Apostle to the contrary.—1 Cor. 15:24,25; Rev. 20:6.
The revolutionary tendency of the doctrine is thus very apparent; and when the mind is fully set on establishing this theory and perverting every scripture to its support, the false doctrines that grow out of it are legion, and the entire Word of God is made of no effect.
The Bible teaching is plain and simple to those of simple mind, and admits of no such fanciful and absurd interpretation. There, death is declared to be "the wages of sin," and not merely a departure from righteousness. (Rom. 6:23.) Sin is the departure from righteousness; and death, destruction of being, is its just penalty. And since death was the just penalty of sin, and was pronounced by God, who cannot err, and who is unchangeable—the same yesterday, to-day and forever—it could not be revoked or set aside: no power in heaven or earth could set aside the immutable claims of justice until, by the grace of God, the man Christ Jesus, our Lord, paid our penalty, died for our sins, legally set us free, and thus made provision for our recovery out of death in due time by the process of resurrection. Thanks be unto God and our Lord Jesus Christ for this great salvation, purchased on our heavenly Father's part by the sacrifice of his only begotten and well beloved Son, and on our Lord's part by the sacrifice of himself, and made efficacious to us through faith on our part in his precious blood shed for many for the remission of sins.—Matt. 26:28.
And as the original difficulty was not death, but sin, so the remedy is not second death, but righteousness. The two principles are Sin and Righteousness, and under God's arrangement they each have certain results. Sin results in DEATH, while righteousness results in LIFE. The entire race became sinners by heredity in Adam, weak and unable to fulfil all righteousness, and hence all shared the penalty, death—"death passed upon all men," because all are imperfect, sinners.
But God, foreseeing that some would, after experience, be willing to obey all righteousness if provided the ability through Christ—through the New Covenant sealed and ratified by his death as our representative and substitute, bearing our penalty—compensated for all sins past and for present and future sins resulting from the fall, to all who accept him as their Redeemer [R1443 : page 267] and who become followers of his commands. Thus such are made the righteousness of God in him (Christ) and shall obtain the reward of righteousness—everlasting life.
While we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe, let all "thieves and robbers," who are attempting to teach men how to climb up to life by some other than God's appointed way, take warning; for while "God is love," let them know that he loves that which is lovely, that he has decreed that all that is unworthy of love in his universe shall be destroyed, and that when the Millennial reign of his Anointed is complete not one blot shall remain to reproach his fair creation; for Christ "must reign till he hath put all enemies under his FEET." Then he will have brought forth judgment unto victory. (Matt. 12:20.) And his victory will be complete when all evil and all wilful evil-doers—Satan and all those who follow his leading (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 20:10,14,15), shall have been cut off. His victory will consist in the establishment of righteousness and peace, no matter how many or how few fall in the conflict.
Let all the faithful—the elect—take heed that they be not deceived by those vain philosophers who, "desiring to be teachers, understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm" (1 Tim. 1:7); for God hath declared that wilful evil-doers "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all those that believe in that day." And from the mention of the character of the class that shall be destroyed it is very manifest that the second death into which they are cast is not a death to sin, as Universalists claim. Hear the Word of the Lord—"The fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is THE SECOND DEATH. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire:...this is the second death." (Rev. 21:8; 20:10.) That is a bad lot: we do not want to be in such company. Before their destruction comes they will have had fullest opportunity to repent; and the fact that Satan will have had the opportunities of seven thousand years and yet remain incorrigible will be ample proof to every intelligent mind that there is such a thing as becoming established—fixed and immovable—in sin as well as in righteousness. Let us remember the word of the Lord—"For evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and he shall not be there. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."—Psa. 37:9-11.