Question.—What do you understand to be the significance of the statement in Gen. 3:17, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake"?
Answer.—To our understanding the Lord is not here expressing a curse against the ground, bringing a blight upon it, but is merely stating a fact, that the earth at the time was in an accursed or unfit condition for man. He explains that its condition is for man's sake, implying that had it been more favorable for man to have had the earth in a better condition, the Lord would have so arranged matters. In other words, the earth had never been in a perfect condition up to that time, and would not be fully ready for man's occupancy for seven thousand years; but the Lord, foreknowing the fall into sin, and the penalty he would prescribe, arranged that man should be introduced to the earth as a felon, and should, as a culprit, do such penal service in the premises as would not only bring him valuable lessons and experiences, but would be the divine agent for bringing the earth up to the perfection of the Garden of Eden by the time that God foresaw would be the proper period for it to be in such a condition. From this standpoint you perceive that the statement of Genesis has a special force when it says that "God prepared a garden eastward in Eden." Had the whole earth been in a perfect or Edenic condition, [R3032 : page 191] the preparation of the garden for man's use would have been unnecessary; neither would it have been in harmony with divine economy to have first brought the earth to perfection, and then to have blasted and blighted it; rather, by the method adopted, God is showing his foreknowledge of whatsoever has come to pass.
The curse is lifting from the earth, in proportion as man is gaining victories, intellectual and chemical and mechanical, over it, by which he is subduing it. These are under divine guidance, and undoubtedly will greatly increase throughout the Millennial age, and as they increase the curse will to that extent disappear, until by the close of the Millennial age, with human perfection, there will also be earth-perfection.
Question.—To whom or what do you understand our Lord's words in John 12:31; 14:30, to refer? Is not the Diaglott foot-note on this verse a misconception?
Answer.—We understand the "prince of this world" here mentioned to be the same elsewhere denominated, "the prince of the power of the air who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience." From this you will see that we would not at all agree with Wakefield's suggestion, as given in the Diaglott foot-note.
In reference to John 12:30,31, our thought is that the "prince" there referred to is Satan also. Satan and his rulership of disorder and sin had received no particular sentence or rebuke from the Lord up to this time; indeed, the appearances were that either God's law or God's creatures were imperfect, and hence that sin was unavoidable. But when our Lord Jesus, by his obedience and sacrifice, upheld the law, and made it honorable, and proved that it was within the range of a perfect man's ability to keep it, he thereby "condemned sin in the flesh," and, incidentally, condemned Satan's entire rule. And not only so, but by the purchase of the world of mankind with his own life, he secured the legal control of the world, or the right to bring it from under subjection to sin and Satan, back into harmony with God. In this sense of the word "this world," or the order of things then in vogue, and still in vogue with the world, was condemned, sentenced to overthrow, from the time that our Lord Jesus was lifted up, finished his work of redemption, and was accepted of the Father as the purchaser and King of the earth, the Second Adam. "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out:" The casting out of Satan followed the redemptive work by Christ. He is cast out so far as the Church is concerned; for we are not to allow Satan or sin to bear rule in our mortal bodies, but are to esteem ourselves free from his yoke, that we may serve the Lord. Moreover, the influence of the truth is more and more liberating in the world of mankind, breaking the shackles of superstition. But the great overthrow of Satan, and the great liberation of mankind has been delayed, waiting for the gathering out of the elect, the full lifting up of the whole body of Christ. As soon as this is accomplished the sentence upon Satan and his government, passed eighteen-hundred years ago, will go into effect thoroughly. Satan's house and household will be spoiled, wrecked, and a new Prince and his associates will take the Kingdom and possess it forever.
Question.—Do you understand I Tim. 2:15 to be literal?
Answer.—Yes, we understand that the Christian mother may reasonably expect to be saved (preserved) from much of the anguish incident to motherhood;—to this end her mind should rest fully upon the Lord, his love, his care—dread should be dismissed, and thus some of the chief factors of anguish would be removed. Feeling intensifies nearly all the difficulties and trials of life; and with the Christian perfect love for God and the complete realization of the Lord's love for him, should cast out all fear, and produce, instead, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, not only in our hearts, but also in large measure in our flesh.