ANSWER.—We understand this "pure language" to mean a pure method—the pure method of God's plan. The world doesn't know this method now. Only we know what is the pure method. It has brought us life and joy and blessing, and the promise is that in due time He will turn into them all a new method—they will not hear the babble that is now going on. One says: I believe you must get into the water—another says it is free grace, etc., etc. The people have no pure method. Each has a different method. After this great time of trouble, when the whole world will be humbled, then He will turn to the people a pure method. They will not be serving Methodism or some other ism, but will serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
ANSWER.—I don't know. This may be my last day for ought I know. If so, I am in the last day for me. The questioner may mean, Are we in the last days as that expression is used in the Bible? If that is what he means, I think that is the right thought. The Bible uses this term "last days" to refer to the conclusion of this age and the inauguration of the new because this one is to pass away with great commotion and the new order brought in. So the one is represented as being burned up, or destroyed, while the other as the new heavens and new earth will be brought in. The new heavens will be the church in glory and the new earth will be the new social order or condition of things. We are in the last days of the old order, and in the dawning time of the new dispensation.
ANSWER.—This was not Paul's command, for he did not so command. Paul had been teaching the Gentiles that all the regulations of the Law were given to the Jews, and were not upon the Gentiles, but that the Jews were bound by them until they came into Christ. Then there arose a discussion as some came down from Jerusalem and said that they had to be circumcised and keep the law. Then some said Paul tells us [Page Q431] this, and another tells us something else; so they had a general conference to ascertain to what extent the law of the Jews was upon the Gentiles. You remember James was the Chairman, noting God's providential leadings, and then Peter told how the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles. Then the Conference of the Apostles concluded that there were no mandatory laws upon the Gentiles, and that they should not put any upon them. But they said, let us enjoin this upon them rather as a recommendation, that they abstain from things strangled, from fornication, and from meats offered to idols. Why did they make that recommendation? Because they believed that at that time it would be a wiser matter to advise. We would suppose that abstaining from fornication would always be in harmony with God's will. But about meat offered to idols, Paul explains that the idol is nothing but a block of wood or of stone; it had not hurt the meat at all, but if any man would think that it had been hurt, if he had thought that something had happened to the meat, and that he would be dishonoring God if he ate of it, then Paul said: If there be any among you that are weak, and think that it is wrong to eat it, those that are strong should condescend to such an one.
Then as to things strangled. That was a custom among the Jews because blood was a type or symbol of life, and God commanded the Jews not to eat anything strangled. They do not state why they advised it, but they did advise it and they advised it after they had stated there was nothing in the law that was binding on the Gentiles.
Q431:1 QUESTION (1912)—1—"Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself; thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is within thy gate, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God." Please explain this.
ANSWER.—It seems to me that it means what it says. It was said to the Jews, not to us. An animal might die of itself without being put to death and yet not be unfit for food except to those forbidden to eat animal food not specially killed. For instance, an animal might get caught and strangle itself or might fall over a precipice and die without being killed in the manner prescribed to the Jews. That meat might be just as good; it would not produce sickness or death; and, therefore, giving it or selling it to a person not under the Law would not mean injury to him.
ANSWER.—This expression "Putting an end to the law" is one that is apt to be misunderstood. The question might be viewed from various viewpoints. Jesus never put an end to the law in a very important sense of the word. The law is the Father's law. It existed before Jesus came. It still exists. It will always be in existence. Jesus did not put it to an end and never will put it to an end. It is God's law briefly summed up in this: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, mind and strength and thy neighbor as thyself." When will that law be put an end to? Never! Never! We get a little nearer to an [Page Q432] appreciation of it every day. Neither at the Jordan or at Calvary, nor at any time will He ever put an end to that law. What, then, is meant by this expression? Upon the basis of that law as God gave it through Moses to the Israelites was made a covenant, and that covenant was often called the law because it was the law—covenant and consequently this word covenant, because the covenant and the law were so closely associated and vitally connected, was sometimes used when the law was meant, and the word law was used to include the covenant based upon it. It was in this sense that Jesus made an end of the law, that is, the law-covenant or the covenant based upon that law. He made an end of this covenant, and yet, He did not make a full end of the law—covenant even, for, to my understanding, the Jews are still under that lawcovenant, and certain blessings are to come to them in consequence. They are now under the condemnation part of that law-covenant, but, if it were dead, they would not be under its condemnation phase. They could not be under the condemnation of a dead covenant. Jesus therefore made an end simply of the favors, privileges, opportunities granted to the Jews under that covenant. How? By Himself fulfilling all its obligations and Himself thus becoming the Heir of God to the things which the law had promised to the One who would keep it. The whole Jewish nation had an opportunity of becoming heirs of these blessings if they had kept the law, but they failed to keep the law; but Jesus coming in, He kept all its requirements and thereby became Heir and inheritor of all the blessings which that law had promised, and thus He made an end of those blessings, so far as others were concerned; and from that time on no Jew can come in. Jesus got all the blessings. The Jews can get the curse, but not the blessings. Jesus is dividing these blessings with all those who become His disciples. We became joint-heirs with Him to all that inheritance which He inherited by keeping the law. We are unable to keep the law, and these Jews were not able to keep the law, but Jesus kept it and won its blessings, so that we may now become (both Jews and Gentiles) joint-heirs of all the promises made to natural Israel, through faith in the Lord Jesus and becoming members of His body. We come in and we get possession of all these things. What Jesus made an end of then, was, such requirements upon the Jews except certain obligations they had. Then coming under the new arrangement they are liberated from the requirements of the old. For instance, the Apostles coming in, the requirements of the law covenant were no longer binding upon them, when Jesus made the new provision whereby they might enter in. The new provision was to enable them to come in under the new arrangement. The Apostles became dead to the old things of the old arrangement in order that they might become alive to the better things—to God—by choosing to become the disciples of Jesus.
Q432:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—Who was the testator of the (old) Law Covenant? "For where a testament (covenant) is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament (covenant) is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength while the testator liveth." (Heb.9:16,17.) [Page Q433]
ANSWER.—The Apostle's argument here in using these words was particularly respecting our Lord Jesus, and he does not say anything about the Law Covenant. We may not improperly suppose that Moses, as mediator of the Law Covenant was its testator to some extent, and his death was represented in the bulls and goats that were offered back there under the Law Covenant. It was only a typical covenant, and the sacrifices were only typical sacrifices. Our thought would be that if it were applicable at all to Moses, it would be in the sense that these sacrifices represented Moses.
But the force of the Apostle's words in speaking of Jesus as being the testator of the New Covenant is one that it is well to note very closely. While it is not the question here, if you please, I will add a few words on this line which may be helpful to some. Get the thought that under the Law Covenant, God had offered to any Israelite who would keep the Law, all the blessings, and rights, and privileges that belong to a perfect man, so that if any Jew had lived at any time from the institution of the Law Covenant down to the time of Christ, and could have kept the Law, he would have had the right to all that Adam had lost; he would have proved himself to have been a perfect man, and, therefore, would have had the right to everything under that covenant, of everything that Adam had; he would have been worthy to have taken Adam's place. But, we know, as a matter of fact, for over sixteen centuries the Law Covenant was in force, but not a Jew was able to keep the Law, and so Paul said that "through the deeds of the Law, no flesh should be justified." But our Lord Jesus, coming into the world with a special body, a body having been prepared, and that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, was able and did keep the Law, and thus by keeping the Law, He proved Himself to be perfect, and was able to be the ruler of mankind. Did He do this? No. Why not? Because God had a broader and deeper plan. What was it? It was this, that the Lord Jesus should not only demonstrate His worthiness to be a perfect man, but having demonstrated that, He should sacrifice that perfect life, that He should lay all down in death, and this He did. Then, the Scriptures tell us, "God raised him from the dead," as a reward for His obedience. Then He had, so to speak, all the merit, all the virtue, all the value of a perfect human nature at His disposal. All the perfect rights of a perfect man were in His hands, to do with just as He pleased. What did He do with it? He could have applied it for all of the human race, or He could apply it for Adam or for any number of the human race. What did he do? Well, we naturally would have expected Him to have applied it in favor of the Jewish nation—you see He had something to give away. He was going to die, and He was going to give these earthly rights away; He was the testator and He was going to make a will, which represented His earthly life laid down in sacrifice. To whom has He given them? Not to the Jews, as we might have expected, Jesus did not seal the New Covenant with His blood. What did He do with it? He ascended up on High and appeared in the presence of God for us, whosoever would respect Him and come under the conditions and terms of justification and sanctification. He applied the whole of that merit to the Church; He did not seal the covenant at all. [Page Q434]How was He going to use it in the Church? The Scriptures show in the type that the bullock represented the Lord Jesus, and that the High Priest took the blood of the bullock and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat for Himself and His household of faith, all who belong to Him in the true and proper sense of the word. To these, then, He gave the merit of His earthly life. He did not give them a spirit life; He did not give them immortality, but only that which He had to bestow. He had no spirit life to bestow, because it was not spirit life that He had secured by keeping the Law—only earthly rights, and therefore, He had only earthly rights that He could bestow upon anyone. So, when He ascended up on high, He bestowed those rights upon believers who took a certain stand in harmony with His teachings, that, if any would be His disciple, let him take up his cross and follow him—only to such would the full benefit of justification come. Others who failed to make their consecration would fail of receiving the full benefits that had been offered, but those who would come into the right attitude, would have imputed to them the merit of Christ's sacrifice, on condition that they would lay down' their lives. In other words, He gives us the full restitution rights and blessings of perfect manhood, the only thing that He had to give away. So what He gives to you and me as a free gift is justification, on condition that we lay down our lives with Him in sacrifice. Any who will not do that is not included in this class.
The faith comes first, and that is a certain introduction to other blessings and opportunities, but they do not become a fixed matter until the consecration which follows. It is then unchangeable; neither angels nor God can change it after giving His recognition of His spirit. All who receive justification and then the impartation of Holy Spirit at their consecration, which seals them as the lord's people, all such are counted in with Christ in His death. Those are the conditions, those are the terms. Whether members of the Little Flock, they must go into death with Him or if members of the Great Company, they must also go into death—there is nothing else for these, but not all who make the consecration go on and follow in His footsteps, and hence they do not get the same reward. Some hold back and the Scriptures tell us that they will be the Great Company who come up through great tribulation; their flesh will be destroyed that their spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. The restitution blessing that God is giving the Church is not to stay; no, not one particle, but having received it, it is passed through the Church and passed on for further use. It is the same precious blood that He shed and applied to the Church, which the Church passes on, so at the end of this age there is just as much to dispense as there was at the beginning. It was the whole merit which was given to the Church, and when the Church shall have passed beyond the vail, and shall have laid down these justified lives and earth rights, then the New Covenant will be sealed and its benefits applied to the whole world.
So, then, Jesus is the testator of the New Covenant, and when He laid down His life, it was with a view of mediating that covenant, but, instead of doing it at once, He first of all, in harmony with the Father's Plan, gathered out His Church, that we might be members of His Body, participators [Page Q435] with Him in the work of laying down our lives and sharing in this testament.
Paul, in the 11th chapter of Romans, tells us that they shall obtain mercy through your mercy; it will be the mercy of the Father and of the Lord Jesus, but it will be the Father's mercy through Christ, and through the Church. His mercy will proceed until all the families of the earth have received His blessing.
Q435:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—It is generally accepted that all of our Lord's parables were suggested by certain facts. How about that of the "Rich man and Lazarus?" It is the only one founded upon imagination?
ANSWER.—I had never thought of the matter that way before, and I do not know. But, what are you going to do? It is there. If any one takes it as a fact, be has a tough brain. Brother Russell then went on to show how ridiculous the whole parable would be if each item in it were a fact, how that the rich man would be sent to torment simply because he had enough to eat, wore linen and purple, so Brother Russell said according to that, many of us here would have to go to torment, simply because we had enough to eat, had on a clean shirt and wore some purple. Also, in the case of Lazarus, he went to heaven simply because he was full of sores, laid at the king's gate, and had the dogs lick his sores. He then showed that if taken as literal facts, Abraham's arms would soon be full of people full of sores, for he could not hold very many.
ANSWER.—Well, now, I thought that I answered this yesterday. I will repeat. Those who were separated on the night of the Passover, when the destroying angel destroyed all except the first-born that were under the blood, all of these first-born that were separated represented the Church of the First-born whose names are written in heaven, and these firstborns of Israel, according to God's direction, were subsequently exchanged for the whole tribe of Levi; so that the whole tribe of Levi represents the household of faith, or the Church of the First-born. In that tribe of Levi there was a certain special family, or class, selected that were the priestly family, and were representative of that portion of the household of faith, the Church of the First-born, who are to be the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and it leaves all the remainder of the Church of the First-born corresponding to the Levites and antitypical Levites to be the Great Company that follow with the Little Flock of priests and constitute the servants on the spiritual plane.
ANSWER.—The typical Levites were the whole tribe of Levi, a part of which was selected for a little company of priests. In the wilderness of Sinai, the Lord set the Levites apart for His service. (Num. 3:11-16.) Thenceforth, that one tribe represented the first-borns of Israel, who, the [Page Q436] Apostle says, were typical of the Church of the First-born (Heb. 12:23)—typical of the spiritual class.
In the type, the entire tribe of Levi was cut off from having any possession in the land. No title to land was given them; no field was given them. The land was divided amongst the other tribes, but not amongst the Levites. God thus typified the fact that the antitypical Levites would not have an earthly inheritance. All the Gospel Church are called to heavenly conditions; and therefore they are cut off from their earthly rights as men, that they may have the heavenly rights as New Creatures. The Apostle says God has "called us with a holy calling," a "heavenly calling," a "high calling."—2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 3:1; Phil. 3:14.
The tribe of Levi was divided into two classes, a priestly class and a Levitical or servant class. In the antitype are two classes on the spirit plane—the Royal Priesthood, composed of Christ and the Church, His Bride; and also the servant class, "the virgins, her companions, who follow her," and who are to enter into the King's Palace with rejoicing. As these do not come up to the high standard required for admission into the Bride class, they are not counted worthy of being in this class who are presented unto the King "in raiment of needlework." Nevertheless, they must all be grand characters, worthy to receive palm branches, indicating their victory over sin and all evil.—Psa. 45:13-15; Rev. 7:9-17.
ANSWER.—I do not remember anything particularly stated about the Levites being in the court on the Day of Atonement. I should think quite probably they were. I do not remember any prohibition of their being in the court. The Levites we see represent two pictures. We are keeping a Levitical attitude toward God when approaching Him and willing to do any kind of service, and we say, Yes, if you have something to do I would like to have a share. Are you consecrated, brother? No, not consecrated, this brother might say, but I am sympathetic with what you are doing. Well, in a figurative way he stands related to those who are consecrated and who are sacrificing. He is not one of those necessarily who will ultimately be of the Levite class. Those ultimately of the Levite class, have the future advantage also, such as have made a covenant with the Lord and they have failed to fully keep it, but in the present time all of those who will make the covenant at all are called priests. There is no Levite class recognized in this distinction at the present time, and anybody who is sympathetic with the Lord's work and comes in and does a kind of sympathetic work, tentatively or temporarily, occupies the place of the Levites. So in this sense of the word we may be said to be in the position of Levites up to the time that we accept the Lord's arrangement and make our full consecration.
ANSWER.—We understand, first, that the antitype of the Jewish priests is Jesus, the High Priest, and the Church, the [Page Q437] "little flock," the under priests. The Great Company class, as it will eventually be, is the antitype of the Levites. Their relationship to the Bride class is that of "the virgins her companions that follow her" (Psa. 45:14). The work of the Great High Priest will be that of teaching and healing. The high priest's work in olden times, after his work of atonement, was to heal diseases and give instructions to the people; and the under priests were associated with the high priest and under his direction. Then came in the Levites, to do a less important part of that great work. So we understand that during the Millennial Age the Great Company class will have a great work—not so important as that of the Church, but a secondary work, more of a servant work, though honorable.
Our idea of their work is this: The high priests, you know, will be small in number in comparison—only 144,000. When we compare that number with the world's population since Adam—twenty thousand millions—it would be a good many for each one of the Bride class to care for. Apparently many more than that number will be necessary. Every individual of the Royal Priesthood is to have the honor of managing and instructing, and we understand that the Great Company will be their instruments and assistants in connection with all this work.
Let us illustrate: There are vast numbers of people in a large city to be governed. There is a mayor at the head of the city. Then there are the police judges coming next. In New York City there are a great many police judges. Then there are many thousands of policeman. The police judges do not go out and try to attend to everything throughout the city. But the policemen are on the street corners and along their beat. They are on the street-crossings, attending to the traffic, on congested streets guarding pedestrians from being run over, seeing that the law is not infracted, making necessary arrests, etc. These policemen report to the police judges. Thus the city's government is carried on. Certain important matters might come directly to the mayor, and not be dealt with by any others.
Now all this, to our mind, furnishes a sort of illustration of how Christ will be the great Ruler, or King, corresponding to the Mayor in our figure. All the saints, the Bride class, will be under kings, corresponding to the police judges. They will be rulers and priests, having authority—ruling over two cities or five cities or ten cities, as Jesus parabolically represented the matter (Luke 19:17). But ruling over these would mean that they would have individual inspection of every case. Suppose some one were about to shoot another. The ruling judges would not take personal cognizance of each offender, because there might be many trying to do wrong at the same time. Therefore it would be necessary to have somebody to look out for each of these.
It is so now with the saints. You know that each one of the Church is guarded by holy angels. "Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14.) They are looking out for our interests, and are reporting us if we are not in the right way. They give us blessings and assistances according to our need, shielding us from harm; or if the report be for wrong-doing, we are given certain stripes and punishments.[Page Q438] So "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them" (Psa. 34:7).
With the world in the next age, the Lord's power will be represented through the Great Company class, under the Bride. They will be a great police force, looking out for the whole people. They will have a big job; for God has guaranteed that "nothing shall hurt or offend in all His holy Mountain"—Kingdom (Isa. 11:9). That will mean a careful supervision. Yes, indeed! How will they hinder wrongdoing? If a person were about to speak blasphemy or slander, the tongue might be instantly paralyzed. Very easy! A policeman right on the spot!—not waiting until the offender had done the mischief and then punishing him, but fixing him so that he will not get the chance to do it, and punishing him for trying to do so.
You may ask, "Brother Russell, what about those who try to do good?" There will be a great blessing for every one doing a good deed, a kind deed. They will get a blessing at once. All who come into harmony with the laws of the Kingdom will be rising up and rising up all through the Millennial Age, until all the willing and obedient will be restored. This will come through the agencies God is now preparing—Christ the High Priest, and the Church, the under priests, under kings, under judges, of the world. The Great Company class will be the instructors of the world under the Bride class. Then on the earthly plane, will be the Ancient Worthies, to do a certain work of judging and directing, making known to mankind the conditions of the Kingdom. These will be human, visible to men, serving under the invisible, spiritual guides.
All this great provision to handle the twenty thousand millions of mankind! Won't it all be fine! There will be a host when all are awakened from the tomb! "But how do you know this? Is there Scripture for it?" Someone will ask. Yes, right to the point. It reads like this: "When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). The judgments of the Lord will then be everywhere. Just as soon as anything wrong is intended—not committed, but intended—the punishment will follow prompt and sure. There might be a temptation to do wrong, but if resisted it will not be sin. But any evil planned and purposed will meet swift retribution. This, we understand, will he the rule that will obtain all over the earth, bringing blessings to every well-doer and punishment to every intentional evil-doer.
As the number of the Bride of Christ is to be 144,000, it would be reasonable to think that each member of this class may have 144,000 to look after, as 144,000 x 144,000 equals 20,736,000,000 (twenty billion, seven hundred and thirty six millions). Evidently just about the right number to be cared for—couldn't fix it better myself. Now 144,000 would he quite a host for each individual of the Bride class to look after. So we can see the necessity for the work of the Great Company and the Ancient Worthies.
ANSWER.—If any fail to attain perfect life, they will attain to second death. This is my understanding. I understand this is God's law and nobody will ever be acceptable [Page Q439] to the Father except they come up to the standard of that law. "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself." That is the simplest and slightest obedience that the Lord will accept. If you and I do not come up to that standard you and I will not get perfect life. How can we do that? Will all the world in the Millennial Age attain to that standard? Yes. That will be the work of the Millennial Age. Every one who will be worthy of eternal life will be worthy of that perfection. God does not have different standards. This is the standard of all creation. No angel will be granted eternal life with the Lord unless they have this perfection. As for the world of mankind, they will all have to reach that standard, full love for God and for their neighbor. But, you say, here we are with our misshapen heads—how can we get there? You are not on trial according to your flesh. You are on trial as a new creature. If we do not learn our lessons as new creatures we will not be fit for graduation when the time comes. If we do not let the Lord develop this character in us we will not be fit for life on any plane. There are certain principles the Lord lays down, and if we are to have eternal life at all we have to get it on these principles. He is not dealing with us after the, flesh, but after the spirit. Our hearts, our wills, our intentions, our endeavors, will be to manifest that perfect love for God and for our fellow creatures. Suppose in my imperfection I do something unkind. Just as soon as the New Creature finds this out as a new creature I must go and make it right. But, you say, "Suppose pride in my heart will not enable me?" Then you are not the kind He is looking for. If you have done something amiss and have been angry with a brother or sister, go to the Lord and confess your fault. If you are solely His you will want to do those things that are pleasing to Him. Get the principle fixed; to what extent is my heart loyal to God, to the Word of God and to righteousness? While we are natural men we cannot help having these imperfections. One time in Allegheny after I had been preaching about speaking no evil, showing how contrary it is to the Lord's will and to the admonitions of His Word, a certain sister said, as she shook my hand, "Brother Russell, I am so glad you preached that, for it is just what is needed," and before she let go of my hand she began to speak evil. The poor sister was doing the best she could and I thought the poor sister will gradually learn. She approved of the things she had heard and she thought she was applying them most thoroughly. If sometimes you find some of the brothers and sisters do not appreciate some of the higher principles, remember the Apostle says God hath chosen the mean things of the world. They are not all mean—some of the Lord's people are the noblest people in the world, but "Not many mighty not many noble are called," but chiefly the mean things. And do not be too sure that you have not some of the meanness yourself. Be very sympathetic and glad if you see your brothers and sisters are getting the advantage over the old creature. It is the old creature that He accepted that is mean. The transforming grace of the heart, the new creature, is proving more and more what is that good and acceptable will of God. I sometimes give the example of a scale, beginning with zero. Some have 40, some 50, some 20, some [Page Q440] 30, and some only a tenth of the perfection belonging to a perfect human being. Now when these consecrate, whatever they may be, the Lord agrees to take them and He gives them sufficient grace. Suppose a man is only rated at fifty, or seventy, or here is one with only thirty marks. The Lord makes up the other 70 per cent. His grace is sufficient—sufficient for the needs of each one that He receives. The Lord's grace is sufficient and makes up for every deficiency. He is going to judge you at what your heart or intention is. Your will must never be at the 90 or 50 mark. Your intention must be at the hundred mark, and if you are doing his will to the best of your ability it is counted to you for a hundred and you are His and in full fellowship with Him. That 100 mark means a perfect heart. But the Lord requires more of us than He will require of the world. He requires that we love him with all our mind and strength and our neighbor as ourself, but He will require this of the world also. You say how can He ask more? He is asking more of you and of me. How? Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you." You are to deal with your neighbor as with yourself. You are not to give all that you have or sacrifice your own interest and go without yourself. But when it comes to the Lord's disciples it is a different matter. It meant the sacrifice of our Lord's life. We have got to love one another as He loved us. You have bound yourself by that arrangement and you cannot be one of the little flock unless you are a sacrificer. Every one who is of that little flock is a sacrificing priest, so if you belong to the Royal Priesthood you will be sacrificers.
ANSWER.—I answer that these terms "everlasting" and "eternal," as used in the Scriptures, are not used with that same exactness that the writer here seems to infer. The general thought of the Scriptures would seem to be not eternal life, but everlasting life, if you are going to make a distinction between them. But the majority of people do not make a distinction between them, and consider that if they say eternal life, they mean life that lasts forever; and if they say everlasting life they also mean that life which lasts forever; so with that definition they are right anyway. But if you are going to add to the word "eternal" life something that means immortal life, then it is a mistake. It would not be proper to use it with that thought in mind; the world is not to have immortality, but the world is to have everlasting life, or, in that sense of the word, eternal or unending life.
ANSWER.—Again we are not sure what the questioner had in mind. We have said in volume one that all life is the same. Life is life. God has life. Angels have life. Man has life. Beasts have life. Birds and fishes have life. So, of course, Jesus had the same life as He had before. The nature is different, and so God has life on the divine plane [Page Q441] or nature. The cherubim have life on their own plane, angels on theirs, man on his, and beasts, etc., on theirs. Each has life according to its nature. Suppose the questioner meant, Does Jesus have the same nature and life on the same plane as before? Our answer would be, No. "He was put to death in the flesh and was quickened, or made alive, in the spirit." He was a spirit being with a spirit nature and therefore had a spirit life after his resurrection; on the other hand he had human nature with human power and with human life when He was the man Jesus. As the Logos or mouthpiece of God, He had a spirit life. After this He came into the world to sacrifice Himself. When He had sacrificed Himself He had finished the work the Father had given Him to do. The Father then raised Him up from the dead, and He showed this change in appearing in various forms, manifesting that He was a spirit being with a different nature. He did not manifest Himself as a man, but after His resurrection manifested Himself as a spirit being and at the same time showed the change from human to divine nature.
Q441:1 QUESTION (1912-Z)—1—Will restitution include the right to everlasting life, or will the right to everlasting life be determined by the final testing that will come at the end of the Millennial Age?
ANSWER.—Perfection was given to Adam originally; and by virtue of his perfection he had a right to continue to live, if he were obedient. But as God saw fit to test Father Adam, so He will test the human family. And the final test, after the Kingdom shall have been turned over to the Father, will be by way of testing their worthiness to attain these liferights and to keep them everlastingly. The thousand years of Christ's reign will be for bringing mankind to perfection. At the end of that reign those who have reached perfection will be delivered over to the Father. The New Covenant will have accomplished for them all that it was intended to accomplish. But before God determines them worthy of the fulness of His everlasting life, He will see that all are tried individually and without any Mediator between. We may be sure that the test will be a crucial and a just one.
ANSWER.—This is a case of adoption as far as the earth is concerned. They were children of Adam and Christ proposes to give them a life in place of the one they lost through Adam. They are not begotten in the sense that we are begotten; their promise is of restitution to that which they lost through Adam. The second Adam is to take the place of the first Adam. They get the life Christ laid down for the world, otherwise there would not have been any for them.
ANSWER.—We give up our life rights at consecration. That is the principal thing that you give up. You give what you have, and what you have is very little—what anybody has is very little. But God has provided in Christ for every member of the race earthly life-rights through Jesus, and these belong to you in a reckoned sense from the time you believe in Jesus and understand that God has a restitution plan for mankind. You might say to yourself, and I might say to myself, "Oh, I have a little life now, very little indeed, but God's provision through the Redeemer is that I shall have a future human life. This will he imputed to me now through God's mercy, that I may give up all that I have. I give up what I have a right to now, and all of these rights of mine that would belong to me if I had maintained my human nature, and claimed my rights as a human being, under the general merit of Christ's sacrifice." So we give up all our life rights the moment we consecrate—the present life and that which is to come. When did Jesus give up his life rights, at Jordan, at Calvary, or at Pentecost? Jesus gave up his life rights at Jordan. He gave everything into the Father's hands. "Lo, I come to do thy will, everything written in the book." He held nothing back, everything was given up.
ANSWER.—Our Lord was rich and for our sakes became poor (2 Cor. 8:9) by exchanging the heavenly rights and perfection for the earthly rights and perfection. This exchange was not a sacrifice [not an offering]; for it was the man Christ Jesus who became a ransom. There is no statement in the Scriptures that He sacrificed any pre-human rights. He did, however, resign these for the "joy that was set before Him."—Heb. 12:2.
The rights that man needs are earthly rights, human rights; and it is those rights that Jesus redeems through giving His earthly life sacrificially. As a spirit being He could not have sacrificed the rights of a spirit being; for there were no spirit beings condemned to death. It was the man Adam whom He was to redeem. "Since by man came death, by man comes also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive."—1 Cor. 15:21,22.
Q442:2 QUESTION (191l-Z)—2—How shall we distinguish between the merit of Christ which He will appropriate for the sins of the world, and the life-right of Christ which He will give for the sins of the world?
ANSWER.—Our Lord's righteousness on the human plane of course appertained to Him while He was a man. He has no righteousness as a man' now. He has merely the credit of that righteousness in the Father's sight, in the sight of Justice, constituting a merit which is to be appropriated to the world in due time, but which is loaned to the Church during the Gospel Age.
The human life-rights Jesus had need for up to the moment, He died. In dying He committed them to the [Page Q443] Father, according to the Father's arrangement. He said, "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11.) When a man, those life-rights were His to use; but He does not need them now; for He has better rights. But He has a right to human life, which He does not need personally—but which He needs in order to give for the world of mankind, that they may have life everlasting if they will.
The Lord is to be viewed from the standpoint of His own personality. First of all, He was a spirit-being; secondly, He was made flesh—holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; third, for permitting the earthly life to be taken from Him, God rewarded Him personally with a high exaltation.—Phil. 2:9.
God has arranged that this glorious Personage shall do certain things for the world of mankind. The power to do these things lies in the fact that He still has a right to earthly life, which He does not need. He holds it over to give to the world in the Millennial Age, gradually, as they will come into harmony with the terms of the New Covenant. He imputes now a share of that value to such as desire to become his members—to cover their blemishes and make their sacrifices acceptable to the Father.
Christ's merit was in doing the will of the Father. That merit the Father rewarded with the new nature on the other side of the veil. And, of course, that merit still persists; and He will always have, in God's sight, a personal merit, irrespective of anything that He may do for mankind. Therefore we cannot suppose that He would give away His Merit; in that case He would be left without merit. But having obtained His reward, He has a right to human life, which is so recognized by God. And this constitutes a thing of merit in God's sight—a value for the redemption of Adam and his children—his purchase-price, so to speak. This He is to use for the world shortly and this He is now imputing to us.
ANSWER.—Since God purposes to give eternal life only to those who are perfect, and since we of Adam's race are all imperfect, therefore, we had no life-rights to sacrifice. But Jesus appeared as our Advocate and purposes to help us if we are desirous of becoming followers in His steps, and thus of being sharers with Him in His sacrifice and afterwards in the glories of His Kingdom.
To enable us to do this, He purposes to make up for us a sufficiency of His merit to compensate for all of our blemishes and defects. But we do not present this merit imputed to us by our Lord. Our whole part is faith that our great Advocate is able to make up for our shortcomings. He makes up that which is imperfect, and then offers us in sacrifice; and the Father accepts the sacrifice. Really, we never had any life-rights to sacrifice.
ANSWER.—That which we speak of as the life-right of the great Redeemer is, we understand, that which is typified by the blood of Atonement. According to the type, in the end of this antitypical Day of Atonement, that blood of Atonement will be applied to Justice on behalf of the whole world of mankind and will be accepted on their behalf—that is to say, as the Apostle expresses it, "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (Heb. 2:17.) As soon as the people shall have been released from their death-condemnation they will be in a position to begin to receive blessings, but not before. As the great High Priest, our Lord undertakes, at the close of the Gospel Age, to seal with the Blood of Atonement a New Covenant between God and the seed of Abraham, natural Israel; and He, together with the "Church, which is His Body," undertakes to stand as the Mediator of that Covenant. All who come into full accord with that Law will have eternal life. Through all those years the Mediator will merely carry out the provisions of that Covenant, which promises that they shall have the privileges of Restitution. If they avail themselves of the opportunity they shall have eternal life.
At that time, the right to human life will have passed out of the hands of our Lord as Redeemer, and will all, thenceforth, be represented in the Covenant itself, which guarantees all the things that God declared man should have. The stony heart of mankind will give place to a heart of flesh; and all who will live up to the terms of this Covenant shall have eternal life. During the Millennial Age the New Covenant will represent the life-rights laid down by our Lord. Whoever fails to observe that Law will receive chastisements. By this arrangement Christ, as Mediator of the New Covenant, will for a thousand years dispense the blessings. During this Gospel Age our Lord keeps the right to life under His own control in order to give it to Justice as the ransom-price for the world's sins, for the redemption of the world. As soon as He sums up this right at the end of this Age, Justice relinquishes it, and mankind receives it, as shown foregoing.
ANSWER.—If our Lord Jesus did not possess the right to earthly life as an asset, in order to give that right to Adam and his race during the Millennial reign, then He could not properly be spoken of as the Father of that race. He could not regenerate the race unless He had a life to give, an earthly life.
ANSWER.—The answer all depends on the mind and viewpoint of the writer of this question. Jesus has this merit already spoken of, but He is never to give His merit to anybody. He is not to give His merit as the Son of God. If he were to give away His merit in this sense He would have none for Himself. The thought underlying this question may be all right, however. That sacrifice which He made and finished at Calvary was a special offering to Himself, [Page Q445] and on account of that He received this higher nature. He laid down His earthly nature and this is counted to Him as an asset in His favor. It all depends on the use of the word "nature." This earthly nature or life he laid down and it is intended to be given as the Ransom Price for the whole world as soon as Jesus gets ready to take over the world, but this is not just yet. "The world lieth in the Wicked One" still. The world would not still be lying in the wicked one if it is the case, as some tell us, that Jesus has applied His merit. When the proper time comes He will take His great power, and when He is ready to bless He will then make the application of His merit or the merit of His earthly life-rights on behalf of all mankind, all flesh. Then the blessings will begin to "all flesh" as the Kingdom will be the source of the channel of all the blessings. This is not yet applied to the world. They are still the children of wrath, but they will not be the children of wrath after the application of His merit. Afterwards, they will all be turned over to Christ, and then Justice will merely look at Jesus and not at mankind at all. Then at the close of one thousand years Jesus will step aside and lay all the people in the hands of His Father, for when He has done that they will be able to stand in the presence of God at that time.
ANSWER.—Substantially so! Jesus has two life-rights. He has a life-right as a man. He laid down his earthly life; it was not taken from Him. He laid it down in harmony with the Divine arrangement: "Even unto Death." That which He laid down is still His. Suppose I lay down my book here on the table and let it remain there for a time, it is still mine and I am at perfect liberty to come and take up my book again. Am I not? Jesus did not forfeit His life. He merely laid it down of Himself. "I have the authority to lay it down and to receive it again." When the time came for His resurrection from the dead, He received life on the highest plane, as a Son of God on the Divine Plane. That was the reward for the laying down of His life. This was a "reward life." This was the Gift of God to Him. This was the reward of His obedience even unto death. He still had the right to earthly life, but He was given the Divine life as a reward. While He has this Divine life He has also this earthly right to an earthly life, and He has this to dispose of as He wills. It is in the hand of God. "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." Did He apply it to anyone? No! Jesus has His earthly rights still, as also has He the Divine Life. His earthly life-rights He intends to give to the world. The very object of God making this arrangement was that He might give these earthly life-rights to Adam and his children. Not now though! He is now selecting the Church, the Lamb's Bride. With regard to the others, Jesus becomes the "Guarantor" of all of us who come to the Father by Him. He is so to all who have presented their bodies "Living Sacrifices." He accepts and presents these as His Members through His own merit. There is a difference between the imputation and the giving of the merit. If you were to ask me for some money and I endorsed a check for you, you could present [Page Q446] that check at the bank and receive the money for it. So then, it might be said, that has been done with regard to the merit of Jesus. He endorses or imputes the merit of His perfect ability to us, and thus we can present ourselves holy and acceptable before God.
ANSWER.—No, Adam has no life-rights at present, neither has anyone of his children except those few who have accepted Christ in the real sense of the word. "He who hath the Son hath Life." There are no life-rights except for those who have accepted Christ and have come under His conditions. Even the Ancient Worthies have no life-rights yet, and when the due time comes they will be the first to receive the blessings and come into harmony with God, and they will not get their life-rights until the end of the thousand years. All will get their life-rights at the end of these thousand years. The Lord Jesus had His part in making us ready, but it is God, the Judge, who is the one who gives the eternal life. He is the Father of all who will he His children. Therefore, there are no life-rights for Adam or his children at present. Provision is only in the course of being made, and the Great Plan is being surely unfolded and developed and finished. The time will come when the words "Come ye blessed of My Father" will sound forth, and then those in harmony will get their life-rights. Again I say that Adam has no life-rights at present, but the time is coming for him and his children.
ANSWER.—Not at all! Adam had no life-rights to impute. All were forfeited. Not a particle of life-right was left to Adam and, therefore, there was nothing for him to impute or impart to anyone. Not having them for himself it is a moral certainty that he could not impute them to any other one.
Q446:3 QUESTION (1913)—3—Is it correct to say that our Lord will lift the condemnation from off the human race, that the life and life-rights lost in Adam might be restored to them, or is it more, correct to say that these were lost forever through Adam's sin and that the Christ, as the second Adam, will give life and life-rights to the race?
ANSWER.—I think it would make very little difference either way. We may speak of the matter as a resurrection or as a new creation. In one sense it is really a new creation, and in another sense it is a raising up of things that were formerly there. In one sense it is to give back that which Adam lost, and in another sense Adam lost his forever. So it is very much tweedledeedee, tweedledeedum.
ANSWER.—A person might have a right to live by being in harmony with God; for God has ordained that all of [Page Q447] His intelligent creatures may continue to live if they live in harmony with His Divine Law and its requirements. A right to live, therefore, was the privilege of Father Adam in the beginning. He had a right to life and he would not have forfeited that right had he not sinned. He came into the world, but also after He became the Man Jesus, He had a right to life. It was because of this right that He would be able to lay down His life sacrificially on behalf of Adam and his race. After He had made His consecration at baptism, He no longer had the right to live as a man'; for He had given up that right to live. But having been begotten by the Holy Spirit, He had a right to life as a New Creature, spiritually begotten, unless He should make failure by violating some Divine Law or by violating His own contract, or covenant. The world of mankind will have the right to live after the Millennial Age, after they shall have reached perfection, shall have been delivered over to the Father and He shall have accepted them. They will then have the same right to life that Father Adam had at first, before he sinned.
"Life-rights." This term we may use in different ways. Applying it to the Lord Jesus Christ as having life-rights, for instance, we may say, while He had consecrated His life as a man, He had done nothing really to forfeit that life. He had agreed to lay it down; it was rightfully His; else He would not have had the right to use it again for others. He maintained the right because of His personal righteousness. Therefore He still possessed a right to human life, because this life which He was permitting to be taken, He had not forfeited. He still has the life-rights of a human being, although He has no need of human life or life-rights now for Himself; since He has something so much better, and since He could not use two lives at the same time. He has Divine life-rights; but He still maintains his human life-rights; and these He is about to dispose of, to give as a Ransom-price, as a full offset for Adam and all that was lost through him.
ANSWER.—I answer that the proof would be on the other side. What Scriptures have we to prove that Jesus had the divine nature before He became flesh? We answer there are no Scriptures to prove that He had the divine nature before he came in the flesh, but we have logic to prove that He did not have the divine nature. The logic of the matter is this: That the divine nature is the very highest of all natures, is immortal, cannot suffer and cannot die; that it needs no support, no sustenance of any kind. Now if our Lord Jesus had had what we understand to be the divine nature, immortality, then He could not have died, and what would have been the use of coming into the world to die if He could not die? So you see the logic of the matter says that He was not possessed of the divine nature, and there is nothing in the Scriptures to show that He was possessed of the divine nature. Therefore it is proper for us to understand that this nature was the great blessing and reward the Father gave Him, as the Scriptures particularly say. He humbled Himself, took upon Himself a bondman's [Page Q448]form, was made in fashion a man, humbled Himself unto the death of the cross, wherefore,—on this account,—God has highly exalted Him. Now, if our Lord had the divine nature before, which is the very highest of all natures, how could the Father have highly exalted Him after His obedience even unto death? It would be merely bringing Him back to what He had before. It would be no superior exaltation. And the Scriptures practically say that it was because He was obedient that God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above every other name.
ANSWER.—In olden times when they wore flowing garments, girdles were constantly worn for two purposes; one was to gird up their garments—as, for instance, we sometimes sing, "Gird thy bridal robes around thee." The girdle, therefore, was useful in keeping the garments in their proper place, or position, so that they would not be disordered in appearance, nor cause one to trip and fall. Then, secondly, the girdle was used for its effect upon the loins during active labor. For instance, when one was engaged in a strenuous occupation, such as lifting a heavy weight or carrying a heavy burden or running a race, the muscles of the abdomen would play an important part.
Even in speaking we find the muscles of the abdomen contract, and thus give us the more force and strength of voice. In any kind of manual labor this is found to be the case, and these muscles become comparatively rigid. It is the custom, therefore, among workmen, even today, to wear a belt. When they have particularly severe tasks they take another "hitch" in their belt—that is, they pull it up a few notches more, making it a little tighter around the waist, the object being to support the muscles of the abdomen and to enable them to accomplish more labor with less fatigue; and when they are at rest they slacken the belt.
This seems to be the special thought of the Apostle here—"Gird up the loins of your mind." As there are loins in the body and they have their important part to perform and we strengthen them in time of exercise, or necessity, so with our minds. We who have devoted ourselves to be the Lord's people, to do this service, realize that our minds need to be strengthened. We need to be of good courage. We need to be fortified against all disposition to lassitude.
When we undertake to gird up the loins of our minds it signifies that we have determined upon a course of activity; that rest and ease are put aside and that we are now engaging in an important work which we realize requires all the strength that we possess. The Christian has a great task before him, to lay down his life in the Lord's service, to accomplish all that he may be able to accomplish in respect to the use of opportunities which the Lord has provided us as his servants, his followers, that we may have a good report to give when he calls us to render our account; that we may say, Thou gavest me two talents and I have gained, two; or, thou gavest me five talents and I have gained beside, other five.
ANSWER.—I understand that agape love refers to love of the broadest kind. We love the brethren with the Philadelphia love because they are brethren. We may not love their peculiarities, we may not love all their features, but we love them as brethren, whether black or white, bond or free, because they are brethren, comrades in the same race. But as we get agape love, it means that we love all the others.
ANSWER.—It is possible for every human being to reach that mark, and more than that, every individual who will ever get eternal life, either as a member of the little flock, or great company, or of the restitution class, whoever will receive eternal life on any plane will have to come to that place or mark of perfect love; because God will not give eternal life to any others. The law of love is the least thing that God will recognize. According to the spirit, you are under the law, and you are obliged to live up to everything in the spirit that the Jew was commanded to do in the flesh. You remember how it reads that, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and strength." Won't a little less than that do? No. Oh, but I have weaknesses of the flesh and cannot do the things that I would. Well, the Apostle said that the Lord is not judging us now according to the flesh, but according to the sentiments of our hearts. If it is full of love for the Lord, all your soul, mind, and strength, then you are up to that feature of the perfect mark. You cannot do more if you like, and you cannot do less. If your heart is not all of that you will not be of the Little Flock or Great Company, but such will go into the second death. All must come up to this standard in their hearts, or they will all die the second death.
What about the second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself?" It relates to mankind. How? Get the best of him in a trade or take advantage of him? No. You must treat him as you would want him to treat you. That would not mean, however, that you must exercise your judgment for him. If he thinks his farm is better than yours and you make a trade, you both go into it with your eyes open, but to take advantage of another would not be loving as you should. The Church must do more than that. How? This way, my dear brother: The law never requires sacrifice on your part, simply love your neighbor as yourself, but what the Father requires of those who will be Members of the Body of Christ requires more than that; namely, that you sacrifice your earthly rights and lay them down. Jesus did it and it was more than the law required. He laid down in sacrifice His earthly rights, His interests. Oh, well, you say, we sacrifice our earthly interests, but we do not think them worth much. That is right, but you must sacrifice them.
ANSWER.—The Lord, you remember, said, "If ye love Me keep My commandments," and if we are thus abiding in His love now, my dear friends, that tells us that if we abide in His love we will abide in the Father's love.
I love you and I wish you to know that. I love you and think this love is mutual in all the members of the Bride of Christ. It could not be otherwise. How could we love Him who begat and love not also those who are begotten of Him? (1 John 5:1.) As each one loves more and more the spirit of the Master, we will be bound to more and more love each one; until we all get perfected beyond the vail when our love for each other will be absolutely complete.
ANSWER.—The Apostle tells us right in that same connection saying, "we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethreN'. That is a very essential test, dear brethren, and it is one that we do well to keep in mind. If we lose love for the brethren it is not a favorable sign; if we never have love for the brethren it is not a favorable sign. The best sign is that you love all other children of God, no matter what their color or sex or position in life, rich or poor, bond or free; if you love the Lord you must love all those whom He loves and has chosen. We all belong to the Lord and every member of the Lord's family must be loyal to every other member of His family. We must have the Spirit of the Master, and to have this we must love all those who are begotten of God. Everyone that loveth Him who begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him. (John 5:1.)
ANSWER.—Fear is a mental condition which is begotten of uncertainty. There are some things which we ought to fear, and some which we need not fear. The Adversary seems to take advantage of the fallen condition of the race, and to cause them to fear. Mankind realize instinctively that they are sinners by nature and that there is a penalty for sin. Taking advantage of this fear of the consequences of sin, the Adversary tries to instill in them a dread of God. He pictures before their imperfect minds a God who is unjust, over severe in His dealings with sin and the sinner, for whom He has prepared a place of everlasting torture.
As we gradually come to a clear knowledge of God and of the principles by which He regulates the universe, we lose this improper fear; and in its stead comes a love for God and a realization that He has love for us. Our love for Him grows in proportion as we perceive that He loves mankind, and has made provision for them whereby they may have an opportunity for everlasting life. After we have come to love Him perfectly, all fear in the sense of dread is cast out.
Our knowledge and love should not, however, cast out the fear of displeasing God for proper fear (reverence) must never be cast out. The more we have of reverential love, the more of the proper fear we shall have. Who would not fear[Page Q451] to offend a brother or a neighbor whom he loved and appreciated? Much more should we dread offending our just, wise, loving God.
The principle that "perfect love casteth out fear" should operate between husband and wife, between parents and children. The wife who fears her husband cannot be as happy as she would be if there were perfect love; and so also children who are in dread of either, or both, of their parents cannot love them with true filial affection. Each should fear to wound or offend the other, and should strive to have that perfect love which God is pleased to have all of His intelligent creatures exercise.
ANSWER.—Our word lust has changed its meaning a great deal. In the Greek it has a much wider meaning. Today it is generally restricted to mean immoral desires, fleshly desires. In the original it means any earthly desires, for instance, the lust for power.
ANSWER—The Law given to the Israelites by the Lord, through Moses as the Mediator for that nation, was designed to emphasize and impress the lesson of the Divine principle of JUSTICE on the minds of the people. All through that wonderful system of laws this principle is boldly prominent. Justice is inexorable, demanding an exact equivalent for the thing that is lost or injured by a violation of the principles of righteousness. The scales must balance perfectly. Just as the laws of the material or natural realm are fixed and absolute—and any violation of these laws of nature must exact the penalty—so also in the moral realm. As surely as cause and effect are related, so any violation of the principles of righteousness demands a recompense and the penalty is exacted. There is no escape. Let no one deceive himself on this point. If one wilfully injures [Page Q799] another, he has to the same extent injured himself. The law of action and reaction operates in the moral realm just as positively as in the arrangements of the material universe. He is happiest who observes the principles of righteousness most fully, and he is unhappiest who violates them most. It follows, therefore, that love is the fulfilling of the Law. Love for the Lord would prompt one to be obedient to His just commands, and love for the neighbor would induce one to do good unto all men as the opportunities were presented. This great truth was beautifully set forth by the Master and His Apostles. See Matt. 22:37-40, and Rom. 13:10. And yet how few are observing this rule! Consequently, how much unhappiness there is in the world!
ANSWER—The Lord Jesus declared that Satan told the fist lie, saying, "He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:44.) The first lie told was by Satan in Eden when he said to Mother Eve, "Ye shall not surely die." (Gen. 3:4.) This was false because a contradiction to God's plain statement, "Thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:17.) It may truly be said that all the false doctrines of "Heathendom" and "Christendom" have had their foundation in this falsehood told by Satan. Satan's falsehood was the cause of the disobedience of the first man which resulted in the sentence of Adam to death, and which death sentence by inheritance has passed upon all of his offspring. (Rom. 5:12.) Ananias was an offspring of Adam. He was born under the condemnation of death, shapen in sin and brought forth in iniquity. (Psa. 2:5.) (Psa. 51:5) Therefore, the natural tendency was downward, hence all who would be honest and upright must fight against evil.
ANSWER—To live is to possess sentient being; to be capable of consciousness, joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain. Life, in its highest sense, is known as immortality. Immortality signifies inherent life, a life not sustained by outside supplies, conditions or influence, but life possessed in one's self. Life possessed in this sense belonged originally to God alone, but it has been given by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ; and He promises this life to His faithful Church, His Bride, His companions in Kingdom glory. However, life in an inferior sense is the possession of the angels through the grace of the Creator, who is pleased that they shall enjoy it everlastingly in harmony with His will. Eternal life is preferred to mankind in general; it will be granted to so many of Adam's race as shall ultimately, under the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom, be recovered completely from the imperfections of sin and death, and who shall maintain that perfection by continued obedience [Page Q800] to the Divine requirements. All who sin after receiving full light, shall not live.
Q800:1 QUESTION—Would not the teaching of a future probation tend to make the people careless and sinful in this life, and knowing that they were to have a second chance in the life to come? (Dubious)
ANSWER—Not nearly as much as to teach that a hardened wretch by a deathbed confession would immediately be ushered into Heaven! Besides, a future probation would not signify a "second chance," save for a limited few, the Church of Christ, now being selected out of the world (Acts 15:14) to be the Bride, the Lamb's Wife. Most of the criminals inhabiting the jails and prisons of our land are, or were, members of some religious system that taught the sinner-hardening doctrine of eternal torment. Did the falseaching defer them from committing crime? Those who believe that the Creator is a God of love, and mercy, and justice, and that He has arranged seasons of blessings for the world in the coming age, when mankind is to have its only chance of salvation, are invariably ennobled, and elevated to a higher plane of morality, with greater reverence for their Creator, a God, whom to know, is to love. The truth sanctifies, while the error debases.
ANSWER—The development of character is the main purpose of our present existence. The importance of this work is manifest when we reflect that our interests throughout eternity depend entirely upon the kind of character we develop in this life. It is by contending against adverse influences that character is formed. Nearly all of the influences of the conditions of this life are opposed to the principles of righteousness. Those who are willing to fight the good fight of faith, struggling to rise against the downward tendencies of this present evil world, are assured of a high and heavenly reward in the life to come, as well as receiving the reward in this present time of a clear conscience and the glorious satisfaction of having lived a noble, honest life! Those who follow the lines of least resistance, drifting with the tide, may think theirs is the easiest way, but this is only a vain delusion for, after all, they have travelled the hardest way. "The way of the transgressor is hard." (Pro. 13:15.) A lie is never justifiable; and not only so, it is unprofitable. It weakens one's character in proportion to the enormity of the offense involved in the relating of the lie. Every step away from truth will have to be retraced either in this life or in the life to come. Throughout the Scriptures lying is condemned. Satan is called "a liar from the beginning." The character of the Lord Jesus is the standard of righteousness set before us, and in all His earthly experiences He set forth the truth and condemned the error. He spoke the truth at all times, and when it was not expedient to tell the truth, He was silent.