"Christ … hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10) "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come."—Job 14:14.
THERE IS A longing hope within men that death does not end all existence. There is an undefined hope that, somehow and somewhere, the life now begun will have a continuation. In some this hope turns to fear. Realizing their unworthiness of a future of pleasure, many fear a future of woe; and the more they dread it for themselves and others the more they believe in it.
This undefined hope of a future life, and its counterpart, fear, doubtless had their origin in the Lord's condemnation of the serpent after Adam's fall into sin and death—that eventually the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. This no doubt was understood to mean that at least a portion of the Adamic family would finally triumph over Satan, and over sin and death, into which he had inveigled them. No doubt God encouraged such a hope, even though but vaguely, speaking to and through Noah, and through Enoch, who prophesied, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints." But the Gospel, the "good tidings" of a salvation from death, to be offered to all mankind in God's due time, was to be first clearly stated to Abraham. The Apostle declares, "The Gospel was preached before to Abraham, saying, 'In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'" This was at least the basis of the Jewish hope of a resurrection; for since many of the families of the earth were dead and dying, the promised blessing of all implied a future life. And when, centuries after, Israel was scattered among the nations at the time of the Babylonian captivity, they undoubtedly carried fragments of God's promises and their hopes everywhere they went.
Sure it is that whether it came as a result of an admixture of Jewish thought or because hope is an element of man's nature, or both, the whole world believes in a future life; and almost all believe that it will be everlasting. But such hopes are not proofs of the doctrine; and the Old Testament promises, made to the Jews, are too vague to constitute a groundwork for a clear faith, much less for a "dogmatic theology" on this subject. It is not until we find, in the New Testament, the clear, positive statements of our Lord, and afterwards the equally clear statements of the Apostles on this momentous subject of Everlasting Life that we begin to exchange our vague hopes for positive convictions. In their words we not only have positive statements to the effect that the possibilities of a future life have been provided for all, but the philosophy of the fact and how it is to be attained and maintained are set forth there as nowhere else. Many have not noticed these points, and hence are "weak in the faith." Let us see what this philosophy is, and be more assured than ever that future life, everlasting life, is by our great and wise Creator's provision made a possibility for every member of the human family.
Beginning at the foundation of this New Testament assurance of Life Everlasting, we find to our astonishment that it first of all admonishes us that in and of ourselves we have nothing which would give us any hope of everlasting life; that the life of our race was forfeited by the disobedience of our father Adam; that although he was created perfect, and was adapted to live forever, his sin not only brought to him the wages of sin—death—but his children were born in a dying condition, inheritors of the dying influences. God's Law, like Himself, is perfect, and so was His creature (Adam) before he sinned; for of God it is written, "All His work is perfect." And God through His Law approves only that which is perfect, and condemns to destruction everything imperfect. Hence the race of Adam, born in sin and "shapen in iniquity," has no hope of everlasting life except upon the conditions held out in the New Testament and called The Gospel — the good tidings — that a way back from the fall, to perfection, to Divine favor and everlasting life, has been opened up through Christ for all of Adam's family who will avail themselves of it.
CHRIST DIED FOR ADAM AND ALL HIS RACE
The keynote of this hope of reconciliation to God, and thus to a fresh hope of life everlasting, is laid in the statements (1) that "Christ died for our sins," and (2) that He "rose again for our justification"; for "the Man Christ Jesus gave Himself a Ransom [a corresponding price] for all." Adam and his race, which, when he sinned, was yet in him, and shared his sentence naturally, "have been redeemed [bought] by the precious blood [death] of Christ."—1 Pet. 1:19.
But although the Lord's provision is abundant for all, it is not applicable to any except on certain conditions; namely, that they strive to avoid sin and to live thenceforth in harmony with God and righteousness. Hence we are told that "Eternal Life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23.) The following Scripture statements are very clear on this subject: "He that hath the Son hath life [a right or privilege or grant of life as God's gift]; but he that hath not the Son shall not see [perfect] life."—John 3:36; 1 John 5:12.
None can obtain everlasting life except from Christ the Redeemer and appointed Life-Giver; and the Truth which brings to us the privilege of manifesting faith and obedience, and thus "laying hold on eternal life," is called the "water of life" and the "bread of life."—John 4:14; 6:40, 51.
This everlasting life will be granted only to those who, when they learn of it, and the terms upon which it will be granted as a gift, seek for it, by living according to the spirit of holiness. They shall reap it as a gift-reward.—Rom. 6:23; Gal. 6:8.
To gain this everlasting life we must become the Lord's "sheep," and follow the voice, the instructions, of the Shepherd.—John 10:26-28; 17:2, 3.
The gift of Everlasting Life will not be forced upon any. On the contrary, it must be desired and sought and laid hold upon by all who would gain it. (1 Tim. 6:12, 19.) It is thus a hope, rather than the real Life, that God gives us now—the hope that ultimately we may attain it, because God has provided a way by which He can be just, and yet be the justifier of all truly believing and accepting Christ.
By God's grace our Lord Jesus not only bought us by the sacrifice of His life for ours, but He became our great High Priest, and as such He is now the "Author [source] of eternal salvation to all that obey Him." (Heb. 5:9.) "And this is the promise which He hath promised us, even eternal life."—1 John 2:25.
"And this is the record, that God hath given unto us eternal life [now by faith and hope, and by and by actually, 'when He who is our life shall appear'], and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."—1 John 5:11, 12.
This everlasting life, made possible to Adam and all his race, by our Creator through our Redeemer, but intended for and promised to only the faithful and obedient, and which at present is given to these only as a hope, will be given actually to the faithful in the "resurrection." It will be noticed that the explicit promises of God's Word differ widely from the worldly philosophies on this subject. They claim that man must have a future everlasting life because he hopes for it, or in some cases fears it. But hopes and fears are not reasonable grounds for belief on any subject. Neither is there basis for the claim that there is something in man which must live on and on forever—no such part of the human organism is known or can be proved or located.
But the Scriptural view of the subject is open to no such objections: it is thoroughly reasonable to consider our existence, or life, as therein presented, as a "gift of God," and not an inalienable possession of our own. Furthermore, it avoids a great and serious difficulty to which the idea of the heathen philosophers is open; for when the heathen philosopher states that man cannot perish, that he must live forever, that eternal life is not a gift of God, as the Bible declares, but a natural quality possessed by every man, he claims too much. Such a philosophy gives everlasting existence not only to those who would use it well, and to whom it would be a blessing, but to others also, who would not use it well, and to whom it would be a curse. The Scripture teaching, on the contrary, as we have already shown, declares that this great and inestimably precious gift [life everlasting] will be given to those who believe and obey the Redeemer and Life-giver. Others, to whom it would be an injury, not only do not possess it now, but can never get it. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The wicked (all who, after coming to a clear knowledge of the Truth, still wilfully disobey it) shall be cut off from among God's people in the Second Death. "They shall be as though they had not been." "They shall utterly perish." "Everlasting destruction" shall be their doom—a destruction which will last forever, from which there will be no recovery, no resurrection. They will suffer the loss of everlasting life, and all of its privileges, joys and blessings—the loss of all that the faithful will gain.—Psa. 37:9, 20; Job 10:19; 2 Thess. 1:9.
God's gift of life eternal is precious to all His people, and a firm grasp of it by the hand of faith is quite essential to a well-balanced and consistent life. Only those who have "laid hold on eternal life," by an acceptance of Christ and consecration to His service, are able properly and profitably to combat the tempests of life now raging.
But now, having examined the hope of immortality from the ordinary understanding of that word—everlasting life—and having found that everlasting life is God's provision for all those of Adam's race who will accept it in "due time" under the terms of the New Covenant, we are prepared to go a step further and to point out that everlasting life and immortality are not synonymous terms, as people in general suppose. The word "immortal" means more than power to live everlastingly; and, according to the Scriptures, millions may ultimately enjoy everlasting life, but only a very limited "little flock" are made immortal. Immortality is an element, or quality, of the Divine nature, but not of human or angelic or any other nature than the Divine. And it is because Christ and His "little flock," His "Bride," are "partakers of the Divine nature" that they are exceptions to all other creatures either in Heaven or on earth.—2 Pet. 1:4.
The word Immortal signifies not mortal—death-proof, indestructible, imperishable. Any being whose existence is dependent in any manner upon another, or upon conditions such as food, light, air, etc., is not immortal. This quality inheres in Jehovah God alone, as it is written—"The Father hath life in Himself" (John 5:26), i.e., His existence is not a derived one, nor a sustained one. "He only hath immortality" (1 Tim. 6:16) as an innate, or original quality of being. This Scripture may be held to apply to our Lord Jesus Christ in His present and future condition, "highly exalted," "the express image of the Father's person." But even so understood, this passage would be subject to the rule of interpretation laid down by the same writer in 1 Cor. 15:27: "It is manifest that He [the Father] is excepted" [in all comparisons; for He is the Fountain from which all blessings proceed]. These Scriptures being decisive authority on the subject, we may know beyond peradventure that men, angels, archangels, or even the Son of God before and during the time He "was made flesh and dwelt among us," were not immortal—all were mortal.
ADAM CREATED A MORTAL BEING
But the word "mortal" does not signify dying, but merely die-able—possessing life dependent upon God for its continuance. For instance, angels not being immortal are mortal and could die, could be destroyed by God, if they become rebels against His wise, just and loving Government. In Him [in His providence] they live and move and have their being. Indeed, of Satan who was such an angel of light, and who did become a rebel, it is distinctly declared that in due time he will be destroyed. (Heb. 2:14.) This not only proves that Satan is mortal, but it proves that angelic nature is a mortal nature—one which could be destroyed by its Creator. As for man, he is a "little lower than the angels" (Psa. 8:5), and consequently mortal also, as is abundantly attested by the fact that our race has been dying for six thousand years, and that even the saints in Christ are exhorted to seek for immortality.—Rom. 2:7.
So then, Adam did not become mortal by reason of sin, but was created mortal—by nature he was subject or liable to the death penalty. Had he been created immortal, nothing could have destroyed him; for, as we have seen, immortality is a state or condition not subject to death, but death-proof.
What, then, was Adam's condition before he sinned? and in what way did the curse affect him?—What life had he to lose, if he was created mortal? We answer, that his condition in life was similar to that of the angels; he had life in full measure, a life which he might have retained forever by remaining obedient to God. But because he was not death-proof, because he did not have "life in himself," but was dependent upon conditions of Divine pleasure and favor for its continuance, therefore God's threat, that if he disobeyed he should die, meant something. Had he not been mortal God's sentence would have been an empty threat. But Adam's perfect life, which would have been continued forever, had he continued obedient, was forfeited by disobedience, and he died.
Jehovah God, "who only hath immortality," or "life in Himself" originally, innately, and of whom are all things, having created various orders of beings, angelic and human, in His own moral and rational likeness, but mortal and not of His Divine nature, has declared that He designs a new creation—an order of beings not only morally and rationally in His resemblance, but in "the express image of His person," and partakers of His own "Divine nature"—a prominent constituent, or element of which is immortality.—2 Pet. 1:4.
With amazement we inquire, Upon whom shall this high honor and distinction be conferred?—upon angels or cherubim or seraphim? No; but upon His Son—His especially "Firstborn" and "Only-Begotten" Son, that He who was always His obedient Son "should in all things have the pre-eminence" over others. But before He could be so highly honored He must be tested, proved "worthy" of so great a distinction, and so high an exaltation "above His fellows." This test was in view when the sentence of death was pronounced upon Adam and all his children in his loins. The test was that He, Christ, should lay down His life as a Ransom-price for the life of Adam, and all who lost life in his transgression. And He was equal to the test, and gained, the prize of the "Divine nature," "life in Himself," "immortality."
Consider Him, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now in consequence set down at the right hand [place of favor] of the Throne of God. He was rich, but for our sakes He became poor. Inasmuch as the man and race to be redeemed were human, it was needful that He become human so as to give the Ransom, or corresponding price. He therefore humbled Himself and took the bondman's form; and after He found Himself in fashion a man, He humbled Himself even unto death—the death of the cross. "Wherefore, God hath highly exalted Him [to the promised Divine nature, at His resurrection], and given Him a name that is above every name" (Jehovah's name excepted—1 Cor. 15:27).—Heb. 12:3, 2; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:8, 9.
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!"—Rev. 5:9-12.
But more, the opulence of Divine favor did not stop with the exaltation of one, but arranged that Christ Jesus, as the Captain, should lead a company of sons of God to "glory, honor and immortality" (Heb. 2:10; Rom. 2:7), each of whom, however, must be a spiritual "copy" or likeness, of the "First-Begotten." And, as a grand lesson of the Divine sovereignty, and as a sublime contradiction to the evolution theory, God elected to call to this place of honor (as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife and Joint-heir—Rev. 21:2, 9; Rom. 8:17), not the angels and the cherubs, but some from among the sinners redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. God elected the number to be thus exalted (Rev. 7:4), and predestinated what must be their characteristics, if they would make their calling and election sure to a place in that company to be so highly honored; and all the rest is left to Christ, who worketh now as the Father worked hitherto—John 5:17.
The Gospel Age has been the time for the selection of this elect class, variously termed "the Church," "the Body of Christ," the "Royal Priesthood," "the Seed of Abraham" (Gal. 3:29), etc.; and the permission of evil was partly for the purpose of developing these "members of the Body of Christ" and of furnishing them the opportunity of sacrificing their little and redeemed all, in the service of Him who bought them with His precious blood, and thus of developing in their hearts His spiritual likeness, that as they are presented by their Lord and Redeemer before the Father, God may see in them "the image of His Son."—Col. 1:22; Rom. 8:29.
As the reward of "glory, honor and immortality" and all the other features of the Divine nature were not conferred upon the "First-Begotten" until He had finished His course by completing His sacrifice and obedience in death, so with the Church, His "Bride"—counted as one and treated collectively. As our Lord, the First-Born and Captain, "entered into His glory" at His resurrection; as He there became partaker of the Divine nature fully, by being "born from the dead," "born of the Spirit"; as He there was highly exalted to the Throne and highest favor ("right hand") of God, so His "Bride" is in her resurrection changed, by resurrection power, from human nature to the glory, honor and immortality of the Divine nature.
And so it is written respecting "the resurrection" of the Church: "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption [and immortality]. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."—1 Cor. 15:42-44, 49.
God's Plan of Salvation for the race of Adam is to extend to each member of it, during the Millennium, the offer of eternal life upon the terms of the New Covenant sealed for all with the precious blood of the Lamb. But there is no suggestion anywhere that Immortality, the Divine Nature, will ever be offered or granted to any except the "elect" Church of the Gospel Age—the "little flock," "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." For the others of Adam's race the offer will be "restitution" (Acts 3:19-21) to life and health and perfection of human nature—the same that Adam possessed as the earthly image of God before his fall from grace into sin and death. And when at the close of the Millennial Age all the obedient of mankind shall have attained all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by Christ, then all, armed with complete knowledge and experience, and hence fully able to stand the test, will be tested severely (as was Adam), but individually; and only those found in fullest heart-sympathy, as well as in outward harmony with God and His righteous arrangements, will be permitted to go beyond the Millennium into the everlasting future or "world [Age] without end." All others will be destroyed in the Second Death—"destroyed from among the people."—Acts 3:23.
But although there shall be no more death, neither sighing nor crying, it will not be because the victors of the Millennial Age will be crowned with Immortality, but because, having learned to judge between right and wrong and their effects, they shall have formed characters in full accord with God and righteousness; and because they will have stood tests which will demonstrate that they would not wish to sin if the way were opened and no penalties were attached. They will not have life in themselves, but will still be dependent upon God's provision of food, etc., for the sustenance of life. This is particularly stated in Rev. 21:4, 6, 8; Matt. 5:6.
Seen in this, the Scriptural light, the subject of immortality shines resplendently. It leaves the way clear for the general "gift of God, eternal life," to be extended to all whom the Redeemer shall find willing to accept it upon the only terms upon which it could be a blessing; and it leaves the unworthy subject to the just penalty always enunciated by the great Judge of all, viz.:
"The wages of sin is death."—Rom. 6:23. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."—Ezek. 18:4, 20. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God [the curse, death] abideth on him."—John 3:36.
Then again we find, on this subject as on others, that the philosophy of the Word of God is deeper as well as clearer, and more rational by far, than the heathen systems and theories. Praise God for His Word of Truth and for hearts disposed to accept it as the Revelation of the Wisdom and Power of God!
THE WAGES OF SIN
"The wages of sin is death." "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by [as a consequence of] sin."—Rom. 6:23; 5:12.
The teaching of "Orthodoxy," that the wages of sin is everlasting torment, is emphatically contradicted by the above words of inspiration, and by many others, direct and indirect, which might be cited. How reasonable is the Bible statement, and how absurd the common view, which is founded neither in reason nor in the Scriptures, and which is in most violent antagonism to the Plan and Character of God, as presented in His Word!
The eternal-torment theory had a heathen origin, though as held by the heathen it was not the merciless doctrine it afterward became, when it gradually began to attach itself to nominal Christianity, during its blending with heathen philosophies in the second century. It remained for the great apostasy to tack to heathen philosophy the horrible details now so generally believed; to paint them upon the church walls, as was done in Europe; to write them in their creeds and hymns; and so to pervert the Word of God as to give a seeming Divine support to the God-dishonoring error. The credulity of the present day, therefore, receives it as a legacy, not from the Lord or the Apostles or the Prophets, but from the compromising spirit which sacrificed truth and reason, and shamefully perverted the doctrines of Christianity, in an unholy ambition and strife for power, wealth and numbers.
Eternal torment as the penalty for sin was unknown to the patriarchs of past ages; it was unknown to the Prophets of the Jewish Age; and it was unknown to the Lord and the Apostles; but it has been the chief doctrine of nominal Christianity since the great apostasy. It has been the scourge wherewith the credulous, ignorant and superstitious of the world have been lashed into servile obedience to tyranny. Eternal torment was pronounced against all who offered resistance to or spurned Rome's authority, and its infliction in the present life was begun so far as she had the power; and the pains of Purgatory she promised, in such measure as she could dictate, to any of her votaries who showed the slightest disposition to be refractory. Under the terrible bondage of a superstitious reverence for self-exalted fellow-men, in dense ignorance of God's real Plan, and tormented with a wretched fear of eternal misery, the masses of men resigned both their reason and the Word of God. And even yet, under the increasing light of this twentieth century, men scarcely dare to think for themselves on religion and the Bible.—Isa. 29:13.
Let God's inspired writers be heard in opposition to heathenized Church traditions, and let reason judge which is the right view, and which the error. First, note the Old Testament—the Divine Revelation covering 4000 years. The Prophets of the Old Testament do not mention a word about eternal torment; but they do repeatedly mention destruction as the sinner's doom, and declare over and over again that the enemies of the Lord shall perish. The Law given to Israel through Moses never hinted at any other penalty than death, in case of its violation. The warning to Adam when placed on trial in Eden contained not the remotest suggestion of eternal torture in case of failure and disobedience; but, on the contrary, it clearly stated that the penalty would be death—"In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die."—Gen. 2:17, margin. Compare 2 Pet. 3:8.
Surely, if the penalty of disobedience and failure is everlasting life in torment, an inexcusable wrong was done Adam and the patriarchs and the Jewish people, when they were misinformed on the subject, and told that death was the penalty. Surely Adam, the patriarchs or the Jews, were they ever to find themselves in eternal torment, where the various sectarian creeds of Christendom assert that the vast majority will find themselves, would have sufficient ground for an appeal for JUSTICE. Such, no less than the heathen billions who died without knowledge, and hence surely without faith, would have just ground for cursing the injustice of such a penalty, as a most atrocious misuse of power—first, in bringing them into a trial subject to so awful and unreasonable a penalty, without their consent; and secondly, for leaving the one class wholly ignorant of such a penalty, and for misleading the others by telling them that the penalty of sin would be death — to perish. It must be admitted that the presumption to declare that death, destruction, perishing, and similar terms, mean life in torment, belongs to word-twisting theologians since the days of the Apostles; for, as we shall prove, the Apostles taught nothing of the kind.
Look at the New Testament writings: St. Paul says he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27); and yet he did not write a word about eternal torment. Neither did St. Peter nor St. James nor St. Jude nor St. John; though it is claimed that St. John did, in the symbols of Revelation. But since those who make this claim consider the book of Revelation a sealed book, which they do not and cannot understand, they have no right to interpret any portion of it literally, in violation of its stated symbolic character, and in direct opposition to the remainder of the Bible, including St. John's plain non-symbolic epistles.
Since the Apostles do not so much as mention eternal torment, all truth-seekers, especially Christians, should be interested to search what they do teach concerning the penalty of sin, remembering that they, and not the apostate church of the darker ages, taught "the whole counsel of God." The Apostle Paul states the matter thus: "The wages of sin is death"; the disobedient "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His Power"; and "many walk, who are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction."—Rom. 6:23; 2 Thess. 1:9; Phil. 3:19.
The Apostle John says: "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. … He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. … He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and we know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. … He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."—1 John 2:17; 3:8, 14, 15; 5:12.
The Apostle Peter says the disobedient "shall be destroyed from among the people"; that evil-doers "bring upon themselves swift destruction"; and that the Lord is not desiring "that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (Acts 3:23; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:9.) The Apostle James says: "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." "There is one Law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy."—Jas. 1:15; 4:12.
No one who has studied the subject can consider the penalty of sin, as Scripturally set forth and defined, too slight a punishment. When understood, it is seen to be neither too slight nor too severe, but simply "a just recompense of reward." "The gift of God," says the Apostle, "is eternal life." And that gift, or favor, bestowed upon Adam, and through him upon his posterity, was to be lasting only on condition of its proper use, which was to glorify God in their well-being and well-doing, and not to dishonor Him by rebellion and sin. When God creates He reserves both the right and the power to destroy that which He considers unworthy of continuous existence. When man sinned, therefore, God simply withdrew the favor He had granted, which had been misused, and death (destruction) followed, preceded naturally by the dying—pain, sickness, and mental, moral and physical decay.
Had God not provided redemption through Christ, the death penalty which came upon our race in Adam would have been everlasting; but in Divine mercy all have been redeemed from death. Yet all must again, individually, come under the same Divine Law, which changes not; namely, "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."—Rom. 6:23.
Did our Lord Jesus ever use the expression, eternal torment? or even once hint that He came into the world to save men from eternal torment? No, never! Yet, if this were the truth, and they were in danger of a penalty so terrible for not receiving Him, it would have been neither just nor merciful in Him to have kept back a truth so important. He did tell them, however, that He came to save them from death, from perishing. Death, the penalty of sin, being against all, none could hope for a resurrection to any future life, but all were hopelessly perishing, unless Christ should redeem them from death, to that which was lost to Adam—to righteousness and its privileges of everlasting life and favor. The Lord's title, Savior, has a weight, too, in this examination. It does not imply a deliverer, or savior from torment, but a Savior from death. The Lord and the Apostles used the language of the Samaritans, and in that tongue the word for Savior signifies Life-Giver.
What did our Lord say of His mission? we may well inquire. He said that He came "to preach deliverance to the captives." What captives could He refer to but the captives of sin, receiving daily its wages—dying by inches and entering the great prison-house, the tomb? He said He came to "open the prison-doors." What prison but the tomb? of which the Prophet also had spoken. (See Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18.) He declared that He came that mankind "might have life"; that He came "to give His life a Ransom for many" lives—in order that by believing in Him men "should not perish, but have eternal life"; and again, "Narrow is the way that leadeth unto life," and "broad is the way that leadeth to destruction."—John 10:10; Matt. 20:28; John 3:16; Matt. 7:13.
It will generally be admitted by Christians claiming to be orthodox that our Lord Jesus redeemed mankind by His death; that He endured willingly the penalty of man's sins, in order that man might be released from that penalty. "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." "He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed."—Isa. 53:4, 5.
This being admitted it becomes an easy matter to decide, to an absolute, unquestionable certainty, what the penalty of our sins was, if we know what our Lord Jesus endured "when the chastisement for our peace" was inflicted upon His willing head. Is He suffering eternal torment for us? If so, that would thus be proven to be the penalty against our sins. But no one claims this, and the Scriptures teach to the contrary, that our Lord is now in glory, and not in torment, which is incontrovertible proof that the wages of sin is not torment.
But what did our Lord do to secure the cancellation of our sins? What did He give when He laid down our Ransom-price—the price, or penalty, against sinners? Let the Scriptures answer. They repeatedly and explicitly declare that Christ died for our sins; that He gave His life a Ransom to secure life for the condemned sinners; that He bought us with His own precious blood; that for this purpose the Son of God was manifested in flesh; that He might give His flesh for the life of the world; that as by man (Adam) came death, by man ("the Man Christ Jesus") might come the resurrection of the dead.—1 Cor. 15:3; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6; Hos. 13:14; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 3:8; John 6:51; 1 Cor. 15:21.
Is there room to question further the clear Bible doctrine that "the wages of sin is death"? Is there room to doubt further either the unscripturalness or the unreasonableness of the heathenish dogma of eternal torment?
As a supplement to the foregoing excellent discussion we submit the following outline of another writer on the subject: The Wages of Sin—Is It Eternal Life in Torment or Death?—Which?
I. It is not Eternal life in torment.
A. The Scriptures nowhere teach eternal life in torment as Sin's Wage. B. It is contrary to Scriptural passages. C. It is contrary to Scriptural doctrines. D. It is contrary to itself, being impossible of infliction. E. It is contrary to God's character of perfect Wisdom, Power, Justice and Love. F. It is contrary to Christ's ransom—corresponding price—which was yielded up by death not by eternal torment. G. It is contrary to a sound mind, making its advocates unreasonable, and its dupes in many cases insane. H. It is contrary to experience, which shows that not it, but another penalty is inflicted. I. It is contrary to Godliness, injuring real faith, hope and love, and spreading terror, unbelief, despair and hardness of heart. J. It is contrary to Reason, in that every instinct of sound reason revolts at such a penalty. K. It is contrary to the doctrine that sin will cease. L. It is contrary to the doctrine that evil will cease. M. It is contrary to the doctrine that Eternal life is a reward. N. It is a heathen doctrine. O. It is a teaching of Satan and his fallen angels. P. It has been an animating motive of persecution by men who lacked the Lord's spirit, and were filled with the Adversary's spirit. Q. It is an instrument of priestcraft. R. It is the papal counterfeit of the real penalty of sin. S. It is based upon a false view of the nature and qualities of the human soul. T. It is based on a false view of Hell. U. It is based on a false view of Eternal life. V. It is based on a false view of the Hereafter. W. It is based on false methods of interpretation. X. It is supported by false translations. Y. It is the heart of the first lie ever told. Z. Belief in its Scripturalness has made infidels of some of the best and brightest people.
II. It is death.
A. Its proof.
a. Direct passages: Gen. 2:17; Jer. 31:30; Rom. 1:32; 5:12, 15, 17; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 56; James 1:15; 1 John 5:16.
b. Parallel passages: Gen. 3:19; Rom. 1:18; 5:16, 18, 19.
B. Its Nature.
a. Not life: Deut. 30:15, 19; Rom. 5:21; 6:23; 8:13; Gal. 6:8.