Sacrifice—Not desired By Jehovah.
Question (1961)—What is meant in Psa. 40:6—“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire . . . burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required”?
Answer.—In any translation from one language to another there is always danger of failing to express the original thought in its simplicity and completeness, even as here. The following verses also throw light on the meaning of v. 6. The thought seems to be that although God desired and intended the establishment of the Law Convention with its sacrifices and arrangements for the people of Israel, that was not the full completeness of God’s intention and desire. For instance, the Passover lamb sacrificed annually was not the end in view that God desired, but merely a typical sacrifice foreshadowing the great sacrifice of “Christ our Passover” (1 Cor, 5:7, 8). Also the annual Atonement Day sacrifices of bulls and goats could not take away sin; they were merely “a shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 9:9-14; 10:1-10). The sacrifices and offerings that God ordained or authorized for the time being under the Law Covenant were not what He meant eventually, were not the end or completion of His purpose or desire in respect to sacrifice for sin. They were merely typical of that great desire which would be fulfilled in Christ. “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire,” that is to say, was not all that God meant. He did accept the annual Atonement Day sin offerings and burnt offerings and He did grant the Jews year by year a national forgiveness, and an opportunity to try again if they could keep the Law; but these things were not the end of God’s desire or intention. He had in mind the better sacrifices, the sacrifice of Christ, the great Redeemer, and then the better sacrifices of the Church, the Body of Christ, joined to His sacrifice, sharing in His sacrificial cup. This is what God had as His great purpose, and the other was merely the typical, the foreshadowing of it. ’61-71
Saints—Who Are The People Of The Saints Dan. 7:27.
Question (1957)—In Dan 7:27 we read that “the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High.” Who are the people of the saints? Are they the class on earth over which Christ and His Church will reign in their Thousand-year Kingdom (Rev. 5:10; 20:4, 6), the ”times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21)?
Answer.—Apparently the Christ, including Jesus the Head and the Church which is His Body, and not the restitution class is meant by the people of the saints in Dan. 7:27. The ”uprights” of Psa. 49:14, who will have dominion (over earth) in the (Millennial) morning, evidently are “the saints” referred to in Dan. 7:27, for God’s faithful saints, who have suffered with Jesus during the Gospel Age, will be granted the glorious privileges of sharing the Thousand-year Reign over earth, in joint-heirship with Him (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:11, 12; Rev. 3:21; Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev. 5:10; 20:4, 6). They shall be given “the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven,” as declared by the angel to Daniel (7:27). This dominion Jehovah will fully wrest by force from the ”prince of this world,” Satan (John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4), and will give it to His Son (Ezek. 21:27; Dan. 7:13, 14; Micah 4:8), whose Bride, the Church (Rev. 21:2, 9), will share her Bridegroom’s Kingdom.
This transfer, in which “the kingdom of this world” become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15), is accomplished in the great Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 22), in which we have been living ever since the outbreak of the World War in 1914, which is to end “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), the present social order, and make way for the ”new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13). From Dan. 7:18, 22 we see that this expression, “the people of the saints,” refers to the saints themselves, for “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom” and “the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” We see, then, that the people of the saints are the true Church and not the restitutionists. The latter are set forth as the children of the saints (Isa. 60:4, 9).
Some may wonder why the term people is here used to refer to the Church, a spiritual class, since we often think of and use the word people to refer to human beings. But the Bible uses the word people to refer also to other than human beings. The Hebrew word here is am, which designates a people as a congregated unit, the thought of the root word being to huddle together, or associate; hence it seems to refer to any congregated or associated group. Thus the Bible (Prov. 30:25, 26) states that “the ants are a people” and that “the conies are but a feeble folk,” the words people and folk each being translated from the same Hebrew word am, which word is also used in Joel 2:2, 5, to apply to the Lord’s “Great Army”—“a great people”—as illustrated in the deadly onslaught of a plague of locusts, also spoken of as “a Strong people set in battle array.” The same Hebrew word am is used to refer to spirit beings, especially the Christ, which is a congregated unit—one body, Note, e.g., Isa. 62:12: “The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord,” which refers to the elect Church in the Millennium. We are not to think it strange; therefore, that Daniel should use the expression, the people of the saints, to refer to the Christ in glory. ’57-63
Salvation—(1 Tim. 2:4, 6) Does It Mean All.
Question (1921)—Are you right in saying that the word “all” in 1 Tim. 2:4, 6 means all, in view of the Scriptural use of this word in Matt. 3:5, etc., where apparently it does not mean all?
Answer.—It is true that sometimes the word “all” does not Scripturally mean everybody, i.e., is not universal in its application, as the case cited in the question proves. However, this fact does not contradict the thought that this word is almost always universal in its application. So generally is this the case that the burden of the proof always falls upon the one who asserts that in a given passage it does not include every one or every thing, as the case may be. In 1 Tim 2:4, 6 the word “all,” for three reasons, evidently means everybody: (1) The Scriptures clearly teach, in harmony with 1 Tim. 2:4, that God loves all men unto salvation from the Adamic sentence. We cite among others the following passages in proof of this statement: Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; John 3:16, 17; 1 Tim. 4:10; Tit. 2:11; 3:4; Heb. 2:9. (2) Again, the Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ died to save all men from the Adamic sentence. Please see the following passages in proof of this thought: John 1:29; 3:15-17; 12:32, 33; Rom. 5:18, 19; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2. (3) Finally, as a result of the love of God and of the death of Jesus Christ for all men unto salvation from the Adamic sentence, the Bible teaches that all men will be invited and helped by the Holy Spirit to come into harmony with God. On this point please note the following passages, which by no means are an exhaustive list pertinent Scriptures: Ps. 2:8; 22:27-29; 86:9; 98:2, 3; Is. 2:2; 11:9; 25:6; 29:18, 24; 35:5, 6, 10; 40:5; 45:22, 23; 52:10; Jer. 31:34; Joel 2:28; Luke 2:10, 31-34; John 1:9; 12:32; Tit. 2:11; 3:4; Rev. 22:17. If we attentively study 1 Tim. 2:4-6 we will note that these three lines of thought are clearly emphasized in that passage. Thus on the first point the Apostle, in verse 4, directly states that God’s good will—love—is toward the whole human family, to the end that they may be saved from the Adamic sentence: “God will [literally, willeth to] have all men to be saved” [not everlastingly, but from the Adamic sentence]. The second point—Jesus’ Ransom-Sacrifice for all men—is directly taught in verse 6, where the Apostle says of Christ Jesus that He “gave Himself [unto death] a ransom [a corresponding price] for all” [Adam and the whole race in his loins]. So, too, the third point—the Spirit’s proffered help for all men unto salvation—is taught in verse 4 and 6 in the words, “ God will [willeth to] have all men . . . come unto the knowledge of the Truth . . . to be testified in due time” [during the Millennium]. These three considerations, therefore, prove that “all” means all in 1 Tim. 2:4, 6. ’21-51; ’74-94; *’76-22
Salvation—Will Those Not Receiving Elective Salvation, Will They Be Awakened During The Millennium.
Question (1925)—What is the Biblical proof that the non-elect dead, who had no chance to win the elective salvation in this life, will be awakened from the dead during the Millennium?
Answer.—In our last issue (pp. 4, 5) we presented 21 reasons with Scriptural evidence for each one, in proof of the thought that there will be an opportunity for the non-elect dead who were not given the chance in this life to win the elective salvation, to attain deliverance during Christ’s reign. These 21 reasons in every case imply that such non-elect dead will be awakened from the dead during the Millennium. We will here quote with some bracketed comments a few passages that directly teach or imply that such dead persons will be brought back to this earth from the dead during the Millennium. Ps. 22:27-29 is one of such passages: “All the ends of the earth [the entire human race] shall remember [be taught God’s Word so thoroughly as not to forget it (Jer. 31:33, 34)], and turn [be converted] unto Jehovah; and all the kindreds [every family] of the nations shall worship [serve] before Thee [in Thy interests]; for the kingdom shall be Jehovah’s and He shall be the Ruler over the nations [this is surely a description of the Millennium; for until the Millennium the kingdoms of this world will hold sway, and only then will give way to the Kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15)]. And all the fat ones [those full of loving zeal] of the earth shall eat [appropriate the Millennial blessings] and worship [return service therefore to God]; and all they that go down to the dust [the dead] shall bow before Him [the verse now proceeds to define those who go down to the dust], even he that cannot [because of the Adamic sentence] keep his soul alive (Amer. Rev. Ver.) This last verse shows that the non-elect dead are referred to: for they are the ones that cannot, because of the Adamic sentence, keep their souls alive. According to this passage, they are to bow down to the Lord as the Ruler of the nations, which must be during the Millennium, the time of His rulership.
Another passage: Ps. 86:9: “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy Name!” Many of the nations that God made, like the seven nations of Canaan, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, etc., no longer exist; yet they were made by God, but did not in this life worship and glorify Jehovah. Therefore, in order to do so, they must be awakened from the dead and be taught and enabled to worship and glorify God—a millennial work. Is. 29:18, 24 is another passage to the point: “In that day [the Day of God, the Millennial Age] shall the deaf [those who in this life have their ears of understanding closed so that they cannot now understand the things of faith (Matt. 13:9-17) hear [understand] the words [teachings] of the book [Bible; Is. 35:5, 6]; and the eyes of the blind [those who in this life could not perceive the things of faith] shall see out of obscurity [the mixture of truth and error in which they are in this life], and out of darkness [total error] . . . They also that have erred in spirit [doctrine] (1 John 4:1-3) shall come to understanding, and they that murmured [because of the rigors of the curse under which they lived and died—hence the non-elect dead] shall learn doctrine.” This passage teaches that in the Kingdom those who in this life could not perceive and understand the things of faith, who lived in error and under the curse, murmuringly groaned unto the end (Rom. 8:22), will see and understand the truth and be delivered from partial and total error. Rom. 14:9: “To this end [for this purpose] Christ both died [as the ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6)], and lived again, that He might be the Lord [Ruler in the Millennium] of both the dead [all Adam’s last race whether in the tomb or not] and the living.” (Amer. Rev. Ver.) Phil. 2:10, 11: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, [the knees] of things [persons, the Greek applies to persons or things, persons evidently being meant here] in heaven [the heavenly host bows to Him], and [the knees of] things [persons living] in earth [this is future—in the Kingdom; for all knees on earth do not now bow to Him], and [the knees of] things [persons] under the earth [the dead race who are in their graves, and who will be brought back from the unconscious state of death, and then, as having been under the earth, dead, will bow to Jesus]; and that every tongue [in heaven, on earth and under the earth, the living and the dead] should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.”
One other passage, which we will quote from the Amer. Rev. Ver., one of the best of all translations: 1 Cor. 15:21-26: “For since by man [Adam] came death [the death process as well as the death state]; so by man [Christ] shall also come the resurrection [the awakening from the death state and the restanding out of the dying process—the reversal of what Adam brought upon us]; for as all in Adam die [come under the death of the curse]; so also all in Christ shall be made alive [be brought out of the death of the curse into perfection—life]. But each in his own order [shall be made alive—perfect]: Christ the first fruits [shall be made alive—perfect. This Christ cannot be Jesus, because He had been resurrected about 25 years before St. Paul penned these words, while he speaks of a future resurrection. The Church, which is also with Jesus called Christ—anointed—(1 Cor. 12:12, 13; Gal. 3:16, 29) is doubtless here meant; and thus the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4, 6) is meant]; then they that are Christ’s during His presence [shall be made alive. The margin gives presence as the proper meaning of the Greek. He will be present 1000 years—the Millennium—when those who will become His by faith and obedience will be made alive—perfect—after they are awakened and brought forth from the tomb. This refers to the dead world coming back from the tomb, and arising unto perfection during the thousand years as they continue to obey]. Then cometh the end [the little season after the thousand years are over (Rev. 20:7-9)], when He shall deliver up [vacate the Mediatorial throne of] the kingdom unto God, even the Father; when [after] He shall have abolished [destroyed] all [effects of Satan’s] rule, all [expressions of Satan’s] authority, and all [work of Satan’s] power. [Christ’s reign is thus intended to destroy all the works of Satan—sin, error, sorrow, pain, sickness, death and the grave. (1 John 3:8; Rev. 21:4, 5.) To destroy the grave means to awaken all the dead; and to destroy death means to deliver all out of the dying process. The order of procedure would then be, first to destroy the grave by awakening the dead, and then gradually by restitution processes to undo every feature of the dying process: Adamic sin, sorrow, pain, sickness, the curse on the earth, etc.] For He must reign until He hath put all His enemies under His feet [the various features of the curse are these enemies; for Paul enumerates in the next verse death as one of Christ’s enemies. To put them under His feet means to dominate them unto utter subjection—destruction]. The last enemy that shall be abolished [destroyed] is death [not the death state or the grave, which by the awakening of the dead will be destroyed before sin, pain, sorrow and sickness, but the dying process—the imperfection brought by the Adamic sentence upon all. The annihilation of its last vestiges will complete the work of the Millennial Kingdom. Hence, death will be the last enemy destroyed].” These passages demonstrate that the non-elect dead, who were excluded in this life from the opportunity of obtaining the elective salvation, will be awakened from the dead during the Millennium, and will be given the opportunity of gaining the restitution salvation. ’25-13
Salvation—“A Day Of” (Isa. 49:8).
Question (1962)—What is meant by the expression, “a day of salvation,” in Isa. 49:8: “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages”?
Answer.—There are two great days of salvation—one for the Church, the other for the world. Thus St. John (1 John 2:2) says that Jesus “is the propitiation for our [the Church’s] sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” God has appointed a Thousand-year Judgment Day, “in the which he will judge the world in righteousness” by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8; Rev. 20:4, 6), during which Satan will be bound “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled” (Rev. 20:3). Then “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa, 11:9), and eventually “they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34).
But Isa. 49:8 refers to a prior day of judgment—the Gospel Age, in the beginning of which St. Peter explained (1 Pet. 4:17): “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” St. Paul quotes Isa. 49:8 in part in 2 Cor. 6:2 and in vs. 1, 2 shows that it applies to the day of the Church’s trial for life, its judgment day. Since the King James Version mistakenly injects the definite article the in several places in St. Paul’s quotation, we will give here the more correct translation as given in the Emphatic Diaglott (see also Rotherham):
“For he says, ‘In a Season acceptable, I listened to thee, and in a Day of Salvation I assisted thee.’ Behold! now is a well-accepted Season; behold! now is a Day of Salvation”—How important to all of God’s people, then, is the exhortation of Heb. 4:7, which applies to the entire Gospel Age: “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts”! (See also Heb. 3:13.) The Gospel Age is the greater of the two days of salvation, for it offered the heavenly salvation, the “great salvation” (Heb. 2:3), whereas the Millennial Age offers restitution, the earthly salvation for the world of mankind (Acts 3:19-23; Num. 14:21; Prov. 2:21). ’62-63
Salvation—After First Resurrection, When Will The Rest Of The Dead Live Again.
Question (1925)—How can you harmonize your teaching that the non-elect dead, excluded in this life from the chance of gaining the elective salvation, will be awakened during the Millennium, with Rev. 20:4, 5, which, after speaking of the first resurrection, says, “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”?
Answer. It will be noted that this passage does not say that the rest of the dead were not awakened until the thousand years were finished; but it says they lived not again until the thousand years were finished. One may ask, what is the difference? We reply, all the difference between harmony and contradiction in Biblical matters. A few remarks will make this clear. The race once lived—was perfected in Father Adam; but on account of the curse, God counts the whole human race as dead, regardless of whether it is in the death process or in the death state. (Matt. 8:23; John 5:24, 25; 2 Cor. 5:14; Rom. 5:12, 15, 17; Eph. 2:1, 5; Rev. 20:12, 13.) He does this because the death sentence is on all of them, and because, so far as those who are in the death process are concerned, this death sentence is being executed upon them; as we might say of a condemned murderer in the electric chair just as the electricity is turned on, “He is a dead man!” because he is under the death sentence, and it is being inflicted, though not yet completed upon him. From this standpoint we call the death process reckoned death, and the death state actual death. So, too, God calls all who are free from the death sentence alive, regardless of whether they are reckonedly perfect or actually perfect. (John 3:36; 5:24, 25; 1 John 5:12; Rom. 5:12; John 1:4; Rev. 21:3-5.) We call the former reckonedly alive and the latter actually alive. These viewpoints will enable us to harmonize our teaching that the rest of the dead—the non-elect dead—will be awakened from the dead during the Millennium, with the statement that they will not be alive until its end. They will not be alive yet actually perfect—immediately on being awakened from the dead. It will take restitution processes the thousand years to bring them to actual perfection—to make them alive as God from the actual standpoint looks upon life; for as long as there is any vestige of the Adamic imperfection in them, they will be dead from the Divine standpoint. (1 Cor. 15:24-26.) But as soon as they are actually perfect they will be alive, which will be at the end of, and which presupposes that they will be awakened during the Millennium. God now, through our faith justification, reckons us alive from the Divine standpoint; because our faith justification reckons to us the perfection that the completed restitution processes will have actually wrought in the obedient by the end of the thousand years. Thus we harmonize the apparent contradiction, and find both teachings to be Scriptural and reasonable; for it will take the whole thousand years to restore the imperfect to perfection—to make them alive as God views life, though early in the Millennium they will be awakened. Thus the rest of the dead lived not again—will not be perfect again as once they were in Adam until the thousand years are finished. ’25-14; ’51-23; ’57-39
Salvation—Will Heathen be Saved Through Ignorance.
Question (1925)—Will the heathen and others be saved by their ignorance?
Answer.—We believe not; for there is no power or anything else good in ignorance to save anyone. Instead of ignorance being Scripturally a ground of salvation it is Scripturally set forth as a reason for alienation from God and for perdition. (Eph. 4:18; Hos. 4:6; Rom. 2:12.) Furthermore, the Scriptures show that knowledge is essential to faith and salvation. (Rom. 10:14-17; Acts 4:12.) This is likewise implied in the fact that obtaining salvation presupposes personal acts by the intellect, sensibilities and will, i.e., a matter pertaining to the domain of character, requiring, as it does, on our part the steps of repentance, faith and consecration. It is for this reason that the Church was commanded to teach, i.e., make others know, that those taught by their knowledge gain salvation. (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3; 2:20, 21.) Indeed the theory that the heathen and others are saved by their ignorance is a patent absurdity. Why send them missionaries to teach them salvation, if they are saved by ignorance? According to this theory to teach them would cause most of them—those who will not believe—to be lost who otherwise would have been saved by their ignorance. So all through the generations of the Gospel Age to them would have been the cause of perdition to almost all who heard the message. Does one say that we must preach to them, because God commands it? We answer yes; but evidently that thereby they might gain what otherwise they would not gain—salvation. This theory makes God defeat His own good wishes—the desire to bless everybody. Are we to believe that God who desires that the people may gain life (Ezek. 18:32) is so lacking in common sense and practicability as to institute the office of teaching the Word of God as the means of saving people—through which at most a comparatively few are saved now—when leaving them in ignorance would have resulted in the salvation of all of them? Why institute the office of preaching and teaching at all, if ignorance will save all? Manifestly the thought that the heathen are saved by ignorance is unbiblical, unreasonable and unfactual. God has a better way of saving people than by ignorance, which cannot save, because, while it does not better, it actually depraves character. His way of saving the elect now is “by the foolishness of preaching”—teaching, giving knowledge of things pertinent to salvation; and His way of saving the non-elect in the Millennial Age will be by the power of teaching—causing them to know—and by such teaching enabling them to lay hold on, and use for their uplift, the restitution processes whereby all may be saved, and whereby the willing and obedient, and no others, will be saved. And such knowledge now endures, and in the Millennial Age will endure to develop people into the only condition of heart and mind in which eternal life would be a practical and beneficent provision—a character like God’s that from its very make-up translates its knowledge into suitable thoughts, words and acts to God’s glory and to the profit of self and of others. ’25-15; ’47-40; ’48-40; ’57-39; ’90-14
Salvations—The Heavenly And Earthly.
Question (1959)—If men are to be restored to perfection, and the earth is to become as the Garden of Eden, are we to understand that no one will go to heaven?
Answer.—No. In 1 Cor. 15:35-48, St. Paul explains that in the resurrection some will have bodies celestial, and some bodies terrestrial. The Church changes its nature from animal to spiritual, from human to Divine (2 Pet. 1:4). These are called “new creatures”—a new creation. The perfected new creatures will be like and with Jesus (1 John 3:2)—spirit beings, and in a heavenly or spiritual condition (1 Pet. 1:4; Heb. 10:34; John 14:1-3). The “new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) will be the eternal home of the non-elect saved world of mankind. It will blossom as the rose (Isa. 35). The earth abideth forever; God formed it to be inhabited; “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Eccles. 1:4; Isa. 45:18; Psa. 115:16; 119:90; Matt. 5:5). ’59-80
Salvation—To Eternal Life Not Universal.
Question (1974)—Is salvation to eternal life universal?
Answer.—The Bible teaches that it is God’s plan that there shall be a great day, a thousand-year day, in which Christ will give the world a judgment, or trial. The right to give them this trial our Lord Jesus has secured by His own death (John 5:22, 27-29), having tasted death for Adam and all his posterity condemned in him (Heb. 2:9). The death of our Lord, a perfect man, is sufficient for the full offset of the sentence upon the first man (1 John 2:2). Thus the way is opened for the great “times of restitution” spoken of by the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:19-21). So our Lord Jesus has become the Redeemer, the Purchaser, of Adam and all his race. He has not yet fully accomplished the work of purchase; for the application of the merit of His sacrifice for the world follows His Second Advent, after the completion of the Church. As soon as this purchase shall have been effected, the cancellation of the sin of the world will be made. The world will then be turned over to Christ, free from the penalty of original, or Adamic sin; and each individual will have a full opportunity, or trial, or judgment, to determine his real character, his real intention, his real attitude toward right and toward wrong, toward God and toward sin. This will affect first the living nations, and then, gradually, those in the tomb, as they shall come forth. This will be universal redemption, or deliverance, from the Adamic death penalty, universal purchase from Adamic death; but not universal deliverance or salvation to eternal life, which will be conditional (John 6:53).
The Apostle Paul, in speaking about this great trial day, or Judgment Day, of the world, says, “God hath appointed a day [future], in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained” (Acts 17:31). Jesus will have the Church, His Body, His Bride, as His associates in the work of this great thousand-year Judgment Day (2 Pet. 3:7-12; Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:29, 30; 1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Tim. 4:1; Psa. 72:1-4; Isa. 32:1; Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:14-16; Obad. 21). In it they as Kings and Priests with Him will reign over the earth (Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:4, 6), for the purpose of giving all mankind a full release from the Adamic penalty and a full opportunity to return to God. “Whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17) may then have that full opportunity and may, by improving it, be found worthy of everlasting life; such may at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:7-9), in mankind’s final test, demonstrate that they are both able and willing—able because perfect, willing because of right heart-intentions—to keep the Divine Law. All such will be granted life eternal by the Father. All others will be eternally destroyed (Acts 3:23).
Adam was on trial for this life eternal, but he failed at the out start of his trial. The world of mankind at the opening of the Millennium will start in a different way. They will start imperfect; but, with an experience in the nature and effect of sin, and under the covering of Christ’s ransom merit—not granted as an individual imputation, but through the operation of the Mediatorial Reign—they will be permitted to rise up, up, up, out of sin and death, on the Highway of Holiness (Isa. 35:8, 9); and while having this privilege, they will be permitted to demonstrate their real character, whether determined for good or for evil. If they faithfully determine for good, they will gain eternal life; if for evil, they will lose eternal life, and will die again and be dead forever—incur the Second Death. Thus the Bible teaches a universal redemption or salvation from the Adamic death penalty; but it does not teach a universal salvation unto eternal life. For a complete exposure of the unscripturalness of the theory of universal salvation to eternal life, including an examination of the Scripture texts, which allegedly support it, please see our book, Christ-Spirit-Covenants, pp. 215-233. ’74-71; *’76-22; ’85-55
Samaritan—The Identity Of Them.
Question (1986)—Who were the Samaritans? Were they in Palestine during the seventy years’ desolation?
Answer.—They were a mixture of a few apostate Jews and many Gentiles, settled there by the King of Assyria after the captivity of the Israelites of the 10-tribed kingdom (2 Kings 17:24-41). It seems that they, whom God regarded as Gentiles (John 4:22), were in the land during the seventy years’ desolation. This is not to be regarded as contradictory of “the desolation of the land” “ without inhabitant” (Isa. 6:11), for such desolation and the seventy Jubilees’ keeping concerned the Jews only. The land was to be bereaved of all Jews so that it could keep for them the seventy Jubilees not kept by them (2 Chron. 36:21). ’86-6
Question (1978)—What does the parable of the good Samaritan symbolize (Luke 10:30-37)?
Answer.—The traveler who went from Jerusalem to Jericho represents the human race. His falling among thieves who manhandled and robbed him represents the race falling into the injurious clutches of sin, error, death and the grave. The priest represents Judaism. His passing the wounded man by unhelped, represents that Judaism left the race under the curse unuplifted. The Levite represents Churchianity, which also left the race unuplifted.
The Good Samaritan represents the Christ, Head and Body. His pouring oil and wine in the wounds represents the ministry of the Christ while in the flesh as the salt of the earth helping in a measure fallen mankind with the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth. The Samaritan taking the wounded man to the inn represents the Christ bringing the race into the millennial conditions. His making matters financially good with the innkeeper represents the application of the Ransom merit to Divine Justice for the race’s delivery and care in the Millennium. His promising to make good for any further expense called for by the care of the wounded man represents the Christ’s promise to Justice to make good, by stripes, etc., any further claim that Justice might have for men’s Millennial wilfulness.
The above is the symbolic application. But we should emphasize also the good moral lessons, which by this parable Jesus was teaching (Luke 10:25) the Jewish lawyer (or scribe) and others. The Scribes and Pharisees obviously had a restricted meaning of the word neighbor, which permitted the exercise of a great deal of selfishness, clannishness, etc. (Matt. 18:9-14). They were in the habit of limiting its meaning to those who were near to them in sympathy, sentiment, faith and sectarian relationship. They did not have any dealings with the Samaritans, who were only partly Jewish (John 4:9-25).
Jesus’ parable forced from the doctor of the law the admission that the Samaritan was the real neighbor of the wounded man. Thus He helped him to see at least in part the truth that every human, depending on the closeness of the relationship, is neighbor to every other human, that our common humanity is the neighborly bond and that only those who recognize this bond and act accordingly are worthy of the name neighbor. Also, the Apostle Paul exhorted Christians as follows: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them are of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10; 1 Tim. 6:17-19). ’78-94; *’86-6
Satan—Is To Be Bound With “A Great Chain” Rev. 20:1-3.
Question (1952)—Rev. 20:1-3 indicates that Satan is to be bound with “a great chain” and imprisoned in “the bottomless pit” during the thousand years. What is meant by this?
Answer.—The language of this passage, of course, is figurative. We understand that the bottomless pit symbolizes error, which, indeed, is a pit, and from the standpoint of its having no real foundation, is well represented by a bottomless pit. A key in Bible symbols represents the power to lock or unlock. In this passage the key is used to lock up Satan in the bottomless pit. The great chain by which Satan is bound represents the Truth in its various parts, as mighty in its Biblical, factual and reasonable proofs. The binding of Satan, therefore, represents his restraint by the Truth, Biblically, factually and reasonably set forth. This binding work has been a gradual one, and when completed will have consisted of four stages. Its first stage was from 1874 to 1914, when his binding was his increasing restraint by secular and religious truth, so that he could no longer control the nations by his empire’s three foundation doctrines: the Divine Right of kings, aristocrats and clergy, and their three supporting doctrines: the consciousness of the dead, the change of humans into spirits at death and the bliss or torment of the dead. The completion of the first stage of his binding was marked by the beginning of the World War, to which he resorted to maintain his empire, after realizing that he could no longer control it by its three foundation and three supporting doctrines.
Since then he is trying to maintain it by various other errors, especially combinationistic ones, as these are manifest in various treaties, the League of Nations, the World Court, the United Nations, other alliances among the nations, etc., combines among the financiers and unions and federations among the religious forces. By Biblical, factual and reasonable exhibitions of secular and religious truth, Jesus is showing, and will continue to show the erroneousness of these to such a degree that Satan, to maintain an empire at all, is forced to resort to a revolution of the masses against the classes combined ad above, and thereby will overthrow his present order. His resorting to the World Revolution demonstrates the completion of the second stage of his binding. He will establish on false teachings a socialistic form of government which, as the third stage of Satan's binding, Jesus will expose as erroneous by secular and religious truth; and in a mad dash to preserve some sort of power over mankind, Satan will lead the people on to anarchy, which will prove the completion of the third stage of his binding. The fourth stage of it will be our Lord’s exposures, by secular and religious truth, of his effort of despair and hatred against the Jews by the anarchistic remnants of all nations.
Thus, at the end of the tribulation Satan’s binding will be complete. He will have run the full course of his pre-Millennial deceptions. In every way the Truth—the great chain—will restrain him, so that he will be unable to move hand, foot or mouth in the way of deceiving the nations during the Millennium. His being cast into the bottomless pit represents his being left to his own unaided resources and speculations and being kept from learning any further truth; and his being kept in the darkness of errors of his own making is meant by his remaining in the bottomless pit, which certainly will be painful. To accomplish this certain things will be necessary on the Lord’s part: (1) to remove Satan so far away from the earth that he will know nothing of what is going on here during the Millennium and (2) to keep him there away from mankind during that period. This will prevent his learning the secular and religious truths given mankind during the Millennium; and separating him from contact with mankind will not give him opportunity to deceive any of them. ’52-23; ’94-63
Satan—”Being Loosed A Little Season” Rev. 20:3, 7 What Is Meant.
Question (1952)—What is meant by Satan’s being” loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:3, 7) after the 1000 years are fulfilled?
Answer.—As Satan’s imprisonment means his being in error and away from any contact with the race on earth, his loosing would imply his being brought back into touch with the race and finding out the exact truth on Millennial teachings and conditions. As his binding was a gradual one, extending over many years, so will his loosing—a permitting of more or less of knowledge to influence by deception—be a gradual one extending over many years, though his coming back to the earth will not be a prolonged journey. He will make a careful study of the situation, so as to get a thorough grasp of it, as the basis of a plan to seize control of the human race again. Doubtless Satan will not believe that he will be annihilated at the end of the Little Season, but like Pharaoh, his type, will persuade himself that God is too kind to take extreme measures against him; and he will therefore hope for another empire and reign over the earth for thousands of years, like his first one. God will allow him to attempt to gain control of the race again, only as a means of testing the hearts’ attitude of the perfected race for the manifestation of those who will be loyal to right principles under heart-searching tests and those who under such tests will not be loyal to right principles; for God is determined to let no person, after having had a favorable opportunity for life, exist after the Little Season, if he will not maintain loyalty to righteousness. So Satan’s unbelief and ambition will inveigle him into the role of a tempter; and this will bring upon all a final crucial temptation, whose outcome will be life everlasting to the faithful and endless death to the unfaithful. Thus, as with Adam and Eve in the beginning, a trial to determine worthiness or unworthiness for everlasting life must be undergone by all, and the stage for that trial will be set in the Little Season.
Satan will devise some subtle deception which will be the means of manifesting the worthy and the unworthy in this final trial. Those of mankind who will have developed properly in character (Matt. 25:31-40) will stand in that trial, but those who will not have done so (vs. 41-46) will fall into Satan’s snare, thinking all the while that God approves their wrong course. Satan urging them on, they will finally commit some undeniable sin, which will prove them unworthy of eternal life. Thereupon will follow their and Satan’s and the impenitent angels’ annihilation, symbolized by their being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:9, 10, 15; 21:8). Literal passages, like the following, prove this of the wicked: Job 6:15, 18; 7:9; Psa. 37:10, 35, 36; 49:12; 104:35; Isa. 65:20; while the following passages show this of Satan: Isa. 27:1: Ezek. 28:16-19; Heb. 2:14. Sometimes Rev. 20:10, which in the A.V. speaks of the devil being tormented eternally, is quoted to prove that he will continue to exist forever. To this several things may be answered: The beast and the false prophet, which are spoken of in this passage, and which have the same thing done to them as is done to Satan, are not persons, but Satanic institutions, systems, organizations, which therefore will not exist forever (1 John 3:8). What, then, is the solution of this matter? We reply that the word basanizo, translated tormented in the A.V. of Rev. 20:10, is an unhappy translation here. This word has three meanings: (1) to examine; (2) to examine with torture, and (3) to torture, The A.V. has taken the third, whereas the first meaning of this word fits here. The thought is this: that eternally perfect men will examine Satan’s, the beast’s and the false prophet’s history, theories, effects, etc., and as a result of that examination will always conclude that these deserved their eternal annihilation. The thought is more literally expressed in Isa. 14:15-20. Please see Life—Death—Hereafter, pages 86, 87, for details. ’52-23; ’94-63
Satan—To Be Annihilated.
Question (1969)—I have quoted Heb. 2:14 as evidence that eventually the devil will be destroyed. But a minister tells me that the Greek word here rendered “destroy” does not mean destroy in the sense of annihilate or put out of existence, but simply “to render impotent,” “to annul the power of.” I note ARV rendering: “that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” But the RSV, like the KJV, uses the word “destroy.” Which is correct?
Answer.—The Greek word rendered “he might destroy” in Heb. 2:14 is katargeo. It has the sense of “to render powerless,” but it does not limit in what way the thing shall be rendered powerless. To take away the life of Satan will certainly be to render him powerless, and that more effectively than in any other way. If he were merely restrained of his liberty, he might still have power to exercise his will and other powers in opposition to God and righteousness. The only way to render him absolutely, effectually and completely powerless would be to utterly, completely and eternally annihilate him. The Scriptures indicate that utter destruction will be his final punishment.
The following translations of the Greek word katargeo in the New Testament (italicized) clearly indicate that it is used in the sense of utter destruction:
Rom. 6:6—“that the body of sin might be des-troyed.”
1 Cor. 1:28—“to bring to nought the things that are.”
1 Cor. 6:13—”God shall destroy both it and them.”
1 Cor. 13:8—“prophecies, they shall fail [or cease]; knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
1 Cor. 13:10—”that which is in part shall be done away.”
1 Cor. 15:24—”when he shall have put down [destroyed] all rule and all authority and power.”
1 Cor. 15:26—“the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
2 Cor. 3:7—“ministration of death . . . was to be done away.”
2 Cor. 3:11—“which is done away.”
2 Cor. 3:14—“which vail is done away in Christ.”
Eph. 2:15—“having abolished [destroyed] in his flesh the enmity”
2 Thes. 2:8—“whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”
A careful examination will show that in all the above cases no less than in Heb. 2:14 this word katargeo means destroy in the sense of annihilate or put out of existence. Note especially how it is used with reference to the destruction of Adamic death and the Antichrist. Satan, as well as the rest of the incorrigibly wicked, will eventually destroyed, annihilated, by God; for “all the wicked will he destroy” (Psa. 145:20). “The transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off” (Psa. 37:38). Of Satan it will then be said: “Never shalt thou be any more” (Ezek. 28:19). ’69-76; ’74-39
Saul—Of Tarsus How Did He See Jesus (1 Cor. 15:8).
Question (1957)—How could Saul of Tarsus have seen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:8), if He was personally in heaven, and was to remain there until the end of the Age?
Answer.—The Lord evidently designed that Saul should have the opportunity of being the twelfth Apostle, to take the place of Judas (Acts 1:20). In order to be an Apostle, it was necessary that he should be a witness of our Lord’s resurrection. And so Saul of Tarsus was given a demonstration, which made him an eyewitness to the fact of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead. He tells of it in this way: after detailing how Jesus had been seen of the Apostles and also of above five hundred brethren at one time (1 Cor. 15:5-7), he says (v. 8), “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of [before the] due time.” The miracle that was performed to enable Saul to see Jesus was not sufficient to save his eyes. If Jesus had been a flesh being, Saul’s eyes would have been spared. But He was raised, not in the flesh, but a spirit being (2 Cor. 3:17; 5:16; 1 Cor. 15:42, 44, 45, 50; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 3:2; Eph. 1:20, 21). Consequently, our Lord shone with a light above the brightness of the noonday sun when He manifested Himself to the persecuting Saul (Acts 9:3; 22:6; 26:13). So bright was the light emanating from His spirit body that it blinded Saul’s eyes before they could penetrate through it and see the body out of which it shone forth (John 14:19; 1 Tim. 6:16), so that when St. Paul says he saw our resurrected Lord, we are to understand that he saw, not our Lord’s actual spirit body, but a representation, a vision, of it, the light that shone out of it (Acts 26:13, 19) representing that body to him. Of the Lord Jesus (1 Tim. 6:16) it is said that He dwelleth in a light unapproachable—so bright that it permits no man to see Him.
As to how Saul’s seeing Jesus comports with the thought that Jesus had gone away, and that the heavens were to retain Him until the end of the Age (Acts 3:21), we have this to say: He left the world, telling His disciples that in the end of the Age He would come in great glory to establish His kingdom. But nothing in this statement indicates that He might not be present at some time previous to this. This may be illustrated in the typical Atonement Day sacrifices. The high priest went into the Most Holy and offered the blood of the bullock; then he came out again and offered his second sacrifice, the goat (Lev. 16:11-16). He then returned to the Most Holy with its blood, after which he came forth again. So our Lord came to the earth and was present among men. He finished the work that He had to do here. Then He ascended and appeared in the presence of God (the antitypical Most Holy) to make an appropriation of His merit (the blood of the antitypical bullock) on our behalf (Heb. 9:24). We read that, having finished this work, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, until the time would come when the kingdom would be delivered over to Him, and His enemies would be made His footstool (Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; Acts 2:34-36). But the words “sat down” do not mean that He sat down on a literal seat, and has remained inactive during this Gospel Age. The thought is that He was seated at the Father’s right hand in the sense of being given this permanent position of honor, dignity.
The Scriptures declare that at His Second Coming, our Lord will be seen “sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). We understand, then, that it was in the official sense that He left the earth for the entire Gospel Age, giving up all work as a man—and all work directly for mankind, until the close of the Age. But He appeared to Saul, to enable him, as stated above, to be the twelfth Apostle, in order, to fulfill the Scripture statements concerning Judas (Psa. 109:7, 8; Acts 1:15-20). This seems to have been an exceptional matter; for the power of the Holy Spirit was to operate in the world throughout this Gospel Age. Saul indeed saw Jesus in the glory light emanating from His spirit body, as one born before the due time, for in the due time—the time of the Church’s resurrection as the “firstborn” (Heb. 12:23; Rev. 14:4)—all the saints “see Him [not as He was—in the flesh, but] as He is” (1 John 3:2). ’57-94; ’84-94
Saul Of Tarsus—Luke’s And Paul’s Statement.
Question (1977)—In Acts 9:7, Luke states concerning Saul of Tarsus and Jesus’ appearance to him on the road to Damascus, that “the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” In relating this experience in Acts 22:9, Paul states, “They that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.” How are we to harmonize these two statements?
Answer.—To understand the matter, we should keep in mind that the words to hear are used in at least three senses in the Bible: (1) to take in sound by the physical ear, which is the ordinary meaning of the word (e.g., Matt. 13:19, 23); (2) to take in the meaning of the words by the mental ear, that is, to understand (e.g., Matt. 13:15, 16); and (3) to obey (e.g., Acts 3:22, 23).
In Acts 9:7 the “hearing” was obviously done in the sense of (1), taking in sound by the physical ear, whereas in Acts 22:9 Saul’s companions “heard not,” in the sense of (2), not taking in the meaning of the words by the mental ear. Luke therefore in Acts 9:7 tells us that Saul’s companions heard—took in the sound of—Jesus’ voice, and Paul tells us in Acts 22:9 that they did not understand what Jesus was saying. ’77-6
Saul Of Tarsus—Companions Stood Speechless Acts 9: 7.
Question (1977)—In Acts 9:7; quoted in the previous question, Luke says that Saul’s companions “stood speechless, hearing a voice,” but in Acts 26:14 Paul says that “when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me.” How are we to harmonize these two statements?
Answer.—We harmonize them as follows: When the dazzling light from heaven appeared, all at first stood speechless, hearing a voice whose meaning they did not understand; thereafter they all fell to the ground, and Saul alone understood what Jesus voice then said, though the others while prostrate heard the sound of His voice speaking to Saul. ’77-6
Saved—Will Any Be By Ignorance.
Question (1969)—Will the heathen and others be saved by their ignorance?
Answer.—We believe not: for there is no power or anything else good in ignorance to save anyone. Instead of ignorance being Scripturally a ground of salvation it is Scripturally set forth as a reason for alienation from God and for perdition (Eph. 4:18; Hos. 4:6; Rom. 2:12). Furthermore, the Scriptures show that knowledge is essential to faith and salvation (Rom. 10:14-17; Acts 4:12). This is likewise implied in the fact that obtaining salvation presupposes personal acts by the intellect, sensibilities and will, i.e., a matter pertaining to the domain of character, requiring, as it does, on our part the steps of repentance, faith and consecration. It is for this reason that the Church was commanded to teach, i.e., makes others know, that those taught might by their knowledge gain salvation (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3; 2:20, 21).
Indeed, the theory that the heathen and others are saved by their ignorance is a patent absurdity. Why send them missionaries to teach them salvation, if they are saved by ignorance? According to this theory to teach them would cause most of them—those who will not believe—to be lost who otherwise would have been saved by their ignorance. So all through the generations of the Gospel Age to preach to them would have been the cause of perdition to almost all who heard the message.
Does someone say we must preach the Gospel message to them because God commands it? We answer yes; but evidently that thereby they might gain what otherwise they would not gain—salvation. This theory makes God defeat His own wishes—the desire to bless everybody. Are we to believe that God who desires that the people may gain life (Ezek. 18:32) is so lacking in common sense and practicability as to institute the office of teaching the Word of God as the means of saving people—through which at most a comparatively few are saved now—when leaving them in ignorance would have resulted in the salvation of all of them? Why institute the office of preaching and teaching at all, if ignorance will save all? Manifestly the thought that the heathen are saved by ignorance is unbiblical, unreasonable and unfactual. God has a better way of saving people than by ignorance, which cannot save, because, while it does not better, it actually depraves character. His way of saving the elect now is “by the foolishness of preaching”—teaching, giving knowledge of things pertinent to salvation; and His way of saving the non-elect in the Millennial Age will be by the power of teaching—causing them to know—and by such teaching enabling them to lay hold on, and use for their uplift, the restitution processes whereby all may be saved, and whereby the willing and obedient, and no others, will be saved. And such knowledge now inures, and in the Millennial Age will inure to develop people into the only condition of heart and mind in which eternal life would be a practical and beneficent provision—a character like God’s that from its very make-up translates its knowledge into suitable thoughts, words and acts to God’s glory and to the profit of self and of others. ’69-95; *76-94; ’86-99
Sell—Should We Sell All That We Have?
Question (1958)—In Matt. 19:21 we read of Jesus’ advice to a young man: “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Should we go and literally do as the Master here advised?
Answer.—If that young man had assented to the Lord’s proposition, and had made further inquiry as to the particulars, it is our opinion that Jesus would have modified His statement to the extent of suggesting that the selling and giving to the poor be not done all at once, but gradually, as the necessities might seem to open up. In the language of the Apostle, “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Phil. 4:5). We are to use earthly things and earthly opportunities and temporalities with great moderation, self-denial, as the case may seem to make necessary.
We are to have mercy, compassion, sympathy, and love. Did not our Lord allow Mary to anoint His head and also His feet and were not these caresses and manifestations of love of an earthly sort? There are various items to intimate the Lord’s special love for Lazarus, Martha and Mary, James and John, and for His mother. And this would seem to give us ground for a similar course. But as Jesus did not allow those earthly loves to hinder Him from the Father’s service, so we, also, must be on the alert about the Father’s business. ’58-71
Seven Years—Of Plenty And Of Famine.
Question (1958)—Are the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in Joseph’s time typical?
Answer.—We believe that Joseph is typical of our Lord Jesus and that the seven years of plenty represent the grace and bounty of God in Christ laid up in this great day of salvation—the Gospel Age (2 Cor. 6:2), the Church’s Judgment Day (1 Pet. 4:17); and that the years of famine represent the Millennial Age, the world’s Judgment Day (Acts 17:31), in which the world (doubtless the majority) will come to hunger after righteousness and find none except that which the antitype of Joseph (Christ) possesses and controls. The selling by the Egyptians of their goods and themselves to the king through Joseph, in order to obtain food, we understand to typify the consecration of the above-mentioned of mankind, of themselves and all the bread of eternal life. See Gen. 41:54-56; 47:13-25. ’58-71; ’71-78
Shepherd—And The “Porter” To The Sheepfold John 10:2, 3.
Question (1965)—In John 10:2, 3 we read, “He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth.” Since Jesus is the shepherd, what are we to understand is meant by the “porter”?
Answer.—We understand that the “porter” represents the Law. Israel under the Law Covenant looked to Jehovah as their great Shepherd (Psa. 23:1; 80:1). Eventually He will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him” (Eph. 1:10). But the Law Covenant could not accomplish the salvation of the lost world of mankind and their restoration to the perfect life and its life-rights lost for them in the Garden of Eden (Gal. 2:16; Rom. 8:2-4; Heb. 7:18, 19). The Law served as a schoolmaster to bring Israel to Christ, that they might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24-26). He is the Good Shepherd that gave His life for the sheep (John 1:11).
Israel had already been gathered during the Jewish Age, as those who would be prepared to be the flock of the Good Shepherd when He would come. These were “kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be reveled” (Gal. 3:23). They were waiting for the coming of the Good Shepherd to give them access to the sheepfold and entrance into the Kingdom of God (Luke 16:16). Others, indeed, came before the Messiah, affecting to be the true shepherd, leaders sent by God, but they were mere pretenders, who sought their own good and glory, and not that of the sheep (compare Acts 5:36, 37). They were thieves and robbers, who sought to gain possession of the sheep for their own selfish ends.
The “porter” (representing the Law) would not recognize any of these pretenders, nor approve them, nor open to them access to the sheep, for none of them could keep the Law, nor remove the sheep from its condemnation. But when the true Shepherd came He satisfied the Law (the porter), He fulfilled the Law (Matt. 5:17-20); He bought the sheep from God in His Justice, giving His own life as their redemption price, both from the Adamic curse of death and from the added curse of the Law (Rom. 10:4, 5; Gal. 3:13). Thus He gained the full right to open the door, the full sanction of the porter, the full authority to lead forth the sheep to the green pastures and still waters of Divine truth which then became due to be given to them. ’65-38
Shepherd—The “Good Shepherd” And The “Door” (John 10:7, 9).
Question (1965)—In John 10:7, 9 Jesus says, “I am the door”; and in v. 11 He says, “I am the good shepherd.” How can both be true?
Answer.—He is both. He is the Door of the sheepfold, the lawful, proper entrance-gate, by which God’s people may enter into God’s rest. All who had ever come previously, claiming to be messiahs, had attempted to climb up by some other way than that of keeping the Divine Law and purchasing the sheep. They were thieves and robbers, attempting to take what they had not secured a right to, and that for selfish gain. Now, however, the Good Shepherd had come, and had given His life for the sheep, and had purchased them, opening a legal door of entrance to them and liberty for them, and it was appropriate that all of the true sheep should know it. He explained (John 14:6), “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He is the only Door to the sheepfold; “neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). He is also the Good Shepherd that God has set over His sheep (Ezek. 34:23; Isa. 40:11; John 10:11-16; Heb. 13:20). “The sheep follow him; for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” ’65-38
Shepherd—The voice Of The Good.
Question (1965)—Was the voice of the Good Shepherd uttered by our Lord when He denounced the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23) and by the Apostle Paul when he used the following language to Elymas, the sorcerer (Acts 13:10): “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
Answer.—Some might consider these statements as examples of disgraceful “name calling,” but actually the voice of the Good Shepherd was heard in both cases. There are times when the work of a shepherd makes it necessary for him to be severe, e.g., when dealing with sheep that show goatlike tendencies, and with anyone or anything that would seek to injure the flock. As with the natural shepherd in these things, so is with the Good Shepherd and His flock. Our Lord’s severe denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees when He pronounced the eight “woes” upon them (Matt. 23:13-29) was an example of the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking to a wicked class in a denunciation which was more severe than any found in any other literature. In that chapter He used such severe language as: “hypocrites,” “whited sepulchres,” “blind guides,” “ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation [judgment] of hell [not hades, but gehenna]?” And when Paul used the above-mentioned language, it was the voice of the Good Shepherd again, the Lord this time using His servant as His mouthpiece, knowing that the wickedness of Elymas required such a severe rebuke. ’65-39; ’67-7
Shepherd—John 10:9, “He . . . Shall Go In And Out, And Find Pasture.
Question (1955)—What does our Lord mean by the expression in John 10:9, “He . . . shall go in and out, and find pasture?
Answer.—Our Lord’s thought will become clear, if we keep in mind the figure used by Him in this connection—that of a shepherd and his sheep into a fold for their protection against the dangers that lurked in the night; and in the morning he led them out of the fold to the pasture. As the fold served the sheep as a protection, so it fittingly represents the condition of being under the Divine providence. The sheep being led into the fold by their shepherd beautifully pictures forth how we as the Lord’s sheep are brought into the care and protection of Divine providence, by Jesus, our Shepherd,—thus we “go in.” In other words, by the sheep going in is meant their entering into and becoming sharers of the Divine care and protection exercised by Divine providence. That part of the figure therefore represents the condition of being under the Divine providence. The other part of the text—“He . . . shall go . . . out, and find pasture” represents another special privilege of God’s sheep. As the Palestinian shepherd in the morning led forth his sheep that he might feed them in the pasture, he illustrated how the Lord Jesus as our Shepherd introduces us into another privileges of God’s sheep—feeding on the Word of God. In the pastures of the Word we are led by our Shepherd to the most refreshing feasts of Truth. We praise the Lord for causing us to go in—causing us to receive the blessings of God’s providences—and for causing us to go out—causing us to feed on God’s Word, the meat in due season, which God generously supplies through Christ. ’55-39, ’60-79; ’65-38
Question (1982)—Is the so-called Shroud of Turin likely the burial garment of Jesus?
Answer.—Some people especially some Roman Catholics, believe it is, and they have been trying hard to get others to believe the same. It has been given wide publicity in the news media. In the U.S. they have formed a Holy Shroud Guild, with thousands of members. Some have been claiming that they can heal people by the Shroud’s influence.
The Shroud has been housed in a cathedral in Turin, Italy since 1578 and its existence has been traced to Lirey, France in 1354. Some scholars claim it is the same as the Image of Odessa, which legend says was brought to Odessa (in Turkey) in the first century A.D. Tradition holds that the Image was bought by the house of Savoy (in Italy) in 1452. The Shroud of Turin is now the property of that once royal house.
It is claimed that various tests have proven that it is not a forgery, but that it is genuine very ancient cloth. The Vatican has not allowed carbon 14 testing up to now. Loyola University theologian Francis L. Filas claims that an imprint found on the Shroud is definitely from a rare coin issued during Pontius Pilate’s reign, and proves that the Shroud originated at the time and area where Jesus was crucified.
Filas says, “Imprints of a misspelled Pontius Pilate coin now in existence are the same as imprints of an apparent coin on the right eye of the crucified man’s figure on the Shroud of Turin [in ancient times in such places coins were usually placed on the eyes of the dead].” He goes on to say, “This discovery proves the authenticity, the place of origin and the approximate dating of the Shroud of Turin beyond reasonable doubt.”
The cloth at Turin, about 14- 1/4 feet by 3- 1/2 feet in size, shows, it is claimed, an image of a man, said to be about 5 feet, 11 inches tall, who was beaten, scourged, crowned with thorns and crucified, with imprints of nails in hands and feet. Even if it can be proven that the Shroud of Turin is not a hoax or a forgery, and that it is an ancient piece of cloth that has existed since the first century A.D. and was in the area where Jesus died, this would not, of course prove that it was Jesus’ shroud. And even if it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was His shroud, it would have no miraculous powers.
The Scriptures seem to indicate clearly, however, that the Shroud of Turin could not possibly be Jesus’ shroud, because the Shroud of Turin reportedly is all of one piece, with evidence on it of a man’s head having been crowned with thorns, whereas the burial garments of Jesus are mentioned in the Bible as having had a separate “napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes [the main part of His burial garments], but wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:7). Note also that Lazarus’ burial garments are likewise mentioned as having two parts, the napkin about the head being separate from the part for the body (John 11:44). ’82-6
Sin—”The Wages Of Sin Is Death.
Question (1969)—Since “the wages of sin is death” and eternal life is “the gift of God” through Jesus (Rom. 6:23), why is it that some still teach that the penalty for sin is eternal life in torment?
Answer.—Up until about a century ago this was the common, almost universal, teaching throughout Christendom, but today only a comparatively small minority still teach this God-dishonoring, blasphemous doctrine. Why? Because in many cases they have not yet wiped the cobwebs of the Dark Ages from their eyes sufficiently to see the greater light that shines on the Christian pathway in our day. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect [the Millennial] day” (Prov. 4:18). In some cases it is because they insist on interpreting literally the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and some of the symbolic statements in the book of Revelation, etc.
Surely with many Bible helps—translations, concordances, dictionaries, commentaries, Bible harmonies, archaeological and other discoveries, etc.—of today, we should have greater knowledge and understanding on the Truth of God’s Word than our Christian forefathers had in the Dark Ages. Those who today, in violation of God’s character of infinite wisdom, justice, power and love, more or less wilfully teach that He preserves billions of people (most of whom have never heard of the only name whereby men must be saved—Acts 4:12) in eternal fire (whether literal or figurative) for the purpose of tormenting them throughout the endless Ages of eternity, are surely sinning against much light.
The Bible makes it plain that the soul is not something invisible, indivisible and immortal inside the human being, but is the person himself—”man became a living soul [i.e., a sentient being]” (Gen 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:45). Accordingly, the human soul or person can breathe, hear, see, touch, speak, swear work, rest, eat, drink, and be merry (Josh. 11:11; Lev. 5:1, 4; 7:18, 20, 21, 27; 23:30; Luke 12:19). It is a mistake to claim that the human soul or being is inherently immortal and cannot die. Nothing in the Bible teaches this. Rather, it teaches to the contrary: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4, 20); it shall be destroyed (Lev. 23:30). God “is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna]” (Matt. 10:28); “all the wicked will he destroy” (Psa. 145:20). “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul [not from eternal life in torment, but] from death” (James 5:20). “And it shall come to pass [in the world’s thousand-year Judgment Day—2 Pet. 3:7, 8], that every soul, which will not hear [obey] that prophet [the Christ, Head and Body], shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:23).
God has not promised that man shall have eternal life, in heaven on earth or anywhere else, except as “the gift of God . . . through Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:23). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Many preachers and Bible teachers have become enlightened and have accepted personally the truth of God’s Word on this subject. Some of them are brave enough to come to the front line of battle and declare the truth of God’s Word despite criticism and persecution. But others, sad to say, are too timid and fearful to “endure hardness” by facing squarely the issue on this subject. Not being really “good soldiers of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3), they, though knowing the Truth, prefer to remain silent, instead of teaching the Bible truth on hell, the wages of sin being death instead of eternal life in torment, the unconscious condition of death, the mortality of the human soul, the necessity of the resurrection from the dead, the thousand-year Judgment Day for the world of mankind, etc. (More information on request. See especially Life-Death-Hereafter—p. 72 of this issue.) ’69-70
Sin—Forgiveness Of Original And Other Sins.
Question (1978)—In the March 1978 BS, p. 19, col. 2, par. 5, we find this statement: “When we first come to the Lord, it is not necessary to pray for forgiveness of original sin.” Will you please explain further about this?
Answer.—Adam’s sin was the first, or original sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22; 1 Tim. 2:14). Adam was a perfect, man, with a perfect human race in his loins. It was “the [perfect] man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [Greek antilutron—a price to correspond for Adam’s debt] for all [by ransoming Adam Jesus ransoms also all of his posterity], to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). Since God thus arranged through Jesus to pay Adam’s debt by His great Ransom-sacrifice, it is not necessary for us to pray for the forgiveness of original sin—Adam’s sin.
But because of Adam’s sin, all of his posterity share by heredity in his depravity, and therefore they also are guilty of sins resulting from the original sin—Adam’s sin. These are sins of Adamic weakness and ignorance, for which the value of merit, of Jesus’ Ransom sacrifice atones. All of Adam’s posterity are born with Adamic sin, depravity and condemnation to death. “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:5).
When any one of Adam’s race recognizes that he or she is a sinner of Adam’s race, justly under the condemnation of death, and in prayer comes to God in proper repentance and faith in Christ and His broken body and shed blood as his Ransomer, his Redeemer, his Savior, and asks God for forgiveness of his or her sins, God through Jesus’ Ransom-merit does forgive the repentant and believing sinner for his or her sins that are past (Rom. 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:9, 10; Eph. 1:7; 2:13-16; 4:32; 5:2; Col. 1:14, 20-22; 2:14; 1 Thes. 1:10; Heb. 9:14, 22, 24-28; 1 John 1:7, 9; 2:1, 2, 12).
It is after these by consecration, or dedication, of themselves to God have come into covenant relationship with God that they have need also to pray for the forgiveness of their trespasses—their sins of omission or commission conflicting with their covenant of consecration and the Divine requirements. Thus they are privileged to offer the Lord’s prayer. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” These trespasses thus to be forgiven do not include the original sin. That was forgiven freely for all those who accepted Christ and came under this covenant arrangement. The trespasses are our failures to come up to the standard required of the consecrated, after God through Jesus, “according to the riches of his grace,” has freed us from the transgressions that are past (see BS ’78, p. 19, col. 2, par. 6). ’78-38
Sin—Will There Ever Be A Danger, In The Future For Man To Sin Again.
Question (1958)—Will there be any danger that at some future time after “all iniquity shall stop her mouth” (Psa. 107:42), it may again invade the world, again degrade God’s human family and obscure the glory of the Divine creation?
Answer.—No, this will never be. The guarantee of this is in the Lord’s words that there shall be no more death (Rev. 21:4; 1 Cor. 15:25, 26). So surely as there would be sin, the penalty of sin, which is death (Ezek. 18:4, 20; Rom. 6:23), would have to follow it. Hence the guarantee that there will be no more dying is the guarantee that there will be no more sin.
But how can this be guaranteed and at the same time man’s free moral agency be preserved? The Scriptures give the explanation, telling us that at the close of the Mediatorial Kingdom, when Messiah shall have accomplished His work of putting down all opposition and bringing all the willing and obedient up to perfection of human nature, then He will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-26). The next step in the program outlined in the Divine Revelation is that the world, no longer under the Mediatorial covering of the Redeemer and no longer needing such a covering because perfect, will be subjected by the Father to severe tests of their love and loyalty, their obedience, similar to the test which came upon Father Adam in Eden, when he was perfect.
The description in Rev. 20 and 21:1-8 shows that Satan will be loosed to tempt and seek to deceive all the people. What proportion he will succeed in deceiving is not intimated, but the general statement is made that all those who are deceived by him in that crucial test will be utterly destroyed with him in the Second Death, which, symbolically, is represented by the “lake of fire.” This will leave a clean universe, as set forth in the Scriptures, and every voice in heaven and in earth will be proclaiming praise, honor, dominion, might and power to Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb (Rev. 5:13). Blessed are our eyes, ears and understanding hearts, which are already enlightened in advance of the world, that have already learned of the glory of God. We with the seraphim proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” and we rejoice that the time is near at hand when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory (Isa. 6:3). ’58-93; ’74-94
Sin—Will The Curse Of And Death Ever Be Removed From Mankind.
Question (1962)—Will the curse of sin and death that is upon mankind ever be removed from them?
Answer.—“Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord [Jehovah]; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive [retain] until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). “In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel”; “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity”; “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed [for explanation of this text, see B.S. No. 235—a copy free on request]. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat . . . The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock; and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom], saith the Lord” (Isa. 29:18, 19; 33:24; 65:20-25).
“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord [His kingdom on earth, for which Jesus told us to pray—Matt. 6:10], and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem . . . Neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah 4:2-4). Then, through Abraham and his seed, which is Christ, Head and Body, all the families of the earth will be blessed, and “the desire of all nations shall come” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29; Haggai 2:7). His kingdom will “fill the whole earth,” and it shall stand for ever” (Num. 14:21; Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14; Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14; Rev. 11:15). Then “the tabernacle of God will be with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death [this applies to earth; for there has never been any death in heaven], neither sorrows, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away”; “And there shall be no more curses ” (Rev. 21:3, 4; 22:3). ’62-6
Sin—Three Kinds Of.
Question (1962)—How many kinds of sin are there?
Answer.—There are, generally speaking, three kinds of sin:
(1) Sins of weakness and/or ignorance, sometimes call venial sins: “He that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes” (Luke 12:48); “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17); “Death reigned . . . over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (Rom. 5:14); “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom. 7:19, 20); “ I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:13); “There is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:17).
(2) Sins that are fully wilful, sometimes called mortal sins: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, . . . if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4, 6); “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26); “There is a sin unto death” (1 John 5:16).
(3) Sins partly of wilfulness and partly of weakness and/or ignorance, sometimes called mixed sins: “That servant which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did accordance to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke 12:47); “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man . . . And Peter remembered the word of Jesus . . . and he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:74, 75). ’62-70; ’78-22; ’80-46
Sin—Forgiveness Of All.
Question (1987)—”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). How comprehensive is the word “all” here used?
Answer,—Except sin against the holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31, 32), all manner of sin among the sons of men shall be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. The holy Spirit here denotes a light, an intelligence, respecting God’s purpose. Whoever wilfully and intelligently would sin against Jesus, would be guilty of blasphemy against the holy Spirit. But if he blasphemes the name of Jesus, being deceived in some way, then the sin is not blasphemy against the holy Spirit and may be forgiven. In the case of the church, these forgivable sins will be forgiven through the Advocate, who has appeared for us in the heavenly court and can restore us to favor with the Father, unless we sin against full light and knowledge. To do this would be to take ourselves out of His hands.
But there might be a sin partly wilful—a sin in which both superstition or weakness and a certain amount of wilfulness had a part. As to how this would be possible we answer that there is a difference between the forgiveness of the moral obliquity and the sin. For instance, a child has committed some trespass and the parent says, “I will punish you for what you have done.” There might be two parts of the punishment, one corporal punishment, the other the displeasure of the parent.
With some children the latter part of the punishment, the cloud between the child and parent, would be unbearable. Then the parent might say, “Since you tell me that you are sorry and that you will never do it again, I forgive you. But I told you that there would be a penalty attaching to disobedience. I will make the penalty as light as would seem best in my judgment, but you must still bear punishment.” And that which would be proper for an earthly parent we may consider might be done by the Heavenly Father.
In the case of the Prophet David: he committed two very serious grievous sins—one in respect to Uriah and Uriah’s wife, and the other in respect to Uriah’s death. But we remember with what perseverance David pleaded with the Lord; and though the Lord indicated His forgiveness, yet there must be a punishment. Several features of this punishment were forecast by God, e.g., the sword would not depart from his house, and the various rebellions of his own house; also David’s child died (2 Sam. 12:10-22).
Again, Satan provoked David to number Israel, contrary to the command of the Lord; God was displeased and smote Israel. Again David repented and prayed earnestly for forgiveness. The Lord offered him three things, one of which he must choose as the punishment for his sin. “Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes . . . or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel” (1 Chron. 21:10-14). Realizing his own weakness, David, in humility declined to make a choice. The three days’ pestilence was sent upon Israel, and there fell 70,000 men; but in the meantime, before the punishment reached David, he had received the Lord’s forgiveness for his sin.
So with the sins of the Lord’s people. If there is more or less of ignorance, then the punishment is in proportion to the amount of wilfulness. Temptations come to us and to all mankind. Christ died for man’s sin, from which he freely absolves the whole human family—His people now, and the world in their day of trial. 87-62
Question (1987)—Is God’s forgiveness extended to us by God freely, or must we first meet certain conditions?
Answer.—To enjoy such forgiveness we have some-thing to do. Not that we can merit it; for being condemned to utter bankruptcy we have nothing of worth, nor can have anything of worth that is not forfeited. All the merit is our Lord’s and all the grace is God’s and Christ’s. Yet, for us fully to receive God’s forgiveness, there are certain conditions that we must fulfill. These are three: (1) repentance toward God, (2) faith toward our Lord Jesus and (3) consecration of ourselves to God fully. The first implies that in addition to being sorry for sin, especially because it displeases God, we hate and forsake it, seeking to make amends to all concerned, and that we heartily love and practice righteousness toward God and man. The second implies that we distrust our own ability to commend ourselves to God’s approval and heartily trust and act upon the trust that Jesus’ righteousness makes up for all our lacks and sins before God for our justification before God. The third implies that we heartily give up self-will and world-will and heartily accept God’s will as ours. Those who so have done during the Gospel Age have received fully and actually God’s forgiveness, i.e., God ceased to cherish displeasure, resentment and punishment toward them and cherished pleasure, friendliness and remission of punishment toward them. Indeed, in a tentative way those who fulfilled the first and second conditions for forgiveness have during the Gospel Age enjoyed forgiveness from God. ’87-63
Sin—God’s Forgiveness Not Extended To Deliberate Sins.
Question (1987)—Is forgiveness restricted to sins of weakness and ignorance?
Answer.—We understand that God’s forgiveness and its exercise refer to the Adamic sin and all the sins that result therefrom, i.e., all sins of weakness and ignorance. There is a sin that never is forgiven. The sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit, which means a wilful sin against knowledge and ability. This sin against the Holy Spirit is any deliberate and wilful sin committed, not from ignorance and weakness, but from the love of sin, fully knowing it to be sin and being fully able to avoid it, yet wickedly committing it.
There are two forms of this sin, but neither of them is forgivable. The first form of this sin is committed when there is a measure of weakness or a measure of ignorance present, yet on the other hand there is also a measure of wilfulness against some knowledge and ability as respects the sin. Such a sin we call a partially wilful sin against the Holy Spirit. While God through the ransom forgives the weakness and ignorance in it, He does not forgive the wilfulness in it. But such a partially wilful sin is not the form of the sin against the Holy Spirit that puts one into the second death—the sin unto death, as St. John calls it (1 John 5:16).
How, then, does God deal with one who has committed partially wilful sin, so far as its wilfulness is concerned? He punishes this wilfulness and thus makes the partially wilful sinner expiate his own sin by stripes. While Christ died for the sin of Adam and its resultant sins, He did not die for the wilfulness in any of our sins. Hence the wilfulness must be striped out of the person, i.e., he will receive such chastisement as will take away from his character the wilfulness that prompted the sin. The Scriptures teach this to be the Divine arrangement with such sins—Luke 12:47, 48.
But when the sin is totally wilful, i.e., without any weakness or ignorance and against full knowledge of the nature and quality of the act and against full ability to avoid the act it is expiable only by eternal destruction. But such a sin is never committed by a sinner unless he has previously had the following five experiences: (1) He must have been enlightened as to the Truth in general, and particularly with reference to the act i question; (2) he must have been justified; (3) he must have been spirit-begotten; (4) he must have appreciated the deep things of God’s Word or Plan; and (5) he must have appreciated the privilege of becoming one of the Kings and Priests of the next Age. In other words only advanced Christians are capable of committing this sin. If such fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. For them is reserved eternal destruction (Heb. 6:4-8). For them there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, since they have sinned away the merit of the one sacrifice with utter wilfulness.
In three ways this sin is committed: (1) by their repudiating the ransom sacrifice; (2) by their repudiating their share in the sacrificial sufferings of the Christ and (3) by their destroying the Holy Spirit in their hearts (Heb. 10:26-29; 6:6; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4; 1 John 5:16). These things, however, cannot be done by one unless he has been an advanced spirit-begotten Son of God. Frequently, taking advantage of the ignorance of those who have not had the five experiences of Heb. 6:4, 5, Satan deceives them through their ignorance and tender consciences into believing that they have sinned the sin unto death, and thereby most grievously torments them. In not a few cases he has tormented them into insanity and suicide. One of the surest evidences that one has not committed this sin is great grief over what he thinks is it. Satan fails so to torment those who understand the situation. In most every case those who have committed this sin are so hardened that they never come to remorse. Let us, therefore, turn a deaf ear to Satan’s suggestions that we have committed this sin. Those who have committed it have so corrupted themselves as to be incapable of repentance and God never forgives them. Since they are irreformable God mercifully destroys them, in order to prevent their becoming an eternal curse to themselves and to others. Their sin is inexpiable only by eternal annihilation. “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, even things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”
Apart from the sin against the Holy Spirit, let us remember that there is forgiveness before God for all sins. Let this thought comfort us in our transgressions of weakness and ignorance; and let it lead us to prize our God with supreme appreciation for His wisdom, justice, love and power, which suppress the control of His combativeness and destructiveness, and which thus makes Him long-suffering and forbearing and forgiving as to our sins. Hallelujah! What a Savior! And let this praise arise to God out of every heart that has experienced God’s forgiving grace in Christ! ’87-63
Sin—How Sin Is Committed.
Question (1962)—In what ways can sin be committed?
Answer.—There are four ways in general:
(1) By thought: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5); “If thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth” (Prov. 30:32); “Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity” (Isa. 59:7).
(2) By desire: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).
(3) By speech: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).
(4) By deed: “Their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). ’62-70; ’78-22; ’80-46
Sins—The Remitting of Sins.
Question (1980)—what is the meaning of Jesus’ statement to the Apostles in John 20:23, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained”?
Answer.—Jesus’ words are not to be understood after the manner in vogue among many Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, etc.—that a priest by virtue of the sacrifice of the mass, or otherwise, is able to remit sins. The thought rather is that these twelve Apostles in particular, and less particularly all the Lord’s true footstep followers while in the world, would be under the influence, guidance and instruction of His holy spirit to such an extent that they would know the terms and conditions on which would be possible for God to forgive sins, and that they might thus know certainly as to be able to tell their hearers whether or not their sins were forgiven by the Lord.
Jesus Himself, by faith looking forward to his completing the sacrifice for sins, declared to the man sick of palsy, “Son be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matt. 9:2).
We have this privilege still, and every true child of God should know how to exercise it, so that if brought into contact with penitent sinners he could render them the necessary assistance and indicate to them upon what particular terms they might know that their sins were forgiven of the Lord.
For instance, we may assure anyone who gives evidence of contrition, of heart-repentance, restitution to the extent of ability, faith in Christ and an obedient desire to walk according to His ways—we may assure any such person that his sins are forgiven; not that we have the power to forgive them, but we, being intimate with the Master and knowing His mind on the subject, can speak for Him as His mouthpieces, to declare the terms of reconciliation. Whoever knows about attaining forgiveness for his own sins, should know also how to direct and assist others in knowing how to obtain God’s forgiveness of their sins through Christ.
We can assure such penitent ones with the blessed assurances of the Scriptures, e.g., Micah 7:18, 19: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
And, as one writer said, we are not to pull the sins up from time to time and be vexed and tormented in conscience by them. Rather, we are to put a big sign with “No Fishing” written on it. ’80-79
Sinners—Proper Course For Sinners.
Question (1962)—What should one do who has committed a sin or sins, which he recognizes to be more or less wilful?
Answer.—Above all, do not give in to Satan’s temptation to cause you to believe that you have committed the sin unto death, and that there is no further hope for you, and that therefore it is useless to try to come back into harmony with God, truth and righteousness. Instead, remember that “a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Prov. 24:16); go to God in prayer in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, and assure Him of your sincere repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-11; Psa. 32:51; 130), of your desire for His forgiveness, and of your determination to follow the right course in the future. Ask Him to forgive your sins in the name and merit of Jesus (Luke 11:4; 15; Acts 13:38, 39; Rom. 3:24-26; Col. 1:14, 20-22; 1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2, 12; Isa. 1:18); and be assured that both He and our Lord Jesus are ready to forgive you and to receive you as you come in this way (Psa. 34:19; Isa. 57:15; John 6:37; Matt. 11:28, 29; 18:21, 22). Leave it to God to give you whatever “stripes” He sees are necessary because of the wilfulness in your sins, and be resigned to bear the “stripes” uncomplainingly as chastenings, given to you by Him in love (Heb. 12:1-13). The fact that one who has committed a more or less wilful sin is penitent and is seeking forgiveness is a good evidence that he has not committed the sin unto death, the unforgivable sin, for in the case of those who have committed the sin unto death it is impossible “to renew them again unto repentance” (Heb. 6:4-6). ’62-71; ’78-23; ’80-47
Sodom—Is There Hope For The People.
Question (1964)—Is there any hope for any of the people of Sodom to gain everlasting life?
Answer.—There is only one name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus, the Son of God, is “the way, the truth, and the life”; and no man can come to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6); He “by the grace of God tasted death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). Only by faith in His Ransom-sacrifice can anyone gain everlasting life (John 3:15-17, 36; 1 John 5:11, 12). He “gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6). He is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”; He “will draw all men” unto Him (John 1:9; 12:32); He is the great Seed of Abraham, who will “justify the heathen through faith” and in whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 28:14; Gal. 3:8, 16).
These promises obviously include the people of Sodom; and Jesus specifies them particularly in Matt. 11:23, 24; Luke 10:12, showing that their judgment or trial for life (which can come only after they hear of Jesus’ name—“neither is there salvation in any other”—Acts 4:12) is yet future: “ I say unto you [the people of Capernaum, who had sinned against greater light], It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Also, God definitely promised (Ezek. 16:48-63) that the people of Sodom, the very ones who perished in the days of Lot, are to be restored “to their former estate” (v. 55), and that this will be in “the times of restitution of all things,” during our Lord’s Second Presence, when all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Acts 3:19-21; 15:15-17). For further information on this subject, particularly on the people of Sodom, see B.S. 254 (a copy free on request). ’64-15; ’79-87
Sons Of God—The Daughters of Men.
Question (1921)—In your issue of Sept. 15 you explain the sons of God of Gen. 6:1-4 as being angels. I have understood these sons of God to be the male descendants of Seth, and the daughters of men to be the female descendants of Cain. Which is right?
Answer.—According to our understanding the sons of God in this passage are angels, and not human beings. Fortunately for us the Lord Himself has given us the answer to this question in Jude 6 and 7, which we will quote, from the American Revised Version, with bracketed comments of our own: “The angels that kept not their own principality [the condition and rulership that was theirs as spirit beings], but left their proper habitation [gave up living on the spirit plane by creating for themselves human bodies in which they abode as in their own proper dwelling places, when they lived with women, and by them produced a race of giants.] He [God] hath kept in everlasting [long continued] bonds under darkness [they have been restrained in, and limited to, darkness as the only condition in which they could materialize themselves, as is evidenced in the darkened rooms in which they appear in spiritualistic séances], unto the judgment of the Great Day [the Millennial Day, when, after having a little liberty at its beginning, they will with Satan be cast into the bottomless pit for the thousand years, and will with him be executed at the end of the thousand years]; even as [here Jude compares them in their conduct to the Sodomites, etc.] Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, having in like manner with these [done the same things as the fallen angels] given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh [beings of another nature, as the men of Sodom attempted to do with the two angels who appeared in human forms to Lot and spent the night before Sodom’s destruction in Lot’s home. (Gen. 19:1-11.) These verses teach us that the fallen angels (Gen. 6:1-4 committed the same kinds of sins as the people of Sodom, i.e., fornication and going in impurity after beings of a different nature, even as they went after the two angels who, though in human bodies temporarily, were nevertheless spirits. Hence we see that the sins of the fallen angels were as we described them on page 13, par. 4, of our issue of Sept. 15. The Twentieth Century New Testament renders Jude 7 as follows: “They are like Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns near them, which as these angels did, gave themselves up to fornication and went in search of beings of a different nature.” This translation very clearly proves our point.
Another consideration is in harmony with our thought: Throughout the Old Testament angels alone of beings living at that time are referred to by the expression “sons of God.” (Job. 1:6; 2:1; 38:7.) In the Old Testament there are typical and literal prophecies alluding to the Gospel Age saints as sons of God. (Deut. 14:1; Ps. 82:6.) These typical and literal prophecies do not refer to persons living during the Jewish Age, but during the Gospel Age; but during the Gospel Age; for they are prophecies. Thus in Deut. 14:1 Moses typically calls Israel the children of God; because they typed, represented, the spiritual Israelites, the sons of God, of the Gospel Age. Hence the passage should be rendered, Ye represent the children of God, the word “are” being here used to mean represent, as in 1 Cor. 10:4, “that Rock is—represents—Christ.” So, too, our Lord (John 10:34-36) suggests this thought with reference to Ps. 82:6; for He says those are called gods (and as the passage further says they “are children of the Most High”, He might have added, “and children of the Most High”) with reference to whom the Word of God came; and St. Peter tells us (1 Pet. 1:12) that the word of God which came to the Prophets was with reference to the Gospel Church. But one may ask why should we not call the faithful of the Old Testament sons of God? Our answer is, because they were not God’s sons; they were God’s servants (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:3, 24, 25; Heb. 3:5, 6), and at most they became friends of God. (Jas. 2:23.) After Adam’s fall and before Jesus’ time there were no sons of God among the children of men. Jesus is the first of these sons, and by the grace of God through Jesus the offer of sonship with God was first made to some of the children of men (John 1:11-13; Heb. 2:3; Rom. 8:14-19; Gal. 4:5-7; 1 John 3:1); for Jesus is the Firstborn among the sons of God, and their Forerunner. (Rom. 8:29; Heb. 6:20.) Accordingly, sonship with God among men is enjoyed by those only to whom the Holy Spirit has been given (Rom. 8:14); and the Holy Spirit was not given to any one except Jesus until Pentecost. (John 7:39; Acts 2:1-4.) Therefore the faithful of the Old Testament, not having received the Holy Spirit, could not have been sons of God. Hence the descendants of Seth, who was not a son of God, but a child of wrath, could not be sons of God, and therefore are not meant in Gen. 6:1-4. Moreover, the Bible nowhere calls Seth’s male descendants the sons of God, and Cain’s female descendants daughters of men. ’21-5; ’52-39
Son Of Man—”Till The Son Of Man Be Come” (Matt. 10:23).
Question (1965)—How should we understand and apply Matt. 10:23—“When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come”?
Answer.—These instructions were given primarily to the twelve Apostles, and doubtless were understood by them to mean that their mission was not to stay long in a place, but that as persecution arose, and the people were unwilling to hear their message, they were to go to other cities and villages, full of the conviction that the time for their special testimony of the kingdom at hand was limited, and that they would not more than have accomplished their proclamation in all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man would be presented as King, and the testing of the nation reach its climax. This climax was reached when, at the end of His three and a half years’ ministry, our Lord rode to them on the ass, as their King, and failing to be received (in harmony with the prophecy), declared their house henceforth left desolate (Luke 13:35).
But while this was the primary signification of our Lord’s words, we believe that like most of His teachings to Israel after the flesh it had a still larger meaning than was then due to be understood—an application to the parallel closing period of this Gospel Age. As there was a “harvest” in the end of the Jewish Age, in which natural Israel was tested, so in the end of the Gospel Age there is a “harvest,” in which Spiritual Israel is tested. And as in the Jewish-Age Harvest there was a proclamation of Jesus in the flesh, as King (Matt. 21:1-9), so in the Gospel-Age Harvest there is correspondingly a proclamation of Jesus, the New Creature, as King of Glory (Rev. 11:15). And as in the Jewish-Age Harvest some were sent forth with the Harvest message, and it was to reach all the Israelites within the borders of the promised land, so in the Gospel-Age Harvest the message has gone forth, “Behold the bridegroom,” and the further announcement to Zion, “Thy God reigneth” (Matt. 25:6; Isa. 52:7). ’65-79
Soul—Human . . . The Court’s Decision.
Question (1968)—In the May 1967 B.S., In the article “The Human Soul—Its True Nature,” you referred to the sizable estate of a miner named James Kidd, which was to go “into a research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death.” Has the court yet decided in this case?
Answer.—Yes. A few months ago Judge Meyers brought to a close a thirteen weeks’ hearing during which he had heard 138 people try to prove to him that there is a human soul, which leaves the body at death. None could prove it, so the judge awarded the estate to the Neurological Science Foundation of Phoenix, Arizona, with the provision that it continues the search, reporting to him at regular intervals.
And why could not one out of the 138 presentations prove that there is a human soul, which leaves the body at death? Because such a thought is erroneous—it is contrary to Scripture, reason and facts. The Bible tells us plainly just what the human soul really is. According to Gen. 2:7, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed Hebrew, (blew) into his nostrils the breath of lives [the Hebrew word here is in the plural--chayim]; and man became a living soul.” Note carefully, it does not say that man was given a living soul, but man became a living soul. Jehovah blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of lives; in other words, God caused Adam to inhale through his nostrils the air as received into the nostrils of all breathing creatures. Thus God animated the perfect organism which He had made, by causing it to breathe the life-giving oxygen of the atmosphere—and man became a living soul, a sentient being, capable of sensation, perception, thought, etc.
Since the soul, then, is the person, it is not something inside of us. It is not invisible, microscopic and hard to find, as many have mistakenly supposed. The human soul or being can hear, see, touch, swear, work, rest, eat, drink and be merry (Lev. 5:1, 4; 7:18, 20, 21, 27; 23:30; Luke 12:19). And since the lower animals also are sentient beings or souls, it is easy to understand how in Num. 31:28 beeves, asses and sheep are spoken of as souls (compare Eccles. 3:19). Lower animals, as well as man, can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. How foolish it is, then, for one to ask: Can we see a soul? Can we detect its presence under a microscope? Has it any weight? Does it leave the body at death? Indeed, the wisdom of God has “made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:20)! ’68-23
Question (1972)—I have received from the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) a paper that discusses the nature of the human soul. It says that “animals do not have souls,” that “death is the separation of the soul from the body” and that at death “the soul shall return unto God who gave it, according to Eccles. 12:7.” are these statements correct?
Answer.—The statement that “animals do not have souls” is true only from the standpoint that they do not have the hope of a future life; however, they do have lives or souls in their temporary existence, i.e., they are living souls, even as men are living souls (Gen. 2:7). The Hebrew word for ”soul” is nephesh, which primarily means life (and is often so translated); and because life is the basis of the soul’s existence the word nephesh has by virtue of this relation taken on a second meaning, i.e., soul, or sentient being. God’s Word makes it very plain that both men and beasts are souls, when in Num. 31:28 it speaks of a tribute of "one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.” Both man and the lower animals have soul-quality, or intelligent, conscious, sentient being.
The definition that ”death is the separation of the soul from the body” is incorrect, deceptive and misleading. Like the Catholic error on purgatory (see BS No. 423), it is based on Satan’s original lie, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Satan has deceived many into thinking that man has a soul or entity inside his body, that it is immortal and cannot be destroyed, and that at death it is separated from the body and goes into eternal bliss in heaven or eternal torment in hell. Thus to them death is not a cessation of life but merely a transference of life, i.e., Satan’s lie: “Ye shall not surely die,” you might appear to die but you really go on living, for death is not really death but merely the separation of the (immortal, indestructible) soul from the body.
The term “immortal soul” is nowhere found in the Bible; rather, there are many statements to the contrary, showing that the soul can die, that it is mortal. How much better it is to hold to the truth of God’s Word: “None can keep alive his own soul” (Psa. 22:29); “He spared not their soul from death” (Psa. 78:50); “Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. . . . He hath poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:10, 12); “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4, 20; comp. 22:27); “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38); “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death” (James 5:20), etc.!
The ACCC should look at their Bibles more carefully. Eccles. 12:7 does not say that at death “the soul shall return unto God who gave it.” One wonders whether it is ignorance or wilful deception that causes this misquotation of God’s holy Word. It is not the “soul” but the “spirit” that at death returns to God who gave it. The Hebrew word used in Eccles. 12:7 is not nephesh (soul) but ruach (breath, air, wind, spirit—see Young’s Analytical Concordance). As shown is in BS No. 420 (a copy free on request), ruach, like the Greek pneuma, has at least twelve different meanings, as used in the Bible, including the privilege to live, the evident meaning in Eccles. 12:7.
The Bible clearly shows that the spirit of life is common to all God’s creatures, all living souls, and not possessed by man only. Note, e.g., “All flesh wherein is the breath of life [ruach: the spirit or breath of life of all flesh]” (Gen. 6:17; 7:15). “All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life [margin, ruach: the spirit or power of life] (Gen. 7:22). “The spirit of Jacob . . . revived [ruach: Jacob’s vital or life powers revived]” (Gen. 45:27). “When he [Samson] had drunk, his spirit [ruach] came again, and he revived [his strength, vigor, energy returned to him]” (Judges 15:19). “In whose hand is the soul [nephesh, life—see margin] of every living thing, and the breath [ruach, the power or privilege to live] of all mankind” (Job 12:10). When a human soul (the nephesh, the sentient being) dies, his life ceases, and the spirit (the power or privilege to live) returns to God who gave it, and only He can restore it. This He will do through Christ in the resurrection awakening (John 5:28, 29; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:22). ’72-6
Soul—Rachel And The Widow’s Son.
Question (1972)—In Gen. 35:18 we read that Rachel's “soul was in departing “ when she was dying; in 1 Kings 17:21, 22 it is said that Elijah prayed for the widow of Zarephath’s dead son that his soul might come into him again, and that when his soul came into him again he revived. Do not these texts prove that death is the separation of the soul from the body?
Answer.—These texts as usually translated are used to support Satan’s deception that there is a spirit being inside the human body that at death escapes or becomes liberated from the body and goes on living in the spirit world. But it will help us to see the truth on the matter if we remember that when God created man He first made his body of flesh from the dust of the ground, then blew into his nostrils the breath of lives (so the Hebrew, i.e., such as was common to all living animals that breathe), and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). Thus man, a human soul, consists of a human body plus life-principle, derived from the air. With the union of the body and life-principle he became a living soul. Man therefore is a soul, who springs into being by union of his body and the life-principle, and who ceases to exist, i.e., dies, by separation of the body and the life-principle. When the soul, the sentient being, the person, dies, “his breath [Heb., ruach, his power or privilege to live] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth [his body returns to its original source]; in that very day his thoughts perish”—“the dead know not any thing” (Psa. 146:4; Eccles. 9:5, 10). It is not the soul, but the spirit [the power or privilege to live] that at the death of the soul returns to God, by whom it was originally given. Only He can restore it, which He will do in the resurrection awakening.
Certainly the Scriptures are harmonious and do not contradict one another. Had our translators used the word life (the primary meaning of the word nephesh) in Gen. 35:18 and 1 Kings 17:21, 22, instead of the word soul, they would have rendered these Scriptures in harmony with all Scripture passages and doctrines and all the facts of nature and experience on the subject. Over 100 times in the KJV the word nephesh is rendered life, and it should have been so rendered in Gen. 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21, 22. If the word life is used instead of soul in these verses they are immediately clarified. Thus they would read: “And it came to pass, as her [Rachel’s] life was in departing (for she died [her life was separated from her body]), that she called his name Benoni”; and “I pray thee let this child’s life come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.” Accordingly, we see that these verses are in harmony with the teaching of the Scriptures elsewhere. They do not at all teach that the soul is a spirit being, and that it lives and acts as a conscious being independently of the body. The soul is the person, and when the person dies the soul dies; for they are one and the same thing. ’72-6; *’74-30; ’78-7
Soul—Is It Immortal?
Question (1968)—Many speak of “an immortal soul.” Is the human soul immortal?
Answer.—God’s Word declares that “the soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek 18:4, 20). When a man dies, “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psa. 146:4). God told Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). It was not merely Adam’s body that during that thousand-year day died, but Adam himself—the human soul or being died in every respect. That which is immortal is not subject to death; it is death-proof, indestructible. But Adam was mortal, hence could die. The Hebrew word translated “soul” is found hundreds of times in the Bible. Surely if the human soul were immortal God would have said so at least once! The term “immortal soul” is not found in the Bible. There is a difference between everlasting life and immortality. Immortality is only for those in heaven who are of the Divine nature. Everlasting life will never be possessed by any of the human race except as a gift from God. Space will not permit a further discussion here, but we recommend as a further study on this subject B.S. Nos. 288 and 374, and our booklets “What is the Soul?” and “Life and Immortality”—copies free on request. ’68-23
Soul—“Immortal” Not Found In Bible.
Question (1977) Is the soul mortal or immortal? Are the words “immortal soul,” or like expressions, found in the Bible? What is immortality?
Answer.—the Scriptures make it very clear that the human soul is not immortal but mortal, that is, it can die. (Psa. 22:29; 30:3; 33:18, 19; 35:17; 49:8; 56:13; 78:50; 116:8; Prov. 6:32; Isa. 10:18; 55:3; Ezek. 13:19; 18:4, 20, 27; 22:27; Matt. 10:28; Acts 3:23; James 4:12, 5:20; see our What is the Soul? booklet—a copy free on request).
The Hebrew and Greek words for soul and spirit (Hebrew, nephesh and ruach; Greek, psuche and pneuma) are found 1700 times in the Bible, but the words immortal, deathless or never-dying are never applied to them or to any other terms which would convey the idea of an inherently imperishable nature or continued existence after death in the soul or the spirit.
Immortality is a death-proof condition—a condition in which death is impossible. It stands in contrast with mortality, which signifies a condition in which death is possible. Mortality does not mean a condition that must result in death, but a condition in which one can die—a dieable condition. The fact that Adam died is the surest proof that he was not immortal, but that he was mortal. But while mortal in his creation, he could have lived forever if he had been permitted to continue and had continued to partake of the life-preserving, perfect foods, etc., in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22).
Satan also is mortal because he is some day to die (Heb. 2:14; Isa. 14:15; 27:1; Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20; Ezek. 28:11-19). Hence we conclude that all the angels are mortal. The world of mankind in restitution (the sheep class—Matt. 25:34; Psa. 37:11, 18, 22, 29), though having eternal life, will be mortal, as was the human “man Christ Jesus,” who died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3).
These considerations prove that mortal beings must not necessarily die. As a matter of fact, only Divine beings are immortal (1 Tim. 6:16). Accordingly, the Church as heirs of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) are given immortality in their resurrection (1 Cor. 15:53, 54). Jesus defines immortality as a condition in which one has “life in himself” (John 5:26), i.e., self-inherent life.
Life in one’s self implies that one has a body that is not dependent on anything for sustenance, i.e., a depository of an inexhaustible supply of life, which can live under any and every condition or combination of conditions, from which nothing can separate life or diminish life. God, who is “from everlasting” “the King eternal, immortal, the only wise God” (Psa. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17), is the original depository of such a life. He promised it first to Jesus on condition of His faithfulness unto death (John 5:26, 27), and later to His Body (Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:53, 54; Eph. 1:22, 23; Phil. 3:21; 1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:1, 2). ’77-14
Soul—Meaning Of In Lev. 17:11.
Question (1972)—In Lev. 17:11 we read: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your soul is: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Is the Hebrew word for “soul” used here in more than one sense?
Answer.—Yes. The Hebrew word nephesh occurs three times in this verse. It is translated respectively by the words “life,” “souls” and “soul.” In the first instance the soul, i.e., the life “of the flesh,” which is “in the blood,” is meant. Here the reference is not to the soul as an entity, but to the life, which is sustained by the blood. (In v. 14 nephesh is translated life three times and is used in this sense.) But God refers to persons as souls when He says; “I have given it [the life of the animal whose blood is shed in sacrificing it] to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls [you as human beings].” He “poured out his soul [his very being] being unto death” The typical sacrifices were repeated from time to time, “for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). the typical sacrifices pointed to the coming great sacrifice of the humanity of the Lamb of God—the “one sacrifices for sins for ever” (Heb. 10:12; Rom. 6:9). His soul (His human life) was made “an offering for sin”; (Isa. 53:10, 12). He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6). The third occurrence of the word “soul” in Lev. 17:11 obviously refers to the person, for it is the person for whom the shed blood makes atonement. Thus the Hebrew word nephesh is used in two senses in this verse. ’72-77
Souls—Under The Altar.
Question (1974)—Does not Rev. 6:9-11 by referring to the souls under the altar crying out for vengeance prove that dead are conscious?
Answer.—This passage is a highly figurative one, and occurs in a book that is confessedly one of the most figurative books ever written (Rev. 1:1, “signified,” i.e., gave the thoughts by signs, symbols, figures). Therefore it behooves none to insist that figurative statements must be taken as literal.
The altar in question has been variously interpreted, some considering the altar to represent this earth, others considering it to represent Christ. In harmony with both views the thought has been suggested that the Lord’s faithful—the souls of those that were slain for the Word of God and the testimony that they held—having consecrated themselves unto death, have for their loyalty to God been persecuted, and thus more or less of their vitality has been consumed by their persecutors, until they died; and thus in their deaths their sufferings from unjust treatment are figuratively represented as themselves crying unto God for vengeance.
One thing is certain—that the faithful themselves would not cry to God to avenge them (Rom. 12:14, 19-21; Matt. 5:43-48; Acts 7:60). This crying for vengeance must therefore be understood somewhat after the manner in which the blood of Abel cried to God from the ground for vengeance (Gen. 4:10, 11; Heb. 12:24), on the principle that acts and sufferings, often speak louder than words (Heb. 11:4). These sufferings, inflicted contrary to justice, are in this passage personified as the souls of those slain for the Word of God and the testimony that they held crying to God for vengeance.
Every wrong cries to God for vengeance in the sense that it appeals to Him as the Vindicator of justice to mete out retribution for the wrong. But as the elect themselves would not pray for vengeance to be wreaked upon their enemies, it must be that the wrongs that they have suffered are personified in them as crying out to God for vengeance. Hence the elect in the unjust deaths that they have suffered do not actually cry to God for vengeance, but the wrongs that they have endured do appeal to Justice for retribution; therefore the passage under study implies nothing whatever as to their consciousness in death, any more than Abel’s blood crying—without vocal sound, of course—from the earth to God for vengeance implies that Abel is conscious in death. ’74-31
Spirit—And Material Substances Defined.
Question (1976)—What are spirit substances, and how do they differ from material substances?
Answer.—Some examples of spirit substances are fire, heat, electricity, magnetism, radio (by which television also is transmitted), light and life principle.
Perhaps a definition of spirit and matter might be in place here. We believe the following will hold in every case: Spirit is incorruptible substance; matter is corruptible substance. It is a mistake to define spirit as substance imponderable and not subject to sense, and matter as substance ponderable and subject to sense; for heat, fire, electricity, etc., can be measured and are subject to sense.
In the material world, spirit and material substances are frequently fused. Electricity interpenetrates material substances. Life principle permeates our atmosphere, particularly its oxygen, and of course permeates all animal and vegetable existence. Heat and fire lodge inactive yet potential in all material substances. Radio permeates the air and sending and receiving sets. Magnetism permeates many things, particularly the air and metals. Indeed, there can be no life, animal or vegetable, without this fusing of spirit substances with material organisms. Even in inorganic nature, as shown by some of the above-given examples, there is this permeation of the physical by the spiritual.
While this is true, we know from Scriptural illustrations that spirit beings have nothing material in them (Luke 24:39; John 4:23, 24; 1 Cor. 15:44-54).
Thus, while the material world is permeated by spirit, the spirit world is completely free of matter as a part of it. (Spirit and human natures are separate and distinct—see The Divine Plan book, Chap. 10.) ’76-6; ’83-31
Spirit—Holy Instead Of “Holy Ghost.”
Question (1978)—Does the expression “the Holy Ghost” really belong in our Bible translations?
Answer.—No. The word “ghost” give the thought of a disembodied spirit being, a specter, spook or phantom, and this is not the meaning of the Greek word pneuma, which in the King James Version, Bible is translated “Ghost” 92 times in the expression “Holy Ghost.”
It is worthy of note that in the Revised Version, 21 of these occurrences of the word “Ghost” were changed to read “Spirit,” and that the American Revision committee recorded its protest in respect to the use of the word “Ghost” in the remaining 71 occurrences. Yet the members both of the English and the American Revision Committees, with one exception, were composed of strict Trinitarians (see The At-One-Ment Between God and Man p. 169). Later translations also use “Spirit” instead of “Ghost.” ’78-38
Spirit—Holy, What Is It.
Question (1965)—What is the holy Spirit?
Answer.—The holy Spirit is variously defined in the Scriptures as follows: “the Spirit of God,” “The Spirit of Christ,” “The Spirit of Holiness,” “The Spirit of Truth,” “The Spirit of a Sound Mind,” “The Spirit of Liberty,” “The Spirit of the Father,” “The Holy Spirit of Promise,” “The Spirit of Meekness,” “The Spirit of Understanding,” “The Spirit of Wisdom,” “The Spirit of Glory,” “The Spirit of Counsel,” “The Spirit of Grace,” “The Spirit of Adoption,” “The Spirit of Prophecy.”
These various titles, repeated many times, and used interchangeably, give us the full, proper assurance that they all relate to the same holy Spirit; indeed, frequently the word “holy” is added in, combined, as for instance, “The holy Spirit of God,” “The holy Spirit of Promise,” etc. To rightly comprehend the subject, we must consider these various definitions together, and seek an understanding of it that will reject none of them, but harmonize them all.
It may be helpful to notice that there is another spirit mentioned frequently throughout the Scriptures, and in opposite terms, namely, “The Spirit of Fear,” “The Spirit of Bondage,” “The Spirit of the World,” “The Spirit of Error,” “The Spirit of Divination,” “The Spirit of Antichrist,” “The Spirit of Slumber.” Of course, no one would think that these seven spirits are seven persons, nor that unitedly they would represent another devil who co-operates with Satan. No more should anyone consider the various applications of the word “spirit” in a good sense, as signifying different spirit beings, nor as unitedly signifying another God. These terms, considered unitedly, represent various features of the character, the disposition, the Spirit, of our God, Jehovah, and proportionately the spirit or disposition of Jesus, and of all who have received God’s Spirit—that is, have become partakers of His disposition and have come into harmony with the Divine mind.
A definition of the holy Spirit is given in Isa. 11:2; “The spirit of the Lord [Jehovah] shall rest upon him [Christ]—the spirit [disposition] of wisdom and understanding, the spirit [disposition] of counsel and might, the spirit [disposition] of knowledge and of the fear [reverence] of the Lord.” Note also that the holy Spirit is in John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13 defined as the Spirit of the (so the Greek) Truth, i.e., the disposition that God’s Word, the Truth (John 17:17), works in His people. And in Eph. 1:13 it is defined as the Spirit (disposition) of the (so the Greek) promise (in other words, the disposition that God’s Oath-bound promise works in His true people).
The holy Spirit is used also in the Scriptures in the sense of God’s power, wherever and by whomever used (Gen. 1:2; 1 Kings 18:12; Luke 1:35). For more information on this subject, please see The At-one-ment Between God and Man, pp. 163-300, and the book entitled God, pp. 510-520. For prices of these books, see page 56 of this issue. ’65-55
Spirit—Baptism And Pentecosts.
Question (1963)—Are we to expect and pray for repeated Spirit baptisms, like the one at Pentecost?
Answer.—The Scriptures do not warrant us in doing so. There was to be but one baptism of the Spirit for the Church as a whole, on the day of Pentecost. The supplementary manifestation 3-1/2 years later, when the first Gentiles—Cornelius and his household—came into the Body of Christ, was necessary to show unmistakably that God then had received and thenceforth would receive Gentiles as well as Jews into the Body (see The At-One-Ment Between God and Man, Chap IX). But, according to the Scriptures, there was no further necessity for, nor were there to be, any further Pentecosts for the Church, though “afterward”—after the Gospel Age—there is to be a Pentecostal blessing for the world—“all flesh” (Joel 2:28; for further discussion of this, please see B. S. No. 255—a copy free, on request).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit, which came upon, the Church at Pentecost has remained with it all down through the Age, and as each one has come into the true Church, he has come under and shared in that original baptism of the Spirit. However, before anyone has been prepared to get this blessing of the Lord’s Spirit, first of all he has had to have the justification by faith in Jesus Christ and a heart free from the love of sin, and has had to make his solemn resolution to use his life in serving the Lord, the Truth and the brethren—his vow of consecration (Rom. 12:1)—before he could be in the right attitude to receive the blessing of the begettal, the enlightenment, the comfort, and the fellowship of God’s Holy Spirit. All of God’s people have had to come into an attitude similar to that of the brethren who were blessed on Pentecost day, in order to enter into the special favors and privileges of the Gospel Age.
Even though inflamed with the desire to serve the Lord, the Truth and the brethren, the wise course for anyone to follow is the course of the early Church—to tarry and study and pray—that he may be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), before attempting to act as God’s ambassador to others. Indeed, no one is authorized, from the Scriptural standpoint, to preach the Gospel, much or little, except first he have received the authorization of God’s Holy Spirit from above (comp. Isa. 61:1).
While opposing the unscriptural view—that new Pentecosts, new Spirit baptisms and miraculous “gifts” of the Spirit are to be prayed for—let us not lose sight of the important fact that until each member of the Body received his share of the blessing of the first Pentecost, he could not have the perfect peace of God (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7), nor be properly, actively and successfully His servants and ambassadors. Would that all of the Lord’s people would seek earnestly for a larger measure of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)—watching and praying thereunto (Eph. 6:18), watching their words, their thoughts and their deeds, the leadings of God’s providence and opportunities for His service! Let us ask Him to grant us more and more the emptying of worldly ambitions and desires, and more and more the filling with the mind or spirit of Christ—His disposition. ’63-46
Spirit—”The Fruit Of The Spirit.”
Question (1973)—If “faith without works is dead,” would it be proper to say that the fruit of the Spirit: is service? and that we are justified by our good works?
Answer.—No. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and those who have His Spirit will conform themselves to His image and will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit,. which is love in all its graces—the beauty of holiness. Note carefully the definition of “the fruit of the Spirit” In Gal. 5:22, 23 and how love is manifested in every one of the graces mentioned: “The fruit of the Spirit is love [agape, disinterested good will based on delight in good principles], joy [love exultant], peace [love in repose], longsuffering [love enduring], gentleness [love in society], goodness [love in action], faith [love on the battlefield of life], meekness [love in resignation], temperance [moderation—love in training].”
Of course, good works are involved, for we cannot develop these graces of God’s holy Spirit without good works, for we must work out our salvation with reverence and great carefulness (Phil. 2:12), and these holy graces are not developed without effort on our part. Our Lord tells us (John 15:8): “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
But all the good works that one can do, all the service he can render, aside from the grace of God extended through the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, can never bring him salvation; “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
But our faith must be vital and active—a “faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6). If we have true faith and love we will have zeal, which will manifest itself in good works, and we will delight in serving our Heavenly Father and Benefactor. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:19, 20).
God is not interested in our service, sacrifice and good works, unless they are prompted by love. God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). He told disobedient Israel: “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Many in their service have a feverish activity contrary to the Truth and its spirit. Mercy is an expression of love. It is compassion relieving the needy and unfortunate. The knowledge of God is the Divine Truth. God refers by far to have us keep the Truth and its spirit in our hearts even apart from service, rather than to have us serve ever so diligently contrary to the Truth and its spirit. A merciful and intelligent saint is more pleasing to Him than an active and ignorant worker who is unsaintly in his character. Love, knowledge and accordant service properly blended are the ideals to be sought. ’73-22
Spirit Beings—And Spirit Bodies.
Question (1976)—Do spirit beings have bodies and do they consist of spirit rather than material substances?
Answer. St. Paul tells us definitely that spirit beings (1) have bodies and (2) that these are spirit bodies (1 Cor. 15:44-49). According to the Scriptures, the lowest order of spirit beings, called angels (in the narrow sense of that word), as distinct from cherubim, seraphim, principalities, powers, thrones and dominions (Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 28:14, 16; Isa. 6:2, 6; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16), have bodies made of fire (Heb. 1:7). Perhaps the other six orders of spirit creatures just mentioned, from the highest, the cherubim, to the lowest, have bodies made of other spirit substances than fire. Quite likely the Logos (our prehuman Lord) had a body of spirit substance or substances of a higher order than the bodies of any of the above-mentioned seven orders of spirit beings. ’76-6; ’83-31
Spirit Beings—And Spirit Bodies.
Question (1983)—Do spirit beings have bodies and do they consist of spirit substances rather than material substances?
Answer.—St. Paul tells us definitely that spirit beings (1) have bodies and (2) that these are spirit bodies (1 Cor. 15:44-49). According to the Scriptures, the lowest order of spirit beings, called angels (in the narrow sense of that word), as distinct from cherubim, seraphim, principalities, powers, thrones, and dominions (Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 28:14, 16; Isa. 6:2, 6; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16), have bodies made of fire (Heb. 1:7). Perhaps the other six orders of spirit creatures just mentioned, from the highest, the cherubim, to the lowest, have bodies made of other spirit substances than fire. Quite likely the Logos (our prehuman Lord) had a body of spirit substance or substances of a higher order than the bodies of any of the above-mentioned seven orders of spirit beings. ’83-31
Spirit Beings—“A Spirit Hath Not Flesh And Bones.”
Question (1983)—What then did Jesus really mean when He said to His disciples after His resurrection; “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39)?
Answer.—We should keep in mind that when Jesus appeared to His disciples “they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (v. 37). Therefore Jesus was assuring them that the body they were seeing—in which He as a spirit being had materialized, just as previously angels had often materialized to communicate with humans—was not His spirit body, but a real fleshly body, one that included flesh and bones, that they could touch and feel. They could not so well feel “flesh and blood” (the usual expression for human nature—Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12; Heb. 2:14), so He used “flesh and bones” instead in this case. To really convince them it was indeed Jesus who was appearing to them He showed them His hands, feet and side then and also a week later when Thomas was present (v. 40; John 20:20, 25-27).
Accordingly, we are not to think that Jesus in Luke 24:39 was telling His disciples that the body in which He was raised from the dead is a fleshly body, nor that He was not a glorious life-giving spirit being, as the Apostles Paul and Peter show in the four Scriptures already mentioned (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; 5:16; 1 Pet. 3:18). Rather, Jesus was telling His disciples that the body in which He, a glorious spirit being, had materialized and manifested Himself to them was a real fleshly body, which they could feel. (For more details, see BS Nos. 554, 555, on The Manner of our Lord’s Return—copies free on request.) ’83-31
Spiritism—And Occultism, “Try The Spirits” (1 John 4:1).
Question (1959)—The Bible (1 John 4:1) says “try the spirits”; should we not therefore investigate and seek to communicate with the spirits that give messages through “spirit mediums” or “contactees” with “space people” in flying saucers,” or people in hypnotic spells, trances, etc., in order to try or test these spirits?
Answer.—When Satan and his demons that infest earth’s atmosphere are fully bound so that they can deceive the nations no more during the thousand years (Rev. 20:2, 3), there will no doubt be some communication established between the spirit beings constituting the glorified Christ, Head and Body, God’s Kings and Priests (Rev. 5:10), and the world of mankind progressing in righteousness and restitution (Gen. 28:12; John 1:51), even as there was communion between God and His creatures in Eden. But nothing of this kind should be expected now. Since the Scriptures given by inspiration are sufficient “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17), and since we thus have “a more sure word of prophecy,” to which we do well to take heed (2 Pet. 1:19), we are well equipped to learn and do God’s holy will and to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
We who consecrated our lives to God, accepting Jesus as our Head under God (1 Cor. 11:3), may have communion at present with no other spirit beings, not even our guardian angels; the Scriptures do not authorize us to pray to or to seek to communicate with any others. We are especially warned that Satan, the arch deceiver, would endeavor to counterfeit the Lord and His works; and we are warned also against those who claim to see Jesus in “the desert” or in “the secret chambers” (in séances; Matt. 24:24-26).
The command to “believe not every spirit, but try [prove—A.R.V.] the spirits whether they are of God,” refers to the testing of doctrines, teachings as is clearly indicated by the context. Why should we test or prove (1 Thes. 5:21) the various teachings, to determine whether or not they are of God and, therefore, whether or not we should “hold fast” to them? The Apostle gives us the reason (1 John 4:1): “because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Then he gives us a rule for our guidance in discerning between the true spirits or teachings and the false spirits or teachings (vs. 2, 3—A.R.V.): “Hereby know ye the Spirit [the Truth] of God: every spirit [teaching] that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come [literally, having come] in the flesh is of God: and every spirit [teaching] that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the [spirit, teaching, doctrine] of the antichrist.”
Furthermore, there is usually in the character, personal bearing and testimonies of spirit mediums, “contactees” with “flying saucer” space men, etc., that which should impress unfavorably every true child of God, who has the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7) and who knows what to regard as the spirit (disposition) of Christ. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of his” (Rom. 8:9); and such will never be used by Christ as His mediums of communication. Let us therefore avoid everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism. ’59-94
Spirit’s—Communications With Forbidden.
Question (1963)—It is a sin to seek to communicate with the dead and with the spirits, by going to séances, and in other ways?
Answer.—If one seeks thus to receive messages from his love ones that are dead, and from spirits, he is, whether wittingly or unwittingly, sinning against God, both (1) in doctrine and (2) in practice.
(1) God’s Word declares unequivocally that the dead are really dead, body and soul (Gen. 2:17; Psa. 78:50; Ezek. 18:4, 20; Acts 2:29, 34; Rom. 6:23); that “the dead know not any thing” (Eccles. 9:5, 10) that “his sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them” (Job 14:21); that “the dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence” (Psa. 115:17); that “in death there is no remembrance of Thee; in the grave [sheol] who shall give Thee thanks?” (Psa. 6:5); and that not until the resurrection time shall “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth awake” (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29). Therefore, one who seeks to communicate with the dead is seeking for the impossible according to God’s Word, the ignoring of which is sin. “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter should not a people seek unto their God? On behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?” (Isa. 8:19, A.R.V.).
(2) To seek or give heed to such communications with the spirits is a sin also in practice. God forbids it. He banned it from His people Israel. In warning them against the “abominations” of the nations, He commanded His people: “There shall not be found among you any one that . . . useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch [a spirit medium—1 Sam. 28:6-14; see our booklet Spiritism is Demonism, free on request], or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deut. 18:10-12). God warns us against having anything to do with these occult powers also in Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; 2 Kg. 17:17; 21:2, 6; 23:24; 1 Chron. 10:13, 14; 2 Chron. 33:6; Jer. 27:9, 10; 29:8, 9; Luke 8:26-35; Acts 16:16-18. Death was the Divinely appointed penalty for engaging is such practices. If we would not displease our Almighty Creator we will carefully avoid everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism—“for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord.” ’63-79; ’78-71
Spirit’s—Disembodied A Fable.
Question (1976)—How can “disembodied spirits” exist?
Answer.—They can’t! In fact, there are no disembodied spirits. Such a concept is contrary to Scripture, reason and fact. It is satanic fiction. No such thought is taught in the Scriptures. It is one of Satan’s fables (2 Tim. 4:4) which he has used to support his original lie (Gen. 3:4; John 8:44) and to deceive many into thinking that good people go to heaven as soon as they die, without waiting for the resurrection day (Matt. 16:27; Luke 14:14; John 5:28, 29; 11:24; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 11:18)—that they do not really die but go right on living, in the spirit world, as disembodied spirit beings. Watch out for Satan’s lies and deceptions! ’76-7
Spirit’s—How To Know The Witness.
Question (1977)—If the birth of the Spirit is in the resurrection (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5), how is it possible for consecrated believers to have the assurance that they have the holy Spirit and are in the family of God?
Answer.—In Romans 8:16 we read, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” There are especially seven things Biblically taught as constituting the full witness of the Spirit given for the assurance of every one of God’s truly consecrated people of the Gospel Age. Any one of these seven testifies to the possession of the holy Spirit by those who have it; but to have the complete witness of the Spirit, all seven are required. In brief the seven are:
(1) An appreciative understanding of the deep things of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:6-16, compare Isa. 64:4; Mark 4:10-12; John 7:17; 14:15-17; Psa. 25:8-10, 12, 14); (2) spiritual aspirations (Col. 3:1-4; compare 2:12 and Rom. 6:4, 5; Psa. 42:1, 2; 63:1; 84:2; 105:4; 119:2, 10, 20, 40; Matt. 5:6; 6:33; Phil. 3:8-11); (3) Divinely given opportunities for service (Rom. 12:1; Matt. 20:1-16; 21:28-31; 25:14-30; John 4:34-38; Gal. 6:10); (4) growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 8:9, 29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; Col. 3:12-14; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; 1 John 3:14, 16; 4:16); (5) persecution for Christ’s sake (Matt. 5:10-12, 44, 45; John 15:18, 19; 16:2; Acts 5:40, 41; Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:29; Phil. 1:28, 29; 2 Tim. 2:9-12; 3:11, 12; Heb. 10:32-34; 1 Pet. 3:14, 16-18; 4:14, 16, 19); (6) chastisements for faults (Heb. 12:5-13; Psa. 94:12, 13, 118:18; 119:67; Prov. 3:11, 12; Isa. 26:16; Luke 12:47. 48; Rev. 3:19); (7) trials amid temptations to disobey God’s will, to test our progress or lack of progress (Deut. 8:2; 13:3; Psa. 66:10-12; Dan. 12:10; Jas. 1:2-4; 12:4, 7; 1 Pet. 1:6, 7; 4:12; 5:8, 9). (See Christ-Spirit-Covenants, pp. 627-654.)
Many regard as their witness of the Spirit such things as their feelings of exuberance, or habitual cheerfulness, or audible voices speaking to them, or their “speaking in tongues,” dreams, visions, impressions, imaginations, etc. However, when sickness, pain, losses, disappointments, family troubles, hardships, necessities, persecutions, severe contrarieties, etc., come, their witness often deserts them--and that at the times when they need it most! But not so with the sevenfold witness mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Instead of deserting us amid trials, it will keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace through Jesus Christ our Lord (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7), assuring us that our interests are all right with God, that we have His holy Spirit and that He is continuing to deal with us as members of His family. If we continue faithfully to follow Jesus’ teachings and example, trusting Him through His Ransom merit to forgive our sins and to keep us acceptable to God, we will surely attain to a place in His glorious Kingdom (2 Pet. 1:5-12). Praise God for this! ’77-63
Stephen’s—Vision And Falling Asleep.
Question (1971)—Some quote Acts 7:55, 56, which describes events just before Stephen was stoned to death and mentions Stephen at that time looking steadfastly unto heaven and seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing at His right hand, and say that this proves that Stephen was then about to enter heaven. What have you to say on this?
Answer.—Thee is nothing whatever in Acts 7:55-60 that proves that Stephen was then about to enter heaven—rather, it shows that he was not then about to enter heaven. He of course did not see in reality what he described, as that would have been an impossibility, because both God and Jesus are invisible to men’s natural sight. “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 5:37; 1 Tim. 1:17), and Jesus, the only Begotten of the Father, is since His resurrection the express image of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 6:14-16; Rev. 19:13-16). The briefest glimpse of the dazzling light of the glory shining out of their bodies would have blinded Stephen if he had seen it with his physical eyes, as it did in the case of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:3; 22:6; 26:13).
Concerning Stephen’s statement, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59), the word spirit refers to Stephen’s right to life as a New Creature. In our March issue (a copy free on request) we pointed out that the word spirit is used in at least 12 senses in the Scriptures, and that in Luke 23:46 it refers to Jesus depositing His life-rights with the Father just before He died on the cross. It could not refer to Jesus going to heaven, for He did not go there until He ascended 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). Rather, the Scriptures tell us plainly that Jesus went into sheol, or hades, the unseen, hidden condition of the death state, and remained there until His resurrection “from the dead on the third day” (Psa. 16:10, 11; Acts 2:27-31; Luke 24:46). Likewise Stephen, after trustfully committing His right to life as a New Creature to God, and manifesting his desire for forgiveness for His enemies, “fell asleep”—that is, he went into the unconscious condition of death, awaiting the resurrection awakening.
The Apostle Paul shows that this is the correct understanding (1 Cor. 15:13-18), that “if there be no resurrection of the dead . . . then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ [including Stephen] are perished [in other words, have ceased to exist forever].” Contrary to the opinion of many teachers in Christendom, the Bible shows that the time for the Church to be given its reward of glory, honor and immortality, eternal life, is in the resurrection, at Jesus’ Second Advent and not before (1 Cor. 15:50-54, 42-44; Matt. 16:27; Luke 14:14; Col. 3:4; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 11:15, 18). ’71-71
Suicide—How Should We Regard It.
Question (1964)—Is suicide a serious sin?
Answer.—Suicide is indeed a very serious sin, unless it is an act of a more or less seriously deranged mind, is which event the guilt would be considerably lessened proportionately in the sight of God and men.
Since the greatest gift of God is eternal life, through Christ (Rom. 6:23), we may reason that life in any measure is an inestimable boon, a great privilege. For any sane mind, enlightened by present Truth and possessing the spirit of a sound mind, to contemplate suicide would be unthinkable. We who are enlightened Christians realize above all others the value of the present life: we see through it a special opportunity for the development of Christlikeness along the lines of Divine instruction.
We see that the development of Christlikeness is essential to a share in any part of our Heavenly Father’s plan; we see, then, that whatever would prematurely take away our present life-privileges would be that much working against us and our highest and best interests—our eternal interests (2 Cor. 4:18). We have faith to believe that our Heavenly Father will even protect our lives so that nothing could happen to cut them off, up to that point where we shall have had the full privilege and opportunity of developing a Christlike character—making our calling and election sure (John 10:27-29; Gal. 5:22, 23; 2 Pet. 1:5-11). Any attempt on our part to cut short our own present life-privileges would mean not only a rebellion against Divine will, but also a lack of proper consideration for loved ones and a folly as regards our own interests incomprehensible, as we have just said, except if the person is under some serious mental delusion.
God’s people, especially those who have the light of present Truth, should be overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation to Him for the privilege of living, especially at such a time as this, as well as with the privilege granted to them of making their calling and election sure to a share in the glorious Kingdom of God soon to be set up in the earth. Though, like our Lord Jesus, they may on some occasions be temporarily sorrowful, they should never be despondent (2 Cor. 4:8).
There is no antidote for despondency so good as the medicine of God’s Word—its assurances that Jesus so loved us, that He died for us, that the Father Himself loves us (John 16:27), that the promises of His great Oath-bound Covenant are ours, that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28), etc.
“Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself” (1 John 3:3) and has with the glorious hope a ground for true joy, peace, trust and contentment, which the world can neither give nor take away. We cannot think it possible that any of God’s consecrated people (Prov 23:26; Rom. 12:1), sanctified by the Truth (John 17:17) and possessed of the spirit of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7), would premeditate suicide. ’64-46
Suicides—Is There Any Hope For.
Question (1964)—Is there any hope of a future life for those who commit suicide?
Answer.—If any person among those “who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift [of justification—Rom. 5:15-19], and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:4-6), i.e., a New Creature, on trial for life, commits fully wilful sin, the “sin unto death” (1 John 5:16; Heb. 6:6; 10:26-31; see B. S. No. 318—a copy free on request), there would be no hope for him for a future life. Such “presumptuous, self-willed” ones “receive the reward of unrighteousness” and are “as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed”—they “utterly perish in their own corruption” (2 Pet. 2:10-13, 21); they are “twice dead [once in Adam, and then again because of their own sin unto death—‘the second death’], plucked up by the roots,” “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever”—total and eternal oblivion (Jude 12, 13).
If any New Creature has committed suicide with full wilfulness, he has sinned the “sin unto death”—the “second death.” However, if a New Creature has committed it partly because of wilfulness and partly because of Adamic depravity—more or less of serious mental derangement perhaps only temporary—there is hope for him for a future life. But his reward in the Kingdom would be correspondingly lower because of this sin. Such New Creatures would not be rewarded with membership in the Little Flock, the “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37), but in the Great Multitude (Rev. 7:9-17); and the lowness of the station they would be given therein would be determined by God according to the measure of wilfulness in their sin. (The same principles would apply in the case of non-Spirit-begotten consecrated ones who commit suicide, though they are not yet on trial for life, hence are not now exposed to the “second death.”)
With the unconsecrated nominal Christians and people of the world the case is somewhat different than with New Creatures—their judgment day has not come yet. The Church’s judgment day is during the Gospel Age (1 Pet. 4:17); but the world’s judgment day is still in the future (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8; Rev. 20:12). They will be given their first full and complete opportunity and trial for life after the earthly phase of the Kingdom is established. Meanwhile “darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2), for Satan, “the god of this world, hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:4).
Alas, poor world! There has been a great increase in the number of suicides among them. We wonder that more of mankind, without God, without hope, without intelligent knowledge of the Divine Plan of the Ages working out blessing for the groaning creation, are not tempted to do away with their present life—seeing in it much distress, sickness, pain, sorrow, disappointments, etc., and no special value, no special blessing, no special opportunities and prospects, such as we see and enjoy and hope to realize. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18). ’64-46
Online Questions and Answers
If you have a Bible Question you would like answered
with Scriptural references
please click the button below: