THE DIVINE PLAN JOURNAL
Volume 22 * July 1997 * Number 7
THE BIBLE, the oldest book in existence, has outlived the storms of more than thirty centuries. The fact that this grand old book has survived so long, notwithstanding many unparalleled efforts to banish and destroy it, is strong evidence that the great Being whom it claims as its Author has also been its preserver.
Another book which has also stood the test of time is The Divine Plan Of The Ages. The year 1986 marked the one hundredth anniversary of this key to the Bible. Since 1886, when the book was originally published, millions of copies have been placed in the hands of those searching for the correct understanding of Gods plan. Answers to many Bible questions are found in the sixteen studies of The Divine Plan Of The Ages.
The Divine Plan Journal now presents a brief summary of these lessons. Bible students are encouraged to read and study each chapter in its entirety.
Study 1 is entitled: Earths Night Of Sin To Terminate In A Morning Of Joy. The Psalmist, chapter 30, verse 5, prophesied: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. The period in which sin is permitted has been a dark night to humanity, never to be forgotten; but the glorious day of divine favor, to be ushered in by Messiah, who, as the SUN of Righteousness, shall arise and shine fully and clearly upon all, bringing healing and blessing, will more than counter-balance the dreadful night of weeping, sighing, pain, sickness and death, in which the groaning creation has been so long.
Study 2 is entitled: The Existence Of A Supreme Intelligent Creator Established. It has now been more than 6000 years since the Creator and his dear Son formed man from the dust of the ground. When the breath of life was united with the perfect human body, man became a living soul. Man is a soul, i. e., a being with sense perception. He can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
Man did not evolve from a lower animal. If evolution were a fact, we would see fish becoming birds, and monkeys becoming men. We conclude that the theory of evolution is as contrary to human reason as it is to the Bible, when it claims that intelligent beings were created by a power lacking intelligence. Every living creature, every plant, and every flower speak volumes of the wisdom and skill of an intelligent Creator. This Almighty God is the one who ordered and established the laws of nature, the beauty and harmony of whose operation we see and admire.
Study 3 discusses The Bible As A Divine Revelation Viewed In The Light Of Reason. The Bible is the torch of civilization. It has found its way into every nation and language of earth. Yet today, approximately 80% of the six billion people living upon the earth are totally heathen. Many of the remaining 20% of professed Christians, who would lay down life on behalf of the Bible, do it more vital injury than its foes, by claiming its support of their long-revered misconceptions of its truth, received through the traditions of their fathers. Would that such would awake, re-examine the Bible, and put to confusion its enemies by disarming them of their weapons.
The Bible throughout constantly points to one prominent character, JESUS, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. (I Timothy 2:3-6) Not only does the church benefit by that costly sacrifice, but in due time all the families of the earth will be blessed during the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.Acts 3:19-21
Study 4 deals with the topic: The Epochs And Dispensations Marked In The Development Of The Divine Plan. Because of disobedience, Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden. Their paradise home was lost. They began earning a living with the sweat of the brow as they walked down the broad way which leads to death. At the east of the garden of Eden, God placed cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. The first world or dispensation ended at the time of the flood in Noahs day. The second world, which began at the flood, continues until the beginning of the Messianic Age, the first age of the third dispensation.
The present transition period is a time when the world is experiencing its greatest time of trouble. Many are demanding their real, as well as their fancied, rights. Satan is struggling to hold on to his usurped position as prince of the second evil world. Yet, in spite of all the problems, man is enjoying blessings such as were not known from the time of Adams creation until approximately 100 years ago. By the close of the Messianic Age, Paradise will have been restored, inhabited with the regenerated race of Adam. The obedient, who pass over the highway of holiness, will be rewarded with life, but the disobedient will perish in the second death.
Study 5 explains the beautiful subject: The Mystery Hid From Ages And Generations, But Now Made Manifest To His Saints. God had repeatedly expressed his purpose to restore and bless mankind through a deliverer, but who that one should be only began to be clearly revealed after the resurrection of Christ. From the time Jesus was baptized until his death, a few of the natural descendants of Abraham followed the Master who taught: "If any will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."Matthew 16:24
Since not enough of the natural descendants of Abraham accepted our Lord when he came to them, the offer to become the body members of the promised seed was extended to the Gentiles. Primarily the seed of Abraham which is to bless all mankind is Christ, who was typified by Isaac. However, all who come into Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, are the body members of the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:16,29
The mystery which was hidden from ages and generations is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) As soon as the "mystery class", i. e. the church, is completed, all mankind will begin to understand Gods plan.
OUR LORDS RETUhis flesh for the life of the world. He is a spiritual KING during the entire time of his second presence to earth for a thousand years.
Associated with Jesus in the spiritual phase of the kingdom will be those who have faithfully walked in the narrow way during the Gospel Age. The fully consecrated give up their hope of living upon the earth in exchange for the privilege of living and reigning with Christ. When the bride is complete, those of the world who are athirst will be invited to take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17) The human representatives of the spiritual kingdom will be the faithful who lived from the time of Abel to John the Baptist. These princes in the earthly phase of the kingdom will enforce the kingdom laws. (Psalm 45:16) By the close of the Messianic Age, the restitution of all things will have been accomplished.I Corinthians 15:24-28
Study 7 explains The Permission Of Evil And Its Relation To Gods Plan. The questions are asked again and again: Why does God permit evil? Why are so many people robbed, beaten, and murdered? Why are little children abused? Why are so many afflicted with aches, pain, sickness and disease? Why do approximately 145,000 people die every day? Each day 40,000 starve to death. Why?
Could not the Almighty God have prevented the entrance of sin? The fact that he did not should be sufficient proof that its present permission is designed to eventually work out some greater good. God permitted the devil, represented by a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve. He permitted Satan to usurp authority during the long period called this present evil world. Mankind has been learning valuable lessons on the exceeding sinfulness of sin. (Psalm 76:10) The permission of evil also makes possible the testing of the prospective bride of Christ before the more than overcomers are entrusted with immortality. (II Timothy 2:11,12) Soon Satan will be fully bound, and then evil and evil doers will be cut off and destroyed during the Messianic Age.
Study 8 is entitled: The Day Of Judgment. At the first advent our Lord, a short time before his crucifixion, went into the temple, and began to cast out those who sold and those who bought, saying unto them, "It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." That act was typical of the antitypical cleansing now in progress and affects those who make merchandise of holy things.
The first part of the thousand year Judgment Day is devoted to the judging of those systems which have professed to be serving God. The work of judging then extends to the nations and eventually to each individual RN
Study 6 discusses Our Lords Return Its Object, The Restitution Of All Things. Our Lord promised (John 14:3), "If I go ..., I will come again." On various occasions during the 40 days after his resurrection, our Lord appeared to his disciples and then ascended to heaven. Since his resurrection, our Lord is a divine spirit being. At the first advent Jesus gave of the human family. During this judgment day everything out of harmony with righteousness will be destroyed.
God "hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." (Acts 17:31) This spiritual judge is Christ. Associated with our Lord in this work of judging will be those who have faithfully walked in the narrow way during the Gospel Age, the day of trial and testing for these judges.I Corinthians 6:2
After the highway of holiness is opened, each individual will have at least one hundred years to make progress. Those who pass over the highway will gain life, but the disobedient will die the second death.Isaiah 35:8; Acts 3:23
Study 9 is an important one on Ransom And Restitution. At the first advent our Redeemer tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9) The man Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." (I Timothy 2:5,6) The ransom for all does not give everlasting life to any man, but it does guarantee to every man an opportunity or trial for life everlasting. The ransom does not excuse sin in any. It merely releases the sinner from the first condemnation and its results, both direct and indirect, and places him on trial for life.
The obedient will be rewarded with life, but the disobedient will be cut off in the second death. During this individual trial time of all the families of the earth, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14) The present experience with evil will be of great advantage to mankind as they walk up the highway of holiness. All the willing and obedient will be restored to that which Adam lost, namely, perfect human life.Acts 3:19-21
Study 10 is on the subject: Spiritual And Human Natures, Separate And Distinct. The perfection of man, as created, is expressed in Psalm 8:5-8: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea." There is a wonderful contrast between man as we now see him degraded by sin, and the perfect man that God made in his image. The Almighty God is divine, Jesus since his resurrection is divine, and those who faithfully walk in the narrow way, dying to human hopes, will be rewarded with the divine nature in the first resurrection. The willing and obedient of the world will be restored to perfect human na ture. Man was created to live upon the earth. It is an exception that some are invited to receive a heavenly reward.
Study 11 is on The Three Ways The Broad Way, The Narrow Way, The Highway. Over 6000 years ago, Adam started walking on the broad way which leads to death. Adam was informed that he might eat of all the trees in the garden of Eden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The adversary deceived Eve, and she ate of the forbidden tree. However, Adam was not deceived; he sinned wilfully.
Over 4000 years after Adam opened the broad way which leads to death, our Redeemer left his glory as a spirit being and took the nature of man. At 30 years of age our Lord made a full consecration to his heavenly Father and then symbolized that dedication by water baptism. (Hebrews 10:7) He began walking on the narrow way which leads to glory, honor and immortality. During the Gospel Age, many, but not all, have been invited to walk this same narrow way. The few who are faithful unto death will be associated with Christ in the work of blessing mankind as they walk up the highway of holiness. (Isaiah 35:8) Those who pass over the highway of holiness will be rewarded with perfect human life. As long as they remain obedient, they will continue living.
Study 12 is an Explanation Of The Chart Representing The Plan Of The Ages. The first dispensation began with the creation of man, but the third world will never end. It will flow on for the endless ages of eternity. The depth of an ocean reveals the power, grandeur and beauty of those mighty waters. The depth, power, wisdom and scope of the Bibles testimony convince us that not man, but the Almighty Creator, is the author of its plans and revelations.
The angels were the permitted though unsuccessful rulers of the first world. Satan usurped the rulership of the second dispensation, and thus it has been an evil world. The second world is comprised of three ages, the Patriarchal Age, the Jewish Age, and the Gospel Age. During each age, Gods plan is progressing according to his wisdom and design. The third dispensation consists of the Messianic Age followed by Ages to Comeworld without end. During the Messianic Age all the willing and obedient will be gathered under the headship of Christ. (Ephesians 1:10) The Head of Christ is the Almighty Creator, the author of this beautiful plan of the ages.
Study 13 is entitled The Kingdoms Of This World. It was during the rulership of Herod, a representative of the Roman Empire, the fourth universal empire of earth, that John the Baptist was imprisoned and later beheaded. The three previous universal empires were Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Nebuchadnezzars vision of the earths governments was that of a great image, whose brightness was excellent, but the form thereof was terrible.Daniel 2:31-33
Daniels vision of the same four universal empires was that of four beasts. The first was like a lion and had eagles wings, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and the fourth beast was dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly.Daniel 7:1-8
When King Zedekiah was overthrown, the typical kingdom of God was removed, and the times of the Gentiles began. The lease to the Gentiles expired in 1914 with the beginning of the first world war. The eviction of the kingdoms of this world causes a great time of trouble. Eventually the desire of all nations will come after the fifth universal empire of earth, Gods kingdom under Christs administration for the thousand years, has replaced the kingdoms of this world. Haggai 2:7
Study 14 is a delightful one on The Kingdom Of God. Many sincere prayers have ascended to the heavenly throne of grace since Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In due time these prayers will be answered. When fully set up the kingdom will consist of two phasesheavenly and earthly. The faithful overcomers of the Gospel Age will comprise the spiritual phase, represented by the stars of heaven. As soon as the spiritual phase of the kingdom is established, the work of blessing all the families of the earth will begin. Those who then accept Christ and obey the kingdom laws will become Abrahams earthly seed, represented by the sand upon the seashore. In the course of time the dead will be awakened to enjoy the kingdom blessings. "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."Isaiah 35:10
Study 15 is entitled "The Day Of Jehovah"The Day Of Vengeance" The Day Of Wrath". The fact that many are running to and fro indicates that we are living in the period called the "time of the end". The time of the end is NOT the end of time, for time will never end. Daniel prophesied that during the time of the end, which began in 1799, many would run to and fro and knowledge would be increased. (Daniel 12:4) The computer is one of the many inventions which verifies that Daniels prophecy is being fulfilled.
During the time of the end, Christ returns to earth as a spiritual king to establish the long prayed for kingdom. Satan, the god of the second world, opposes the establishment of Christs kingdom, and as a result the worlds greatest time of trouble occurs. (Daniel 12:1) The final phase of the trouble, anarchy, pictured by fire, will sweep away everything out of harmony with the kingdom. After the symbolic earth has been devoured with the fire of Gods jealousy, he will turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon him and serve him with one consent. (Zephaniah 3:8,9) The literal earth abideth forever.
Study 16 is entitled Concluding Thoughts, Our Duty Toward The TruthIts Cost, Its Value, Its Profit. It has been nearly 2000 years since our dear Redeemer came at the first advent to give himself a ransom for all. From that time until the present, some have been invited to become disciples of Jesus. Throughout the Gospel Age, a few have walked in the narrow way which leads to immortality, the highest form of life. The fully consecrated have such a love for the heavenly Father and his dear Son, and such a love for the truth, that they are willing to preach the gospel whatever may be the sacrifice involved. Those seeking to know and do Gods will must study the divine plan daily, rightly dividing the word of truth. Those walking in the footsteps of the Master are exhorted to let their light shine and to lift up a standard for the people. Soon the kingdom of God, under Christs administration for the thousand years, will be established in the earth, and then the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.Isaiah 11:5-9
BROUGHT FORTH FROM THE TOMB
"There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust."Acts 24:15
WHEN we consider that for centuries people have been accustomed to confusion in respect to the teachings of Scripture, it is natural that the question should be asked, What proof have we that it is not the body that sleeps in death, and that meantime the soul has not passed on to the higher realms? The answer is that in the Word of God we find no suggestion that such is the case. The Bible says nothing about the resurrection of the body, but much about the soul. Repeatedly the Word of God calls death a sleep. Every night the body sleeps, if it is in good condition; and this natural sleep of the body is Scripturally used to illustrate the condition of all who die the Adamic death.
In order to get the matter clear in our minds we must go back to the beginning and see what the soul is. First of all we read in the Genesis account (1:27) that God created mannot mans body, but man. The question then arises, What is man?
We answer, Man is not so much avoirdupois, but an intelligent being, a personality. What God formed out of the dust of the earth was not man, but merely a form, or body, that would be made into man. Then into its nostrils God breathed "the breath of lives"the Hebrew term signifying the breath or vitality common to all animal beings. It was not a special kind of life different from that which the lower animals have; on the contrary, it was the same kind of life given to fish, fowl and beaststhe power to live.
The same kind of life is carried forward in the human family that is carried forward in beasts. This vitality common to all animal creatures infuses the body and thus energizes it. The difference between man and the lower animals is that while they have the same kind of life man has the superior brain. Mans head is shaped differently; therefore he can think of subjects about which the lower animals cannot think, because he has a better brain. A man with a head of a given shape cannot think with the same breadth of mind as a man with a better shaped heada man who is less fallen. Some have lost more, others less, of the original perfection, of the original intelligence, given man in his creation.
A careful examination of the Genesis account of mans creation reveals the fact that when the breath came into the body which God had formed out of the dust of the ground, the combination produced soul, sentient being, with personality. The body in itself has no personality, the breath of life has no power, no sentient being, but when the two came together, they produced sentient being.
Perhaps the best illustration of the thought is afforded by a candle. The candle is composed of tallow or wax and wick. The flame is produced by an outside powerthe spark of fire. When the spark is applied to the wick, the air begins to combine with the wax or the tallow, and the result is light.
Let the candle represent the body, the air represent the breath of lifevitalityand the flame the being, the personality. God alone can strike the matchcreate the human being. This life which came from God in the beginning was given to Adam upon certain conditions, certain restrictions; namely, it was to continue forever if man remained obedient to God, but if he was disobedient God would take his life from him.
Adam was disobedient, and his soul was sentenced to death. (Ezekiel 18:4,20) It was not the body that sinned and was sentenced to death, while the soul remained pure. On the contrary, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." The sentence of death pronounced upon Adam affected his soul. As it was the spark of life that produced the soul, so the taking away of the spark of life extinguished the soul. To revert to the illustration of the candle: If some one blow upon it, the flame will be extinguished; thus is produced an adverse condition.
But before Father Adam died, before the flame of life was fully extinguished, he had imparted the spark of life to his children; and these in turn imparted the spark of life to theirs. Thus the spark of life has been transmitted from generation to generation. In the illustration, if before we say, "I will blow out the light of that candle," it has been used to light other candles, the extinguishing of the flame of the first candle will not affect the others. But the fact that the transmitted spark of life was impaired is evident; for whereas Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years under adverse conditions, his children as a rule could not live nearly so long.
Everywhere the Scriptures state that it is the soul that is dying. The question then might arise, If the soul dies, what hope of a future life has mankind? The Bible answers that from the beginning God foreknew all that would happen, and that already in His Plan He had made arrangements whereby there would be a resuscitation, a re-quickening, of these human souls that have died. Nothing is beyond His knowledge or His power. Nowhere does He say that there will be a re-quickening of the body, but of the soul.
The Sadducees of Jesus day did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. When, therefore, they heard that Jesus had said that all in the graves would ultimately hear His voice and come forth, they disputed His statement as foolish. Coming to Him with a proposition which they thought would expose the fallacy of His teachings, they said to Him, Suppose a woman had seven husbands, all of whom died before she did, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?Luke 20:27-40
Jesus replied that they erred because they neither understood the Scriptures nor appreciated the Power of the Almighty. He reiterated His statement that there would be a resurrection of the dead, and reminded them that God had so implied in His message to Moses at the burning bush, when He said, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." The Masters argument is that this statement is of itself a proof of the resurrection; for God surely would not refer thus to beings forever blotted out of existence; that Gods purpose of a resurrection is fixed, unalterable, and that those whom men call dead "all live unto Him"from Gods standpoint they are asleep, and not destroyed. The Word of God therefore speaks of the dead as sleeping.
Throughout the Old Testament we read that different ones were gathered to their fathers or that they slept with their fathers. Did the body sleep? No, it was absolutely deadreturned to the dust from which it was created. What was it, then, that slept? That which slept was that which God recognized as the personalitythe soul. The souls of both good and bad slept; for it is written that "there shall be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust."
Abrahams fathers were not saintly men, but heathen. He was called out from amongst his kindred to be a servant of God. When Abraham was gathered to his fathers in death he went to the same place where they wereSheol in the Old Testament, Hades in the Newthe tomb, the death state. Of all the kings of Israel, good and bad, and of the Prophets, we read that they were gathered to their fathers. They are asleep in death.
When Jesus entered the room where the young daughter of Jairus lay dead, He declared, "Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth." He did not say that she was in Heaven or in Purgatory or in Hell. He spoke in the same way about Lazarus, saying, "Lazarus sleepeth." His disciples replied, "If he sleep, he shall do well." They had not understood the Masters words. Finally Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead....Nevertheless, let us go unto him." So they went to the tomb where Lazarus was.
When Jesus met Martha and Mary, He did not tell them that Lazarus was in Heaven, with a harp in his hands, etc.nothing of the kind. What He said was, "Thy brother shall rise again"; thy brother shall live again. Martha replied, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last Day"the great Day, the Seventh Thousand-Year Day, the Day of Christs Kingdom, when all the dead will be due to come forth. To encourage her, Jesus said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life"there will be no resurrection except by My powerwhy not ask Me now? But Martha did not get the thought; for Jesus said, "Where have ye laid him?"
Martha and Mary took our Lord to where Lazarus was. When Jesus gave command that the stone be rolled away from the tomb, Martha protested, saying that since her brother had then been dead four days, corruption must have set in. We read that Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth"out of the cave where he had been laid. Jesus did not say, Lazarus, come down from Heaven, nor did He say, Lazarus, come up from below.John 11:1-46
Lazarus was a very dead man; for he had died four days before Jesus came. Yet from the Divine standpoint he was asleep, as the Master declared; that is to say, his soul was not destroyed. According to the Scriptures, the soul can be put out of existence. On one occasion our Lord said to His disciples, "Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna"the Second Death.Matthew 10:28
The soul is that individuality which God has decreed shall have an opportunity of coming to a knowledge of everlasting life. All this opportunity is in Christ. As St. Paul says, "For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." (Romans 14:9) He lived as a man, and died that He might thereby have the right to control all those who have gone into the prisonhouse of death. Therefore the Scriptures tell us that there must be a resurrection of the dead.
Our Lord says that all will hear His voice and come forth from the tomb. (John 5:28,29) In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul explains how this can be. He points out that the death of Christ is for all: "As all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made aliveevery man in his own order." Then he proceeds to show that the first to come forth will be the Church class. He also declares that if there is no resurrection of the dead, our preaching is vain and our hope is gone. He concludes that since Christ is risen from the dead there is therefore an assurance of the resurrection.
The restoration of the bodies of the billions who have died would be a very absurd proposition. Scientists tell us that the human frame changes once in every seven years; that continually old matter is being replaced with new, so that a man who has reached the age of forty-nine years has had seven bodies during his lifetime. The change of the body did not affect the personality of the man, however. The sloughing off of a hand or a foot or the loss of an eye might have taken place, but the human soul continues; for it is this intelligent human being that has resulted from the union of matter and vitality. Gods proposition is the restoration of this soul, this personality. Never does He speak of the resurrection of the body.
The theory of the resurrection of the body has involved theologians in many difficulties. Some years ago a story went the rounds of the newspapers to the effect that the coffin of a man who had been buried at the foot of an apple tree had been unearthed, and the discovery made that the roots of the tree had penetrated the coffin and absorbed the body, and that at these roots there was something resembling a hand, an arm, a human limb, etc. In other words, the tree had been living upon that human body. The apples from that tree had been sold to various persons and shipped in all directions; some had been fed to hogs, etc. Those who hold to the theory of the resurrection of the body would have a knotty problem to solve in trying to fit their theory to these facts.
There is not one statement in the Bible that declares that the same body that dies is to be brought forth in the resurrection. On the contrary we read, "Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it pleaseth Him." He will have no difficulty in making a body; Divine Power is equal to any emergency. The Sadducees doubted the Power of God.
We admit that to produce a body with the same convolutions of the brain, the same individuality, the same soul, the same sentient being, is a miracle so great that we cannot conceive of it. Yet it is that very thing which God purposes to do for the whole human family thousands of millions in number.
It is for us to follow the Word of God, to reject all extraneous matter from whatever quarter it may come, and to "receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to make us wise." We are to discard the things which are without Scriptural authority. Nothing that man can offer can compare with what we find in the Word of God; the Bible is the very essence of grandeur, beauty, justice, love.
In Isaiahs prophecy we read that Jesus "poured out His soul unto death," that His soul was made "an offering for sin." (Isaiah 53:12,10) Then again we read, "Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol [the grave]; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." (Psalm 16:10) Explaining this prophecy, the Apostle Peter says that God would not leave Jesus soul in Hadesthe grave. (Acts 2:22-31) The soul of Jesus was not left in the tomb.
Speaking of His own resurrection, Jesus said, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Revelation 1:18) God raised Him up from the death condition on the third day. On the very morning of His resurrection He said to Mary, "Touch Me not; for I have not yet ascended to My Father....I ascend to My Father, and your Father, and to My God and your God." (John 20:17) He was the first One who descended to the tomb, and was raised from the dead, and who has ascended far above angels, principalities, powers, and every name that is named.Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9-11
Since our Lord has passed through these experiences, the Apostles suggestion is that He who brought the Lord Jesus from the tomb is also able to bring us. He tells us that we need not sorrow as do those who have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, let us believe that He will bring all that are in the death condition back to life. (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14) Let us believe that "all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth" (John 5:25-29)the Church first. As it is written, "Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the First Resurrection; on such the Second Death shall have no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ; and shall reign with Him a thousand years."Revelation 20:6
Others shall come forth to a resurrection over whom the Second Death may have power. Whether or not they will ever get altogether free from death will be determined by their conduct during the time of their opportunityduring the time when the riches of Gods grace will be made known to them and when they will have the opportunity of coming back into full harmony with Him and of gaining life everlasting. [R5611]
"He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses."Acts 2:31,32
"This is the promise which He hath promised us, even eternal life." 1 John 2:25
From the standpoint of Christian thought in general, the words of our text would be practically meaningless; for the great majority of people believe that everlasting conditions are forced upon all humanity from the moment of birth, and that all must live forever somewhere. Therefore they argue that whoever does not merit Heaven must, at death, of necessity go to a Hell of eternal torment. This erroneous conclusion is based upon the assumption that every human being possesses everlasting life and cannot possibly rid himself of it, even if he tried. We are born, they declare, with a deathless nature, and whoever comes into being must continue to live somewhere to all eternity.
The Scriptures, however, teach to the contrary. They declare that no one can have life except as God gives it to him. When God created man, He gave our first parents perfection of life and organism. Then He informed them that they might have that life forever if they would obey His Laws; but that if they were disobedient He would put upon them the penalty of sindeath; that as soon as they had transgressed, the sentence, or curse, of death would go into effect"Dying, thou shalt die." They disobeyed, and the penalty came upon them.
After nine hundred and thirty years of dying, Adam was dead. During all that period the penalty was coming upon him gradually. Daily he was dying, until finally he ceased to breathe. We see that the children of Adam could not share his perfect life; for he had lost it before any of them came into the world. Thus the world has been misshapen in sin and iniquitya dying race.
The Scriptures tell us that there would have been no future life for the human family had it not been for Gods provision in Christ. "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish"lose life altogether. Even before God sent our first parents forth from Eden, He promised that eventually there would be a Redeemer. The Seed of the woman would at some future time bruise the Serpents head.
Although death reigned from Adam to Moses, nevertheless there was a hope held out to mankind that one day the curse would be removed. This hope was transmitted through the family of Seth, afterwards through the family of Noah, and later through Abraham and his posterity, the children of Israel. This hope was merely a suggestion; no definite revelation was made respecting Gods purposes. True, the ProphetEnoch, the seventh from Adam through the line of Seth, had prophesied, "Behold the Lord cometh with myriads of His saints, to execute judgment upon all," and thus had intimated that one day righteousness would be established in the earth. Even the Promise made to Abraham, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," was not a clear, positive statement of everlasting life, although it implied a resurrection from the dead.
When the Israelites found that they could not gain life everlasting by keeping the Law of God, the Lord promised to send them a Deliverer, who would take away their stony heart and make a New Covenant with them. Their experience under the Law Covenant taught them that nothing they could themselves do would deliver them from the power of Sin and Death. Messiah would be their Deliverer.Romans 11:26
When Jesus came, He brought the words of eternal life, everlasting life. As St. Paul declares, Jesus Christ "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10) The fact that our Savior brought these to light demonstrates that they were not seen before. Although there had been an intimation of Gods Plan given to Abraham, yet everything looked contrary to this. The death penalty which God had pronounced in Eden seemed to preclude all hope of life everlasting. Although God had stated more or less vaguely that He would one day deliver humanity from the curse of sin and death, no one could tell how this could behow God could remit the death penalty and still be just.
But when Jesus came, He brought the whole subject to light. He showed that His redemptive work, provided by Gods gracious arrangement, would eventually give life everlasting to all who would accept of it upon the Divine terms. He also brought immortality to light. He revealed the fact that God purposes not only to give the world of mankind life everlasting, but to give the faithful followers in Jesus footsteps a higher kind of lifeimmortality. Thus a new thought was brought outone never even dreamed of before.
Our Lords statements respecting life everlasting and immortality are not so clear as are the statements made by His Apostles. We recall that these Apostles were promised that they should be especially guided in their utterances. Whatsoever they would bind on earth would be binding and obligatory in the sight of God; and whatsoever they would loose would not be considered binding in Gods sight. But in what our Lord Jesus said there was a basis for all that the Apostles said and taught.
There was a reason why Jesus did not clearly specify things in respect to Himself. This He declared when He said to His disciples, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." To have attempted to tell them all about the glory, honor and immortality to which the Church was being called would have been to give them more than they could have borne. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of Godthe deep things. Hence it was best for our Lord to leave those deep spiritual subjects. After Pentecost the spirit-begotten would be enabled to understand.John 16:12-14
The whole subject matter of Jesus teachings was this everlasting life. He had come for the very purpose of giving His life a Ransom for many, that men might have restored to them the favor originally enjoyed. The Scriptures nowhere teach that all have life inherently; on the contrary, they teach the very reverse. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." "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."
The Promise mentioned in our text we understand to refer particularly to the Message brought by our Lord Jesus: "Which salvation began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him." (Hebrews 2:3) When Jesus came, He threw light upon the entire subject of Gods Plan for human salvation from sin and death. He showed that there was to be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjustof those in a justified condition and of those not justified. He would raise them up at the Last Day, at the beginning of the great Seventh Day of a thousand years, during which His Messianic Kingdom would prevail and the blessing would be world-wide. As the long-promised Seed of Abraham, He and His Church would bless all the families of the earth.
Our text refers to a certain class only. It does not include the world. "This is the promise which He hath promised us." (1 John 2:25) The promise is now to the Church, and to no others. All the promises for the world are made along the line of general principles. All the world are to be blessed, and the blessing that will come to them is an opportunity to gain life everlasting. God made everything dependent upon the Son: "He that hath the Son hath life"no others. So only believers can have life nowand these not in the complete senseonly the beginning of that life which will be perfected in the resurrection. The world have no life in them, and cannot have it, except under Gods arrangement.
Those who now come to Christ are the Church, the Bride class, and are an especially privileged class. They come into the life that is incorruptible. But there is a promise for the world, and only believers know about this provision for mankind. All shall have opportunity for attaining everlasting life. God has provided a trial Day, a Judgment Day, to demonstrate whether, when mankind shall have been brought to a knowledge of the Truth, they will accept His terms and thus attain everlasting life.
The Lord will make it quite possible for the world to gain life everlasting on the human plane, just as He is now making it possible for the Church to attain life on the Divine plane. The thing for the consecrated people of God to do, then, is to strive to be of the "us" class. This term applies to those who become disciples, those who believe in the Kingdom glory and honor offered them, and who, so believing, devote their lives to walking in the footsteps of Jesus, even unto death.
This "us" class includes not only the antitypical Priests, but also the antitypical Levites. But while both classes will have eternal life, everlasting life, "the crown of life" (immortality) is only for those who will prove themselves to be "more than conquerors." The Scriptures hold out a special promise to all who will walk carefully in the footsteps of Jesus. This class are promised joint-heirship with Him, the privilege of sitting with Him in His Throne.Revelation 3:21
On one occasion our Lord said to the Jews, "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." (John 5:26) In this statement, doubtless, He touched upon the subject of immortality. As the Father has inherent life, so He gave to the Son to have this life; and as the Son had the promise of this life during His earthly ministry, so He had the actuality of it in His resurrection. This same promise is given to the Church which is His Body.John 10:27,28
On another occasion He said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." (John 6:53) This would be inherent lifelife in themselves. The difference between this life and ordinary life is that the former is inherent, and the latter maintained. All the angels have a life not forfeited, an eternal, everlasting life. It can cease if God so choose, but it is not a life that has a terminating period. We do not know how the angels are supplied with life, but the fact that the Scriptures declare that some of them will die is a proof that they do not possess immortality.
We should be very careful in our use of language. If we were to say to the majority of people that we believe that only the elect Church will have immortality, they would misunderstand us altogetherthey would misunderstand us to mean that all the remainder of humanity were to perish like brute beasts. Therefore we should be sure that we make the thought clearly understood. Everlasting life is a life that needs to be sustained; immortality is that Divine degree of life that needs not to be sustained.
Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) It was life that Adam lost. That life was everlasting in the sense that it might have lasted forever. It was not a life granted for a fixed perioda year or even a million of yearsbut was to last so long as it was not forfeited. In this Scripture our Lord refers to two classesthe obedient of the world, who will have sustained life everlastingly, and the Church, who with Jesus will share the Divine nature will have life "more abundant" in the sense that it will be inherent life, not requiring to be sustained.
This is the promise, then, which He has promised us. If we would make our calling and election sure to glory, honor and immortality, we must exercise great carefulness indeed. Those who attain the prize will get the grandest blessing God has to give. All should understand that we have something to do in realizing the gracious promises of God to us. While God is both able and willing to perform His part of the contract, yet we must make sure that we co-operate in every reasonable way. [R5608]
"And can we hope to gain, dear Lord, such wondrous bliss
To dwell with Thee in light ineffable?
Oh, can we eer attain such joy as thisThe life immortal, incorruptible?
Ah, yes! for Thou hast promised, and Thy Word is sure,
And thus inspired we press along the way;
The path is lonely, but the end is sweet,
And openeth into realms of perfect day."
"He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city which is broken down and without walls."Proverbs 25:28
THE word "spirit" is used in a variety of ways. We speak of a horse as having a fiery spirit or as having no spirit. We speak of the angels as being spirits. We sometimes speak of the spirit of life. We also speak of the spirit of the human mindthat is evidently the thought that is here presented. The words of the text are equivalent to saying, He that hath no rule over his own mind, his thoughts, is like a city that is broken down.
What would a broken-down city be like? In olden times, when civilization had not reached the degree to which it has now attained, there was but little police protection, and marauders were numerous. Those who were disposed to get their living by stealing had excellent opportunities. It was necessary that cities be surrounded by walls as a protection against enemies. Any city with broken-down walls would have great reason to fear such marauders. It would invite attack and be certain to meet with disaster some time.
The wise man has here likened such a city to a broken down human will. The will is to be continually on guard over the mind and to allow nothing to enter there except through the regular gatesConscience and Judgment. These gates are to be watched so closely that they may admit only such thoughts as would be non-injurious, profitable, wisein harmony with the Word of God. Every human being should have a will and should keep it in good repair, should see to it that it does not get broken down; otherwise shipwreck of character will follow.
By the will is not meant merely a wish. There is a decided difference between a wish and a will. Some wish that they possessed a million dollars, but they have not the will even to try to get it. Some have a wish to get up at a certain hour in the morning; but the wish does not get them up, because the will is broken down. They say to themselves, "Oh, a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands in sleep!" They have no control of themselves. They may think they will gain this control by setting an alarm clock. By and by the alarm clock does no good; they do not hear it at all.
Whoever allows his will to become broken down as to the time he will arise in the morning has a more or less weak will in all matters. We should make reasonable regulations for our time of rising and of retiring. Having used our best judgment as to what should be done, we should see that it is done. Unless the doing of this should be found harmful to ourselves or to someone else, it should be carried out.
It is important to carry out the dictates of our best judgment so that the will may be strong, so that the individual may not be a vacillating character. The same principle applies to our choice of food. Some will say, "I know that this dish does not agree with me; but it comes to the table, and it seems to agree with others. I cannot eat it without subsequent discomfort; but I like it. I wish it would not come to the table!" So he partakes of it and suffers the consequences. He has the desire for the food, but not the will to resist taking it. The proper course for each one is to see to it that he does not eat what he knows is injurious to him, whatever others may be able to do or may choose to do.
Indecision and lack of character in little things affect all the greater things in life. The person who gets up irregularly is apt to be irregular in business. The person who cannot determine what he should eat is likely to be subject to caprice, to be weak in all his decisions. Such a one will be likely to let some salesman influence him as to what he will buy. Some are too largely subject to the control of others.
An old adage has it that "A wise man sometimes changes his minda fool never." Ruling our own spirit does not mean that we are to go to extremes and say, "Well, I said I wouldnt; and I wont!" There may be good reasons for changing our mind, and then it would be our proper course to make that change. God is seeking for the class of people who properly rule their own minds. If they learn to rule their minds before they come into the family of God, it will be that much the better for them. But at any rate, the only way they can get into the Kingdom will be by developing character.
The Bible tells us particularly what things are of the flesh, and what are of the Holy Spirit, the holy mind, of God; what things, therefore, constitute the holy disposition we should have. It tells us that we should put away anger, malice, hatred, bitterness, wrath, anger, strife; and that we should put on meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love. These lessons must be learned. We cannot say that the flesh will ever be brought under complete control; but the will must be there, and as much control of the flesh as is possible by Divine help should be added day by day.
The Lord is seeking people of strong will, strong character. Therefore there must be a positive turning to the Lord and a definite covenant with Him at the first, or else we are not acceptable to the Father. Then after we come into His family we find that some things that we thought all right are all wrong and must be corrected; and in proportion as we have in our past life ruled our own minds, controlled our fleshly appetites and impulses, in that proportion we shall make slow or rapid progress in the new way. How much of consecrated time may we use for business, for pleasure, or in one way or another? How much of consecrated money shall we spend on ourselves? All this is to be regulated by our Covenant with God. We must seek first the interests of the Lord and His Kingdom. These must be first in all our arrangements, and earthly things must be secondary. Hence the importance of fixed character, a will prompt and unflinching for God. [R5652]
There are certain rights and privileges which belong to all human beings. There are tastes and desires that are not sinful. It is not sinful to eat and enjoy that which is wholesome and nutritious; not sinful to have preferences as to what one shall eat. It is not sinful for one to have strawberries in the winter when that fruit is expensive, if one has the money to buy them and if he obtained the money rightfully. It would not be sinful to pay fifty cents or a dollar a box for them. It is no crime to have a fine house, servants, a pleasure yacht, an automobile, etc. If there are entertainments, concerts, operas, and these are of good moral tone, one has a perfect right to engage a seat for the same at five dollars, and to employ a taxicab in going. One as a natural man has a perfect right, if he is able, to any of these things, which are not sinful in themselves. Things that are sinful should, of course, always be avoided.
But when one undertakes to become a follower of Christ, he accepts instead of his own will the will of God. And as Christ pleased not Himself, but used His time, His influence, His life, for the good of others, so those who become His disciples will forego their rights and privileges, whenever these would conflict with their service to God. The Christian could not reason the same as he did before he made his consecration. He could not say, I will spend five dollars to go to the opera; but he will be obliged to say, My means are consecrated to the Lord. The same principle will control his judgment as to whether he shall have an automobile or not; whether he shall have a fine house or shall own any house; whether he shall have the finest food; whether he shall wear fine clothing, or plainer clothing, etc. It will control his judgment as to his use of consecrated time.
But no one is to judge another in regard to the use of money or time in his possession as the Lords steward. It is for the individual himself to decide how he will use these. And it is the Lord who will decide whether he has been a faithful steward or an unfaithful one. The Lord will decide that those who, like Jesus, shall sacrifice the enjoyable earthly things, that thereby they may the better glorify God, shall have the more than compensating spiritual blessings, and shall receive the reward of the Kingdom and its positions of honor. [R5656]
Is there any scripture which shows that the feet-members of Christ will all be changed at one time?
We believe to the contrarythat instead of all the feet-members being changed at one time, it will be a gradual work. One may be changed tonight, another tomorrow, etc.; and yet their change may be said to be all at one time in the sense that it is all in the Harvest time, all in the end of the Age. The change of some will be in the close of the Harvest period. As an individual matter, it will be one person after another. The Apostle says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed"; for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Our change will be "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." It will not be a gradual change to the individual, but an instantaneous change. Instead of sleeping, as the saints of the past have done, when our time comes to die, ours will be an instantaneous change. The Psalmist prophetically says, "I have said, ye are gods, and all of you children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men"; and this Scripture we understand to refer to the dying process that comes to all of the Church, the same as to mankind in general. We are New Creatures, and hence the expression that we shall "die like men." As men we die, so we will die. Men do not generally die in bunches; so we would think it strange if many of us should die at one time. The world will not discern any difference between our death and the death of other men. [R5728]
Is there any revelation as to what the Urim and Thummim consisted of, or how the priests were answered?
There is nothing specific known on this subject. In some manner or other, it is supposed, the breastplate that was worn by the High Priest was used as the Urim and Thummimthat is, to give definite answer, Yes or No, to the questions that were propounded. For instance, if the question were asked, Shall Israel go out to war with this nation? or, Shall Israel enter into alliance with that nation? the Lords answer was indicated by the breastplate. How these questions were answered, we are not informed. Nothing in the Scriptures tells us, and we have no tradition even that gives any very clear answer.
We know that they had the Urim and Thummim and that the answer was indicated in some way with the precious stones of the breastplate, but just how, nobody knows. [R5042]
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(Thursday Text from Daily Heavenly Manna)
I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.Psalm 16:8
HE who has buried his own will completely in the will of the Lord can know no disappointment; but in every affair of his life he sees by faith divine appointment or supervision, and hears the Word of the Lord in all of life's affairs assuring him, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." It is one of the evidences of reaching the graduating condition of heart, when we are able to take the oppositions of the great Adversary and of the world and of our own flesh patiently, uncomplainingly, unmurmuringly, "joyfully"as a part of the disciplinary experience meted out to us by our all-wise and all-loving Lord. Z.'99-6 R2412:6
All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.Luke 4:22
THIS should be true as far as possible with all of the Lord's footstep followers: their speech should be with grace, with moderation, the overflow of hearts full of loving sympathy for the Truth and all who love and seek it. Their words should always be well within the limits of reason and righteousness, and strictly in conformity to the Word of the Lord. And their manner, their conduct, as living epistles, should harmonize with these so that even their enemies would marvel, and take knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus and learned of Him. Z.'99-53 R2437:6
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.Isaiah 26:3
THIS is not worldly peace, not the peace of in difference, not the peace of sloth, not the peace of self-indulgence, not the peace of fatalism; but it is the peace of Christ"My peace." Looking back we can see that the Master preserved His peace with God under all conditions. It is a peace which implicitly trusts to the divine wisdom, love, justice and power, a peace which remembers the gracious promise made to the Lord's faithfulthat nothing shall by any means hurt His faithful, and that all things shall work together for good to them that love God. This peace can accept by faith whatever divine providence permits, and can look through its tears with joyful expectancy for the ultimate blessings which the Master has promised, and of which the present peace and joy are merely foretastes. Z.'99-95 R2456:6
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.James 5:16
COMMUNION with the Lord in prayer brings increased confidence in the Lord's supervision of our affairs; increased faith in all the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word; increased realization of His leadings, past and present; increased love for all the brethren of Christ, and increased solicitude for their welfare and spiritual progress. Prayer is thus closely and actively identified with progress in spiritual things, progress in the fruits of the Spirit, toward God, the brethren, and all men. Z.'00-268 R2692:1
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:13
THE apostle speaks of this time of fiery trial, and, likening the faith and works of a zealous Christian to a house built of gold, silver and precious stones, he declares that the fire of this day, in the end of this age, shall try every man's work of what sort it is, and shall consume all but genuine faith and character structures. But we are to remember that such loyal
characters grow not suddenly, in a few hours or daysmushroom like,but are progressive developments, fine-grained and strong like the olive tree. Z.'99-171 R2496:5
"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly [margin: disorderly], comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all. See that none render evil for evil unto any; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."1 Thessalonians 5:14-21
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