God’s Comprehensive Law – r

They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty! Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. — Revelation 15:3 — RLIV

(1) JEHOVAH’S wisdom, love and justice decide on what is best, and that decision is His will or law. But, strictly speaking, only so much of God’s will as He expresses to His creatures is law to them. Hence, while His laws never conflict, they may be more or less fully and differently expressed on one occasion than on another. Thus, while the law was given to Adam not to eat of a forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16,17), we are not under any such law. And to Noah a command was given to build an ark (Genesis 6:14-7:1), we today are not given such a command.

(2) All of God’s intelligent creatures are under instruction, being taught those laws which his infinite love, wisdom and justice have enacted for the well-being of all. Though created perfect, each in his plane of being, yet they all lack that scope of knowledge and wisdom which belongs in full measure to the divine nature only. They all lack experience; hence, in giving them instruction in the wisdom and propriety of his laws, it has pleased Jehovah to make an illustration which would manifest and practically exemplify his own nature and demonstrate to his creatures the wisdom and righteousness of his laws.

(3) It is evident that the spirit of his law is not to take advantage of some transgressive slip, occasioned by lack of experience on the part of his creatures, but that he intends it to apply to the thoughts and intents of the hearts. That this is the real intent of God, we shall see illustrated by his dealings with those who have from lack of knowledge become sinners.

(4) His law in full, as we now see it in the light of his Word, is, “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,38) Jesus stated: “The whole law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.” God had given to Israel a covenant, often called the “Law Covenant”, and the penalty attached to the slightest deviation from that law is, “The soul who sins, he will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) As applied in the final judgment, this principle would mean that no being will be permitted to continue to live, who, when fully informed of God’s righteous will, and enabled to obey it, refuses to conform to Jehovah’s will. All such will be cut off from life. Nevertheless, the same prinicple of law existed before God made his covenant with the children of Israel, for Adam was to either prove or fail to prove his love for his Creator by his obedience or disobedience.

(5) To fully exemplify this law, God caused man to be used as an illustration before this extreme penalty was placed upon the angels. So man was placed under the extreme penalty of his law — death. God knew that through inexperience man would violate that law and come under its penalty; but he purposed to make an illustration to all his creatures of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its sure consequences, while at the same time his love and wisdom so marked out the plan, that mankind, the illustration, might not suffer loss, but be blessed by the lesson as learned. — Romans 7:13; Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 29:18,19; Jeremiah 16:61-63.

(6) Nor should we forget that God’s dealing with man was perfectly just. He had a right to demand perfect obedience from a perfect creature; and the fact that he at first did not inflict death upon the angels was a favor toward them; even as toward man he has displayed his favor also, though in a different manner — through a ransom, and Savior, and restitution, and future trial for life, more favorable than the first, because of the knowledge of sin and its effects, meanwhile acquired by experience. (See our publication: Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment) This was a masterly stroke of wise economy on God’s part; for had the death penalty been pronounced on the angels who sinned, a redeemer of their own kind would have been necessary for their recovery; and not only one, but many — one redeemer for each transgressor; for they were legion and were individually on trial; and the requirement of God’s law is, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life.

(7) Let us briefly view the exhibition of God’s character as displayed in his dealing toward mankind whom he made a spectacle to angels. (1 Corinthians 4:9) In so doing, let us guard against the common error which would judge God’s actions exactly as our own. Let us remember that justice, love, wisdom and power, as commonly displayed by the fallen race, in dealing with each other, and by human parents with their children, are far from perfect. In our first parents those qualities were perfect: they were in the image of Jehovah; but in our experience, in consequence of the fall, these qualities are constantly at war with each other. Sometimes love has a victory over justice, and sometimes justice has a victory over love.

(8) But with Jehovah there can be no conflict; and neither ever gains a victory or ascendancy over the other. Both are perfect, and work only in perfect harmony.

(9) Before man was created, the Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power of God held conference on the subject, and devised the plan which has since then been developing. The plan was suggested by Wisdom and concurred in by the other attributes; the arrangement and execution of it being left in Wisdom’s hands.

(10) Wisdom designed to have the largest returns from the experience of man, and the most valuable illustration of God’s character to all his creatures, on every plane of being. Accordingly Wisdom said, Let the man come under the control of Justice, Love and Power, separately, that the force and operation of each may be the more forcibly illustrated. Let Justice first have complete control, let men be dealt with by the strict law, “You must not” –. “In the day that you eat…dying you will die.” And it was so.

(11) Man, inexperienced and unused to self-control and liberty, violated the law, and experienced the full weight of Justice, as Wisdom had foreseen and prepared for.

(12) The lesson under Justice has been long and severe, but the lesson must be thorough, so that it shall never need repeating. Men and angels must learn that Justice is relentless, irrevocable and unalterable. Then, too, before it could be realized that the remedy for man lay only in Jehovah and nowhere else, an opportunity was offered for the trial of other methods for man’s recovery. First, the angels were given rulership (during the age before the flood), and made a miserable failure; for, while man became more and more corrupt himself, his evil influence led to the fall of some of those who attempted his assistance — “those angels who did not keep their first estate.” — Jude 6

(13) With the deluge that order of affairs passed away. Then, under the Law Covenant, given to one selected nation, another and different opportunity was presented, to prove to man that even if God should cancel all enmity, or resentment, and receive the world into covenant relations, they would require a Restorer, so that they could continue in harmony with God, even after being forgiven. Hence sacrifices and offerings for sin were instituted, and God treated that nation as though original sin and guilt had been removed, and then placed them under laws to prove to them, to us and to all, their inability (as degenerate creatures) to keep his law without a restitution to perfection — to his likeness. — See How God’s Son Condemned Sin in the Flesh.

(14) Meanwhile Love stood ready to manifest itself at the moment Wisdom should give the word. Love would have done so at once, but for two reasons: First, it could not oppose or interfere with the action of Justice in condemning man and delivering him over for the execution of the prescribed penalty. Second: though Love might have acknowledged Justice and approved its action by promptly providing a ransom (an equivalent price), Wisdom objected and did not permit this course at that time, because it saw best to make the lesson complete and thorough.

(15) Hence for over four thousand years Love was not permitted to manifest itself, and might only speak in shadowy sacrifices and ceremonies, and more or less obscure promises. But, finally, when the right time had come, “in due time,” “in the fulness of time,” Wisdom gave the word, and Love began to manifest itself for man’s relief. The first act was to produce a perfect and sinless man to be a suitable “ransom for all:” one not under the Adamic curse — who would lay down his life for the race, and whose sacrifice would meet all the requirements of Justice, and therefore be acceptable as a ransom and propitiation for man’s sins. And Love’s great exhibition was seen in the gift of the grandest and greatest and first of all God’s creation, who stooped and became man, to redeem men: and “they called his name Jesus.”

(16) “Ah!” says one who judges by his own feelings, “Now comes Love’s victory over Justice. We shall see that God is more loving than severe.” But not so; God is not more loving than severely just: he is perfect in both respects. It will be indeed a victory for Love, but not over Justice. It will be much grander than that. It will prove a victory for both Justice and Love; for it will be gained by Love’s paying the price demanded by Justice–a ransom, “an equivalent price.” — 1 Timothy 2:4-6.

(17) Thus did love of God magnify the justice and law of God, and ‘make it honorable,’ by acknowledging its claims in the payment of the very penalty demanded — man’s death.

(18) We need scarcely say, that the love of God so long veiled from sight, was manifested in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. The record is: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” — 1 John 4:9,10

(19) When Love had ransomed man, and was ready to reveal itself by restoring the willing and obedient of mankind to perfection and harmony with God, Wisdom postponed this on the ground that a further development of the plan would ultimately enhance Love’s glory, and perfect the work: that an interlude (the Gospel age) must occur in which should be selected some from among the redeemed, some sharers in Christ’s sufferings and reproach, who should be counted worthy to share his glory and to be his associates in the execution of Love’s triumph in “the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.” — Acts 3:21.

(20) Long and faithfully has Love labored; yet all her labor will yet be lost, unless in due time Wisdom shall commission Power to do its special part in the great plan.

(21) Power thus far has stood in the background, doing nothing directly in man’s relief, save in the resurrection of our Lord, and in the miracles which shadowed forth its coming work.

(22) Now, we are living in the era when Power begins to act, not in opposition to Justice, but in harmony with Wisdom, Justice and Love. Oh, blessed day! The Lamb that was slain and who redeemed us by his blood is now invested with Power to bless all whom he bought; and he is now about taking unto himself his great power, and shall reign until he has subdued all enemies. — Revelation 20:6; 1 Corinthians 15:25.

(23) Thus, God has chosen the plan which most fully and grandly exemplifies his unalterable justice, and exhibits the exceeding riches of his grace — his love; and in the restoration of man (“all who come to the Father by him”) from destruction, from death, to perfection and life, will God’s power be illustrated far more forcibly than even in man’s creation. And as men and angels come to recognize the full fruition of God’s plan in the ages to come, will they not with one consent exclaim with our brother and Apostle Paul, as he caught a glimpse of it: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind [plan] of Jehovah? or who has been his counselor? … Because out of him, and through him, and for him are all [these] things. To him be the glory for ever.” — Romans 11:33-36.

— Based on article from Reprints page 1680 (R1680)
Updated 9/26/2010; 3/17/2014

Restoration of All Things -r

 

Adapted from Study VI of The Divine Plan of the Ages, first issued in 1886.


(1) Almost all who claim Christianity believe that for some purpose, in some manner, and at some time, Jesus is to come again. True, Jesus said: “Look! I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) By his spirit and by his Word he has been with the Church continually, guiding, directing, comforting, and sustaining the dedicated people of God, and cheering them in the midst of their afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the Savior’s knowledge of all her ways and of his constant care and love, yet she longs for his promised personal return. For when he said: “If I go, I will come again” (John 14:3), he certainly referred to a second personal coming.

(2) Some think Jesus referred to the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit; others, to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc. But these apparently overlook what is written in the last book of the Bible. The book of Revelation is thought to have been written some sixty years after the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and twenty-six years after Jerusalem’s destruction. There we read that he who was dead and is alive speaks of the event as yet future, saying: “Look! I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me.” And the inspired John replies: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” — Revelation 22:12,20. (Note: Some claim that the book of Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and that our Lord returned at the destruction of Jerusalem. However, the scriptures say that the heavens must retain our Lord until the “times of restoration of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21) While some have concluded that the times of restoration took place in 70 CE, our presentation shows that the times of restoration refer to the period of the world’s judgment. — Acts 17:30,31.)

(3) Quite a number think that when sinners are converted that forms a part of his coming until all the world is converted. Then, say they, he will have fully come. These evidently forget the testimony of the Scriptures on the subject, which declares the reverse of their expectation. The Bible shows that at the time of our Lord’s second coming the world will be far from converted to God. We read that “in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) “Evil men and seducers will become worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (Verse 13) They forget the Lord’s special warning to his followers in the last days: “Take heed to yourselves lest that day come upon you unawares. For it will come as a snare upon all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34,35) Again, it is said: “All tribes of the earth will wail because of him,” when they see him coming. (Revelation 1:7). We may rest assured that this does not describe converted sinners. Do all men wail because of the conversion of sinners? On the contrary, if this passage refers, as almost all admit, to Messiah’s presence on earth, it teaches that all on earth will not love his appearing, as they certainly would do if all were converted.

Messiah Returns to Convert the World

(4) Some expect an actual coming and presence of Messiah, but set the time of the event a long way off. They often claim that through the efforts of the Church in its present condition the world must be converted, and thus the Millennial age be introduced. They assert that when the world has been converted, and Satan bound, and the knowledge of Jehovah has filled the whole earth, and when nations learn war no more, then the work of the Church in her present condition will be ended. According to this view, when the Church has accomplished this great and difficult task, Jesus will come to wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn sinners.

(5) Some scriptures, taken without considering the Bible as a whole, seem to favor this view. However, when God’s Word and plan are viewed as a whole, these will all be found to favor the opposite view. Christ comes before the conversion of the world, and reigns for the purpose of converting the world. The Church is now being tried and prepared to share with Jesus in various positions of royal rule as the seed of Abraham that is to bless all nations. — Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Galatians 3:16-17,29; Psalm 45:6-16.

Today the Kingdom
is Preached Merely as a Witness

(6) There are two texts chiefly relied upon by those who claim that Jesus will not come until after the conversion of the world. One is: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) They claim this scripture refers to the conversion of the world before the end of the present age. But witnessing to the world does not imply the conversion of the world. The text says nothing about how the testimony will be received. We understand that this witness is to be given directly before the final end of this age. It’s effect is to gather from from all nations only those who will call upon Jehovah in preparation to live through the destruction of Satan’s world. (Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 107:28; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Isaiah 24:6) Rather than the rest of the world being converted, the scriptures show that they will have to be destroyed so that they might know who Jehovah is. — Psalm 83:17,18.

(7) The Scriptures relate that the main object of the good news in the present age is “to take out a people for” God’s name. (Acts 15:14) By becoming sons of God they become adopted into the family of God, thus bearing his name. (Galatians 4:26) The apostle Paul also tells us that the whole world is waiting for the manifestation of these sons of God. (Romans 8:19) He further tells us that all these sons of God are heirs of God. (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29) Thus the witness to the world is not for the purpose of converting the world, but only take out from the world this select few.

(8) The other text used to support the idea that the world is converted before Jesus comes is Psalm 110:1: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” The vague, indefinite idea regarding this text seems to be that Christ sits on a material-like throne somewhere in the heavens until the work of subduing all things is accomplished for him through the Church, and that then he comes to reign. This is a misconception. The throne of God referred to is not a material one, but refers to his supreme authority and rulership. The Lord Jesus has been exalted to a share in that rulership. Paul declares: “God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and given him a name above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) He has given him authority above every other, next to the Father. If Messiah sits upon a material-like throne until his enemies are made his footstool [all subdued], then of course he cannot come until all things are subdued. But if “right hand” refers, not to a fixed locality and bench, but, as we claim, to power, authority, rulership, it follows that the text under consideration would in no wise conflict with the other scripture which teaches that he comes to “subdue all things unto himself,” by virtue of the power vested in him. (Philippians 3:21) To illustrate, when we say King Henry was on the throne of England, we do not refer to the royal bench itself. When we say that he was on the throne, we refer to the time when he ruled England. Right hand signifies the chief place position of excellence or favor, next to the chief ruler. Jesus’ words to Caiaphas agree with this thought: “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:24) He will be on the right when coming, and will remain on the right hand during the Millennial age, and forever.

Jesus Died When He Was Here —
He Returns to Restore Mankind

(9) A further examination of God’s revealed plans gives a broader view of the object of both the first and second advents. We should remember that both events stand related as parts of one plan. The specific work of the first advent was to provide a ransom for mankind. That of the second advent is to restore, and bless, and liberate those ransomed. Having given his life a ransom for all, our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, thus making reconciliation for mankind’s sin. He waits and permits “the ruler of this world” to continue the rule of evil until mankind has completely learned the lesson of its results. In the meantime God has been selecting a few here and there to become his sons so that they might participate as part of Abraham’s seed for the blessing of all the families of the earth. When this work of selecting the “sons of God” is completed, then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings secured for them by Jesus’ sacrifice will be due to commence, and he will come forth to bless all the families of the earth. — 1 Timothy 2:6; Galatians 3:26,29; Genesis 22:18; Romans 8:19-21.

(10) True, the restoring and blessing could have commenced at once, when the ransom price was paid by the Redeemer. Then the coming of Messiah would have been but one event — the reign and blessing beginning at once, as the apostles at first expected. (Acts 1:6) But God had provided “some better thing for us” — Jesus’ Disciples. (Hebrews 11:40) Hence it is in our interest that the reign of Christ is separated from the sufferings of the Head by these nineteen centuries.

The Present Time Is For the Selection of A People for His Name

(11) The period between the first and the second advents, between the ransom for all and the blessing for all, is for the trial and selection of the Church, which is the body of Christ. Otherwise there would have been only the one advent. The work which will be done during the period of his second presence, in the Millennium, would have followed the resurrection of Jesus. Or, instead of saying that the work of the second advent would have followed at once the work of the first, let us say rather that had Jehovah not purposed the selection of a people for his name, the first advent would not have taken place when it did. It would have occurred at the time of the second advent, and there would have been but the one. For God has evidently designed the permission of evil for a certain period of time, as well as that the cleansing and restoration of all will be accomplished during a certain period of time — 1,000 years.

(12) Thus seen, the coming of Jesus, as the sacrifice and ransom for sinners, was just long enough in advance of the blessing and restoring time to allow for the selection of “the sons of God” to be heirs of God in the work of blessing all the families of the earth. This will account for the apparent delay on God’s part in giving the blessings promised, and provided for in the ransom. The blessings will come in due time, as at first planned, though, for a glorious purpose, the price was provided longer beforehand than men would have expected.

(13) The apostle Peter informs us that Jesus has been absent from earth — in heaven — during all the intervening time from his ascension to the beginning of the times of restoration, or the Millennial Age — “whom the heaven must retain until the times of restoration of all things,” etc. (Acts 3:21) The Scriptures thus teach that the object of our Lord’s second advent is the restoration of all things, and that at the time of his appearing the nations are so far from being converted as to be angry (Revelation 11:18) and in opposition. Thus it must be admitted that either the Church will fail to accomplish her mission, and that the plan of God will be thus far frustrated, or else, as we claim and have shown, that the conversion of the world in the present age was not expected of the Church, but that her mission has been to preach the Good News in all the world for a witness, and to prepare herself under divine direction for her great future work. God has not yet by any means exhausted his power for the world’s conversion. No! Even more than that: he has not yet even attempted the world’s conversion.

(14) This may seem a strange statement to some, but let such reflect that if God has attempted such a work he has signally failed. As we have seen, only a small fraction of earth’s billions have ever intelligently heard the only name whereby they must be saved. We have only forcibly stated the views, and teachings of some of the leading denominations — Baptists, Presbyterians and others, that is, that God is electing or selecting out of the world a “little flock,” a Church. They believe that God will do no more than choose this Church, while we find the Scriptures teaching a further step in the divine plan — a restoration for the world, to be accomplished through the elect Church, when completed and glorified. The “little flock,” the sheep of this age who hear the Lord’s voice and follow him, are the body of the “Seed” in or by whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed.

(15) Those who claim that Jehovah has been trying for thousands of years to convert the world, and failing all the time, must find it difficult to reconcile such views with the Bible assurance that all God’s purposes will be accomplished, and that his Word will not return to him void, but will prosper in the thing for which it was sent. (Isaiah 55:11) The fact that the world has not yet been converted, and that the knowledge of Jehovah has not yet filled the earth, is a proof that it has not yet been sent on that mission. — Isaiah 11:9.

The Election of Abraham’s Seed
Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29

(16) For centuries traditional Christianity has been divided over the doctrines represented by the two lines of thought: Election and Free Grace. These two doctrines are usually presented as being in opposition to each other. Yet both evidently do have support from the Bible. This fact should lead us at once to suppose that in some way both must be true. However, in no way can they be reconciled except by observing Jehovah’s order and “rightly dividing the word of truth” on this subject. This order, as represented in Jehovah’s plan of the ages, if observed, will clearly show us that an Election has been in progress during the present and past ages. But the Bible also reveals that what is designated Free Grace is God’s gracious provision for the world in general during the Millennial Age. We remind our readers to keep in mind the distinctive features of the epochs and dispensations outlined in our study, Jehovah’s Plan of the Ages, in order to see that the passages relating to Election apply to the present and past ages, while those which teach Free Grace are fully applicable to the next age.

(17) Nevertheless, Election, as taught in the Bible, is not the arbitrary coercion, or fatalism, usually believed and taught by its advocates. It is a selection according to fitness and adaptability to the end God has in view, during the period appointed for that purpose.

(18) The doctrine of Free Grace, advocated by Arminians, is also a much grander display of God’s abounding favor than has been generally taught by its traditional advocates. God’s grace or favor in Christ is ever free, in the sense of being unmerited. Nonetheless, since the fall of man into sin to the present time, certain of God’s favors have been restricted to special individuals, nations, and classes. In contrast, in the next age all the world will be invited to share the favors then offered, on the conditions then to be made known to all. Then whoever will may come and drink at life’s fountain freely. — Revelation 22:17.

(19) Glancing backward, we notice the selection or election of Abraham and certain of his offspring as the channels through which the promised Seed, the blesser of all the families of the earth, should come. (Galatians 3:29; Genesis 22:18) We note also that God chose the nation of Israel to provide an illustration of things to come. (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 10:1) Their deliverance from Egypt, their Canaan, their covenants, their laws, their sacrifices for sins, etc., all provide a miniature and typical representation of the real priesthood and sacrifices for the purifying of the world of mankind. God told Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of earth.” (Amos 3:2) Jehovah’s special recognition was upon the people of Israel only until Christ came; yes, and afterwards, for his ministry was confined to them, and he would not permit his disciples to go to others. Therefore he told them as he sent them out: “Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans.” Why did Jesus not want them to go to the other nations? He explains: “I was not send to any but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24) Thus Jesus and his apostles confined their work to this people until after Jesus’ death, and for some time thereafter.

(20) This special witness to the nation of Israel was to permit the Jews, as God’s chosen people, first opportunity to take advantage of the Good News message. To accept the Good News meant that they had been called to a new election, an election based on faith. They no longer belonged to the Law Age and its ordinances, but the new age that was just beginning. Only a few of the Israelites took the opportunity. The majority rejected the Good News. — Romans 9:30-32; 1 Corinthians 1:24.

(21) So Jehovah turned to the nations to take out of them “a people for his name.” The election of faith, first given to the Israelites, was extended to all people. (Acts 15:14) The message went out to all parts of the world at that time. (Acts 17:6) And the call has gone out ever since. While many have claimed to believe in the Messiah, only a few have truly become sons of God. Today most of the world still lies in darkness concerning Jesus. In many places there are still people who have never even heard of Jesus. But the message has gone to where there are those whom God recognizes as his. (John 10:14) These, in turn, recognize the voice of their Lord and follow him. (John 10:4) When the called-out company (called to be sons and heirs of God — Roman 8:17) is complete, then the plan of God for the world’s salvation will be only beginning.

(22) The Good News age, so far from closing the Church’s mission, is only a necessary preparation for the great future work. For this promised and coming blessing, the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:22, 19) It is then that free grace in its fullest measure will be seen. Then the joint-heirs with Jesus will have become one as bride with their Lord. It is then the scripture will be fulfilled: “And the Spirit and the bride say: `Come!’ And let him who hears say: `Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” — Revelation 22:17.

(23) Many realize that there will be blessings to come to the world under the coming dispensation, but do not include those in the grave as part of the blessings. But as surely as Jesus died for all, all must have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with his own precious blood. (2 Corinthians 5:14; 15:22) Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial age upon all those in their graves as well as upon those not in them. (John 5:28,29) Thus we see the harmony of the Bible’s teachings in the election of this age and free grace offered to all in the next age.

(24) There have been billions of people who have lived upon the earth since Adam’s creation — a very, very broad estimate is one hundred and fifty billion (See Endnote A). Yet of these billions our broadest estimate is that much less than one billion have been truly dedicated people of God. This would leave one hundred and forty-nine billion (149,000,000,000) who have gone down into the grave without faith and hope in the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12) Indeed, the vast majority of these never knew or heard of Jesus, and could not believe in him of whom they had not heard. — Romans 10:14.

(25) What, we ask, has become of this vast multitude, of which figures give a wholly inadequate idea? What is, and is to be, their condition? Did God make no provision for these, whose condition and circumstances he must have foreseen? Or did he, from the foundation of the world, make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many religious leaders claim? (See Endnote B) Or has he yet in store for them, in the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of his plan, an opportunity for all to come to the knowledge of that only name, and, by becoming obedient to the conditions, to enjoy everlasting life? Every thinking Disciple of Jesus should yearn to see these questions answered truthfully and in harmony with the personal attributes of Jehovah. To these questions comes a variety of answers:

(26) Atheism answers: They are eternally dead: there is no hereafter: they will never live again.

(27) Calvinism answers: They were not elected to be saved. God foreordained and predestinated them to be lost — to go to hell — and they are there now, writhing in agony, where they will ever remain, without hope.

(28) Arminianism answers: We believe that God excuses many of them on account of ignorance. Those who did the best they knew how will be sure of being a part of the “Church of the Firstborn,” even though they never heard of Jesus.

(29) To this last view the majority of professing Christians of all denominations assent (notwithstanding the creeds of some to the contrary), from a feeling that any other view would be irreconcilable with justice on God’s part. But do the Scriptures support this last view? Do they teach that ignorance is a ground for deliverance? No! The grounds for deliverance mentioned in the Scriptures is faith in Christ as our Redeemer and Lord. “By grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) Justification by faith is the underlying principle by which Jehovah is accepting worship in the present evil world. When asked: “What must I do to be saved?,” the apostles answered: “Exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30,31) “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12.

(30) But Paul reasons that a man must hear the Good News before he can believe. “How then will they call upon him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” — Romans 10:14.

Hope For The Ignorant Masses

(31) Some claim that Paul teaches that ignorance will save men, when he says that “the nations, which do not have the law, are a law unto themselves.” (Romans 2:14) They conclude from this that the law which their conscience furnishes is sufficient to justify them. But such persons misunderstand what Paul was saying. His argument is that the whole world is guilty before God. (Romans 3:19) He argues that the nations, who did not have the written law, were condemned, not justified, by the light of conscience, which, whether it excused them or accused them proved that they were short of perfection and unworthy of life, even as the Jews who had the written law were condemned by it. “For by law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) The law given to the Jew revealed his weakness, and was intended to show him that he was unable to justify himself before God. “By the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) The written law condemned the Jews, and the nations had light enough of conscience to condemn them. Thus every mouth is stopped from claiming the right to life, and all the world stands guilty before God. — Romans 3:19.

(32) James (2:10) tells us that whosoever shall keep the whole law, except to offend in one point, is still a transgressor against the law and cannot claim everlasting life as a result. (Romans 3:20) Indeed, “there is none righteous; no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) So the Word of God leaves no door to life except one. None of the fallen human race can secure for himself everlasting life by his works, no matter how good they might be. Fallen man at his very best is still vanity. (Psalm 39:5) But just as no one can claim life by keeping the law, neither can he claim life through ignorance of the law, for even those without law are a law unto themselves, thus showing that they are condemned.

(33) Many, however, insist that God does not condemn the ignorant. They do not understand the truth about the “lost.” They have been taught that the “lost” will be sent to a place of eternal and hopeless torment. (See Endnote C) These demonstrate a goodness of heart and believe that God is also good. But we should not ignore the scriptures we have already discussed. These scriptures show that the ignorant are condemned. But at the same time the Bible shows that God has a blessing for all in a better way than through ignorance.

(34) Do those who believe in eternal life through ignorance act in accordance with what they say they believe? No. Though they profess that the ignorant will receive life on account of their ignorance, they continue to send missionaries to the non-Christians at the cost of thousands of valuable lives and millions of dollars. Yet only about one in a thousand of the non-professors of Christianity are converted as a result of these missionary efforts. If they all, or even half of them, would receive eternal life because of ignorance, it is doing them a positive injury to send missionaries to teach them about Jesus. If this idea should be correct, then it would be much better to let them remain in ignorance; for then a much larger proportion could receive life through their ignorance. Continuing the same line of argument, might we not reason that if God had left all men in ignorance, all would have received life without end? If so, the coming and death of Jesus was useless, the preaching and suffering the apostles and other dedicated servants of God were in vain, and the so-called good news, instead of being good news, is very bad news. The sending of missionaries to those not professing Christianity by those who believe the Calvinistic or fatalistic view of election, that the eternal destiny of each individual was unalterably fixed before he had an existence, is even more absurd and unreasonable.

(35) But the Bible is full of the missionary spirit! Yet it does not teach that there are several ways of salvation — one by faith, another by works, and another by ignorance. Neither does it teach the God-dishonoring doctrine of fatalism. While it shows every other door of hope closed against the race, it throws wide open the one, only door, and proclaims that whosoever has an ear to hear may enter into life. (Matthew 11:15; John 5:24) But it also shows that all who do not now see or appreciate the blessed privilege of entering will in due time be brought to a full knowledge and appreciation. (John 10:4,16 [See Endnote D]; 12:47; Isaiah 29:18,24) The only way, by which any and all of the condemned race may come to God, is not by meritorious works, neither by ignorance, but by faith in the precious blood of Jesus, which takes away the sin of the world. (1 Peter 1:19; John 1:29) This is the good news, the good tidings of great joy, “which will be for all people.”

(36) Suppose we now look at these things just as God tells us of them, and leave the clearing of his name to himself. Let us inquire: What has become of the billions who have died without Jesus?

(37) Whatever may have become of them, we may be sure they are not now in a condition of suffering. We know this because not only does the Bible tell us that the full and complete reward is not given to the Church until Jesus returns, when he will reward every man (Matthew 16:27), but that the unjust are to receive their punishment then also. Whatever may be their present condition, it cannot be their full reward. Peter says: “Jehovah knows how to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9) — and he will do so.

(38) But the thought that so many of our fellow creatures should at any time be eternally lost from lack of having had the knowledge which is necessary to salvation would be sad indeed to all who have a spark of love or pity. Then, too, there are numerous scriptures which cannot be harmonized with such an idea. Let us see: In the light of the past and the present as the only opportunities, laying aside all hope through a restoration in the coming age, how are we to understand the statements: “God is love,” and “God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish”? (1 John 4:8; John 3:16) Would it not seem that if God loved the world so much he might have made provision, not only that believers might be saved, but also that all might hear in order to believe?

(39) Again, when we read: “That was the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9), our observation says, “Not so; every man has not been enlightened; we cannot see that our Lord has enlightened more than a few of earth’s billions.” Even though there has been a great increase in knowledge in our days, the vast majority of the world has still not been enlightened concerning the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7; Daniel 12:10) Neither did the Sodomites or multitudes of others in past ages give any evidence of enlightenment.

(40) We read that Jesus the Messiah, by the undeserved favor of God, tasted death “for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9) But let us suppose that there have been one hundred and fifty billion people that have lived upon the earth. If Jesus tasted death for one hundred and fifty billion people, and from some cause that sacrifice become operative to only one billion, was not the redemption comparatively a failure? And in that case, is not the apostle’s statement too broad? When we read: “Look! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to ALL PEOPLE” (Luke 2:10), and looking about us, see that it is only a “few” that it has been good tidings, and not to all people, we would be compelled to wonder whether the angels had not overstated the goodness and breadth of their message, and overrated the importance of the work to be accomplished by the Messiah whom they announced.

(41) Another scripture states: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6) A ransom for all? Then why should not all involved have some benefit from Messiah’s death? Why should not all come to a knowledge of the truth, that they may believe?

(42) Without the key, how dark, how inconsistent, these statements appear. However, when we find the key to understanding God’s purposes, these texts all declare with one voice: “God is love!” This key is found in the latter part of the text last quoted — “who gave himself a ransom for all, TO BE WITNESSED IN DUE TIME.” God has a due time for everything. He could have witnessed it to these in their past lifetime. Since he did not, it proves that their due time must be future. For those who will be of the Church, “the saints” who share the kingdom honors, the present is “due time” to hear. (1 Corinthians 6:2; Matthew 13:13,16) As Jesus said: “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not remain in darkness.” Additionally, he said: “And if anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which will judge him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our “due time” to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all. In God’s due time it will be witnessed to all, and all will then have opportunity to believe and to be blessed by it.

(43) The prevailing opinion is that death ends all opportunity for salvation. Notwithstanding, there is no scripture which so teaches. Further, all the above, and many more scriptures, would be meaningless or worse, if death ends all hope for the ignorant masses of the world. One scripture quoted to prove the popular view is: “Where the tree falls, there it will be.” (Ecclesiastes 11:3) If this has any relation to man’s future, it indicates that whatever his condition when he enters the tomb, no change takes place until he is awakened out of it. This is the unvarying teaching of all scriptures bearing on the subject.

(44) God does not purpose to save men on account of ignorance, but wills “all men to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Yet the masses of mankind have died in ignorance. And the Bible tells us that “there is no work, nor devising, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, the place to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead. Then they may come to know him and attain faith and salvation at that time. Hence his method is, that “as in Adam all are dying, even so in Christ will all be made alive, but each one in his own order.” Thus the anointed first fruits of this age are raised first. Afterward, during the Kingdom age, all who will become his during the thousand years of his presence (Greek, parousia, mistranslated coming) will also be raised. It will then be Jehovah’s due time for all to know him, from the least to the greatest. — Jeremiah 31:34; 1 Corinthians 15:22,23.

(45) As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by the Anointed One, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who exercise faith in obedience to the second Adam. When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God’s gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of obedience. Perfect obedience will be required, and perfect ability to obey will be given, under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace. Here is the salvation offered to the world. How wonderful it is to see how the election of this age will bring blessings to all under free grace in the next age.

(46) There are many scriptures in the Bible that are ordinarily ignored by traditional Christianity. One scripture in particular states: “We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” God will save all men, but will not specially (in a special way) save any except those who come to him through Jesus. God’s arbitrary salvation for all men is not such as will conflict with their freedom of will, or their liberty of choice, to cause them to live forever against their wills. It will be just the same as Moses told Israel: `I have set before you life and death, . . . therefore choose life, that you may live.’ — Deuteronomy 30:19.

(47) Simeon contrasted these two salvations, saying: “My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples — a light to enlighten to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32) The “Israel” spoken of here is the true Israel of God, for “they are not all Israel who are of Israel.” (Romans 9:6) “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” (Romans 2:28,29) Thus Simeon’s statement is in harmony with the declaration of the apostle Paul to Timothy, that Jesus the Anointed, the mediator, gave himself a ransom for all to be witnessed to all IN DUE TIME. (1 Timothy 2:5,6) This is that which will come to all men, regardless of faith or will on their part. This good tidings of a Savior will be to all people. (Luke 2:10,11) The special salvation, however, from sin and death will come only to his people (Matthew 1:21) — those who believe in him — for we read that the wrath of God remains on the unbeliever. — John 3:36.

(48) We see, then, that the general salvation, which will come to every individual, consists of light from the true light, and an opportunity to choose life. As most of the race is in the tomb, it will be necessary to bring them forth from the grave to testify to them the good tidings of a Savior. The special salvation which believers now enjoy in hope (Romans 8:24) is a full release from the thraldom of sin, and the corruption of death, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This glorious liberty will also be revealed to all in the next age that they might “believe in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10) But attainment to all these blessings will depend on heart compliance with the laws of God’s Kingdom — the rapidity of the attainment to perfection indicating the degree of love for the King and for his law of love. If any, enlightened by the Truth, and brought to a knowledge of the love of God, and restored (either actually or reckonedly) to human perfection, become “fearful,” “draw back,” and prove “untrustworthy” (Hebrews 10:38,39; Revelation 21:8) will be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23) This is the second death.

(49) Thus, we see that all these difficult texts are explained by the statement — “to be testified in due time.” In due time, that true light will enlighten every man that has come into the world. (John 1:9) In due time, it will be “good tidings of great joy to all people.” And in no other way can these scriptures be used without twisting. Paul carries out this line of argument with emphasis in Romans 5:18,19. He reasons that, as all men were condemned to death because of Adam’s transgression, so also, Christ’s righteousness, and obedience even unto death, have become a ground for justification. Further, as all lost life in the first Adam, so all, aside from personal demerit, may receive eternal life by accepting the second Adam.

(50) Peter tells us that the promises of restoration are spoken of by all the holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21) They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the valley of dry bones: “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” And God says to Israel: “Look, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And you will know that I am Jehovah, when I . . . put my spirit in you, and I will place you in your own land; then you will know that I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and performed it.” — Ezekiel 37:11-14.

(51) To this Paul’s words agree (Romans 11:25,26) — “Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the full number of the people of the nations will have come in. Then all Israel will be saved.” This will mean that Israel will be brought back from their cast off condition. “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:2) For a time they have been shut out from his favor while the various elect classes are being selected from all nations. When this work is completed, the prophecies show that God’s favor with Israel will be reinstated. The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant them again, and they will never again be plucked out of their land. “This is what Jehovah, the God of Israel, says: . . . `I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again into this land; and I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart.'” (Jeremiah 24:5-7; 31:28; 32:40-42; 33:-6-16) These cannot merely refer to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, etc., for they have since been plucked up.

Every Man Will Die For His Own Sins

(52) Furthermore, Jehovah tells us: “In those days, they will say no more: `The fathers have eaten the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’ but every one [who dies] will die for his own wrongdoing.” (Jeremiah 31:29,30) This is not the case now. Each does not now die for his own wrongdoing, but for Adam’s sin — “In Adam all are dying.” He ate the sour grape of sin, and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing further sickness and misery upon their children, thus hastening the penalty, death. The day in which “every man [who dies] will die for his own wrongdoing,” — for his own sin only — is the Millennial or Restoration Day.

(53) Though many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing seem to apply to Israel only, as a typical people the promises made to them, while sometimes having a special application to themselves, generally have also a wider application to the whole world of mankind which that nation typified. While Israel as a nation was typical of the whole world, the Levitical tribe was typical of the various elect classes now near completion. The sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the `better sacrifices,’ fuller cleansings and real atonement “for the sins of the whole world.” — 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 9:23.

(54) And not only so, but God mentions by name other nations and promises their restoration. As a forcible illustration we mention the Sodomites. Surely, if we should find the restoration of the Sodomites clearly taught, we may feel satisfied of the truth of this glorious doctrine of Restoration for all mankind, spoken of by the mouth of the holy prophets. And why should the Sodomites not have an opportunity to reach perfection and everlasting life as well as Israel, or any of us? True, they were not righteous, but neither was Israel, nor were we who now hear the Good News. “There is none righteous; no not one,” aside from the imputed righteousness of Christ, who died for all. Our Savior’s own words tell us that although God rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all because of their wickedness, yet the Sodomites were not as accountable for their sins as were the Jews, who had more knowledge. (Genesis 19:24; Luke 17:29) So to the Jews of Capernaum he said: “If the mighty works which have been done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.” — Matthew 11:23.

Sodomites Will Return

(55) Hence, our Lord teaches that the Sodomites did not have a full opportunity. Therefore, he guarantees them such an opportunity when he adds (verse 24): “But I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” The character of the day of judgment and its work is shown in our studies: The Day of Judgment and Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment. In this study we merely call attention to the point that it will be a tolerable time for Capernaum, and yet more tolerable for Sodom. Even though they did not receive full knowledge, nor all the blessings designed to come through the “Seed,” yet Capernaum had sinned against more light than the people of Sodom.

(56) If Capernaum and all Israel are to be remembered and blessed under the “New Covenant,” sealed by the blood of Jesus, why should not the Sodomites also be blessed among “all the families of the earth”? They assuredly will be. And let it be remembered that since God “rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all” many centuries before Jesus’ day, when their restoration is spoken of, it implies their awakening, their coming from the tomb.

The Blessing
Of All Nations By the Seed Of Abraham

(57) Let us now examine the prophecy of Ezekiel 16:48-63. Read it carefully. God here speaks of Israel, and compares her with her neighbor Samaria, and also with the Sodomites, of whom he says: “I took them away as I saw good.” Neither Jesus nor the Prophet offers any explanation of the seeming inequality of God’s dealings in destroying Sodom and permitting others more guilty than Sodom to go unpunished. That will all be made clear when, in “due time,” his great designs are made manifest. The Prophet simply states that God “saw good” to do so, and Jesus adds that it will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for others more guilty. Upon the supposition that death ends all probation, and that thereafter none may have opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth and to obey it, we may well inquire: “Why did God see good to take away these people without giving them a chance of salvation through the knowledge of the only name whereby they can be saved?” The answer is, because it was not yet their due time. In “due time” they will be awakened from death and brought to a knowledge of the truth, and thus blessed together with all families of the earth, by the promised “Seed.” They will then be on trial for everlasting life.

(58) With this thought, and with no other, can we understand the dealings of the God of love with those Amalekites and other nations whom he not only permitted but commanded Israel to destroy, saying: “Go, strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not. Slay both man and woman, infant and the nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3) This seemingly reckless destruction of life seems irreconcilable with the personal attribute of love attributed to God, and with the teaching of Jesus, “Love your enemies,” etc., until we come to recognize the systematic order of God’s plan, the “due time” for the accomplishment of every feature of it, and that every member of the human race has a place in it.

(59) We can now see that those Amalekites, Sodomites and others were set forth as examples of God’s just indignation, and of his determination to destroy finally and utterly evildoers. Their examples will be of service not only to others, but also to themselves, when their day of judgment or trial comes. Those people might as well die in that way as from disease and plague. It mattered little to them, as they were merely learning to know evil, so when on trial, in due time, they might learn righteousness, and can discriminate and choose the good and have life.

(60) Let us now examine the prophecy further. After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing Israel the most blameworthy (Ezekiel 16:48-54), Jehovah says: “When I bring their captive ones back, the captive ones of Sodom and her daughters, and the captive ones of Samaria and her daughters, then I will bring back the captives of your captive ones in the midst of them.” The captivity referred to can be no other than their captivity in death. Those mentioned were then dead. In death all are captives; and Christ comes to open the doors of the grave, and to set at liberty the captives. (Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 9:11) In verse 55 this is called a “return to their former state” — a restoration.

All Israel Will Be Saved
Romans 11:26-29

(61) Many are willing enough to accept of God’s mercy through Christ for forgiveness of their own trespasses and weaknesses, but have difficulty in believing that the same favor should be applicable to all the world during the Millennial Age. Many admit that Jesus, by the favor of God, tasted death for every man, but cannot conceive of this having a genuine application to every man. Some have suggested that Jehovah, in speaking the prophecy recorded by Ezekiel, must be speaking ironically to the Jews. This would mean that Jehovah would be just as willing to bring back the Sodomites as them, but had no intention of restoring either. Let us see how the succeeding verses agree with this idea. Jehovah says: “`Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. Then, you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you will receive your sisters….And I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am Jehovah — that you may remember and be humiliated, and never open your mouth any more because of your shame, when I am appeased toward you for all that you have done.’ says Jehovah God.” When a promise is thus signed by the Great Jehovah, all who have set to their seal that God is true may rejoice in its certainty with confidence; especially those who realize that these New Covenant blessings have been confirmed of God in Christ, whose precious blood is to seal the covenant.

(62) To this Paul adds his testimony, saying: “And so all Israel [living and dead] will be saved [recovered from blindness], as it is written: `There will come our of Zion the Deliverer, and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant with them when I will take away their sins.’ . . . They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; because the gifts and calling of God are not affairs to be repented of.” — Romans 11:26-29.

(63) We need not wonder that Jews, Sodomites, Samaritans, and all mankind, will be ashamed and humiliated when in his own “due time” God shows forth the riches of his favor. Yes, many of those who are not God’s children will be humiliated and amazed when they see how God so loved the WORLD, and how much his thoughts and plans were above their own. — Isaiah 55:8,9.

(64) It has been generally believed that God’s blessings are all and only for the selected Church, but God’s plan is wider than what most suppose. He has given his Church “exceedingly great and precious promises,” but he has also made bountiful provision for the world which he so loved to redeem. The Jews made a very similar mistake in supposing that all the promises of God were to and for them alone. When the “due time” came for others from the nations to be favored, only a remnant of Israel, whose hearts were large enough to rejoice in this wider evidence of God’s grace, shared that increased favor. (Romans 11:5) The rest were blinded by prejudice and human tradition. (Romans 11:7,8; Mark 7:5-8) Let all who now in the popular religions of this world take heed lest they be found in opposition to the true light, and so for a time be blinded to its glory and blessings. — 1 Timothy 3:1,5.

God’s Plan Far Superior

(65) How different is this glorious plan of God for the selection of a few now for the blessing of the many in the future, from the distortions of these truths, as represented by the two opposing views — Calvinism and Arminianism. The former both denies the Bible doctrine of Free Grace and miserably distorts the glorious doctrine of Election. The latter denies the doctrine of Election and fails to comprehend the blessed fullness of God’s Free Grace.

(66) Calvinism says: God is all-wise; he knew the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); and as all his purposes will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:11), he never could have intended to save any but a few, the Church. (Matthew 7:14) These he elected and foreordained to be eternally saved (Romans 8:28,29); all others were equally foreordained to eternal torment; for “Known to God are all of his works from the beginning of the world.” — Acts 15:18.

(67) This view has its good features. It recognizes God’s omniscience. (Isaiah 40:13,14) This would be our ideal of a great God, were it not that two essential qualities of greatness are lacking, namely, love and justice, neither of which is exemplified in bringing into the world one hundred and forty-nine billions of creatures doomed to eternal torture before they were born, and mocked with protestations of his love. Since God is love, and justice is the foundation of his throne (Psalm 89:14), such cannot be his true character. — 2 Timothy 2:13.

(68) Arminianism says: Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8); and in bringing humanity into the world he meant them no harm — only good. (Genesis 1:26-31) But Satan succeeded in tempting the first pair, and thus sin entered into the world, and death by sin. (Romans 5:12) And ever since, God has been doing all he can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of his Son. (John 3:16) And though now, after thousands of years, the Good News has reached only a very small proportion of mankind, yet we do hope and trust that within some years more, through the energy and liberality of the church, God will so far have remedied the evil introduced by Satan that all living may at least know of his love, and have an opportunity to believe and be saved.

(69) While this view presents God as a being full of loving and benevolent designs for his creatures, it implies that he lacks ability and foreknowledge adequate to the accomplishment of his benevolent designs: that he is deficient in wisdom and power. From this view it would appear that while God was engaged in arranging and devising for the good of his newly-created children, Satan slipped in and by one master-stroke upset all God’s plans to such an extent that, even after exhausting all his power, God must spend thousands of years to reinstate righteousness, even to such a degree that the remainder of the race who are so privileged to live then will have an opportunity to choose good as readily as evil. But the billions who lived before the time the church finally has let everyone know of God are, according to this view, lost to all eternity, in spite of God’s love for them, because Satan interfered with his plans. Thus Satan would get thousands into eternal torment to one that God saves to glory.

(70) In reality this view exalts men’s ideas of the wisdom and power of Satan, and lowers their estimation of these attributes of God, of whom the Psalmist to the contrary declares that: “He spoke and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9) But no: God was not surprised nor overtaken by the adversary. (Isaiah 43:13) Neither has Satan in any measure thwarted his plans. (Isaiah 46:10,11) God is, and always has been, perfect master of the situation. (Isaiah 14:24,27) In the end it will be seen that all has been working together to the accomplishment of his purposes. — Ephesians 1:11.

(71) While the doctrines of election and free grace, as taught by Calvinism and Arminianism, could never be harmonized with each other, with reason, or with the Bible, yet these two glorious Bible doctrines are perfectly harmonious and beautiful, seen from the standpoint of the plan of the ages.

(72) We see, then, that many of the great and glorious features of God’s plan for human salvation from sin and death lie in the future. The second advent of our Lord Jesus is the designed first step in the accomplishment of those blessings. Since this is so, should we not even more earnestly long for the time of his second advent than the less informed Jew looked and longed for his first advent? We have seen that the time of evil, injustice and death is to be brought to an end through the dominion of power which Jesus will then exercise. Then righteousness, truth and peace are to be universal. Who should not rejoice to see his day? And who that is now suffering for Christ, inspired by the precious promises of God for strength and deliverance, will not lift up his head and rejoice at any evidence of the approach of the King, knowing thereby that our deliverance and our glorification draws closer?

Endnotes

A. Some Bible students suggest that the proportion of the dead to be raised will be 144,000 to each of joint-heirs with the lamb. (Revelation 14:1; Romans 8:17; 144,000 X 144,000 = 20,736,000,000)

C. For thorough investigation of the doctrine of eternal torment see out studies on the Hereafter.

D. John 10:16: There is only one fold for Jehovah’s people in this age. In it all his true ones of this Gospel age find rest and shelter and peace in faith in obedience even as evil is all around. The “other sheep” are not of this fold, however. The “other sheep” are those of the world of mankind who hear the Master’s voice in the next age and also become part of his flock in then. We need to note that the scripture as it reads in the King James Version is not the best translation. The New American Standard reads: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [Strong’s #833 – , yard]; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice, and they shall become one flock [Strong’s #4167, µ – flock] with one shepherd.” Thus the sheep in the present age are nourished in a yard or pasture that is hostile to them – this present evil world. The sheep of the next age will be developed under favorable conditions, the new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell.

For more information on the ransom, see:

Atonement/Ransom Resource Page

Questions

1. How do we know that our Master intended his disciples to understand that he would return again?

2. What scripture shows that Jesus did not return at the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit or at the destruction of Jerusalem? How so?

3. What scriptures show that the world will not be converted before Jesus returns? How so?

4. What do some believe that the work of the church in its present condition to be, and, according to this view, how will it be ended?

5. What do God’s Word and plan show when taken as a whole?

6. Does Matthew 24:14 mean that the world will be converted before Jesus returns? Why do you so answer?

7. What is the main object of the good news during this age?

8. Does Psalm 110:1 teach that the world will be converted before Jesus returns? Why do you so answer?

9. What specific work was accomplished at the first advent? What will be the work of the second advent? What is happening in between the two events?

10. Why did the blessing of the world not immediately follow Messiah’s death?

11. What has been occurring during the period between the ransom and the blessing of the world?

12. Thus how is the apparent delay in blessing the world accounted for?

13. In view of the Scriptures presented, what conclusions do we reach concerning the conversion of the world?

14. What step in the divine plan is almost always missing in the teachings of the traditional churches?

15. What scripture shows that Jehovah is not now trying to convert the world?

16. (a) What are the two main lines of thought respecting God’s purposes, which have divided traditional Christians for centuries? (b) Do both have scriptural support, and if so, what should we conclude? (c) And how only can these opposing doctrines be reconciled?

17. What is the nature of the Election taught in the scriptures?

18. Briefly, what does the Bible teach concerning Free Grace?

19. How was the doctrine of Election illustrated by God’s dealings with Abraham and the nation of Israel?

20. What was the effect of the special witness given to the nation of Israel?

21. How has God’s Election operated during the Good News Age?

22. Does the church’s mission end with the Good News Age?

23. Do the Scriptures hold forth any hope of Millennial blessings for those who are in their graves?

24. (a) What is the estimated number of human beings who have lived upon the earth since Adam’s creation? (b) And how many of these could reasonably have been saints of God?

25. What questions with respect this vast multitude must arise in the mind of every thoughtful person?

26. What reply does atheism make to these questions?

27. What does Calvinism answer?

28. What reply is given by Arminianism?

29. (a) To which of the foregoing views do the majority of professing Christians give assent? (b) What do the Scriptures say on this point?

30. What does the apostle Paul teach respecting the necessity for hearing the Good News in order to have faith and salvation?

31. (a) What text is quoted by some who claim Paul teaches that ignorance will save men? (b) Show how a proper understanding of the apostle’s argument contradicts this claim.

32. (a) How does the apostle James corroborate the apostle Paul’s position? (b) What is the only door of hope for the condemned race?

33. What is the belief of many professing Christians with respect to the salvation of ignorant children and non-Christians?

34. (a) Do these persons act in accordance with their professed belief? (b) If all the non-Christians would be saved through ignorance, what would be the most logical as well as the kindest course as respects sending missionaries to the non-Christian peoples?

35. While the teaching of the Bible discountenances the idea of several ways of salvation, what is the only door of hope through which the condemned race may enter into everlasting life?

36. & 37. Whatever may have become of the billions who have died, what Scriptural assurance do we have that their present condition is not their full reward?

38. How can we harmonize the thought of any being lost through lack of the necessary knowledge, with the qualities of Jehovah as set forth in 1 John 4:8 and John 3:16?

39. With reference the scripture at John 1:9, what observations can be made?

40. & 41. What texts prove that Messiah’s sacrifice will be operative for “every man”?

42. (a) What is the key to understanding the divine purpose in the redemption of mankind? (b) How does the redemption apply to the different classes of humanity?

43. (a) What scripture is generally quoted to prove that all probation ends with this present life? (b) How is this scripture properly interpreted?

44. Briefly, what is the reasonable, beautiful and scriptural plan of God for the salvation of the world

45. What is the contrast between the first man Adam and the second Adam, Christ, as respects their relationship to mankind?

46. Explain 1 Timothy 4:10.

47. (a) How did Simeon contrast these two salvations? (b) What other texts agree with this statement?

48. What is the general salvation, and how will it be brought to mankind? (b) What is the special salvation of the church? (c) Upon what conditions will attainment of these blessings depend? (d) What is the “second death,” and who will suffer it?

49. How only can hitherto difficult and apparently contradictory texts on the foregoing subjects be harmonized?

50. (a) What is the apostle Peter’s statement regarding restoration and all the holy prophets? (b) What is the prophecy of Ezekiel with respect to Israel’s restoration?

51. What are the statements of the apostle Paul in Romans 11, and the prophecies of Jeremiah respecting Israel’s restoration?

52. Explain and apply the proverb: “The father’s have eaten the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,” etc. (Jeremiah 31:29,30)

53. How do we know that many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing, while seeming to apply to Israel only, are also generally applicable to the whole world?

54. In addition, what other nations besides Israel are mentioned by name and promised restoration?

55. How do we know that the Sodomites did not enjoy a full opportunity for salvation?

56. Since both the Israelites and Sodomites are to blessed under the “New Covenant,” guaranteed by the blood of Jesus, what does their restoration imply?

57. Upon the supposition that death ends all probation, and that thereafter none may have opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth and to obey it, what question may be asked regarding the destruction of the Sodomites, and with what answer?

58. How can we understand the dealings of a God of love with those nations which he commanded Israel to “destroy utterly”?

59. How did the experiences of these wicked nations show forth the divine determination toward all evil-doers?

60. (a) What is meant by the “captive ones” of Sodom and Samaria and Israel, referred to in Ezekiel 16? (b) What must a “return to their former state” signify?

61. How do we know that Jehovah is not speaking ironically to Israel in this prophecy, as some contend?

62. What is the apostle Paul’s corroborative testimony on this point?

63. What will be sentiments of all mankind when “in due time” they will see how “God so loved the world”?

64. What mistake regarding Jehovah’s Plan and promises has been similarly made by both Jews and traditional Christians?

65. Briefly stated, how have the conflicting doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism distorted the truth of God’s glorious Plan and purposes?

66. In detail, what does Calvinism teach?

67. What are the commendable features of this view, and in what two essential qualities is it lacking?

68. What does Arminianism have to say?

69. What is the redeeming feature of this view, and in what two important elements is it sadly deficient?

70. What is the natural effect of the Arminian view of the divine personage?

71. How only can these apparently conflicting doctrines of Election and Free Grace be harmonized?

72. In view of God’s glorious plans for the future, what must be the attitude of every true Christian respecting the second advent of our Master Jesus Christ — the first step toward the accomplishment of the long-promised and long-expected blessings for the world of mankind.

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Related Studies

Jesus Saves the Whole World Condemned in Adam

The Watchtower’s Self-Contradiction About the Ransom

The Unforgivable Sin

The Church’s Divinely-Appointed Mission

Examining the Word “Hell”

Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

Credibility of the Bible

Our Creator

(1) Even if you are not sure that you believe in a Creator, there are many things that you know to be true. We can use things that we know to be true to help us arrive at some reasonable conclusions about our Creator.

(2) Yet by using our reason alone, we still cannot arrive at definite conclusions regarding the Creator’s purposes and what he wants us to do. We still could not be sure that our conclusions were correct. What we would need is a direct revelation from our creator.

(3) What, however, can we learn without a direct revelation? If we look into the sky with a telescope, or even with our natural eyes alone, we can see there the immensity of creation, its symmetry, beauty, order, harmony and diversity. We should reasonably be influenced to believe that the Creator of these is vastly our superior both in wisdom and power. — Isaiah 40:26.

(4) Every plant and every flower speaks volumes of testimony on this subject. Their very sight is beautiful. From these we obtain a large diversity of foods and aromas. How reasonable to believe that the Creator provided these things for the benefit of mankind.

(5) But as we study how all these things are made, they tell us even more about how great their Creator must be. With all of mankind’s knowledge, we have not been able to even duplicate these wondrous creations. (Psalm 104:14-24) Certainly these marvels of creations did not just come here by chance. If so, why has not man been able to duplicate these wonders of creation? No, the possibility of all this happening by chance is so small, so tiny, it can only be believed by those who refuse to look at the facts.

 

Is Evolution the Creator?

(6) Some who deny the existence of an intelligent Creator claim that nature is the only God. They claim that all forms of animal and vegetable life came to be here without the help of any intelligent God or Creator. These usually say all life came to be on the earth in a process they call “evolution.”

(7) According to the theory or idea of evolution, life started as result of spontaneous biogenesis and then somehow developed into a single cell billions or trillions of years ago. This cell split and made another cell. These two cells split and made four cells. These cells kept splitting and making more cells until finally there millions of cells. Somehow, these cells, without the ability to think, decided to join together to form a different kind of life. In time, enough cells joined together to make the small microbes. Then, as millions of years passed, they finally decided to form into fish, then later into birds, dinosaurs, tigers, apes — and last of all — man. According to this theory, this whole process took billions or trillions of years — all without the help of any intelligence at all! (Some who profess Christianity claim to also believe that man evolved from lower animals. See: our publication, The Ransom For All to see why the Bible and the theory of man’s evolution cannot be harmonized.)

(8) The theory of evolution without a creator, however, lacks proof. All about us we see that the various creatures are of fixed kinds — that is, they do not change from their basic animal kinds. They do not evolve to higher kinds. Some scientists have succeeded in producing mutations and crossing some species. But they have never succeeded in bringing forth a completely new fixed kind of animal that is able to reproduce and carry on its own “kind.” No instance is known where one “kind” has changed to another kind. There are fish that can use their fins for a moment as wings, and fly out of the water. There are frogs that can sing. Yet they have never been known to change into birds.

(9) It is true that different types of the same general “kind” or family have come into existence. This has often been referred to as examples of evolution, to which we find no objection to in the Bible. Thus we have different types that belong to the dog family, the cat family, etc. Yet there has been no blending of the various “kinds” to produce a sustainable new “kind.” Nor is there any proof of one kind evolving from another. Surely if unintelligent nature were the creator or evolver she would continue the process. There would be no such thing as fixity of kind, since without intelligence nothing would arrive at fixed conditions. Evolution would be a fact today. We would see about us fish becoming birds, and monkeys becoming men.

(10) It is further claimed that the original plants and animals, from which present varieties came, became extinct millions of years before the arrival of man. Skeletons and fossils of animals and plants which do not now exist, found deep below the earth’s surface are used to support this theory. Scientists have found remains of animals that lived many thousands of years ago. Some bear a resemblance to men. However, the evidence is wholly lacking that man was evolved from such creatures, or that these creatures came from a common ancestor of man. Additionally, there is no way to determine factually how old any of these fossils are. Nor is there any genuine evidence from the fossils found that one kind evolved into another kind. Many scientists admit that the evidence of the fossil record for evolution is extremely sparse. For more information regarding evolution, see our Creation and the Bible subdomain.

(11) Back of all the intricate machinery of the laws of creation is the hand of its great Author, the intelligent, omnipotent Creator. We conclude, then, that the theory of evolution without a Creator is not reasonable. Additionally, it contradicts the Bible when it claims that intelligent beings came into existence by a power not having intelligence.

(12) We maintain, then, that the existence of an intelligent creator is a clearly demonstrated truth. The proof lies all around us. Additionally, our own bodies supply verification of his workmanship. Every power of our minds and bodies speaks of a marvelous skill beyond our comprehension. (Psalm 19:1; 139:14-16; Hebrews 3:4) And he is also the designer and creator of what is termed the laws of the universe. We contend that our Creator ordered and established these laws. Despite the few irregularities they note, even atheistic scientists stand in awe at the beauty and harmony seen in the operation these laws. (Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; Psalm 19:1) Certainly the Bible is correct in attributing the creation of the heavens, moon, stars and man to God. — Psalm 8:1,3-5.

(13) Nonetheless, when one realizes the existence of this mighty God he may feel dread because of his omnipotent strength. Thus we need more than just realizing his existence. We need to have assurance that he possesses qualities of love and goodness to equal his power. Of this fact we are also fully assured by the same evidence which proves his existence, power and wisdom.

(14) Reasonably we judge that the grandest thing created is not superior to its Creator. Hence we conclude that the greatest manifestation of benevolence and justice among men is inferior in scope to that of the Creator, even as man’s wisdom and power are inferior to his. And consequently we have before our mental vision the personal attributes of the great Creator. We project that he is wise, just, loving and powerful. We further reason that the scope of his attributes are immeasurably wider than that of his grandest creation.

(15) We have now shown that it is feasible to conclude that God exists. We have additionally shown what we can reasonably accept concerning his attributes. Now one might inquire: “What should we expect of such a being?” Should he decide to use his power to create, would he not use his power of creation in harmony with his own nature — wisely, justly and benevolently? Regardless of the means to that end, would not the final outcome be consistent with his nature and personality? Would not every step be approved of his infinite wisdom? What could be more reasonable than such exercise of power as we see manifested in the creation of the countless stars, and galaxies in the universe, and in the wonderful variety of earth? What could be more reasonable than the creation of man, endowed with reason and judgment, capable of appreciating his Creator’s works, and judging of his skill — of his wisdom, justice, power and love? All this is reasonable, and all in perfect accord with facts known to us.

 

THE CREATOR’S
Provision of a Revelation

(16) Would not a wise and good Creator be moved by his love and justice to supply the wants of his creature’s nature by giving him some revelation? Would it not be a reasonable supposition that God would supply to man information concerning the object of his existence, and his plans for his future? On the contrary, we ask, would it not be unreasonable to suppose otherwise? Would such a being make such a creature as man, endow him with powers of reason reaching out into the future, and yet make no revelation of his plans to meet those longings? Such a course would be unreasonable, because contrary to the personality which we have reasonably attributed to God. It would be contrary to the proper course of being controlled by justice and love.

(17) Suppose that the Creator decided it not wise to grant his creatures a knowledge of his future destiny or his share in the Creator’s plans. Then surely divine justice, as well as divine love, would not want his creatures to be continually tormented and perplexed with doubts, fears, etc. Thus the Creator would have insisted that his creatures should be limited in his capacity to reason. Power would have been used under those limitations.

(18) However, man has capacity for appreciating a revelation of the Creator’s plans and purposes. Therefore we reason that the Creator’s personal qualities would see to it that man should receive such a revelation. Accordingly, we have abundant reason for expecting that our creator would grant such a revelation, in such time and manner as his wisdom approved. So, then, in view of these considerations, even if we were ignorant of the Bible, reason would lead us to expect and to be on the lookout for some such revelation as the Bible claims to be. And furthermore, we note the order and harmony of the general creation. We see the grand procession the spheres and systems keep time and place.

(19) Yet there are irregularities that seem to mar the harmony and order of the universe. On earth, we have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and many other erratic disturbances that upsets the tranquility of creation. In space, scientists tell us of many other irregularities. We reasonably conclude that these minor irregularities are being permitted only temporarily. We reason that the elements of the world at present are responding to the same outworking of the Creator’s plan that will eventually benefit all his creatures. Thus we expect some assurance that all will ultimately be perfect and harmonious on earth and throughout the universe. We further expect some explanation as to why it is not so at the present. These are requests which are not unreasonable for reasoning men to ask. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that a loving and wise Creator would provide answers to these questions. Hence we should expect the revelation sought to include such an assurance and such an explanation.

(20) We will now begin an examination of the general attributes of the Bible which claims to be just such a revelation. We will want to see if it presents the personality of God in perfect harmony with what we have reasonably concluded. If so, we should conclude that it thus proves itself to be the needed and expected revelation from God, and should then accept its testimony as such. If the Bible is of God, we should find that its teachings, when fully appreciated, will be seen in perfect harmony with the creator’s attributes of wisdom, justice, love and power.

(21) No other book in the world has been given such a wide circulation as the Bible. Its influence for good in society has been recognized by the greatest statesmen, even though they for the most part have looked at it through the diverse glasses of popular beliefs and traditions. Traditional Christianity has, for the most part, claimed to believe in the Bible. Yet their traditions grossly misrepresent its teachings. Thus these “friends” of the Bible often do more harm than those who outright oppose the Bible. But the Bible tells of a time when all, both its friends and foes, “will come to understanding.” And “those who murmured will learn doctrine,” thus bringing vindication to the Deity of the Bible! — Isaiah 29:24

(22) We have shown that the light of creation leads us to expect a fuller revelation of God than that which creation supplies. Therefore, what would be the reasonable thing to do? If a book shows a reasonable surface evidence that it is a divine revelation, should we not be prepared to examine its claims? The Bible claims to be such a revelation from God. Additionally it does come to us with sufficient surface evidence as to the probable correctness of its claims. This gives us a reasonable hope that a closer investigation will disclose more complete and positive evidence that it is indeed the Word of God.

The Oldest Book

(23) The first book of the Bible, Genesis, contains the earliest known writings. Its opening chapters were written over 6,000 years ago. Through the centuries men have endeavored by every means to abolish the Bible from the face of the earth. They have hidden it, burned it, and even made it a crime punishable with death to have it in possession. The most bitter and relentless persecutions have been waged against those who had faith it. Yet still the book lives. Today many of its foes slumber in death. Hundreds of volumes that have been written to discredit it and to overthrow its influence have long since been forgotten. Nonetheless, the Bible has found its way into every nation and language of earth. At least part of it exists in over 1,300 languages. The fact that this book has survived so many centuries, notwithstanding such unparalleled efforts to banish and destroy it, is at least strong circumstantial evidence that the great Being whom it claims as its Author has also been its Preserver.

(24) The Bible is not a book to be read merely. It is a book to be studied with care and thought. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9) And if we really want to understand the plan and thoughts of the infinite God, we must bend all our energies to that important work. The richest treasures of truth do not always lie on the surface. They require rugged digging in order to obtain. — Proverbs 2:3-5.

(25) This book throughout constantly points to two persons. The first is, of course, the Creator Himself. The general theme of the Bible is that God will be vindicated before all creation when his glory is revealed to them. (Isaiah 40:5) All the events recorded in the Bible are related in some way to this eventual end. To this end we are taught to pray: “Your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) God himself will vindicate his own name. — Ezekiel 36:23.

(26) The Bible tells us, however, that “there are many gods.” (1 Corinthians 8:5) This is in accord with the facts, for no matter where you go on earth, you find people worshiping “gods” in some form or another. There are “gods” worshiped in the form of Buddha, Brahma, Allah, and many other names. The people who adhere to these “gods” use many writings believed to be divine revelations from their own “gods”. In professed “Christian” lands millions claim to know the true God, whom they refer as “the Lord”. But, if we believe the Bible, then very few of these “believers” in various gods have actually come to know the true God. (Matthew 7:13,14,21-23) Both in and out of popular Christianity, the true God is still to them an “unknown God”. (Acts 17:23) They have not understood the Creator’s purposes and have proclaimed counterfeit gospel messages.

(27) Instead of seeking to worship in “spirit and truth”, popular Christianity has adopted false teachings and practices from the Greeks and Romans and proclaim them as “Christian”. (John 4:24) True, thousands profess Jesus as their savior. But of these thousands, very few take the time to learn the real purposes of their Creator. The traditions taken from the Greeks and Romans are so embellished with scripture quotations, that the vast majority accept them without further investigation. As a result, their worship becomes “in vain.” They are like the religious people of Jesus’ day, to whom he said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, saying: ‘This people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8,9) Such as these, despite all their protestations to contrary, have not yet come to fully understand the true gospel, nor the God who reveals this gospel to us.

(28) The first part of the Bible, often called “Old Testament,” was originally written in the Hebrew language. God’s personal name in the Hebrew is spelled with four letters (Yod – He – Waw -He) that correspond with the English letters YHWH or JHVH. Bible Scholars often refer to the four letters that make up God’s name as the tetragrammaton. This personal name of God appears thousands of times in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. Additionally some fragments of ancient Greek manuscripts of earlier editions of the Greek Septuagint Bible show that they also contained God’s name.

(29) Many Bible scholars translate the Creator’s name into English as “Yahweh” or “Jahveh.” Others use the form “Jehovah”. Most Bible translations, however, substitute “the Lord” or “God” for God’s name, making it appear that His name is “the Lord” or “God.” But there is no scripture that tells us to change His Holy Name to “Lord” or “God”.

(30) “Jehovah” does not mean “the Lord” nor does it mean “God.” “Lord” and “God” are titles, not the proper name of God. Thus Isaiah 42:8 should be translated: “I am Jehovah, that is my name.” Likewise, everywhere that the King James Version (as well as many other translations) has “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, it should be rendered “Jehovah.” Thus anytime we see in this and many other translations “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, the only proper thing to do would be reinstate the divine name by reading these as “Jehovah.”

(31) While we may not know for sure the correct pronunciation as God Himself stated it in the Hebrew, the scriptures do declare that Jehovah was angry with the Israelites for taking away his name for that of Baal, which means “Lord” or “the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:13,14; 11:13,14; 23:13,27 – remember that “the Lord” in all capital letters should be read as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.* (See Note 1) The Hebrew word for “Jehovah” means “He is”, He will be”, “He causes to be,” or “He proves to be.” His name is considered important all through the Bible, especially as related to His being found to be true to His Word. — Ezekiel 12:25; Isaiah 14:24; 55:11; 2 Timothy 2:13.
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*See Psalm 83:18, Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 in the King James Version where the tetragrammaton is translated as Jehovah. For more details, see our studies on the Holy Name.

(32) Earlier we mentioned that Jehovah will sanctify his own name. The sanctification or vindication of Jehovah’s name means more than that just the word used as his personal name will be made known. It means that his name (his character and authority) will be cleared of all the falsehoods and lies that have been spread about him since mankind’s fall as recorded in the first few chapters of the Bible. In fact, this is what all creation has been unknowingly waiting and longing for as they grope blindly, because not aware of Jehovah’s purposes. (Romans 8:19; Jeremiah 4:22; Isaiah 59:10) The entire Bible is intended for the revealing of this One to those who are truly seeking him. — Proverbs 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15.

(33) Besides Jehovah, another person is given great prominence in the Bible. This is the one commonly called Jesus* (His name has been rendered many ways into English: Yahowshuwa, Yahshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Iesous) of Nazareth,” whom the Bible declares to be the Son of God, the son of the Most High. (Luke 1:32,35; 3:21,22) From beginning to end his name, and office, and work, are made prominent in the Bible. Writers outside of the Bible confirm that a man called Jesus of Nazareth lived. The fact that Jesus walked this earth is thus corroborated by historical documents. Concerning this Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia 1986 Edition) states: “Scholars generally agree that his existence is authenticated, both by New Testament writers and by a number of Roman and Jewish historians.” The “New Testament” Bible writers (except Paul and Luke) were the personal acquaintances and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, whose doctrines their writings set forth.
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*Some have argued that the name of the Son of God is sacred and should be written “Yahshua.” Others have argued that “Yeshua” or “Yahoshua” is the correct manner for writing the Saviors name. Still others have claimed even different ways of writing and expressing this name. We believe that it is more important to recognize the personage behind the word than to spend hours upon hours trying to prove this or that spelling or pronunciation in English as supposedly representing an original Hebrew pronunciation. The person is still the same whether we pronounce his name Jesus, Yahshua, or Yeshua. Linguists tell us that these are variations of the same name, rather than different names. For more information, see our study: The Name of Messiah.

Motives of the Bible Writers

(34) The existence of any book implies motive on the part of the writer. We therefore ask: “What could have been the motives of these men that they would feel inspired to give all their support to the cause of Jesus?” He was condemned to death and hung on a tree as a criminal at the instigation of the Jews. Even the most religious among his people approved of and demanded his death. They considered him as one unfit to live. But his followers took up his cause, and spread his teachings. In doing so, these men braved contempt, deprivation and bitter persecution. They even risked life itself, and in some cases suffered martyrdom. Many admit that Jesus was a remarkable person while he lived, in both his life and his teaching. Yet what motive could there have been for any to defend his cause after he was dead, especially when his death was considered so shameful?

(35) And what if we suppose that these writers invented their narratives, and that Jesus was their imaginary or ideal hero? Let us consider this. These writers declared that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had been begotten in a supernatural way. (Luke 1:30-35) They asserted that he had supernatural powers by which he had healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the deaf to hear, and even raised the dead. (Matthew 9:27-34; 12:22; 11:2-5; Luke 5:17-25; 6:6-10; 7:11-16; 8:43,44; 13:11-13; 17:12-14; John 5:5-9) How absurd to suppose that they would wind up the story of such a person by stating that a little band of his enemies executed him as a criminal! Wouldn’t it be senseless for them to have all his friends and disciples, among them the writers themselves, forsake their hero and flee in the trying moment? — Matthew 26:47-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:2-19:42.

(36) The fact that certain historians do not agree in some respects with these writers should not lead us to regard their records as untrue. Those who dismiss these scriptures as untrue should assign and prove some motive on the part of these writers for making false statements. What motives could have prompted them? Could they reasonably have hoped thereby for fortune, or fame, or power, or any earthly advantage? The poverty of Jesus friends, and the unpopularity of their hero himself with the great religionists of Judea, contradict such a thought. Indeed, the fact that he died as a common criminal, a seditious disturber of the peace, and that he was made of no reputation, held forth no hope of enviable fame or earthly advantage to those who should attempt to re-establish his doctrine. On the contrary, if such had been the object of those who preached Jesus, would they not have quickly given it up when they found that it brought disgrace, persecution, imprisonment, stripes and even death? What prompted these men to sacrifice home, reputation, honor and life? What caused them to live for something other than present gratification? Why did they risk all to tell others about their God, and to aid their fellowman to worship Him, thus inculcating a high standard for doing what is right?

(37) Reason would have us conclude that these men were not only possessed of a motive, but further that their motive must have been pure and their object grandly sublime. Reason further declares that the testimony of such men, actuated by only pure and good motives, is worthy of ten times the weight and consideration of ordinary writers. Nor were these men irrational religious fanatics. They were men of sound and reasonable mind. They furnished in every case a reason for their faith and hope. They were perseveringly faithful to those reasonable convictions.

(38) And what we have here noticed is likewise applicable to the various writers of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called “The Old Testament”). They were, in the main, men notable for their fidelity to Jehovah. Their writings as impartially records and reproves their weaknesses and shortcomings as it commends their virtues and faithfulness. This must astonish those who presume the Bible to be a manufactured history, designed to awe men into reverence of a religious system. There is a straightforwardness about the Bible that stamps it as truth. Evil-minded men would desire to represent a man as great. If desirous of presenting some of his writings as inspired of God, he would undoubtedly paint such an individual’s personality blameless and noble to the last degree. Such a course has not been pursued in the Bible. This is reasonable evidence that it was not fraudulently gotten up to deceive.

Tithing Under the Law – Was It Fair?

(39) Someone might ask: “Doesn’t the law concerning the tithe prove that the priesthood was a selfish institution?” It is true that the tribe of Levi was supported by the annual tenth, or tithe, of the individual produce of their brothers of the other tribes. This fact, stated thus, is an unfair presentation too common to skeptics. These, possibly ignorantly, thereby misrepresent one of the most remarkable evidences of God’s part in the organization of that system, and that it was not the work of a selfish and scheming priesthood. Indeed, it is often misrepresented by modern clerical priesthoods. Many religious leaders claim a similar system today, using the Israelite priesthood as a precedent, without mentioning the condition of things upon which it was founded, or its method of payment.

(40) It was, in fact, founded upon the strictest equity. When Israel came into the possession of the land of Canaan, the Levites certainly had as much right to a share of the land as the other tribes. But, by God’s express command, they got none of it, except certain cities or villages for residence, scattered among the various tribes, whom they were to serve in religious things. (Numbers 35:2-8) Nine times this prohibition is given before the division of the land. Instead of a share in the land, some equivalent should surely be provided them, and the tithe was therefore this reasonable and just provision. Nor is this all: the tithe, though, as we have seen, a just debt, was not enforced as a tax, but was to be paid as a voluntary contribution. And no threat bound them to make those contributions; all depended upon their conscientiousness. The only exhortations to the people on the subject are as follows: “Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 12:19) “And the Levite who is within your gates, you must not forsake him, for he does not have any part nor inheritance with you [in the land].” — Deuteronomy 14:27.

 

Israel’s Laws Came From Jehovah

(41) Is it, we ask, reasonable to suppose that this order of things would have been thus arranged by selfish and ambitious priests? — an arrangement to disinherit themselves and to make them dependent for support upon their brothers? Does not reason teach us contrary?

(42) In harmony with this, and equally inexplicable on any other grounds than those claimed — that God is the author of those laws — is the fact that no special provision was made for honoring the priesthood. In nothing would impostors be more careful than to provide reverence and respect for themselves, and the severest penalties and curses upon those who misused them. But nothing of the kind appears: no special honor, or reverence, or immunity from violence or insult is provided. The common law, which made no distinction between classes, and was no respecter of persons, was their only protection. This is even more remarkable because the treatment of servants, and foreigners, and the aged, was the subject of special legislation. For instance: “You must not mistreat nor oppress a foreigner, or widow, or fatherless child; for if they should cry at all to me [to Jehovah] I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:21-24; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34) “You must not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers, or one of the foreigners that are in your land, within you gates. For his day you must give him his wages, neither should you allow the sun to go down upon it, for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you unto Jehovah and it becomes a sin to you.” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Exodus 21:26,27) “You should rise up before the greyheaded and honor the face of the elderly.” (Leviticus 19:32; see also Leviticus 29:14) All this, yet nothing special for the priests, or Levites, or their tithes.

 

Jehovah’s Law
Compared to Hammurabi’s Code

(43) Some, however, point to the law code of King Hammurabi of Babylon as the supposed actual source of the laws given by Moses. Hammurabi is believed to have lived about 150 years before Moses wrote the laws of Israel. There are several authors that point to Genesis 26:5, in which Jehovah states: “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” It is argued that this scripture indicates that God had given a set of laws to someone long before Hammurabi or Mosaic Law Covenant. If so, then the suggestion is given that Hammurabi, or Hammurabi’s ancestors, actually copied from God’s earlier given law. Far from being merely copied from Hammurabi’s code, the Mosaic law stands far superior to those of Hammurabi. Concerning this the noted Frend Orientalist Joseph Plessis wrote: “It does not appear that the Hebrew legislator made any use of the various codes of Babylonia and Assyria. Nothing in his work can be proved to have been borrowed. Although there are interesting similarities, they are not such that they cannot be easily explained by the codifying of customs shared by people with a common origin.” (Supple’ment au Dictionnaire de la Bible) Also W. J. Martin tells us: “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylonian. Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit. For example, in the Hammurabi Code, theft and receiving stolen goods were punished by the death penalty (Laws 6 and 22), but in Israel’s laws the punishment was compensation. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 6:1-5) Whereas the Mosaic law forbade handing over an escaped slave to his master (Deuteronomy 23:15,16), the Babylonian laws punished by death anyone taking in a fugitive slave. — Laws 15,16,19.” — Documents from Old Testament Times

(44) Further, the Code of Hammurabi would have one display a spirit of retaliation, whereas the Hebrew law tells us: “You must not hate your brother in your heart…. You must not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Jehovah.” — Leviticus 19:17,18

Some thoughts presented by others related to this (we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given by the authors):

Did Moses steal the Ten Commandments?
The Giving of the Law
Comparing the Codex Hammurabi with the Mosaic Law

 

Jehovah’s Law A Marvelous
Arrangement of Wisdom and Justice

(45) The sanitary arrangements of the law, so needful to a poor and long-oppressed people, together with the arrangements and limitations respecting clean and unclean animals which might or might not be eaten, are remarkable, and would, with other features, be of interest if space permitted their examination, as showing that law to have been up-to-date with, if not in advance of, the latest conclusions of medical science on the subject. The law of Moses had also a typical nature, which we must leave for future consideration; but even our hasty glance has furnished overwhelming evidence that this law, which constitutes the very framework of the entire system of revealed religion, which the remainder of the Bible elaborates, is truly a marvelous display of wisdom and justice, especially when its date is taken into consideration.

(46) In the light of reason, all must admit that the Hebrew law bears no evidence of being the work of wicked, designing men, but that it corresponds exactly with what nature teaches to be the personal qualities of God. It gives evidence of his wisdom, justice and love. And further, the godly and noble lawgiver, Moses, denies that the laws were his own, and attributes them to Jehovah. (Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Exodus 26:30; Leviticus 1:1) In view of his general personality, and his commands to the people not to bear false witness, and to avoid hypocrisy and lying, is it reasonable to suppose that such a man bore false witness and palmed off his own views and laws for those of Jehovah? It should be remembered also that we are examining present Hebrew “copies” of the Bible. Therefore the integrity for which it is so marked applies equally to the successors of Moses. Though bad men were among those successors, who did seek their own and not the people’s good, it is evident that they did not tamper with the Hebrew Sacred Writings, which remain pure to this day, as demonstrated by a system of Biblical Numerics.

The Prophets of the Bible

(47) Glance now at the general personality of the prophets and their testimonies. A rather remarkable fact is that the prophets, with few exceptions, were not of the priestly class. In their day their prophecies were generally repugnant to the degenerating and time-serving priesthood, as well as to the people who were inclined to indulge in the gaiety of idol worship. The burden of the prophets’ messages from God to the people was generally reproof for sin, coupled with warnings of coming punishments. Along with this, however, we find occasional promises of future blessings, if the people would repent from sin and should return to the favor of Jehovah. The experiences of the prophets, for the most part, were far from enviable. They were generally reviled. Many of them were imprisoned and put to violent deaths. (See 1 Kings 18:4,10,17,18; 19:10; Jeremiah 38:6; Hebrews 11:32-38.) In some instances it was years after their death before their true integrity as God’s prophets was recognized. But we speak thus of the prophetic writers whose utterances claim to be the direct inspiration of Jehovah.
———————————————————

The prophets were not primarily foretellers of events or historical soothsayers but rather foretellers of God’s will, teachers of His Word, statesmen for leading His people. They boldly proclaimed divine judgment and faithfully reminded the people of God’s promises. A prophet in his primary role was one who passed a message from God to man (Exodus 7:1; Ezekiel 3:4; Amos 3:8). He did not attain his position by heredity, as did a king or priest, or by human appointment, as did an official, but only by receiving a message from God with instructions to deliver that divine message. In other words, the designation “prophet” is one of function instead of position. Thus, a king or priest or government official could perform prophetically (Exodus 3:10; Judges 6:14). The primary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi. Though its etymology is unknown, the meaning of the word is abundantly clear in its usage. The word is usually masculine in gender; however, its feminine form (nebiah) usually indicates a woman who receives and delivers a divine message (cf. Judges 4:4-6; 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28). — from The Criswell Bible (KJV), comments on Numbers 11:29 (We have expanded names of the Bible books in scriptural citations to aid in searches).

(48) It is well in this connection that we should remember that in the giving of the law to Israel there was no priestly intervention. It was given by God to the people by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 19:17-25; Deuteronomy 5:1-5) And, furthermore, it was made the duty of every man seeing a violation of the law to reprove the sinner. (Leviticus 19:17) Thus all had the authority to teach and reprove. But, since, as in our own day, the majority were absorbed in the cares of business, and became indifferent and irreligious, only a few fulfilled this requirement by reproving sin and exhorting to godliness. These preachers are termed “prophets” in both the Law and the Prophets (commonly called the “Old Testament”) as well as the Apostolic Scriptures (commonly called the “New Testament”). The term prophet, as generally used, signifies public expounder, and the public teachers of idolatry were also so called — for instance, “the prophets of Baal,” etc. — See 1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:15; 14:5; Nehemiah 6:7; 1 Kings 18:40; Titus 1:12.

(49) Prophesying, in the ordinary sense of teaching, afterward became popular with a certain class, and degenerated into Phariseeism. This order taught, instead of or as in extension of God’s commandments, the traditions of the ancients. In doing so they opposed the truth and became false prophets, or false teachers. (Matthew 15:2-9) Out of the large class called prophets, Jehovah at various times made choice of some whom he specially commissioned to deliver messages, relating sometimes to things then at hand, at other times to future events. It is to the writings of this class who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit, that we are now giving attention.

 

Divinely Commissioned Prophets or Seers

(50) We should note that most of these prophets were not Levites. They did not receive support from the tithes of the priestly tribe. Additionally, they were frequently not only the reprovers of kings and judges, but also of priests (though they reproved not the office, but the personal sins of the men who filled it). Therefore it becomes evident that we could not reasonably decide that these prophets were parties to any league of priests, or others, to fabricate falsehood in the name of God. Reason in the light of facts contradicts such a suspicion.

(51) We find no reason to challenge the motives of the various writers of the Bible. We find that the spirit of its various parts is righteousness and truth. Consequently let us next proceed to inquire whether there exists any link, or bond of union, between the records of Moses, those of the other prophets, and those of the disciples of Jesus. Can we find one common line of thought as a connecting theme throughout the Law and the Prophets and the Apostolic Scriptures which cover a period of more than 2,000 years? If so, this, taken in connection with the honesty of the writers, will be good reason for admitting their claim — that they are divinely inspired. Particularly should this be true if the theme common to all of them is a grand and noble one, conforming well with what sanctified common sense teaches regarding the personal qualities and attributes of God.

 

One Plan, Spirit and Purpose

(52) This we do find: One plan, spirit, aim and purpose pervades the entire book. Its opening pages record the creation and fall of man; its closing pages tell of man’s recovery from that fall; and its intervening pages show the successive steps of the plan of God for the accomplishment of this purpose. The harmony, yet contrast, of the first three and the last three chapters of the Bible is striking. The one describes the first creation, the other the renewed or restored creation, with sin and its penal-curse removed. The one shows Satan and evil entering the world to profane God’s name, deceive and destroy, the other shows his work undone, the destroyed ones restored, God vindicated, evil extinguished and Satan destroyed. The one shows the dominion lost by Adam, the other shows it restored and forever established by Christ, and God’s will done in earth as in heaven. The one shows sin as the producing cause of degradation, shame and death, the other shows the reward of righteousness to be glory, honor and life.

(53) Though written by many pens, at various times, under different circumstances, the Bible is not merely a collection of moral precepts, wise maxims and words of comfort. It is more — it is a reasonable, logical and harmonious statement of the causes of present evil in the world. It shows the only remedy for this evil and the final results as seen by divine wisdom and love, which saw the end of the plan from before its beginning, marking as well the pathway of God’s people, and upholding and strengthening them with exceeding great and precious promises to be realized in due time.

(54) The teaching of Genesis, that man was tried in a state of original perfection in one representative, that he failed, and that the present imperfection, sickness and death are the results, but that God has not forsaken him, and will ultimately recover him through a redeemer, born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), is kept up and elaborated all the way through. The necessity of the death of a redeemer as a sacrifice for sins, and of his righteous blood as a covering for our sin, is pointed out in the clothing of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21); in the acceptance of Abel’s offerings (Genesis 4:3,4); in Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-18); in the death of the various sacrifices by which the patriarchs had access to God, and of those instituted under the Law and perpetuated throughout the Jewish age (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:14; Numbers 19:2; Hebrews 9:7-14). The prophets, though credited with understanding but slightly the significance of some their utterances (1 Peter 1:12), mention the laying of the sins upon a person instead of a dumb animal, and in prophetic vision they see him who is to redeem and deliver the race led “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” and the “by his stripes we are healed.” They pictured him as “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and declared that “Jehovah has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) They told where this deliverer would be born (Micah 5:2), and when he would die, assuring us that it would be “not for himself.” (Daniel 9:26) They mention various peculiarities concerning him — that he would be “righteous,” and “free from deceit,” “violence,” or any just cause of death (Isaiah 53:8,9,11); that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12); that he would be numbered among the transgressors in his death (Isaiah 53:12); that not one of his bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:36); and that though he should die and be buried, his flesh would not corrupt, neither would he remain in the grave. — Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.

(55) The writers of the Christian Scriptures clearly and forcibly, yet simply, record the fulfillment of these predictions in Jesus of Nazareth, and by logical reasonings show that such a ransom price as he gave was needful, as already predicted in the Law and the Prophets, before the sins of the world could be blotted out. (Isaiah 1:18) They trace the entire plan in a more logical and forcible manner, appealing neither to the prejudices nor to the passions of their hearers, but their enlightened reason alone, furnishing some of the most remarkably close and cogent reasoning to be found anywhere on the subject. — See Romans 5:17-19, and onward to the 12th chapter.

(56) Moses, in the Law, pointed not alone to a sacrifice, but also to a blotting out of sins and a blessing of the people under this great deliverer, whose power and authority he declares shall vastly exceed his own, though it should be “like unto” it. (Deuteronomy 18:15,19) The promised deliverer is to bless not only Israel, but through Israel “all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) And notwithstanding the prejudices of the Jewish people to the contrary, the prophets continue the same strain, declaring that Messiah will be also “for a light to lighten the nations” (Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:32); that the nations would come to him “from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 16:19); that his name “will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11); and that he “will be a light to the nations” and he “will set justice in the earth.” —- Isaiah 42:1-7.

(57) The writers of the Christian Scriptures claim a divine anointing which enabled them to realize the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the sacrifice of Christ. They, though prejudiced as Jews to think of every blessing as limited to their own people (Acts 11:1-18), were enabled to see that while their nation would be blessed, all the families of the earth would be blessed also, with and through them. They saw also that, before the blessing of either Israel or the world, a selection would be made of a small number from both Jews and Gentiles, who, being tried, would be found worthy to be made heirs of the glory, and sharers with him of the honor of blessing Israel and all the nations. —- Galatians 3:29; Acts 3:20-26; Romans 8:17-23.

(58) These writers point out the harmony of this view with what is written in the Law and the Prophets. The grandeur and breadth of the plan they present more than meets the most exalted conception of what it purports to be —- “Good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” —- Luke 2:10.

(59) The thought of Messiah as ruler not only of Israel, but also of the world, suggested in the books of Moses, is the theme of all the prophets. The thought of the kingdom was uppermost also in the teaching of the apostles; and Jesus taught that we should pray: “Your kingdom come,” (Matthew 6:10) and promised those a share in it who would faithfully carry out his words — Galatians 4:29; 1 John 2:3-6.

(60) This hope of the coming glorious kingdom gave all the faithful ones courage to endure persecution and to suffer reproach, deprivation and loss, even unto death. And in the grand allegorical prophecy which closes the Christian Scriptures, the worthy “Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12), the worthy “overcomers” whom he will make kings and priests with him in his kingdom, and the trials and obstacles which they must overcome to be worthy to share in that kingdom, are faithfully portrayed. Then are introduced symbolic representations of the blessings to accrue to the world under that Millennial reign, when Satan will be bound and Adamic death and sorrow wiped out, and when all the nations of the earth will walk in the light of the heavenly kingdom —- the new Jerusalem. —- Revelation 21, 22.

(61) The Bible, from first to last, holds out a doctrine found nowhere else, and in opposition to the theories of all the world’s religions — that a future life for the dead will come through a resurrection of the dead as a result of having been purchased through one ransom sacrifice that covers all who are dying due to the sin of one man. (John 5:27,28; Acts 24:15; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Revelation 20) All the inspired writers expressed their confidence in a redeemer, and one declares that “in the morning,” when God will call them from the tomb, and they come forth, the wicked will no longer hold the rulership of the earth; for “The upright will have dominion over them, in the morning.” (Psalm 49:14) The resurrection of the dead is taught by the prophets; and the writers of the Christian Scriptures base all their hopes of future life and blessing upon it. Paul expresses it thus: “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen; and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain; … then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept; … for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.” —- 1 Corinthians 15:13-22

(62) Like a watch, whose many wheels might at first seem superfluous, but whose slowest moving wheels are essential, so the Bible, composed of many parts, and prepared by many pens, is one complete and harmonious whole. Not a single part is superfluous. Though some parts take a more active and prominent place than others, all are useful and necessary. It is becoming popular among the so-called “advanced thinkers” and “great theologians” of the present day to treat lightly, or to ignore if they do not deny, many of the “miracles” of the Hebrew Scriptures, calling them “old wives’ tales.” Of these are the accounts of Jonah and the great fish, Noah and the ark, Eve and the serpent, the standing still of the sun at the command of Joshua, and Balaam’s speaking donkey. Seemingly these wise men overlook the fact that the Bible is interwoven and united in its various parts that to tear from it these miracles, or to discredit them, is to destroy or discredit the whole. For if the original accounts are false, those who repeated them were either falsifiers or dupes, and in either case it would be impossible for us to accept their testimony as divinely inspired. To eliminate from the Bible the miracles mentioned would invalidate the testimony of its principal writers, besides that of our Lord Jesus. The story of the fall is attested by Paul (Romans 5:17); also Eve’s deception by the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). (See also our Lord’s reference to the latter in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.) The standing still of the sun at the overthrow of the Amorites, as an evidence of Jehovah’s power, was evidently typical of the power to be displayed in the end of the age, in “the day of Jehovah,” at the hand of him whom Joshua typified. This is attested by three prophets. (Isaiah 28:21; Habakkuk 2:1-3,13,14 and 3:2-11; Zechariah 14:1,6,7) The account of the speaking donkey is confirmed by Jude (verse 11), and by Peter (2 Peter 2:16). And the great teacher, Jesus, confirms the narratives of Jonah and the great fish and of Noah and the flood. (Matthew 12:40; 24:38,39; Luke 17:26; See also 1 Peter 3:20.) Really these are no greater miracles than those performed by Jesus and the apostles, such as the turning of water into wine, the healing of diseases, etc.; and as a miracle, the awakening of the dead is the most wonderful of all.

(63) These miracles, not common to our everyday experience, do find parallels about us every day, which being more common, are passed by unnoticed. The reproduction of living organisms, either animal or vegetable, is beyond our comprehension, as well as beyond our power —- hence miraculous. We can see the exercise of life principle, but can neither fully understand it nor produce it. We plant two seeds side by side; the conditions, air, water and soil are alike; they grow, we cannot tell exactly how, nor can the wisest philosopher or scientist truly explain this miracle. These seeds develop organisms of opposite tendencies; one creeps, the other stands erect; though the conditions are the same. Such miracles grow common to us, and we cease to remember them as such as we leave the wonderment of childhood. Yet they manifest a power as much beyond our own, and beyond our limited intelligence, as the few miracles recorded in the Bible for special purposes, and as intended illustrations of omnipotence, and of the ability of the great Creator to overcome every obstacle and to accomplish all his will, even to our promised resurrection from the dead, the extermination of evil, and the ultimate reign of everlasting righteousness.

(64) Here we rest the case. Every step has been tested by reason. We have found that there is a God, a supreme, intelligent Creator, in whom wisdom, justice, love and power exist in perfect harmony. We have found it reasonable to expect a revelation of his plans to his creatures capable of appreciating and having an interest in them. We have found the Bible, claiming to be that revelation, worthy of consideration. We have examined its writers, and their possible objects, in the light of what they taught. Our reason has told us that such wisdom, combined with such purity of motive, was not the cunning device of crafty men for selfish ends. Reason has urged that it is far more probable that such righteous and benevolent sentiments and laws must be of God and not of men, and has insisted that they could not be the work of knavish priests. We have seen the harmony of testimony concerning Jesus, his ransom-sacrifice, and the resurrection and blessing of all as the outcome, in his glorious kingdom to come; and reason has told us that a scheme so grand and comprehensive, beyond all we could otherwise have reason to expect, yet built upon such reasonable deductions, must be the plan of God for which we seek. It cannot be the mere device of men, for even when revealed, it is almost too grand to be believed by men.

(65) When Columbus discovered the Orinoco river, some one said he had found an island. He replied: “No such river as that flows from an island. That mighty torrent must drain the waters of a continent.” So the depth and power and wisdom and scope of the Bible’s testimony convince us that not man, but the Almighty God, is the author of its plans and revelations. We have taken but a hasty glance at the surface claims of the Scriptures to be of divine origin, and have found them reasonable. Succeeding chapters in this series, will unfold various parts of the plan of God, and will, we trust, give ample evidence to every candid mind that the Bible is a divinely inspired revelation, and that the length and breadth and height and depth of the plan it unfolds, gloriously reflect the personal attributes of the divine being, which has been most often but dimly comprehended, but which can now be more clearly seen by means of the revealment through the holy spirit. — 1 Corinthians 2:10.

 

Blessed Bible, shining light!

Glowing through the depths of night;
Glory to our God be giv’n
For this loving gift from heav’n.
 

‘Tis a beam of purest light,

Gleaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems
 

‘Tis a fountain pouring forth

Streams of life to gladden earth
Whence eternal blessing flow,
Remedy for human woe.
 

‘Tis a mine, yes, deeper, too,

Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new, rich gem appears.
 

There we learn Jehovah’s love,

Through his message from above.
How he’ll bring to earth true peace,
And will make all wars to cease!

 

With this lamp of purest light

We can see in earth’s dark night.
Learn the way that we should go,
And Jah’s glories we will know.