Understanding Kingdom Mysteries -r

(1) Many do not realize that within God’s Plan for humanity there is good news for every man, woman and child upon the face of this earth! The word often used in popular translations to describe the message of Jesus is “Gospel,” which means “Good News.” And what Good News an understanding of God’s Plan brings! Those that are entangled in drugs, alcohol, and crime can certainly use the good news that God loves them, and that his Son died for them. (Romans 5:8) He promises that even those who have erred in spirit will be given opportunity to come to understanding, and even those who murmur will learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24) Isn’t this good news?

No More Sickness!

(2) None of us can say that we have never been sick at all. Some have suffered more from sickness than others; some of us have chronic illnesses from birth until death. Is there any good news in God’s Plan that can give them hope? Surely the One who made man is not unaware of his creatures’ plight. He knows the suffering, the pain, the hurt, and the death of everyone of his creatures, not only of man, but even of the animals. (Matthew 6:26) He hears the cries of those who suffer and he will bring them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:26-30) Yes, our Creator is very much interested in the suffering of mankind!

(3) The promises of our Creator tell of a time when there will be no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain. And what a beautiful place this earth will be then! Even death, which has caused so much sorrow and pain, will be done away with! “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Scientists do not even hope to fulfill such a prophecy! But God can bring about these conditions upon the earth! He has promised to do so. Isn’t this really what all mankind wants? Nobody really wants to die. True, there are some who prefer death to the extreme suffering they may have encountered in this present evil age. (Galatians 1:4) Should life be enjoyable for them right here on the earth, they would not want to die. What good news the Bible has for any who have become disillusioned with life’s present ills!

The World Does Not Understand!

(4) But alas! the world does not know or understand about the good news of God’s Plan! Indeed, the popular forms of Christianity believe in a good news that falls far short of the truth! The prevalent idea of the good news would have us believe that Christians are God’s instruments, amidst earth’s present turmoil and confusion, to lead as many as possible to Christ in order that they may not suffer an eternity in some horrible place. This kind of good news has been preached for many centuries. Still millions of earth’s population have died, and there are still those now living who probably will die, without not even hearing the name of Jesus, and without knowing of his saving power! Less than a hundred years ago, it was still popular to believe that the nominal church would convert the world to Christ! Every now and then we still hear some misguided minister urge his flock to save the world for “Jesus”! Billions of dollars have been spent trying to convert the world, or at least as many as possible of the world. But is this what the true Good news is about? Did Jesus commission his followers to “save the world”? Is God trying to convert the world? Is God trying to convert as many as possible of the world? Are we to think that millions, perhaps even billions of God’s human creation are on the road to some eternal doom without even hearing the `only name given whereby we must be saved?’ — Acts 4:12.

Darkness Now Covers the World

(5) Often we read of the great works being accomplished by missionaries of the popular churches in foreign lands. Are the churches accomplishing what they consider to be their mission? Actually, when we look at the statistics, the percentage of those professing Christ hasn’t changed that much over the past century, despite the billions being spent on world evangelization. Most will admit that there is much darkness in many part of the world. Most will agree that almost total darkness enshrouds hundreds of millions of men and women — people who were born in darkness, who have lived constantly in that darkness, and who every day are dying in darkness. According to the popular idea of the Gospel (Good News), these are doomed to spend an eternity of conscious indescribable suffering unless they can be reached with this Good News. Can this really be the “good news” for all mankind — that the vast majority are to spend an eternity in indescribable suffering, whatever that means?

(6) Yes, It is true that the world is lying in darkness. And it is probably more dark than most Christians realize. According to adherents.com, in 2005 there were about 2.1 billion who claimed Christianity, which includes Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Monophsite, AICs, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Evangelical, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, and others. This represents about 33% of the world’s population. Approximately 1.3 billion (21% of the world’s population) are numbered for the “Islam” religion, including all of its sects. Judaism is numbered at approximately 14 million (.22% of world’s population). The heathen religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, make up approximately 30% of the world’s population, while athiests, agnostics, etc., make up about 16% of the world’s population. It is not important whether these figures are 100% accurate. The fact is that at least about 67% of the world’s population does not profess Christianity. And according to many who preach in the name of Christ, all those who are dying without Christ are sure to spend an eternity in horrible pain, every day, every night, every hour, every second, every nanosecond, without any let up at all!

(7) This is truly a sad picture. Some may think that this picture is too dark and overdrawn. However, we think just the opposite. The figures we have given probably show popular Christianity in its brightest colors possible. Many of the major denominations count almost any who walk through the doors of their churches, including infants. In many cases, some are counted as “Christian” who are still practicing Buddhism, Hinduism, Voodooism, or other pagan religions. Almost all must agree that just professing to be “Christian” does not make one a real Disciple of Jesus. Of the two billion or so professing Christians, only a small fraction could be counted as genuine disciples who “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3) Thus, even many more who are falsely professing to Christian, according many who preach in the name of Christ, will also suffer the same fate of an eternity of horrid misery!

(8) And yet there is a darker picture: the billions who have died and are not represented above. In mankind’s history, there have been countless millions that have lived and died without ever hearing any message at all about Jesus. According to the view often presented in the name of Christ, these millions are now suffering unimaginable torments for eternity in a fiery hell. What an awful picture!
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See our online studies regarding the bible hell:
http://life.rlbible.com

(9) As already pointed out, from the standpoint of what has been traditionally presented as the “gospel,” earth’s present billions who are ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we must be saved, are also sure of the same doom unless, according to this theory, they can be evangelized into accepting Jesus as their savior. G. Christian Weiss, states in his book, God’s Plan — Man’s Need — Our Mission, (Copyright 1971, The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc., page 135) tells us: “We need to realize not only that men apart from Christ are separated from God but also that they face eternal perdition. Their present status of being lost in spiritual darkness and of being separated from God will become an eternal plight unless they come to know their Saviour, Christ Jesus….Because of this, I feel we can leave no stone unturned in the endeavor to get the message of Jesus Christ to the world.” According to this often-accepted view of the good news, the good news is actually bad tidings that every man, woman and child that has lived and died upon this earth, without ever hearing about Jesus, is now suffering “eternal perdition.” Those who believe this “good news”(?) of great eternal misery for the vast majority of mankind should be very zealous in forwarding missionary enterprises — the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it!

(10) We must remind you that this gloomy picture as presented above represents what many have taught, in the name of Christ, by tradition. However, when we look to the Word of God, the Holy Bible, we find that God’s great plan of salvation was never intended to be, or ever will be such a failure. The prophet Isaiah foretold the very darkness that has spread over the nations of the earth, but he also foretells its remedy. “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations will come to your light.” (Isaiah 60:2,3) How happy we can be that God will not leave the nations of the earth in darkness! He has promised that they will come to his light.

(11) The religious world of today finds itself with hundreds, even thousands, of religious philosophies each professing to represent a divine being or beings. From the popular Christian standpoint, almost 75% of the world is “heathen”, that is, nonbelievers in Christ. Over half of the world still knows practically nothing about Jesus. Popular Christianity has been puzzled at the continued misery and darkness of the world, and the slow progress of truth. Neither the world nor the Church is able to stop the growing crime rate, the food shortages, the sexual sins, and the many other ills that plague mankind, even though they might consider it their mission to do so. Many of their missionaries often give up in despair, not realizing that they have been trying to accomplish something which God never intended to be accomplished at the present time.

(12) But why does God permit such a great portion of the earth to remain in darkness? Why is the Bible, to a large degree, a book of parables, symbolisms and dark sayings? Why is it not completely open and clear so that everyone, everywhere would be able to understand it? Why is it that even Doctors of Divinity find its details perplexing, mysterious, incomprehensible? What excuse can be offered for the secrecy connected with a subject in which all should be interested? The answer to these questions are discussed in our next study and will open doors of truth, to a proper appreciation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Why Is the Bible So Mysterious?

(13) We should note that the Bible does declare itself to be a book of mysteries, or secrets. The four gospels of the Christian Scriptures (commonly called New Testament) are supposed by many to be the simplest and plainest portion of the Bible. They tell about the deeds and words of Jesus Messiah while he was on this earth. However, in harmony with the prophecies, the Great Teacher himself delivered his message in parables and dark sayings. “He never spoke to the people without using a parable,” that “Hearing they might hear and not understand; and seeing, they might see and not perceive.” (Matthew 13:14) There are many mysteries or secrets connected with the Bible. We have not reached the time when absolutely everything can be understood in the Bible, not even by the true servants of God. No one on earth today can grasp absolutely everything about the Bible. The conditions of Isaiah 29:18,24 have not yet come. But the Bible does say that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). We have not yet attained that perfect day.

“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” — Matthew 13:13

(14) Someone might say that Jesus spoke in parables or illustrations so that the people might understand better, but this is not the reason Jesus himself gave. The followers of Jesus once asked him why he spoke to the people in parables. In giving his answer he said: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13) Jesus then quoted from Isaiah 6:9,10, which we will quote from the Jerusalem Bible: “Go and say to this people, `Hear and hear again, but do not understand; see and see again, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people gross, its ears dull; shut its eyes, so that it will not see with its eyes, hear with its ears, understand with its heart, and be converted and healed.” Then Jesus said to his followers: “But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!” (Matthew 13:16, JB) In Mark 4:11,12, Jesus’ answer to his disciples is very clear: “Unto you it is given to know the mystery [secret] of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand.” If this explanation is to make any sense at all, we must conclude that he was saying that he spoke in parables to keep the multitudes of people from understanding his message, while a few, his true followers, were permitted to understand.

“This is good, and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the witness of which will be in due time.” — 1 Timothy 2:5-6

(15) This, of course, must be the way that God has intended for it to be. But why? Because God knows, even as he promised, that eventually ‘all will be saved, and come the knowledge of the truth.’ (1 Timothy 2:4) He knows that the time will come when “the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness” and that those “who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmured will learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:18,24 — New King James Version, hereafter referred to as NKJV) Yes, the time will come when he will “turn to the peoples a pure language” that they may all call upon him with one consent. — Zephaniah. 3:9.

“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” — Romans 11:32.

(16) Thousands may read the Bible but fail to understand it’s deeper meanings. God is keeping its truths secret from the people at the present time, not because he does not love them, but because he does love them. Under the present conditions the truth would be injurious to the majority of people. This is because of the sinful nature of mankind as shown in Isaiah 29. But God still loves them, and whom he loves he disciplines. (John 3:16; Hebrews 12:6) So God has “shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32) How well the true believer today may exclaim: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” — Romans. 11:33.

(17) There are many scriptures that speak of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible. The apostle Paul refers to its tidings as the message “which was a hidden mystery for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints [dedicated ones].” (Colossians 1:26, JB) At this point we want to emphasis that the Good News of the Bible was not made known to the world at large, but only to his “saints”. Jesus also, when speaking to his Father in prayer, said: “I bless you, Father, Ruler of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do.” (Matthew 11:25-26, JB) Often those that are well spoken of and respected by men are passed by, while those who may be considered by men in general as outwardly despicable people may be chosen to receive His secrets. — 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

(18) Proceeding the apostle Paul shows us the necessity for this secretiveness as respects the true message of Good News. He shows that if it were generally known amongst men, the Divine program would at times be interfered with. He tells us that none of the princes or prominent ones of the world understood the wisdom of God — for had they known it, they would not have put Jesus to death. As he explains: “But as it is written [in Isaiah 64:4]: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit …. We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” — 1 Corinthians 2:8-13.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Jehovah. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8,9.

(19) But isn’t God interested in converting the world? Doesn’t he want to save as many as possible? And if he is, why didn’t he make the Bible so that everyone could easily obtain and understand it? The God who created the Universe is thoughtful of all the interests of his people. All their needs have been supplied as far as He has seen good. He made food for the nourishment of our bodies, and beautiful things for our eyes to see, and sweet sounds for our ears. If he would provide these for us, would he not also provide things for our minds concerning the future?

(20) If we had been living before God gave His people a Bible, and He had told us that He would give man His revelation in a book, we would have looked forward to it eagerly, and with pleasant anticipation, and we would wonder what kind of book it would be. A man who writes a book generally tries to make his subject as plain as possible, so that his meaning can be easily understood. Likewise some might conclude that if God should provide a book, He would make it so plain that none could fail to understand. We might expect that it would be so wonderful, that it could not be written by man, but by angels; that he would put a bright shining light around it, so all would know that it was His book; that it would have a miraculous power which would heal the sick; and if anyone should say anything against it, he would drop dead instantly; and that all might be born with this wonderful book, and be able to understand it. But when we read scriptures such as Isaiah 55:8-11, we answer: “NO! God thinks differently from man.” Therefore, God has given us a Bible, and a message, very different from what man might expect. Instead of angels writing it, poor imperfect men wrote it. There is no bright shining physical light gleaming from it. No one drops dead talking against it. There are millions on earth today that still do not even know that there is a Bible, much less be born with it or understand it. Yes, God could have made the Bible so plain that one could not get more than one meaning from it. How easily we might think that the world could be converted if such were the case. But God knows better than we, and therefore the Bible that we have is the best kind of Bible, better for us than the miraculous kind would have been.

(21) However, it is a mistake to suppose that God is not interested in converting the world. (Psalm 22:27; 150:6; Romans 14:11) He is more interested in it than any human could possibly be. Why then did He not give us a simple Bible? The reason for its obscurity must be that men have failed to understand the heavenly Father’s design and purpose for the present world. We have already given evidence that He confirmed that there would be much misconception and misunderstanding of Him and His purpose. But once we understand God’s purposes, then we can answer the question.

God Is Not Now Trying
to Convert the World

(22) We must get rid of the misconceived idea that God is NOW trying to convert the world, or that he is NOW trying to save as many as possible from some eternal doom, as most religious people suppose. If God were trying to convert as many as possible of the world to save them from some eternal doom, would he have not been anxious for his disciples to go to all peoples? Instead he told his disciples NOT to go to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5) Jesus was not here being cruel, but he knew of His Father’s purposes to enlighten the whole world at a future date. We know that God is not now trying to convert the world, because the world is not converted — far from it! God accomplishes everything he purposes to do. (Isaiah. 55:10,11) If it were God’s purpose to convert the world NOW, then the Good News failed — it did not accomplish its work. But God has not been trying to convert the world. He does not have to try, because He is omnipotent (John 12:37-40). If people of the world had understood the true Bible message, they would have believed, but that was NOT God’s purpose (Matthew 13:10-17; 11:23; 10:5,6; Acts 16:6,7; 1 Peter 1:10-12). God did NOT intend that they should NEVER be converted, because he has promised a time to come when they will be converted, but this has not yet begun, nor will it be accomplished as long as this present evil world continues (2 Timothy 3:1,2; 2 Peter 3:3,4; Matthew 24:37; Isaiah 6:9-11; Dan. 12:1; Zephaniah 3:8-13). The Bible tells us that in “the time of the end” of this world there will be a “time of trouble”. This will mean great distress and sorrow for the world of mankind. But this does not mean the destruction of this planet, for the promise is that the earth will blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1,2; Genesis 8:21,22; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:17,18; Genesis 13:15; 15:18; Acts 7:4,5) The present order of things will be destroyed, and a new order of things will be established. God’s Word will continue to be misunderstood until this age (this present evil world) is over. (Zephaniah 3:8,9) Then the darkness surrounding the true Good News will be removed (Isaiah. 25:7; Haggai 2:7). God has purposed the conversion of the world, but not during the past 2000 years. The reason why the Good News is kept secret is that his plans might be hidden from all but the truly meek and lowly at heart who respond to his call, until the due time for all to know. Our Lord was glad that these things were hidden, and thought it right for the Heavenly Father to keep them hidden from the worldly. — Matthew 11:25,26.

A Bright Future for the World!

(23) In Isaiah 29:11 it is declared prophetically that the vision of all things (Lesser) is become as the words of a sealed book. Men have turned things upside down, as was foretold (vs. 16). The world needs to be enlightened! Will the world be enlightened by missionaries being sent out in this present evil world? The facts indicate that it will never happen this way. The day in which the world will be enlightened is called in the Bible the “judgment day”. It is not a 24-hour day, but as shown in 2 Peter 3:7,8, it is a 1000 year day. During that judgment day the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. — Isaiah 26:9.
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See our study: “Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

(24) What now stands in the way of the enlightenment of world? -1- Satan the Devil puts evil thoughts and desires into men’s minds and hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) Hence, if the world is to be enlightened, Satan must be removed that he might not use his power to mislead people. (Revelation 20:2,3) -2- Imperfect missionaries now lack the power and means to accomplish the work. Worldly governments interfere. It will not be so in that Millennial day, for the entire world will then be under the control of Jesus and his authorized agents. (Daniel 2:35,44; Isaiah 11:9; Psalm 72:2-8) -3- Suitably trained teachers must be chosen. Men have thought that they could chose and train them, but only God can do that, and instead of a three or four years’ training, it takes all of a dedicated lifetime (Romans 8:18,19; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 26:9). -4- Ignorance, darkness, confusion prevail now, and there are many confusing, contradictory, false religious teachings; but in that day the knowledge of God will fill the whole earth, and all will know him. (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) The Good News message contained in the Bible will come out of its obscurity as its message is made plain (2 Corinthians. 4:4; 1 Corinthians. 11:13-15). Will God give mankind a new Bible? We do not think so. However, provisions will be made so that its books will be opened and all will be judged by the things written in those books (Revelation 20:12,13; Isaiah 29:18; John 12:46-48). God will remove the vail that is spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3). The way will then be made so plain that even a foolish man will not err therein (Isaiah 35:8). Now the Good news message is so obscure that even the wise men stumble at it (John 6:60,61). Yes, the day of judgment is coming, when Jesus will judge everyone in righteousness, and the books that now appear to be obscure will be opened and will be understood. — Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12; Isaiah 29:18.

(25) But what about those who have died — especially those who have died without ever hearing of Jesus (Jesus)? How will they benefit from this enlightenment if they are dead? God has promised that he will awaken all of these from the sleep of death. “Marvel not at this, for an hour is coming, in which all those in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have practiced good to a resurrection of life; and they that did evil, to a resurrection of judgment [Greek — krisis].” (John 5:28,29 — King James II Version). Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world (John 1:9). The light will enter their hearts also (1 Timothy 1:4). Jesus speaks of those who did not believe in his day, that they would be saved, so as to be judged anew in the last day. (John 12:47,48) God wills all men to be saved [delivered from death], and to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) The salvation spoken of here is not salvation into life for all eternity, but rather salvation [deliverance] from the death state. Having arisen from the dead, they are then taught the truth that they might live and never die again. — 1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8.

(26) Someone may ask, “Does the Bible declare that everyone will live forever?” We answer: “No.” (Psalm 18:44; 66:3) As soon as they understand about God and his purposes, many will obey him, but will still not develop the right heart attitude. With some, as they see the goodness of God and happiness righteousness brings, this feigned obedience will change to meekness and heart obedience. But others will refuse to obey at heart. “Show favor to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, in the land of uprightness will he deal falsely.” (Isaiah 26:10) Some will thus show that they are wicked at heart. For such there will be no excuse. There will then be no inherited weaknesses, and none will suffer for the sins of others; it will no longer be said that “the fathers have eaten the sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” — Jeremiah 31:27-30.

Will The World
Receive A Second Chance?

(27) Will it then be a second chance? This question could be answered yes and no, for it depends on which way you are viewing matters. We must remember that our first chance to live forever was lost for us through Adam when he disobeyed in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12,15-18). The human race that descended from Adam never received an individual chance in that trial. But in the Millennial day each person will be tried individually — and in that sense it will not be a second chance, but the FIRST real opportunity they have ever had to understand and respond to the Good news. Yet none who have had a full opportunity in this present evil world will have another one (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29). A full opportunity means one that is broad and complete, such as few have had amidst all the confusion and turmoil in this present evil world. Even in countries where the Bible is printed in abundance, children are raised with such incorrect training of mind and inclinations, and there is so much confusion as to what is and what is not right, can one honestly say that these have received any complete and absolute chance for life? Jesus said that such are not judged NOW but that they will be judged in the “last day” — that judgment day when they will be enlightened. (John 12:47,48; Isaiah 26:9; 29:18,24) This will actually be their FIRST individual chance to live forever.

(28) There is yet another reason that the Bible message is kept secret from the world of mankind. It is only by keeping it secret from the world that the world seeks to try out all its own devices separate from God. God wants to teach man a lesson concerning the vanity of life separated from him. As the wise King Solomon said concerning all of man’s own works: `Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2) `Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?’ (Ecclesiastes 6:11,12) `What profit is there for the worker in that which he works? I have seen the travail which God has given the sons of men to be exercised by it.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:9,10) Man tries to better this world in many ways. He tries one thing after another, not realizing the vanity of his efforts. All of mankind’s experimentations are being permitted by God. Due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-19), the world has been subjected to a bondage of corruption and vanity, which is only escaped through faith in Jesus (Romans 8:20,21; Ecclesiastes 1:2,14; 2:11,17; 3:19; 9:9; 12:8; 2 Peter 1:4), and every man, born through Adam is born into the world as a child of wrath, a son of disbedience, having been born in an unjust state, crooked, from which none can make himself straight, justified, thus leaving his salvation from such a condition on through Jesus. (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14,15; 7:13; Ephesians 1:1-3) Nevertheless, God is allowing man to rule over another to his own hurt, so that they will better appreciate who Jehovah is and the righteous rule that will come. (Psalm 83:18; Ecclesiastes 8:9; Isaiah 2:1-4) It is a disciplinary process that will eternally benefit all who avail themselves of Messiah’s righteous rule. While the whole world is now being subjected to this vanity by the will of God, God knows that he will bring the world of mankind out of this corruption and back into harmony with him (Romans 8:19-22). What a happy prospect for those who are now blinded by Satan’s evil influence!

(29) For a proper appreciation of the true Gospel, more is required than what has been taught by man’s traditions and creeds, even if they have proclaimed by men as “orthodox”. Jesus said that true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) It is not enough to say that you claim Jesus as your savior and lead what is considered a good moral life. Jesus said, “Not every one that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess to you, `I never knew you: depart from me, you who work illegally [outside his commands].'”

(30) In Proverbs 2:3-6, we are given some guidelines for obtaining true wisdom from above: “If you cry for discernment, lifting up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures, then you will understand the reverence of Jehovah, and find knowledge of God.” See what is required? This seeking must become the most important thing in our life. Our minds must rise above everything we see, feel and touch so that we might receive the holy spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10,12) Jesus said: “True worshipers will worship in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such who worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23,24) Without this total dedication to seeking and the doing of God’s will, one may understand a few bits and pieces here and there of God’s word, but he will not be given the more precious things of the treasures hidden in its pages. With whole-souled dedication, we will continue to seek and understand more and more each and every day. These words of our heavenly Father become to us more precious than any earthly treasure. Praise Yah!

Walking In The Light

(31) It is a mistake to suppose that those without faith, and consequent justification, should be able to have a clear appreciable understanding of truth. An appreciation of truth is given gradually to those who are justified [declared righteous] before God. The Psalmist says: “Light [truth] is sown for the righteous.” (Psalm 97:11) For each of God’s people a lamp is provided whose light dispels from his pathway much of the darkness. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Actually, there is none just, “none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) The class referred to is “justified by faith.” (Romans 5:1) This justified class is privileged to walk in the pathway that shines more and more. (Proverbs 4:18) Having this light separates them from the world of darkness around them. They see and understand things that are hidden from the world of darkness. The world cannot see or understand the true gospel with true appreciation, nor can those Christians who remain as “babes” in Christ all their lives. While it is true that the path of each individual true worshiper is a shining one, yet the special application of this statement is to the just (justified) as a class. Faithful men of old have walked in its increasing light; and the light will continue to increase beyond the present — “to the perfect day.” It is one continuous path, and the one continuous and increasing light is the greater revealment from God as His Divine Plan progresses.

(32) Nevertheless, many who believe in Christ fail to make progress in their walking in the light. They do not concern themselves with trying to understand but a few basic principles from the Bible. Because of their unfaithfulness and unconcern, they are permitted to a degree allowed to sit in darkness, when they might have been walking in the increasing light. — 2 Peter 1:5-9.

(33) To aid us to walk in this path of light, God gives us his holy spirit. If we submit to his spirit, the spirit of dedication to what he declares to be right, then it will guide us into truth through the only channel of truth that is given, that is the Bible. The holy spirit will take the things written and show them to us from the Bible itself, although in doing some other servants of Christ may be used in teaching such truths. But be careful that you do not develop a spirit to go beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6) Satan and his demons are ever actively trying persuade the followers of Jesus to accept philosophies and imaginations that appear to be light, when it is really darkness. (Isaiah 5:20; 2 Corinthians 11:14,15; Galatians 1:8; 1 Peter 5:8) Satan will use family, friends, neighbors, state powers, as well as professed Christians, in an effort to dissuade a consecrated Christian from following the light of truth as revealed in the Bible. (Matthew 10:16-42; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4; 2 Timothy 4:3) God has revealed his truth by means of his holy spirit through the prophets in the Old Testament and through Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament. (Mark 12:36; Luke 4:11; 10:21; 24:27,44; Acts 1:16; 2:33; 10:38; 28:25; Hebrews 1:1,3; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21) God, by means of his holy spirit, especially led the apostles into all the truths concerning Christ and what he said. (John 14:26; 16:4-13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2) We who live today are not apostles through whom the truths were delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) in the first century, thus we receive the truths only as related to recorded Word of God. The truths revealed to the apostles and made available to us are recorded in the Bible (the commonly-accepted 66 books) itself. (Ephesians 3:3-12; Colossians 1:25,26; 1 John 4:6) Of course, without the holy spirit, these things that are recorded will still be a mystery to us. (Mark 4:11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10) It is the Holy Scriptures alone that are able to make us wise unto salvation, and which provide the lamp that can guide us in the path through faith which in Christ Jesus, not vain philosophies that have to be imagined, added to, and read into the Scriptures, no matter how popular, revered and cherished such philosophies might be held in the tradition of men. — Psalm 119:105; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:19.

(34) Before Jesus came, the early worshipers of God knew very little about the gospel. Abraham received very vague promises about the coming blessings for all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3; 22:18) The laws and ceremonies given to the fleshly nation of Israel only gave dim shadows concerning the wonderful good news. (Colossians 2:17) Then when Jesus came, true worshipers received a great increase in light. Until then God’s people had been expecting a deliverer to come who would save the fleshly nation of Israel from its enemies and exalt them as the greatest nation on earth. When the deliverer came, however, he was so different from what most of them expected that the majority were blinded to the gospel. To them it was hidden, a secret or mystery. (Romans 11:7-10; 16:25)

The Foretold Apostasy Has Produced Strong Delusions

(35) Before Jesus died, he foretold that there would be even greater increase of light to follow. He said: “I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…and he will show you things to come.”–John 16:12,13

(36) But as Jesus foretold, it was not long before teachers arose who were teaching false doctrine. (Matthew 7:15; 24:10-12) Even before the apostles had died these false teachers had begun to deceive many. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) They had begun to teach another gospel and another Jesus other than what the apostles had taught. (Galatians 1:6,9; 5:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3,4; 2 Timothy 4:3-4) These false teachers in time corrupted the entire organization of the early church. As a result, traditions and rituals of men began to be observed, and customs from the false religions were adopted. The philosophies of the Greeks and Romans were introduced as a supplement to help understand the scriptures. As true worship became polluted with false teachings and practices, a distortion of Christianity was born, as illustrated by weeds being sown amongst the wheat. (Matthew 13:25) This popular Christianity was nothing more than the ancient pagan Roman religion with the name of Christ attached. Thus the given light was gradually hidden so that its light could not penetrate the strong delusions then prevailing. — 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

(37) Through the centuries, some have tried to break away from the traditions of men and return to God’s word. Among these were Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Wycliffe, and Knox. These called attention to the fact that the apostate church had laid aside the word of God in favor of the decrees and traditions of men. (Matthew 15:3-20) The shining light, although present in the recorded Word itself, was not generally appreciated then, but there were a few men who were walking in what light they could understand. Very few had actual access to Bible for a long time, and depended on their “priests” or others for what morsels could actually come from the written word. As some began study the bible itself, they began understand more and more that the traditions and creeds of men were not in harmony with what they reading. While many of these men discarded much of the false teachings and practices that had arisen, they still retained a large amount of the false traditions that they had learned as a result of the apostasy. The undeveloped Christian, babes in Christ, often allow carnal thoughts to influence they way they think, and find justification for such in the Bible. Thus, many who have listened to these men of God (often referred to as “reformers”), have refused to progress in understanding, and thus many seek only to believe what their favorite “reformer” taught, and fail to realize truths simply because they are thought to contradict the teachings they have accepted. Thus, they may blind themselves to many truths that might go beyond what their favorite “leader” said. They have set stumbling blocks for themselves, so that they do not progress in the way of the truth. They cling to the “traditions” of their religious fathers, without given thought as how such might not be fully in harmony with God’s word.

(38) Furthermore, although the faith itself was delivered in the first century, there are certain truths that God allows to be understood when they are due to be understood. Those who hold to tradition miss out on these truths. For instance: In Noah’s day, it was truth that God was going to bring a flood to destroy that world. For Noah to walk in the light that was then due, he had to put faith in obedience to that truth. However, Abel remained faithful without having any knowledge of that truth. So today, we would not be preaching truth if we were to preach about a coming flood. But there are other truths that are due to be understood by the just in our day. So if we have all the light that was understood several hundred years ago, or even 60 years ago, and that only, we are measurably in darkness.

A Storehouse Of Treasures

(39) The way we receive all light, however, is through the Bible! There is indeed a storehouse of knowledge contained in the Bible, providing food for the spiritually starved who will walk in its shining pathway. There is milk for the babes, and strong food for those more developed. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:14) Not only this, but we can also find food in the Bible that is suited for different seasons or conditions. Jesus told us that the faithful servant brings forth food in due season for the master’s household — “things new and old,” from the storehouse. (Luke 12:42; Matthew 13:52) If we are entirely dependent on the writings or beliefs of men who have died a long time ago, we will miss the new things being brought forth from God’s word. We might be able to bring forth many good old things, along with a degree of error, but nothing new.

(40) In addition to this, the various teachings of the popular churches conflict with each other. So much so that many have said: “The Bible is an old fiddle upon which any tune can be played.” This represents the apathy and lack of faith that prevails in our day. And no wonder! The Bible has been misrepresented and confused with human traditions. People no longer bow blindly and superstitiously in reverence to the opinions of fellow-man. They demand reason. And the true worshiper is told to always be ready to provide a reason for the hope that is in him. (I Peter 3:15) This reason should be based on the word of God as contained in the Bible. It is only this source that is able to make us wise, “that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished.” (II Timothy 3:15-17)

(41) “The path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18) That perfect day did not come in Luther’s day; nor are we yet in that perfect day. We still need to take heed to the word of prophecy, “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn.”–II Peter 1:19

(42) Not only this, we need to “walk in the light,” continue to make progress. If we don’t, the light will continue on down the path, leaving us to walk and stumble in the dark. This is what happens to many people who profess Christ. — Isaiah 42:7; Psalm 1:1; Hebrews 12:1

(43) We have the accumulated light of what is usually called the “Old Testament” as well as the “New Testament.” Yet the complete light has not yet been revealed. It will not be so revealed until that perfect day. And what is understood today is not comprehended by the world in general, but only by those who through repentance and faith in Jesus earnestly seek it. (Ephesians 1:9,10,17,18; 3:4-6; I Corinthians 1:6-7; Matthew 13:10,11,16,17; Proverbs 2:1-5) We might note that neither the prophets nor the angels understood the meaning of the prophecies that were given before Jesus came. The truths of those prophecies were kept secret until the due time for them to be understood. And even more prophecies can be understood now than in the days of the apostles. — I Peter 1:10-13; Daniel 12:8-10

(44) Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would guide his followers into all truth. This promise appears to be directed toward the apostles, and through the apostles to all Christians. While this has been fulfilled in the revelations given through the New Testament Scriptures, yet we believe that there is a further revealing yet to be accomplished in the “perfect day” spoken of in Proverbs 4:18. The revealing of truths has been gradual, little by little. Not only is this true of the justified as a class, but it is also true of each individual walking the path of light. Not everyone of God’s people understands everything revealed all at the same time. Some may understand more in one direction, while another may understand more in another direction. To illustrate, Peter was told to go to the uncircumcised Gentiles with the message of the gospel. This was something different. He at first spoke against it. Later, many of the other disciples of Jesus still did not demonstrate an understanding of the new light that had been revealed. Only the apostle Paul stood out as having a complete understanding of the adjustments in the divine arrangement revealed at that time. (Acts 10:28; 11:1-3; Galatians 2:11-1) Additionally, Paul speaks of some who are babes in Christ, and yet carnal in the way they think. — 1 Corinthians 3:1.

(45) Furthermore, the scriptures shows that we are now iving in the time when many prophecies of the Bible can be understood. Indeed, some of these prophecies tell us what we should be doing right now. Some of the prophecies have special application to us who are living now. We, therefore, need to be aware of the prophecies and their meanings for us today.
(46) There is truly a storehouse of hidden treasures for everyone within the pages of the Bible. If you are not aware of these wonderful treasures, isn’t it time for you to take the Bible and become acquainted with it? And even if you are acquainted with many things in the Bible, as you search even deeper into its hidden treasures, you could be amazed at what beautiful gems you may uncover within its pages that you did not know were there.

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Questions

(1) For whom do we find good news in the Bible?

(2) What good news is found in the Bible for those who are suffering from sickness?

(3) What conditions do all people yearn for, as described in the Bible at Revelation 21:3-5?

(4) a) What is the prevalent view of the gospel message? b) What questions are raised concerning this message?

(5) Are the churches accomplishing the mission they suppose that God wants them to do? Explain.

(6) What can be said about the world religious statistics?

(7) What can be said of the millions who do profess to believe in Christ?

(8) What does the popular Christian theology believe has happened to the billions who have lived and died without hearing any message about Jesus?

(9) According to popular Christianity, what fate awaits the billions on earth today who remain ignorant of Jesus?

(10) What brighter picture does the Bible give concerning the fate of the non-believing nations?

(11) What is the state of religions in the world today?

(12) What questions are raise concerning the vast ignorance prevalent in the world regarding Jesus and the Bible?

(13) Have we reached the time when everything in the Bible can be understood?

(14) Did Jesus speak in parables to help people understand, as many believe? Explain.

(15) Is God being cruel in making the Bible hard to understand?

(16) If God loves the human race, why doesn’t he make the Bible plain for all to understand?

(17) What are some of the scriptures that tell of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible?

(18) How does the apostle Paul show the necessity of this secretiveness concerning the divine program?

(19) What questions are raised concerning God’s desire to convert the world?

(20) If we had lived before God had given a Bible, what kind of Bible might many have expected to receive?

(21) If God is interested in converting the world, what question arises concerning the Bible, and what is needed to answer the question?

(22) a) How do we know that God is not now trying to convert the world? b) Will the world ever be converted during the reign of this “present evil world?”

(23) When will the world be converted?

(24) What hinders the enlightenment of the world in the present age?

(25) Will those who have died also be enlightened?

(26) Are we to understand that everyone will gain eternal life?

(27) Will the judgment day be a second chance for the present-day unbelievers to gain eternal life?

(28) What other reason is given in the Bible for the secretiveness connected with its message? How will this aid mankind?

(29) What is needed in order to understand the true gospel?

(30) Thus what does one have to do to understand the secrets of the Bible?

(31) Who only are able to “walk in the light”?

(32) What happens to many who receive some light but refuse to progress in it?

(33) What has been given us as an aid to “walk in the light”?

(34) Trace the increase of light up to the time of Jesus.

(35) How do we know that even more light would come after the death of Jesus?

(36) What happened to the early Christians after the death of Jesus?

(37) What happened to the shining light during the centuries that followed up to the nineteenth century?

(38) How have many missed truths when due?

(39) a) Where should truth-seekers go to be fed? b) What kinds of food may be found there? c) What happens if we center our beliefs entirely on writings or teachings of men who have died a long time ago?

(40) What condition exists in the popular churches?

(41) Have we reached the perfect day yet? If not, what do we still need to do?

(42) What happens to many who profess Christ?

(43) (a) Has the complete light yet been revealed? (b) What examples show that the revealing of light has been increasing, and to whom?

(44) Do all Christians understand all the revealed light at any given time, and what shows this?

(45) Why should we come to understand the meaning of prophecies?

(46) What invitation is open to any wishing to understand the Bible’s secrets?

Originally published around 1990; updated several times since. Updated March 2013; Last Update July 2014.

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Related:

Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
The Restoration of All Things
The Ransom for All

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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The Watchtower’s Self-Contradiction About the Ransom

The Unforgivable Sin

The Church’s Divinely-Appointed Mission

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Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment