STUDY 4—Our Lord's Return

"And He shall send Jesus Christ, which [who] before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must retain until the times of restoration of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."—Ac 3:20, 21.

That our Lord intended His disciples to understand that for some purpose, in some manner, and at some time, He would come again, is, we presume, admitted and believed by all familiar with the Scriptures.

True, Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age" (Mt 28:20), and by His Spirit and by His Word He has been with the Church continually, guiding, directing, comforting and sustaining His saints, and cheering them in the midst of all their afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the Lord'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" (Joh 14:3), He certainly referred to a second personal coming.

The specific work of the first advent was to redeem men; and that of the second is to restore, and bless, and liberate the redeemed. Having given His life a ransom for all, our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, so making reconciliation for man's iniquity. He tarries and permits "the prince of this world" to continue the rule of evil, until after the selection of "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," who, to be accounted worthy of such honor, must overcome the influences of the present evil world. Then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings secured to them by His sacrifice will be due to commence, and He will come forth to bless all families of the earth.

True, the restoring and blessing could have commenced at once, when the ransom price was paid by the Redeemer, and then the coming of Messiah would have been but one event, the reign and blessing beginning at once, as the apostles at first expected. (Ac 1:6). But God had provided "some better thing for us"—the Christian Church (Heb 11:40); hence it is in our interest that the reign of Christ is separated from the sufferings of the Head by these eighteen centuries.

This period between the first and second advents, between the ransom of all and the blessing of 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, and 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 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 the "little flock," "the body of Christ;" the first advent would not have taken place when it did, but 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 six thousand years, as well as that the cleansing and restoration of all shall be accomplished during the seventh thousand.

So 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 His "little flock" of "joint-heirs." This will account for some of 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 paid longer beforehand than men would have expected.

The Apostle informs us that Jesus has been absent from earth—in the 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. (Ac 3:21). Since the Scriptures 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 (Re 11:18) and in opposition, it must be admitted either that the Church will fail to accomplish her mission, and that the plan of God will be this 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 Gospel 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. Nay, more: He has not yet even attempted the world's conversion.

Some who can see something of the blessings due at the second advent, and who appreciate in some measure the fact that the Lord comes to bestow the grand blessing purchased by His death, fail to see this last proposition, viz.: that those in their graves have as much interest in that glorious reign of Messiah as those who at that time will be less completely under the bondage of corruption—death. But as surely as Jesus died for all, they all must have the blessings and opportunities which He purchased with His own precious blood. Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial age upon all those in their graves as well as upon those not in them; and of this we will find abundant proof, as we look further into the Lord's testimony on the subject. It is because of God's plan for their release that those in the tomb are called "prisoners of hope."

"God is love," and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish." (1Jo 4:8; Joh 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?

Again, when we read, "That was the true light that lights every man that comes into the world" (Joh 1:9), our observation says, Not so; every man has not been enlightened; we cannot see that our Lord has lighted more than a few of earth's billions. Even in this comparatively enlightened day, millions of heathen give no evidence of such enlightenment; neither did the Sodomites, nor multitudes of others in past ages.

We read that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death "for every man." (Heb 2:9). But if He tasted death for the one hundred and forty-three billions, and from any cause that sacrifice becomes efficacious to only one billion, was not the redemption comparatively a failure? And in that case, is not the Apostle's statement too broad? When again we read, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE" (Lu 2:10), and, looking about us, see that it is only to a "little flock" 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.

Another statement is, "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all." (1Ti 2:5, 6). A ransom for all? Then why should not all the ransomed have some benefit from Christ's death? Why should not all come to a knowledge of the truth, that they may believe?

Without the key, how dark, how inconsistent, these statements appear; but when we find the key to God's plan, 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 TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME." God has a due time for everything. He could have testified it to these in their past life-time; but since He did not, it proves that their due time must be future. For those who will be of the Church, the bride of Christ, and share the kingdom honors, the present is the "due time" to hear; and whosoever now has an ear to hear, let him hear and heed, and he will be blessed accordingly. Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our "due time" to hear of it for longs years afterward, and only the appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extend of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all: in God's due time it will be testified to all, and all will then have opportunity to believe and to be blessed by it.

The prevailing opinion is that death ends all probation; but there is no Scripture which so teaches; and all the above, and many more Scriptures, would be meaningless, or worse, if death ends all hope for the ignorant masses of the world.

Since God does not propose to save men on account of ignorance, but "will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1Ti 2:4); and since the masses of mankind have died in ignorance; and since "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave: (Ec 9:10); therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence His plan is, that "as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive, but each one in his own order"—The Gospel Church, the Bride, the body of Christ, first; afterward during the Millennial age, all who shall become His during that thousand years of His presence (mistranslated coming), the Lord's due time for all to know Him, from the least to the greatest.—1Co 15:22.

As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who believe in 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.

Though many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing seem to apply to Israel only, it must be remembered that they were a typical people, and hence 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, its priesthood was typical of the elect "little flock," the head and body of Christ, the "Royal Priesthood;" and the sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the "better sacrifices," fuller cleansings and real atonement "for the sins of the whole world," of which they are a part.

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 shall 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 by the mouth of all the holy prophets. And why should not the Sodomites have an opportunity to reach perfection and everlasting life as well as Israel, or as any of us? True, they were not righteous, but neither was Israel, nor were we who now hear the gospel. "There is none righteous; no, not one," aside from the imputed righteousness of Christ, who died for all. Our Lord'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 so great sinners in His sight as were the Jews, who had more knowledge. (Ge 19:24; Lu 17:29). Unto the Jews of Capernaum He said, "If the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."—Mt 11:23.

So our Lord teaches that the Sodomites did not have a full opportunity; and He guarantees them such opportunity; and He guarantees them such opportunity when He adds (Verse 24), "But I say unto you, that it shall 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 will be shown in succeeding pages. Here we merely call attention to the fact that it will be a tolerable time for Capernaum, and yet more tolerable for Sodom; because, though neither had yet had full knowledge, nor all the blessings designed to come through the "Seed," yet Capernaum had sinned against more light.

We need not wonder that Jews, Sodomites, Samaritans, and all mankind, will be ashamed and confounded when in His own "due time" God shows forth the riches of His favor. Yea, many of those who are now God's children will be confounded and amazed when they see how God so loved THE WORLD and how much His thoughts and plans were above their own.

Christian people generally believe that God's blessings are all and only for the selected Church, but now we begin to see that God's plan is wider than we had supposed, and that though He has given the Church "exceeding great and precious promises, " He has also made bountiful provision for the world which He so loved as to redeem. The Jews made a very similar mistake in supposing that all the promises of God were to and for them alone; but when the "due time" came and the Gentiles were favored, the remnant of Israel, whose hearts were large enough to rejoice in this wider evidence of God's grace, shared that increased favor, while the rest were blinded by prejudice and human tradition. Let those of the Church who now see the dawning light of the Millennial age, with its gracious advantages for all the world, take heed lest they be found in opposition to the advancing light, and so for a time be blinded to its glory and blessings.

Seeing, then, that so many of the great and glorious features of God's plan for human salvation from sin and death lie in the future, and that the second advent of our Lord Jesus is the designed first step in the accomplishment of those long promised and long expected blessings, shall 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?

Seeing that the time of evil, injustice, and death is to be brought to an end by the dominion of power which He will then exercise, and that righteousness, truth and peace are to be universal, who should not rejoice to see His day? And who that is now suffering with Christ, inspired by the precious promise that "if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him," will not lift up his head and rejoice at any evidence of the approach of the Master, knowing thereby that our deliverance and our glorification with Him draw nigh? Surely all in sympathy with His mission of blessing and His spirit of love will hail every evidence of His coming as the approach of the "great joy which shall be to all people."

STUDY 5—The Permission of Evil

Evil is that which produces unhappiness; anything which either directly or remotely causes suffering of any kind.—Webster. This subject, therefore, not only inquires regarding human ailments, sorrows, pains, weaknesses and death, but goes back of all these to consider their primary cause—sin—and its remedy.

Since sin is the cause of evil, its removal is the only method of permanently curing the malady.

No difficulty, perhaps, more frequently presents itself to the inquiring mind than the questions, Why did God permit the present reign of evil? Why did He permit Satan to present the temptation to our first parents, after having created them perfect and upright? Or why did He allow the forbidden tree to have a place among the good? Despite all attempts to turn it aside, the question will obtrude itself—Could not God have prevented all possibility of man's fall?

The difficulty undoubtedly arises from a failure to comprehend the plan of God. God could have prevented the entrance of sin, but the fact He did not should be sufficient proof to us that its present permission is designed ultimately to work out some greater good. God's plans, seen in their completeness, will prove the wisdom of the course pursued. Some inquire, Could not God, with whom all things are possible, have interfered in season to prevent the full accomplishment of Satan's design?

Doubtless He could; but such interference would have prevented the accomplishment of His own purposes. His purpose was to make manifest the perfection, majesty and righteous authority of His law, and to prove both to men and to angels the evil consequences resulting from its violation. Besides, in their very nature, some things are impossible even with God, as the Scriptures state. It is "impossible for God to lie" (Heb 6:18). "He cannot deny Himself" (2Ti 2:13). He cannot do wrong, and therefore He could not choose any but the wisest and best plan for introducing His creatures into life, even though our short-sighted vision might for a time fail to discern the hidden springs of infinite wisdom.

The Scriptures declare that all things were created for the Lord's pleasure (Re 4:11)—without doubt, for the pleasure of dispensing His blessings, and of exercising the attributes of His glorious being. And though, in the working out of his benevolent designs, He permits evil and evil doers for a time to play an active part, yet it is not for evil's sake, not because He is in league with sin; for He declares that He is "not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness." (Ps 5:4). Though opposed evil in every sense, God permits (i.e., does not hinder) it for a time, because His wisdom sees a way in which it may be made a lasting and valuable lesson to His creatures.

It is a self-evident truth that for every right principle there is a corresponding wrong principle; as, for instance, truth and falsity, love and hatred, justice and injustice. We distinguish these opposite principles as right and wrong, by their effects when put in action. That principle the result of which, when active, is beneficial and productive of ultimate order, harmony and happiness, we call a right principle; and the opposite, which is productive of discord, unhappiness and destruction, we call a wrong principle. The results of these principles in action we call good and evil; and the intelligent being, capable of discerning the right principle from the wrong, and voluntarily governed by the one or the other, we call virtuous or sinful.

This faculty of discerning between right and wrong principles is called the moral sense, or conscience. It is by this moral sense which God has given to man that we are able to judge of God and to recognize that He is good. It is to this moral sense that God always appeals to prove His righteousness or justice; and by the same moral sense Adam could discern sin, or unrighteousness, to be evil, even before he knew all its consequences. The lower orders of God's creatures are not endowed with this moral sense. A dog has some intelligence, but not to this degree, though he may learn that certain actions bring the approval and reward of his master, and certain others his disapproval. He might steal or take life, but would not be termed a sinner; or he might protect property and life, but would not be called virtuous—because he is ignorant of the moral quality of his actions.

God could have made mankind devoid of ability to discern between right and wrong, or able only to discern between right and wrong, or able only to discern and to do right; but to have made him so would have made him so would have been to make merely a living machine, and certainly not a mental image of His Creator. Or He might have made man perfect and a free agent, as He did, and have guarded him from Satan's temptation. In that case, man's experience being limited to good, he would have been continually liable to suggestions of evil from without, or to ambitions from within, which would have made the everlasting future uncertain, and an outbreak of disobedience and disorder might always have been a possibility besides which, good would never have been so highly appreciated except by its contrast with evil.

God first made His creatures acquainted with good, surrounding them with it in Eden; and afterward, as a penalty for disobedience, He gave them a severe knowledge of evil. Expelled from Eden and deprived of fellowship with Himself, God let them experience sickness, pain and death, that they might forever know evil and the inexpediency and exceeding sinfulness of sin.

By a comparison of results they came to an appreciation and proper estimate of both; "And the Lord said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." (Ge 3:22). In this their posterity share, except that they first obtain their knowledge of evil, and cannot fully realize what good is until they experience it in the Millennium, as a result of their redemption by Him who will then be their Judge and King.

The moral sense, or judgment of right and wrong, and the liberty to use it, which Adam possessed, were important features of his likeness to God. The law of right and wrong was written in his natural constitution. It was part of his nature, just as it is a part of the divine nature. But let us not forget that this image or likeness of God, this originally law-inscribed nature of man, has lost much of its clear outline nature of man, has lost much of its clear outline through the erasing, degrading influence of sin; hence it is not now what it was in the first man. Ability to love implies ability to hate; hence we may reason that the Creator could not make man in His own likeness, with power to love and to do right, without the corresponding ability to hate and to do wrong. This liberty of choice, termed free moral agency, or free will, is a part of man's original endowment; and this, together with the full measure of his mental and moral faculties, constituted him an image of his Creator. To-day, after six thousand years of degradation, so much of the original likeness has been erased by sin that we are not free, being bound, to a greater of less extent, by sin and its entailments, so that sin is now more easy and therefore more agreeable to the fallen race than is righteousness.

That God could have given Adam such a vivid impression of the many evil results of sin as would have deterred him from it, we need not question, but we believe that God foresaw that an actual experience of the evil would be the surest and most lasting lesson to serve man eternally; and for that reason God did not prevent but permitted man to take his choice, and to feel the consequences of evil. Had opportunity to sin never been permitted, man could not have resisted it, consequently there would have been neither virtue nor merit in his right-doing. God seeks such to worship Him as worship in spirit and in truth. He desires intelligent and willing obedience rather than ignorant mechanical service. He already had in operation inanimate mechanical agencies accomplishing His will, but His design was to make a nobler thing, an intelligent creature in His own likeness, a lord for earth, whose loyalty and righteousness would be based upon an appreciation of right and wrong, of good and evil.

The principles of right and wrong, as principles, have always existed, and must always exist; and all perfect, intelligent creatures in God's likeness must be free to choose either, though the right principle only will forever continue to be active. The Scriptures inform us that when the activity of the evil principle has been permitted long enough to accomplish God's purpose, it will forever cease to be active, and that all who continue to submit to its control shall forever cease to exist. (1Co 15:25, 26; Heb 2:14).

Right-doing and right-doers, only, shall continue forever.

God not only foresaw that, having given man freedom of choice, he would, through lack of full appreciation of sin and its results, accept it, but He also saw that, becoming acquainted with it, he would still choose it, because that acquaintance would so impair his moral nature that evil would gradually become more agreeable and more desirable to him than good. Still, God designed to permit evil, because, having the remedy provided for man's release from its consequences, He saw that the result would be to lead him, through experience, to a full appreciation of "the exceeding sinfulness of sin" and of the matchless brilliancy of virtue in contrast with it—teaching him the more to love and honor his Creator, who is the source and fountain of all goodness, and forever to shun that which brought so much woe and misery. So the final result will be greater love for God, and greater hatred of all that is opposed to His will, and consequently the firm establishment in everlasting righteousness of all such as shall profit by the lessons God is not teaching through the permission of sin and correlative evils. However, a wide distinction should be observed between the indisputable fact that God has permitted sin, and the serious error of some which charges God with being the author and instigator of sin. The latter view is both blasphemous and contradictory to the facts presented in the Scriptures. Those who fall into this error generally do so in an attempt to find another plan of salvation than that which God has provided through the sacrifice of Christ as our ransom-price. If they succeed in convincing themselves and others that God is responsible for all sin and wickedness and crime, and that man as an innocent tool in His hands was forced into sin, then they have cleared the way for the theory that not a sacrifice for our sins, nor mercy in any form, was needed, but simply and only JUSTICE. So, too, they lay a foundation for another part of their false theory, viz., universalism, claiming that as God caused all the sin and wickedness and crime in all, He will also cause the deliverance of all mankind from sin and death. And reasoning that God willed and caused the sin, and that none could resist Him, so they claim that when He shall will righteousness all will likewise be powerless to resist Him. But in all such reasoning, man's noblest quality, liberty of will or choice, the most striking feature of his likeness to his Creator, is entirely set aside; and man is theoretically degraded to a mere machine which acts only as it is acted upon. If this were the case, man, instead of being the lord of earth, would be inferior even to insects; for they undoubtedly have a will or power of choice. Even the little ant has been given a power of will which man, though by his greater power he may oppose and thwart, cannot destroy.

Many have imbibed the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture, whereas nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the penalty. The favor or blessing of God to His obedient children is life—continuous life—free from pain, sickness and every other element of decay and death. Adam was given this blessing in the full measure, but was warned that he would be deprived of this "gift" if he failed to render obedience to God—"In the day that you eat thereof, dying, you shall die." He knew nothing of a life in torment, as the penalty of sin. Life everlasting is nowhere promised to any but the obedient. Life is God's gift, and death, the opposite of life, is the penalty He prescribes.

God assures us that as condemnation passed upon all in Adam, so He has arranged for a new head, father or life-giver for the race, into whom all may be transferred by faith; and that as all in Adam shared the curse of death, so all in Christ will share the blessing of life, being justified by faith in His blood. (Ro 5:12, 18, 19). So seen, the death of Jesus, the undefiled, the sinless one, was a complete settlement toward God of the sin of Adam. As one man had sinned, and all in him had shared his curse, his penalty, so Jesus, having paid the penalty of that one sinner, bought not only Adam, but all of his posterity—all men—who by heredity shared his weaknesses and sins and the penalty of these—death. Our Lord, "the man Christ Jesus," Himself unblemished, approved, and with a perfect seed or race in him, unborn, likewise untainted with sin, gave His all of human life and title as the full ransom-price for Adam and the race or seed in him when sentenced.

And so it is written: "As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive." Corrected translation, 1Co 15:22.

Those who can appreciate this feature of God's plan, which, by condemning all in one representative, opened the way for the ransom and restoration of all by one Redeemer, will find in it the solution of many perplexities. They will see that the condemnation of all in one was the reverse of an injury: it was a great favor to all when taken in connection with God's plan for providing justification for all through another one's sacrifice. Evil will be forever extinguished when God's purpose in permitting it shall have been accomplished, and when the benefits of the ransom are made co-extensive with the penalty of sin. It is impossible, however, to appreciate rightly this feature of the plan of God without a full recognition of the sinfulness of sin, the nature of its penalty—death, the importance and value of the ransom which our Lord Jesus gave, and the positive and complete restoration of the individual to favorable conditions, conditions under which he will have full and ample trial, before being adjudged worthy of the reward (lasting life), or of the penalty (lasting death).

In view of the great plan of redemption, and the consequent "restoration of all things," through Christ, we can see that blessings result through permission of evil which, probably, could not otherwise have been so fully realized.

It seems clear that substantially the same law of God which is now over mankind, obedience to which has the reward of life, and disobedience the reward of death, must ultimately govern all of God's intelligent creatures; and that law, as our Lord defined it, is briefly comprehended in the one word, Love. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." (Lu 10:27). Ultimately, when the purposes of God shall have been accomplished, the glory of the divine character will be manifest to all intelligent creatures, and the temporary permission of evil will be seen by all to have been a wise feature in the divine policy. Now, this can be seen only by the eye of faith looking onward through God's Word at the things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began—the restoration of all things.

STUDY 6—The Day of Judgment

"God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteous by that man whom He hath ordained"—"Jesus Christ, the righteous." "For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."—Ac 17:31; 1Jo 2:1; Joh 5:22.

A very vague and indefinite idea prevails in regard to the day of judgment.

The term judgment signifies more than simply the rendering of a verdict. It includes the idea of a trial, as well as a decision based upon that trial. And this is true not only of the English word judgment, but also of the Greek word which it translates.

The term day, both in the Scriptures and in common usage, though most frequently used to represent a period of twelve or twenty-four hours, really signifies any definite or special period of time. For instance, we speak of Noah's day, Luther's day.

Then again we read of the "day of Christ," the "day of judgment," and "His day"—terms applicable to the Millennial age, in which Messiah will reign over, rule and judge the world in righteousness, granting trial as well as rendering sentence. And of that period it is written: He shall judge the world in righteousness, and in His day shall show who is that blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Ac 17:31; 1Ti 6:15).

Why any should suppose this day of judgment to be of but twelve or twenty-four hours, while recognizing the wider meaning of the word day in other similar cases, is beyond comprehension, except upon the supposition that they have been influenced by tradition, without proper evidence or investigation.

Those who will carefully consult a complete concordance of the Bible with reference to the Day of Judgment, and note the kind and amount of work to be accomplished within that period, will soon see the absurdity of the common view, and the necessity for giving to the term day its wider significance.

The first great judgment [trial and sentence] was at the beginning, in Eden, when the whole human race, as represented in its head, Adam, stood on trial before God. The result of that trial was the verdict—Guilty, disobedient, unworthy of life; and the penalty inflicted was death—"Dying you shall die." (Ge 2:17, margin). And so "In Adam all die." That trial time in Eden was the world's first judgment day, and the decision of the Judge (Jehovah) has ever since been enforced.

But God has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world individually. We are informed that when God gives the world this individual trial it will be under Christ as Judge, whom Jehovah will honor because of His obedience even unto death for our redemption. God has highly exalted Him, even to the divine nature, that He may be a Prince and a Savior (Ac 5:31), that He may be able to recover from death and grant judgment to all whom He purchased with His own precious blood. God has committed all judgment unto the Son, and has given Him all power in heaven and in earth.—Joh 5:22.

It is, then, the highly exalted, glorified Christ, who so loved the world as to give His life as its ransom-price, who is to be the Judge of the world in its promised future trial. And it is Jehovah Himself who has appointed Him to that office, for that very purpose. Since such are the plain declarations of the Scriptures, there is nothing to dread, but on the contrary there is great cause for rejoicing on the part of all, in looking forward to the Judgment Day. The character of the Judge is a sufficient guarantee that the judgment will be just and merciful, and with due consideration for the infirmities of all, until the willing and obedient are brought back to the original perfection lost in Eden.

This coming judgment will be on exactly the same principles as the first. The same law of obedience will be presented, with the same reward of life, and the same penalty of death. And as the first trial had a beginning, progressed, and culminated with a sentence, so also will the second; and the sentence will be life to the righteous, and death to the unrighteous. The second trial will be more favorable than the first, because of the experience gained under the results of the first trial. Unlike the first trial, the second trial will be one in which every man will stand the test for himself alone, and not for another. None then will die because of Adam's sin, or because of inherited imperfections. It shall no more be said, "The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge; but he that eats the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." "The soul that sins, it shall die." (Eze 18:4; Jer 31:29, 30). And it will be true of the world then, as it is of the Church now, that a man will not be judged according to that which he hath not, but according to that which he hath. (2Co 8:12). Under the reign of Christ, mankind will be gradually educated, trained and disciplined until they reach perfection. And when they have reached perfection, perfect harmony with God will be required, and any who then fall short of perfect obedience will be cut off, being judged unworthy of life. The sin which brought death to the race through Adam was simply one disobedient act; but by that act he fell from his perfection. God had a right to demand perfect obedience of him, since he was created perfect; and He will demand the same of all men when the great work of restoring them is complete. None will be permitted to have everlasting life who then in the slightest degree fall short of perfection. To fall short of perfection, then, will be to sin willfully against full light and perfect ability.

Any who sin willfully, against full light and ability, will perish in the second death. And should any one, during that age of trial, under its full blaze of light, spurn the offered favors, and make no progress toward perfection for a hundred years, he will be reckoned unworthy of life and will be "cut off," though at a hundred years he would be in the period of comparative childhood. So it is written of that day: "As a lad shall one die a hundred years old; and as a sinner shall be accursed he who dies at a hundred years old." (Isa 65:20—Lesser). All must have at least one hundred years of trial; and, if not so obstinate as to refuse to make progress, their trial will continue throughout the entire day of Christ, reaching a culmination only at its close.

The conclusion of the world's coming judgment is clearly shown in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46), in Re 20:15; 21:8 and in 1Co 15:25. These and other Scriptures show that at its close the two classes will have been completely separated—the obedient and the disobedient; those in harmony with the letter and the spirit of God's law, and those out of harmony with it.

We do not wish to be understood as ignoring the present responsibility of the world, which every man has, according to the measure of light enjoyed, whether it be much or little, whether it be the light of nature or of revelation. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good," and "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." (Pr 15:3; Ec 12:14). The good and the evil deeds of the present time will receive a just recompense of reward either now or hereafter. "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment, and some they follow after." (1Ti 5:24). No others than the Lord's favored "little flock" have as yet sufficient light to incur the final penalty, the second death.

Under the sophistries of the great deceiver, Satan, both the world and the Church nominal have been robbed of the blessed assurances of the coming time of righteous judgment. They know that the Bible tells of a coming judgment day, but they regard it with only fear and dread; and because of this fear, there is to them no more unwelcome tidings than that the day of the Lord is at hand. They put it far away from them, and do not wish to hear it even mentioned. They have no idea of the blessings in store for the world under that glorious reign of Him whom God hath appointed to judge the world in righteousness.

Among the greatest of the blinding influences which Satan has devised to keep men in ignorance of the truth regarding the judgment day have been the errors which have crept into the creeds and hymn books of the various religious sects. Many have come to esteem these errors as of paramount importance to the Word of God.

How differently did the prophets and apostles regard that promised day of judgment! Note the exultant prophetic utterance of David (1Ch 16:31-34). He says: "Let the heavens be glad, And let the earth rejoice; And let men say among the nations, Jehovah reigns.

Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; Let the fields rejoice, and all that are therein.

Then shall the trees of the wood sing aloud At the presence of Jehovah, Because He comes to judge the earth.

Oh give thanks unto Jehovah, for He is good; For His mercy endures forever."

To the same day the Apostle also points, assuring us that it will be a glorious and desirable day, and that for it the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together—waiting for the great Judge to deliver and to bless the world, as well as to exalt and glorify the Church—Ro 8:21, 22.

In Joh 5:28, 29 a precious promise for the world of a coming judgment-trial for life everlasting is, by a mistranslation, turned into a fearful imprecation. According to the Greek, they that have done evil—that have failed of divine approval—will come forth unto resurrection [raising up to perfection] by judgments, "stripes," disciplines.—See the Revised Version.

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