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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
It would appear that all are more quick to apprehend, and less likely to soon forget the outward visible evidences and manifestations that we are in the day of the Lord, than the no less sure, and even more important transactions not so apparent to the natural mind. For instance, many seem to realize and to be deeply impressed with the yearly accumulating evidences that we are in „the time of trouble” foretold as one of the prominent features of the day of the Lord’s presence; and they see that it has gathered force, and will with every successive wave as it approaches the great climax of „trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” But many seem to see less clearly, and to more quickly forget another phase of the trouble of this day, which in many respects much more deeply concerns the saints. And though we have repeatedly called attention to it before, it is expedient for you that we again put you in remembrance of these deeply important matters.
We refer to the trouble upon the Church—the testing, the shaking, the melting and disintegrating fiery trial, which is to test every professed child of God—the battle between truth and error, between light and darkness, which is the Church’s share in the „battle of the great day of God Almighty,”—a fire, in which the wood, hay and stubble of error shall be entirely consumed; and from which there shall remain only the gold, silver, and precious stones of truth—a battle in which not only error shall fall forever before the truth, but in which all controlled by error and lacking the armor of truth, shall fall.
We do not say that those who will fall shall be utterly and forever cast down; thank God for the good hope that so many of them as shall fall into the ditch because of the blinding errors of the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), though they shall thus be proved unworthy of a place among the overcomers who receive the grand prize, shall nevertheless ultimately be recovered from the snare of the adversary, and caused to see clearly—being brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth and freed from the blindings of false teachings.
Their falling will not be accidental but according to a definitely arranged plan. The trials will come in such manner as will serve to test and prove the faithful and wholly consecrated. God has provided in his Word an armament full and complete for all the truly consecrated; and those who are such will take heed; and if they take heed they „shall never fall,” but receive an abundant entrance into the kingdom.—2 Pet. 1:3-11.
Aside from Paul’s statement of the fiery trials of this day in which every man’s faith-structure will be tried by fire (1 Cor. 3:13), and his other statement that we shall need the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand in this evil day (Eph. 6:13), we have Peter’s statement that the judgment or trial of this day shall begin first with the house of God and extend to all others; in this he also intimates that only the saints will stand the test, while all others will fall. Aside from these our Lord’s words also show that we must watch, and that the deceptions of this day will be sufficient to deceive if it were possible the very elect. Furthermore we have the symbolic representations of this trouble, etc., in a very striking picture in the Psalms. The ninety-first psalm describes in figures of speech, both the nominal and the real Church during this day of trouble. The arrows of sarcasm will pierce some, and the pestilence of infidelity and darkness will waylay others; and the destructive and subversive teachings of „science falsely so-called,” claiming to be at its very zenith, its noontide of light and glory, will sap the strength of others, and cause them to waste away, so that those who shall be able to stand, will be as one to a thousand who will fall.—See verses 5-7.
The cause of the protection of those who do not fall is stated:—They make the Most High their habitation; they live in God; they abide under the shadow of the Almighty; their trust is in Him and not in self, nor in the arm of flesh. Verses 1,2,9,14.
The means God will use for helping and keeping this class from falling is clearly stated. The Lord will provide assistance through his messengers or servants, and by these the FEET or last members of the body of Christ shall be helped and kept from falling; for they shall sustain, strengthen and uphold them by the word of truth. In this way God will provide help for every true member of the body, providing them with the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand, and having done all, to stand: as it is written, His truth shall be the shield and buckler of all such, and he shall give a message to his messengers concerning or relating to them.—Verses 11,12,4.
Many who can see the world’s time of trouble as already begun, fail to see that this trouble and trial upon the Church has not only begun, but is much farther advanced than the labor troubles.
So far as the nominal Church in general is concerned, though we can see the trouble and testing coming upon it, yet we see that the vast majority of its membership is as yet too soundly asleep to stumble. They must get awake before they can stumble over anything. And while they are getting awake gradually and beginning to think and reason, the various agencies for their stumbling and fall are fast shaping themselves. The stumbling stone, strange to say, is Christ Jesus. He shall be not only a sacred hiding place for some (Psa. 32:7-9; 119:114), but also for a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.—Isa. 8:14.
The two houses of Israel here referred to are evidently the fleshly and the spiritual houses. The nominal fleshly house stumbled at the first advent, and nominal spiritual Israel is to similarly stumble during the second advent—a remnant only in either case stands the test, while the great mass stumble. (Matt. 15:14; Rom. 9:27; 11:5.) The prophetic statement cannot refer to the ten and two tribes as two houses of Israel; for really that was a split in the one house or family of Israel. Furthermore, in the trial in which the stumbling occurred, the Master addressed himself to the lost sheep of the house (not houses) of Israel. The ten tribes which split off (2 Chron. 10:16,17) have since been called the lost tribes, and if they are referred to in the prophecy as another separate house of Israel from those who stumbled, the question would be, When will that ten-tribe house stumble? It must be still future if they are the other „house.” But no; all Israel was represented by the one house which stumbled at the first advent (2 Chron. 11:13-17), and the other house is evidently the Gospel Church nominal,—Christendom—whose fall, under the figure of Babylon, is so graphically portrayed in our Lord’s revelations of the future, from which also God’s people are called to come out, that they fall not but may be enabled to stand.—Rev. 18:4.
A careful examination will show, too, that the two houses stumbled and fell over the same rock, for similar reasons, though at different times. Jesus testified that the Jewish house fell partly because they had substituted human traditions and were following human leaders and parties instead of God and his Word. And so it is now: the Word of God is made void, robbed of its real force and power by human creeds and traditions. Hence the people are easily ensnared and deceived, whereas they should be in knowledge men, thoroughly furnished, and able to teach God’s plan, instead of being babes, unskillful in the Word, liable to be carried about by every windy doctrine. The thousands who shall fall for every one able to stand in this evil day, is not out of proportion to the large number of unskillful babes, compared to the few who have grown up into him in all things, which is the only head over all, Christ. Heb. 5:12-14.
Fleshly Israel stumbled over the CROSS of Christ, and it seems astounding to think that the second Israel is to stumble over the same. When one remembers how the cross has for centuries been the symbol of all that is holy and good, that its very shape has become sacred, that it has been lifted before the people upon church spires, worn upon the person, and pictured by artists and poets, it does seem astonishing and almost incredible that the great nominal Church should ever stumble over the cross. Nevertheless such is to be the case.
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The Apostle Paul declares the cross of Christ to be the great stumbling block of all classes. To the Jew, schooled under the Law to attempt to do his best to serve God, the cross of Christ became a stumbling block, because they could not realize that that which they had for centuries been trying to accomplish for themselves, by an attempted keeping of the law, should now be handed to them as a free gift. Proud of their own supposed holiness, attainments, and ability, in the matter of keeping God’s law, and thus justifying themselves before God, they overlooked the fact that their yearly cleansing was by the typical blood of beasts, on a typical Day of Atonement. And seeing no necessity for a sacrifice for their sins, they were offended by the bare suggestion that they needed a sin-offering to make them acceptable with God, and hence they stumbled over the cross. „Israel which followed after righteousness [justification] attained not … because they sought it not through faith, but as attainable through works of the law. For they struck against the stumbling stone—as it is written.”—Rom. 9:31-33.
The Apostle says again, „The Jews require a sign and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” The Jews, claiming to be God’s children, would have walked by sight if God had forced the matter upon their attention in a manner not requiring faith; and the Greeks, the learned of the world, would have become followers of Christ, had the plan of salvation been more consistent with their worldly wisdom. But, continues Paul, „we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a STUMBLINGBLOCK, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” For the preaching of the CROSS is to the perishing world foolishness; but to us being saved, IT is the power of God.—1 Cor. 1:22-24,17,18. Compare Gal. 5:1-11.
The church, up to the present time, while it has held and advanced many errors for over eighteen centuries, has held firmly to the doctrine of redemption through the precious blood of Christ. Yet they have held to it blindly, and generally without even an attempt to understand the philosophy of the wondrous plan. The doctrine being advanced by the clergy and also plainly stated in the Scriptures, and the mass of the church being accustomed to accept the teaching of the clergy without investigation, the doctrine of the cross, redemption, has for these reasons met with little open opposition except from the world, since the days of Apostles, until very recently. It has not only been accepted by the church nominal, but gradually the civilized world, under the influence of the church, has also assented to the doctrine, though blindly; and if they have not professed faith in it before, they frequently do so when about to die.
But of very recent years a change has been coming over public sentiment both in and out of the church, caused by the general increase of knowledge in this Day of the Lord. The former authority and prestige of the nominal church, and its teachers, and many errors, are fast giving way, as the world is beginning to reason—not from a Scriptural standpoint however, but from the standpoint of their own ideas. And of course from such a standpoint, and failing entirely to understand the grand design of the divine plan, the cross of Christ, redemption, ransom, through his precious blood, is foolishness, and is discarded with, and as a part of the rubbish of error. This being the world’s conclusion, and the nominal church being composed largely of the world, and the balance being mere „babes in Christ,” utterly ignorant of the plan of God, and taught from earliest infancy the lessons of worldly conformity, the great mass of the nominal church is just ready to stumble over the cross, as its prototype the first house, Israel after the flesh, did. They will conceive God’s favor without a ransom, while his favor in the ransom they will stumble over and reject.
Having learned to think and reason on other subjects, just as fast as they get awake and begin to think and reason upon religious subjects, they are being confronted by this question: If the penalty of sin is everlasting torture, how can we understand the statements of church creeds and the Bible, when they declare that Jesus became our substitute, or ransom, and suffered in our stead, the just for the unjust to secure for us justification and a return to divine favor? Would not this imply that he must suffer eternal torture, IF that were our penalty?
All who can and will think at all, must concede that either one or the other of these doctrines (eternal torture, or ransom) must be erroneous, and must be discarded; and observation assures us that nine out of ten, or as the Scriptures put it, a thousand to one, will stumble and reject the cross of Christ. Many will hold firmly to the unscriptural idea of everlasting torture as the wages of sin; while others, carrying to an extreme the opposite of their former false ideas of divine wrath against sin, conclude that there is no penalty against sin, to require a ransom. They thus overlook entirely the penalty pronounced against sin, namely, death, and the proof of ransom contained in the fact that Christ died for our sins—the just one for the sinful to bring us [back] to a state of acceptability before God. In a word, the revulsion caused by seeing the error of the horrible and unscriptural idea of eternal torture, leads them to ignore the plain statement of Scripture that „The wages of sin is death,” and also that eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23.)—through his sacrifice finished on the cross. Nor should we be greatly surprised at this, when we remember the words of Hebrews 5:14.
Within the past eight years, the enemies of the cross of Christ have multiplied theories supported by deceptive sophistries, the object of which appears to be any thing, or any theory, to disprove the fact that Jesus’ death was the ransom (corresponding price) for all. For though these theories are contradictory of each other, they never oppose each other; nor need they, seeing they have the one aim.
The theories advanced to fill the place of the cross are various enough to suit the crotchets of any and every class anxious to get rid of it. And many of the blinded followers accept all no-ransom theories, ignorant of and blinded to their contradictory character.
ONE NO-RANSOM THEORY
claims that Jehovah is bound in justice to save men, and that since justice requires their salvation, no ransom-sacrifice was necessary. The theory implies of course, that God has been doing his creatures an injustice in punishing what he calls sin in them, for which in reality he only was to blame; for as they claim (rejecting, or rather perverting the account in Genesis), God created man imperfect, and he could not avoid sinning. They claim, to the contrary of Scripture, that Adam’s act was one of obedience to a law implanted by the Creator, and so with all sin.
Hence the claim of this theory is, that God being the real author of sin, he sooner or later must do men the justice of releasing them from the penalty of that which they claim he only was responsible for. Thus they would make it appear that for six thousand years God has not only condemned and punished mankind unjustly for evil, for which he himself was the responsible or guilty one, but they insist that now his JUSTICE, backed by sympathy, is about to conquer him, and that he will compensate men for the injustice and false condemnation of the past by untold blessings in the future. But we ask if such a God-dishonoring view were correct—if it were true that God has injured and dealt unjustly with his creatures for six thousand years, what guarantee can be given of reform on his part? Is not proof of such reform wholly lacking? Does not God himself say, I am the same, I change not? Ah, but say they, he has promised to restore mankind. Yes, we answer, but what confidence could be placed in the promises of an unjust being? None; justice and truth are dependent qualities, injustice and untruth go hand in hand, while justice and truth are twins. If these theorists prove, to their own satisfaction, that God has been unjust, it is folly for them to rely upon the promises of such a being. They make him a liar in any event; for they say that he calls mankind sinners, whereas they reason (falsely) that he alone is the transgressor. Of course with this view there is no place for the ransom; for at most the cross, the death of Jesus, would then be only an expression of sorrow and repentance on God’s part for having wronged his creatures; a show of his love by which he desires to win back mankind’s love and respect. In such a view, Jesus sacrifice was God’s offering to man and not for man’s sin.
A SECOND NO-RANSOM THEORY
claims that God’s course in condemning mankind was just, but that his love is superior to his justice, and that, though justice has held out in the past, during six thousand years, the time for love to conquer is at hand. Here again the fallen perverted judgment reasons of God from its fallen standpoint, and as a parent might allow his love for his child to conquer his justice and reverse his threats, so they reason of God, and confidently they ask—Is not the love of God greater than that of man? Aye, we answer, God in all his qualities is infinitely greater than fallen man, but as his love is greater than ours, so his justice is greater than ours, and more so, because in all his loss man has held to love beyond any other feature of his original likeness to his Creator. Even the brute creation have held to love also as their strong love of their offspring proves. Hence we say that God’s justice is pre-eminently higher than man’s.
But as we have heretofore shown, God’s attributes are not at warfare, the one conquering the other; and it is only our fallen state that makes it so with us. The Wisdom, Power, Love and Justice
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of God, each being perfect and operating in unison, He never has necessity for a conflict with himself. But this theory of overbalancing love, has no use for the cross, no use for the ransom, and sees no necessity for a corresponding price. It claims that God’s love conquers and pays no price to justice for the sinner, and scorns the sentiment that—
„Jesus died and paid it all,
All the debt we owed.”
This theory seeks to cover its deformity by much talk about the love of God and many direct and indirect slurs upon his justice. By magnifying the love of God at the expense of his justice, they cloak themselves as angels [messengers] of light and love, while touching a sympathetic cord in the hearts of those so long accustomed to false ideas of God’s plan, which exaggerated his justice to fiendish cruelty, and hid his love almost entirely.
But blind as the other, only in another direction, these love theorists ignore the fact that though for the past six thousand years God’s justice has held full sway over the race of sinners, and sickness, pain, sorrow and death in a thousand forms have caused the whole creation to groan and travail in pain together, yet God’s LOVE has offered no protest against it. In fact his love has been manifested only once, and that in the very case which these theorists deny: namely, in the ransom. In this and nowhere else in all the past, was manifested the Love of God toward us: because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. God has loved the world always; but his love has been vailed, not manifested except by this one act. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [hilasmos—satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins. „He was manifested to take away our sin.”—1 John 3:5; 4:9,10.
How blind are they who, from past history and from past experience, have learned nothing; and while rejecting the efficacy of the one act manifesting love, claim that in God’s character love over-balances justice and conquers it. Ah, though the past and present are one continuous chastisement, enforcing the lesson that God is just, and will by no means CLEAR [excuse] the guilty, the future alone must reveal God’s love and must show his wisdom; for those whom he could not justly clear, his wisdom and love have rescued by redemption, and only the future will reveal to the world what through his Word, God hath even now made known unto his saints—that „the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—1 Tim. 2:5,6.
A THIRD NO-RANSOM THEORY
runs on this wise: All that God demands of man is that he shall do the best he can to live a righteous (moral) life, and whoever does this is acceptable to God, whether he knows Jesus or not. This doctrine of the fall, say they, is ridiculous and absurd, and passages of Scripture teaching thus [for instance Gen. 3, Rom. 5:15-19, etc.] should be ignored as the mistaken ideas of a more ignorant age than ours; or, as others say, as false statements given of God because of human ignorance. These theorists will praise the character of Jesus, and commend it to all men as an example of self-denial for the good of others, though they do not advise that other men should do as he did, but rather that they should follow in a general way his teachings without going to the foolish extreme to which they consider that he went. These, like the others, entirely ignore the ransom without attempting a critical explanation of the Bible statements regarding that feature of Jesus’ work; and while speaking of him as a Saviour, they mean nothing more by that term than when it is applied to other notables; as for instance, Abraham Lincoln, who is styled the saviour of his country, because during the civil war he was largely instrumental in preserving or saving the union by breaking down the secession of the Southern States. When these theorists speak of Jesus as the Saviour and Redeemer, they mentally attach to those words the idea of deliverer or teacher merely, and not the Scriptural idea of Ransomer, as well as Leader and Deliverer.
These, with a look of compassion for the ignorance of the hearer will explain, that God has from time to time raised up great teachers among various peoples, as he raised up Jesus among the Jews; and that these have all been saviours, in the sense that by both their teachings and examples they delivered many from degrading vices and immoralities injurious both to mind and body. In a list of such saviours, such names as those of Socrates, Confucius, Zoroaster, Moses and Mahomet, would stand side by side with that of Jesus. Is it any wonder that such a theory is esteemed by the carnally minded, as „broad” and „liberal” and „advanced”? It removes at once the „stumbling-block” and foolish feature—the CROSS—and exhorts men to follow any good exemplar, whether Jesus or any other, and teaches them to depend for acceptance before God not upon the merits of Christ, made applicable to them through his sacrificial death, but upon their own merit and righteousness.—Compare Rom. 10:3 and 5:10. And no wonder that such a view is popular among those who in pride of heart scorn to receive the gift of God as an unmerited favor.
A FOURTH NO-RANSOM THEORY
claims that the life and trials and temptations of Jesus, were really deceptions; that all the while he was a spirit being, merely using the flesh as a covering like his clothing. Really, they claim, he was not „made flesh,” and did not take our nature, but merely appeared to do so, appeared or pretended to be tempted, pretended sorrow and pain and death in order to set men an EXAMPLE. Of course these cannot admit the force of the ransom [antilutron—a corresponding price]; for according to this theory there was no real correspondence between Jesus and men. And when they claim that he was a great and worthy example, they seemingly forget two things: first, that a life of fraud and deception would not be a proper example; and secondly, while claiming that Jesus was sinless, they claim that his life was an example for all the world, of how to put away sin. But how could he who knew no sin be an example of putting it away? Ah, but say these, the Apostle says, „He died unto sin once;” and since we are to follow in his footsteps, should not we also, die unto sin? That is to say, should we not regard his life as a battle with sin, and should we not esteem that by such
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an example he profits us, and not as a ransom or sacrifice for our sins?
Yes, yes, we see; having taken away the foundation of faith, the ransom-sacrifice, they are entirely confused in the use of Scripture language. When the Apostle says, „He died unto [or because of] sin once,” he refers to the fact that sin and condemnation had passed upon all the race through Adam; and because of that fact Christ died, laid down, surrendered his life, and became the victim of sin’s penalty, death, in order that thus he might redeem all from under that lasting penalty. And though we were dead [guilty and condemned], those who realize his perfect work, are to reckon themselves as released, set free, and no longer subject to sin and death, but as though made alive from the dead through Christ’s sacrifice. And henceforth we should realize ourselves justified freely from all things, and enabled to present our justified selves (not our sins) a sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable through Christ’s cleansing redemption.
He put away or expiated our sins when he gave himself a ransom for all. And since he did not have, and hence did not put away sin from himself, it follows that he could not be an example to men, of how to put away their own sins by sacrifice.
Jesus’ sacrifice consisted not in resisting sin; sin is an unlawful thing in any, hence to resist it could not be a sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus consisted not in abstaining from sin, (though he did so abstain), but in the surrender of the rights and privileges legally and properly his,—even unto death. He made his soul [being, existence] an offering for sin—our sin. And those who follow his example should not imagine that their efforts to resist sin (though proper) are any part or share in the sacrifice of Christ. But, putting away sin so far as we are able, and realizing that all our sins past and weaknesses present, are fully covered by Jesus’ sacrifice, such have been invited during the Gospel Age to follow Jesus’ example and deny themselves legitimate pleasures and privileges in their endeavors to serve the truth, honor God, and bless their fellow creatures; and they are promised that if thus now conformed to the image and example of God’s Son, they shall by and by be with him and like him and share his glory.
This class of no-ransom theorists, though fully aware of the meaning of the words ransom and redeem, as used in the Bible, ignobly give out the impression that these words found in many texts, are not in open and direct conflict with their theory. They give this impression, not so much by what they say on the subject, as by the inference they give by freely quoting the very texts which pointedly and directly contradict their position. Satan has long found bluffing a successful plan with many.
A FIFTH NO-RANSOM THEORY
and one into which the other theories all seem more or less to merge, might be termed a Modified Evolution Theory. One of the advocates of this theory effects to be a holiness and faith paper, impressing this every month upon its readers by publishing a diary list of donations
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of which the following is a sample:—”An offering, $2.44 from England, has been the only provision for the entire week.” In explanation of this donation, a Scripture is misapplied thus: „Surely the isles shall wait for me; and the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls and their kings shall minister unto thee.”
We have great sympathy with a true life of faith and true faith homes, but remembering the Apostle’s words, „Hast thou faith, have it to thyself” (Rom. 14:22); and Jesus’ words, „When thou prayest enter into thy closet … and pray to thy Father which is in secret. … Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites … when thou fastest anoint thy head and wash thy face that thou appear not unto men to fast,” etc. We can have no sympathy with the above form of begging misnamed—a life of faith. However, some are deceived by such pretensions as others were at our Lord’s first advent. And for the same reason that our Lord spoke plainly, we speak plainly, namely, because some deceived by these methods, are ready to swallow their teachings without examination, and they, like the Pharisees, are making void the Word of God through their theories while claiming great reverence for it.
In view of what we have said, you should not be surprised to learn that the journal we describe, has its outside covered with texts of Scripture as well as the headline of every page, while in the manner illustrated below, it seeks to make void the Word of God by coupling quotations from it with its own teachings, directly opposed to it.
Under the head of Dispensational Seed, it first quotes John 12:24,* and then proceeds to ignore and deny the ransom, in a most subtle manner, and applies the above text not to our Lord alone, but to many others of whom he was one. Thus instead of Jesus’ death being the one and only ransom, it was but like that of others—one of the steps, of dispensational advancement. It says: „The Bible history gives several epochs of spiritual unfoldment [another way of saying evolution, one less grating to the ear of some, and more likely to catch the unwary] corresponding to the several days of natural creation. The first spiritual day extended from Adam to Noah, and the development of character was general. … The same spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters when the earth was without form and void, brooded over humanity and operated in harmony with the higher human forces, acting as a seed-force to bring the moral chaos of the first day of spiritual creation into form, life and spiritual consciousness. … Noah was the first ripe man [seed] that brought about a dispensational revolution in moral character. … He was the representative character of natural and spiritual forces in equilibrium.” [In proof of this the quotation from Scripture is given.] „Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations.”
*Those interested might do well to refer to the treatment of this text, in the TOWER of February, 1885, after reading this article.
„Second Day. The spiritual forces evolved by Noah, ripened as dispensational seed in Abraham. … He was brought into corresponding environments that advanced and perfected his spiritual character.
„Third Day. The spiritual conditions already evolved and appropriated, ripened in Moses. … He was a hidden man known and understood better by his God, than the murmuring people HE GAVE HIS LIFE TO ELEVATE. … Thus he proved himself equal to a great dispensational revolution.”
„Fourth Day. John the Baptist was the next representative man that characterized a new spiritual creation. … He adjusted his life to the higher forces, so that he fulfilled all righteousness.”
„Fifth Day. Jesus was the NEXT and LAST representative seed-man of Bible history. … Jesus embodied into organic life the new factor or spiritual forces. … All preceding spiritual conditions were latent in his organism; hence he was able to carry spiritual law farther than any other previous seed-man. … He ripened absolutely, in that organically he never saw death. He laid down the life that is subject to death, by keeping an equilibrium of inner and outer relations, and became concretely the resurrection and the life. The HARVEST which will be yielded will be the redemption of all men.”
To some it may be needless that we should point out the unscripturalness of this theory. We trust that many of our readers are so „thoroughly furnished” as to be able to see through such snares of the Adversary. We say snares of the Adversary advisedly, for „We are not ignorant of his devices.” We know well that it is his accustomed and favorite method to assume to be a light bearer, a holy and faithful servant of dispensational truth, and if he can get any of God’s children to serve him and his cause in the livery of heaven, he well knows that the darkness will be the more confusing and blinding to the Lord’s sheep.
Nevertheless, we will point out the errors of the above, being aware from letters received that many who for their time and opportunity should be teachers and able to assist others, are really babes, and have need that one should teach them again, which be the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. (Heb. 5:12.) Alas! it is the first principles, the foundation of all, that professing Christians feel most secure upon, yet they have never received intelligently and in simplicity the first principles, and hence this is the stone of stumbling.
This theory be it observed, like all other no-ransom theories fully developed, points out the ultimate everlasting salvation of all men. This is but consistent on their part, for if God’s plan is one of evolution by steps and stages with which man has nothing to do, it would be the only reasonable conclusion for them to reach, that God would finally make them right. For it is a further part of these theories, that Adam, instead of being created in the image of God, was created more in the image of the brute creation, if not directly evolved from a brute. And they account for the statement of Genesis (1:27)—”In the image of God created he him,” by saying that the language applies to man as he will be when the process of creation, „unfoldment,” or evolution, is complete by processes described above; namely seed-men or saviors, each of whom „gave his life to elevate” (see above) but none of them to redeem the people. Thus these have really the same idea as the third class of theorists mentioned above, only more deceptive, in that they attempt to wrest the Scriptures to suit their theory, while the others reject interfering Bible statements; and while these make a list of Saviors and claim that Noah, Abraham, Moses and John share with Jesus in evolving truth and bringing mankind up to perfection, the others are more reasonable in naming Moses, Confucius, Socrates, Zoroaster, and Mahomet with Jesus as the great elevators of the race; for surely if the idea be the elevating of the race in general, as is claimed, it would be simply absurd to count ALL the teachers (saviours) in one little nation in a little corner of the world and to leave the masses without.
Now let us contrast with this the Bible account. We do not say that the Bible account is the most reasonable view; on the contrary, we concede at once, that to the carnally minded and to the carnal babes (1 Cor. 3:1) it will appear less reasonable than these theories. What we expect to do is to show that whether esteemed reasonable or unreasonable these no-ransom, evolution theories, are in open and direct variance with the Bible, so that those who hold to the Bible may be set free from the blinding delusion that the Bible favors such views in any wise. For ourselves, we can surely say that the Bible theory is most reasonable and the OTHERS from this standpoint most unreasonable.
The Bible starts out with the statement that Adam was created an image of God in flesh—possessing mental and moral qualities like to those of his Creator, but limited to (perfect) earthly (i.e. human) scope or capacity. It tells of his trial, of his disobedience, and of the death penalty or curse, which came upon him in consequence thereof. It points to that sin as the cause and source of all the evil (curse), which has befallen man; and declares that man when rejected of God and left to himself, made haste downward, degrading himself mentally, physically and morally more and more, until the whole world was so terribly corrupt that he removed them with a flood of water. So then, the very reverse of the above theory is true of the period from Adam to Noah; for instead of developing character, all character was lost save in the case of the one family of Noah. „God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil [sinful] continually.”—(Gen. 6:5.) And hence a more bare-faced lie in the name of truth, is scarcely conceivable, than the one this theory advances for what it terms its first day of spiritual unfoldment.
The text cited to prove this; namely, „Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations,” (Gen. 6:9) is totally misapplied. It refers simply to the fact that his family line or generations had not been mixed or corrupted in the manner described in verses 2 and 4 (See article „Sons of God and daughters of men,” in TOWER of June, 1884.)
But let us settle this first day of spiritual unfoldment once and forever for „him that hath an ear to hear,” and into its grave will fall the same theory as it relates to the succeeding days.
Not only have we the foregoing straightforward account given through Moses, but we have it corroborated by the most notable among the apostles
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and prophets, and by our Lord. The apostle Paul reminds us of the first temptation saying, „I fear lest by any means as Satan beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3.); and again he tells us that though Eve was deceived, Adam sinned knowingly (1 Tim. 2:14.); and again he declares that condemnation and death came upon all through Adam’s disobedience—”By the offence of one judgment came upon all” „By one man’s disobedience many became sinners.” „By one man sin entered into the world and death by [as a result or penalty of] sin.”—(Rom. 5:12,16-19,20.) This harmonizes with the prophetic statements that God created man upright and crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of his hands, but that man sought out many inventions [sinful devices].—Psa. 8:5-8; Eccles. 7:29.
Yes, says Paul, They changed the glory of the incorruptible God. When they knew God, they honored him not as God, were not obedient to him, etc. Wherefore God gave them over etc., and the glory and perfection waned with each generation. (Rom. 1:20-32.) Yes, says Peter, God spared not the angels that sinned, … and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in a flood upon the wicked. (2 Pet. 2:4,5.) And so, in whatever direction we look, we find that degradation, and not advancement, was the course from Adam to Noah. From being „very good” and called a „Son of God” (Luke 3:38), and provided an Eden home, and granted access and communion with the King of kings, and crowned with glory and honor as Jehovah’s representative in the rulership of earth, the race lost all these and became so depraved that they were unfit even to be allowed to live a few years under the curse. If there was a spiritual unfoldment there, it was the unfolding of a terribly bad spirit.
Then God’s plan of salvation, as expressed in Scripture, utterly annihilates this evolution theory. He not only condemns the sin and pronounces the death penalty, but mentions the various incidental troubles as resulting from the same in these words: „Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow [pain] and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” And unto Adam he said, „Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life … till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken … and unto dust shalt thou return.” „Therefore the Lord sent him forth from the garden of Eden. … So he drove out the man.” And in the midst of all this God did not hint at evolution to a higher condition, but told of a great fall, and held out only a dim hope of a recovery. And afterward, in all the repeated references to man’s sin and a recovery from it and its penalty, and in every type and sacrifice it was clearly indicated that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins, no return to fellowship with the Creator, and no further life.
And, finally, when he of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, and whom the sacrifices for sins typified had come, what said he and his faithful Apostles of the evolution of mankind from a position one step above the monkey, up to perfection? Did they state this to be his mission? Not one such word. Quite
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to the contrary, the Master stated his mission, saying that he had „come to seek and to save that which was LOST.” (Luke 19:10.) Thus he places things in a reverse light from that of our evolution no-ransom theorists. According to their idea, what was lost was degradation and animalism and brutality, and the valuable thing was being gradually gained by evolution and development at the hands of great teachers or what it calls „seed-men”; hence, for the Lord to „save that which was lost,” would be to wholly upset their theory that man had already made four steps forward and merely lost brutality. But the apostles keep up the Lord’s idea of getting back something very valuable, originally possessed, but lost. Thus Peter speaks of the great blessings to come in due time through Christ Jesus, and assures his hearers (Acts 3:19-21.) that, as a result of blotting out of sins there would come times of restitution or restoration, which he claims was the story of all the holy prophets. Thus Peter’s testimony alone would completely vanquish the evolution theory, not to mention our Lord and „all the holy prophets” and other apostles.
But our Lord not only states that he came to save that which was lost, but he proceeds to tell us of its final recovery, showing John and the Church through his visions (Rev. 1:1; 21:10-27 and 22:1-7) the Paradise restored and sin and its curse or penalty removed, and no more pain or tears or death.
And notice finally that the restoration which Peter mentions, is effected by the „precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” „Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Pet. 1:18,19; 2:24.) The prophets testify to the redemption as well as to the restitution, in scores of texts of which we cite but one, Isaiah 53. Paul not only tells us that by one man’s disobedience all came under sin and condemnation to its penalty, and that thus death passed upon all men, but when assuring us of a restitution to life, that as through Adam all die, even so through Christ shall all be made alive, etc., he gives us the method by which the change is effected from the curse of sin and death, to the blessings of divine favor and life, saying: „While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” and „being now justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom. 5:8,9. Compare also Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14.) And let the apostle John add his testimony, he says, „He is the propitiation [satisfaction, or appeasement] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2.) And now hear the Master tell how he gained the right to loose the prisoners of sin and death from the tomb, and to offer life, restitution to all for whom life and all had been lost. He says, „The Son of Man came … to give his life a ransom [price] for many.” (Luke 10:45; Matt. 20:28.) And in the symbolic representations of the future, it is carefully noted, not only that the Lamb that was slain redeemed by his blood, [his death] but it is shown that only his blood can purge or wash away sin and present the sinner acceptable before the Father, in the merit of his imputed robe of righteousness.
Among all those whose bliss the Redeemer pictures before us in his Revelation of the coming glories, none were heard singing Glory to God for the „evolution” and spiritual unfoldment which brought us here, for the reason that none will reach there by that route; but the Apostle did in vision hear the anthems arise from the blood-washed multitude, out of every nation, redeemed—”Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” There the honors of salvation are not divided among saviours, but are ascribed to a work of redemption by one Saviour anointed of Jehovah, of whom all shall sing „Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.”—Rev. 5:9.
Ah yes, beloved! Jesus Christ the crucified Redeemer is the stone of stumbling and rock of offence both in his first and second presence: but „there is none other name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved.”
Among all the teachings of heathen philosophies not one corresponds with the Bible in its three main features—first, that the curse or penalty of death came upon all men through one man’s disobedience; secondly, that penalty met in the person of another one whom God hath set forth to be a satisfaction for the sins of all (1 John 2:2); and thirdly, a resurrection as the means of deliverance to life and divine favor procured by such ransom. On the contrary heathen philosophies advocate evolution and spiritual unfoldment by „seed-men” or great teachers; and that of the Brahmans is in advance of all others, tracing evolution into the future and claiming that all obedient followers of their teachings finally become absorbed into their God, as of the same essence. So then, those who would receive these theories as new, as dispensational light, are really going back to heathen theories which existed before Christianity was founded—before life and immortality were brought to light.
Seeing we are so warned and guarded by our Father’s Word against the snares and pitfalls of this day of the Lord, it behooves all to be on their guard. Many who have caught glimpses of the truth now dispensationally due, should beware of receiving as truth everything which calls itself „dispensational truth.” Receive nothing without close scrutiny, well knowing that our adversary is a counterfeiter of no little experience, who knows well the forms and names most likely to entrap.
How shall you know? The apostle says, „Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” But how shall we prove? There are always some to say that truth is error as well as to call error truth. Yes, it is a part of the adversary’s policy to put light for darkness as well as darkness for light, and even their candor and their desire to use the advice of the apostle to „prove all things,” has been made a snare to some. They understand it to mean that they must reject nothing which claims to be of God, and which quotes
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from the Bible in its support. Hence some keep reading all they can lay their hands on, and are in a constant state of unrest; as the same apostle describes it, „Ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:7.) They do not understand what is meant by „proving,” else they might, without difficulty, quickly test or prove every doctrine presented to them.
Draughtsmen or carpenters would test whether an angle were true or untrue in a moment, by putting their square upon it, thus proving it. A mason would prove or test the trueness of a wall by his plumb-line. And just so every one engaged in building up himself and others in the most holy faith, is provided with a square and plummet by which every item of truth can be tested speedily and positively, namely the Bible. And the more thoroughly we are acquainted with it and skilled in its use, the more quickly we shall be able to prove all things by it. It is able to make us wise, and in it the man of God is thoroughly furnished.—2 Tim. 3:15,17. Use and experience will soon teach you how to measure speedily any new view presented. Measure its foundation first of all; if its foundation is out of square, stop there; you are through with proving it—you have proved it to be false, untrue, and to handle or measure at it further, is to run the risk Eve ran when she allowed the Serpent to talk to her about how good and desirable was the fruit which she knew was contrary to God’s word. „I fear, lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity [simple truth] that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3. Compare verses 12-15.)
This we know is the difficulty with many. They go on to compare God’s plan with other theories, and the more they do so the more confused they are apt to become; and judging mostly by their own opinions, prejudices, or education, they are as apt to take the error as the truth. Learn then, that the Bible lays down as the basis of all blessings God has provided for fallen man, as the foundation of all hope, the death of Christ—a ransom [a corresponding price] for all. As you proceed you will find that nearly all of the erroneous theories presented to you, will prove themselves false by being crooked in the foundation. Less than one hour should disprove any of the above no ransom theories to a mere beginner, or babe, and one glance should be sufficient to a man of God thoroughly furnished.
By thus learning to rightly and promptly prove all things, you will not only be free from harassing uncertainty, but you will have moments and hours saved for building up yourself and others in the truth—in that which will stand the test. Wherever you find the foundation true, measure on, prove on, rejecting the untrue, and accepting the true, up every course to the very top, using the same square and plummet. But you will not find many to require testing above the foundation, or at most, the first course or two above it; for finding these badly twisted and untrue, or as in the no-ransom views, entirely gone, you will readily see that all built upon them are also untrue, and thus your work of testing them may be speedily accomplished.
Inform yourself thoroughly as to the meaning of the word RANSOM. It occurs but three times in the Greek—Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6. It signifies TO RECOVER by paying a price. The Greek word rendered ransom is intensified in the last of these texts so as to signify a recovery by the payment of a corresponding price. And the Apostle’s use of it clearly and unequivocally, teaches that our Lord Jesus bought back for man a right to life and all the favors of God, lost through sin, by taking man’s nature and then giving himself a CORRESPONDING price for that which was lost. Thus informed on what the Bible does mean by the word ransom, you should resent as an insult, not only to your intelligence, but also as a most outrageous insult to God’s Word, the insinuations and inferences thrown out by those who quote these texts containing the word ransom, while denying that we were bought with a price—denying that man ever had or lost God’s image, and that Jesus came to save (recover) that which was lost. Settle it forever in your hearts that the theories which find it necessary to deceive and misrepresent and shun the light of full investigation, are not of God. „To the law and to the testimony;” prove them by these, beginning at the foundation. „If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20.) The more you handle error, the more you love to handle that which you have thus proved to be off the true foundation, the more likely you are to be snared by the enemy and smitten down by this noontide pestilence. (Psa. 91:6.) You will have plenty to do to help yourself and others to put on the whole armor of God and to stand in this evil day without tampering with, or further examining, that which you once prove false—out of harmony with the fundamentals of Christianity.
Another device and snare is known as the „Christian Scientists'” views. Their chief hobby is that any disease of the body can and should be cured by the power of the mind, the will; they call these „mind cures” as distinguished from faith cures; cures accomplished through power of will, and not through faith in God’s power or by prayer. This is in the same line as those above, so far as Jesus’ ransom is concerned. They claim their mind cures to be a step in advance of all others, the highest attainment of human evolution or spirit unfoldment.
It is a fact well known to all physicians, that the mind has great power over the body, either in inducing or arresting disease; hence the greater success sometimes of one physician over that of another using the same remedies; the one securing the confidence and mental co-operation of the patient more than the other. So with these mind curers, they get their patient to will and determine upon recovery, and inspire confidence, and thus sometimes produce cures in cases of long standing; and when they are unsuccessful, the patient is blamed with a lack of determination or loss of confidence.
The fact is, that being in the Dawn of the Millennial age, it is in harmony with the divine plan to gradually encourage the world to look toward and expect, the blessings of restitution to health, strength and a gradual return to perfection of being and fulness of life. And as the labor troubles come in spasms and go to come again with increased force, thus gradually drawing on into the great time of trouble and dissolution of earthly governments and readiness for the heavenly, so with restitution in the matter of healings, etc. It seems to be God’s plan to let it come in waves, each time dying out, yet each time becoming more general and wide-spread, thus drawing on gradually and preparing mankind for the full dawn of restitution in its due season.
And as in everything else and at every other period, (2 Tim. 3:8. Acts 16:16-18.) Satan seeks, as usual, to draw attention from the truth by counterfeiting it and using his counterfeit as a snare in two ways: first, to mislead by erroneous teachings using the light as a trap; and secondly, by disparaging the facts of the genuine. So mind curers or the so called „Christian Scientists” (without a Christ), and their so called „seances” are but a step in the direction of Spirit-ism (misnamed „Spiritualism”) which outwardly has fallen into disfavor, though really, privately, it is extending its influence daily.
Another similar effort to hand-truck Christian people into the great Omnibus of Spiritism, is a little paper published on the Pacific Coast, which goes under various names, one of the most popular of which is the „Father’s Love.” This journal selects from other papers some good, simple articles as a sugar coating, which with its title, we doubt not often entraps for a time at least God’s hungry children, only to feed them on no ransom, and dispensational evolution, and to introduce to them out and out spiritist publications.
What shall we say to these things, dear brethren: these have all sprung up just recently, and how many more are yet to come God and Satan only know. Is there not every reason for us to believe that the Lord did not overstate the terrible battle between truth and error, when he foretold that a thousand would fall to one who would stand, upheld by God’s truth and its messengers? (Psa. 91:4,11,12.) There is every reason to think that the Master did not overstate it when he said, „If it were possible they would deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24); and to believe the apostle’s statement that we would need the whole armor of God that we might be able to stand. Remember the test—Jesus in the flesh, a ransom for all.
„My soul be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the prize.”
— July, 1886 —