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“NOT ALL OF DEATH TO DIE”
“Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”—Matt. 10:28
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them,” and he blessed them and gave them the dominion of the teeming earth (Gen. 1:27-31). Thus the crowning work of creation was completed and given the Lordship over “all the works of his hands.” This likeness of himself—a little lower (only) than the angels—was crowned by his Maker with glory and honor (Psa. 8). And when God rested from his work and surveyed all that he had done, he saw that all was “very good.”
It is a fundamental law of God’s universe governing all his creatures that, “The soul [being] that sinneth it shall die.” He will not supply life to any creature that will not live in harmony with his righteous laws. When Adam disobeyed he therefore fell into this condemnation (Gen. 3:19), and in him the race was doomed to extinction (Rom. 5:12), the sentence being (not to die merely, and after a period to live again, but to remain dead,) eternal death.
Thus by this one act of disobedience the whole benevolent design of God seemed to be frustrated. But known unto God are all his works. He knew what man without experience would do before he formed him (Jer. 1:5), and full provision for this failure of the creature had been made. A “Lamb” had been slain in the counsel of God before the foundations of the earth were laid (John 1:36; Rev. 13:8), and it had been arranged that by another man should come a new supply of life to the perishing race. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21,22). The fearful cost had all been counted (Luke 14:28) ere it was decided, “Let us make man.” Thus in God’s comprehensive plan all live; “For all live unto God” (Luke 20:38), in view of this new source of life which will in due time reach and restore all (Acts 3:21). And because of this determination in the mind of God and the provisions made thereto (the ransom) there will be a “resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). This plan, more or less darkly expressed, formed the basis of faith for all who were accepted of God in former ages. By their “faith in God” (Mark 11:22) “this mountain was removed,” and it was not to them an incredible thing that God should raise the dead (Acts 26:8). This fixed faith that all live unto God sustained the overcomers of the Jewish age (Heb. 11), who, though they died without receiving the promises, yet saw them afar off, and were persuaded of and embraced them because they believed them (not because believing them would make them true, as some teach to-day).
To this gospel “which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10), another measure was added during the Gospel Age—a “great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” (Heb. 2:3); an exceedingly precious favor not before made known (Col. 1:26). By the terms of this gospel, all who by faith lay hold upon this new source of life are reckoned of God as already partakers of it, and as having passed from the dying condition of the old, and as receiving of the “fatness” of the new (Rom. 11:17) source of life.
While their condition is but a reckoned one (that they may have access to the gospel which began with our Lord—Rom. 12:1), and they are still going into the tomb, yet at the time appointed their vitality (which by fellowship with Christ in sacrifice has become hid with Christ in God’s design—Col. 3:3), will reanimate them, because they (with the world) live in the memory and plan of God, having had the new supply accounted to them through the redemption.
These shall not “see death” (John 8:51). They are “asleep” and have not “perished” (1 Cor. 15:18). They have escaped from the condemnation and will be fully released (Rom. 5:18 and 8:1) at once when their head assumes control. If any “fall away” after having the full benefits of this great favor (such are few in number, we hope and believe,) they “see death.” As they reach the tomb they “perish.” Because it is “impossible to renew them again” (Heb. 6:4-6). They are not “asleep,” but have fallen again into the original condemnation for their own (not Adam’s) transgression, and are blotted from the memory of God as though they had never been.
In harmony with the symbolic framing of the text, these had been “delivered from the [original] power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). “Translated that they should not see death” (Heb. 11:5) into the new Jerusalem, but through willful rejection of the favor, shall be themselves “cast into Gehenna,”—not in their “graves”—(they are no
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longer reckoned “asleep” with a future hope of awakening), but being denied burial, are “destroyed” (not preserved) in the “Valley of Hinnom” (on the south and west of Jerusalem) here in text translated “hell” from the Greek spelling “Gehenna,”—the figure of second death, and “lake of fire” of John’s vision. (Rev. 20:14).
Thus not only the body of willful sinners perishes, but the soul (being) is forever blotted out of existence, having no hope of a resurrection. Yea, I say unto you, fear him who is able to do this.
H. L. GILLIS.
— August, 1886 —