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Question. The fact that our Lord received worship is claimed by some to be an evidence that while on earth he was God the Father disguised in a body of flesh and not really a man. Was he really worshiped, or is the translation faulty?
Answer. Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so. While he was not the God, Jehovah, he was a God. The word “God” signifies a “mighty one,” and our Lord was indeed a mighty one. So it is stated in the first two verses of the gospel of John. It was proper for our Lord to receive worship in view of his having been the only begotten of the Father, and his agent in the creation of all things, including man.
Besides, he had come to earth under the divine arrangement and accepted the condition of Messiahship, presenting himself to God as fallen man’s sin-offering; besides, at his baptism he was anointed of the holy spirit as the Messiah, and authorized to carry out the great divine plan and to receive homage from both angels and men. This alone would have rendered worship proper even aside from his pre-human greatness as “the only begotten of the Father.”
Question. Some “Christadelphians” offer the following texts in proof that death ends all for a large majority of the human family—that the majority will never be awakened from the sleep of death.—Psa. 88:4,5; 49:14. Isa. 26:14; 43:16,17; Obad. 16.
Please let me have your explanation of the meaning of these texts.
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Answer. These texts should be interpreted in harmony with the holy spirit’s interpretations given us in the words of our Lord and the apostles recorded in the New Testament. These declare that the hour is coming in which all that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, some unto the resurrection of life and some unto a resurrection by judgments. (John 5:29.) And we are assured by the Apostle that it is the will of God that “All should come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved;” and that to this end “Christ died for the ungodly,” “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified [to all] in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6.) Indeed, the Apostle assures us that the Kingdom class (the Church) now being selected is appointed to “judge the world” (1 Cor. 6:2); and that “God hath appointed a day” (an epoch or age) in the which this judgment or trial shall take place (Acts 17:31); and the picture of this in the symbols of Revelation shows the dead, small and great, standing before the great white throne of justice, mercy and love, and being tried (during the thousand years of Christ’s reign), according to the law written in the Book and according to their works. (Rev. 20:11-13.) In interpreting any of the Old Testament Scriptures we need all the light and help which God has deemed proper to throw upon them through the New Testament revelations. If we did not observe and use this New Testament key furnished us by the holy spirit, all of the prophecies and types of the Old Testament would be meaningless or worse to us. Looking at the passages you cite, from this the proper standpoint, we find as follows:—
Psa. 88:4,5. The writer is not declaring his own opinion, but is merely saying how he is regarded by others, “I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am [counted] as a man having no strength—a cast away among the dead; [counted] like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and like them that are cut off by thy hand.”
The Lord reveals the fact, in the Old Testament as well as in the New, that there will be some who will be utterly cut off from life in the second death. But none will be in this class whose hearts are in the attitude of the Psalmist. The only ones who will be of this class will be such as have spurned the grace of God, after it has been made known to them. (Heb. 6:4-6.) The Psalmist is saying that he is disesteemed and disowned, as one who is the subject of divine displeasure,
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counted unworthy of any future life, remanded to the second death.
Psa. 49:14. “Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning.” The prophet David is here speaking of a certain class who vainly think to build up fortunes and to make their names endure, without realizing what is the true wealth of character which should be sought. But, there is nothing in this to indicate that death will end all for these. Quite to the contrary, the statement that “The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning,” proves that death does not end all for these; but that in the morning of the Millennial Day, when Christ and the Church shall be granted the Kingdom under the whole heavens, then these shall be awakened and come under his dominion. This will be God’s method of bringing them under the blessings of the seed of Abraham which he has promised shall come “to all the families of the earth.”
Isa. 26:14. The first nine verses of this chapter are a prophetic description of the Millennial day,—when the land of Judah has been reclaimed (verse 1) and when the nations of earth are walking in the light (teaching) of the glorified Church—the New Jerusalem. (Compare verse 2 and Rev. 21:24-26 and Isa. 60:11,18-22.) Verse 5 describes the humbling of the proud and the fall of mystic Babylon. Verse 9 shows how some (the body of Christ) have desired and prayed “thy Kingdom come” throughout the “night” of the Gospel age while waiting for the Millennial dawning; and how the judgments of the “day of trouble” which introduces the Millennial reign are necessary to teach the world righteousness. Verses 10 and 11 show, however, that even those terrible lessons will be insufficient for some who, even in the land of uprightness (the Millennial or “new earth” state), will be unjust still, and refuse to recognize the mighty “hand” of God. Yet they shall see, and eventually all enemies of the Lord shall be destroyed.
Verses 12-15 represent the faithful taking a glance backward, and acknowledging that the deliverance has been wholly God’s work. “O Lord our God, other lords [rulers, powers] have had dominion over us [Sin, the great task-master, and his representatives in civil, ecclesiastical and financial despotism, including trusts, combines and every evil system which oppresses men at the present time;—some of which are now highly esteemed among the oppressed]; but of Thee only would we make mention [now as our ruler]—of thy name. They are dead, they will not live again; they are departed, they will not arise again: because thou hast visited and destroyed them and made every memorial of them to perish.”—See Leeser’s Translation.
Ah, yes! every power of evil and oppression shall be destroyed forever, never to rise again, when the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the Governor amongst the nations.
Isa. 43:16,17. “Thus saith the Lord, … who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters; which bringeth forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.” Nothing in this statement bears upon the case of any individual in the world: it is a statement respecting horses, chariots and armies. The Lord will bring low, even to destruction, all the implements of war; as is written, “He maketh wars to cease, unto the ends of the earth.” When once the armies of strife have been overthrown, they shall never rise again; but the individuals who compose those armies are members of the Adamic race, whose redemption was secured by the great sacrifice for sin; and in due time each and all who have not yet come to a knowledge of the truth, must be brought to that knowledge, and have the opportunity of believing, obeying, and obtaining everlasting life through Christ.
Obad. 16. “For as they have drunk upon my holy mountain so shall all the nations drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as tho they had not been.”
The Lord through the prophet describes (verse 15) the events of “the day of the Lord,” the approaching time of trouble, in which all the nations (improperly translated heathen) shall come into judgment, and be caused to drink of the cup of the Lord’s anger. (Jer. 25:28,29.) When the nations fall during the coming time of trouble it will mean their utter destruction, as was illustrated in Nebuchadnezzar’s image of these nations (Dan. 2:35,44,45). The same destruction of the nations is pictured in Daniel’s dream respecting the same Kingdoms (Dan. 7:11-14,27). But altho the nations shall never rise up again, and altho only God’s Kingdom will thereafter be recognized, yet the people who composed the various nations, “all the families of the earth,” shall come forth from the grave to be blessed by God’s kings and priests—”the holy nation, the peculiar people, the Seed of Abraham.”
Question. Please refer me to any of your writings explanatory of Zech. 13:6.
Answer. We have nothing treating Zech. 13:6. From the connection of verse one with the preceding chapter, it would seem to imply that in this day of trouble already commenced, there will be a general change of front on the part of religious teachers who will be so greatly ashamed of the false gospel which they have proclaimed, that they will desire to disavow their previous occupation. In this view the wounds would seem to indicate severe usage received by them from their former flocks. The hand is a symbol of power, and the wounding of the hand would seem to
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imply injury or destruction of the power or influence once exercised by these “shepherds.” The wounds here mentioned seem to have no reference to the wounding of the hands of our Lord at the crucifixion: there is no connection apparent.
Verse seven seems to begin a totally different subject, no longer treating of the false shepherds and reprobate prophets, but of the true servants of God and the fact that God would permit trial and tribulations to come against such for their proving and development, nevertheless covering the little ones, the weak ones, with his hand—power.
Question. Is not the denomination known as “Disciples” on a proper basis of freedom? Is there any cause for considering it a section or ward in “that Great City, Babylon,” from which the call is, “Come out of her, my people?”—Rev. 18:1-5.
Answer. The denomination known as “Disciples” professedly stands just where we stand and where the early Church stood, as respects its declaration that the Bible is the only standard for faith and practice. However, all will agree that very few churches of this denomination practice what they all theoretically profess. While they have no written creed, they very generally have an unwritten creed which is most positive and arbitrary in many respects and particulars. Were this not the case, every one of their gatherings would be very glad to welcome any servant of the truth who would attempt to prove his teachings by the Word of God only: and in such event, the “Disciple Denomination” would very speedily be thoroughly impregnated with what we denominate “present truth”—the “harvest” message.
If you have been so fortunate as to find one of the few congregations of “Disciples” where the spirit as
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well as the theory of liberty prevails, you have been extremely favored and are to be congratulated. And if your articles to the Standard are received when full liberty has been exercised in their preparation, this will be another subject for congratulation. Perhaps the test for yourself, the congregation and the management of the paper, is still future. Perhaps, as you come to get clearer views respecting present truth, and as you do not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (wisely, but boldly), you may find that the attitude toward you may change. Let us hope that they may prove to be true “Bereans” and will search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things be so: and that finding them they will lay hold of them with alacrity and zeal. If so, it will mean a great revival in the Church, a great blessing. But if the truth does not prove a savor of life unto life to the Church, it is very apt to prove the reverse—a savor of death unto death, and will mean violent opposition to you and to all others who in any manner or degree call in question the cherished dogmas of “Disciples.”
We advise that you put the matter to the test earnestly, courageously, calmly; casting all your care upon the Lord. Let him mark out your way by his providence; on your part merely making sure that you are faithful to him—faithful to the truth as he sends it to you. We caution you, however, not to put your light under a bushel, and not to refuse further light for fear of consequences. “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” Remember, that our Lord put his Word and himself on a parity, saying, “He that is ashamed of me and my Word, of him will I also be ashamed.”
We shall expect to hear from you before very long, either that you have been greatly used and blessed to the good of the church you are connected with, helping them out of the darkness into the light of present truth, or that they have rejected your testimony and that you have stepped out of the system in order to preserve to yourself “the liberty wherewith Christ makes free.”
IMMORTAL VS. INCORRUPTIBLE
Question. The terms immortal, immortality, and incorruption, incorruptible are used in the Scriptures in a manner rather confusing to the average reader. Please state the distinction between them.
Answer. The translators have helped to confuse this subject by rendering the same Greek word whiles one way and whiles another: and while there are two Greek words used and with different thoughts, yet our English words Immortal, and Immortality, really represent the thoughts of both Greek words,—Aphthartos and Athanasia.
Coming down to the fine shades of meaning,—Athanasia signifies, deathless, death-proof, that which cannot die. Aphthartos signifies, that which cannot corrupt.
(1) The following texts are the only ones in which Athanasia occurs:—
“This mortal must put on immortality,” i.e., deathlessness.—1 Cor. 15:53.
“This mortal shall have put on immortality,” i.e., deathlessness.—1 Cor. 15:54.
“Who [God] only hath immortality,” i.e., deathlessness.—1 Tim. 6:16.
(2) The following texts show all the Scripture uses of Aphthartos and its derivative Aphtharsia:—
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal [aphthartos]—incorruptible].”—1 Tim. 1:17.
“A corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible [aphthartos]” one.—1 Cor. 9:25.
“The dead shall be raised incorruptible [aphthartos]—1 Cor. 15:52.
“To an inheritance incorruptible [aphtharsia]—1 Pet. 1:4.
“Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible [aphthartos]—1 Pet. 1:23.
“Seek for glory, honor and immortality [aphtharsia—incorruption].”—Rom. 2:7.
“Who brought life and immortality [aphtharsia—incorruption] to light.”—2 Tim. 1:10.
“It is sown in corruption, raised in incorruption [aphtharsia]—1 Cor. 15:42.
“Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption [aphtharsia]—1 Cor. 15:50.
“For this incorruptible must put on incorruption [aphtharsia]—1 Cor. 15:53.
“When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption [aphtharsia]—1 Cor. 15:54.
Applying this information, we find that altho the two words represent in many respects the same thought, yet by antithesis the Apostle brings out their shaded differences in 1 Cor. 15:53,54, by using one word with reference to those saints who should be “asleep” or
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under the power of corruption and would put on a condition of incorruption by resurrection; while those saints who would remain until the “change” would pass from mortal to immortal (deathless) conditions. But both will be exactly alike, when the one group is resurrected and the other group is “changed” in the moment of death without an interim of sleep or corruption.
IS IT THE GENERAL OR THE FIRST RESURRECTION?
Question. Does the resurrection described in 1 Cor. 15:42-53, include the whole world, or only the overcoming Church?
Answer. It does not at all refer to the world, but exclusively to the first resurrection—the Church’s. This is evident from the reading of the common version. All having a share in it get “immortality,” “incorruption,” “glory,” “power,” and “a spiritual body.” See verses 42-44,53,54. None are to get such blessings but the overcomers, the “blessed and holy that have part in the first [chief] resurrection on whom the second death hath no power,” the class which will live and reign with Christ a thousand years.—Rev. 20:4,6.
Furthermore, the Greek text guards against the supposition that the resurrection described could be other than that of the Church by using emphasis which expressed in English would make verse 42 read, “Thus also is the resurrection of the dead.”
Question. Will deceased infants, begotten of justified parents in this age, have spiritual (angelic) being in the resurrection life? If not, what will differentiate them from other deceased infants? This question is suggested by the reading of the June 15th TOWER, page 181.
Answer. “That which is begotten of the flesh is flesh.” Children under the conditions you mention are not begotten of the spirit, and hence will not be spirit beings. Their perfection will be of the human nature, accomplished (as with the remainder of the world) through the processes of restitution, during the “times of restitution”—the Millennial age. There will be no difference between these and the remainder of the world (children of unbelieving parents) during the Millennial age, except whatever may come to them in the natural way, in that they may be better born, less depraved in their natural organism. The justification feature mentioned by the Apostle (1 Cor. 7:14) and by us in the TOWER of June 15, page 181, applies merely to the present age, and to children before they reach years of discretion and personal responsibility. It merely signifies that the children of believing parents are subjects of divine providence, as well as their parents, during the present life, until they reach years of discretion; and that such will be under divine providence and leading, to the intent that they may be the better prepared for becoming obedient children of God on their own account at maturity. All mankind will ultimately come to favorable conditions, physical, mental and moral. This will mean no less favorable conditions for the children of believers in the next age, but more favorable conditions for others.
— July 15, 1898 —