The following article is very elementary truth, and we are sure that most of our readers are familiar with it. But since we are leaky vessels, we think it is a good idea to review basic truths occasionally to refresh our minds about it, and also to make sure that any thing presented to us as new truth is harmonious with what we already know to be truth. May it be a blessing to all.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
(1 Corinthians 15:19)
In other words, if our hope in Christ is dependent merely upon the circumstances and conditions of this present life, we rob ourselves of what enjoyment and advantage might be gained in this life. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (Verse 20) Christ was dead ─ unconscious ─ asleep for parts of three days. “But now is Christ risen.” The Diaglott says, “Christ has been raised.” This is the Resurrection and states that Christ was “the firstfruits of them that slept.”
A resurrection under the various nominal Christian creeds, Catholic and Protestant, doesn’t make sense, if all men are on trial in this present evil world (Gal. 1:4). The creeds all declare that at the death of the body, the soul is transported to Heaven if we have been good, or to eternal torment, if bad. Although, the Catholics devised an in-between place for the purging of sins, called Purgatory. This was a way out of the terrible doctrine of eternal torment. But it wasn’t a completely altruistic scheme. It was a way to make rich on the bad consciences of the vast majority. Pay money and get yourself or a loved one out of purgatory, or get the sentence shortened. In any case, a resurrection when judgment has already been made is unreasonable.
“The love of God was manifested toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was (a) God.” (John 1:1, Dia.) The word Logos is a synonym for Jesus. The literal meaning is “The Word,” but there is no doubt amongst biblical scholars that Jesus Christ is meant. Translators who were prejudiced in favor of the false idea of a trinity left out the article “a.” Greek scholars agree the “a” should be there.
We are told that Christ was the first in the beginning of God’s creation. He was the first of all creation, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16,18). Christ was the Archangel (1 Thes. 4:16; Jude v. 9), and no other being, human, angel or animal, was created except by God through Jesus. “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) God was the architect and Christ executed the architect’s plans. He was the contractor, you might say.
Christ placed himself on the altar of sacrifice for mankind after having been made “a little lower than the angels.” (Psa. 8:5) This is pictured by Abraham placing Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, and in other ways throughout the Old Testament. After Christ’s sacrifice, he became the firstfruits of them that slept, or that was dead, unconscious. Notice that firstfruits is plural. It implies other fruit, that others would be raised from the dead.
“For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead.” (Verse 21) This tells us that Christ at his First Advent was a man, a human being, perfect, as was Adam before he sinned. The word resurrection is from the Greek word Anastasis, which means standing up again ─ raised to perfect life again. The word is used 40 times in the New Testament. It doesn’t appear in the Old Testament for in those times the Jews, God’s chosen people, believed in a resurrection. Pagan religions and the Greek philosophers believed that at death the person was transformed into a spirit being, a concept later adopted by the Christian creeds, but not taught by the Holy Scriptures.
“For as by Adam all die, even so by the Anointed also, will all be restored to life.” (Verse 22, Dia) It doesn’t say “For as in Eve” because the father is the lifegiver. And through Adam we received or inherited the death sentence. The Scriptures refer to us who are still walking around as the dead. Christ said, “let the dead bury the dead.” (Matt.8:22) “Dead man walking” is a term heard from inmates on death row when one of them is taken from his cell to be executed. All mankind has been and are “dead men walking.” They are not fallen asleep yet, but are on the way. Some are a little further along the way than others, closer to the execution of the death sentence ─ dead men walking.
Throughout the Bible death is referred to as sleep. Christ said, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” (John 11:11) When the disciples didn’t understand, he added, “Lazarus is dead.” (Verse 14) David, the Prophets and others are said to “sleep with their fathers” ─ that is they died. Sleep indicates an awakening, sooner or later and thereby when used Biblically to describe the death state, teaches that death is unconsciousness, oblivion, not in Heaven or in a place of punishment, but in a dreamless sleep, and that there will be a resurrection. An awakening is the first step of a resurrection, but not the only step. After the awakening then comes a restoration to the perfect life that mankind would have had, if Adam had not sinned. But he did sin and received the death penalty that we, as his progeny inherited. Adam could not bequeath something he did not possess himself. The “dead men walking” and those who are already asleep, Christ by his sacrifice restores to life ─ the life that Adam had before he sinned, disobeyed his Creator.
Then in verse 23 the Apostle goes on: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The word coming would have been better translated presence, which means to be near, or at hand, the same as the English word presence.
Verse (24) “then the end.” The Apostle jumps to the end of Christ’s Kingdom, when he has restored man to perfect life; the life Adam had before he sinned. We pray “In Jesus’ Name” and Christ intercedes for us. It is the only way in which we are acceptable to God. “Then cometh the end, [the word cometh is not in any mss.] when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” ─ all that opposes His righteous power. The outwardly incorrigible have already been eliminated at the time Christ turns the Kingdom over to God.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim.2:15) Reading the Bible verse by verse is a pleasant and ennobling pastime, and perhaps we should read some part of it every day. Study involves reading but reading does not necessarily involve study. The Bible is not a textbook; it is a book of texts. “For precept must be upon precept; precept upon precept; line upon line; line upon line; here a little and there a little.” (Isa. 28:10) Many times two entirely different thoughts and/or time frames are expressed by contiguous verses.
Verses 25 and 26 ─ “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Why make such a point of destroying a mere delusion, as Christendom describes death.
Saint Paul, whom we have just quoted here, may be styled the Resurrection Preacher. He may also be called Preacher to the Gentiles. Who is Paul? There were 12 Apostles, “Ambassadors of the Gospel,” “Commissioners of Christ.” Just as there were 12 sons of Jacob whose offspring were the 12 tribes of Israel, formed in the wilderness into the nation of Israel, after the name of Jacob was changed to Israel. Israel means “ruling with God.” The nation of Israel was a type of the Kingdom of God. A type, tupos in the Greek, is translated in the New Testament as ensample. The Israelites were the people to whom God gave the Oracles of God, the Old Testament. The antitype or the substance of the type is the real Kingdom of God, which the nation of Israel was an ensample ─ type.
Of the 12 original Apostles, one failed ─ Judas who betrayed Jesus. In the intervening 10 days from ascension of Christ to Pentecost those present received the Holy Spirit and were anointed as the Gospel Age Church (Ecclesia ─ Body of Christ). The remaining 11 Apostles, knowing there should be 12, thought to help God by selecting a pair from the followers of Christ and drawing straws, so God could make the final selection.
Good Christians are forever seeking to help God, but He doesn’t need help. We hear preachers say many times, “God needs your help.” (Usually when the preacher is asking for money.) The help to seek is from God, not for God. The scenario of drawing straws nips in the bud the false idea of apostolic succession. There were, and are, no succes-sors to the Apostles. They are the twelve stars of Rev. 12:1,14. The two men chosen in this event were no doubt good disciples, who perhaps made their calling and election to sainthood, though we can’t be sure. But God overruled the selection of either to replace Judas and they were never again mentioned in the Scriptures.
God already knew who the replacement would be. It was Saul, a Jew of Tarsus, a seaport on the Mediterranean now a part of Turkey. It was a noted city of philosophy and literature at the time and which in those days ranked with Athens and Alexandria.
Paul was probably the only well educated man of the Apostles. He was a Roman citizen, a Pharisee and persecutor of the followers of Christ. He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death in one incident.
This says to us that no matter if we have been wrong, repentance is always an option and if we accept Christ as our Ransom, consecrate and remain faithful and obedient, we will be forgiven and rewarded beyond our fondest dreams. Easier said than done in the Present Evil World. But there is one other requirement, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightfully dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
Saul was on his way to Damascus where he was headed to persecute some followers of Christ, when Christ appeared to him in a blinding light. We all know the story. Paul was converted, became a prospective new creature and was renamed Paul. Why did God choose this man? Because he was honest, sincere, fervent and faithful in his belief. He just didn’t have the truth yet. All he needed was to be shown that Jesus was Christ ─ The Anointed, the Messiah, promised to the Jews. He had everything else right. There are Jews today who like Paul have everything right except recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. Paul said in 1 Cor. 2:2, “I am determined [after his conversion] not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
It was said of Paul in Acts 17:18: “He preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.” Then in 1 Cor. 15:13-18 Paul said, “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen…then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain…then if Christ be not raised…ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Then follows our opening text, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Christians of all stripes claim a belief in a resurrection. They could hardly do otherwise since it is so prominently declared in the Scriptures. But the vast majority of Christians believe that death is a delusion, that we don’t really die but have an immortal soul. But, take a concordance and try to find the expression “immortal soul.” It doesn’t exist in Scripture. If there is no death, what’s the point of a resurrection? Seldom is resurrection used as a topic for sermons except on Easter Sunday, which Easter purports to celebrate.
Easter is the anglicized name of a Germanic pagan goddess, which derives from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, the sex goddess. Though she was also the goddess of war. In spring a young man’s fancy turns to love ─ and war. The Easter celebration of this goddess began at or near the Vernal Equinox, the beginning of spring, and was adapted by Christendom as a celebration of the resurrection. The Jewish day begins at sundown. Christ was crucified on the day of the Passover, which falls on the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish year, which is determined by the new moon nearest the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.
But you cannot believe in a resurrection if you don’t understand the meaning of death. It is amazing, if you stop to think about it. The vast majority of all mankind has believed and now more than ever, believes the lie told by that serpent, Satan, in the Garden of Eden. It was the first lie ever told by the father of liars. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and most all religions of mankind believe it. Many agnostics and avowed atheist believe that man does not die. Many evolutionists believe the final stage of evolution is from the human nature to the spiritual, a step in the evolutionary chain. This is believed by the Pope, Billy Graham and most of the leaders of Christendom but they don’t call it evolution.
“Out of body” experiences by the near dead are continually reported in the media. Almost breathlessly TV shows and movies are dealing more and more with angels as dead human beings. Those of the science-fiction genre have moved almost exclusively to depicting a spiritual realm inhabited by former humans or humanoids of some other sphere. This is a sign of the times in which we are living. It is proof that Satan rules.
Not many throughout all time have believed God when he said, “…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) Or “…there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:10)
Only a very few worthy ancients from Abel to Abraham, from Isaac to John the Immerser, believed God and had faith in Him. Read the names of some of them in Hebrews chapter 11. A very “little flock” starting with the Apostles and others gathered throughout the Gospel Age, the Good News Age, believed God and had faith in Him. And in the present time, there are relatively few people who believe God and have faith.
God said to Adam in the Garden of Eden, “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) But 2 Pet. 3:8 says, “But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Adam died at 930 years, 70 years short of that one-day.
Then in Gen. 3:4,5, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The word serpent here is from the Hebrew Nachash (naw-khash), which means “to hiss or whisper a magic spell ─ to prognosticate.” So Satan, the deceiver, the Adversary of God, put a spell on Eve and she did eat and offered the fruit to Adam. Adam understood that to die ─ death ─ meant oblivion, non-existence, and the loss of the breath of life, his spirit ─ his soul. Adam received this information directly from God and passed it on to Eve, but she was deceived by Satan ─ and how that deception has grown. Adam didn’t want to live without Eve, so he ate of the fruit. Knowing the penalty, he deliberately disobeyed God. He loved the woman.
Love is one of the major attributes of the creator ─ Love, Wisdom, Justice and Power. These attributes of the Creator were in man when he was in the Creator’s image before he disobeyed, sinned, although the creature, Adam, did not have these attributes to the extent as did his Creator, who is omnipotent and omniscient. Adam let his love overpower the power he had to obey God. Nor did he use the wisdom that was built in as part of the image of God, which should have told him God would overrule. And he completely forgot justice.
Even though Adam and Eve had been told by God to multiply and populate the earth before they sinned, they did not have any children before they were condemned. You cannot pass on to your heirs that which you do not have. They no longer had life or the right to life. It was lost, they were “dead men walking.” They were dying and this is what they passed on to their children.
We inherited the death sentence and all that goes with it ─ birth defects, sickness, sorrow, tears, degradation, death and corruption. The hook is in our mouth and like the fish we can’t get free no matter how we twist and turn, jump and run. We search all the philosophies of the world, we study all the wise guys, we search for a fountain of youth and we manufacture out of whole cloth an immortal soul so we might believe that we don’t die. We completely overlook the Word of God, “The soul that sinneth it shall die,” we are told in Ezekiel 18:4.
But hold on, we find in the Word of God that there was a glimmer of hope in the Garden of Eden. “The seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head.” (Gen. 3:15) Then later to Abraham God said that in him and his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. And in Gen. 17:8, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” There’s that word “seed” again. And He said, “The land wherein thou art a stranger…the Promised Land, Canaan, for an everlasting possession.” One of the things Adam lost when he disobeyed God was his perfect home, the Garden of Eden ─ Paradise, but it is promised that the whole world be as a Garden of Eden. And they shall say, “This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” (Ezek. 36:35)
But Abraham died before he ever really got full possession of Canaan. Could it be that here is a hint of the resurrection, the raising up again ─ of Abraham? We think so. In Matt. 22 some Sadducees tried to trick Christ regarding the resurrection. They were a sect in Israel at the time of Christ, and they denied the resurrection. In His rebuff, Christ said, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” This tells us not only that there is a resurrection of the dead, but also that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead.
Certainly Abraham was righteous in the eyes of God for “he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:3) So faithful Abraham, the friend of God (James 2:23) is not floating around Heaven, reclining on a cloud and playing a harp.
There are a few things God can’t do. One of them is to renege on a promise. “The testimony of God is sure.” (Psa. 19:7) Now here is a conundrum: In Gen. 22:17, God talks to Abraham: “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” The point here is that there are two divisions or sections of the one seed. The earthly, indicated by sand, and the heavenly called the stars of heaven. Sand is almost uncountable, but the heavenly is a much smaller number. The natural stars of heaven have been counted, that is the ones that can be seen with our present powerful telescopes. But try counting the grains of sand at the seashore.
So we believe there is an earthly seed, a large number consisting of all who have lived since the beginning and survive the judgment of Christ’s Kingdom; and a much smaller heavenly seed consisting of classes which are gathered in this present evil world ─ those overcomers and the more than overcomers prior to the Kingdom, while Satan is the prince and sin prevails and righteousness is persecuted. The Christ is the one seed of Abraham, and it has two parts or divisions. Who are Christ’s seed? Eventually all mankind who accept the privilege. But before that, the Heavenly or Spiritual seed is drawn during the Gospel Age from among mankind to be the body of Christ and with the head to form The Christ.
Two other classes, of which we have hope, one drawn from before the door to High Calling is opened and another from after it is closed will be Christ’s earthly representatives in helping to bring the rest of mankind to perfection. These classes will be resurrected perfect as Adam was before he sinned. After the Kingdom is complete, we are assured, they will have the privilege of being changed to Spiritual nature.
There are two resurrections and two deaths. The two resurrections are pointed out by the Apostle in Acts 24:15, “…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Also, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (King James translation of John 5:28,29) However, the word damnation here is from the Greek krisis meaning judgment. From it comes the English word crisis; meaning a change toward improvement or deterioration.
We might say that the Household of Faith in this present evil world has been in a crisis, an impossible row to hoe but for the grace of God through Christ. The remainder of the world will be in crisis during Christ’s Kingdom, when good will predominate and evil gradually stamped out.
That is the two resurrections, but what about the two deaths? We know about the death sentence passed upon Adam, which all mankind inherited from him. It is called the Adamic death. The Good news was ushered in by Christ, who was not subject to that death penalty and “who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) Ransom is from the Greek anti-lutron, which means a corresponding price ─ under the law, a life for a life was required.
Christ sacrificed the life everlasting of his perfect human nature. He wasn’t immortal at that time. He hadn’t inherited the death penalty from his Father, God in Heaven, as we did from our earthly father. He obeyed God; he didn’t sin, as Adam did. He lifted the Adamic death sentence off mankind by sacrificing His perfect life and rights to life as a perfect man and gave our lives back to us ─ to be testified in due time. For His faithfulness, Christ was given life within himself as a reward, immortality, which until then only God possessed. And through the Good News Age, the Gospel Age, the call went out, “I beseech you Brethren…that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Those who answered this call and were faithful unto death were the Little Flock, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Second Eve. When that Little Flock, the number of which is given in Rev. 7:4 as 144,000 were sealed, the door to the High Calling was then closed. And the Christ, Head and Body, begins to assume control of the universe and from its spiritual seat of power prepares for the work of restoring that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The Christ becomes the lifegiver for Adam and his children, and all under the new parents of the human race will be brought up gradually to perfection. Those who are incorrigible will die the second death, from which there is no Ransom. (See Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14 and 21:8 about the second death.)
The new spiritual Adam and Eve will have as their earthly helpers the faithful Ancient Worthies of Old Testament times before the door to the High Calling was opened by Christ, and the Youthful Worthies, those who remain faithful in the time of trouble during the period from the closing of the door to the High Calling and full establishment of Christ’s Kingdom.
After the restoration of mankind to Adam’s condition before he sinned and the Kingdom of Christ is turned over to the Father, He will try them in much the same way Adam was tried originally. After this trial and the bogus wheat (tares) are destroyed in the second death, the true wheat will make the one loaf of God.
We fervently hope and pray this sketchy examination of such a very important Biblical doctrine will help us come to believe consistently, logically and Scripturally in the resurrection.
God’s book, the Bible, containing the writings of numerous imperfect human beings inspired by God, is really a very small book. But it is a big little book, from whence comes the word Bible. It contains The Divine Plan of the Ages (“According to a plan of the ages, which he formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord.” ─ Eph. 3:11, Dia.) devised by God before he laid the foundation of the universe. He knew the end from the beginning.
The Bible sets out God’s perfect Love. It shows Wisdom beyond our comprehension, and astonishing Power, which can create a universe with all its creatures and laws of nature, and use them with an exacting Justice to perfection.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” To this hymnal phrase, may be added, “from whom all knowledge flows.”
“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” (Zeph.2: 3)
PERFECTION OF ORGANISM NOT NECESSARY TO TRIAL FOR LIFE
“He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:25,26)
The Divine arrangement respecting Messiah's Kingdom seems very clearly stated in the Scriptures. Our text above, if no other, proves that Messiah's Kingdom will not be dealing with perfect conditions. By the sealing of the New Covenant he will make satisfaction for the sins of the world; and those of the world who prove worthy have God's assurance of attaining eternal life. The great work will be that of uplifting mankind out of sin and death conditions. For this reason he will rule as King and will officiate as the great Priest. The basis for this is the fact that our Lord Jesus purchased the world through the merit of his sacrifice.
“Where a tree falleth, there shall it be.” (Eccl. 11:3) So, as mankind go down into death, there they remain. In the awakening from death there will be a resuscitation to practically the same conditions ─ mentally, morally and physically ─ which they had before they went into the tomb. If mankind came back from the tomb perfect, no one would have any way of identifying himself. If one were raised perfect in every thought and word and act, he would not know himself; for all those things composing his identity would be gone. Hence, he would have no way to distinguish himself from the rest of mankind! The world will be resuscitated with the same kind of intelligence in which they went down into death. But theirs is a death condition, and the very object of Messiah's Kingdom is to uplift out of that condition, and to raise up that which was lost to the perfection of man's nature.
The Scriptures show us that at the end of the thousand years of Christ's reign the whole world will be turned over to the Father; and the race will then have a trial time, a testing, just as Adam had when he was in Eden. For “a little season” Satan will have the power to tempt mankind as he tempted mother Eve. But the world should then be so thoroughly established in righteousness of heart that nothing which Satan or any other being could bring upon them in the way of temptation would make them sin; and those who will not have learned to hate sin and to love righteousness will not be fit for eternal life. We read that fire [judgments] will come down from heaven and destroy such.
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 4985, March 1, 1912)
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION ─ Did David understand the doctrine of the resurrection?
ANSWER ─ Even from what David has written in the Psalms we cannot really tell whether he clearly understood the doctrine of the resurrection; for the Scriptures inform us that David spoke and wrote very much by inspiration. The Apostle Peter tells that many of the prophets themselves did not know the import of the things they were saying; but that the Spirit of God moved them. God reserved much of the understanding for the Church. So when the Prophet David makes certain allusions to the resurrection, we do not know whether he fully understood or not. We believe that all those in God’s confidence knew that, though they were dying, yet the time would come when God would recover them from the grave. The resurrection hope was the hope of all the Jewish nation, not only in the days of Jesus, but prior to that time.
In the days of Jesus the orthodox Jews, the holiness people, or Pharisees, were firm believers in the Resurrection. The Sadducees were the higher critics and infidels of that time; for they did not believe in angels or spirits, or in the resurrection of the dead; but the Pharisees believed in both. On one occasion, particularly, when St. Paul was in great danger, he perceived that part of the audience were Pharisees and part Sadducees; and thinking he could get the good will of the one part, he cried out, “I believe in the resurrection. That is the reason I am on trial here.” Immediately the Pharisees went to his side and said, “Yes, this man believes in the resurrection. We all do. It is you Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection; and you are trying to injure us.” (See Acts 23:6-9.)
And so we feel sure that David believed in the resurrection. We are to remember, however, that while apparently he spoke of his own resurrection ─ “Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” ─ St. Peter, speaking, we believe, under inspiration, said that David spoke these words not concerning himself, but being a prophet he spoke beforehand of Christ, that Christ’s soul would not be left in sheol. (Acts 2:29-32) So the principal text in the Psalms that tells of David’s faith in the resurrection, we are told, is applicable prophetically; but we think there is no question in the matter that David and all the prophets in the past knew that they were not getting their reward then, but must get it in the future.
St Paul brings this fact to our attention in Hebrews 11:38-40. He had been telling about Abraham and his faith, and states that some of the prophets were stoned to death, sawn asunder, etc. Then he sums it all up saying, “All these died in faith, without having received the promise.” They knew they had not received eternal life or any of the things which God had promised, but they died in faith that they would get it in the resurrection; faith that God was able and willing to fulfill every promise he had made. So St. Peter gives us the assurance that they knew, though they did not understand all that they wrote themselves (1 Peter 1:10-12).
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 4961, January 15, 1912)
QUESTION ─ Did Christ’s death give to every person a right to a resurrection?
ANSWER ─ No! Christ’s death gave nothing to any person except to Christ himself. Our Lord’s faithfulness unto death gave him a right to a better resurrection, according to the Father’s promise. Having received that better resurrection, he no longer needs the earthly life and earthly rights, which he “laid down” in obedience to the Father’s program. However, since he did not forfeit those earthly rights, and did not give them away, they are still his.
Not needing them himself now, because he has the better, the spiritual, as his reward, the Lord has those earthly rights in the Father’s hands to his credit on the books of Justice. He is holding that credit on the books of Justice, and intends, according to the Father’s arrangement, to use it in due time for the purchase of the world. In the end of this Gospel Age, he will present the merit of his sacrifice “for all people.” We are assured that it will be accepted by Justice and that all mankind will come forth, will be turned over to the Redeemer, who will then take unto himself his great power and will reign for a thousand years, as the Mediator between God and man. This mediation will reach mankind through Israel, with whom the New Covenant will be inaugurated.
While waiting for the time to come when he shall give his earthly rights as a restitution blessing to mankind, the Redeemer in carrying out the Father’s program makes use of his merit in the interest of those whom the Father draws and calls to be the Church of the Firstborns. To each called and obedient one who turns from sin and presents his body a living sacrifice to the Father, the Redeemer, as his Advocate, imputes a sufficiency of his merit to make the sacrifice acceptable. Then, as soon as the sacrifice is accepted and completed, the imputed merit of Christ will be thereby freed and returned, so that in the end of the Age, after the Church has been assisted by the imputation of Christ’s merit, the original amount in the hands of Justice will be unimpaired ─ sufficient for the sins of the whole world ─ sufficient to give restitution blessing to Adam and all of his posterity during the Millennial reign of Christ.
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 5299, August 15, 1913)