“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)
Here the Apostle Paul, addressing the Church, announces a principle of divine law which is applicable not only to the Church, but to all men everywhere. Hosea expresses the same truth, saying that if we sow to the wind we shall reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7) Solomon says, if we sow iniquity, we reap vanity. (Prov. 22:8) Paul again says, if we sow sparingly we reap sparingly, and if we sow bountifully we reap bountifully, which is equally true, whether we sow wild oats or good wheat. (2 Cor. 9:6)
Since study of the Scriptures shows us that the world’s judgment or trial day is in the age to come and not the present age, many will inquire: To what extent are men of the world now accountable for their actions? Will their actions in this life be considered in their future trial? Will those who are moral, honest, honorable, benevolent and charitable in this life receive no reward in the future? Will those who are immoral, dishonest, selfish, and even criminal, receive no punishment for their evil deeds?
These are important questions, especially to the world, which would profit greatly by realizing their importance. They are important also to the Household of Faith, because of our interest in the world, and because of our desire to understand and teach correctly our Father’s plans.
We have learned that the sacrifice of Christ secures for all mankind, however vile, an awakening from death, and the privilege of thereafter coming to perfection and living forever if they will: “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) The object of their being again brought into existence will be to give them a favorable opportunity to secure everlasting life on the conditions which God requires – obedience to His righteous will.
A TIME OF RECKONING
There is no suggestion whatever in the Scriptures that in the awakening there will be any change in the moral condition of men. Both reason and Scripture show, that as they went into death, so shall they come out of it. As “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Eccl. 9:10), they will have learned nothing. The Millennial Age is the time allotted for the world’s awakening, discipline and trial under the reign of Christ.
While strictly speaking, the world is not now on trial, that is the present is not the time for their full and complete trial, yet men are not now, nor ever have been, entirely without light and ability, for which they are accountable. In the darkest days of the world’s history, and in the deepest degradation of primitive life, there has always been at least a measure of the light of conscience pointing more or less directly to righteousness and virtue.
At the first advent of Jesus an increased measure of light came to men which increased to that extent their responsibility, as Jesus said: “And this is the condemnation [judgment – Diaglott], that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19) And for those evil deeds which men have committed against what light they had, or which was available to them (either through exercise of their own conscience or through revelation), they will have to give an account, and receive a just chastisement in their day of judgment. And likewise to the extent of their effort to live righteously, they will receive their just reward in the day of trial. (Matt. 10:42)
The age of Christ’s reign will be a time of just judgment, and though it will be an age of golden opportunities, it will be a time of severe discipline, trial, and punishment to many. The deeds of the present life will have much to do with the future. Paul taught this very clearly when, before Felix, he reasoned of justice and self-government in view of the judgment to come, so that Felix trembled. (Acts 24:25)
If men would consider what even reason must teach them, that a time of reckoning, of judgment, is coming, that God will not forever permit evil to triumph, but that in some way He will punish evil-doers, it would undoubtedly save them many sorrows and chastisements in the age to come. As the Prophet says, “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” (Isaiah 29:15) Also, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3); and “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:14) As the Apostle says, God “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” (1 Cor. 4:5)
The character of the Judge (the Christ, head and body – John 5:22; 1 Cor. 6:2) guarantees the judgment will be fair and impartial, and with due consideration for the circumstances and opportunities of each individual. It is guaranteed by His perfect knowledge, by His unwavering justice and goodness, by His divine power, and by His great love as shown in His sacrifice to redeem men from the Adamic death, that they might enjoy the privilege of a favorable individual trial.
The varied circumstances and opportunities of men in this and past ages, indicate that a just judgment will recognize differences in the degree of individual responsibility, which will also necessitate differences in the Lord’s future dealings with them. And this reasonable deduction we find clearly confirmed by the Scriptures. The Judge has been, and still is, taking detailed note of men’s actions and words, although they have been entirely unaware of it (Prov. 5:21), and He declares “That every idle [pernicious, injurious or malicious] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36); and that even a cup of cold water given to one of His little ones, shall not go unrewarded. (Matt. 10:42) The context shows that the pernicious words to which Jesus referred were words of willful and malicious opposition spoken against manifest light. (Matt. 12:31,32)
Jesus also affirmed that it would be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon and Sodom in the day of judgment than for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, which had much greater advantages of light and opportunity. (Matt. 11:20-24)
PUNISHMENTS IN PROPORTION TO GUILT
In the very nature of things, we can see that the future punishments will be in proportion to past guilt. Every sin indulged, and every evil propensity cultivated, hardens the heart and makes the way back to purity and virtue more difficult, and consequently sins willfully indulged now will require punishment and discipline in the age to come; and the more deeply the soul is dyed in willing sin, the more severe will be the measures required to correct it. As a wise parent would punish a wayward child, so Christ will punish the wicked for their own good.
His punishments will always be administered in justice and tempered with mercy, and those who are properly reformed will be relieved and rewarded by His approval. Only when punishments, instructions and encouragements fail, when love and mercy have done all wisdom can approve (which is all that could be asked), will any meet the final punishment which their case demands – the Second Death.
None of the world will meet that penalty until they have first had all the blessed opportunities of the age to come. The Church has received God’s favors (through faith) during the Gospel Age while the world will receive them in the next age, the favors of instruction, assistance, encouragement, discipline and punishments. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for, what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:7,8)
Therefore, when we receive chastisement, we should accept it as from a loving Father for our correction, not forgetting “the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Heb. 12:5,6)
How just and equal are God’s ways! Read carefully the rules of the coming age given in Jer. 31:29-34 and Ezek. 18:20-32. They prove to us, beyond the possibility of a doubt, the sincerity and reality of all His professions of love to men: “As I live, saith the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11)
If men in this life repent of sin, and as the term repentance implies, begin and continue the work of reformation to the best of their ability, they will reap the benefit of so doing in the age to come; they will in the resurrection age be to that extent advanced towards perfection, and their progress will be more rapid and easy, while with others it will be more slow, tedious and difficult. This is implied in the words of Jesus: “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; they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28,29 – see Diaglott) Those whose trial is past and who were judged worthy of life will be raised perfect – the faithful of past ages to perfect human life, the overcomers of the Gospel Age to perfect life as divine beings. Those who have done evil are awakened to receive a course of discipline and correction, judgment, as the necessary means for their perfecting.
The man who in this life, by fraud and injustice, accumulated and hoarded great wealth, which was scattered to the winds when he was laid in the dust, will doubtless awake to lament his loss, and bewail his poverty, and his utter inability under the new order of things to repeat unscrupulous measures to accumulate a fortune. It will be a severe chastisement and bitter experience with many to overcome the propensities to avarice, selfishness, pride, ambition and idleness, fostered and pampered for years in the present life. Occasionally we see an illustration of this form of punishment now, when a man of great wealth suddenly loses all, and his haughty spirit and that of his family must fall.
EVERY SECRET THING BROUGHT INTO JUDGMENT
We are told (Dan. 12:2) that some shall awake to shame and age lasting contempt. And who can doubt that when every secret thing is brought into judgment (Eccl. 12:14), and the dark side of many a character that now stands measurably approved among men is then made known, many a face will blush and hide itself in confusion from others. When the man that stole is required to earn and refund the stolen property to its rightful owner, with the addition of twenty per cent interest, and the man that lied, deceived, falsely accused, and otherwise wronged his neighbor, is required to acknowledge his crimes and so far as possible repair damages, on peril of an eternal loss of life, will not this be retributive justice? See the clear statement of this in God’s typical dealings with Israel whom He made to represent the world. (1 Cor. 10:11 and Lev. 6:1-7) (See Tabernacle Shadows, Chapter VI for a detailed discussion of this subject.)
And there will also be some others who have endeavored to live in this life according to the light and opportunity granted them, and who tried to turn others to righteousness. Of this class were the Prophets and other justified faithful ones of past ages, and some others, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Confucius, who enjoyed only the waning light of nature, but were faithful to that little light: These shall shine as the stars forever and ever. They will be notable, honorable and advanced because of faithfulness. These will always be bright ones – men and women of special honor because of their noble efforts to stem the tide of evil when the full force of the tide was against them.
As we are thus permitted to look into the perfect plan of God, how forcibly we are reminded of His word through the prophet Isaiah, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.” (Isa. 28:17) We may also see the wholesome influence of such discipline. When good parents discipline their children, they realize the importance of making their punishments proportional to the child’s offenses; and so in God’s government, great punishments will follow great offenses, but not greater than necessary to establish justice and to effect the proper moral reform.
Seeing that God will thus equitably adjust human affairs in His own due time, and knowing the outcome of His plan, we can well afford to endure hardness for the present, and resist evil with good, even at the cost of present disadvantage. Therefore “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” (Rom. 12:17) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5)
The present order of things will not always continue; a time of reckoning is coming, and the just Judge of all the earth says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” (Rom. 12:19) and Peter adds, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Pet. 2:9) And as we have seen, those punishments will be adapted to the nature of the offences, with the benevolent objective of man’s permanent establishment in righteousness.
Other Scriptures corroborate this view of future rewards and punishments:
2 Sam. 3:39: “The LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.”
Matt. 16:27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Prov. 11:18: “The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”
Rev. 22:12: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Rom. 14:11,12: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
FORGIVABLE AND UNPARDONABLE SINS
If an account must be given and a punishment rendered for every evil word and every wrong deed, where is the forgiveness of sins spoken of so frequently in Scripture? Does Scripture teach a difference between sins – that some are forgivable and others unpardonable?
We answer, that under the provisions of God’s law of life, no sin is excusable; perfect obedience – righteousness, is the only condition of perfect life and happiness. Under this law the entire race was judged representatively in Adam, and through his willful disobedience, condemned to death, destruction, as unworthy of life, and the penalty of death passed upon all. (Rom. 5:12) No one can be excused or pardoned. The penalty is the just expression of the will and the law of God toward man: “For the wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23)
But, exercising His love without varying or impairing His justice or His righteous and wise law, God arranged the plan by which Jesus as His agent became the Redeemer or Purchaser of the human race, by becoming a man that He might “taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) He thus gained the right to set at liberty all the prisoners, in His own time and way, without violating the requirements of Justice.
Having obtained control and right to be master, owner, and Lord of all, Jesus will exonerate or grant forgiveness and remission of sins to the entire race. He will however, require each individual to apply for the exoneration for himself, in order that each may fully realize his necessity and dependence, as well as the Lord’s bounty in this free gift of justification, which He purchased for them with His own blood. He did all the purchasing; to them it is free for the asking and accepting.
This then is the forgiveness presented in the Bible – the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. God does not set aside His law in order to forgive. He could not, for to revoke or set aside His laws, would be to unsettle His Kingdom by the King Himself antagonizing its laws. But His great gift to sinners was Jesus, whose sacrificial death bought or ransomed man from death.
But for what did Jesus die? Not to grant sanction and license to sin and sinners. Not to permit men to continue to sin, but to release them from the injuries and penalties of their representative’s failure; and in hope that the experience thus gained, might help each one in the new individual trial given to them by virtue of the ransom.
The sacrifice of Jesus, while covering “many offences” (Rom. 5:16), covers and is the basis of forgiveness to only such offences as come more or less directly as a result of Adam’s disobedience and fall. Hence it does not cover such sins as are not the results of Adamic weakness. It does not cover willful sins, against light and ability. (Luke 12:47,48)
While, therefore, we recognize this clear distinction between the two classes of sin, we must not forget that the depravity resulting from the fall and impairment of the moral as well as physical qualities of human nature furnishes a tendency toward willful sin, even when the surrounding circumstances do not entirely mislead the judgment. Because we are unable to fully appreciate the weight and influence of circumstances and depravity, we may not decide against someone whose words and actions are not in agreement; we must, therefore, “judge nothing before the time.” (1 Cor. 4:5)
Nevertheless, Scripture lays down certain marks by which we must judge those whose words and actions are in agreement. “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.” (Luke 19:22) The Lord points out unforgivable sins, and in the light of our foregoing remarks we trust all may be able to see why these sins cannot be forgiven, and do not come under the class for which a ransom was given by Jesus:
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matt. 12:31,32)
Here our Lord addressed the Pharisees, in whose presence He had healed the sick, cured the blind and lame, cast out devils, and even raised the dead. Though depravity resulting from the fall might have so blinded the Pharisees that they could not accept of Jesus as the promised Messiah, they certainly could not be excused for accusing Him (as a last resort when they could find no fault) of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub the prince of devils. (Matt: 12:24) Such a manifestation of hatred, malice and opposition to light came not through the fall and cannot be forgiven as such They might reject Jesus and speak evil of Him, misunderstanding Him and His mission; but when a demonstration of the power (spirit) of God in doing a good work was manifested, though they might not have received it as a proof of Jesus’ claims, they were inexcusable for attributing it to Satanic power.
If that blasphemy shall not be forgiven them, either in this world (this age – Jesus is the head of the Gospel Church and His miracles and preaching were the commencement of the Gospel Age) or in the future, what shall we say of those Pharisees? Have they no hope for future life? We answer: They are not without hope; the blood of Christ was still applicable to cleanse all from Adamic sin, and though they shall never be forgiven for this willful opposition to, and blasphemy of God’s holy power, they may expiate that sin. That is to say they shall receive “stripes” or punishment in proportion to the willfulness of each of them.
A prisoner condemned to one year’s imprisonment applies to the Governor for a pardon; it is refused; nevertheless when the limit of his condemnation has expired he will be released, having expiated his offense. This serves as an illustration of how a sin might be expiated and the sinner survive. It should be noted however that if the penalty were death there could be no survival.
Next comes the question, can all unforgivable sins be thus expiated and the sinner survive? We answer: No. The penalty for the Pharisees’ willful sin was stripes and not death (the Second Death), because, though sinning against light, it was not against full and perfect light and knowledge. To have acted and spoken as they did under full appreciation would have been punishable only with the full “wages of sin,” that is, death.
To some it may occur that they were blinded by sin and Satan, and hence not at all responsible for their actions. To this we reply, that while it is freely admitted by all, and the Scriptures plainly declare, that blindness in part is upon all the children of Adam through the fall, yet from Jesus’ words we must conclude that these Pharisees were not totally blind. None except the mentally incompetent and insane are totally blind. It was to these same Pharisees that Jesus said “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin...” “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light...” (John 15:24; John 3:19) If they had been totally blind, they would not have been responsible, but since they admitted to seeing some, therefore they had sin. (John 9:41)
The sacrifice of Christ will be applicable to cleanse and forgive all sin and its consequences resulting from Adam’s fall. That the Pharisees were blinded by their own willful prejudice beyond that prejudice engendered by the fall, is evident, because while they ascribed Jesus’ works to Satan, others no less depraved, asked, “Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” “For no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 10:21; John 3:2)
The sin of the Pharisees was incomplete, not unto death, because, first, they had not yet come in contact with all the light, truth and evidence which God considers necessary to a trial for life; and secondly, because of a measure of blindness, they had not fully appreciated the light against which they sinned. Hence, we repeat, the sin of each of them was proportioned to his willfulness in opposing what he did discern, and this is unforgivable in any age.
If the Pharisees shall suffer penalty proportional to their measure of willful sin, so will others. It is because the world will be thus punished that Scripture informs of the many and few stripes (Luke 12:47,48) in the age to come; and that God knows how “to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Pet. 2:9) We must constantly bear in mind that the punishment will be a “just recompence.” (Heb. 2:2)
But if such sins against only a measure of responsibility and light may be expiated, could Adam and all his posterity have not expiated sin by sufferings as well, thus requiring no ransom price? Has God changed? Does He now say sin may be expiated by the sinner, saying then that Sin cannot be expiated, requiring the very existence of the sinner as the penalty?
No God has not changed and neither have His laws which represent Him. “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) The difference is this: Adam was perfect, not fallen, not blinded in the least degree, and in his purity, innocence and holiness had no sectarian system to uphold and no proud theory to maintain. The Pharisees were greatly fallen, very imperfect, and much blinded. Adam had full interaction and communion with God, witnessed His power in his own perfect talents, and had the law of God inwrought in his very nature. He was a moral image of God in flesh. The Pharisees, along with the remainder of the fallen race, lost the interaction and communion. The moral image was almost entirely effaced, the heart of flesh had turned to stone, and the law of God written thereon had been almost obliterated.
Hence, for the perfect Adam to sin willfully against perfect and unquestioned evidences was in the fullest sense sin, and justly received the fullest penalty, not stripes but death, extinction. He has been under that penalty ever since condemned to it. The penalty commenced with the process of dying, and for over five thousand years he has been subjected to the full penalty of his transgression, death. He would have so continued, dead to all eternity, had not a substitute given Himself a ransom, and taken his place in death. And this is true of the entire race which Adam represented in the first trial.
SIN UNTO DEATH
It is the same with the Second Death. It is the penalty for full, complete and willful transgression against full, complete knowledge and ability. It is evident, then, that the Pharisees, because of lack of light and ability, did not commit sin unto death. It is just as evident that any one fully recovered out of the degradation and imperfections resulting from Adam’s transgression, through the acceptance of the ransom, could commit the sin unto death, the Second Death.
In view of the foregoing the question arises: could anyone commit the willful sin and come under the penalty of the Second Death until they had first been entirely freed from every result of the Adamic death? Could such willful sin against full knowledge, ability and light be committed in the Gospel Age? Must it not belong exclusively to the Millennial Age?
It would seem so, at first thought. But the Scriptures point out a very small class, which could commit this sin during the Gospel Age. That it is a very small class in the Church, is evident from the Apostle’s description of the advantages and knowledge they must first have enjoyed:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [whose eyes have been opened], and have tasted of the heavenly gift [realized and enjoyed forgiveness of sins through the redemption in Jesus, whom God gave to be a propitiation for our sins], and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit [and thus come to appreciate God’s holy will and have full fellowship and communion with him as Adam had before the fall], And have tasted the good word of God [appreciating the richness and sweetness of its promises, which but few yet do], and the powers of the world to come [come to realize the powers which will in the next age hold sway and restore and bless the dead race, both in and out of the tomb], If they shall fall away, [it is impossible] to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:4-6)
Those of this class have fully enjoyed all the blessings and privileges secured by the ransom, and have made no use of them. Such would really be making the redemption provided through Jesus’ sacrifice of no value to themselves by failure to make use of the privileges and blessings offered. Thus in act they put Christ to an open shame, as though they said: “You died and redeemed us but we spurn and reject the privileges and opportunity thus afforded.” Such do willfully what the Roman soldiers did ignorantly, that is, reject and crucify Him who laid down His life on their behalf.
Is it asked: How could these described by the Apostle be said to have enjoyed fully all the blessings resulting from Jesus’ ransom during this age? We reply that here comes in the province of faith. By faith they grasped the heavenly gift and realized that they were redeemed by His precious blood. By faith they tasted and appreciated the goodness of the promises of God’s Word, realized the powers of the coming age and partook of the mind or spirit of God. All the imperfections resultant from the Adamic fall were reckoned covered with the perfection of their Redeemer who gave Himself for all; and every good endeavor, ever so imperfect in itself, was reckoned as a perfect work when presented covered with the righteousness of the Redeemer. His righteousness imputed to their sanctified efforts made them acceptable as perfect before the heavenly Father. Without His merit attached, their efforts and sacrifices would have been unacceptable, as shown in the argument of the same Apostle:
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:26,29)
He here shows another class liable to the Second Death. He still addresses the Saints, and speaks especially of those who have fully received by faith the privileges accruing through the ransom. He assures them that any who reject the blood of Christ, the price of their redemption, counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they had been sanctified common and ordinary rather than sacred and precious, attempting to stand in their own righteousness ignoring Christ’s ransom, have no longer any interest in the sacrifice for sins. If the rejection of the typical mediator, Moses, was worthy of death, of how much greater punishment will such as despise the sacrifice offered by the great antitypical Mediator be thought worthy?
The despisers of Moses’ arrangements (see Lev. 10:1-3) attempted to present themselves before the LORD with unauthorized incense (“strange fire”) of their own instead of the authorized incense, which represented Christ’s righteousness. As a result, they perished. But this was merely a hastening to completion of the Adamic death penalty already in force against them, hence not so serious as the matter which it typified, the rejection of the real incense or merit of the better sacrifice and its penalty, the Second Death, from which there is no hope of a resurrection.
In view of this argument, no wonder the Apostle concludes that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31) God has expressed His abhorrence of sin and His intention to utterly root it out, at the same time providing a ransom, a way of escape by which sinners may be freely justified. But if any willfully ignore and reject the sin-offering which God provided after coming to a full knowledge and appreciation of His gracious provision, they dishonor God and the Lamb and go out from the protection provided, into the fiery indignation which devours (destroys) God’s adversaries.
Nor can the reasonableness of this, God’s plan, be questioned. Such as are once fully enlightened, as described in Heb. 6:4-6, and then willfully reject God’s favors whether by open sin or by a denial of the value of the “blood of the covenant,” could not evidently be benefited by a continuance of God’s favor, seeing they have had full and abundant opportunity. Besides this, the Apostle declares it is impossible “to renew them again unto repentance.” What is impossible could not be accomplished in a million ages, and would not be attempted by our God of infinite wisdom.
The sin unto death is not one act of one moment. None could happen to commit it. It is not a “slip” or a “stumble” which constitutes the sin unto death. The slips, happenings and stumblings are evidently occasioned by our inherited imperfection; they are among the injuries occasioned by the Adamic fall, and are all fully covered and fully forgivable, and cleansable by the application of the precious blood of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Every evil, whether in act, word or thought, or every propensity toward evil inherited by us, is fully atoned for by Jesus already. (Rom. 5:19) All that remains is for us to acknowledge His ransom work and apply for our share in its results.
The sin which is unto death is a complete rejection of God’s favors, against full light and understanding; and only the very few, the Saints, at present could possibly have done this, because only they have had the light and appreciation necessary. In due time, during the Millennial Age, all shall come to this full knowledge, and then whosoever will, may obey and live forever.
(Based on Pastor Russell reprints 721 and 1653)
AGES TO COME
But some may question: How do we know there are no other ages of probation beyond the Millennial Age, perhaps many ages? Does not Paul refer to ages in the plural – “the ages to come”? (Eph. 2:7)
Yes, Paul mentions ages in the plural in this verse, but neither Paul, nor any Scripture writer, speaks of probation during ages to come It is just as serious an error to be ignorant of what the Apostle says of those ages as it is to be ignorant of the fact that future ages are mentioned, as so many are.
Paul says that in the ages to come God will show “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” During this age God tells us of His love for all, but He has not yet shown or manifested it. He loves all, and will show His love for all, but the Church, head and body – all in Christ – are greatly beloved. To these He will manifest the exceeding riches of His favor and loving-kindness, exalting and honoring this anointed body. It will commence with the Millennial Age, and when the work of that age is complete, man and his earth home made perfect, and the Kingdom delivered up to God (1 Cor. 15:27,28,) then, says the Apostle, there is yet more honor and glory to be revealed upon and through this glorious Christ. Each step in God’s plan, each age, will open up a further development of God’s unending program, and furnish fresh opportunity for the display of more and more of the exceeding riches of God’s grace and loving-kindness toward us, in Christ Jesus.
There is no mention of probation in those words and nothing in Scripture even hints of it, beyond the “times of restitution” – the Millennial Age. (Acts 3:21)
If God has appointed times (or years) of restitution and limited their number to one thousand, and declares that then Christ will deliver up the Kingdom to the Father who could not accept anything imperfect, then on the reliable authority of these statements, we may assert most positively that there will be no probation beyond that time.
We believe that none can produce a single passage of Scripture that will contradict these Scriptures, or by any reasonable interpretation set aside their plain significance.
God’s revelation closes with the symbolic presentation of the blessings of that age, and concludes by showing that during it, all who will to have life, shall have it, freely, and those who will not conform to God’s law shall be utterly destroyed. (Rev. 21:6-8) And as though to make it doubly clear and to prove to us beyond question the end of evil and its train of pain and misery and death, it is written: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
(Based on Pastor Russell reprint 726)