ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
As I still have many questions unanswered I will give space in one more number for their consideration.
A brother writes-"I like to read "The Spirit of the Word" though I cannot believe it all as you do, and am not satisfied in regard to the doctrine of Substitution. N. B. If God did not teach Abraham that doctrine in Gen. 22 what did he teach him, and what did it all signify? Please give us a direct reply."
The chapter referred to is the one that tells us about Abraham offering up Isaac; and the brother seems to think that because the Lord finally supplied a ram for the sacrifice in the place of Isaac that therefore the doctrine of Substitution is taught. It is indeed a fact that God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac as a sacrifice, but this gives no support whatever to the "orthodox" doctrine of Substitution; the brother mistakes entirely the typical significance of the various characters in this transaction. Like the case of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah, this also is an "allegory." Abraham offering up his "only son," represents God who gave his "only begotten Son" for the world's redemption (See Rom. 4:17, margin). Isaac of course represents Christ, the promised "Seed" (Gal. 3:16); now what or who does the ram represent who was substituted for Isaac as the sacrifice? if it indicates anything in the type, if it supports the idea of substitution in the atonement, it would indicate that Christ did not die at all but that something or someone else suffered in his stead, a theory of substitution that neither my brother nor any one else that I know of would favor; the fact is, that typically, Isaac is to be considered as having been actually offered up a sacrifice (Heb. 11:17), and raised from the dead, "from whence also Abraham received him in a figure" Heb. 11:19). There is certainly not the slightest support here for the "orthodox" doctrine of substitution.In this connection I would add another word on the subject of
OBJECTIONS VS. BIBLE PROOF.
Years ago in my school days I learned this principle, applicable in all reasoning, viz. Mere objections against an argument do not invalidate, or even weaken that argument. There is no theory, proposition or doctrine in any department of human knowledge, however well established or widely believed, but that strong and sometimes even unanswerable objections may be brought against it; but these objections do not weaken the theory, proposition or doctrine, so long as the evidence or proof upon which they rest remains intact. I refer to this because honest, simple souls are sometimes beguiled into giving up a well established position simply because some formidable appearing objections are brought against it, while at the same time the proofs are unanswerable. For instance, a certain doctrine is proved from plain scripture, say for example the doctrine of Probation after Death; it rests upon a good, solid, Bible basis; and yet apparently very strong objections may be brought against it; now shall my faith in the doctrine be abandoned or weakened because of these objections, even supposing I cannot answer them? certainly not, so long as the Bible proof remains firm. If any one wishes to overthrow that doctrine the proper way to do is, not to pile up objections against it, but to go to work and destroy the proof if they can; when that is done, the doctrine falls, and not until then. I had an illustration of this once in my own experience. When I first became interested in the truths set forth in "The Spirit of the Word" and while I was still a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, I was one evening talking to a company of Christians on this doctrine of Probation after death, and I made the same statement that I have made many times since, and with increasing emphasis, that there was not a single passage of scripture that taught that physical death fixed our eternal destiny; several passages were quoted and we talked about them, and at last one brother, who was opposed to the doctrine, quoted John 8:21, "Ye shall die in your sins; whither I go ye cannot come." I was new to these truths at that time, and had never thought of that passage in connection with that doctrine, and I was for the time staggered; the passage seemed to teach that those who died in their sins could never come where Jesus was. I could not at the time harmonize the passage with the doctrine of a probation after death; and the brother who advanced it went away quite triumphant at the victory he had won over me; and yet my faith in the doctrine was not weakened in the least, for I knew it rested on a strong scriptural foundation, that neither that brother nor any one since has ever been able to shake. I could not answer his objection, but still I clung to the doctrine because the proof of it was not at all weakened by the objection. I went home from the meeting to consider the objection and it did not take much study to entirely break its force. In the first place I found that it did not say what it seemed to say; it seemed to teach that those who die in their sins can never come where Jesus is; but it does not say that. It says "Ye shall die in your sins," a mere statement of fact which afterward came true, for those wicked Jews to whom he was talking did die in their sins; then Jesus states another fact, "whither I go ye cannot come;" he does not say, whither I go ye cannot come because ye shall die in your sins; neither does he say that they would never come to him, but simply, "whither I go ye cannot come." Now we have no right to conclude from this statement that those who die in their sins will never come where Jesus is; the passage says not so; we may think it implies that, but that is merely our opinion and has no more authority than another man's opinion; let us beware how we "add to this book" (Rev. 22:18). A little further study on the passage made me certain that Christ did not intend to teach by these words anything like what the brother supposed, for I found in John 13:33, that Jesus makes a precisely similar statement to his own disciples. "Little children, yet a little while I am with you, ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews whither I go ye cannot come so now I say to you." Did Christ mean when he said this to the Jews that they should never come to him? if he did then he meant the same thing when he repeated the same words to his disciples. Surely he meant nothing of the kind; the disciples could not go whither he went, but he would "come again" to them (John 14:3), as he would to the Jews (Rom. 11:25,26), and to all the groaning and travailing creation, that is waiting with "earnest expectation" for "the manifestation of the Sons of God" (Rom. 8:19), the promised "Seed" in whom all the families of the earth will be blessed by being turned "every one of them from their iniquities" (1-4-78). Thus the objection was entirely removed and another proof of the glorious doctrine of the "Restitution of all things" was found.
Now apply all this to the objection I have been noticing above against the true doctrine of the atonement, founded upon the type of Abraham offering up Isaac. The brother says he cannot believe this doctrine is true because the type seems to him to teach substitution. But can he answer the great array of solid scriptural proof that goes to establish this true doctrine, and to disprove the "orthodox" doctrine of substitution? If he cannot, then even though this objection might still stand in his way, apparently insurmountable, yet he should accept the doctrine as established by the evidence, and trust to time, and deeper study, and clearer light, to sweep away all objections.
Let me warn you, my friends, do not let any man snatch a well established truth away from you by a plausible or even a staggering objection. It is easy to make objections; and ofttimes it is very hard to clear them away. But even if you cannot answer the objections, you can turn on the objector and say, "I am not prepared now to reply to all your objections, but there is the doctrine, and there is the proof; can you shake that? until you can, the doctrine stands in spite of your objections."
I have referred to this principle before in connection with my answer to the brother in 1-10-225; that brother simply brings objections against the doctrines assailed without attempting to answer the proof of those doctrines; those objections are calculated to frighten a timid person away from the doctrines, even though the latter had the very best of evidence to establish them; the full acceptance of the great Bible doctrine that "all things are of God," does lead to some very startling conclusions, as I have shown again and again in this paper; and although the doctrine is undoubtedly true yet these conclusions seem to some so utterly impossible (as for instance that God is responsible for the introduction of sin into the world and for the present wretched condition of things, etc.), that with the most glaring inconsistency they reject the doctrine even while they confess that they cannot shake the Bible evidence upon which it rests; this is mental and moral cowardice; we need not be afraid to accept what comes to us well accredited by scriptural testimony, let the consequences be what they may. The truth will always bear its own weight, and he who walks out upon it, fearless and trusting, will find that it leads not to confusion, darkness and dishonor, as sometimes it seems as though it would, but to order, light and glory, both to the follower of truth, and to the great God, the source of all truth.
I would again repeat that seemingly weighty objections can be brought against almost any position or doctrine; let them not disturb you or prevent you from accepting the doctrine if only the evidence is satisfactory. Sometimes apparently unanswerable objections will arise in our own minds against a doctrine which yet we feel is undoubtedly founded upon the truth. What shall we do? Shall we wait and waver until all our doubts and objections are removed? if we act thus we shall not be likely to become established in any truth. Accept what seems to you to be truth, according to the best light you have, all objections to the contrary notwithstanding, and if it is truth the objections will melt away like mists before the rising sun, and "then shall we know if we follow on to know." And yet there are many who will not do this; they doubt, they are uncertain, they have objections, and so they stand "halting between two opinions" and are never established, for "If ye will not believe surely ye shall not be established" (Isa. 7:9). Belief is not absolute knowledge. Here and now we know only in part; we see through a glass darkly; we walk by faith, not by sight; shall we therefore waver, and hesitate, and halt, and not walk at all, because we cannot be absolutely sure of the way? no; go forward according to the best light you have, and thou shalt come to know by following on to know. With many persons their great hindrance in the way of truth is
Christians have said to me concerning the truth set forth in "The Spirit of the Word,"-"It looks very beautiful; it seems like truth; I wish it were true; the proof seems unanswerable; it certainly harmonizes Scripture as no other view does, but"-and then come the objections, the doubts and uncertainties,-"but" this, and "but" that,-hindering them from fully accepting, to their comfort and spiritual advancement, what nevertheless seems to them good and beautiful and true. We must accept things on satisfactory evidence, even if there is some doubt about it; we should not wait to have every doubt and objection removed; if the proof seems clear and scriptural so that we can see no flaw in it, believe; in spite of doubts, "follow on," and if the pathway "shines more and more" (Prov. 4:18), then you may know that you are on the line of truth. But "if ye will not believe ye shall not be established;" if you do not follow on you shall not know; if you halt, and waver, and cavil, and object, then you will not advance at all, but the light that is in you will become darkness. There is hardly anything that we believe concerning which we can say, "I believe it without a doubt." We should not believe blindly, neither should we refuse evidence; undue credulity is no more to be avoided than extreme skepticism; to refuse to accept, and to act upon, what is unanswerably established, is unreasonable and foolish. It. is simply unbelief and distrust that ties us to the old ruts after we are convinced that the path of truth is elsewhere. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:10), not with the head; we cannot expect to have every intellectual doubt removed, and every objection answered, and our way made absolutely sure, until "that which is perfect is come," and "we know fully even as we have been known fully" (1 Cor. 13; N.V.*margin). Now "We walk by faith," we "live by faith," and "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1; N.V.). "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, we also believe, and therefore speak" (2 Cor. 4:13), and thus we "enter into rest" (Heb. 4:3). There is no other rest here except the rest of faith, and faith is not what the natural man would call certainty; and yet it will become to us more and more like certainty, as we follow on to know the Lord; "without faith it is impossible to please God," and without faith we cannot be established, and hence we are in just the condition to be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Let us rather be "Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." (Col. 2:7).
There is a maxim in the world which says, "Be sure you are right and then go ahead," and some who do not think very deeply are persuaded that there is profound wisdom in this saying; but like many another worldly maxim it will not bear close examination; why, bless your heart, you would never go ahead at all, or anywhere else, if you always waited to be sure you were right. There are but very few things in this world, in fact scarcely anything, that we can say we are sure of, except we use the word in a very modified sense. Instead of the maxim I should say, "Decide according to the best light you have and then, whether you are sure or not, go ahead, trusting in God to lead you, praying 'with Elihu of old, "That which I see not, O Lord, teach thou me" (Job 34:32). Be deliberate, be cautious, accept nothing without proof, clear and convincing, but when a proposition comes to you backed up by such proof, so that you are convinced of its truth, or even if there is clearly more evidence for than against it, accept it, and act accordingly; let your works correspond to your faith (1-3-65) and, if you are "of the truth" (John 18:37), you will speedily be assured by the result whether you are "walking in the truth" (2 John 4) or not. "He that willeth to do his will shall know of the doctrine" (John 7:17; N. V.). Remember that neither objections nor doubts invalidate evidence; proof cannot be overthrown by objections and doubts, but only by counter proof. I repeat this thought and emphasize it because many refuse to accept a position on the clearest evidence, because they can see objections to it, or have doubts concerning it, when they do not attempt or pretend to answer the proof that establishes it.
As a further illustration of the foregoing I will notice in this connection a criticism in "The World's Hope" upon the view advanced in this paper that the atoning death of Christ was when he laid down his pre-existent life, and not when he suffered physical death on the cross. I have abundantly shown both from the law and from the testimony that this view is the Bible truth. "The World's Hope" does not attempt to answer these proofs, but simply presents certain objections to this view and makes some unsupported assertions in favor of the position that the death by which we are reconciled to God was Christ's physical death. I do not refer to this in order to open a discussion upon this point with the above mentioned paper; but simply to illustrate what I have already said concerning objections, and to show how the truth is never injured but always advanced by investigation. "Ye can do nothing against the truth but for the truth" (2 Cor. 13:8); when opposition to a Bible doctrine makes its truthfulness more apparent, then my faith in it is strengthened and confirmed. Moreover the importance of this subject of the atoning death of Christ fully warrants a further reference to it. Several have written to me concerning it, asking questions and raising objections. What follows will, if I err not, answer these questions and clear away these objections.
In the first place I would say that no one who believes in the preexistence of Christ can deny that when Jesus became incarnate he laid down a life and took upon himself a condition which the Bible again and again calls death. When one lays down life and enters into death, he dies, and thus Christ died when he "was made flesh;" whether this death was the atoning death or not, it is certain that Christ did thus die. When I say that Christ laid down a life, I mean that he left a certain state or condition of life and entered into a totally different state or condition which in comparison with the former is called death. I do not know but that all life of every kind in its last analysis, in. its essence, is the same; no human being has ever yet been able to tell what life is in itself, and I by no means attempt it; in the above position I simply take my stand on the plain and repeated teachings of the Bible. The preexistence of Christ is clearly taught. He was rich, he was glorious, in his pre-incarnate state; "he came down from heaven," he became poor, he was made sin and a curse, and this state the Scriptures call death; hence I say that the view that Christ died in some sense when he became incarnate is certainly scriptural. Some of my correspondents have expressed themselves "amazed" that I should speak of a person being both alive and dead at the same time; I can only say that any who object to this form of expression must settle the matter with Christ and the apostles, for they certainly did speak in this way (see 1-10-233). In previous articles I have given full proof that this fallen state is a condition death, and that Christ was in that condition while here in the flesh, and no amount of objections or assertions will overthrow that proof. Now we will examine the criticism of "The World's Hope" and other points that I wish to refer to will thereby be brought out.
"It is not clear," says the "Hope," "that Christ died by coming into this world. That was not death. There is no scriptural evidence that he either lost or left his divinity when he came in the flesh; it is not necessary to resort to such a position to defend the preexistence of Christ, . . . He left a condition of glory by hiding himself, as it were, in humanity, . . . God was manifest in the flesh- the divine in the human, instead of the divine dying. The divine cannot die; he brought his divinity into humanity.
In reply to this I would say it may not be clear to the editor of the "Hope" that Christ died by coming into the world, but it is clear to me that is the fact is the fact is clear-the plain teaching of the Bible, and though all the whys and wherefores of this fact may not be clear, yet we should accept the fact unless, as I have observed above, we can overthrow the evidence upon which it rests. When my brother said a little further on in the above quotation that when Christ became incarnate "he left a condition of glory by hiding himself, as it were, in humanity," he admits all that it is needful to admit in order to establish the above fact whether it is "clear" to him or not. My brother will not deny, since he fully believes in the pre-existence of Christ, that that "condition of glory" which Christ left was an existence, a life; and he cannot deny that that "humanity" in which "he hid himself," as the brother expresses it, is a condition which the Scriptures repeatedly denominate death; thus from his own words we conclude that Christ laid down life and entered into death, and it is very "clear" to me, and I should think it ought to be clear to everyone, that this is dying. Especially so when we know that Christ himself declared while here in the flesh, and before he was crucified, that he had already laid down the life which he would take up again when his trial was ended (1-3-53). I would say furthermore that I do not "resort to this position to defend the pre-existence of Christ; I never had any such thought; in fact the truth seems to me to be just the other way about, viz., that the pre-existence of Christ inevitably leads to this position; and that no one can consistently deny this position unless they also deny the pre-existence. If Christ did pre-exist, then he certainly did lay down a life when he became incarnate, and he did enter into a condition of death, and hence he did die; all this seems to me absolutely positive; however we may understand that death, or whatever place we may give it in our theology, a death there certainly was if Christ pre-existed.
Now another point; the brother uses the terms divinity and divine, in a very vague, obscure manner; I cannot certainly make out what he means by those terms; if I did not know something about his theological views, I should think that he used those terms in the usual "orthodox" sense, implying that Christ was both God and man, "Very God and very man," as the creeds express it. He uses the terms as though he thought that the Divinity of Christ was an entity distinct from Christ himself,-that when Christ came in the flesh, his Divinity came along with him, but his Divinity did not die, "the divine cannot die," etc. This is by no means "clear" to me. The one meaning of divine as used in reference to Christ is, if I err not, godlike; this I have already fully shown (see 1-5-97). Of course Christ did not "leave" this or "lose" it when he became incarnate, nor did he leave or lose it at any time afterward. Christ's divinity (his godlikeness) has no existence separate from Christ himself, any more than a man's character has an existence separate from the man. Christ's divinity is not a thing that he could leave or lose unless he committed sin. Jesus was divine (Godlike) before he came in the flesh (he was "in the form of God" Phil. 2:6), he was divine during his incarnation, for he came to reveal God to us (1-5-100) and he is forever divine. He is indeed "the express made of God," perfectly divine. He was not absolutely God, the Father, but he was perfectly godlike. But all this has no bearing that I can see upon the question at issue. I yield to no one in my estimation of the absolute divinity of Christ; but that does not disprove, or indeed affect in any way, the position that Christ died when he became incarnate. Let us be careful to define our terms, and to use them according to definition, and not talk round and round to no purpose, using terms that to nine-tenths of our readers or hearers mean nothing, thus "darkening counsel by words without knowledge." If the editor of the "Hope" uses the term divine in the sense of godlike, which is, I think, the Bible sense of the word, then his remarks in connection with that term have no force in the direction of the question under discussion; if he does not use the term in that sense I know not how he uses it and hence I am at a loss how to meet him.
Now I will quote again from the "Hope."
"'Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.' If the spirit of the word locates his death at his coming in the flesh, then the time of his rising should agree with it. Did he rise again to his divine life the third day from his coming in the flesh?"
To this criticism I would reply, first, that even supposing I could not harmonize this Scripture with my position, the latter would not therefore be disproved, because of this very obvious principle of Bible interpretation, viz.:
Disconnected passages of Scripture cannot disprove a Bible doctrine, that is established by many passages, and by the general scope and teaching of the Word.
I venture to assert that no Bible doctrine whatever can be advanced that disconnected passages may not be found apparently bearing against it. We must decide Bible questions according to the preponderance of evidence, and according to the general drift of Bible teaching, after a thorough examination of the entire Word in connection with it; and after a Bible question is thus settled, it cannot be unsettled or disproved by an isolated passage here and there. Every Bible student, who searches the Scriptures, finds himself compelled to accept doctrines because of the great mass of evidence in their favor, while at the same time there are disconnected passages which he cannot satisfactorily harmonize theretowith; these inharmonious passages, however, should not be allowed to disprove the well established doctrine.
The neglect and violation of the above principle is one of the prime causes of the multiplicity of sects and denominations; multitudes of doctrines, absolutely opposed to one another, are built upon detached portions of Scripture, when if Christians were more careful to gather, and were willing to accept, the preponderating testimony of the Word, they would come much nearer to a "unity" of the faith." I take this occasion to refer to this principle because I deem it very important, and I want to do what little I can to "thoroughly furnish" God's people (those who I am able to reach) "unto all good works."
It is not difficult, however, to harmonize the passage referred to with my position. There is a sense in which Christ died physically "for our sins," i.e., as the word rendered "for" signifies, for the sake of, because of, by reason of, on account of. Christ need not have died at all if it had not been for sin; he died two deaths (see explanation of Isa. 53:9, in 1-3-64), and both of them was on account of, or by reason of, in. How his physical death was on account of sin will appear in my answer to the next quotation.
"It is not denied that it was a great condescension and humiliation on Christ's part to assume humanity. But the question is, was that the sacrifice for atonement?-even if it could be proved that the divine died, was that the death that reconciles? I think not. The real sacrifice needed for atonement, it will be admitted, was typified by the killing of a beast. Was that beast a type of Christ's pre-existent life?"
In this passage again the brother uses the term "divine" in the vague sense above noted. I do not think that the "divine" died, understanding the term as I have explained it; what the brother means by the word I can only conjecture. He seems to speak further as though it might be proved that Christ did die when he came in the flesh, and he says that the question is was that the death that reconciles, and he tries to show from the type that it was not. Now I claim that the type shows most clearly that it was. I do not think "the beast was a type of Christ's pre-existent life," but the life (blood) of the beast that was sacrificed, and by which atonement was made (Lev. 17:11), represents the life that Jesus laid down for atonement, whatever life that was. Now then what life was it that Jesus sacrificed in order to make atonement? Was it his preincarnate life which he laid down when he became poor for our sakes? or was it his physical life which was "taken" from him (Acts 8:33) by the Jews? It seems to me that the mere asking of this question would irresistibly suggest the one answer to every thoughtful Bible student-viz., that it was his pre-incarnate life that Christ sacrificed in order to make the atonement; and that this is the true answer I have given abundant proof both in this paper and in preceding ones; but now let us ask again, does the type confirm this view? it most certainly does. In the type, the life of the beast was sacrificed to make atonement, and afterward the dead, unclean carcass was burned without the camp. Now in the antitype we know that the physical death of Christ was the fulfillment of this latter part of the type, i.e. the burning of the sin-polluted carcass without the camp; on this point there can be no question if the testimony of Heb. 12:11-13 is accepted; and if this be so then the atoning death of Christ to be in harmony with the type, must have been before his physical death on the cross; the latter could not possibly have been the death that reconciles, unless in the type the burning of the dead rejected body of the sin-offering without the camp was the atoning sacrifice. Does the editor of the "World's Hope" take this latter view? if he were explaining to a Jew the typical significance of the law would he point to that burning of the dead carcass, "the skin, and the flesh, and the dung" (Lev. 16:27), as the atonement ceremony? He ought to, to be consistent if he thinks that the atoning death of Christ was on the literal cross; and if he would not explain the type that way, but would look for the atoning sacrifice previous to the disposal of the dead carcass, then he is bound to make a corresponding change in his explanation of the antitype. Not only is it true that the type fully confirms the view of the death of Christ that I have presented, but in fact it will harmonize with no other view; the type drives us to this view; we are compelled by the type to look for the atoning death of Christ previous to his physical death "without the gates;" the latter was no part of the atonement ceremony proper, as we have then; his atoning death must have been when he laid down his preincarnate life. I would call attention also in this connection to the incidental confirmation by the type of the position that some of my correspondents have called in question, that Christ while here in the flesh was in a condition of death; the animal burned without the camp had been previously killed and was already dead; so Christ when he was "made flesh," died, and during the entire period of his incarnation he was in a condition of death, hence his physical death "without the gates," was a striking antitype to the burning of the dead sin-offering "without the camp." I will add also that the type shows us how Christ died physically on account of our sins; the sin offering was burned without the camp because it was a SIN offering, no other offering or sacrifice was so treated; so Christ, the antitype of the sin offering, died physically for our sins, i.e. because of them; but this physical death of Christ was not his death for atonement, i.e. reconcilation.
I will notice one more quotation from the "Hope."
"The divine and the human in one person are essential to the perfect Saviour. Christ is thus both the antitypical Priest and Sacrifice. The divine destroys the enmity of the lower nature and also imparts his own higher nature."
Here again is the vague, indeterminate use of the term "divine"; in the first sentence he speaks of the divine and the human in one person; in the second sentence he speaks as though the divine were a separate person, when he says, "the divine imparts his own higher nature." The principle reason, however, why I introduce this quotation is for the sake of observing that Christ was not a Priest at all until after his resurrection; while he was "on earth (i.e. in the earthy condition) he could not be a priest." (Heb. 8:4) "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood." Jesus had no more right to exercise the priestly office while he was in the flesh than any other Jew outside of the tribe of Levi and not of the Aaronic order; after his resurrection he became a priest after a new order, that of Melchisedek; but while he was on earth, so far as the type of the atonement was concerned, he was nothing but the dead sin offering.
I have several more questions on this same subject which I shall try to answer in some future issue. I will close the present article by proposing the following Query-How does the physical death of Christ reconcile the world unto God? The Bible distinctly tells us that "we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" now will someone, who believes that the death here referred to was his physical death on the literal cross, please answer the above query, and I shall be glad to consider it.
A brother asks-"How can Gen. 5:1 ("In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him") be harmonized with the view that Adam was not really created in the image and likeness of God as set forth in 1-1-14?"
I do not know as I can make this subject any plainer than I have in the article referred to. Gen. 5:1, is no more positive and direct than Gen. 1:27. If the brother can see, as explained in that article, that in the latter passage God is "calling those things which be not as though they were," then it seems to me he need have no difficulty in applying the same principle to the former passage; as a matter of fact, we know that God did not actually create man in his own image at that time, hence we must seek some explanation of the apparently untrue statement, that this principle clearly furnishes the explanation.
The same brother also asks a question about the new covenant, and the Mediator of that "better covenant" (Heb. 8:6). I have explained the term mediator in 1-9-197 and 1-10-220. I will leave the discussion of the Covenants to some future time when I shall try to fully consider the subject, as the importance of it demands.
Another brother writes, "You say that the day of Judgment is a day of rejoicing for the world. The apostle Peter says that "the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men?' Is that the same day that you speak of? Sometimes passages of scripture come to mind that are hard to harmonize with your view of the judgment."
The difficulty in harmonizing certain scriptures with the truth arises oftentimes from our previous education, and from the fact that we have not studied deeply enough. I see no difficulty in harmonizing the above passage with that view of the judgment presented in No. 6. I have partially explained this passage in 1-5-103. In regard to the last clause, I would say that because "the perdition (or destruction, as the word means) of ungodly men" is spoken of as taking place in "the day of judgment," we have no need to conclude that all the wicked are to be forever destroyed in that day. We know that a man or a community of men may be utterly destroyed and yet be afterward recovered from that destruction, as witness the case of Sodom (1-6-129). In fact this is one of God's methods; "He turneth man to destruction and saith return ye children of men" (Psa. 90:3; see also explanation of Psa. 83:16-18 in 1-6-127). In the Judgment day the final outcome will be blessings for the world, though some of the processes of Judgment will be most painful. The ungodly will certainly be destroyed at last, so that there will not be an ungodly one in all the world, "God shall be all in all," but how will they be destroyed? Not by annihilating the individual, but by curing him of his ungodliness, and bringing him into harmony with God; or as Jude expresses it, Christ shall come with his saints "to convince all that are ungodly of all their ungodly deeds." (Jude 14, 15). "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up;" He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole;" "He turneth man to destruction, and saith return ye children of men;" "Come [then] and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up."
I would add furthermore that here is another instance where the principle already referred to in the present number should be applied.
Even supposing we could not harmonize this passage with the general teaching of the Bible in regard to the Judgment day, we should not therefore reject that general teaching. Accept the truth as it is set forth in the Bible as a whole and let isolated passages wait to be reconciled to this truth until further study, experience and light from heaven. There are a number of doctrines that I firmly hold to the joy and rejoicing of my heart, because I believe that the Bible as a whole fully supports them, and yet there are some passages that I cannot satisfactorily to myself harmonize with those doctrines. I do not think that it is possible to lay too much emphasis upon this point. If you want to get as near the truth as possible in this present imperfect state, beware of partial applications of scripture; draw your conclusions from a consideration of the teachings of the entire Word upon any given subject, and then hold to those conclusions notwithstanding your inability to harmonize single passages therewith.
A sister asks concerning the use of the word "again" in Matt. 17:9-"until the Son of man be risen again from the dead"-as though he had risen once and was to rise again. The word should be omitted; it is omitted from the New Version; also from the Emphatic Diaglott, from Rotherham's New Testament, and from Young's Translation; there is no doubt but that the introduction of the word into the text is a mistake. This is also true on the above authority of the same word in Rev. 20:5, where it should also be omitted.
A brother writes-"I am preaching the doctrine of restitution and God is blessing my labors; now if I should wish to form an association of those who believe as we do what course will I pursue?"
I would answer, Don't do it; don't form any association. If "the love of the truth" will not hold you together, nothing will. If you possess "the unity of the spirit" (Eph. iv. 3) you do not need outward organization; if you have not that unity, organization is worse than useless, it is positively harmful, because it fosters the sectarian spirit. Do not form a sect, but cultivate the pilgrim spirit; "here the follower of Christ has no continuing city;" he is not of this world; his citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20, N. V.) and, moreover, "The Judge standeth at the door," therefore, Say ye not a confederacy" (Isa. 8:12).
*i.e. New Version; refers to The English Revised Version of 1881-1885 (RSV)