by C. L. Parker
It was through my brother, Clarence, who was privileged to be a student at Hampstead Bible School under Mr. C. L. Parker, a regular tutor, that I was first introduced to these gripping studies on Foundation Truths. Later, it was my joy to hear, for myself, this gracious and godly man expound these rousing and thought provoking Bible doctrines in the lecture room. The impact he made upon me is with me still. In 50 years of pastoral work in Assemblies of God I have had repeated need to thank God for them. They have constantly formed a basis for discussion with ardent truth-seeking young people. I now recommend this Third Edition to all true lovers of the Word of God.
Clyde Young, Pastor, Hebron Church, Sunderland.
"Foundation Truths", based on Hebrews 6,1-2, contains the essence of his teaching, built around his graphic representation of man's Spirit, Soul and Body (1 Thessalonians 5,23) - to which he gave the name 'Archie'! Any readers of these pages will find themselves challenged and stimulated theologically and generally, whether or not they agree with all Mr Parker's conclusions.
John L. Parker
A Text Book for Young Christians
BY C. L. PARKER
TUTOR HAMPSTEAD BIBLE SCHOOL, KENLEY, SURREY
(Formerly Chaplain, Fellow, and Tutor of University College, Oxford)
To my students
who by patient listening and unceasing
questioning have through the years forced
upon me hours of strenuous Bible study,
this booklet to which they have contributed
so much is affectionately dedicated.
The Foundation of Repentance from Dead Works and of Faith towards God, of the Doctrine of Baptisms and of Laying on of Hands, of Resurrection of the Dead and of Eternal Judgment.
— end of page 4 —
It is a pleasure to commend to the thinking student this first edition of a book by a painstaking scholar and theologian upon the intriguing subject which he has called "Foundation Truths."
My mind was made up before first reading the script that I would not agree with the writer simply because he was a friend of mine. It is a happy mood to be in when one can disagree reasonably. That was how I first read this text-book.
I found, however, that after reading a few pages, this care-free mood was not guaranteed any permanence: for the writer's logic, careful application of abundant scripture references and sincere appeal to his readers to prove to their own satisfaction his interpretations of fundamental truth, made it very difficult for me to disagree. This I presume was just where he wanted me—thinking—thinking for myself.
This is a text-book for the careful reader: and its subject matter is worthy of painstaking study. The doctrines considered are vital and essential to an understanding of both God and man, sin and salvation, death and life, heaven and hell.
The chapter on Eternal Punishment is very provocative and should he studied prayerfully with an open Bible at hand. This subject is as much for the heart as for the intellect. One's heart is warmed as it is plainly shown that God is not a Being with a split personality, as many must have thought Him when considering His judgments: a loving God to His own people, but fearful in hatred and revenge upon a disobedient host of unbelievers!
God is love: and at no time nor in any circumstances does He change: for in His unchanging love and mercy He provides a secure Keeping Place for the unbelievers and thus preserves the eternal peace of His own beloved people. This is Hell—God's mad house, for the ultimately irreconcilable.
If this brief foreword were for purposes of comment, then it would be as long as the book. It is not. It is a privilege granted me to commend this book to all students of God's Word and to those who love His appearing.
It gives me great satisfaction to recommend this third edition of Foundation Truths by one of the Lord's most esteemed servants.
The value of these thought provoking studies can never be truly estimated in mere words. I am most grateful to Lord for allowing me the privilege of hearing them expounded by the writer himself in the lecture hall of the Hampstead Bible College; there was never a dull moment!
Ever since Foundation Truths have been committed to print I have never been without a copy, and it has been my joyful practice to pass them on to others in the hope that they will be as enriched by them as I have been.
Assemblies of God Minister
— end of page 5 —
— end of page 6 —
New converts to Christianity are spoken of in the Bible as babes in Christ, with hearts full of desire for understanding, and minds equally full of problems and questions. Peter (I Peter 2:2) tells us that what they need is the sincere milk of the Word, if they are to grow to a healthy maturity. When they are grown up there is solid food for them too; but until then they need milk and not meat.
Many young Christians have suffered life-long spiritual indigestion, or the diseases that spring from malnutrition owing to a wrong diet in their early days. Those who are ignorant of the Scriptures can be misled by any teacher with strong personality, and need to acquire for themselves that full assurance of understanding of which St. Paul speaks. (Col. 2:2, Heb. 10:22.)
It is of the first importance therefore to know what is meant by the milk of the Word; and our Father has left us in no doubt on this matter, but has detailed it for us in Hebrews 5:11 to 6:2.
The Foundation Truths, the A.B.C. of Christianity, are seven in number, Repentance from dead works, Faith towards God, Baptism in Water, Baptism in Spirit, the Laying on of hands, Resurrection of the dead, Eternal Judgment. Only after he has learnt the truth in these simple matters is the Christian baby ready to consider the harder problems and deeper wisdom of God's Revelation.
These studies are designed primarily therefore to lead the new convert to those passages of the Bible in which these matters are most simply handled, that he may see for himself the Scriptural basis of his faith, and be fully persuaded in his own mind. In the hour of battle a man cannot stand upon another's teaching, but only upon those parts of the Truth that he has made his own.
It will soon become apparent to him that these Foundation Truths show the steps by which His Heavenly Father plans to change a "man born of woman," who was rightly at home on this earth, into a mature "Son of God" who longs for His Heavenly home and destiny.
— end of page 7 —
I am indeed grateful to Mr. George Newsholme (Editor of Redemption Tidings), who has not only read the manuscript, but has also written the preface and helped in the final form of this booklet. My hearty thanks are also due to Miss E. F. Dodgson, who patiently typed and retyped the manuscript, and to my wife for the designs of the diagrams. May the Lord be able to use it to His own refreshment, Prov. 25:13, and to the blessing of His people.
— end of page 8 —
REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS
The first Foundation Truth contains the arresting phrase "Dead works," which is aptly illustrated by our Lord's words, "Let the dead bury their dead," or St. Paul's phrase, "... is dead while she liveth." Fully to understand these words we need to consider the birth and constitution of a "man born of woman." (Luke 9:60, I Timothy 5:6.)
The First Birth
He is tripartite; body, soul and spirit. His body comes from his parents, his spirit comes from God, and his soul, i.e., himself, is the result of this union of body and spirit, a new individual without experience of any kind, but good because made by God Himself. Man is a soul, he possesses a spirit and a body, the former whereby he can contact the spirit world, and the latter with which to enter and appreciate the material world. The soul, if it loses its body, is dead to this world; if it loses its spirit, it is dead to God and the Heavenly world. If it loses both, it is dead to both worlds, conscious only of the isolation and hopeless darkness of death. Gen. 2:7—margin "lives," Num. 16:22, Is. 57:16, Eccl. 12:7, I Thes. 5:23, Mt. 11:11, Heb. 4:12, John 3:6, I Cor. 2:10-16, Job 10:21-22, Heb. 2:15, Lk. 12:5.
Every child therefore that is born into this world is alive to God through the spirit which He has given it, and alive to this world through the body which it has inherited through its parents. Its spirit is, of course, perfect like all God's works; but its flesh, coming down ultimately from Adam, is imperfect, and liable in varying degrees to desires which are sinful.
These desires, however, are not in the soul of the baby but in its flesh, and therefore this "sin in the flesh" is in the Bible phrase "Dead," i.e., harmless, and the child itself is alive to God through its spirit with which He has endowed it. So that looking at young children, our Lord said that of such was the Kingdom of Heaven; and exhorted us to become like them; which He could hardly have done if their souls had been as a matter of fact incapable of goodness, totally depraved, and fit only for
— end of page 9 —
eternal punishment, as so many Christians have thought they ought to believe! God's mercies are over all His Works, and the child of even the wickedest parents is not born without the gracious gift of spirit from the Creator.
Every baby then is born alive to God and well pleasing to Him, and receives grace from God through its own spirit which God has given it, and its Guardian Angel whom God has appointed over it.
N.B. The phrase "Original Sin," which, like that other phrase "born in sin," is not scriptural, would be shorn of its misleading implications if it were changed into the Scriptural language "Dead sin in the flesh." Every theory of "Original sin" which locates the effect of Adam's sin in the soul of his descendants, instead of in their flesh, or implies that the child is born without grace from God or in any way "Dead to God" is to be unhesitatingly rejected.
Note on various erroneous doctrines
There are several erroneous teachings about the fall of man, which crept into the Church at a very early date and should be noted at this point; since not only have they led to wrong practices, but they have also clouded the minds of men and dimmed the glory of God, presenting such a picture of Him that, while men could still fear Him as the Almighty, they could neither respect His justice nor discover His love.
1. The soul of a baby is not hopelessly corrupt because of Adam's sin; it is its flesh only which is tainted; its soul and spirit are pure, being made by God.
Mk. 10:14, Is. 57:3-7, 16, Eccl. 7:29, 12:7, Num. 16:22.
— end of page 10 —
3. God (a) does not impute the sin of Adam to his children, nor (b) does He impute the righteousness of Christ to a Christian.
(b) Neither is the righteousness of Christ imputed to anyone; it is Christ's death which is imputed, suffered on our behalf. The moral perfection of Christ cannot be imputed to anyone; but it is imparted as we obey Him. Each man will receive the reward of his own deeds. (II Cor. 3:18, 5:10.)
N.B. The Greek word dikaiosune has two meanings: (a) Justification when brought to trial by the Law; this can take place in two ways; 1. The evidence shows you not guilty; and you are discharged; 2. The evidence shows you guilty, but you. or someone else, pay the penalty. Thus the convict who has done his time is "justified" and no longer a convict: it is libellous to speak of him as such! (b) A moral character which deserves praise because, so far from breaking the Law, it goes the "second mile."
4. It is not true that God is angry with us, for our "fallen nature", and would be justified in condemning us to Hell for it. Out of this slander upon the justice of God has arisen the erroneous practice of Infant Baptism, which is an attempt to counter the supposed danger by means of Baptismal regeneration. If it were true that we were so born that sin is inevitable, not only would repentance be impossible, but we should have a perfect excuse for our sin, and could not possibly feel guilty. Historically and practically the doctrine that sin is inevitable always leads to this very frame of mind, an acquiescence in it as a regrettable necessity: humanum est errare! God, of course, could not and does not, condemn us for what we cannot avoid; neither could men repent of actions which were forced
— end of page 11 —
upon them by their nature. They could only grieve over the fact that they were so badly created: and for that they would of necessity blame, not themselves, but their Creator. Gen. 18:23-25, Rom. 3:5-6, Rom. 5:13.
N.B.l. The fact that all men do as a matter of fact sin is not due to some taint of "original" sin in their nature which makes sin inevitable; but as the Bible says, to the fact that "all like sheep go astray." It is the herd instinct and the fear of standing alone which operates so powerfully. We are to confess Christ before men.
Sin is not due to some flaw in the soul, but simply to the possession of free will. Both Adam and Eve sinned, though from different motives, in spite of the fact that they were created completely perfect in body, soul and spirit. Lucifer also sinned, though perfect in all his ways from the Creation. Perfection of creation is no safeguard against sin! (Eccl. 7:29, Ezekiel 28:12-15, Is. 53:6, Gen. 2:5-25.)
Neither is perfection of surroundings a preventative. The first sins both in Heaven and Earth were committed under ideal conditions.
N.B.2. Even perfect flesh, such as Adam and Eve possessed, was endowed by God with desires, which unless curbed by the soul would lead it to sin. The realisation that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasant to look at is put first in the motives that led to Eve's sin! The stronger the bodily instinct, the greater the danger of misuse. The strongest and most lovely of all physical instincts implanted by God, the sexual, is also the most dangerous unless ruled by the soul. The perfect flesh of the perfect man contained within it the possibility of temptation and sin just as inevitably as did the fallen flesh of Adam! The only safety of the most perfect flesh lies in its control by a wise and loving soul. (Gen. 3:6, Mt. 4:2-4, Mt. 26:41, I Cor. 9:27.)
N.B.3. While it is true that Cain and Abel came into the world with smaller opportunities than Adam and Eve, since God no longer visited them intimately in the garden, it is also true (a) that God did not again ask so high a standard and (b) that Enoch walked with God and that Noah pleased Him. It is true that the fall of Adam brought the whole race down to a lower level of possibilities; it is also true that the lower level
— end of page 12 —
was capable of achievement, and that God could still be pleased with men. From Adam justification was no longer by works but by faith; and the rite of blood-sacrifice for sin was well known from Abel, who was the first of a long line of men who have pleased God by their faith. (Acts 10:35, Ezekiel 14:14, II Chron. 20:7, Heb. 11:1-40, Hab. 2:4.)
5. "As in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22), does not refer to our souls, but to our bodies. If it did refer to our souls, it would be a powerful argument for Universalism! Adam died physically not because he sinned, but because God drove him from the Tree of Life; otherwise in spite of his sin he would have lived for ever. For the same reason all men suffer physical death. Hence all, including the wicked, will be raised from death by Christ. The death of this resurrection body in the Lake of Fire, which is the second time a man loses his body, i.e., his second death, will be for a man's own unrepented and hence unforgivable sin: and will be eternal, leaving the soul in hopeless impotence and anguish. (Acts 24:15, John 5:28-29, Rev. 20:11-15, Rom. 2:1-9, Mark 9:43-50, Gen. 3:22-24.)
There comes a time, however, when moral law enters into the soul of a child, either from instruction in God's Word, or in the ordinary course of nature. When this has happened, and the child begins to pass moral judgment upon others, then sin in the flesh, which has hitherto been dead and harmless, comes alive, and proceeds to entice and try to deceive the soul, as in the Garden of Eden.
Note on Temptation
It is essential to realise that temptation is not sin. God did not intend Adam and Eve to live without temptation, since it is only by resisting it that frail innocence can develop into strong purity, and learn not only to love good but to hate evil. Accordingly
— end of page 13 —
Satan was allowed to enter Eden; Job was left in his hand "without cause," the Israelites were led through that great and terrible wilderness, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil; the disciples were handed over to be sifted as wheat.
The surest way to throw a maid into the arms of her lover is to speak against him! Every instinct of protection and loyalty rises up in passionate rejection of the imputation. So should it have been with Adam and Eve in the garden when Satan slandered their friend and Creator. They should have risen up in defence of Him they loved, clung the closer for the attack, and conceived such a hatred for Satan that he would no longer have dared to enter their garden. Such, no doubt, was the design of the Almighty, but it was frustrated by the folly and disloyalty of the perfect creatures, Adam and Eve! Eve allowed herself to be deceived by Satan's innuendoes, and Adam put his wife's companionship before his God's; as many another man has done, since the first one said, "I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come." It was God's greatest gift which brought about the downfall of the perfect man! Solomon, the wisest man, owed his downfall to his inability to use the gifts of God aright. It was Lucifer's wisdom and ability, the gifts of God, which fed the pride which caused his ruin. Every blessing, indeed, from God has in itself the seeds of temptation: and history is full of men whose heart was lifted up to rebellion by the very gifts which should have made them grateful. (II Chr. 18:1, II Chr. 26:16, 32:25.)
Temptation is not sin; the hour of fiercest temptation can be the hour of greatest purity. By allowing us to inherit from our parents a body from which temptation is inevitable, God has not been unfair to us, but has given us the opportunity by resisting such temptation, of establishing ourselves for ever in His love and service. When God gave men and angels freewill He made it possible for them to disobey any command He might impose and to embark on a life of selfishness instead of love. Hence temptation was possible in Heaven before sin occurred. (Ez. 28:11-15.)
The fact that we are tempted, however severely, whether by the flesh, the world, or the Devil, is not accepted by God as an excuse for sinning. We are indeed to welcome, though not to
— end of page 14 —
invite, temptation, albeit with fear and trembling humility, for the overcoming of temptation is the royal road to the Throne of God. (James 1:2-4, 12-15, Heb. 2:18, 4:15, Luke 22:28-32, I Peter 1:6-7, Gen. 3, Deut. 8:2-3, 15-16, Matt. 4:1-11, Job, chapters 1 and 2, Gal. 6:1, I Cor. 10:13.)
It is obvious that temptation and sin are permanent possibilities of a "free will"; by which we mean that a man can choose his own course, whether it be good or evil, even if he lacks the power to put it into action. The whole aim of God is therefore to do away with sin, not by excluding temptation but by making the soul immune to it; as the body becomes immune to disease not by elimination of bacilli but by the setting up of a sufficient resistance to them (Heb. 1:9). Only the man who hates evil is safe against temptation. Therefore God has allowed evil great liberty in this world, that by awful experience of its effects, its deceitful promises might be exposed, and mankind might learn to dread it above all things and to achieve an iron determination never to commit it. (Lk. 15:17, Heb. 1:9, Ps. 119:97-104, Heb. 12:4.)
Note on Conscience
Conscience is not the voice of God, neither is it necessarily pleasing to God or according to His Law. It is that standard of conduct which a man lays down for his neighbour, to which he is himself accountable. This standard is formed by a man (a) out of his own heart in automatic reaction to his neighbour's acts, e.g., the last six of the ten commandments are the involuntary response of human nature to the selfishness of another which threatens its happiness "Thou shalt not steal" pours out of the lips of the man who is being robbed: "thou shalt not commit adultery" is the cry of the man whose wife is unfaithful: "thou shalt not covet" is the instinctive thought in the heart of the man who sees his neighbour eyeing his poultry too lovingly! (b) Out of the opinions of the society in which he lives. (c) Out of any revelation which he may have received of God. By this and by this alone will he be judged. (Rom. 2:1-16, 5:13, 14:5, Lk. 12:47-48, James 4:17, I Cor. 4:4, Acts 26:9, Mt. 7:1-5, Titus 1:15, I Tim. 4:2.)
— end of page 15 —
LIFE OR DEATH
It is the peculiar glory of Jesus, which He shares with no other, that though tempted in all points like as we are yet He never yielded to the solicitations of sin, from whatever quarter they might come. Wherefore for this reason God has given Him the Name which is above every name. (John 8:46, Lk. 4:1-13, 22:28, Heb. 2:14-18, 4:14-15, 5:7-10, Phil. 2:5-11.)
It has been the tragedy of the human race on the contrary, that like sheep we have all turned to our own way and gone astray; so that, instead of growing strong in character by continuous and successful struggle against temptation, we have become the weak slaves of sin, and found out that the soul that sinneth it shall die. Let it be noted that only a living soul can die; a dead soul is already dead. Hence the salvation of God finds us in the condition of diagram 3, not from compulsion but of choice. The tragedy of Eden is continually repeated, so that each soul having once turned aside finds itself a captive, cut off from God by the death of the spirit; and able, and at first at any rate contented, only to live in the world of sense through its body. The whole life of such a person is described in the vivid phrase "dead works" or the life of a man dead to God.
There is a short story by H. G. Wells entitled "The Country of the Blind," which is an apt illustration of this condition. In this tale, a man with eyes strays into the kingdom of The Blind and is taken captive. The fact that he can see, however, is not a help to him but a hindrance, since it rouses the jealousy and dislike of the blind, who prefer to think that no such thing as sight exists. In the end they will allow him to live in their midst only upon the condition that they may put his eyes out and make him as one of themselves. So would the world put out the Christian's eyes, and pull him down into their chosen darkness. (Jn. 3:19, Rom. 1:18-21. Is. 53:6, Lk. 9:60, John 8:31-34, Rom. 1:18-32, 5:12, 6:12-16, 7:9-11, Gal. 5:15-16, Eph. 2:1-3, I Tim. 5:6, Ez. 18:4, James 1:14-15.)
Note on Death of the Spirit
Be it noted that a dead spirit is not an annihilated or non-existent spirit, but one which no longer performs the duty for which it was intended. i.e., to contact God. A "dead spirit",
— end of page 16 —
though unable any longer to contact God, can yet get into touch with other dead spirits, both angels and demons, which inhabit the first Heaven and the earth: viz., the black line in the diagrams. (Eph. 2:2, 6:12, II Cor. 4:4, I Cor. 10:19-21, Is. 8:19, I Sam. 28, II Kings 21:6, I Tim. 4:1, I John 4:1-3.)
The consideration of the phrase "dead works" has made it clear that man's estrangement from God is due in each case to his own deliberate act.
He who hides his action from his fellow man whom he can see, hides it also from the righteous God whom he cannot see; and comforts himself for having done so by some protective covering, e.g., "There is no God," or "God doth not see," "You can't expect to be too good while in the flesh," or even "God doesn't mind sin so long as you are saved."
The modern sinner hides himself from the true God as definitely as did Adam and Eve; and the various religions of the world have as their motive the desire to pretend that there is no righteous God who has revealed Himself to us, but only gods who leave us free to do evil. (Ps. 14:1, 36:1, 50:21, Eccl. 7:16, Rom. 1:23, II Cor. 4:4.)
It is clear then that, until he is willing to retrace that step and come into relationship with God again, even God cannot help him. This willingness to change his attitude towards God is called repentance; and, since nothing can be done without it, all God's efforts are lovingly turned to bringing it about. The Holy Spirit uses in each case the most appropriate means to appeal to the heart of the one with whom He is dealing. It may be fear of judgment, fear of consequences, dreadful experiences of an ungodly life, revelation of the love of God in sending His Son to die for sinners, experience of His power in signs and wonders, the hope of eternal life instead of the fear of death. The variety of the means He uses is as great as that of the hearts with which He has to deal, but the end is always the same, to persuade the ungodly to be willing to come into contact with a living God, to be reconciled to the One they have distrusted. (John 16:8, Mk. 1:15, Acts 9:32-35, 8:6-8, 16:27-30, 17:30-31, 2:37, Lk. 11:31-32, 13:1-9, Rom. 5:8, John 3:16.)
— end of page 17 —
N.B.1. God does give space for repentance, but does not wait beyond the appointed time. (Gen. 6:1-7, Lk. 13:1-9, Rev. 2:21, Heb. 12:17, 6:4-8, 10:26-30, Rom. 2:1-11, Dan. 4:27-31, Jonah 3:4, Jer. 18:7-10, II Chron. 36:14-16, Eccl. 8:11.)
It includes hatred of sin, sorrow for those we have wronged, and a desire to put things right; remorse is sorrow for oneself, because one's sin has been exposed and must be paid for. (Mt. 27:3-5, II Sam. 17:23.)
Thus the first Foundation Truth is illustrated by—
— end of page 18 —
FAITH TOWARDS GOD
The New Birth
As soon as the Holy Spirit sees that the soul is willing to believe the truth about God, He enables it to do so by begetting it a new spirit. Spiritual things are only discerned by spirit, and therefore the Lord told Nicodemus that what he needed was not teaching, but a living spirit. The body and spirit might be compared to a couple of radio sets for receiving and transmitting, the one tuned into the seen world, the other to the unseen: the soul being entirely dependent upon them for contact with either world. A room may be filled with all kinds of music, plays, talks from all over the world: yet its occupants are in complete ignorance of the fact, since they have never possessed or even heard of a wireless set! So it is with both spiritual and natural things. The world is full of sounds, but this one is ignorant of them as he was born deaf: in a similar way, heaven is shut to the man whose spirit is dead, since he has lost that part which alone can receive impressions from the spiritual world; and his one overwhelming need is that this part should be restored, i.e., born again, so that once more he may be in contact. (Jn. 3:5, I Cor. 2:14.)
The more the radio is used the wider the knowledge of the outside world. There are those who might be said to live at their radio: we are expected likewise to live in the spirit! Some radios have a wider range and more perfect reception than others: so the spirit of Christ is more sensitive than the spirit of a servant and opens to us a much wider range of understanding of spiritual realities. (Rom. 8:15.)
N.B. 1. It is the spirit which is born again, not the soul; the soul, which has already lived in the human family, is adopted into the Royal Family of God, and has to learn how to live in its new surroundings. (John 3:1-8, Eph. 1:5, 4:11-16, Rom. 6:15-23, Gal. 4:6, II Peter 1:4, I Tim. 3:15, II Cor. 3:18.)
N.B.2. That which a Son of God receives at his new birth is not the Holy Spirit Himself, but that which is born of Him, holy spirit. The Holy Spirit Himself is normally given through the
— end of page 19 —
laying on of the hands of one in whose body He has taken up His abode, and this happens after the new birth. The Holy Spirit is a person; the holy spirit which He gives at the new birth is a thing, just as the body which the parents give is a thing, not a person. (John 3:6, Acts 8:17, 9:17, 19:6, Eph. 1:13 "after".)
So the Apostles received holy spirit and were born again on the night of the Resurrection. After that they were continually in the Temple praising and blessing God. It was, however, not until the day of Pentecost that they received the Holy Spirit Himself, who immediately manifested His presence in a miraculous fashion. Much confusion has arisen through the failure to differentiate between the Person and the thing. Since there are no capital letters or other ways of distinguishing between them in the original MSS., every translator is free to use his own judgment in the matter, and so mistakes have been made. (John 20:22, Acts 2:4, Lk. 24:53.)
All Christians then have that which the Holy Spirit begets, and all Christians have also the Holy Spirit Himself "with them," for it was He who brought them to repentance and begat them again. It is, however, those who are baptised in the Spirit who have Him "in them." (Rom. 8:9, John 14:17, Acts 19:2-6.)
The body of every Son of God is a temple of the Holy Ghost: but that temple is empty until the Spirit enters it, of which entry there is always a clear sign. Even as the Tabernacle and Temple were first prepared and built, and after that manifestly filled with the glory of God. (I Cor. 3:16-17, 6:19, Ex. 40:33-34, I Kings 8:10-11, Mal. 3:1.)
The Gift of God
Faith is therefore the gift of God, because it is the result of the new spirit, which is born; just as hearing is the result of an ear, or sight of an eye. A man believes because he has been given a living spirit; and because he has such a spirit he cannot help believing, even if for some selfish reason he may wish to do so. Only by spiritual suicide can he kill this spirit and become "twice dead." In such cases he knows what he has done and lives in apprehension of fiery judgment (I Peter 1:23-2:2, Eph. 2:8-10, Heb. 6:4-8, 10:26-29, Jude 12.)
It is essential that faith should be the gift of God and not a human ability. Were it not so, a man might be discouraged by
— end of page 20 —
the thought that he had always found faith difficult, and was in this way handicapped: but, since it is the gift of God, all men may have it, for God gives it freely to all who will accept it. Indeed, men whose thoughts have been far from God have found themselves suddenly believing in Christ so that to their great surprise the whole course of their lives has been changed. God has made it possible for the most difficult and unlikely soul to believe, by giving him spirit, the source of faith, that through which the unseen is apprehended. The soul by itself is not in touch with spiritual things: but as soon as its spirit is quickened by God, the soul finds itself believing in what before seemed to it foolishness. (I Cor. 2:10-16.)
The Food of Faith
The food of faith is the Word of God. Without regular feeding, the spirit grows weakly and eventually dies, just as the body cannot remain alive without its proper food. Christian weakness is due generally, not to inherent inability or wickedness, but simply to malnutrition or positive starvation. This God-given food rightly used, is sufficient to ensure spiritual victory on earth, and to give us our inheritance in heaven. Like the body, the spirit needs not only food but exercise. This exercise is most naturally taken in prayer. A spirit which is fed by the Word soon grows strong enough to engage in prayer and to exercise spiritual gifts. (Mt. 4:4, II Tim. 3:14-17, I Tim. 4:13-16, Deut. 8:3, I Peter 2:1-3, Acts 20:32, Jer. 15:16, John 6:26-63, Job 23:12, Ezek. 2:8-3:3.)
The Fight of Faith
The fight of faith is allowed by God to bring us to a state of strength and purity. Faith, the gift of God, brings justification; tried faith covers us with glory. (Job, chapters 1 and 2, James 1:3, 12, I Peter 1:7, Lk. 22:28-29, I Tim. 6:12, II Tim. 4:7, Eph. 6:12, Mt. 4:1-11.)
The Rest of Faith
— end of page 21 —
Life in the food
There is no lesson more vital to the young convert than the realisation of his dependence upon the Bread which came down from Heaven. Babies grow, not because of their own health or strength, but simply because they are fed. The life is in the food. The Christian is entirely dependent upon his living bread. (Cf. Ps. 1.)
N.B.1. The New Birth is wholly a gracious act of God, and is not the result of any action on man's part. It is not the consequence, but the cause of faith. (John 1:13, James 1:18, I Peter 1:3, Eph. 2:8-10, cf. Lk. 6:10.)
This living faith, given by God through the New Birth, is what God counts as justification. It is of the heart, and not just the intellect; and includes:
(a) an understanding and grateful acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that we believe as He did about sin and its consequences and atonement; we are His brethren, like-minded on these vital subjects. (Is. 53, Lk. 24:25-28, 44-47, Rom. 3:21, 5:21, 10:9-10, Gal. 3:1-15, I Peter 1:17-21.)
N.B.2. The New Birth does not put the believer back into the position in which he was born. Then he was "born of woman" with the spirit of a servant of God, looking upon God as his Creator and Lord, and upon this earth as his natural habitat. At death he expected to go to Hades, an experience which he dreaded, since he was cut off from God's presence for a season through the loss of his spirit; but his hope was a resurrection to life upon the earth at the last day, when God should restore all things. He was in fact of the earth earthy, for God had created Adam and Eve to live for ever upon this earth through the Tree of Life.
At the New Birth, however, he becomes a child of God with the same spirit of Sonship that Christ has. Earth is no longer his habitat, but Heaven. At the death of his body, since he retains his spirit, he goes, not to Hades, but to Paradise and the presence of God; and at the resurrection he will receive a body fitted for
— end of page 22 —
life, not on the earth, but in Heaven. His fellowship is no longer with man born of woman, but through the help of the Holy Spirit of God, with his Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the rest of the Royal Family of God in Heaven and earth. Although the New Birth is an experience which is highly individualistic, yet the effect of it is to place this lonely person into a family in which he should grow to maturity. (Rom. 8:9-15, John 8:35, Heb. 11:40, 2:14-15, II Tim. 1:10, Mt. 11:11, Lk. 16:19-31, II Kings 20:1-3 (contrast Phil. 2:21-23, Acts 7:55-59), Rev. 5:9-11, Acts 3:21, John 11:24-26, Job 10:21-22, 19:25-27, Ezek. 37:11-14, Dan. 12:2, Heb. 12:22-24, Phil. 3:17-21, Col. 3:1-4, I John 1:3, Mt. 12:46-50, 23:9.)
— end of page 23 —
BAPTISM IN WATER
Baptism in water, as a divine ordinance connected with repentance and forgiveness of sins, was already known to Israel through John the Baptist; he announced it as a preparation for the coming Messiah, Who should baptise in the Holy Ghost, and also open the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt. 3:1-12, Mk. 1:1-8, Lk. 3:1-17, John 1:26, 27, 33.)
Christian Baptism, however, had an even deeper meaning added to it after the death and resurrection of Christ.
(a) It is the way appointed by God whereby we wash away in water the sins which God has forgiven through the blood of Jesus. and receive a glorious consciousness of complete cleansing from the past. (Eph. 1:7, Rev. 7:14, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21, Mk. 16:16, Titus 3:5, Rev. 1:5 (R.V.), Heb. 10:22, Ps. 103:12.)
(b) It is also an act which typifies the death and burial of the old worldly unbeliever and the rising up of a new spiritual believer to live in a new and holy fellowship. i.e.. that of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the birth of a sanctification which is to grow to perfection. (Mt. 28:19, Rom. 6:1-11, 1:17, Col. 2:12, 3:1-4, I John 1:1-3, II Cor. 7:1, 3:18, Heb. 12:6-14, John 1:16.)
N.B.1. It is a definite command of both Christ and His Apostles. (Mk. 16:16, Mt. 28:19, Acts 2:38, 10:48.)
N.B.4. Christian Baptism, being in the Name of the Spirit, as well as of the Father and the Son, must include some instruction about the Spirit of God, and so paves the way for the next Foundation Truth, the Baptism in the Spirit. (Mt. 28:19.)
— end of page 24 —
THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT
The Baptism in the Spirit is a phrase used in Scripture to describe the experience wherein the Holy Spirit enters the Temple of God, i.e., the body of a Son of God. The Holy Spirit, who brought the sinner to repentance and begat him again into the family of God, desires a still closer union, whereby He that was "with us" now enters "into us." As an evidence that He has entered the believer's body, He begins to use the most unruly part of it, i.e., the tongue, to speak in a language of which the believer is ignorant; thus making it manifest that there are now two occupants of the one body.
The Baptism of the Spirit is spoken of by John Baptist and Christ as a vital element in the work of Salvation He came to procure. (John 1:29-33, 7:37-39, 16:7-15, 14:17, 2:21, Lk. 24:49, Acts 1:4-8, 2:3-21, 10:44-48, 11:15-17, 19:1-6, Mk. 16:17, I Cor. 3:16, 6:19, II Cor. 6:16.)
The actual Baptism in the Spirit is, however, only the initial experience of a fellowship which is to be eternal; and the initial evidence is meant to be followed by further manifestations of the Spirit's presence. The New Testament Church is a society of the Sons of God, in whose bodies dwells the same Holy Spirit of God, manifesting His Almighty presence by the various miraculous Gifts of the Spirit. (I Cor. 12:1-14:40.)
The Church, the present earthly Body of Christ, who is its head, is therefore to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, even as was Christ's own earthly body, so that the will of God may continue to be done by the Spirit of God in the Sons of God. (John 14:16-26, 15:26, II Cor. 3:17-18, Acts 4:31, 5:3, 32, 7:51, 52, 8:29, 39, 13:2. etc.)
N.B.1. In the Old Covenant it was the Holy Spirit who laid hold of the chosen Servants of God, even against their desire, that they might perform the task allotted to them. The instances of Moses, Amos, Jonah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel spring to the mind.
— end of page 25 —
N.B.2. The Holy Spirit comes as Comforter, Guide, Teacher, Co-Worker and Lord. We are to please Him, therefore, and not to cause Him grief. The great essential for all who seek the Baptism in the Spirit is a determination to obey Him when He has entered. Failure to do so, and continuous stubbornness, will lead to the disaster which overtook Saul. (I Sam. 16:14, Josh. 5:13, Eph. 2:22, 4:30, Heb. 6:3-8, 10:26-31, I Tim. 1:19.)
N.B.3. The Baptism in the Spirit is not a means whereby the believer is sanctified; it is the means whereby the already sanctified believer is enabled to do the miraculous works of God, by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. (Acts 1:8, Lk. 24:49, I Cor. 12-14, John 5:19-30, Lk. 4:14, Mt. 12:28.)
N.B.4. Sanctification is the effect of the Word of God on the obedient hearer. As the true state of affairs enters the believer's heart, he is more and more powerfully drawn not only to forsake sin, but also to throw himself heart and soul into his Master's business. For sanctification is not the cultivation of one's own soul, which leads to Pharisaism, but the whole-hearted interest in the souls of others. (Lk. 15:25-30, Is. 65:1-5, John 8:31-2, 15:3, 17:17, Eph. 5:26.)
— end of page 26 —
THE LAYING ON OF HANDS
The teaching of Scripture is that spirit is a divine substance which can come direct from Heaven, or be imparted by physical contact with one in whom the Spirit of God is. As such a substance it is capable of having a physical effect upon the material substance of which the world is composed; so that a house can be shaken by it, or a new eye formed.
It is also clear that spirit is subdivided into different types, even as light is composed of different colours. So that, when Jacob was blessing the sons of Joseph, it mattered which hand was placed upon which boy, since the blessings were different, and came through different hands. (Gen. 48:13-19.) So also the "divisions of spirit" of Heb. 2:4 refer to this difference; each separate kind of spirit carrying in itself the blessing that was to be given. The same thought is given in "the seven spirits of God" of Rev. 1:4.
The Laying on of Hands, i.e., physical contact—even of the whole body in the raising of the dead—was the usual way whereby spirit was imparted, though at times the unction was so great that even without actual contact those near a spirit-filled person would receive it. Even inanimate objects could be so impregnated with spirit as to convey it to a person at a distance. (Acts 8:18, 9:12-17, 5:15, 19:12, 20:10, Mt. 14:36, Mk. 5:27-30, II Kings 13:21, I Kings 17:21, II Kings 4:34-35.)
The following are typical of the blessings imparted by the Laying on of Hands:—
1. The Baptism in the Spirit and the Healing of the Body. (Acts 9:17, 8:18, 19:6, 28:8, Mk. 16:18.)
2. The spirit of Wisdom. (Deut. 34:9.)
3. An unspecified gift. (I Tim. 4:14, II Tim. 1:6.)
4. A future career. (Gen. 48:13-19.)
The impartation of spirit through the Laying on of Hands means that the blesser is the poorer and the blessed the richer for the transaction (Lk. 5:17, 6:12-19, 8:46), and therefore the blesser needs a continual refilling if he is to continue imparting.
— end of page 27 —
Hence the Lord's habit of retiring for prayer in the midst of such ministry, e.g., Lk. 5:16 (Greek—"kept retiring in the desert places and praying").
While it is true and scriptural that spiritual blessing is imparted through the Laying on of Hands, it is equally true that God could and did dispense with any such medium when it so pleased Him, e.g., Acts 1:2-4, 10:44-45, John 4:50, Mt. 8:8-13, John 11:43.
Since spirit in all its varieties can therefore be imparted through physical contact, it is clear that the Laying on of Hands for such a gracious purpose is indeed one of the Foundation Truths, to be not only understood but put into practice. Here again, as in everything pertaining to God, the safeguard against misuse is an honest heart.
By the act of the Laying of Hands you cannot impart what is not in you; and if you attempt to do so the result will be failure and disappointment. Mt. 7:22 makes it clear that many will claim to have served God in the spirit who never knew Him. It is for this reason that care is necessary in all things pertaining to the spirit life; just as Israel needed to be watchful in Canaan (Joshua 8:7, 9, 14). It was because of the dangers that awaited them in Canaan that the people refused to go over. Many Christians have been kept from a full Pentecostal experience by the same motive. They are unable to trust the Lord to see them through the undoubted dangers, and prefer to play for safety. (Num. 13 & 14.)
— end of page 28 —
THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
Belief in the Resurrection of the body is implicit in all Bible history. It lay at the very root of the Patriarchal and Jewish theology. The promises of God, which had no fulfilment in the life time of those who believed them, could only be received and enjoyed after a resurrection from the dead; without it they were null and void.
This belief runs all through the Old Testament like a golden thread. Abraham believed in the resurrection of Isaac, the Patriarchs died in this hope; Elijah and Elisha saw the dead raised to life before their eyes; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Job all spoke of it with confidence. It was the only hope of Martha in the hour of Lazarus' death. (Heb. 11:9-21, I Kings 17:22, II Kings 4:34, Job 19:25-27, Is. 26:19, Ez. 37:1-14, Dan. 12:2, John 11:24.)
Belief in the resurrection of the body was also the centre of our Lord's life. He spoke repeatedly and confidently of His own death and resurrection, and of what He would do afterwards. It was lack of this faith in His disciples which so bitterly disappointed Him, and was responsible for their own collapse.
Their teaching after the Ascension of the Lord centred round His Death and Resurrection and physical return. The whole Christian position depended entirely upon its truth. For, as St. Paul said, if in this life only we have hope in Christ then we are miserable indeed. Faith to raise the dead persisted in the Apostolic Church, and the last book in the Bible ends with the plain vision of a Universal Resurrection of all the dead of all the ages. It is the only doctrine which can give meaning to a Creation which relentlessly slides into the darkness of frustration and death. (Lk. 9:22-45, 24:25-27, 36-47, Mk. 16:14, Acts 2:22-36, 4:33, 17:32, 26:18-23, 9:36-42, 20:9-12, Rom. 8:19-25 (compare Ecclesiastes), I Cor. 15, Rev. 20:13.)
There was, however, in the Bible a clear development of revelation concerning the resurrection of the dead.
1. The original design of God, foiled by the Fall, was that man should live for ever upon a perfect earth, their bodies
— end of page 29 —
2. It was the action of God in cutting off the human race from this perfect food, which resulted in the universal death of the body. Nothing short of this diet will restore earthly bodies to their original health. (Gen. 3:22, I Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5:12-14.)
3. The Bible speaks of the death of the body as an unmitigated evil. It is the greatest and last enemy of the human race. Not until its final defeat will perfect victory be enjoyed. (I Cor. 15:22-28, Rev. 20:14.)
4. Hades (Greek) or Sheol (Hebrew) was the name of the place to which the souls of those who lost their bodies went. It had two sides to it, as the Lord showed in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and between those two sides was a great gulf fixed. (Is. 14:9, Ez. 32:17-32, Lk. 16:19-31.)
(a) In the one division were the believers in God. The darkness of their experience was relieved by their faith in the resurrection at the Last Day; so that they might be said to rest in hope, together with Abraham the Father of the believing. Yet dread even of this softened experience kept the Old Testament saints all their lifetime in bondage, and made the hour of death highly unwelcome, since the loss of their spirit cut them off from God, and the loss of their body cut them off from the world. At this Resurrection they would enter into the enjoyment of the promises of God in Palestine during the Millennium. (Heb. 2:15, Mt. 4:16, Job 10:20-22, II Kings 20:1-3 (contrast Phil. 1:21-23), Lk. 1:79, 16:19-23, Ps. 16:9-11, Is. 26:19, Ez. 37:1-14, Dan. 12:2 (compare Ez. 44:13.))
(b) In the other division were:—
1. The ignorant dead, who in the darkness of the disembodied state had no ray of hope of any escape from their miserable condition. The final resurrection will come to them as a wholly unexpected shock.
2. The enemies of God whose hearts are filled with expectation of fiery judgment and punishment. (Ps. 73:18-19,
— end of page 30 —
5. Through Jesus Christ, however, came a mighty revelation, and also a great change in these matters.
(a) He revealed that against those who believed in Him the gates of Hades would not prevail at the death of their body. Since they retained their spirit at death they would not be cut off from the presence of God, but, on the contrary, would enjoy the happiness of Paradise in the spirit, instead of entering the darkness of Hades. He brought life and immortality to light. (John 11:21-26, 8:35-36, 39-40, 50-52, Mt. 16:18, Lk. 23:43, Phil. 1:21, Acts 7:55-60, II Tim. 1:10, II Cor. 12:1-4.)
(b) He also revealed that unlike the Old Testament saints, who looked for an earthly resurrection in an earthly body in which they would enjoy earthly happiness, the Sons of God were called to mount up into Heaven and rule with Christ over the universe, and so would need Heavenly bodies like His. (John 14:2-3, Mt. 24:31, 47, Heb. 3:1, Eph. 1:18, 4:1, I Cor. 15:35-54, I John 3:1-3.)
(c) The Millennium, therefore, or 1,000 years of Christ's reign over this earth with a rod of iron, was to begin with a double resurrection:
1. That of Israel in earthly bodies to live in Palestine.
2. That of the Royal Family in Heavenly bodies to reign over this earth from the Heavenly Places. (Rev. 20:4-6, Job 19:25-27, Is. 26:19, Ez. 37:1-14, 44:9-16, Dan. 12:2, Phil. 3:10-21, Lk. 20:35, John 6:40, I Cor. 15:23-24, I John 3:2.)
(d) After the Millennium was over and the last revolt had failed, and after Heaven and earth had passed away, would come the final resurrection of all the dead of all the ages, and after that the Last Judgment, in order that those whose names were written in the Book of Life might enter
— end of page 31 —
into the eternity of Peace in the new earth, and those whose names were not found therein might enter into the torment of hell for the same everlasting period of the Ages of the Ages. (Rev. 20:11-21, John 5:28-29.)
(e) This final resurrection of the dead and Last Judgment upon the Sea of Glass would be followed by, as it were, a glorious resurrection of the old Heaven and earth into the glory of the New Heaven, the New Jerusalem and the New Earth, in which would be fulfilled the promise of Rev. 21:4-5.
Note on Resurrection
A study of I Cor. 15:35-50 brings out the following points:—
That, whereas our present earthly bodies may entirely mislead our neighbours about the state of our souls, our resurrection bodies will correspond to our souls, and so will differ in glory.
That recognition, therefore, will be not solely of the body but more essentially of the personality, e.g., the distorted body of a hunchback will give way to the glorious form of a Son of God. Peter knew that he had been with Moses and Elijah, but he had not recognised their bodies! (Lk. 9:33.)
N.B. Our Lord's resurrection body was for the purposes of recognition different from His ascended and glorified body, as shown in Revelation 1:13-17.
— end of page 32 —
God having created the Universe, is also responsible for its well-being. He is, therefore, the judge of all His creatures who possess a moral nature.
He has revealed that this present Creation will pass away and be replaced by a New Heaven and New Earth. There is also in the eternal State to be a Lake of Fire, which was not part of the original creation. (Gen. 1:1, Is. 65:17, Mt. 24:35, Rev. 20:11-21:8.)
While God, as Judge, is constantly passing judgments upon His creatures, e.g., at the Flood or Nineveh, yet these judgments are temporary and may be revised or revoked, as justice or mercy dictate. There are, however, before the eternal state begins two inexorable judgments which must be universally passed:—
(a) The Judgment of whether a person is to exist eternally in the Kingdom of God or in the Lake of Fire.
(b) The Judgment of where in that vast Kingdom of the New Heaven and Earth each one whose name is in the Book of Life is to be placed; whether in Heaven or Earth, and in what position in either. These Judgments, once passed, are unalterable.
(Gen. 6:7, Jonah 1:2, Jer. 18:7, 10, Mt. 11:21-24, Rev. 20:11-15, Mk. 16:16, Lk. 19:11-27, Heb. 12:17.)
Originally Heaven was created for Angels and earth for men; but the passage of time and the intrusion of sin have brought about modifications in the original structure.
The number of those who dwelt in Heaven and shared in its government has been greatly depleted by the rebellion of Satan and his Angels. God has revealed that it is not His intention to create more Angels to take their places; but, instead, to choose from amongst men those who might become His Sons by adoption, and hold a place higher than that ever offered to Angels, so that Jesus Christ would not be ashamed to call them brethren. (Rev. 12:7-9, 21:7, Heb. 2:5-18.)
— end of page 33 —
Every Christian, being begotten again by the Spirit of God, has this Heavenly calling by right of inheritance; it is his natural development from a babe in Christ to a full-grown Son of God. Yet it is an inheritance which has to be won, and may be forfeited by incompetence; for God cannot put responsibility and honour upon those who are manifestly unable to bear it. (Eph. 1:5-11, 4:13, Rom. 8:14-19, Phil. 3:13-21, Heb. 3:1.)
The gift of God to His children is their eternal life, and the only qualification for this is faith in Christ, however slight; but God is leading many Sons to glory, if they will come His Way. Glory is something which cannot be given, it must be won. It is a faith which has stood the trials of life victoriously, an overcoming faith, which will alone be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. There is the possibility of being ashamed from Him at His coming because we have been disobedient or idle or lukewarm. (Heb. 2:10, 12:17, I Peter 1:7, II Tim. 4:6-8, James 1:12, Rev. 3:16, I John 2:28.)
The headmaster of a school may give all the pupils a holiday, but he cannot give all the first prize, or, indeed, any prize at all. It is the essence of a prize that its winner has accomplished some feat which has marked him out from his brethren. He has written a better essay or run a faster race than the others, and so has gained a position of honour. The whole value of the prize is that it is the badge of achievement. Glory is that feeling of respect that rises in the minds of men when they hear of what you have done. Even Christ was moved to admiration of the believing centurion and the poor widow woman. (Matt. 8:10, Lk. 21:3-4.)
So far as a Christian is concerned the first of these Judgments, i.e., of Life or Death, is passed at his new birth; he then has eternal life, and nothing and nobody can deprive him of it: for God will not allow anything too powerful for him to come against him. So long, therefore, as he continues to believe in Christ he is justified by faith and a member of God's Kingdom. (John 5:24, 10:27-29, I Cor. 10:13, Rom. 4:5, 5:1, I Peter 1:5.)
It is possible that he himself may throw away the gift that was his, and commit spiritual suicide. But this will need the most determined effort and continuous rebellion on his part, and be as unnatural as is physical suicide. There is, of course, nothing that can ever take away from man his freedom of choice; there is a backsliding which knows no repentance, a final shipwreck of
— end of page 34 —
N.B. There are two touchstones by which every theological dogma may be tested. The first, that God is Love (I John 4:16); the second, that man's will is free, though not necessarily his actions (Luke 13:34, Gal. 5:17).
Rom. 7 gives us a vivid picture of a man whose will is set upon righteousness, but whose actions are forced upon him by habitual sin in the flesh. The drunkard, the drug addict are obvious examples of this pitiful condition.
And, on the other hand, the old lag in the cell gives us an illustration of the exact opposite. Here we have a man whose will is all for evil, but whose actions are forced into a blameless mould of stone breaking or oakum picking, such as a saint might copy!
Men have always feared the responsibility which attaches to free will, and longed to believe that God can do something which will relieve us from the burden. Yet the truth remains that although God is Love and will secure us from all outside aggression or internal decay, yet even He is not master of men's wills but only of their actions. Were He so, all would be saved; for He is not willing that any should perish: but the decision of salvation or destruction is man's own decision; and his only eternal security lies in his eternal determination to obey God. It is man's spirit, not his soul, which is born again. His soul, adopted out of his earthly family and introduced into his heavenly family, may yet hanker after the old home and bring God to a dreadful decision. For God having saved a people out of Egypt, after destroyed them that believed not, and they knew God's breach of promise. It is unfortunately true that there are those who by their own choice and with determination have repeated their original transgression, and are therefore twice dead. (Heb. 10:26.) For the soul that once received a living spirit from the Almighty can also kill it. and again plunge into the darkness from which it once emerged. (II Peter 2:20-22, Jude 5-12, Num. 14:34, Heb. 3:12-4:2.)
On the other hand, while the Christian is sure of Eternal Life, he is not sure of glory. The reward of the Christian is to be allowed to share with His Lord in the Eternal government of His Kingdom; in a word the faithful servant is, as always, rewarded by more work and higher responsibility!
— end of page 35 —
The Judgment of Christians for position in the Kingdom will take place at the Lord's return before the Millennium. All who appear thereat are assured of life in the Kingdom; it is only their position in the Kingdom that is at stake. Full accounts are given of this Judgment that no one may have any misunderstanding in the matter. Verdicts will range from "Well done good and faithful servant" to "Thou wicked servant," from being entrusted with all that belongs to God, to being deprived of what is rightfully one's own, from joy in the Lord's Presence, to being bound hand and foot and cast out of it. Those Christians who have proved by their lives on earth that they are unfit to rule over it, will have to wait in darkness till they can be found a place upon the New Earth, where maybe some faithful servant of the Old Testament will find himself exalted to take his inheritance amongst the Brethren and to rule over him for his good. The Lord has clearly spoken of the weeping and gnashing of teeth amongst those of His children, who, too late, find that they have forfeited the blessing they despised, and must content themselves with second best for Eternity. (Cf. Ezekiel 44:10-14.)
It is madness to imagine that because we are Sons of God we shall automatically inherit the Government: to forget the "if" of Rom. 8:17. We may be Sons who cause shame, who cannot be rightfully entrusted with even the slightest responsibility upon earth, whose lives cause shame to the Family, and are a stumblingblock to the world. The greater the responsibility the higher the standard!
The Biblical illustration is the contrast between Abraham sharing God's secrets upon the mountain top, and Lot drinking himself drunk in a lonely cave; both saved, but worlds between them! (Gen. 18:17, 19:30.) When an Apostle runs his hardest, we may well determine to do our best! (I Cor. 9:24-27, Phil. 3:10-15.) The rationale of this Judgment of the Sons of God by the Son of God is that the Government of the earth during the Millennium is to be in the hands of Christ and His Brethren, who will take the place of Satan and his Angels, who will have been cast out of their thrones in the heavenlies. It is necessary, therefore, for this Judgment to precede the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom. (Mt. 25:14-30, Lk. 12:31-48, 16:1-12, 19:11-27, Rom. 8:17, I Cor. 3:10-15, II Cor. 5:9-10, Heb. 2:3, 12:16, 17, 23, Rev. 3:11, Prov. 17:2, 29:21.)
— end of page 36 —
The Great White Throne
There remains, however, the final Judgment Throne of God at the close of the Millennium, at which will appear all the dead of all the ages, including Angels and demons as well as men. Here again, the first question to be decided is that of Life or Death. Will one be in the Kingdom or in the Lake of Fire? And therefore the Book of Life is opened. (Rev. 20:11-15, Jude 6, II Peter 2:4.)
N.B. The present course of events upon this earth is most deceptive to the natural mind. God in His mercy, though He condemns instantly every work of evil, does not immediately execute His sentence, but waits to see if His forbearance will lead the sinner to repentance. Unfortunately, so hard are the hearts of many sinners that this very forbearance only emboldens them in their wickedness, as was the case with Pharaoh, who was hardened by God's repeated forgiveness, till he lost all fear of God's justice. God's children are often perplexed when they see the wicked apparently unscathed, and themselves chastened! Calvary, however, has shown us in one glaring example God's real estimate of sin. The soul that sinneth it shall die, and Christ died therefore for the doomed. God's wrath is indeed mounting up steadily, till it shall be revealed at the Day of the Lord and the Great White Throne. (Ps. 73, Eccles. 8:11, Is. 26:10, Rom. 2:4-9, 9:17, 18, 22, Rev. 6:16-17.)
It has often been hastily assumed that all who appear at this Judgment are lost; but there is, of course, no scripture to support this, and a moment's reflection will show that it cannot possibly be so; for at this Judgment will appear those who have been born during the Millennium as well as those who have either rejected or never heard of God's salvation, and the great assembly of Angels and demons who have been waiting for the execution of sentence uttered long ago. It will, indeed, be a mixed company. The Book simply says, "And if any man was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire," and in Rev. 21:8 it gives a description of the characters of such. (Mt. 25:41, II Peter 2:4, Jude 6.)
It is a scene of unimaginable solemnity. Here upon the brink of eternity are gathered a vast concourse of beings to hear a verdict, which will carry with it their eternal fate. The Judgment, we are told, will be in the hands of the Royal Family,
— end of page 37 —
every member of which will have passed through the temptations of life and know the infirmities of human nature. At their head will be the Son of God, who took our nature upon Him that He might be qualified to perform this very duty. The Judgment will be in the hands of Him, who is not willing that any should perish. (I Cor. 6:2-3, Dan. 7:22, Rev. 20:4, John 5:27.)
Why then in face of this loving mercy of God, will there be any who throughout eternity will know no alleviation of their pain? Eternal punishment is not the retribution for the sins that men have committed in the past—it is neither vindictive nor remedial nor punitive. It is, however, the only safeguard against the sins which the finally unrepentant intend to go on committing for eternity if left at liberty. Eternal punishment is God's answer to eternal sin: and the responsibility for it lies, not with God, but with the soul that is set upon sin, scorns mercy, and would gladly destroy the happiness of others for his own base ends. (Acts 17:31, I Tim. 2:4, II Peter 3:9, Mk. 3:29 (R.V.).)
The Lake of Fire is the second death: i.e., it is the second time a man loses his body. The first time was because God had taken away the Tree of Life after Adam's sin: the second time is because of his own sin. On both occasions it is torment; the first time temporary, the second time eternal. God cannot prevent a free will desiring to do evil, but He can and will prevent it doing it. This He will do by depriving them of their bodies. without which they can do nothing. The ruin and anguish of those in Hell is irremediable and eternal, and rests solely upon the truth that it is impossible to renew them to repentance. and so make them fit to live with others.
It is as if a father had given his son a penknife that with it he might be enabled to do all sorts of needful things, only to find that instead the boy is cutting things up just to suit himself, and spoiling other people's property. That boy could, if he refused to listen to admonition and warning and continued in his folly, force his father to take away the knife, lest others should be inconvenienced. A razor is a good thing for shaving; but when used for cutting throats it is always confiscated! The Lord pointed out that disembodiment was a ceaseless torment allowing of no rest; so that even a swine's body was better than none, allowing its tenants to do at least one more act of senseless destruction. (Rev. 20:14, 21:8, Gen. 3:22-24, Heb. 6:6, 10:26, Dan. 7:11, Lk. 16:19-31, Mt. 10:28, Lk. 8:32, 33, 11:24.)
— end of page 38 —
N.B. It is perhaps worth pointing out here that the parable of Dives and Lazarus is a physical picture of the suffering or peace of the souls of the departed. Dives' body was not actually being burned: it was in the grave where it had been buried: nor was Lazarus actually reclining on Abraham's bosom. That was the ordinary Jewish description of the destiny of the believing dead, i.e., with faithful Abraham awaiting the resurrection in faith.
Hades was the place of departed souls not of dead bodies. In the same way the bodies of those destroyed by the Lord at His coming will lie in the Valley of Gehenna: their souls will be in Hades, just as our Lord's body was in the tomb while His soul was suffering the pains of death in Hades. (Is. 66:24, Lk. 16:22, Acts 2:24-31, John 11:24.)
The torment of Hell will not in any sense be vindictive; God will not needlessly afflict even the wicked, nor add to their pain any unnecessary suffering. The awful truth is that their endless pain will be absolutely unavoidable, and spring from the fact that never again will they be free to do anything: since all they desire to do is evil. They will spend eternity in fruitless remorse and hatred of God and each other and the whole creation; yet in the mercy of God not able to inflict physical torment even on each other. Their souls wrapped round in endless lying pride they will refuse to admit their own guilty folly and will instead throw the blame for their awful condition upon a long-suffering Judge, whose love and mercy they spurn and whose every act they treat with suspicion and hatred. To come to the place where you cannot even trust the Almighty, and see a trap in His every word, and throw a doubt upon His every promise, is the last darkness of despair, from which there is no deliverance.
It has been said that not only must justice be done, it must also appear to be done; lest there should be any possibility of doubt about the righteousness of it. There are always those who feel that surely punishment will bring repentance. God has lovingly safeguarded us against this by leaving Satan in prison for the Millennium and then allowing him to come out. We shall then see that he is at once at his old ways of life in hatred and destruction. Hell then is the painful duty which the unrepentant force upon a long-suffering God. They are hardened, not softened, by forbearance, and His only choice is either to abandon the righteous to the tender mercies of the wicked, or
— end of page 39 —
It is often said that this end would be equally achieved by the annihilation of the wicked. In the first place, the language of Scripture will not allow of such an interpretation. It is torment, not just the smoke of it, which is everlasting. In the second place, the very severity of the penalty will doubtless frighten into the sanity of repentance countless numbers, who would cheerfully have had their fling at the expense of others, if there had been no retribution to be feared. The fear of the Lord may not be the last attitude of wisdom, but it is often the beginning. In the third place, there will likely be many who will be eternally safe because the smoke of Hell, continually ascending in their sight, will play its part in the steeling of their determination to obey God. For the saved will include not only those saved with glory, but also those who are scarcely saved, and only brought to repentance with the greatest difficulty. In the vast Kingdom of God will be vessels to honour, but also to dishonour; yet in the Kingdom. God will save into Eternal Life everyone who can by any manner of means be induced to turn from evil and do good.
Finally, and most important of all, it is the very fact that man is eternal that gives him his importance, and makes him different from the animals. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Let him think of himself as the mere creature of a day, and you prevent him from thinking highly of himself. The evolutionist who tells man that he is but the short-lived head of an animal creation must not be surprised if men live like animals. It is the very fact that man is eternal which gives him dignity, rescues him from the frustration of death, and allows him to live in hope and eternal purpose: the Christian is saved by hope, and in the light of eternity pulls himself together as one whose actions matter, and will have eternal consequences. Deprive man of eternity, and you have but a dying animal. (Rev. 20:10, 14:10-11, Is. 66:24, I Peter 4:18, II Peter 3:9, Jude 23, II Tim. 2:20-21, John 15:22-25, Ez. 18:23.)
N.B.1. It is essential to remember that all who will be in Hell will be there because they hate God without any cause, would spoil the happiness of Eternity if only they could, and cannot be induced to repent and receive a free pardon and Eternal life. It will be
— end of page 40 —
the unreasonable hardness of their own heart, not of God's, which will be responsible for their fearful condition. Yet God will make use of them for the eternal warning of the righteous.
N.B.2. If it be objected that it had been better for God not to have created at all, with His foreknowledge that the result of so doing would be the creation of Hell as well as Heaven, the answer is:
(a) that He is in no sense responsible for Hell; it is an unwanted addendum forced upon Him by the wicked,
(b) that it would be most unfair to deprive the righteous of their happiness, just because some elected to play the fool and preferred misery to happiness, without a cause.
What amazing joy it will be to know that a happy eternity in a glorious place with a loving God and kindly companions is finally assured! No wonder that those who believe the promises of God are exhorted to shout upon their beds! True emotion is the inevitable effect upon the soul of facts. The greater the facts the greater the emotion. No emotion can be too great in the face of the greatest of all facts, Eternal Life in the Kingdom of God.
The Justice of God
Finally God has laid down in His Book certain lines which He always follows in Judgment. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
2. John 15:22-25. There is a real sense in which men do not have not sin until they see and hate God.* It is the person who knows it all and yet falls away, who is utterly hopeless. Heb. 6:4-8, 10:26-31, II Peter 2:20-22.
— end of page 41 —
5. Rom. 2:11. God is no respecter of persons. All will be treated with scrupulous fairness and generosity. There will be no one in Heaven or Earth through their own righteousness, but all solely through the forgiving mercy of God, who is rich in pity. cp. James 2:1.
* Chapter V of the author's book 'Original Sin' and Eternal Punishment, entitled 'SIN and SIN', deals more fully with this subject.
— end of page 42 —
THE CROSS OF THE LORD
The faith whereby the Old Testament saints were justified varied greatly in its content. They had to believe whatever revelation God had made to them. Noah believed the Flood was coming, Abram believed that he was to have a seed, Rahab believed that Jericho would be taken.
The faith whereby a Son of God is justified has however always the same object; it is faith in the death of Jesus as an atonement for sin, and in the resurrection of Jesus as an evidence of God's acceptance of His sacrifice.
This faith is capable of great expansion as the Christian baby grows to maturity. It may begin as a very personal blessing; it will grow to be an event of universal significance. (Rom. 3:21-26, 4:23-5:11, 10:9.)
The central reason for Calvary was that the Law of God might be established in all its awful majesty. The whole success of the Creation depended upon the voluntary obedience of God's creatures to His Law, the Law of Love and Liberty. Anyone who broke the law of unselfishness, and wished to embark upon a life of self-pleasing, could at any time upset the whole loving plan. Therefore, because of the exceedingly dangerous nature of sin, i.e.. disobedience, God laid down the law that "the soul that sinneth it shall die," because it is too dangerous to be left at large. Indeed the whole happiness of Eternity will rest upon the unceasing obedience of all in it. (Gen. 2:17, Jer. 31:30, Ezekiel 18:4.)
The fearful nature of sin, therefore, and its awful consequences had to be burnt in upon every conscience. To do this and so ensure the prosperity of the Ages of the Ages God has taken two steps:
(b) He has satisfied the righteous demands of His Law that the death of a sinner is the inevitable result of his sin by sacrificing, not sinners, but their sinless Creator, to establish
— end of page 43 —
the inexorability of His Law's decree. No one will enter the Kingdom who has not understood the horrible danger of sin. and made clear to the Almighty his intention never to commit it. By the Cross all hope of escaping punishment of sin is taken away. The Law is the custodian of the happiness of Society. Contempt of it brings its inevitable reward. To forgive the sinner without establishing the Majesty of the Law would encourage sin, and render justice impossible. (Is. 42:21, Ps. 138:2, Rom. 3:21.)
The Leprosy of Sin
The plague of sin is:
(a) That successful selfishness at the expense of others tempts them to play the same game, and so fills the earth with violence, and leads to the final triumph of the most unscrupulous, and the servitude of the righteous. (Gen. 6:11, Rev. 13:3-4.)
(b) that the risks of living with those who will take advantage of one are so great as ultimately to force a man into a similar line of evil conduct for mere self preservation. The righteous make themselves the prey of the wicked, (Is. 59:15, James 5:6.)
(c) That it provokes retaliation from those who are wronged and plants a root of bitterness whose fruit grows more and more bitter with the passage of time. The wheel of nature, when once it has started rolling, is not too easily stopped. Ishmael still despises Isaac, and Esau hates Jacob! (James 3:6.)
(d) That when unchecked it advances from evil to evil, until at last there is no part of the soul which is not infected with a perfect selfishness, which knows no repentance and has no regrets, but finds its satisfaction in the torture and misery of others, and in a self-advancement which rises upon the slaughter of its rivals, and plunges its possessor into a ceaseless apprehension of retaliation from its victims. It is the same tree which bears Athaliah and Herod, Nero and Hitler! (Gen. 6:5, Prov. 4:14-17, Micah 7:1-6.)
— end of page 44 —
Meditation upon these awful truths must lead, however, to an ever-increasing understanding of the Love both of God the Father, who laid our sins upon His own Son; and of His Son who delighted to do the Father's will and set us free. This is not the legal but the personal side of Calvary, and reveals to us not simply the inflexible righteousness of God, but also His tender love for each one of His creatures. (John 3:16, Gal. 2:20, Rom. 5:8.)
These two great truths, (1) that the wages of sin is death, (2) that God has, out of His love, given His own Son to carry our sins in His own body on the tree, were in the mind of God before the Creation; and the revelation of them was given through the prophets of Israel.
Yet although they were plainly stated in the Old Testament, no one believed them or understood them till Jesus came. He believed, but He could not get even His Apostles to agree with Him till after His death and resurrection. They had no fear of punishment for sin; nor any desire that Jesus should die for their Sins. Indeed, they did what they could to prevent Him doing so. They were quarrelling about the positions they would hold in His Kingdom, when the King was realising that unless He died for them they would not he able even to enter that Kingdom. It was His post-resurrection ministry which explained to them the victory of Calvary. Before that they refused to consider or discuss His death and resurrection; after that, this was the centre of their message, as it has been the centre of the family life ever since. (Rom. 6:23, Rev. 11:18, I Peter 1:20, Is. 53:11, I Cor. 1:23, Lk. 24:25, 44, 45, 9:45.)
The world has always hated such truth; it seems to lay upon them an insupportable burden. Their thought is that free will carries with it liberty to do as they please; and not, as is the truth, liberty to keep the law of God. It has always been the dream of the world that in some way or other universal selfishness could lead to universal happiness; whereas the truth is that universal happiness is the fruit of universal obedience to the Law of Love.
They hated Jesus, therefore, who pointed out this truth, and laid upon man, not God, the responsibility for the world's prosperity. It is the work, however, of all the Sons of God to preach this simple but unwelcome truth, that the happiness of Heaven will depend upon man's obedience and not upon God's
— end of page 45 —
power. They, too, must take up daily their cross with all the explanation of it which God has given; that all men may clearly grasp that selfishness will bar them from Heaven and plunge them into Hell; that only Christ could avert from them the doom that is pronounced upon disobedience; that God loves them like His own soul, but that even He can do nothing for them except they turn from sin; that one sin in its outworking is bound to defile and wreck the peace and happiness of a whole society, whether in Heaven or upon earth.
So the study of the Foundation Truths has drawn to its close, leaving us safe in the everlasting arms of the Creator and Redeemer. Continued study will only serve to enlarge our love of God and give us the full assurance of understanding of His heart and mind.
— end of page 46 —