ANSWER--I am not sure that he did always lay his hands on their heads, but when he did, it would imply that he accepted it, and that it would represent him, as being his sacrifice. The same also when a sinner laid his hands upon a sacrifice, it was accepted instead of himself and represented him. Also the same in the case of the Church laying their hands upon Paul and Barnabas, that act said, in effect, We accept them as our representatives, and when they go out they represent this Antioch Church, that they would bear their expenses, etc.
HARVEST--Difference Between Separating and Reaping.
ANSWER--Well, dear friends, I suppose this illustration of a harvest is not a perfect illustration; I would scarcely think that it would be a perfect illustration. If we were to think of it that way, we would have to suppose, first of all, there would be the cutting of the grain, and then the separating of it, and the threshing of it, and the gathering of it into the barns; and if we were going to apply that, we would see so many ways for cutting it down, so many ways of separating it, so many ways for threshing it out, etc., that it would not fit with the facts. To my understanding, this harvest work is going on for all of these forty years, and there are some who went promptly into the garner away back in 1881, and some have been going into the garner ever since, all the way down; so here in this beautiful figure of the harvest work I do not think we could expect the fulfillment of every little detail. The main features are given in the parable itself, namely the Lord taught that the harvest would be the end of the age, and in the harvest He would send His reapers who would gather the tares into bundles for burning. Now, the gathering of the tares into bundles to my understanding, represents the gathering and the tying tight of organizations. I am not going to limit this to so called secret orders; I think that probable they are part of it. All the various denominations are part of that great bundling system, and the effect is very similar in; fact I do not know why anyone who is a member of an ordinary church should make objection to a man being a member of the Odd Fellows or the Masons. So far as I can understand, they are a kind of a church, too, or they clam to be; they have their regular ritual service, and claim to go to the holy, [Page Q318] etc., when they die. Only a few days ago I heard a little dissertation along that line. Their comrades are all supposed to be welcomed when they die into the great hereafter; they pass them along gently, just about as well as any of the nominal church people could do it, and with just about as much authority, and with just about as much sincerity, so far as I can tell. I am not judging at all, I am merely saying, so far as I can tell. But my understanding is, that all of these are bundles, and each bundle is getting tighter. Some of you know a great deal more about Freemasonry than I do, and I am not here to say anything against it, because I do not know anything to say, and I do not know as I would say it if I did know it. The Lord did not send me to preach against Masonry or Odd Fellowship, nor against Presbyterianism or Methodism. Our opportunity is to tell the truth, to preach the true gospel of Christ, and the Lord says that this message is to have its effects on the different hearts. Now, if you find yourself in any kind of a bundle, you know that is not the program so far as the wheat is concerned. The wheat is to he gathered into the garner; it is not to be put into bundles in the present life. The wheat is to be free. If you find yourself in any kind of a bundle, better get out of the bundle. Trust in the Lord, and be in harmony with Him, and this will take you out of all kinds of bundles and human organizations, I believe. I should, perhaps, say a cautionary word here to the effect that I would understand this would mean, for instance, that if I were a carpenter I would prefer to be at liberty, but if it were demanded of me that I should join a union before I could have work, and that I must pay so much of my money into that union's coffers, I should join. I should understand that I was making so much of a contribution to the general weal of the carpenters, and I would have no hesitation in the matter, because there is nothing of a religious kind there. There is nothing that would fetter my heart or mind. But if that organization should do anything I could not approve, I would feel perfectly free to withdraw at any time. So I would make that limitation. But, so far as wheat and tares are concerned, I think there are plenty of bundles all around you, and I notice, too, that these different worldly organizations, if we may so call them in contradistinction to church organizations, are also taking the same methods the church people are taking. It used to be very easy to withdraw from one of the churches and you could say, "I will thank you for a letter," and then they would take the letter and never deposit it, but burn it up, if they desired. And so with the Masons; they had a method by which anyone desiring to leave the order could ask for a demit and he would get that without any particular question. I have been informed that now this is changed somewhat. If you are a Presbyterian, and you wish a letter, they say, "To which church do you wish the letter addressed?" You say, "Oh, just make it out anyway." "Oh we do not do that now; we will give you a letter to a certain, particular church and it is to he deposited there--good when deposited there." And so I am informed that our Freemason friends are doing the same thing; they do not give demits now. If you wish to be transferred to another lodge they will transfer you, but they do not give demits now in the same way they formerly did.
A Brother: Brother Russell, I am a Mason and, unfortunately, hold a high position in the order, and I would like to make a little correction on that. A Mason is perfectly free to leave when he feels so disposed. No restraint whatever is placed upon him.
Brother Russell: I told you in the beginning that I did not know about it myself; I was only relating what a brother told me.
Another Brother: I was a Mason in a different jurisdiction from that of the brother. It may he all right in his particular jurisdiction, but it is not the same in other jurisdictions, as I know.
Brother Russell: You will notice that we never have anything to say against any of these. We have not said an unkind word about Freemasonry, and you never read anything unkind that we have ever said about it, and I do not wish to say anything unkind about Presbyterianism, or Methodism. I think that many of the dear friends in these denominations are good people, and I appreciate their characters. What I talk about sometimes is Presbyterian doctrine, and they talk about it, too. And I have read things they have said about Presbyterian doctrines far harder than anything I have ever said. I sometimes quote in the Watch Tower some things Presbyterians say about their own doctrine, and I occasionally quote in the Watch Tower something the Methodists say about their doctrine, because they say it stronger than I should wish to say it.
HARVEST--Great Harvest, Little Flock.
ANSWER--The Lord's illustration must be borne in mind; he was in the harvest time of the Jewish Age, and the whole Jewish nation was the harvest field at that time, so then we will have to find fault with the Lord. If there is any mistake, he made the mistake, for He said, "The harvest is great and the laborers few." Now, then, the harvest there, so far as Jesus was concerned, was the gathering in of 500 brethren at that time, but that was not all of the Jewish harvest, for more were gathered later. We must suppose that Jesus meant relatively, there is a great work to do in comparison with the few that are ready and willing to do it. Also they were a typical people and it was true then, and so it is true now. All of the Jews were not gathered then, for millions were not gathered, but the Lord spoke of those who were gathered as plenteous, all good characters, and he was satisfied. He will be satisfied with what he gets out of the Gentiles. But the point of the argument seems to be that the laborers are few, more work than the laborers could do. There is plenty for all, and work for more. So he said, Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send more laborers. Such should expect that the Lord would send them. Apply the same thing now--do not expect that the harvest work here will include millions, but a considerable number, and in my judgment there is yet a great work to he done. I can see where ever so many more of the Lord's faithful people could be used in the Lord's work. I have been calling attention to the London office, that there ought [Page Q320] to be a great many more Colporteurs here. There is a great field for work to be done. If the Colporteurs do not do it, I presume the Lord will find some other way, but the opportunity will be lost.
As an illustration: the Lord hindered the books from being sold in book stores, and I presume it was to make the way clear for the friends to sell the books. For a long time the Lord did not open the way for the newspapers, so the friends could give out the tracts, but now the Lord is opening up the worldly newspapers, and sending them to millions of people. Why? There are not enough reapers. While praying, ask yourself, What can I do? If he has a work going on you want to get your share, so with everyone.
HARVEST--Re Ending in Spring of 1910.
Q320:1 QUESTION (1910)--1--A thought is being advanced among the friends that the work will close next spring. Do you find any Scriptural proof for such thought, and are you in sympathy with the advancing of such theory?
ANSWER--I do not find any ground for such a thought. I am not in sympathy with the advancement of such a theory. I think it would be far better for the dear friends not to speculate about things of which they have no knowledge. At least, I will say that I think I would do best not to speculate about things of which I have no knowledge. If they have any knowledge on this subject, they have some knowledge I do not have, and if they are sure that they have knowledge, of course to their own Master they are responsible for the using of it. But so far as I can see, dear friends, discussing such matters as that merely takes away from the friends opportunities for usefulness, and we would far better stop talking about such things and be busily engaged in the harvest work, doing what we can do, never minding whether it is going to stop next spring or not. I will tell you next spring how it will be. In the meantime, as far as I can see, we all have plenty to do. Do not anybody stop for lack of work.
HARVEST--Re Extent of Opportunities for Service.
Q320:2 QUESTION (1910)--2--According to the present outlook, can you give us any idea how long the opportunities for service will continue, the pilgrim service, colporteur service, volunteer work, etc..?
ANSWER--I cannot. Some of the dear friends would seem to think that they have it all very nicely figured out. Well, I cannot quarrel with them, because I do not see it. If they say they see it, why they see more than I do. So far as I can see now, dear friends, I have no reason to think that the colporteur work or the other parts of the service are going to shut down immediately. It looks to me as though the work never had a more prosperous appearance than it has at the present time. My thought is that you and I, and all who are interested in the work, had best not be bothering our heads about when it is going to close. You will find out when it closes all right, won't you? Of course you will. So then do with your might what your hands find to do, and you will find lots to do now, large opportunities every day in all these various directions. My advice is, go [Page Q321] ahead; never mind what somebody says about when you can not go ahead; you will find that out in due time yourself.
HARVEST--Length of in Parab1es, Math. 13:30 and Math. 20:1-16.
ANSWER--I don't know.
HATE--The World Cannot Hate You--To Whom Spoken?
Q321:2 QUESTION (1907)--2--Please harmonize these verses: "The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth because I testified of it that the works thereof are evil." And the other text is: "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own. Now, because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Please harmonize these two particular texts, and particularly the words, "The world cannot hate you," and "therefore the world hateth you."
ANSWER--The one was spoken to a mixed audience of people, and the other was spoken to those who were His disciples, whom He had gathered out from the Jewish people. He said, Them that you gavest me, they received my Word, and because they received My Word and became My footstep followers, therefore the world hates them because it hated Me. It did not hate them originally; it was not opposed to them originally. It might have ignored them, but it did not hate them. But He was bearing the light, and the light rebuked the darkness, and so they hated the light, and hated the light-bearer. Now you have become sharers with me in holding up the light--"Let your light so shine"--and in proportion as you do so, the world will hate you just as it hated Me.
HATRED--For Satan and his Sympathizers Proper.
ANSWER--We may not he sure that we get the full import of the Psalmist's words in this passage, but we can apply the matter to ourselves and say that all the Lord's people should hate that which is evil. We could not properly have any sympathy with that which is evil. And so, of our Lord Jesus it was said, "Because Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Heb. 1:9). Now the great Head of the Church loved righteousness, and we must cultivate that same love for righteousness. He hated iniquity, sin, and we must have that same hatred.
There are people who are more or less under the influence of iniquity by reason of weakness with which they are born. We must still hate the iniquity, but must learn more and more to have sympathy for the poor human race, as God has sympathy for them. His sympathy is so great that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly," the unjust, those out of accord with God's Law (Rom. 5:8). We must have the mind of the Lord; but we are to [Page Q322] have no sympathy with the evil. If there are any who have come to the place where they are in full sympathy with iniquity, and there are some such the Scriptures assure us, they are themselves iniquitous and would properly be classed with Satan.
Satan has shown this iniquitous spirit not only by his course when he first defied the Almighty and deceived mankind and became the murderer of our race, but all along up to the present time. Jesus said to Satan, "When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). Now if Satan had turned from his iniquity, then no doubt God would have found some way, even in Satan's case, by which he might come back to God. Since he has never made any manifestation of repentance nor of sympathy for righteousness, his name is properly used in the Bible as the synonym for iniquity.
What about the fallen angels? We are not able to judge of them all. The Bible tells us about the final destruction of the Devil and his angels--those who prove, like him, incorrigible. All such will be iniquitous--not merely under the evil influence of another, but they themselves inseparably identified with iniquity, because of their own choice and volition. This class will include both evil men and evil angels, and such will be the class that would be the haters of God referred to in the text cited by the questioner: "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? I hate them with perfect hatred."
Do I hate Satan? I certainly do! Is it a perfect hatred? I hope it is a perfect hatred, so much so that I would not compromise or enter into anything that would bring me into relationship with any of Satan's methods. We wish to be separate from everything that is occult, remembering that there are but two masters, the one our Master, and the other his opponent. We have no fellowship with him. All our interest is on the Lord's side. The Adversary, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, we hate with perfect hatred; and any who prove to be his followers or sympathizers under full light deserve the same hatred.
But such a hatred would not mean on our part any pleasure in having them tortured throughout all eternity. It would be the same kind of hatred that God has. God is altogether righteous and His hatred will mean the destruction in due time of Satan and all who are of his spirit. This is the proper hatred that we should have, the hatred that would wish to see the opponents of God destroyed.
HEAD COVERING--Kind of.
Q322:1 QUESTION (1906)--1--The modern hat is certainly anything but a convenience in an audience, and some of the sisters wish to know if any one can suggest some method by which women can have the head covered during service without wearing the objectionable hat, and yet be something that would not call undue attention to the fact?
ANSWER--Am I a Solomon, that I would have the wisdom to decide questions like this? I will tell you, dear friends, what I have noticed some sisters do, and thought that if I were a sister it is quite probable I would adopt it, though this is the first time I have ever mentioned it, I believe. I have noticed some of the sisters wearing a little lace covering, and thought, now that looks very neat, and as far as I [Page Q323] know, that covers everything the Apostle had in mind. It is merely a sign, and I would not know any reason why that would not be proper. But, mind you, I am not laying down any law.
HEAD COVERING--Authority for.
ANSWER--Well, ask the Apostle Paul: he is authority on the subject and I am not.
HEADSHIP--Re Writing in Mannas, etc.
Q323:2 QUESTION (1911)--2--Is it denying the headship on the part of a sister who signs her name in Mannas, etc., instead of her husband's full name, as for instance, Mrs. Mary Dodds, instead of Mrs. Joseph Dodds?
ANSWER--Well, it would be not necessarily denying the headship, dear friends; I would not say that; but it would be a matter of etiquette, and a question as to what would be the proper form. As a rule, the understanding is that when a woman signs "Mrs." to her name she puts her husband's initials or name, but that if she wishes to sign her own name she leaves off the "Mrs." or else puts the "Mrs." in parenthesis.
HEALINGS--Call Elders, Pray and Anoint.
Q323:3 QUESTION (1909)--3--How should Christians follow the admonitions of Jam. 5:14. "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord. . . .and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
ANSWER--"And if he hath committed," that I consider the essence of it. The intimation is that such an one has committed sin, become estranged from God, and is unable to go to Him. Therefore in this sad and separated condition, "Though he hath committed sin," he may call for the elders of the Church and confess his fault, as the Apostle said: "Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another." This I would understand to be spiritual healing. Why not physical healing? To understand it so would he to understand it out of harmony with the whole Bible, which tells us that instead of expecting physical healing, we are to lay down our lives in sacrifice. There is not a suggestion anywhere that our Lord's disciples were healed by him. While Jesus sent forth His disciples to heal others, He never told them to heal themselves, and they never did, and Jesus never healed them. In the case of Paul, he mentions several brethren who were sick, and the Lord had mercy and finally healed them, but the Apostle did not command any magic work to be done for them, nor give them any aprons or napkins, etc., but he did to others. When Peter's wife's mother was sick of a fever, then she was healed, but not Peter nor any of the disciples. Hence, if James' statement is to he regarded as a general one to the Church, it would he contrary to everything else in the Scriptures.
When you and I were accepted, we were counted as having received restitution or life, and were admonished to present our bodies a living sacrifice. When our Lord was worn and tired from labor of preaching and teaching, did He pray to be healed? What did He do? He sat on the edge of the well and rested, just as you and I would do if we were tired. When He was hungry, did He command the [Page Q324] stones to be made into bread? No, He said it would be using power improperly. But, He did use that power for the feeding of the multitudes, and He may have eaten some of that which was provided for the multitudes, which would not have been a special use of His own power for Himself. We are called to sacrifice, and not called to restitution--that will be in the next age.
A friend of mine, believing in Present Truth, called upon me one day and said he had a cold. I drew out a drawer and said I would give him something that would help him. He said, "No, the Lord is my healer, and I will get over it in two or three days." "Oh," I said, "I thought I might help you over it sooner." I then remembered that he had the thought that if he had a toothache, or earache, or a corn that the Lord would heal him. He was inquiring for a brother and said he was so sick that his life was despaired of, and he also believed the same way. I said, "Brother, I will take this opportunity to tell you something. You believe that you should take your aches and pains to the Lord and then wait. Now, brother, I would like to call your attention to this fact that this brother, notwithstanding he has the Lord as his healer, is now so sick that you can't even see him, and then after being sick a long time, then gets a doctor and gets well. Now you are sick, and I remember several occasions when you have been sick. Now, while I am not boasting of the Lord being my healer, nor of my suggestions, I want to tell you that the Lord in His providences has so overruled in my life that I have been but one day in bed sick in forty-five years. Now, brother, do you think it would be better for the Lord to keep you well or to let you get sick and then heal you?" He seemed to see that the Lord could keep him well.
My thought is that you and I have a perfect right, according to God's arrangements, to do anything that we can properly, and to use anything for our physical health. When you are hungry, you eat meat and bread and potatoes, and they are some of the very best medicines. Also a little sleep. Now we do not think of doing without these. And if I thought that a pinch of catnip or anything else would arouse the liver and settle the stomach, I would not hesitate to take it any more than to take bread or potatoes, and I would think I was using the same common sense in caring for my body. We read: "Of all the herbs of the field you may freely eat." Do the best you can, you are a groaning creation, do anything for your relief. When I take some medicine I am not doing something but that is open and common to all mankind. I have consecrated all that I have to the Lord, but he never expected me to give up the eating of bread and meat or of taking some catnip if it was good for my stomach.
HEALINGS--Re Jesus' Command.
ANSWER--His disciples did go out and do that very work to a certain extent; but there is one passage of Scripture which this brother refers to, which reads like this: "And these signs shall follow them which believe. In my name [Page Q325] they shall cast out devils, and heal the sick, and if they drink any poisonous thing, it shall not hurt them," etc. What is the matter with that? As a matter of fact, that passage is not a part of the original Gospel; that chapter ends with the ninth verse; everything after the ninth verse is an interpolation, added somewhere about the eighth century as near as we know. It is not in the oldest manuscripts in the Greek, as all scholars know. Giving you an illustration of what has been added to the Bible take the last verse of the gospel of John. Anybody can see that it is an interpolation; it is not in any of the old manuscripts. It reads this way: "And I suppose that if all the things Jesus wrote and done were written the world itself would not be able to contain the books that should be written." What a whopper! Somebody who wanted to make it large felt at liberty to add that verse without any authority. Now, I do not go in for all the additions to the Word of God; I merely stand for what God said, as written by his prophets and apostles, nothing more.
HEALINGS--Result of Prayer.
ANSWER--I do not think restitution blessings are due to the world yet. I understand that restitution is God's provision to be inaugurated after the second coming of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom. What Jesus did in the way of restitution at the first advent, and what the Apostles also did at that time, we are not to consider against God's plan, and if the Lord could and did do miracles there in advance of the restitution it would show that it was violation of God's law, and hence if God should grant more restitution blessings now there would be no law to hinder it, as there was no law to hinder Jesus and the Apostles from performing restitution blessings. But the time for them is future. So, then, if I were to think of or pray for such, and in connection with their infirmities, my thought would be like this: I know that God has made full provision for the restitution of my children and other children, and for the whole human family by and by; I am not sure that God is ready now to give any special manifestations along this line; if I would pray at all on this subject I would pray with a certain limitation in my mind as well as in my expression, and I would say, "Lord, notwithstanding though I ask this, Thy will be done, not my will." I would see no harm in making such a prayer under such conditions, saying, "Lord, I know not whether the time has come that you will be pleased to grant some measure of restitution to my child, therefore I leave the matter in your hands. I pray, if it is in harmony with your will that such blessings may come to it. Father, I ask nothing of restitution rights for myself, because all of these earthly and restitution rights I have sacrificed and therefore I ask nothing for myself." My petition would merely be for this child, this one who is the subject of prayer.
HEARING EAR--Is it Miraculous?
ANSWER--I understand that this expression "hearing ear" might be viewed from different standpoints. If you refer [Page Q326] to the natural man, then it would have one meaning, but if to the New Creature, then it would have another meaning. As for instance, if I speak to Christians and speak of our eyes being opened, and of our ears being blessed of the Lord, I am speaking of our spiritual eyes and ears by which we can appreciate the spirit of the Lord. Another illustration, when you first came to the Lord, you were drawn to the Lord, or you heard His voice, and that attracted you, and you came to Jesus. This is where the natural ear had not been entirely vitiated by the fall. You perhaps were born with some reverence which would say, You ought to bring an offering to the Lord, you ought to render thanks to Him. This led you to feel after God and He was pleased to he found of you, and He took you by the hand, saying, this way, my honest soul, this is Jesus, the one through whom I am pleased to have all come who would come to me. But don't make a mistake of confounding the hearing ear of the human nature with the hearing ear of the New Creature.
HEAVEN AND HELL--Did Pastor Russell Say There Was None?
ANSWER--We have already said that there is a heaven, and enough space for all the angels and the saints. Our Lord said, "In my Father's house are many mansions, but I go to prepare a place for you." But He did not say anything about preparing a place for mankind in general. The time to prepare for them is in the Millennial Age.
HEAVEN AND HELL--Are There Such Places?
ANSWER--We believe that there are such places. We believe that there is a heaven, as the Scriptures say: Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool, sayeth the Lord. Supposing that every one born into the world is eventually to go to heaven is one of the errors that we have fallen into. God, in the greatness of His wisdom and power, was pleased to create angels and then subsequently, in the further development of His plan, He was pleased to make this earth and then create mankind. He made human beings a little lower than angels. Man never was an angel, never fell from being an angel, and was never intended to be an angel. Made a little lower than the angels, just like them in respect to having the divine characteristics of mind and will, and in some respects God made man higher than the angels, in the sense of giving them dominion over the earth, but to the angels He never gave any dominion; He put all these things under the feet of men. Heaven was intended for the angels and for Himself. During this present time God is developing the New Creation and they are to be heavenly beings and are to go to heaven, and as the Scriptures state, they will have a nature not only like the angels, but in some respects superior to them, in that they will have the divine nature.
We do not know how many orders there are of spirit beings, but we read about Cherubims and Seraphims. He informs us that He has put these all under subjection to Christ. When Christ ascended up on high, God said, let all the angels worship Him. But this does not interfere with God's plan respecting the earth, which He designed should [Page Q327] he inhabited. It would be very absurd to think that after God had spent six thousand years in training the world, and then 1,000 years in making them fit for eternal life, He would blot them out.
As for hell, we certainly believe more about it than others, for we understand that all go there, while others put only part of the people there; but it is a different hell, it is the Bible hell, the state of the dead, sheol, and the whole world goes to sheol. Get your Bible and compare how this word is used all through the Old Testament. Good and bad all go there; they are all gathered to their fathers, and sleep with them whether they are good or bad. It would be very strange to say that they slept with their fathers if their fathers were in hell, for they are awake in the theological hell.
We do not deny that there is a hell and a heaven, but we do deny the nocturnal hallucinations that have come down to us from the dark ages.
ANSWER--Well, I don't know that you ever heard me say that everything has an opposite, nor that the Lord said so, and whoever said so, he is the one you ought to ask this question of. It is true that wherever there is a mountain, there is pretty sure to be a valley, but there are some mountains rising up out of the sea and there is no valley present. Mean things are opposite to good things, and sweet things are opposite to sour.
The Bible places life and death as opposites, and he who will not serve God shall not have life but death, but he who will serve and obey Him shall have life. That is the best kind of an opposite, and we have the Lord's word for it, "I have set before you life and death, choose life that you may live." So the whole proposition during the Millennial Age will be, Obey and live, disobey and die. Those are the antitheses or opposites.
HELL--Re Destroyed by Pastor Russell.
ANSWER--I do not do away with hell, my dear friends. All of you who were here this afternoon will hear me witness that I preached more hell than you ever heard before, and said that everybody goes to hell--the Bible hell; but there are no demons in the Bible hell. The Bible never says anything about demons in hell. The Bible tells us that Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. How could that be if he is stoking fire off in some place beyond space or time, how would he be able to attend to things so well in Winnipeg?
HELL--Re Being Opposite of Heaven.
Q327:3 QUESTION (1911)--3--What answer should be made to those who declare that if there is a heaven of everlasting happiness for the saintly, there must be also a hell of everlasting torture for the wicked?
ANSWER--Well, we would not like to answer such a person really according to the logic of the question, because that might seem rude, and Christianity is never to be rude. [Page Q328] The person who asks a question like that of us implies that he has not good reasoning faculties. There is no comparison between everlasting life in happiness, and everlasting life in torture, there is no such proposition set before us in the Bible. The antithesis of life is death. You will live or you will die. And so the Lord, you remember through the prophet, said, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; choose therefore life that ye may live." This is the whole invitation of the Gospel, that we might live. God is offering life. He declares that there is no everlasting life to any except through our Lord Jesus. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him." The wrath of God is a death penalty. As you and I look out into the world today, every funeral we see, every piece of crepe we see, everything that indicates sickness and death, speaks of the wrath of God--the sentence of God as the Bible presents it. Anything else is a misconception. We look back and see what the curse was that God put upon Father Adam. When Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, it was upon the condition that if he would remain obedient to God he might continue to live and live in happiness, live in an earthly Eden, and if he was disobedient to God he would die. "The wages of sin is death." "The soul that sinneth it shall die." This is God's sentence, and so it was then, that when Father Adam was disobedient, this sentence or curse of death came upon him, and you and I as his children today are suffering this curse of death; all the aches and pains, all the mental and moral imperfection that you know about and possess, and that I have anything to do with all of these are so much of death working in us. This is the original penalty that is bearing the human family down to the tomb. That is the great hell of the Bible, sheol, hades. Death is the penalty for sin and all the aches and pains incidental to it are so much incidental to the full culmination of that penalty. And so it is that God set before Adam life and death, not heaven and hell. He might continue to live in Eden if obedient, he would die if he were disobedient. He did disobey, he did die. We are all witnesses that the whole race is in death. Saint Paul expresses this matter most clearly in Rom. 5:12 when he says, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." It does not say a word about eternal torment passing upon anybody; there was no such sentence; the wrath of God is not revealed in eternal torment. The wrath of God is revealed in the death sentence that has been on our race for six thousand years. So the Apostle in another place says the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness. Who will say that the wrath of God is revealed in hell fire? Did you ever see it? Not at all. Was it ever revealed to anybody? Not at all. How is the wrath of God revealed? I answer, you feel it, and you see it all about you in the dying of our race. And so in God's due time he has arranged that our race should be redeemed; he has laid hope upon one who is able to help, mighty to save, Jesus; and Jesus has appeared, and he was the manifestation of God's mercy, and has laid down his life! He did not go to eternal torment for us; he did not pay any eternal torment penalty, and if you and I were ever under any eternal torment [Page Q329] penalty, we would still be under it; it has never been paid by our Lord; it has never been paid by anybody. But what say the Scriptures? The Scriptures say the penalty against us was a death penalty, and that Jesus died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us hack to God. The penalty he paid therefore was the death penalty. "He tasteth death for every man," "He poured out his soul unto death," "He made his soul an offering for sin," and the Scriptures also say that eventually he will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. I am glad, I will he satisfied first of all to see the saintly Church in glory, and I will be satisfied completely with the end of the work when the full knowledge of God shall have reached the whole human family, and every individual of our race shall have had an opportunity of coming back to God's favor and eternal life. The masses of mankind will have the privilege of coming back to perfect human life during the Millennium, during the time of Christ's reign, and the saintly ones will be coming to this high calling, the heavenly condition which was never lost; you never lost the heavenly condition; you lost life. God says if we walk in the footsteps of Jesus he will not only give us life, but he will give us life more abundant. So then we quote the text again which says, "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." The death penalty will continue on him, he will go into the second death. Plain enough! We are in the first death through Adam's disobedience, now if when God sent forth his Son to be the life-giver, and the rescuer from death, and one neglects or refuses the Son, he will die for his own sin, and it will be the second death.
HELL--The Wicked Cast Into.
ANSWER--In the first place, people who forget God must be people who have known Him. No man can forget what he has not learned. The time for most of the people to learn of God will be in the future. There are very few in Springfield who know God in the true sense. You and I find that we are daily coming to a better knowledge of God. Jesus said, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the true God." How many know him in that sense? Every one must come to know Him before they can forget Him.
But who are these wicked ones referred to by the Psalmist? We have looked up that particular text and remember how it reads. According to the Hebrew it should read this way, "The wicked shall he returned into sheol, together with all nations that forget God." It means to go to sheol a second time, or it is another way of saying they will go to second death. Into sheol everybody will go the first time; not merely the wicked, but every one; the rich and poor, black and white, male and female, every one shall go to sheol. But they cannot go there a second time unless the son shall first set them free. We learn that it will be his work during the millennial age to release these prisoners from the state of death. He will say to the prisoners, "Show yourselves. Come forth." During the thousand years of Messiah's reign all these prisoners will come forth. All who do not prove themselves worthy of everlasting life during that time will [Page Q330] be returned to sheol. It is simply another way of expressing the second death.
HIGH CALLING--Coveting Crowns of Others.
ANSWER--I think the brother does not mean just as the question reads, for if the required number has been selected that would end the matter. I think what he means is that if a sufficient number had been called to complete the election, prior to 1900, would we not be coveting some one else's crown? We answer, no, not at all. It is according to God's grace, and not as we will. It is not because you or I do this or that, but because God has something to give away. God has done his own work in scattering the truth, etc., and God has favored those that come into the call. If they count themselves unworthy of the crown or do despite to God's favor they are not the kind God intends should get the crown. He intends to give them the opportunity just as though he did not know how it was going to result. Suppose a sufficient number at the present time have the grace of God and that there is no lack of numbers, and suppose I were one that had not yet made the consecration, and suppose I should like very much if the Lord had some blessing to give that I might be one of his favored ones, but I do not know, and the whole number may be completed and it might be useless to try, for I might be taking the crown from some one else? I ought to say, I have learned of the riches of your grace, Lord, and I give myself to you anyway, whether the number is complete or not, and you can give me what you please. Anything that the Lord would give would be a very great thing. All kings give presents in proportion to their positions as kings. It would be all out of harmony with God's character to give a mean thing. The Lord is going to give a blessing to thousands that are his. You give him your heart and you will get exceedingly abundantly more than you could have asked or thought of. So it would not be coveting another's crown to consecrate yourself to the Lord. If he gives you a crown, take it, for it will not be coveting any one else's crown.
HIGH CALLING--Will Our Families Know About Us?
ANSWER--I think they will. It will be just like our Heavenly Father to make something known of the richness of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus. A Scripture in Psalms says, It shall he said of this one and of that one, that such a one was born in Zion. What does that mean? I think that refers to the heavenly Zion, and to those who shall be born in the first resurrection, and our friends and our relatives will know of our resurrection and birth in Zion, and that we had passed beyond the vail, just as we know of our Lord Jesus having passed beyond the vail.
HIGHWAY--Will Force Be Used?
ANSWER--There is no Highway of Holiness yet; hence nobody is walking on it yet. None can walk that way until it is prepared. There will be no such highway until the Great King takes control of affairs, overthrows the present order of things and sets up the Kingdom of Messiah--then there will be a Highway of Holiness. Then the righteous can go up thereon.
Now there is only the Narrow Way and the Broad Way. The Narrow Way is for those who wish to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the steep and rugged way. To be forced is not the thought, it must be a voluntary devotion, a willing walking in the footsteps of Jesus, or it will not be acceptable at all.
The Great Company will have certain experiences in being forced. But they will not be forced to perform, but forced to decide for themselves. You see the difference between forcing a man to go into a boat and bringing certain influences to cause him to desire to go in. Will I turn my back on the Lord to escape the trouble, or will I take the way of the Lord? Even those who choose to take the way of the Lord under stress will be overcomers. In the next age, when the world's Highway of Holiness will be opened up, force will be used to bring all to a knowledge of the Truth respecting God's provision for them. Wrong doing will be punished with corrective stripes. But it would be far from right to suppose that mankind will be then driven or forced along the Highway of Holiness. All who will go up thereon must exert themselves--it will be an upward way. Our Saviour stated the Father's sentiment respecting all to whom He will ever grant life everlasting: "He seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth."
HIGHWAY--Rod of Iron Used.
ANSWER--At present there is no Highway of Holiness; consequently no one is walking on it during the Gospel Age. There will be no such Highway until the Great King takes control of affairs, overthrows the present order of things and sets up the Kingdom of Heaven. Then a Highway of Holiness will be prepared, upon which the righteous can walk. During the Gospel Age there are but two ways--the Narrow Way and the Broad Way. (Matt. 7:13-14.) The former is for those who desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and is a steep, rugged path. The latter is the road that leads to destruction and is a broad way on which the human race are hurrying to the tomb.
Those who walk acceptably in the footsteps of the Master must do so willingly. Theirs must be a voluntary devotion'. To be forced is not at all. the thought. The Little Flock will thus run the Narrow Way; but the Great Company will have experiences which will force them, not to take one special way, but to decide for themselves what course they will pursue. There is a difference between forcing a man to go aboard a vessel, and bring certain influences to bear which will cause him to desire to do so.
In the next Age, when the world's Highway of Holiness shall have been opened up (Isa. 35:8), force will be used to bring all mankind to a knowledge of the Truth respecting [Page Q332] God's provision for them. Wrong doing will then be punished with corrective stripes. But it would be far from right to suppose that mankind will be driven or forced along the Highway of Holiness. All who go up thereon must exert themselves; for it will be an upward way. Our Savior stated the Father's sentiment respecting all to whom He will ever grant everlasting life. His words were, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."
HOLY SPIRIT--In What Sense Received Before Pentecost.
Q332:1 QUESTION (1908)--1--In what sense did the disciples receive the holy Spirit before the Day of Pentecost, as stated in John 20:22: "He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit."
ANSWER--The record here would seem to imply that this was done some time before, at the beginning of the ministry. I was not there, and do not know to the contrary, but I fancy that while John recorded it here, the fact is that it was done some time before, at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, when He sent forth the disciples in His name. That is the time I think He breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," and sent them forth; and when they went forth, they went in His Spirit, in his power, and they exercised His power in His name, and cured diseases and cast out devils, and did many wonderful works. So I presume then that this breathing on them, and giving them the Holy Spirit was in this sense of the word, and at this time. What could it mean? The Holy Spirit as it came to the Church at Pentecost was the heavenly Father's manifestation of His acceptance of the Church, and that was deferred until after Jesus had made His sacrifice at Calvary--until after He had ascended up on high and appeared in the presence of God for us; and it was an evidence to these disciples that God had accepted them, and that they might count themselves in as members of the Body of Christ, His spirit-begotten sons. The spirit that Christ put upon them was His Spirit, His power, before that. He had received the Spirit without measure; He used that Spirit Himself in the healing of diseases, because the power was thus put upon Him; so He gave the disciples of this power and sent them forth as His representatives in His name.
HUMAN BEINGS--Rights and Privileges--Belonging to.
ANSWER--I suppose the thought in the mind of the person asking this question is, that you and I and all others propose to lay down all rights and privileges, to sacrifice these. What are these? Now I think of one that will serve as an illustration. I was on a sleeping-car not long ago, and the porter and some fellow-traveler in the middle of the night got into a conversation, talking about a variety of things, loud enough to wake up all of those who were not as sound asleep as they might be. I exercised my right and privilege by calling the attention of the porter to the fact that he was not attending to his business properly, and that unless he desisted I would report him to the company. That [Page Q333] was my right; that was my privilege. He afterwards made some amends, and I dropped my privileges in connection with reporting him. That is an illustration and you can apply it in a thousand different ways in the affairs of life. You have rights, everybody has rights, and you will find that people trample on your rights every little while, and possibly unintentionally you may trample on theirs; it is your business and ours to see that we do not trample on anybody else's rights; we want to obey the golden rule and do to others as we would that they should do to us. But it is unnecessary to insist that they should do to us according to the golden rule. You have a right to demand justice, but you can forego these rights. Now in connection with this matter, I will tell you that I learned a little lesson myself and I have made a partial resolution; I have not made it a fixed resolution yet. When I go to make a resolution, or a vow, I usually think it over pretty well, and try it for a little while, see how it would go, and whether it would do to make it a fixed resolution or not. I have never been as much afraid of vows as some of the dear friends, but I have made a number of vows to the Lord, and I hope I will make some more. Whenever I find a place where I think I can improve on the old man, then I say, Here, put another strap around him and tie him down, and if you find it is likely to be able to hold, make it positive, clinch it with a vow, and that helps you ever afterwards. If you leave it open to be tried another time, every time that matter comes up you have to fight it over in your mind; but if you have once fought it over and gotten the conquest, and realized that it is the right thing, then nail it down, or as the Apostle says, put the body under and bury it--"I keep under my body." So when we find any part of the body sticking up a little from the grave, bury it again, stick it down and put a little more dirt on it. In this matter I was thinking some years ago to make a resolve, or vow, to the Lord that with His assisting grace I would never murmur or complain in respect to anything He permitted to come to me. I thought that was right. What right have I to complain? Shall I receive blessings at the Lord's hand, and if He sees proper to give me some that are not quite so pleasant, shall I refuse those? No. Then I have no right to murmur or complain. So I said, with your assistance and your grace I make this vow, that I will never murmur nor complain with respect to anything that your providence may permit to come to me. Now as far as I know I have always kept that vow, and I am very glad I made it. If I could find another as good as that, I would make it right today. When I was thinking about this porter afterwards, and how I had hauled him over the coals, and it was all right, there was justice about it, but I thought this, Now how do I know but what that porter might some time have a kind of grudge at me, and suppose the truth should come to him. He would say, "That is the man that raked me over the coals, and I do not like anything he has, though it may be reasonable, or just, because he held me to account there." But it might keep him from getting the truth. I would not keep that poor man from getting the truth. I had better not say anything to him. It is a good principle to apply all through. This resolution that I would never murmur has been a great blessing to me. I find so [Page Q334] many people that are groaning, and working, and grunting, and complaining about things, and I think they are making a great mistake. All their burdens are harder after they have grunted over them a while; they make them worse all along. I find we get along much better by saying, If the Lord is pleased to let that come, I would not think of murmuring against His wisdom in the matter, but will accept it as of the Lord. If I break my leg this afternoon, shall I murmur? Not a bit of it. Not one of you would hear a murmur come out of my mouth. If something else happened I would not murmur. What right would I have to murmur? What good would it do to murmur? It is the Lord's will I want to be done, and He says He will not allow anything to happen to His children that He will not overrule for good. If the Lord thinks it is good for me to break my leg this afternoon, I hope I will break it. We want that which the Lord's will sees is best for us. So we have nothing to complain or murmur about; we are not to be complainers. You remember the Apostle points out that that was one of the difficulties of the children of Israel. They first murmured and complained, and afterwards it led up to opposition to the Lord. So when you begin to murmur you begin to get out of accord with the Lord. So I said to myself, I think I will make a resolution, or a vow, that I will not murmur about what other people do to me. If they do something bad, I will not murmur; I am not bound to take it up and say, "I challenge you, sir; that is a lie." I need not do that. I need not murmur or make a complaint against him. Let him take his course; let the Lord deal with him. What will I do? I will try and take it as meekly as I can, and I will get a good lesson out of it in patience, perseverance, and self-control. I do not know how much of a blessing there may be in that resolution. I have an idea that resolution, or vow, never to murmur about anything anybody says, if I shall make it, will do me good. I have not made it as yet in full; I have merely thought to try it and see if it will not be good; but I think I will make it, and I think it is going to do me a lot of good. You can say anything you like about me and I think I will not say anything back to you.
HUMAN NATURE--Does It Desire Sympathy?
Q334:1 QUESTION (I908)--l--Is it part of human nature to desire sympathy from others? And then, if so, does avoiding telling our troubles to others, even other members of the Body of Christ, bring us into nearer relationship with him, causing us to lean solely on the arm of the Lord?
ANSWER--I answer: Yes, to the first part of the question. The Apostle's suggestion is that each one should seek to bear, so far as he can, and not only should he seek to bear his own burdens so far as possible, but he should seek to bear somebody else's burdens. And whoever has burdens of his own and tries to bear them and to have the Lord's assistance for them, and then who is seeking and reaching out to help other people with their burdens, will find his own burdens thereby a great deal lighter, and that he has a blessing on the way. So then the proper attitude for each one of us is to seek so far as possible to bear our own burdens and then to help somebody else, and not to think too much of our own, not to imagine that we have all the labors and all the troubles and all the burdens, but to look out and see [Page Q335] how many other people have troubles, and you will find that many of them have more than you. But before that, when looking at your own, they seemed very large. This does not mean that you and I will never get sympathy from others; but we will not be seeking for the sympathy so much as before; we will be trying to bear our own; and the Lord will send someone perhaps who will give us some sympathy when we did not reach out for it; sympathy will come as the Lord sees best. You remember the great Head of the Body is the Lord Jesus Christ and every member of the Body is under His superintendence and care; and just as if you had a sore finger, what would the finger do? Appeal to the foot? No. To the other hand? No. Well, what would the finger do? The nerves of sensation would telegraph to the brain, "I am hurt." And the brain would telegraph to the other hand, "Go and help that finger." And thus you see, our Lord is the One we tell our troubles to, and we are to look to Him for the aid, and then we are to expect whatever we may need and it may come from the fellow members of the body; and as fellow members of the Body, we must all be in that attitude of seeking to respond to the Head, knowing the Head would have us sympathize with one another, to give to one another in His name, so that we will be trying to do good, and to look for opportunities to serve one another. This is the way we will have the most blessings, the most peace, and the most joy, doing the best we can to bear our own burdens and to bear as much as possible for others, to sympathize and to help others.
From the back of the Question Book:
HATRED--Of Unrighteousness and Injustice Proper
Q782:2 QUESTION--If hatred is not a virtue, why does it say in Eccl. 3:8 "There is a time to hate?" Why does Christ say in Luke 14:2 "If any man come to me and HATE not his father and mother, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple?" (F. W.)
ANSWER--Our Lord in all of His instructions to His followers continually admonished them to love one another, and not only this but that they were to love their enemies as well. (John 13:35; Mat. 5:43,44-46; 1 Pet. 2:23.) Therefore, it would not be consistent to think that the Lord would counsel His followers to HATE those that were near and dear to themselves, and towards whom there was every incentive to love and esteem. The Lord evidently used this word to impress the thought upon the minds of those who would be His followers, that the terms of discipleship are very rigid and exacting. In other words; none could become disciples of the Master unless they loved Him more than all earthly ties, or considerations. None can ever be recognized by the Lord as His follower unless they have taken the step to be obedient to the Divine will even though it [Page Q783] meant the loss of every valued object and the sacrifice of life itself! The thought conveyed in the expression found in Eccl. 3:8, is that there are times and seasons when it would be proper to "hate," or despise that which is contrary to the principles of righteousness and justice. All should hate injustice and be out of sympathy with those who oppress and injure the weak and helpless. Also, those who are in opposition to the Lord and His just laws and arrangements, and who wilfully go contrary thereto, should be righteously shunned and despised--"hated with a perfect hatred." --Psa.139:21,22.
HEALINGS--BY the Faithless
Q783:1 QUESTION--Can you give some Scriptural proof that faith healing as it is practiced today is of the Adversary or the Evil One? I know that it cannot be of the Lord because there are some who are engaged in performing wonderful cures, as I happen to know personally and who are devoid of faith in the teachings of the Bible. For instance, a close relation of mine was raised from a death bed by the powers of one of these "healers" who in his teachings was denying the very foundation principles of the Scriptures. (A.N.)
ANSWER--There is no question but that many remarkable cures are effected by some who seemingly are able to exert an influence, that is beyond and above the natural powers of man. It is equally true that many of these healers make no professions as to Christianity. Their power then must be from an evil source, as the righteous Lord would not aid those who are not in harmony with Himself. In agreement with this thought we read in Mat. 7:22,23, that some would accomplish many wonderful works, even in the name of Christ, yet the Lord would not recognize them. After all, the Lord's followers are not to be known by their "great works"--"by their fruits ye shall know them." Mat. 7:20.
HEAVEN AND HELL--"Keys"
Q783:2 QUESTION--Somebody told me that Saint Peter must have a higher position than the Lord Jesus because St. Peter has the keys to heaven, whereas the Lord Jesus has the keys to hell. Where do we find this in he Bible and please explain? (W.P.M.)
ANSWER--A "key," in the symbolisms of the Scriptures, is representative of the opening power vested in the one who has been duly authorized to act, just as is sometimes expressed in the vernacular--"He holds the key to the situation." St. Peter was given two "keys" (Mat. 16:19), one of which he used on the day of Pentecost when he opened the way for the Jews to enter into the Kingdom by preaching the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom (Acts 2:22-36.) Three thousand Jews entered in though this opened door (verse 41) on that very day. The second key was used three and one-half years later when St Peter opened up the way for the Gentiles to enter into the Kingdom, by preaching the Gospel to Cornelius who accepting the message, and believing, became the first Gentile convert to Christianity. (Acts 10:44,45.) In Rev. 1:18 the glorified Savior is represented as speaking, saying "I am He that liveth, [Page Q784] and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death." The Lord Jesus, by virtue of His death and resurrection, accomplished the redemption of the race of mankind from death and hell-- hades, the grave. Because He thus bought the race, He has the "keys," the opening power, to release all mankind from the great prison house of death and the tomb, as we read concerning the Lord Jesus--"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isa. 61:1.
HELL--Did Christ Descend There?
ANSWER--Many Christians are quite perplexed as to where the Lord Jesus was from the time of His crucifixion to the time of His resurrection. Some have the thought that He was away somewhere preaching to the spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:19); some that He was with the thief in Paradise (Luke 23:43); some that He was in Heaven, and some that He was in a place of fire and brimstone called Hell. (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:31.) However, the Bible does not leave us in doubt about the matter but plainly teaches that the Lord Jesus was in hell during the three days following the crucifixion. The hell of the Scriptures is not the hell of the creeds, but the condition of death, the grave. Jesus was in the tomb, the grave. He was dead, as the Bible affirms, and was raised the third day. See the following Scriptures and forget about the confusion of the creeds which in the main are unscriptural. (1 Cor. 15:3,4; 1 Cor.12:16; Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; 1 Pet. 1:21.) The Hebrew sheol the Greek word hades, and the English word hell all signify the same thing--the grave, the condition of the dead. All enlightened Bible Scholars and clergymen versed in the original languages of the Scriptures will acknowledge, if they are honest and unprejudiced, that there is not the slightest suggestion, in the original meaning of these words, of fire, brimstone and torment. We have not the space here to give an explanation of the Scriptures referred to at the beginning of this reply, but can assure all that these are in entire harmony with themselves, rightly understood, and with all the rest of the Scriptures which teach that our Lord was in the tomb for the three days preceding His resurrection.
HELL--Where? Who Created It?
ANSWER--The so-called "orthodox hell," of a vast furnace of fire and brimstone, manned by fire-proof devils with pitch forks in their hands, who are busily engaged in jabbing and tormenting the billions of poor unfortunates--all of the human race, with the exception of the few saints, who with much difficulty manage to squeeze through the pearly gates into the heavenly city--exists only in the feeble minds and perverted imaginations of those who have given heed to the "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1) and [Page Q785] who have never thoughtfully studied the Scriptures. This "hell" was created in the Dark Ages of the past by corrupt and ignorant priests influenced by evil spirits who misrepresented and blasphemed the character of the Almighty God, who is wise and just, loving and merciful, as the Scriptures everywhere affirm. In the increasing light of our day, when the people are brushing the smoke and dust of the Ages of gloom from their eyes, it is clearly seen that "hell," in the Scriptures, is nothing more than the condition of death--the tomb. The Hebrew word sheol and the Greek hades from which the word hell is used in the English translations, have this significance. All go to hell--the grave--the death state, and will remain there until the resurrection. Adam created, or brought this "hell," or condition of death, upon the race by his disobedience. See Rom. 5:12.
HIGHWAY--Of Holiness, If Open and Plain, Why Confusion?
Q785:1 QUESTION--Is it true that the "Highway of Holiness" is opened now and that the way of salvation is so plain that a "wayfaring man though a fool shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8-10)? If the way is so plain and clear and simple that a foolish person need make no mistake about it, then why is there so much confusion among the learned clergymen, Doctors of Divinity, etc., as to the proper methods of salvation, some teaching one thing and some another? As an honest skeptic and one seeking to know the way of salvation, can you direct me to this "Highway?"
ANSWER--We are not surprised that you have failed to find the "Highway." The Lord Jesus referring to the conditions of salvation during this present Gospel Age, declares that "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." As a matter of fact the Scriptures point out three ways: --"The broad way, leading to destruction," "The narrow way to life," and the "Highway of Holiness." (Mat. 7:13,14; Isa. 35:8,9.) It is very evident from the conditions which you mention, that the latter of these ways has not been in existence thus far, but as the Scriptures affirm, it will be opened up for the world at the time of our Lord's second coming. Then when Satan, that old "lion" (1 Pet. 5:8), is bound (Rev. 20:2), the Prophet's words shall be fulfilled--"No lion shall be there," and "the redeemed of the Lord (the world of mankind) shall go up thereon with everlasting joy and singing upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."