The Key to Bible Understanding

CHAPTER XVI

WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY TEACHES

THE NATURE OF MAN – NO INHERENT IMMORTALITY – THE NEED OF SALVATION FROM DEATH. THE COVENANT IN EDEN – THE SEED OF THE SERPENT – THE SEED OF THE WOMAN – THE DEVIL AND SATAN – HELL. THE COVENANTS TO ABRAHAM AND DAVID – RELATION OF COVENANTS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. THE KINGDOM OF MEN AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD – THE APROACHING TIME FOR THE KINGDOM – ZIONISM A SIGN. WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE OF MAN?

As the primitive glory of the ancient cities of the past has become covered over by the rubbish of centuries until their original form has become distorted or altogether hidden, so it is with ancient Christianity. The primitive beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus and his fishermen disciples became buried under elaborate ritual and ceremonies which were often transferred from pagan rites.

The "dark ages" effectually buried for centuries all Bible knowledge, ignorant and superstitious priests perpetuated image and relic worship, so that Christianity was as effectively buried as the cities of Assyria and Babylon.

The work of the Reformation, followed later by the French Revolution, resulted in the establishment of democratic freedom of thought and religious worship and facilitated Bible reading and study among the common people. Thus although this freedom resulted in a multiplicity of religious sects, so much deplored by Rome, it resulted also in an increase in Bible knowledge.

But this uncovering of the riches of wisdom and understanding has only been partial, as we have endeavored to show. And like partial excavation, which reveals some only of the hidden city, its finds have been a mixture of truth and error.

The liberalism of the Church of England is far in advance of Papal darkness and thraldom; but it is not far enough. There are other considerations which discourage complete liberty of search and investigation. Men might find that episcopal palaces for bishops, "benefices" and "callings" for others, were all a wicked imposition. Thus enough has been excavated for the liking of the clergy; enough to excuse them throwing over Rome, but more research and digging on the part of the laity is discouraged lest the result would cause men to throw them over also. Thus they jealously guard this preserve of Bible exposition which they regard as peculiarly their own, maintaining that educational attainments and scholarship are vitally necessary for a right understanding of Bible exposition.

HIDDEN TREASURE

Some, however, undeterred by their learned opposition and discouraging frowns, have gone direct to the only source of the knowledge of God and have dug therein as for hidden treasure. What they have found is strangely at variance with the findings of these clerical archaeologists. In company with others we have been to this buried city of Bible Truth and have been so bold as to take pick and spade with us to find what the Church still left uncovered or covered again lest others should find. We are going to lay before you the great things we have found, that you too may examine them. This is most important, for you will have seen the foolishness already imposed by the councils and decrees of the Church when unsupported by scriptural evidences. We are going to the site itself and show you the exhibits. The verdict will be left to you.

The pagan world was revolutionized and "turned up-side down" in early Christian days by "unlearned and ignorant" men. It was the learned who again brought it into bondage and darkness, often for their own behoof. True Christians living in this modern age, likewise unlearned in the teaching of the schools and seminaries, but learned by much reading and study in the wisdom which is from above, undertake to expose the foolishness of the learned and of their traditions which have made of none effect the Word of God.

This subject–the true teaching of the Bible–is one upon which we could write at indefinite length. But we remember that we write for modern readers, and modern readers, however much we may deplore the fact, are intolerant of long books. In the hope that this present effort may encourage you to further and more exhaustive reading concerning Bible doctrines, we shall bear your prejudices in mind and be as brief as the claims of clarity will allow.

THEME OF THE BIBLE

The theme of the Bible is grand and majestic. It is a revelation to man of the attributes and purposes of God. This is its uniqueness, for no other source of this knowledge can be found among all the literature in the world. Not even the evidences of a supreme designer found in the world of nature to testify to the attributes of the great "first cause," nor reveal the final purpose of the thing designed. It is in the Bible alone that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe proclaims that He "ordered" the earth in all its manifold riches and wonders as a habitation for man.

"The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord's: but the earth he hath given to the children of men." (Ps. 115:16)

"For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens: God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it. He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited." (Isa. 45:18)

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." (Rev. 4:11)

But even this world of beauty and wonder was not to be the final state. In due time and in due process of time the earth is to "be full of knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, the desert is to "blossom as the rose," the "leopard shall lie down with the kid," "nation shall not lift up sword against nation," and eventually "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Though the Church has decreed that at some future time the earth will provide the fuel for a huge bonfire, God has declared otherwise.

Now this complex living world was not created as a static order of things. God's arrangement permitted to man a freedom of choice between obeying and serving Him and disobeying and ignoring Him. When Adam in the exercise of this free will brought evil into the good, and through disobedience brought death, God set before him a divine plan whereby he might ascend to the divine nature of incorruptibility.

"By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12)

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor. 15:21-22)

"We look for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Phil. 3:20-21)

It is the knowledge of this divine plan and the hope of becoming partakers thereof that is the pearl of great price" for which a man will "sell all that he hath and buy."

OUR SEARCH FOR GOD

In our search for the whole counsel of God we cannot–must not–ignore any portion as being unnecessary or redundant, mythical or legendary. How imprudent of the archaeologist to ignore any stratum and its evidence, positive or negative. The word of God is therefore a wholly infallible guide: unique in its origin; alone in its proclamation of "the end from the beginning." We believe in Genesis I as we believe in Rev. 22, and we appeal to all scripture in our search for a knowledge of God and of His purpose with man.

"Canst thou by searching find out God?" This is the question addressed by Zophar to Job, and in a message we have answered it. In the realm of nature we find His power: "Thou sendest forth thy spirit they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth," but we cannot find God. In the world of human philosophy we find speculation but we cannot find God. In the Bible He reveals Himself– "the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple," "the entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple." It is of the utmost importance that we know this testimony, and gain understanding therefrom, for it is Jesus who says "This is life eternal that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent." (John 17:3) It requires but little delving into God's testimonies to find many declarations concerning Himself, but even so we find that the modern Christians, like the ancient Athenians, ignorantly worship Him, and like the Pharisees have made the word of God of none effect through their traditions. For God has declared of Himself:

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4)

Nor is there any variation of or addition to this testimony of Himself throughout His revelation to man. Centuries later the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write:

"I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me." (Isa. 45:5)

And Israel so believed and worshipped. And when the successive sway of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece gave way to that of Rome, we find Jesus proclaiming to his countrymen: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." At no time during his ministry does he testify otherwise. Moreover his testimony is clear and emphatic in establishing the relationship between himself and God. This relationship was enunciated by the angel to Mary in the words, "He shall be called the Son of the Highest" (Luke 1:32), and repeated by Christ himself when he said "I am the Son of God" (John 10:36); and when Peter testified–in answer to the question, "whom say ye that I am"–"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 16-17) It is relevant and pertinent to ask why that church which is supposed to be founded on Peter should proclaim otherwise. If this same question were asked of a Roman Catholic, would he answer as Peter did or would he not rather proclaim "Thou art Christ, God the Son?" He must indeed answer thus lest he "without doubt be eternally damned" by his church.

THE FATHER AND THE SON

Jesus was born that he might "bear witness to the truth," and that witness includes a definition of his relationship to God–a relationship which is found in our common understanding of the term "father" and the term "son." The term "son" implies a beginning–a period of non-existence in actuality (though not necessarily of intention). And so "the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise–"The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee (Mary) and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) Before this birth Jesus had not existed except in the mind of the Father. When we read in Gen. 1:26, the words, "Let us make man in our image," we are not reading the declaration of two equal gods nor yet of three, but, as we shall show later, of a multitude of mighty ones; and when we read in Dan. 3:25, the exclamation of Nebuchadnezzar, "Lo I see four men loose . . . and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God," we are not reading a divinely inspired message given through the lips of a pagan king relative to Christ, but a faulty translation of the original. This is corrected in the Revised Version in the words "and the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods." It will be more convenient to deal later with passages from the New Testament sometimes quoted by those who maintain the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ, and to continue now with those sayings of Jesus which established his position as the son–the beloved son–the only beloved son-of God, and contradict that which is implied in the appellation "God the Son." Jesus said:

"I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30)
"My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)
"The Father which sent me." (John 12:49)
"I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." (John 20:17)

There is here no claim to equality in power, just as in the former statements there was no claim to equality of existence.

Do we then maintain as some do that Christ was but as we are? On the contrary we would point to the record of the manner of his birth as proving a difference. We are born of the will of the flesh and of an earthly father; he was born of the will of God and through the operation of the power of God. Though he could be "in all points tempted like as we are," he was found "without sin." This cannot be said of any one of us, for John writes, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (I John 1:8.) There was found in Christ one whose character was divine, for "He did no sin neither was guile found in his mouth," and he was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."

As a beloved son of perfect character he could say, "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30). But this "oneness" was asserted prospectively of the disciples. Jesus prayed that "they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17:21) It was never asserted of co-equality, or co-eternity as the above testimonies show. If it should be contended that the oneness of Christ and the Father does imply co-equality and co-eternity it must be conceded also to the disciples.

And how did the apostles understand and preach the "Only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Peter certainly could not endorse the Trinitarian doctrine, for he says, "Ye men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God . . . God hath raised up." (Acts 2:22-24) Paul preached "For though there be that are called gods . . . to us there is but one God the Father of whom are all things and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things and we by him." (I Cor. 8:6) And again:

"There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (I Tim. 2:5.)

And again:

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all." (Eph. 4:5-6.) and therefore:

"When all things shall be subdued unto him then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him that God may be all in all." (I Cor. 15:28.)

THE TRINITY NOT A BIBLE DOCTRINE

If we would find any reference to or enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity–so widely accepted in Christendom today–we must seek elsewhere, for the Bible is silent. Even Trinitarians will admit this.

"It must be allowed that there is no such proposition as this, that one and the same God is three different persons, formally and in terms to be found in the Sacred Writings, either of the Old or New Testament; neither is it pretended that there is any word of the same significance or importance with the word Trinity used in Scripture with relation to God." (Dr. South–"Considerations on the Trinity," p. 38).

If we delve into the religious beliefs of Egypt we can certainly find trinities of gods; the Vedas of India affirm that Agni, Indra, and Surya are three gods, who are yet one god. The Greek philosopher, Plato, "marvellously anticipated one of the most surprising discoveries of the Christian revelation" (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall") and "St. Augustine confesses that he was in the dark about the Trinity until he read some Platonic writings which the providence of 'God had thrown in his way'." (Collected Charges, p. 130). It was indeed providential for the fourth century Trinitarians that four centuries before Christ a Greek philosopher should have propounded a trinitarian doctrine, for the Bible did not.

Then consider the "history" of the Trinity. The first century passes and no mention is found. In the second century the word Trinity is introduced by Theophilus, A. D. 169–but he did not apply this to God, to Jesus Christ and to the Holy Ghost, but to the Attributes of God. Neither Tertullian (A. D. 192), nor Clement (A. D. 215), nor Origen (A. D. 230), were trinitarians. Origen writes: "The Father is alone God, and greater than him who was sent." By the time the fourth century is reached trinitarian doctrines are in ascendant and to oppose Anus (Presbyter of a church in Alexandria A. D. 320), who attacked these doctrines, the Council of Nicea was convened by Constantine. There, not without much disputation and then only by a majority of one vote was the nucleus of the famous Nicene Creed formulated. But the Council of Nicea mentioned the Holy Ghost in general terms only, not stating any relationship with God nor demanding any appropriate worship, so the Council of Constantinople (A. D. 381) and later, the Council of Toledo (A. D. 589) supplied these "deficiencies" and commanded a belief in the Holy Ghost "who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified." We ask you to judge whether or not this doctrine, if it had been a Bible doctrine, would have taken nearly six centuries to evolve?

This has been no idle digression–this refutation of the Trinity as a Bible doctrine. Its acceptance nullifies the plan and purpose of God, one aspect of which is expressed in the statement of Paul: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. 2:14.) If Christ were "very God"–consubstantial with the Father–how could he truly die? Yet this was essential in order that he might destroy death– the ultimate triumph in Gods plan. How could he be tempted in all points like as we are? Yet this was necessary also, for only by a true victory over real temptation could be manifest his perfect obedience to the Father, be found without sin, and thus destroy in himself that which had the power of eternal death. Because he did not sin "death could not hold him."

"THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS"

This purpose of God–to destroy death in the earth–is also enunciated in God's revelation of Himself. The apostle Paul calls it the mystery of godliness–"great is the mystery of godliness." It may prove to be a new doctrine to you–it is not to be found in the tenets of any of the names and denominations of Christendom. It is nevertheless found in the Scriptures and is revealed that we may truly know "thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

When God revealed Himself to Israel, He did so by a "memorial name" which carried a meaning. It was a name by which He would be known (Exod. 3:13-14) and it was a name which indicated a purpose. God said, "I will be who I will be." (Rev. Version) thereby affirming that He would be manifested in whom He would. A manifestation of God was not unknown to Moses nor to Israel. Moses had witnessed in the desert the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed and had learned that he stood in the presence of an angel of the Lord–one of those ministering spirits "that do his commandments hearkening unto the voice of his word." (Psalm 103:20; 104:4). These are possessors of the divine, or incorruptible nature, for Jesus testifies "they die no more." In them God has been pleased to manifest Himself. They are mighty ones, or "Elohim," and as such obeyed God's behest to prepare the earth for man. It was these "the morning stars who sang together and all the sons of God who shouted for joy." (Job 38:7) when the foundations of the earth were laid, who said: "Let us make man in our image," and so "in the image of God (the Elohim) created he him." (Gen. 1:26, 27).

It will be at once apparent that these were not the manifestations of God foretold in the memorial name. The latter were to be selected from the Adamic race and primarily from the nation of Israel. We are not left without guidance in this matter. Paul declares that Jesus was "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead." (Col. 1:18), and Jesus testifies of himself after his death and resurrection, "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." (Rev. 1:18). The divine, incorruptible, immortal nature has been given to him. God is manifested in him–the first from among those of Adamic race. But the purpose indicated in the memorial name is not thereby completed. It is written: "Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (I Cor. 15:23). Others too will receive this gift of immortality– "to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor, and immortality (God will render) eternal life." (Rom. 2:7)–and thus they will be manifestations of Deity. They are symbolized in the Revelation by 144,000 virgins "which are redeemed from the earth." (ch. 14:3) who "hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. 7:16-17). Thus will God be manifested in those in whom He will be manifested and the purpose indicated in the memorial name will be accomplished.

WHICH THEORY DO YOU BELIEVE

We have already stated that we believe Genesis I as we believe Revelation 22. In thus believing the creation record we believe that man was the result of a definite act of creation and not of an evolutionary process. This we know may sound both old fashioned, and unscientific. We may be dubbed "fundamentalists" in scorn and derision. We are prepared to be so called, for both Jesus and Paul were fundamentalists. Jesus said: "Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female (Matt. 19:4). Will our Trinitarian friends who hold that Jesus is Very God now say he was mistaken? Paul said: "The first man Adam was made a living soul . . . the first man is of the earth, earthy." (I Cor. 15:45-47). Did Paul err in thus testifying to the record in Genesis wherein it is stated that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul?" (Gen. 2:7). Before asserting that he did err, let us ask those who believe in the theory of Evolution a question. Which theory of evolution do you believe? For you must know that there are many theories. Perhaps you have heard that Darwin's hypotheses (not proofs) of "natural selection" and "sexual selection" are in reality no explanation at all (Evolution– Prof. MacBride, p. 19), and therefore have turned to one of the more recent theories. You may have heard of the "Mutation Theory" of Dr. Vries, and that "there are insuperable objections to this theory" (ibid, p. 25), and so you may follow Weismann, for "Weismann's work is popularly supposed to be conclusive." (ibid, p. 50) But Weismann's theory was experimentally tested, and with this result: "Weismann's theory therefore fails at all points where it is experimentally tested." (ibid, p. 59). It would be possible to extend considerably this list of theories, but these will suffice to give point to our question, "Which theory do you believe?"

SEVEN FUNDAMENTALS OF EVOLUTION

What, then are the grounds for belief in this theory of evolution so widely accepted today? Though it is not really our duty to set them out–that surely is the task of those who hold the theory–yet we will do so very briefly in order to comment upon them. The theory is based upon seven fundamentals, together with some experimental evidence and the findings of anthropology. We will state each of the fundamentals and then add a comment by an eminent scientist.

1. Comparative Anatomy. Nature abounds in examples of a progression from simple to complex forms of life. It is argued that these illustrate a process of evolution which can be applied to the evolution of man. But the late Professor William Bateson, of Cambridge University, says, ''every theory of evolution must be such as to accord with the facts of physics and chemistry, a primary necessity to which our predecessors paid small heed"–and most scientists agree that the universe is in process of devolution and not evolution. The theory of absent from lower to higher forms is contrary to this fact and not in "accord with the facts of physics and chemistry."

2. Embryonic Recapitulation. This theory is based on the hypothesis that every species during its gestation period passes through its evolutionary history. It is stated by those who advance the theory that the embryos of mammals resemble in turn the fish and the amphibian. But Professor Waldo Shumway, of Illinois University, says: "There is never a time in the history of the mammal when it could be taken for a fish or a reptile." (Introduction to Vertebrate Embryology–1942, and Professor Adam Sedgwick, of Cambridge, writes: "It must therefore be admitted that one outcome of the progress of embryological and palaeonthological research for the last fifty years is negative. The recapitulation theory originated as a deduction from the evolution theory and as a deduction it still remains." (Darwin and Modern Science–1909). Instead, then, of proving evolution, it is a deduction from the theory to be proved.

3. The Geological Record. The rocks of the earth contain fossils of living creatures of former ages. If evolution is true, then there should be fossils of many, if not all, of the stages of the development of the different species. We should be able, for example, to trace the development of such a peculiar species as the kangaroo. Darwin confidently predicted that the rocks would yield fossils of half formed men and whales. Though they have yielded 100,000 different species of fossils, they have given no such record. The record of the rocks runs counter to the claim of the evolutionist. Fossils commence abruptly in the rocks of the Cambrian period, and there they commence in great variety. In the rocks below there are none–and yet in many places those rocks have not been altered nor disturbed, for they bear the imprint of ripple marks and waves and could equally well have preserved the print of animal forms and have been the home of fossils. So Dr. Austen Clark, of the United States National Museum, states: "The complete absence of any intermediate forms between the major groups of animals…brought out by the study of zoology has hitherto been overlooked, or at least ignored." (The New Evolution Zoogenesis–1930).

4. Blood Precipitation Tests. About thirty years ago tests of the blood serum of different species were made by Dr. George Nutall, of Cambridge University. From a close similarity in some of these it was assumed that confirmation was found for the theory of evolution. But the primary factors of heredity do not lie in the blood serum but in the germ cells.

And what are the facts of blood relationship as shown by blood transfusion? The blood serum of a rabbit may be injected into man without harm, whilst that of an ox would be very dangerous. Yet the evolutionist places the ox nearer to man than the rabbit.

5. Vestigial Organs. At one time it was stated that about 150 structures found in man and in the higher forms of life were remains of organs once required by ancestral forms. But the passage of time has shown that the greater number are very necessary and some essential to life, so that the number of so-called unnecessary structures has already diminished to about half dozen. Speaking of one of them, the appendix, Prof. W. E. LeGros Clark, of Oxford, writes: "The significance of the vermiform appendix is still obscure, but in view of its rich blood supply it is almost certainly correct to regard it as a specialized and not a degenerate organ." (Early Fore-runners of Man–1934). It might be noted that monkeys have no appendix, and from the above remarks it would certainly appear that no structure of the human body may be accounted useless, nor do they afford any proof of an evolutionary process.

6. Experimental Evidence. In the fields of botany and zoology scientists have conducted experiments with the object of producing, if possible, new species. They have brought into being hundreds of variations–the effect of the alteration of existing characteristics – but no new species. Many of the variations show less vigor and resistance, and many have organisms which function less satisfactorily than in the originals, so that the late President of Leland Stanford University writes: "None of the created 'new species' (his inverted commas) of plant or animal I know of would last five years in the open, nor is there the slightest evidence that any new species of field or forest or ocean ever originated from mutation, discontinuous variation, or hybridization," (D. S. Jordan. –Science.–l922).

There does in deed seem to be an extraordinary stability of species, having each a "sphere of variation," but a sphere which is constant and non interacting.

7. Anthropology. The fact that evolutionists are constantly hoping to find fossilized skeletons of "missing links" has caused much attention to be paid to fragments of skeletons found in various parts of the world. Each "find" was proclaimed to be a missing link and scientists vied with each other in reconstructing the elusive creature. The results were entertaining–but most conjectural and therefore unscientific. The classic reconstruction was that from the molar tooth found in Nebraska. Claimed to be the tooth of an ape-man (Hesperopithedus) and reconstructed into such a creature, it proved eventually to be the tooth of a pig (or peccarry). How scientists have quarrelled over the cranial capacity of these reconstructed ape-men! How they have ignored the evidence of those fossil human skulls found at Calaveras in N. America, and at Castenedolo in Italy, which show that man has existed throughout the ages, according to geologists' calculations, without physical change!

And so Dr. Alen Hrdlicka, Curator of the Anthropological Section of United States National Museum, the only man prior to 1943 who had visited and examined every site of an anthropological find of importance in the world writes: "Of speculations there have been indeed enough but most of them so far have led not into the sunlight but rather into a dark blind alley." (Skeletal remains of Early Man, 1930); and Professor Hooton, of Harvard University writes: "Some anatomists model reconstructions of fossil skulls by building up the soft parts of the head and face . . . put not your trust in reconstructions." (Up from the Ape, 1931).

Yes! "Put not your trust in princes nor in the son of man in whom there is no help." (Psalm 146:3). How can one trust the speculations of men upon the origin of man when enunciated in so many contradictory theories! Then wherein shall we find the truth of the matter? Did not Christ say: "Thy word is Truth." (John 17:17)

THE BIBLICAL ORDER OF CREATION

The word of God sets forth an order of creation, is it an order likely to be given by the philosophy and pride of man? Would man (nearly four thousand years ago) have placed the creation of man last? Would man of that age have spoken of the creation of light before the creation of sun, moon and stars? Consider the possible number of ways in which the order of creation could be given and then marvel at the fact that nearly 2,000 years B.C. an order was described which accords with the findings of modern science. The modern scientist will speak of the infiltration of light upon this globe through the envelope of thick cloud; of the lightening and lifting of this cloud upon an atmosphere; of the vigorous growth of plant life in this heated and steamy atmosphere; of the dissipation of the cloud layer so that the source of light could be observed; of the appearance of life first in the waters, then in the air, and finally upon the land. And this is how Moses was caused to write; it is the order of creation which he records.

The creation of man is given in greater detail. It is written:

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Gen. 2:7.

A dust formed body was quickened and became a breathing and living creature–no more, nor less, in this respect than the beasts of the field, for they, too, were living creatures or souls. (Hebrew, nephesh, chaiyah–Cp. Gen. 2:7; 2:19; 7:21-22)

These two Hebrew words are used when the record speaks of the creation "of every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth aboundantly after their kind and every winged fowl after his kind," Gen. 1:21. Nor did man obtain a pre-eminence over the rest of creation by virtue of having had "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," for the same record contains also this statement: "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth and every man; all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." (Gen. 7:21-22.) It is Solomon who proclaims by inspiration:

"That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath, so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast; for all is vanity.

"All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." Eccles. 3:19-20.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE SOUL

Now we have set forth this teaching concerning the creation of man in some detail because it is a foundation doctrine. An understanding and belief of it makes possible an understanding of God's plan of salvation. It will have been noticed that in this teaching is found no mention of the possession of man of an immortal soul–no inherent immortality. It stated only that man became a living creature. It neither stated nor implied that man possessed an ever-living essence, a never-dying soul; nor is it enunciated elsewhere in the Scriptures.

As we have seen, the word soul itself indicates a living creature, and throughout the Bible it is used to express either this or the attributes of creatures living. It is therefore not inconsistent to speak of a soul being subject to death, as it does in Ezekiel 18:4; "the soul that sinneth it shall die," and in Acts 3:23: ". . . every soul . . . shall be destroyed from among the people." Of the 754 places in the Old Testament when the word occurs it is said to be subject to death or liable to death 652 times, and of the 106 places in the New Testament where the equivalent Greek word "psuche" occurs it is said to be subject or liable to death 90 times.

Since the word soul of itself carries with it no implication of immortality it must be qualified by such words as "ever living," "never dying," "immortal," to support any such contention. Not once are these qualifying words attached to it. A reference to a concordance will show that the word immortal occurs in the Bible once only, and then in reference to God (I Tim. 1:17) and immortality is said to be possessed only by God (I Tim. 6:16) to have been brought to light by the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10) and to be bestowed as a gift and reward upon the righteous (I Cor. 15:53-54; Rom. 2:7). If man does possess such an immortal soul then Christ did not bring immortality to light, for Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks believed in it centuries before; nor could it be said to be possessed only by God; nor could it possibly be a gift.

The closer one studies the doctrine of an inherent immortal soul the more one can detect the signs of its human origin. On the one hand such a soul is claimed to be unaffected by the frailties and disabilities of the physical body, not dependent upon the organic life of that body, an essence in every way superior to and independent of a physical structure; whilst on the other hand it is stated to be capable of experiencing exquisite torture in hell fires, of suffering an unsatiated hunger, or thirsting an unassuageable thirst. How like this mortality is this supposed immortality! And what a cohort of doctrines it has brought in its train! An infant of a few hours or days must be sprinkled with water and have pronounced over it a formula to save its so-called immortal soul from hell. Has the water, "holy" or otherwise, any efficacy save that of cleansing a physical body? Have the words pronounced any magic or charm–uncomprehended as they are by the immature subject over whom they are spoken? Has the officiating priest or minister any power (inherent, delegated or bestowed) to charm away the forces of the Christian hell? Ask him to substantiate any such claim, if he be rash enough to make one, by exercising the least of human pains, and judge, by his inability to do so, any claim to have any power over ''the powers of darkness,'' or any effect upon that superior essence the supposed immortal soul.

The doctrines of hell and its fires, of heaven and its golden harps, of purgatory and its anxious multitudes, of masses sung, of intercession of saints, all follow logically (but how unscripturally) from this most pagan of all doctrines–for pagan it is. Here is the evidence:

"The Egyptians say that Ceres (the goddess of corn) and Bacchus (the god of wine), hold the chief sway in the infernal regions: and the Egyptians also were the first who asserted the doctrine that the soul of man was immortal."

Herodotus, Bk. ii, Sec. 123.

This evidence is multiplied a thousand times in the museums of the world. The walls of the tombs of Egypt, the paintings on the sarcophagi, the Book of the Dead, all subscribe to this doctrine.

And as for being a Christian doctrine, hear what Justin Martyr wrote as long ago as A.D. 150:

"For if you have conversed with some that are indeed called Christians, and do not maintain these opinions, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob and say that there is no resurrection of the dead, but that the souls as soon as they leave the body are received up into heaven, take care that you do not look upon these. But I, and all those Christians that are really orthodox, do know that there will be a resurrection of the body."

(Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Sect. 80).

It may be that because of these enormities and contradictions are seen and appreciated, emphasis is sometimes placed not upon the "soul of man," but upon the "spirit of man." The original words used in the Old Testament (ruach) and the New (pneuma) signify breath, life, energy, disposition. These are necessary attributes of living creatures and are possessed in measure by all.

"Thou takest away their breath (ruach) they die." (Ps. 104:29.)

"Man giveth up the ghost (gava=breath) and where is he?" (Job 14:10.)

"Who knoweth whether the spirit (ruach) of man goeth upward or the spirit (ruach) of beasts goeth downward to the earth." (Ecc. 3:21; R. V.)

To assert a never dying spirit entity for man would entail a never dying spirit entity for the beasts. Moreover, if such an entity is possessed what should be done with it when separated from the body? In this matter the Christian Evolutionist is sorely pressed. The Bible says that man and animal possess a spirit of life and Christendom says this signifies an inherent immortality. As an evolutionist he must account for it in the evolutionary process. As a member of Christendom he must therefore ascribe immortality in some measure to the animals; and as a believer in heaven and hell (and one cannot believe in one place of abode of departed spirits without the other) he must find a similar if not identical place for them.

Finally, the doctrine makes of none effect, and of no account the plan and purpose of God. God has never promised heaven to any man. Christ proclaims that no man hath ascended thereto. (John 3:13) Peter proclaims that David–"a man after God's own heart"–had not ascended there (Acts 2:34).

"But the earth hath he given to the children of men," (Psalm 115:16) and it is the earth that Christ promised to his disciples in the well-known words: "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5). It is God's plan that the earth "filled with His glory," "shall give him pleasure." It is His purpose that some from among mankind shall receive the gift of immortality and shall live and reign as "kings and priests on the earth." (Rev. 5:10).

When God through the agency of the angels (Elohim or mighty ones) created man (Gen. 1:26) and from him formed woman they were pronounced very good. In respect of their physical creation this was so but no similar statement could be made concerning their characters. They had not been tested, and when a test was applied they failed. They disobeyed, they transgressed, they sinned– "for sin is the transgression of the law." (I John 3:4). They had been warned that failure to obey would bring death, and from the time of their fall this began to operate in their members. So it is written.

"By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12.)
SALVATION CONDITIONAL

Exactly contrary to human speculations and philosophies the Scriptures set forth man as an erring and dying creature.

"What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?" (Psalm 89:49). And by death the Scriptures mean the complete cessation of being.

"In death there is no remembrance of thee, in the grave who shall give thee thanks." (Ps. 6:5.)

"There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." (Ecc. 9:10.)

Because of the fall man finds himself in the position of requiring salvation and the Bible is the only source of the knowledge of God's plan for giving this. "Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me." (Isa. 45:11). "I have even from the beginning declared it to thee, before it came to pass I showed it thee." (Isa. 48:5).

Yes! At the very beginning–at the time of the transgression in Eden–an indication of this plan is given. The promises of God to the woman that she should bear children brought with it an indication that from these should arise one–the seed of the woman–who should by his perfection of character gain the victory over that which caused sin–the promptings of the flesh.

In the record in Genesis a conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is outlined with a consequent bruising in each case.

"I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15.)

And it is necessary for an understanding of the covenant in Eden that we consider for a moment this term ''seed of the serpent'' and other terms associated with it. It will probably be easiest if we take a passage from the last book of the Bible first. In chapter 20 of the Revelation and verse 2 we read: "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan and bound him a thousand years." Now the Revelation is a book of sign (ch. 1, verse 1) and these terms are used symbolically–as indeed they are in many parts of the Scriptures. We quote the verse, however, to place before the reader the association of the terms–"that old serpent which is the Devil and Satan," and we do so in order that we may fully understand the term "seed of the serpent."

MEANING OF "DEVIL" AND "SATAN"

What is the Bible "Devil" and "Satan?" Do they bear any relation to the Devil and Satan of Christendom–an evil monster who for ages has tempted men and lured them from the paths of righteous, or as some aver, a fallen angel who would seem to be more successful even than God in taking the "souls" of men?

For answer, we would point out in the first instance that these are Bible words and that, therefore, they should be interpreted by and understood in connection with the Bible. They should not be associated with Teutonic or any other mythology. In the second instance we would point out that the words "Devil" and "Satan" are untranslated words–they have been transferred to our English Version and used in many cases as if they were proper nouns. This action may be understood when we remember that the English Versions were made from the time of Wycliffe (1382) to the time of the Authorized Version (1611) when the idea of the existence of evil spirits and of the arch fiend was widely and firmly held; but it does not help in understanding the Bible terms.

The word Satan is from the Hebrew through the Greek Satanas and means a hater, an accuser, an adversary. The word is so translated in many places in our English Bible and should be so understood in all other. Let us take an interesting instance of this use in both Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament we find that when Balaam decided–against the warnings of God–to go to Balak, the way was blocked by an angel of God. It is recorded in Numbers 22:22, in the words ". . . and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him," and in this case the translators rendered the word Satanas by the word "adversary." It no doubt seemed inconceivable to them and incompatible with their doctrines that an angel of the Lord should be satan. There is no difficulty at all in the matter if the Bible doctrine is accepted. Anything, anyone who is an adversary or an accuser is a satan. This is why Peter is so styled by Christ.

In the New Testament in Matt. 16, we have the record of the incident when he resisted the testimony of Jesus concerning his death at Jerusalem and the rebuke administered to him by Christ: "Get thee behind me Satan; thou art an offense unto me." When the civil power became an adversary to the disciples and apostles and persecuted and hindered them it constituted a satan. The apostle Paul refers to such an adversary when writing to the Thessalonians (I Thes. 2:18) to explain that he had been hindered in coming to them. It is for the same reason that Jesus addressed the ecclesia at Pergamos as those who dwelt "where Satan's seat is." (Rev. 2:13).

We do not know whether those who believe in an all powerful arch fiend appoint to him any particular place of residence other than "hell," yet they must find one for him, for he certainly is not the overseer of the Bible "hell." The keys of hell and of death are held by "the Son of man . . . he that liveth and was dead" and is "alive for evermore (Rev. 1:13-18) that is, by Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1).

Yet if he exists he must have some place of residence. Perhaps those who believe in this personal Satan might direct their attention to Pergamos in Asia Minor. For ourselves the matter presents no difficulty. Pergamos had become under the Attalic kings the most splendid city in Asia–a city of temples devoted to a sensuous worship. Here also existed a great altar to Zeus. The Romans inherited this splendid dominion, and down to apostolic times Pergamos remained the centre of Roman administration, and a great pagan religious centre. Pergamos was indeed the seat of the adversary to the followers of Jesus and the Satan in this case was no other than the civil and religious bodies politic existing there.

The associated term–the Devil–is also an untranslated word. It is an anglicised form of the Greek word diabolos which means "a false accuser." Here again anyone who brings or makes a false accusation is a devil, and here again there are instances where the translators departed from their usual custom and translated the word. When Paul gives advice to Timothy concerning the qualifications of those who should guide the ecclesias of that time he says: "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things" (I Tim. 3:11). The word translated slanderers is diabolos, and to be consistent the translators should have written: "Even so must their wives be grave, not devils . . ." If the reader of the Scriptures bears in mind the fact that anyone who slanders or falsely accuses is a devil, there is no harm in retaining the word untranslated, but to make this word to mean the "tempter of mankind, enemy of God, superhuman malignant being" (Oxford Dictionary) is neither a true interpretation nor agreeable to Bible doctrine.

PROMPTINGS OF THE FLESH

What is really our great enemy, whereby we do contrary to God's command, whereby we sin against our neighbor? The apostle Paul declared that in him, "that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), so that "when I would do good evil is present with me." (Rom. 7:21). James shows the operation of this evil propensity. He says:

"Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15).

It is, therefore, logical to regard these promptings of the natural mind, these fleshly lusts or desires as the great enemy, the adversary, the false accuser or slanderer of those things that are good. These constitute the Bible Satan or Devil whether in personal, political, civil, or religious manifestation. Therefore the Bible sets forth these as having the power of death, for they bring sin and sin brings death. It proclaims that the devil has the power of death and that Jesus

"was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:9, 14.)

How difficult it must be for Christendom to reconcile the belief in a "superhuman malignant being" with the teaching of the Scriptures that Christ was made like us, so that he could taste death and by death destroy this devil. The association of ideas is not only illogical; it is unscriptural.

Because Christ was of our nature it was possible for him to die. But when he died it was not a sentence passed upon him because of sin. With us it is: "death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." Of Jesus, however, it is written that "he did not sin," and therefore he "tasted death," for God "loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24).

Can the diabolos or the santanas of the Bible, the devil propsensity of the flesh, have power over such? No, it was through death Jesus destroyed in himself "him that had the power of death" and thereby became "the resurrection and the life," "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:9).

IMMORTALITY THROUGH CHRIST

Does this not show once more how unscriptural and illogical are Christendom's doctrines of immortal soulism, of heaven going, of purgatory, of hell, of the Devil and of Satan? Does it not show how logical the Scriptural doctrines are–that man fell through disobedience; that apart from the plan of redemption there was no escape from eternal death; that in due time God sent His son "made of a woman; that through his obedience the enmity in him was conquered and a way opened for a multitude who believe in him and obey him to escape from this mortality by a resurrection from the dead; that he will return to this earth to awaken those that sleep in the dust and gather them together with those who "are alive and remain" to his judgment seat, there to reward every man as his works shall be; that then will "that old serpent, the devil and satan" be bound or restrained by reason of the righteous reign of Christ and those accepted by him; and that finally the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:13-14; 21:4).

Because death will be destroyed the Bible "hell" will exist no more, for the hell of the Bible is merely a covered place, a pit, the grave, the place of the dead. With it is associated no excruciating torture. It is true that Christ speaks of certain ones being cast "into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched." The word "hell" here is a translation of the word Gehenna, and Gehenna was the valley of Hinnom, the place outside Jerusalem where the bodies of criminals were cast together with the waste of the city, and where fires were continually burning to consume the refuse. Did Christ mean that those who offended should be cast here? He is clearly using it as a figure, signifying thereby utter destruction; the destroying agents, worm and fire, continuing their work so long as there remained anything to be destroyed. This is the work of the grave, and all mankind are and will be subject to it apart from the salvation offered through the Scriptures. This is the reward of the wicked: ". . . death shall feed on them…and their beauty shall consume in the grave for it is a habitation to every one of them." (Ps. 49:14 margin). This is the reward of those found unworthy by Christ at his judgment seat. To them is given no gift of life eternal, so that in due time they pass a second time into the grave (styled the second death–Rev. 20:6) and are punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9).

THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM

From what we have written it will be clear that the plan and purpose of God concerning man and this world was not completed by the death of Christ, neither was the work of Christ completed. Christendom errs in assuming that this was so, and in this assumption they ignore or overlook two other great promises God made in His word to mankind. What place in the doctrines of Christendom does "the holy covenant, the oath which he sware to our father Abraham" hold? It is true that many recite these words (found in Luke 1:72-73), but how many could explain their meaning? The covenant to Abraham was made when at the age of seventy-five he left Haran at the invitation of God to go to a land which God would show him. This is the covenant:

"And I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee and make thy name great: and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Gen. 12:2-3.

"And the Lord said unto Abraham . . . Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever." Gen. 13:14-15.

It is a covenant which has never been fulfilled–

"And God gave him (Abraham) none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on, yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession and to his seed after him when as yet he had no child." (Acts 7:5).

Nor can it be fulfilled apart from the further work of Christ. It is a work which he will perform when he returns to this earth according to his promise.

"If I go . . . I will come again." (John 14:3.)

and the promise of the angels who witnessed his ascension–

"This same Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11.)

Then will the dead who "sleep in the dust" "hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). Then will Abraham and Isaac and Jacob– "heirs with him of the same promise" (Heb. 11:9) be raised and rewarded with that change of nature, the gift of immortality, and an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Though the promise– "ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God"– has not yet been fulfilled it does not make it of none effect. On the contrary, it makes the future bright with expectation. The future yet contains the further unfolding of the divine purpose when Jesus Christ–"the son of Abraham"–shall return "to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant: the oath which he sware to our father Abraham." (Luke 1:72-73.)

Now in the same place of Scripture the birth of Christ is associated with yet another covenant. It is one recorded in the Old Testament, and like that made with Abraham still unfulfilled. Concerning it Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied

". . . the Lord God of Israel . . . hath visited and redeemed his people and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." (Luke 1:68-69.)

The birth of Christ is hailed as a fulfillment of a promise to David and this is the promise:

"And when thy days be fulfilled and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers I will set up thy seed after thee . . . I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever . . . and thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." 2 Sam. 7:12-16.

It is clear that this threefold promise: the establishment of David's kingdom, its continuance for ever, his own participation, and this as we have seen is the prerogative of the Son of God. It should, therefore, occasion no surprise that this is associated with the birth of Christ. Does it not explain clearly the meaning of the words:

"He (Jesus) shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32-33.)
CHRIST TO RETURN

Suprise is occasioned however by the fact that Christendom should regard these promises as no longer of any practical import: that they are either fulfilled or will not be fulfilled. But have they been fulfilled? Christ has never reigned upon the throne of David, nor has the house of Jacob existed as a corporate body since 722 B.C. They are to be fulfilled when Christ "the root and offspring of David," returns to this earth to take unto himself his great power and reign (Rev. 11:17); when the Lord

"Will raise unto David a righteous Branch and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth."

"In his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely…they shall dwell in their own land" (Jer. 23:5-8);

when he that was born in "Bethlehem Ephratah…shall come forth to be ruler in Israel" (Micha 5:2) and when Jerusalem shall shout and rejoice greatly for "behold thy king cometh unto thee" (Zech. 9:9).

The three great covenants–the covenant in Eden, the covenant to Abraham and the covenant to David–thus focus attention upon the great purpose of God with the earth. They speak of a great world wide kingdom to be established by Christ when he returns to this earth, wherein Abraham and David and many others who had faith in these promises will be blessed.

But the blessing is not confined to those only who are of the natural seed of Abraham. It is not a tribal or even a national blessing; it is a blessing for all nations. It is to be universal. How may this be and what is the evidence for it?

When God outlined, through the prophecies to Daniel, the historical sequence of the four great empires of the past which have included in their domains the land of His choice–Palestine–He particularises concerning the last. He showed through the vision of the great image composed of divers metals (Dan. 2:31-32) that the Babylonian Empire–"Thou, O King (Nebuchadnezzar, verse 28) are a king of kings…Thou are this head of gold"–should be followed by an inferior kingdom (the Medo Persian), then by the Greek Empire, and finally by the Roman Empire. This fourth empire though "strong as iron" (verse 40)–and the Roman Empire exceeded in extent, and in duration any of the preceding empires–should eventually suffer a change. It should be divided (verse 41) and in its divided state part should be strong and part weak, neither should there be cohesion between the parts. This exactly describes the condition of that part of the earth formerly ruled from Rome when Rome fell. Europe became a divided continent with its many nations asserting themselves, one against another. The history of Europe from that time is a record of the strong seizing the weak; of the weak forming alliances to resist the strong. It is a condition which has persisted unto the present day–a remarkable proof of the testimony of the prophets; of the infallibility of God's word.

GREAT CHANGES COMING

This divided, incohesive condition is not to continue indefinitely. But the change will not come by man's device. It will come from God. This vision was given to Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by Daniel in order that man might know "what shall be in the last days," that man might understand that God "ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will" (Dan. 4:25), that He "removeth kings and setteth up kings" (Dan. 2:21). It was given to show that:

"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Dan. 2:44.

Dynasties will no longer rise and fall, empires will no longer follow empires, for this kingdom is universal. And because it is God's Kingdom it will be a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness, wherein is found everlasting peace. It is written by the prophet Isaiah (chap. 9, verse 7):

"Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever."

Here we would note not only the peaceful nature of the kingdom and its long continuance but also its association with the throne of David. Let us, therefore, add to this testimony that of the preceding verse:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Verse 6.

All who are familiar with the libretto of "The Messiah" will know that therein these words are applied to Christ. We agree, and would also add as corroboration of this the words found in chapter 11 of the same prophet:

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him . . . with righteousness shall he judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked . . . The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and a little child shall lead them . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

This one who comes out of the stem of Jesse, upon whom the spirit of the Lord rests, who smites the earth with the rod of his mouth can be no other than Jesus. He is the stone, rejected by the builders, which will break in pieces the kingdoms of men and upon their ruin build the Kingdom of God (Dan. 2:34-35; 44-45).

CHRIST PREACHED A LITERAL KINGDOM

But was this teaching concerning a literal kingdom upon this earth the subject matter of Christ's teaching? When "he went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom" was this his theme or did he not rather preach, "the Kingdom of God is within you?" The evidence is conclusive that at all times he preached the first and at no time did he preach the second. Note, for example, the effect of his teaching upon his disciples and people. It is written (Luke 19, verse 11) "And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the Kingdom of God should immediately appear."

This then was the response to his teaching: they associated Jerusalem with the Kingdom of God and looked for its establishment immediately. Nor did the parable negative this teaching, but rather confirmed it, for it set forth the nobleman as going away and after long time returning "having received the kingdom." But it did teach that this return should not be immediate. Similar teaching was given when the disciples asked a question upon this very matter after Christ's resurrection.

"Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel." (Acts 1:6). In his answer Christ does not deny the fact of the kingdom nor its association with Israel. What is denied to them is the exact time for its establishment. Christ himself had given signs whereby they might know when the Kingdom of God was nigh at hand, but they had been told that "of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32). It was future to that time even as it is to this, and so could not possibly be "within them."

Still less could the Kingdom of God be within those to whom the words were addressed. The record in the Gospel of Luke (chapter 17, verse 20) shows that he was replying to the Pharisees whom he had described as hypocrites and white-washed sepulchers and who would find no place in the kingdom. "Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God and ye yourselves thrust out." How then can we understand these words? The alternative rendering of the original words found in the margin makes it plain. "The Kingdom of God is among you." And was it not so? Was not the prospective King there with them–the one who when charged with making a claim to this honor denied it not before Pilate, but said: "To this end was I born and for this came I into the world." (John 18:37).

Forasmuch then as it had been covenanted to him, and inasmuch as he had been obedient to the Father in all things and was willing to obey even to the extent of yielding up his life, the Kingdom could be given to no other. He then was in this sense the Kingdom. And in due time he should be manifested to be the King of this Kingdom of God, reigning in its capital (Jerusalem–Matt. 5:35) with princes and rulers (the redeemed from among men–Rev. 5:9) over a people (the nations, Ps. 2:8, Rev. 2:26) and a territory (the whole world, Ps. 72:8) and bringing all the world to God (Isa. 2:2-4; Ezek. 40:48).

WHEN WILL IT COME?

"Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." When will the Kingdom come? Man may not know "the day nor the hour," but he may heed the signs that herald its approach. The apostle Paul says that these times and season should be known;

"Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night . . . but ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief." (I Thess. 5:1-4.)

Of the many signs relative to these times and seasons which have been given, let us consider one mentioned by Christ. It was given in reply to a question which the disciples addressed to him upon this matter. Jesus answered them:

"Behold the fig tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass (and he is referring to signs which he had just given them) know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." Luke 21, 29, 31.

In this parable concerning all the trees why does Jesus separately mention the fig tree? Is it not because in the Scriptures there is a nation likened to a fig tree, and one therefore which might be called the fig tree nation? In the prophecy by Joel we read:

"A nation is come up upon my land (the land of Israel, chapter 2, verse 1)–he hath laid my vine waste and barked my fig tree; he hath made it clean bare and cast it away" (chapter 1, verses 6-7).

What was God's vine? Psalm 80 leaves the matter in no doubt, for there Israel is likened unto a vine brought from Egypt and planted in a new land. And Israel is the vine and fig tree of Joel's prophecy.

In addition to the symbolic use of trees for nations, the Bible contains many examples of the state or condition of those nations being represented by the state or condition of the trees. The 17th chapter of Ezekiel may be cited in this connection. The kingdoms of Judah, of Egypt, and of Babylon are brought under review and the prophet concludes:

"All the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, hath brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish, I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it." Ezek. 17:24.

It will thus be seen how the prophet uses the condition of the trees to represent the varying fortunes of these nations. In the same way when Christ asks us to consider the budding of the trees of the parable he is calling attention first to the time aspect of the signs he has given, just as the budding of the trees heralds summer, so the fulfillment of the signs heralds the coming kingdom; and second, to the state or condition of the things symbolized. The budding of the fig tree indicates a stirring of national life in the fig tree nation, just as the budding of the other trees indicates the growth of national consciousness–a development of modern times.

RESTORATION OF ISRAEL

For many centuries Israel has been a dry tree. Her nationality has been submerged beneath that of other nations, her people scattered and her land a desolation in the hands of strangers. Yet the last fifty years have witnessed a remarkable quickening of the national aspirations of the Jews. The movement known as Zionism has taken hold of Jewry in all countries and they clamor to be allowed to go back "to their own land." Those who have gone– and over 600,000 are settled there–have made "the wilderness to blossom as the rose," exciting the envy and alarms of the Arabs. We interpret this as a fulfillment of the words of Christ, but lest it be deemed we build too much upon a single movement we ask you to read what the prophets have said concerning Israel in the latter days.

We would especially direct your attention to the 37th chapter of Ezekiel where the prophet speaks of a valley full of bones representing "the whole house of Israel" (v. 11). We would ask you to note the process of regathering them from among the nations and their establishment in their land.

Thus saith the Lord God: "Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all:…and they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant:…and my servant David shall be their prince for ever." (vv, 21, 22, 25).

Is not the budding of the fig tree nation a sign of the nearness of these things–the coming of the Son of Man–the establishment of the Kingdom of God? It is Christ who gives the sign. Shall we heed it and be among those to whom he does not come as a thief, or shall we ignore it, reject it, despise it and be taken unawares?

This book has been written that you may be enabled to answer that question.

It has set before you the reasons why you should take up the Bible again and read and study it.

Scientific theories and clerical fables combined with modern indifference may have caused you to regard it is of no account.

But in this book unproved theories and human fables have been put to the test, placed side by side with the Scriptures, with the result, we trust, that you are assured that the latter form an impregnable rock upon which we can build our hopes.

The history of the nations has proved the truth of Bible prophecy, an undeniable testimony to the fact that it is the Word of God. With these assurances we have examined the message the Bible brings: –God's plan of salvation for man and his purpose with the Earth.

A FINAL QUESTION

We are brought, then, finally and inevitably to the question:

"What does this message mean to me; may I partake of this great salvation, and of this glory which shall cover the earth?"

The answer is quite simply "Yes" for God "is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9)

Yet the act of repentance involves some effort, some response on the part of the seeker. To whom shall he come, from what shall he repent, and what shall be required of him? "He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The searcher can find evidence of God in His handiwork, for "the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork," but cannot find there a revelation of God or His purpose. He must search in God's Word, for this is a lamp to the feet and a light to the path, inasmuch as "the entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple."

It will give all the knowledge necessary for a firm belief that God is, and for an understanding of God's revelation of himself.

It will show that, apart from God's plan of redemption, the seeker will pass into the endless silence of the grave; but it will also unfold to him the hope and promise of an escape from this doom.

THE CHOICE

It will show that a means has been provided whereby his former life may be covered by baptism into Christ; that by his complete immersion in water, by a symbolic death, he publicly confesses his guiltiness and figuratively dies, and that after the same symbol he rises to a newness of life (Rom. 6), having "an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," who shall be "a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17)

The Seeker now stands in the strait and narrow way that leads to life, he heeds the word of God, he keeps His commandments, for he believes that God is the "rewarder of them that diligently seek him." He believes that by so doing he will be numbered among those who will receive eternal life; that he will stand among the redeemed who sing: "Thou . . . hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth:" that he will be among those of whom it is said: "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

"Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."


The Key to Bible Understanding
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