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SIN

Please explain this Scripture: "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death?"

<ANSWER>--The first death came upon Adam because of sin, and death has been reigning in the earth since, and men have died because of inherited sin. Death is spoken of in the Scriptures as a great enemy. Under the reign of Christ the dead shall return from the land of the enemy, the tomb, the death condition. (`Jer. 31:15-17`; `John 5:28,29`). All those who have become Christ's in this life receive their trial now. Those who have had no opportunity to accept the Lord will be given a trial then, and if obedient will be rewarded with eternal life on the earth. The reign of Christ is for the purpose of restoring all that was lost in Adam (`Acts 3:19-22`) and as the Scriptures declare: "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (`1 Cor. 15:25,26`). In the Scripture quoted in your question, "hell" is from the Greek word <"Hades,"> meaning the tomb. Death means the result of the curse that came upon Adam. The words used by our Lord were figurative. The "lake of fire" is a symbol of complete destruction, here called the "second death," therefore the second death refers to that death from which there will be no resurrection.

What is meant by the "Second Death" mentioned in the book of Revelation?

<ANSWER>--The first death, the death which came upon the human family through the disobedience of Father Adam, extended to every member of the human race. But according to God's providence, foreknown and fully declared, Christ died for the sins of the whole world; and in due time every member of Adam's race is to be recovered from that sin and from its death penalty, which for six thousand years has been upon the race. In other words, as Adam brought mankind under the first death penalty, so Christ will release all mankind from that death penalty and give every member of the race a full and fair opportunity to attain perfection and eternal life. Whoever refuses that favor and opportunity--whoever sins willfully and deliberately against that light, will come under the sentence of death again; and this time it will not be Adamic death, but Second Death. And the difference between the two deaths is that the latter will know no revocation--there will be no redemption from it and no resurrection.

Please explain `Rev. 20:10`, particularly the last clause of the verse which reads: "and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (E.W.D.)

<ANSWER>--All Bible students recognize that the expressions of this chapter and verse are highly figurative. Where it is stated that a "beast and false prophet" are to be cast into the "lake of fire and brimstone," no reasoning mind would say that literal beast, or a literal false prophet were meant; but that these were symbols, and represent false and beastly systems. And if not an actual beast is meant, so also with the "lake of fire and brimstone." This lake would fittingly symbolize absolute destruction, for whatever is cast into fire and brimstone, the two most destructive agencies known to mankind, is immediately destroyed and not preserved in any sense. As stated in the `14th verse`, it is the "second death"--annihilation. To our understanding, the "devil" here mentioned is not Satan himself, but is an evil system--a devilish power. These evil systems--false civil and ecclesiastical powers--in the end of the Age are to be "tormented day and night," as long as they last, with financial, social, and religious difficulties and pains. "Forever and ever" is from the Greek <aionion> which signifies lasting. The "torment" will last until these Satanic systems are consumed.

Who was the serpent? What was its form? In what way did he induce our first parents to disobey the Lord? (W.H.M.)

<ANSWER>--The `Genesis` account of the seduction of our first parents by Satan is very brief. There is just a sufficient amount of detail given to show how sin entered into the world and death by sin. The Bible is the only book in all the world that goes back to the beginning and logically and consistently sets forth the origin of sin and death. After concisely stating the facts, it does not ramble all around the point by bringing in a mass of unnecessary detail. It was not written to amuse, charm, or satisfy curiosity. In the first three chapters of the Bible the origin, fall and death of the race are described; and in the last three chapters of the Bible, the elimination of sin and death, and the uplifting and blessing of mankind are set forth. From the brief account given of the tragedy that occurred in the Garden of Eden, we might surmise that the serpent was merely one of the number that were in existence at that time and that Satan, a powerful spirit being, controlled, or obsessed it and caused it to act and to speak in a manner such as would deceive mother Eve. Inasmuch as the Bible does not furnish the particulars, it would be impossible for anyone to set forth all the facts.

Why was it a sin for David to number the people (`2 Sam. 24` and `1 Chron. 21`)?

<ANSWER>--While it is not stated in the Scriptural account that the Lord did not wish the Israelites to be numbered, yet we are convinced from the reading of these chapters, particularly verses one and eight of `1st Chronicles`, 21st chapter, that such was the case and that He had given instructions to that effect. In the third verse of this same chapter, we find Job, David's chief officer, protesting against this action of the King; saying that it would be "a cause of trespass to Israel." We may reason, too, that as David sat upon "the throne of the Lord" (`1 Chron. 29:23`) as the Lord's representative, he was acting without instructions and due authority in taking the census of the people and was therefore presumptuous in the matter, and deserving of punishment as a rebuke in not first ascertaining the Divine will of God, the true King of Israel. There is a valuable lesson here for all who profess to be God's people, and that is, to first seek the Lord's instruction and guidance in life's affairs and not to lean to their own understanding and natural preferences. The reasoning faculties of all are more or less unbalanced; no one has a perfectly balanced mind, and hence it would be the part of true wisdom to follow the instructions of the Lord.

If a person has led a sinful life and has been instrumental in causing others to sin, would it be possible for such a one to be fully forgiven and all their past sins cancelled if they should repent and ask the Lord to forgive them?

<ANSWER>--There should be no question in the mind of any one on this point. The Scriptures abound with expressions in which the Divine love and compassion of God, the Heavenly Father, are set forth. The great Creator of the Universe sacrificed His well-beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem the world and to reconcile it to Himself. Those, therefore, who will accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior, believing that He by the grace of God tasted death for every man--these are freely forgiven all their past iniquities. The Apostle Paul, before his conversion to Christianity, was bitterly opposed to the cause of Christ and went about persecuting the followers of the Master--putting them in prison and arranging that some should be put to death. We remember that he consented to the death of Stephen, the first martyr. Yet with all this, the Lord freely forgave him. Note the following Scriptures as evidencing the full and complete forgiveness of all those who are truly repentant and who desire to draw nigh to God through Christ (`Isa. 1:18`; `Psa. 103:10-14`; `Acts 26:18`; `Eph. 1:7`; `Col. 1:14`).

What is the unpardonable sin?>

<ANSWER>--The unpardonable sin is a sin which God declines to pardon or forgive--a sin, therefore, which must be punished, must be expiated by the sinner. There may be said to be different degrees of unpardonable sin, however. An unpardonable sin is one that is committed against light and knowledge. All sins of weakness and ignorance are pardonable, because God has made provision for the pardon of these in the death of Christ. Since all of our weakness and ignorance came to us through the fault of our Father Adam, and since Jesus redeemed the world from that transgression and all of its hereditary taint, therefore, every sin attributed to that fall alone is a pardonable sin. There are, however, what might be termed mixed sins in which a measure of wilfulness, knowledge and intelligence combine with a certain measure of ignorance and weakness. For such sins there would be forgiveness to the extent of the weakness and ignorance, but punishment would be required to the extent of the knowledge and wilfulness. A wilful sin against full light and knowledge would be a sin against the holy spirit of God. Such, knowingly committed, would bring the sinner under the sentence of the sin namely, the Second Death.

To my mind, the following text of Scripture is one of the most puzzling to be found in the Bible--"Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after."--`1 Tim. 5:24`. (C. M.)

<ANSWER>--The Scriptures point out two spiritual classes among the Lord's people, one class of which will be kings and priests unto God, and will be seated upon the throne of Divine authority and power. This is a comparatively small class, and is called the "Little Flock," the "very elect," "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," etc. The other class is comparatively large, and is called the "great multitude which no man can number," and are represented as being before the throne, as servants and messengers. (`Rev. 7:9-15`.) These two classes are referred to in the parable of the "Wise and Foolish Virgins." The first class, "the very elect," have all their sins up for judgment beforehand, before the general judgment time for the world. They are on trial in this present time and have all their sins atoned for and expiated. The other class, "the great company," will have its sins up for judgment following after the judgment of the "Little Flock," having "come up through great tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The Apostle's letter was addressed to Timothy, a child of God, and his instructions relate to the worldly ones outside of the Church of Christ. Indeed, the world's sins, both Adamic and willful, are all fully atoned for by the above two classes in association with the Lord Jesus Christ as the "sin-offerings" of this great Atonement Day.

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