Where Are the Dead?
God's word, we are assured that the dead are really dead and
that all their hopes as respects the future are centered,
first upon the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus, accomplished
at Calvary, and secondly, upon the work or resurrection which,
at his second advent, he is to accomplish for those whom he
redeemed. If per chance you have a shade of disappointment
as respects a saintly brother or sister, father or mother
or child who you hoped was already in heaven, then as a consolation
look at the other side of the question -- behold how many
of your loved ones, friends and foes and neighbors, according
to your theory and all the prevalent theories, have been suffering
untellable woe since their death and would be suffering similarly
for long centuries to come -- consider the relief of mind
and heart you get from the knowledge of the truth: that they
are not alive anywhere, but simply dead, or more poetically,
they are "Asleep in Jesus," in the sense that he
is their Redeemer, in whom all their hopes of a future awakening
Not Torment, the Penalty
mistake is made in assuming eternal torment the wages of original
sin, when the scriptures explicitly declare that "The
wages of sin is death" -- not eternal torment. (Rom.
6:23) We search the Genesis account of man's fall and the
sentence imposed, but find no suggestion of a future punishment,
but merely of a death penalty. Repeating it the second time
the Lord said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou
return." (Gen. 3:19) But he said not a word respecting
devils, fire and torment. How, then, did the Adversary deceive
our fathers during the "dark ages" with his errors,
which the apostle styles "doctrines of devils" (1
Tim. 4:1)? Note the fact that none of the prophecies mention
any other than a death penalty for sin. Note that the New
Testament likewise declares the same. St. Paul, who wrote
more than one-half of the New Testament, and who assures us
that he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts
20:27), says not a word about torment. On the contrary, discussing
this very matter of sin and its penalty, 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."
(Rom. 5:12) Note that it was not eternal torment that passed
upon one man nor upon all men, but death. If some one suggests
that death would not be a sufficient penalty for sin, all
we would need to do would be to point him to the facts and
thus prove his suggestion illogical. For the sin of disobedience
Adam lost his paradisaic home -- lost eternal life and divine
fellowship, and instead got sickness, pain, sorrow, death.
Additionally the billions and billions of his posterity, disinherited
so far as the blessings are concerned, have inherited weaknesses,
mental, moral and physical, and are, as the apostle declares,
"A groaning creation." -- Rom. 8:22.
Penalty a Just One
no one think the death penalty unjust and too severe. God
could have blotted out Adam, the sinner, thus fulfilling the
sentence. He could have blotted out the race instantly. But
would we have preferred that? Assuredly not. Life is sweet,
even amidst pain and suffering. Besides, it is the divine
purpose that present trials and experiences shall prove useful
as disciplines; to prepare us for a wiser course than father
Adam took, when we shall be privileged to have a further individual
trial. Our race would have been without hope of future existence,
just as agnosticism claims, had it not been for divine compassion
and the work of redemption.
again why our Lord died for our redemption and see in that
another evidence of the penalty. If the penalty against us
had been eternal torment, our redemption from it would have
cost our Lord that price. He would have been obliged to suffer
eternal torment, the just for the unjust. But eternal torment
was not the penalty; hence Jesus did not pay that penalty
for us. Death was the penalty and hence "Christ died
for our sins." "He by the grace of God" tasted
"death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Whoever could
pay Adam's penalty could settle with divine justice for the
sins of the whole world, because Adam alone had been tried
-- Adam alone had been condemned. We, his children, were involved
through him. Behold the wisdom and the economy of our Creator.
The scriptures assure us that he condemned the whole world
for one man's disobedience, in order that he might have mercy
upon all through the obedience of another -- Christ. We were
condemned to death without our consent or knowledge. We were
redeemed from death without our consent or knowledge.
one may inquire, "Are we, therefore, without responsibility?
Will there be no individual penalty upon us for individual
wrong doings?" We answer, "A just recompense of
reward" (Heb 2:2) will be meted out to all. But our eternal
destiny can be settled only by ourselves, by our individual
acceptance or rejection of the grace of God. The scriptures
clearly inform us that every sin, in proportion to its willfulness,
brings a measure of degradation which involves "stripes,"
chastisements, corrections to regain the lost standing. (Luke
12:47,48) Thus the more mean and more wicked a man or woman
may be, the greater will be his or her disadvantages in the
resurrection time, and the more he will then have to overcome
to get back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by Christ.
the Dead Came Forth"
his first advent our Lord's miracles foreshadowed the great
work which he, with his glorified Church, will accomplish
for the world during the Millennium -- then all the sick,
lame, blind and deaf will be revived and, if obedient, will
be brought ultimately to full perfection. The disobedient
will be destroyed in the Second death. The most notable miracle
which our Lord performed was the awakening of Lazarus, his
friend. Jesus was gone several days when Lazarus took sick
and, of course, knew about the matter. Nevertheless Martha
and Mary sent him a special message, saying, "Lord, behold,
he whom thou lovest is sick." (John 11:3) They knew of
Jesus' power to heal, even by the word of his mouth. They
had faith that if he could help strangers, he would surely
be glad to assist his friend. But Jesus remained where he
was and allowed Lazarus to die and a rude shock to come to
the dear sisters. Then he said to his disciples, "Our
friend Lazarus sleepeth." (John 11:11) Then, coming down
to their comprehension, he added, "Lazarus is dead. And
I am glad for your sakes that I was not there." -- John
was glad to let his friend fall asleep in death because it
would provide a special opportunity for a special miracle.
Then, with his disciples, he began the three-days' journey
to Bethany. We cannot blame the sorrowing sisters that they
felt hurt that the Messiah should apparently neglect their
interests. They knew that he had the power to relieve them.
Martha's gentle reproof was, "Lord, if thou hadst been
here, my brother had not died. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother
shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall
rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (John
11:21,23,24) Notice that our Lord did not say, "Thy brother
is not dead; thy brother is more alive than he ever was; he
is in heaven or in purgatory." Nothing of the kind! Purgatory
had not yet been invented, and he knew nothing of it. And
as for heaven our Lord's testimony is, in our text, "No
man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from
heaven." Martha was also well informed. The errors of
the "dark ages" had not yet supplanted the truth.
Her hope for her brother was the Scriptural one -- that he
would rise in the resurrection, in the last day, the Millennial
day, the seventh of the great thousand-year days from creation.
Lord explained that the power of resurrection was vested in
himself, that he was there with her, and could give relief
to them without waiting. Martha told our Lord that it was
too late, that putrefaction had set in by this time. But Jesus
insisted on seeing the tomb and when he arrived at it, he
said, "Lazarus, come forth." And we read, "He
that was dead came forth." (John 11:43,44) Mark well
that it was not the living that came forth, but that Lazarus
was really dead. Mark well that he was not called from heaven
nor from purgatory.
That Are in Their Graves"
Jesus did for Lazarus he intimated he would ultimately do
for Adam and his entire race. Note his words: "The hour
is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear
his voice, and shall come forth." (John 5:28,29) Does
this astonish us? If so, the reason is not far to seek. It
is because we have gotten so far away from the teachings of
the Bible -- so fully immersed in the "doctrines of devils"
(1 Tim. 4:1), so fully to believe in the serpent's lie, "Ye
shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4) -- so blinded to the
Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt surely die" (Gen.
2:17), and "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).
remainder of John 5:29 explains that there will be two general
classes of the dead to come forth. The first, those who have
had their trial and who have passed it successfully; the second,
all the remainder of mankind who have thus far failed to have
divine approval. The approved will come forth from the tomb
unto a resurrection of life -- perfection. The disapproved
will come forth unto a resurrection of judgment (see Revised
Version). The coming forth is one thing. The resurrection
is another. The apostle explains that they will come forth,
"every man in his own order." (1 Cor. 15:23) On
thus being awakened the privilege will be theirs of rising,
up, up, up out of present degradation, mental, moral, physical,
to the glorious perfection which father Adam enjoyed in the
image and likeness of his Creator. The uplifting or resurrection
work St. Peter refers to as the "restitution of all things,
which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets
since the world began" (Acts 3:21).
does this mean universal everlasting life, for the scriptures
declare that such as refuse to profit by the glorious opportunities
of the Millennium, such as refuse to be uplifted to perfection,
shall be destroyed from amongst the people in the Second death
-- "They shall be as though they had not been."
(Obadiah 16) Our Lord entered the synagogue at Capernaum and,
being asked to read the lesson, chose Isaiah, the sixty-first
chapter. He read respecting himself and his work -- that a
part of it would be to open the prison doors and set at liberty
the captives. We are well aware that our Lord did not open
any of the literal prisons, such as John the Baptist was confined
in. He made no effort to succor him. The prison-house which
Christ will open is the great prison-house, the tomb, which
holds billions of our race. At this second advent our Lord
will open this great prison-house and allow all the prisoners
to come forth, just as truly as he did in the example -- in
the case of Lazarus. Nor will he call them from heaven, purgatory
and hell, but, just as he declared,"Lazarus, come forth,"
"all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and
shall come forth" (John 5:28,29).