“From the outline of God’s revealed plan, as thus far sketched, it is evident that his design for mankind is a restitution or restoration to the perfection and glory lost in Eden. The strongest, and the conclusive, evidence on this subject is most clearly seen when the extent and nature of the ransom are fully appreciated. The restitution foretold by the apostles and prophets must follow the ransom as the just and logical sequence. According to God’s arrangement in providing a ransom, all mankind, unless they willfully resist the saving power of the Great Deliverer, must be delivered from the original penalty, “the bondage of corruption,” death, else the ransom does not avail for all.
Paul’s reasoning on the subject is most clear and emphatic. He says (Rom. 14:9), “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord [ruler, controller] of both the dead and the living.” That is to say, the object of our Lord’s death and resurrection was not merely to bless and rule over and restore the living of mankind, but to give him authority over, or full control of, the dead as well as the living, insuring the benefits of his ransom as much to the one as to the other.* He “gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all,” in order that he might bless all, and give to every man an individual trial for life. To claim that he gave “ransom for all,” and yet to claim that only a mere handful of the ransomed ones will ever receive any benefit from it, is absurd; for it would imply either that God accepted the ransom-price and then unjustly refused to grant the release of the redeemed, or else that the Lord, after redeeming all, was either unable or unwilling to carry out the original benevolent design. The UN-changeableness of the divine plans, no less than the perfection of the divine justice and love, repels and contradicts such a thought, and gives us assurance that the original and benevolent plan, of which the “ransom for all” was the basis, will be fully carried out in God’s “due time,” and will bring to faithful believers the blessing of release from the Adamic condemnation and an opportunity to return to the rights and liberties of sons of God, as enjoyed before sin and the curse.
Let the actual benefits and results of the ransom be clearly seen, and all objections to its being of universal application must vanish. The “ransom for all” given by “the man Christ Jesus” does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man; but it does guarantee to every man another opportunity or trial for life everlasting. The first trial of man, which resulted in the loss of the blessings at first conferred, is really turned into a blessing of experience to the loyal-hearted, by reason of the ransom which God has provided. But the fact that men are ransomed from the first penalty does not guarantee that they may not, when individually tried for everlasting life, fail to render the obedience without which none will be permitted to live everlastingly.
Man, by reason of present experience with sin and its bitter penalty, will be fully forewarned; and when, as a result of the ransom, he is granted another, an individual trial, under the eye and control of him who so loved him as to give his life for him, and who would not that any should perish, but that all should turn to God and live, we may be sure that only the willfully disobedient will receive the penalty of the second trial. That penalty will be the second death, from which there will be no ransom, no release, because there would be no object for another ransom or a further trial. All will have fully seen and tasted both good and evil; all will have witnessed and experienced the goodness and love of God; all will have had a full, fair, individual trial for life, under most favorable conditions. More could not be asked, and more will not be given. That trial will decide forever who would be righteous and holy under a thousand trials; and it will determine also who would be unjust, and unholy and filthy still, under a thousand trials.
It would be useless to grant another trial for life under exactly the same circumstances; but though the circumstances of the tried ones will be different, more favorable, the terms or conditions of their individual trial for life will be the same as in the Adamic trial. The law of God will remain the same–it changes not. It will still say, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”; and the condition of man will be no more favorable, so far as surroundings are concerned, than the conditions and surroundings in Eden; but the great difference will be the increased knowledge. The experience with evil, contrasted with the experience with good, which will accrue to each during the trial of the coming age, will constitute the advantage by reason of which the results of the second trial will differ so widely from the results of the first, and on account of which divine Wisdom and Love provided the “ransom for all,” and thus guaranteed to all the blessing of a new trial. No more favorable trial, no more favorable law, no more favorable conditions or circumstances, can in any way be conceived of as reasons for another ransom or a further trial for any beyond the Millennial age.
The ransom given does not excuse sin in any; it does not propose to count sinners as saints, and usher them thus into everlasting bliss. It merely releases the accepting sinner from the first condemnation and its results, both direct and indirect, and places him again on trial for life, in which trial his own wilful obedience or wilful disobedience will decide whether he may or may not have life everlasting.
Nor should it be assumed, as so many seem disposed to assume, that all those who live in a state of civilization, and see or possess a Bible, have thus a full opportunity or trial for life. It must be remembered that the fall has not injured all of Adam’s children alike. Some have come into the world so weak and depraved as to be easily blinded by the god of this world, Satan, and led captive by besetting and surrounding sin; and all are more or less under this influence, so that, even when they would do good, evil is present and more powerful through surroundings, etc., and the good which they would do is almost impossible, while the evil which they would not do is almost unavoidable.
Small indeed is the number of those who in the present time truly and experimentally learn of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free those who accept of his ransom, and put themselves under his control for future guidance. Yet only these few, the Church, called out and tried beforehand for the special purpose of being co-workers with God in blessing the world–witnessing now, and ruling, blessing and judging the world in its age of trial–yet enjoy to any extent the benefits of the ransom, or are now on trial for life.
These few have reckoned to them (and they receive by faith) all the blessings of restitution which will be provided for the world during the coming age. These, though not perfect, not restored to Adam’s condition actually, are treated in such a manner as to compensate for the difference. Through faith in Christ they are reckoned perfect, and hence are restored to perfection and to divine favor, as though no longer sinners. Their imperfections and unavoidable weaknesses, being offset by the ransom, are not imputed to them, but are covered by the Redeemer’s perfection. Hence the Church’s trial, because of her reckoned standing in Christ, is as fair as that which the world will have in its time of trial. The world will all be brought to a full knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), and each one, as he accepts of its provisions and conditions, will be treated no longer as a sinner, but as a son, for whom all the blessings of restitution are intended.” (A149-153)
*We may properly recognize an additional and a still broader meaning in the Apostle’s words; namely, that the entire human family was included in the expression “the dead.” From God’s standpoint the entire race, under sentence of death, is treated as though already dead (Matt. 8:22); hence the expression “the living” would apply beyond the human family to some whose lives had not been forfeited–the angels.
Continued with next post.