The Permission of Evil, Part 4

The Permission of Evil, Part 4

The Permission of Evil

“But what advantage is there in the method pursued? Why not give all men an individual chance for life now, at once, without the long process of Adam’s trial and condemnation, the share by his offspring in his condemnation, the redemption of all by Christ’s sacrifice, and the new offer to all of everlasting life upon the New Covenant conditions? If evil must be permitted because of man’s free moral agency, why is its extermination accomplished by such a peculiar and circuitous method? Why allow so much misery to intervene, and to come upon many who will ultimately receive the gift of life as obedient children of God?

Ah! that is the point on which interest in this subject centers. Had God ordered differently the propagation of our species, so that children would not partake of the results of parental sins–weaknesses, mental, moral and physical– and had the Creator so arranged that all should have a favorable Edenic condition for their testing, and that transgressors only should be condemned and “cut off,” how many might we presume would, under all those favorable conditions, be found worthy, and how many unworthy of life?

If the one instance of Adam be taken as a criterion (and he certainly was in every respect a sample of perfect manhood), the conclusion would be that none would have been found perfectly obedient and worthy; because none would possess that clear knowledge of and experience with God, which would develop in them full confidence in his laws, beyond their personal judgment. We are assured that it was Christ’s knowledge of the Father that enabled him to trust and obey implicitly. (Isa. 53:11) But let us suppose that one-fourth would gain life; or even more, suppose that one-half were found worthy, and that the other half would suffer the wages of sin–death. Then what? Let us suppose the other half, the obedient, had neither experienced nor witnessed sin: might they not forever feel a curiosity toward things forbidden, only restrained through fear of God and of the penalty? Their service could not be so hearty as though they knew good and evil; and hence had a full appreciation of the benevolent designs of the Creator in making the laws which govern his own course as well as the course of his creatures.

Then, too, consider the half that would thus go into death as the result of their own wilful sin. They would be everlastingly cut off from life, and their only hope would be that God would in love remember them as his creatures, the work of his hands, and provide another trial for them. But why do so? The only reason would be a hope that if they were re-awakened and tried again, some of them, by reason of their larger experience, might then choose obedience and live.

But even if such a plan were as good in its results as the one God has adopted, there would be serious objections to it.

How much more like the wisdom of God to confine sin to certain limits, as his plan does. How much better even our finite minds can discern it to be, to have but one perfect and impartial law, which declares the wages of wilful sin to be death–destruction–cutting off from life. God thus limits the evil which he permits, by providing that the Millennial reign of Christ shall accomplish the full extinction of evil and also of wilful evil-doers, and usher in an eternity of righteousness, based upon full knowledge and perfect free-will obedience by perfect beings.

But there are two other objections to the plan suggested, of trying each individual separately at first. One Redeemer was quite sufficient in the plan which God adopted, because only one had sinned, and only one had been condemned. (All others shared in his condemnation.) But if the first trial had been an individual trial, and if one-half of the race had sinned and been individually condemned, it would have required the sacrifice of a redeemer for each condemned individual. One un-forfeited life could only redeem one forfeited life, no more. The one perfect man, “the man Christ Jesus,” who redeems the fallen Adam (and our losses through him), could not have been “a ransom [a corresponding price] for ALL” under any other circumstances than those of the plan which God chose.

If we should suppose the total number of human beings since Adam to be one hundred billion, and that only one-half of these had sinned, it would require all of the fifty billions of obedient, perfect men to die in order to give a ransom [a corresponding price] for all the fifty billions of transgressors; and so by this plan also death would pass upon all. And such a plan would involve no less suffering than is at present experienced.

The other objection to such a plan is that it would seriously disarrange God’s plans relative to the selection and exaltation to the divine nature of a “little flock,” the body of Christ, a company of which Jesus is the Head and Lord. God could not justly command the fifty billions of obedient sons to give their rights, privileges and lives as ransoms for the sinners; for under his own law their obedience would have won the right to lasting life. Hence, if those perfect men were asked to become ransomers of the fallen ones, it would be God’s plan, as with our Lord Jesus, to set some special reward before them, so that they, for the joy set before them, might endure the penalty of their brethren. And if the same reward should be given them that was given to our Lord Jesus, namely, to partake of a new nature, the divine, and to be highly exalted above angels and principalities and powers, and every name that is named–next to Jehovah (Eph. 1:20,21), then there would be an immense number on the divine plane, which the wisdom of God evidently did not approve. Furthermore, these fifty billions, under such circumstances, would all be on an equality, and none among them chief or head, while the plan God has adopted calls for but one Redeemer, one highly exalted to the divine nature, and then a “little flock” of those whom he redeemed, and who “walk in his footsteps” of suffering and self-denial, to share his name, his honor, his glory and his nature, even as the wife shares with the husband.

Those who can appreciate this (economic) feature of God’s plan, which, by condemning all in one representative, opened the way for the ransom and restitution of all by one Redeemer, will find in it the solution of many perplexities. They will see that the condemnation of all in one was the reverse of an injury: it was a great favor to all when taken in connection with God’s plan for providing justification for all through another one’s sacrifice. Evil will be forever extinguished when God’s purpose in permitting it shall have been accomplished, and when the benefits of the ransom are made co-extensive with the penalty of sin. It is impossible, however, to appreciate rightly this feature of the plan of God without a full recognition of the sinfulness of sin, the nature of its penalty–death, the importance and value of the ransom which our Lord Jesus gave, and the positive and complete restoration of the individual to favorable conditions, conditions under which he will have full and ample trial, before being adjudged worthy of the reward (lasting life), or of the penalty (lasting death).

In view of the great plan of redemption, and the consequent “restitution of all things,” through Christ, we can see that blessings result through the permission of evil which, probably, could not otherwise have been so fully

Not only are men benefited to all eternity by the experience gained, and angels by their observation of man’s experiences, but all are further advantaged by a fuller acquaintance with God’s character as manifested in his plan. When his plan is fully accomplished, all will be able to read clearly his wisdom, justice, love and power. They will see the justice which could not violate the divine decree, nor save the justly condemned race without a full cancellation of their penalty by a willing redeemer. They will see the love which provided this noble sacrifice and which highly exalted the Redeemer to God’s own right hand, giving him power and authority thereby to restore to life those whom he had purchased with his precious blood. They will also see the power and wisdom which were able to work out a glorious destiny for his creatures, and so to overrule every opposing influence as to make them either the willing or the unwilling agents for the advancement and final accomplishment of his grand designs. Had evil not been permitted and thus overruled by divine providence, we cannot see how these results could have been attained. The permission of evil for a time among men thus displays a far-seeing wisdom, which grasped all the attendant circumstances, devised the remedy, and marked the final outcome through his power and grace.

During the Gospel dispensation sin and its attendant evils have been further made use of for the discipline and preparation of the Church. Had sin not been permitted, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and of his Church, the reward of which is the divine nature, would have been impossible.

It seems clear that substantially the same law of God which is now over mankind, obedience to which has the reward of life, and disobedience the penalty of death, must ultimately govern all of God’s intelligent creatures; and that law, as our Lord defined it, is briefly comprehended in the one word, Love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Luke 10:27) Ultimately, when the purposes of God
shall have been accomplished, the glory of the divine character will be manifest to all intelligent creatures, and the temporary permission of evil will be seen by all to have been a wise feature in the divine policy. Now, this can be seen only by the eye of faith, looking onward through God’s Word at the things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began–the restitution of all things.” (A131-136)