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    THE DEAD ARE NOT BEING REWARDED

    We see clearly that the state of the dead is not one in which they are rewarded. Should it still be objected that men are conscious between the death and resurrection of the body, still they are without reward, and “if the dead rise not, then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” There are some texts from which it has been inferred that there is consciousness and reward in death. These are all noticed, answered, and successfully harmonized with the view we are here advocating. See larger works on immortality published at the Review Office, Battle Creek, Mich. In our limited space here we shall simply pass to notice matters and texts of a positive character, instead of mere inference.HPGO 50.1

    We have already shown that Paul told his brethren to comfort themselves, when bereft of their friends, with the coming of Christ and the resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4:18. Dear reader, are these words of comfort to you? Not if you cherish the sentiment that death sets the Christian free, and sends his soul to bliss and happiness. I presume if you cherish such a sentiment, you have been ready to exclaim long before reading this page, What a gloomy doctrine! True, death is a gloomy picture when viewed without the light of the resurrection. As Job says, it is “the land of darkness, as darkness itself.” But Christ has brought life to light. He is coming again, to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” So if there is no appearing of Christ, there will be no resurrection. If no resurrection, no eternal life; yea, no reward. Faith, then, in the coming of Jesus and the resurrection, attributes to Christ the work he claims as his. If we believe the Scripture doctrine, that then life is to be obtained, it throws a radiant glory like morning sunlight around that event. But if we incorporate into the items of our faith the sentiment that the saint goes to his reward at death, we at once destroy the force of the doctrine of the coming of Christ and the resurrection.HPGO 50.2

    If we believe that the reward is given to the saints at death, what would be the force of the doctrine of Christ’s coming to reward the saints? To illustrate: Suppose a man in London was owing you half a million of dollars that had fallen to you. He promises to meet you in New York city on a certain day, and pay you that sum; of course your mind will be fixed on the point of time when he is coming to New York. But if it so happens that you go to London and get the money before the day arrives, it entirely supersedes the necessity of the man’s coming to New York, as the sole object for which he is coming has been accomplished in some other way.HPGO 51.1

    The Scriptures represent, as we have previously quoted, that Christ is coming to reward his saints. But if they go to him and get their reward, I fail to see the necessity of his coming to “reward every man according to his works.”HPGO 51.2

    Paul, to the Hebrews, says: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:27, 28. This is conclusive evidence that the time of Christ’s coming is the time of reward. In the eleventh chapter, after speaking of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah, he says: “Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:12, 13. These surely did not receive their reward either in their life-time, or at their death. He continues to say: “The time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance: that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins, and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy); they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Verses 32-38.HPGO 51.3

    Of such godly characters as just described, if there is such a thing as entering upon reward at death, we should conclude it would certainly be their lot. The promise here spoken of, as we saw in the examination of Hebrews 6:17, 18, relates to the future reward-to the hope. Paul closes the brief statement concerning the ancient worthies, who surround us as a cloud of witnesses for faith, not by telling of their flight to glory and reward, but, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Verses 39, 40. So we see God’s plan is, the better thing, that all his people shall be rewarded at once.HPGO 52.1

    Do you marvel that so many professing Christians of the present time see no force in the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, and manifest no more care in regard to that event, while they cherish a sentiment which robs the doctrine of Christ’s coming of all its force and beauty? They claim that they have immortal souls, and shall enter upon a reward at death, and possess eternal life whether Christ comes or not. We would ask such, who may read these pages, to candidly reflect upon the words of Paul: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Lord help us to realize it; to be thoroughly in earnest in the work of seeking for immortality, and patiently wait the return of our Lord, that we may receive a crown of life.HPGO 53.1

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