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    September 18, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner


    1. What is the meaning of the word “immortal”?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.1

    2. What is the appointed lot of mankind? Hebrews 9:27.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.2

    3. Are any exempt from death? Romans 5:12.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.3

    4. Then can it be that any of the human race are immortal?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.4

    5. What exhortation did Paul give to Timothy? 1 Timothy 6:12.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.5

    6. Until what time did he charge Timothy to keep this commandment? Verses 13, 14.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.6

    7. What did he say that Christ in his times should show? Verse 15.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.7

    8. What did he say further concerning this “blessed and only Potentate?” Verse 16.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.8

    9. Who is this “blessed and only Potentate” here referred to?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.9

    10. Then who alone is possessed of immortality?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.10

    11. Does Christ share this attribute equally with the Father? John 5:26.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.11

    12. What contrast as the apostle Paul institute between God and man? Romans 1:23.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.12

    13. What is the meaning of the words “corruptible” and “incorruptible”?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.13

    14. Since God only hath immortality, what term must be applied to man? Job 4:7.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.14

    15. Who has eternal life to bestow? Romans 6:23.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.15

    16. Through whom may it be obtained? Ib.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.16

    17. To what class of persons will it be given? Romans 2:7.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.17

    18. If men have immortality, would they be exhorted to seek for it?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.18

    19. How are we to seek for it? Romans 2:7.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.19

    20. Then if none get it but those who seek for it, what can you say of those who do evil?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.20

    21. Who is it that has brought immortality to light? 2 Timothy 1:10.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.21

    22. By what means is it presented to mankind? Ib.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.22

    23. Then where are we to seek for immortality?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.23

    24. What can you say of those who do not accept the gospel?SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.24

    The definition which Webster gives of the word “immortal” is this: “Not mortal; exempt from liability to die; and dying; the imperishable; lasting forever; having unlimited existence.” To say, then, that any being is immortal, is equivalent to saying that he cannot die. This will be the case with the redeem saints, for Christ says: “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die anymore, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:35, 36. When they obtain the resurrection from the dead, they are immortal, for they cannot die any more. But they did die once, and therefore they were not always immortal. And so Paul says that “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27), and that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12. To say, then, that the Scriptures teach that men are by nature immortal, is to say that words have no meaning. Death is the appointed lot of mankind; and there only two men (Enoch and Elijah) who have been favored above their fellows, in that they did not see death.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.25

    In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul gives the exhortation to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” If we are already in possession of immortality, it would be impossible for us to heed this exhortation, for we could not “lay hold on” that which we already held; and no matter how earnestly we might fight the good fight of faith, it would have no effect on our immortality, if we already possessed it. Immortality is absolute; no man can be more than immortal. But in the thirteenth and fourteenth verses the apostle says that this charge must be kept until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that we are to continue the fight of faith until the Lord comes; and since it is by that means that we lay hold on eternal life, we must also conclude that the eternal life will not be gained until that time.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.26

    The apostle goes on to say that Christ will show who is “the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality.” The reference here can be to no other than to God himself. Nothing, then, can be plainer than this statement that God alone has immortality. That is, he has “life in himself” (John 5:26). Immortality is an attribute of God, just the same as infallibility, omniscience, omnipotence. Christ, as the Son of God, possesses the same attributes, and is therefore equal with God and worthy to be called God. But man has no more right to claim one attribute of God than all; he may as well put himself on a level with God in respect of knowledge, as to claim equality with respect to life. The simple fact is, as the text shows, that God alone possesses immortality; and therefore if man ever gets it, it must be as a gift from God.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.27

    The distinction between God and man is clearly defined thought the Bible. Paul, in showing the depth to which they even have fallen, says that they “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” Romans 1:23. This might with equal propriety be translated: “Changed the glory of the immortal God into an image made like to mortal man.” In Job 4:17 the question is asked, “Shall mortal man be more just than God?” In Isaiah 51:12, the Lord, through the prophets, asked: “Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?” In contradistinction to this, God is ever were spoken of as “the living God,’ that is, the one who ever lived, who can never die. If man were possessed of immortality, then he might with propriety have the same titles applied to him that are applied to God.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.28

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life to Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Here we have the statement that eternal life comes alone from God, and the additional fact that it comes only through Christ. In Romans 2:7 we learn still farther that God will give it only to them who “seek” for it, by patient continuance in well-doing. And in 2 Timothy 1:10 we learn that we are to seek for it in the gospel. The apostle says the Christ has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” From these three texts we are forced to the following conclusions: No sinner can have eternal life, for “the wages of sin is death.” No one can have eternal life unless he seeks for it, and the proper way to seek for it is by patient continuance in well-doing. Again; since it is only through the gospel that immortality is brought to light, and eternal life comes only through Christ, it is evident that no one who rejects Christ and the gospel can have immortality.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.29

    It may be argued by some that, while it is true that immortality comes from God alone, and he alone has life in himself, he has implanted it in all human beings. But this will not harmonize with the Bible. If men were by nature immortal, then it would not be true that immortality, comes through Christ and the gospel. If we accept the Bible as authority, then immortality cannot be bestowed until it is seen who have accepted Christ, and have persevered in well-doing. And this cannot be seen in this life, for there is always a possibility of the best man’s falling from his steadfastness. And still further, if it be true that all men have in them an immortal principle, then there can be no such thing as sin. For immortality means exemption from death. Whoever is immortal cannot die. But “the wages of sin is death;” that is, whoever sins will die; and no one will die except those who sin. Now, then, if we claim that all men are immortal, and that none can die, the logical conclusion is that none are sinners. In other words, wages will be given where due; and if death, the wages of sin, is given to no man, then it follows that no man is deserving of it. Thus immortal-soulism is pure universalism.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.30

    The following extracts from standard commentaries will be read with interest, and will show that the conclusions which we have drawn from the texts used in the lesson, are warranted by the best scholarship.SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.31

    On 1 Timothy 6:16 Olshausen says: “‘Who only hath immortality.’ He is therefore the source of immortality to all who are partakers in it; out of him is death.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.32

    Dean Alford quotes Justin Martyr as follows: “God is said only to have immortality, because he hath it not by the will of another, as the rest who possess it, but by his own proper essence.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.33

    Dr. Bloomfield says: “‘ho monos echon athanasian,’ i.e., immortality self-derived; by which it is implied that he alone can confer it.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.34

    Dr. Barnes says: “‘Who only hath immortality.’ The word here-athanasia-properly means exemption from death, and seems to mean that God, in his own nature, enjoys a perfect and certain exemption from death. Creatures have immortality only as they derive it from him, and of course are dependent on him for it.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.35

    On Romans 5:12 Dean Alford says: “Literally ‘on ground of,’ ‘on condition that,’ which meaning, if rightly applied, suits the case in hand. Life depended on a certain conditions, viz., obedience; death, but on another, viz., disobedience. Mankind have disobeyed; the condition of deaths and entrances and diffusion has been fulfilled; death extended to all men, as a consequence of the fact that all have sinned.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.36

    On Romans 2:7 Dr. Barnes has the following: “The word immortality means that which is not corruptible, where subject to decay. It is applied to Heaven as a state where there will be no decay or death, in strong contrast with our present condition, where all things are corruptible, and soon vanish away. These expressions are undoubtedly descriptive of state of things beyond the grave.... ‘Eternal life.’ That is, God will ‘render’ eternal life to those who ‘seek’ it in this manner.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 566.37

    “Shaking of the Powers of Heaven” The Signs of the Times, 10, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A subscriber asks a question concerning the shaking of the powers of the heavens, spoken of in Matthew 24:29. In the Sabbath-school lesson, as he says, the idea was conveyed that this is to take place in connection with the coming of the Lord, and is not one of the signs of that coming. We give the substance of his query below:-SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.1

    “In three of the Gospels, where events seem to be named in their proper order, so far as they have been fulfilled, the ‘shaking’ is made to precede his coming. Now can it be proved that the ‘shaking,’ of Matthew 24:29 and the passing away of the heavens (2 Peter 3:10), are identical? May not this prediction of our Saviour be fulfilled in the disastrous storms of the present time, or in the great conflagrations upon the sun’s surface, as is evident from the sun spots, or in the perihelion disturbances of the solar system, or in all these combined? May not this prophecy be double in its signification, and be fulfilled before his coming, and again in connection with that event.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.2

    ANSWER.-In Hebrews 12:25-27 we read: “For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from Heaven; whose voice then shook the earth; but now hath he promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken,” etc. From this we learn that as the voice of God at Sinai shook the earth, so once more it will shake both earth and heaven, and but once more. This then would preclude the possibility of there been two “shakings.”SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.3

    The question then remains, when will the shaking occur? Peter says that in the day of the Lord “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise?” (2 Peter 3:10); the prophet says, “And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Here is the shaking of both earth and heaven; and it is in connection with Christ’s coming, for all the wicked hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:14-17.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.4

    We think our querist mistakes the meaning of the expression, “precede the coming of Christ.” Nothing can properly be called a “sign” of Christ’s coming except that which is given to show the nearness of that event, so that men may prepare for it. Those things that take place after the close of probation are not really signs of the coming, because there is then no need of them.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.5

    Again, the second coming of Christ, like the first, is an event covering a period of time. The whole time of Christ’s earthly ministry is called the first advent. There are many events then spoken of as taking place when the Lord comes, such as the resurrection of “all that are in the graves” (John 5:28), the translation of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked with everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). But we know that the resurrection of the wicked, and their final destruction does not take place until a thousand years after the translation of the righteous. We therefore say that the “second coming of Christ,” with all its attendant phenomena, is not an instantaneous event taking in simply the moment of his first appearing in the clouds of heaven, but one which, like his first advent, covers a period of time.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.6

    Of course the shaking of the powers of the heavens precedes the manifestation of Christ in the clouds, yet it occurs “in connection” with that event. And that is in the regular order of events as mentioned by the evangelists.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.7

    Concerning the storms, conflagrations on the sun, etc., we would say that they are not such events as would meet the requirements of 2 Peter 3:10 or Revelation 6:14-16 and other passages. And as for “the perihelion disturbances of the solar system,” the worst result we have seen from the perihelion is the overwhelming lot of trash that has been published concerning it in certain would-be scientific journals. E. J. W.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.8

    “Under the Law. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times, 10, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner


    There is yet one more instance of the use of this term, and though the text is probably not so often quoted in opposition to the law of God as are the others, we will examine it, because it adds strength to the position that the law is unchangeable. In the fourth chapter of Galatians Paul continues the argument of chapter three. He starts out with the statement that the heir, so long as he is a child, must be under tutors and governors, even though he be lord of all. He cannot come into possession of his inheritance until he is of age. “Even so we,” says the apostle, “when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” Galatians 4:3.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.9

    In this figure the child is used to represent the sinner before he accepts Christ. Until that time, as has been repeatedly shown from the Bible, every man is in bondage, in prison; we are at liberty only when we are in Christ. That the bondage here referred to is indeed the bondage of sin, may be seen by an examination of verses 8 and 9. In verse 8 the apostle says: “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” This language shows to whom Paul was writing. The members of the Galatian churches had been heathen, doing service to “them which by nature are no gods,” and not to the God who created all things; that is, before they knew the true God they worshiped idols. And Paul’s language to them will apply equally well to us, for, whether a man be brought up in a Christian or a heathen land, so long as he does not know God, he is virtually a heathen; he may not be a worshiper of images of wood or stone, but he has other gods before the one, true God. And no man who is not in Christ can know God, for Christ says: “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6. So then, although Paul addressed his words directly to those who had been idolaters in the commonly accepted sense of the word, they apply to all.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.10

    The apostle continues in verse 9: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” To what were they once in bondage? To sin, for they had been practicing idolatry, with its accompanying vices, in direct violation of God’s law. Then sin, in its various forms, constitutes the “elements” under which they had been in bondage. It is justly termed “the elements of the world,” because it is of the earth, and not of Heaven. It is the same term which Paul uses when, in writing to the Colossians, he warns them not to be spoiled by “philosophy and vain deceit,” by the “tradition of men,” by the rudiments of the world.” Colossians 2:8, 20. They are weak in that they can give no liberty or peace even though they promise it (2 Peter 2:19); and the term “beggarly,” fitly expresses the despicable nature of sin.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.11

    We find, then, the same statement in Galatians 4:3 that is made in Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:22, etc., namely that all the world are by nature in the bondage of sin, “under the law.” What next? “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5. Whom did Christ come to redeem? “Them that were under the law.” Compare this with 1 Timothy 1:15. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief;” and again this: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and you can have no doubt as to the meaning of the term, “under the law.” The plan of salvation has no reference to any but to those who were “lost,” who were “sinners,” or, in other words, “under the law.” The name “Jesus” was given to Christ before his birth, because, the angel said, “he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. He saves us from nothing but sin and its penalty.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.12

    This point will be made still more clear when we consider the position Christ had to assume in order to accomplish our salvation from sin. The text under consideration (Galatians 4:4) says that he was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” That is, he had to put himself in the exact condition of those whom he would save. In Hebrews 2:16 we read of Christ, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The meaning is, as indicated by the marginal reading, that he came not to redeem angels but men. “Wherefore,” the apostle continues, “in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. He was made “in all things” like those whom he came to redeem.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.13

    Some one may exclaim, “What! do you think that Christ was a sinner?” By no means; he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15); he was absolutely good, the embodiment of goodness, yet he was counted as a sinner. In no other way could he be made “in all things” like his brethren, for they were sinners. In proof of this we quote 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he (God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” As a parallel to this read Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.” He bore the sins of the world as though they were his own. If it were not so, he would not have died; for “the wages of sin is death.” None can die except those in whom sin is found; our sins were laid on Christ, and accounted as his; and so, although personally “he knew no sin,” he was made to suffer the penalty of the law as a transgressor. And herein is the unspeakable love of Christ, that the innocent should assume the crimes of the guilty, and die in his stead. It was because Christ had taken upon himself “the form of a servant,” that he became obedient unto death. Some have thought it nothing less than blasphemy to speak of Christ, the sinless one, as being made a sinner, and suffering the penalty for sin, but it is from this very thing that he derives his highest glory. We simply state the fact as we find it in the Bible. This is the unfathomable mystery which angels desire to look into, and which will to all eternity call forth the love and adoration of the redeemed hosts.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.14

    We think a careful reading of the above, together with many Scripture texts for which we have not space, will convince all that to say that one is “under the law” is equivalent to saying that he is subject to its penalty as a sinner. Galatians 4:4, 5, then, teaches the simple fact that in order to save those who, on account of having violated the law, were under the condemnation of death, Christ put himself in their place and suffered the penalty of the law. And what is the condition of those who are thus redeemed from under the law? They “receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5, 6); and in harmony with this, Paul says in the eighth of Romans that those who “walk not after the flesh,” but are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.15

    Before leaving this text, we wish to apply it to the theory that the law of God was given solely to Jews, and that “under the law” means subject to the law; the theory that would make the law binding upon the Jews alone. If this theory be true, what is the result? Since Christ came to redeem only those who were under the law, it would follow that all the Jews will be redeemed, and no others. This would be making salvation not only “of the Jews,” but for the Jews. This conclusion cannot be evaded. Christ came to save the “lost,” those who were “under the law.” Now none can be under the law, that is, transgressors of the law, but those to whom the law was given; and therefore if the law was given for none but the Jews, then none but the Jews will be saved. But this is not true, because Christ died for all. A man should think at least twice before he takes a position that not only contradicts the Bible but shuts him out from an interest in the plan of salvation. Christ died for those who were under the law; and that all men were under the law, is shown by the fact that “whosoever will,” may avail himself of the provisions of the gospel.SITI September 18, 1884, page 569.16

    At the risk of making this article too long, we notice one more passage, which should be considered in this connection. It is Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed be every one that hangeth on a tree.” This is an exact parallel to Galatians 4:4, 5. Christ was made a curse, in order to redeem us from the curse. Now what was the curse which fell upon Christ? It was death, as the remainder of the verse shows: “For it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” “The wages of sin is death.” Death is the curse which the law pronounces upon every transgressor; but from this Christ has delivered us (if we believe on him), by voluntarily becoming our substitute. Take this verse in connection with the preceeding: “And the law is not of faith; but the man that doeth them shall live in them.” The man that keeps the commandments of God shall live. See Leviticus 18:5. But no man has kept them; consequently the curse has fallen upon all. “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12. From this curse we can be redeemed only by Christ. And the person thus redeemed from the curse must keep the law, or else he will again bring himself under the curse; for those only have life who keep the law.SITI September 18, 1884, page 570.1

    In each of these texts that we have considered we are brought to the same point, namely, that Christ is our only hope of escape from the penalty of universal and immutable law. And knowing with what an inexorable grasp the law holds its victims, we can glory in the fact that Christ is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” E. J. W.SITI September 18, 1884, page 570.2

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