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    February 5, 1885

    “Punishment of the Wicked—Review” The Signs of the Times, 11, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner



    1. How many classes of people does the Bible recognize?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.1

    2. When will the final separation between them take place?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.2

    3. With what will the righteous be rewarded?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.3

    4. What will be done with the wicked?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.4

    5. What can you say of the comparative duration of the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.5

    6. What is to be the punishment of the wicked?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.6

    7. What is the agent in the destruction of the wicked?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.7

    8. How complete will be this destruction?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.8

    9. To what perishable material are the wicked likened? Quote texts.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.9

    10. What will be the effect of the wrath of God abiding on the wicked?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.10

    11. How can you harmonize the theory that you have advanced with Mark 9:43?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.11

    12. What is always accomplished by an unquenchable fire? Matthew 3:12.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.12

    13. Prove that Revelation 20:10 does not contradict the doctrine that the wicked are to become utterly extinct.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.13

    14. Of how many deaths does the Bible speak?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.14

    15. Explain the distinction between the first and the second death.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.15

    16. State the origin and effect of the doctrine that the wicked are not to die for their iniquity.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.16

    17. What do you learn from Revelation 5:13?SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.17

    Although the lesson this week is a review, which give a few notes for the aid of those who have not had the previous lessons. However much people may imagine that there is provision made in the gospel for people who are “as good as the average,” the fact remains that the Bible recognizes only two of classes,-the good and the bad. “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Deuteronomy 30:15. To be counted good, a person must keep all of God’s commandments; to be among the bad requires the breaking of no more than one. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not together with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30. In the battle of life there is no intermediate or neutral ground.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.18

    This is also evident from the account of the final separation. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33. The succeeding verses plainly tell the character of these two classes. The first class are they who have served the Lord; love for him has sanctified every effort of their lives, and they have obeyed this exhortation of the apostle: “Whatsoever he do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and to the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17. The other class are they who have lived for self; even their deeds of kindness have been prompted by love of applause, and so have been nothing but manifestations of the evil in their hearts. To the first class it is said: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. To the other class it is said: “Depart from me, hy cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.19

    The comparative duration of the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked is stated in Matthew 25:46. The Saviour closes his discourse with these words: “And these [the wicked] shall go away into everlasting on [eternal] punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” If there were no other text relating to this question, we should note that death is to be the final portion of the wicked. If it were not so, then the promise of eternal life to the righteous would not indicate any difference in the state of the two classes. But there is a contrast. The wicked shall go into punishment, but the righteous into life. No one who regards the Bible will say that both classes see this same award; but it is certain that the righteous are to have life. Now anything that is different from life must be death, therefore the wicked receive the sentence of death, which is executed. To show that this conclusion is sound, we have only to quote Paul’s words: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. The Saviour said that the punishment of the wicked and the life of the righteous are both to be eternal; therefore we know that eternal life,-death from which there is no resurrection,-is the wages of sin. Paul says (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) that the wicked shall be punished with “everlasting destruction,” when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire; and both John (Revelation 20:9) and Malachi (Malachi 4:1-3), and many others state this destruction is to be by fire.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.20

    For the completeness of the destruction of the wicked, we can only refer the reader to a few texts, which required no interpretation. See Psalm 1:1-4; 2:8, 9; 37:9, 10, 20, 38; Isaiah 5:24; Obadiah 16; Malachi 4:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:9, etc. David says that if the wrath of God be kindled but a little, its effect will be to cause the wicked to “perish from the way” (Psalm 2:12); when therefore it abides on the wicked (John 3:36), they will be, as Obadiah has said, “as though they had not been.” See Webster’s definition of “perish.”SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.21

    In Mark 9:43 the Saviour says that the wicked shall be cast into a fire that “never shall be quenched.” This, instead of contradicting the above statements, is the strongest confirmation of them. The effect of an “unquenchable fire” is to “burn up” that which is cast into it (Matthew 3:12); if the wicked were cast into any other kind of fire, their destruction would not be complete. “Everlasting fire” is fire whose effects are everlasting; it is like that which destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude 7. This was unquenchable fire, and resulted in the overthrow of those cities; it turned them to ashes.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.22

    We can only refer to the texts that answer question 13. See Exodus 21:1-6, where it is stated that under certain circumstances the Hebrew servant should serve his master “forever.” Of course this meant during his natural life. So, likewise, “forever,” in Revelation 20:10 and similar passages, covers only the space of time that it is possible for persons to exist in “unquenchable fire.” See also Isaiah 34 and 35, where, after the land is described as burning and lying waste, so that none can pass through it “forever and ever,” it is described as blossoming and as the rose, and being inhabited by “the ransomed of the Lord.”SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.23

    This death of which we have been speaking is “the second death.” Revelation 21:8. “In Adam all die,” both righteous and wicked, men and little children; and “so Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22. Christ does this for all, because no one is to blame for being the descendant of Adam, and thus mortal. When all have been made alive, it will be seen who are worthy to have life continued to them, and those who have died in their iniquity shall die the second time. Ezekiel 18:26. This is the death to which God had reference when he said to Adam, “In the day that thou eat this thereof, thou shalt surely die.” That penalty has never been executed; through the kindness of God in Christ the execution of the penalty was stayed, in order to give fallen man another chance for his life. Christ tasted death for every man, and those who accept his sacrifice will escape the penalty for sin, but upon those who do not, it will fall grievously.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.24

    The originator of the doctrine of life for the wicked, as we learn from Genesis 3:1-4, was the serpent, “which is the devil and Satan.” Revelation 20:2. His object in teaching it to Eve was to lead her to sin. He made her believe that if she disobeyed God she would not suffer for it, but would be the gainer by it. It was a direct lie, and it had its designed effect. Ever since that time it has been repeated, and with the same result. Thus the Lord through his prophet rebukes those who “with lies” have made the heart of his people sad, and have “strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” Ezekiel 13:22. Reader, do you wish to be found on the devil’s side, perpetuating his falsehood? E. J. W.SITI February 5, 1885, page 86.25

    “Vice As an Aid to Virtue” The Signs of the Times, 11, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A short time ago it was stated in the daily papers that Dunton C. Ross, a noted athlete and saloon-keeper, have announced his intention of leaving his present business and entering the ministry. To that, of course, no one offers an objection. We shall be pleased to see every saloon-keeper quit the business; even if he did not feel the necessity of disgorging his ill-gotten gains, society would be the better for a diminution in the number of plague spots. And the desire to enter the ministry is certainly a laudable one, provided the aspirant does not seek simply to make gain by his “godliness,” or to gratify unholy ambition. Mr. Ross may be perfectly sincere; doubtless he is as honest in his purpose as he knows how to be, but we have our doubts as to his fitness for the position which he seeks. For a man to decide to enter the ministry, before his heart has been touched sufficiently to make him quit selling beer, looks to us as though he was troubled with moral blindness. It is better for a man to become converted before he decides to enter the ministry, than to make such a decision and then be “converted.” In the former case there would be more hope of the conversion being genuine.SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.1

    But that to which we wish to call special attention is the statement made by Mr. Ross, that he has learned many things in his career as a saloon-keeper and “sporting man,” which will be of material value to him in his work as a preacher. He thinks that, with his past experience, all he needs is a short course in theology, to prepare him for successful work. It is a deplorable fact that this idea obtains quite generally in the world. If a man has been a “rough,” people will flock to hear him were people by his “sad experience” as he tells how degraded he used to be; while the man who has from his earliest childhood endeavored to walk in the path of virtue, is thought to be deficient. It is no exaggeration to say that a large majority of people think that a career of vice is almost absolutely essential to fix one to be a teacher of morals. They did not formulate their ideas in words, but the thought is there. When they compare a teacher who has been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, with one who has assiduously served the devil nearly all his life, there is a decision in favor of the latter. They almost wish that the first one could have had the advantage of at least a short course in crime, “would it have been such a benefit to him.”SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.2

    Now the secret of this is found in the love which the natural human heart has for sin. Each heart has a natural tendency toward that which is evil. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19. There is a charm about the man who has distinguished himself among his vicious associates, which leads some to almost deify him; and this fascination is felt to a greater or lesser extent by every unrenewed individual. Let us examine this matter, and see if a man is really benefited as a teacher by having been familiar with all the details of vice.SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.3

    Take, for instance, the teacher of youth in the high school or the college. Of two candidates for such a position, one of whom never learned to read until he was forty years of age, while the other has been a close student from his early years, and has always associated with the educated and refined, which would be chosen? Every committee would choose the latter, without hesitation. In so doing they would show wisdom. It is not denied that the first man might take a good teacher, but the question is, Can he teach as well as he could if in his youth he had trained his mind to think? Is his previous ignorance a recommendation? There can be no difference of opinion as to the answer.SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.4

    Suppose I am to make a trip into the mountains, and was to secure a competent guide. Shall I accept a man whose principal recommendation is that he is thoroughly familiar with all the streets and alleys of the city, and who has never been in the country? Not by any means. The hardy mountaineer is the one whom I will choose. I care not if he knows nothing about the city where I live. What I want is that he shall be familiar with the place to which I am going. He cannot guide me if he has not been there himself.SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.5

    The same rule will apply to religious teachers. A man may know all about the paths of vice, and the steps that takes hold on hell, but that is not the kind of instruction that people need. They know enough in that direction; and many will go that way fast enough without any instruction. What they do need is to be led into wisdom’s way, to learn the ways of peace, and to know the love of that passeth knowledge. Who shall lead them there? Shall it not be the man who has walked in those ways himself, and who has been with Jesus? Reason would answer, Yes. No amount of argument can convince us that Ahab could ever have developed into a teacher that would compare with Enoch, who walked with God all his life. The best man that ever lived has enough of human nature to contend with to enable him to sympathize with the struggles of poor, frail sinners. We do not say that a good man is best fitted for a religious teacher, but that he is the only one for such a position. If he has at some time in his life followed vicious practices, the grace of God through Christ must remove the stains before he can render acceptable service to God. But he can never be the man that he would have been had he always lived an upright life.SITI February 5, 1885, page 88.6

    This is a matter that should receive serious thought by our young men who are designing to work in the cause of God. You want to lead men to God; but you can never lead others there till you have been there yourself. You must know Christ before you can reveal him to others. This is the essential qualification. While you are striving for intellectual culture, do not neglect culture of the heart. It is right and necessary to improve the talent of intellect that God has given you; but at the same time let it be your chief aim to reach “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Remember that men who were ignorant of books have done noble service in the cause of God, but never one who was ignorant of Christ. Let these words of one who had fallen low in sin, be pondered by all:-SITI February 5, 1885, page 89.1

    “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then shall I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” E. J. W.SITI February 5, 1885, page 89.2

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