Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

second death, but of no second resurrection. All this passage assures us of—and it is a blessed assurance—is that "the times" in which this ransom for all is operative are not to be estimated by the meagre opportunities that have come to most of mankind in this brief life. The universal ransom from death means not only a fair but a gracious and loving opportunity for all. The principle of a redemptive resurrection is the only key to the right understanding of the Bible, and the only right basis for the preaching of both the righteousness and the grace of God. For before this future deliverance from death, there is room for all the fearful punishments of sin which Scripture describes under such terms as " losing the soul," "being cast into hell, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," "eternal (age-during) destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." By wrongly locating all these threatenings beyond the resurrection, we blind ourselves to the grace conveyed in the ransom for all. But where this grace is seen, none the less must men be warned against that immediate punishment in death and hell on the edge of which they now tread, and urged to escape it by laying hold of Him who alone can save them from it.

THE CHILDREN OF DEATH.

In Psalms lxxix. 11, and cii. 20 we have an instance in which the translators of both the Old and the New Version have gone beyond their province, and put interpretation into their rendering. In the first of these Psalms, written evidently after the destruction of the temple and holy city, when the dead bodies of the Lord's servants were given to be meat to the fowls and the beasts of the earth, He is invoked to hear the sighing of the prisoners and according to the greatness of His power to "preserve those that are appointed to death." The marginal and true reading is "the children of death." Again in Psalm cii. we have a prophecy of the day when the Lord shall appear in His glory to build up Zion and to answer this prayer of the destitute.

For He hath looked down from His Sanctuary; From heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the sighing of the prisoners; to loose those that are appointed to death (margin, the children of death); That men may declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, and the Kingdoms to serve the Lord.

If our translators had been properly alive to "the hope of the dead" which we have found to be deeply imbedded in the Old Testament, they would have left this phrase "children of death "as it stands in the Hebrew. They would have seen that the prisoners who sigh for release are the captives in Sheol, and that not living men bound over to death, but real children of death here cry to Him to be loosed from their bonds, and that among the blessings of the future kingdom of God portrayed in these passages is their deliverance.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.

This phrase first occurs in Luke xiv. 14. The Lord had gone into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread. After speaking a parable to those that were bidden, he also gave this instruction to him that had bidden him.

When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friendsi nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbors; lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; because they have not wherewith to recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.

The conviction has been growing upon us, and has found frequent expression in these pages of late, that it is a great mistake to identify the class here specified as "the just" with that smaller class whom the later New Testament defines as "the saints." A prevalent error in theology is this limitation of the just to those who are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. Such a man as Cornelius, who is called "a just man" before his conversion, it assigns to this class because it attributes to him an inchoate faith.

It is very plain, however, that the Scriptures do not confine the use of the word within this narrow channel. Regenerate saints are without doubt pre-eminently "the righteous." The law of God is written in their minds and hearts. The bulk of mankind, however, have not been lifted on to this high plane of spiritual life. Only he that hath the Son hath this life. But Scripture recognizes other men as practising the common virtues of right living. It speaks of men as upright and humane, of whom it would be going altogether beyond the record to say that they had been "created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." In the case here cited, for example, the Lord urges this Pharisee to practice the law of kindness and unselfishness, and declares that for the exercise of such a spirit there will be a recompense "in the resurrection of the just." The plain inference is that men everywhere, whose spirit is altruistic, who are kind and upright and sympathetic in their conduct toward their fellow-men, will find their reward in the life to come. They shall obtain a better resurrection than men of a contrary spirit. It is not meant that they shall rise with elect saints in the. glory of the eternal life. But their re-investiture with life in the future would gather up the results of good deeds in this life and bring them ample compensation. This compensation will consist, we may well suppose, in fuller liberation and more blessed opportunities as the result of the previous outgoing of their life into channels of benevolence and righteous dealing, breaking down its natural selfishness and bringing it more into sympathy with the life of Him who is kind even to the evil and the unthankful and sendeth his rain upon the just and upon the unjust.

This we believe to be the only correct point of view from which to interpret the two principal passages in which our Lord sets forth the reality of future judgment. In neither of these is the saint class, whom St. Paul defines as part of the Christ-Body (1 Cor. xii. 12, etc.), and who are, with Him, to judge the world (1 Cor. vi. 2), among those judged. Jesus had said that they should not come into judgment, but are passed out of death into life (Jno. v. 24). But He goes on to declare (26-29) that all who are in the bonds of death should be hereafter raised by His command; "they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done ill unto the resurrection of judgment." Here, again, the simple test announced is one of character and good deeds. Nothing is said about faith in Him, or which presupposes that these raised ones had been tested by the Gospel. "All that are in their graves," includes the countless dead outside of Christianity or Judaism. The plain inference is that men everywhere and in every age who had done good should " come forth unto the resurrection of life." Here the thought quoted in our last number from Irenaeus comes in to help us toward the meaning of this " resurrection of life." He says:

For Christ came not on their account only, who believed on Him in the times of Tiberius Caesar, neither did the Father make provision for those men alone who now exist; but for all men altogether, who from the beginning, because of their excellency in their generation, have both feared and loved God, and whose manner of life was just and pious among their neighbors. * * * All such He will raise from their sleep before the rest in His second coming, and they shall truly rehearse incorruption, and be increased and flourish in the times of the kingdom, that they may be made capable of the glory of the Father.

He speaks also of the varieties of abode upon which the just shall enter as each one is prepared and becomes "ripe for incorruption."

All this accords with our view, that Scripture recognizes a distinction between the saints and the just.

The former are a special class called to partake with Christ in the divine nature; members of His body. The rest of mankind are classified as just or unjust by a standard of virtue such as pertains more or less perfectly among men in every land and age, and which divides them not into saints and sinners, but into the predominantly just and unjust. It is by this standard that such a man as Lot is

« AnteriorContinuar »