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“Behold, I Make All Things New!”
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death; neither shall there be sorrow nor crying nor pain any more; for the former things are passed away. And He who sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:4, 5)
Used as we are to sights of wretchedness and woe, experiences of sorrow, pain and death, the promise of our text seems to many a vain one and those who believe it and trust it implicitly are esteemed visionary, illogical, credulous. The wise men of the world tell us that what has been and is shall be, and that while we might hope for some prolongation of human life and some assuagement of human miseries, to expect that death and pain and sorrow will be abolished is absurd and indicates an illogical mind. Our reply is in the words of the Apostle, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” Romans 3:4
Custom, indeed, is a forceful precedent and difficult to set aside. For more than six thousand years our race has been dying, and, as the Apostle declares, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” (Rom. 8:22) It requires faith to believe that this order of things, which has prevailed so long, is to be set aside and a new order introduced. It requires not only faith to believe this, but we must needs have a foundation for our faith. It is not sufficient for us that someone might speculate that an evolutionary process would bring the race out of degradation and sin and sorrow, pain and death, to perfection, because we perceive from history that so far from such evolution being in progress the aches and pains with which our race has been afflicted have been increasing for centuries, so that today we are weaker than our forefathers and the average of human life is but 35 years, with all the advantages of science combating the encroachments of disease and death. According to Bible records, which many of us accept fully, the time was when our forefathers lived for centuries. We need, therefore, just the kind of testimony which our text affords as foundation for our faith in such a wonderful change. It declares that He that sat upon the throne arranged a great change of dispensation to be accompanied by the release of mankind from sorrow, pain and death. All who have faith in the authority may well rejoice and give glory to God in anticipation of this wonderful blessing which He has in store for our race.
ON EARTH EVEN AS IN HEAVEN
This promise is in full accord with the prayer which our Lord taught us as His followers—”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth even as in heaven.” Surely none will dispute that God’s will done in heaven means the perfect happiness of all of His faithful. Surely none will doubt that there is no death in heaven, no cemeteries, no funerals. Surely none will doubt that there is no sickness there, no tears or plasters or physicians. Surely none will doubt that there is no sorrow in heaven nor cause for any. Why, then, should it seem to us incredible that the same Heavenly Father, who thus arranged for His sons on the spirit plane, should similarly arrange for His human sons? Why should we doubt that the love which has provided for the eternal happiness of the angelic hosts would be equally willing to provide for the eternal happiness of humanity? Why, then should we hesitate for a moment to accept the explicit declaration of the Scriptures that a great change of dispensation is coming, when, instead of the world being subject to the prince of this world who now worketh in the Children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) it shall, instead, be under the dominion, the rulership of the Prince of Glory, who redeemed Adam and his race from the curse of death by the sacrifice of Himself?
Instead of doubting the plain statement of our text we should have been inclined to surmise it, even without a statement, had it not been that our minds have been poisoned by the great adversary’s substitution of darkness for light, misrepresenting the love of God and His glorious plan of salvation, substituting therefore what the Apostle designates “doctrines of devils”— devilish doctrines. It is by these false doctrines that the adversary has, as the Apostle declares, “blinded the minds of them that believe not, so that the glorious light of God’s goodness does not shine into their hearts.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) It is time that we should awaken from the horrible nightmare which has afflicted us during the night time of the “dark ages.” It is time that we should recognize the great Scriptural truth that God is love, that He created us with a glorious purpose in view and that our affliction as a race through Father Adam’s disobedience has not changed the divine character nor the divine sentiment toward us.
It is time that we should learn afresh that our loving Creator changes not; that all of His glorious purposes shall be accomplished and that the word that has gone forth out of his mouth shall not return unto Him void, but shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it. It is time for us to learn that His permission of sin and sorrow, pain and dying has been but temporary, with a view to our instruction as respects the exceeding sinfulness of sin and with a view to the ultimate blessing of all those who will be taught of God and ultimately learn the lessons He will give through His representative, our Redeemer, who shortly will be the great Prophet, Priest and King to the world of mankind for their instruction and uplifting out of sin and death conditions back to perfection. How glorious it will be when He shall have accomplished His work, for as the Apostle declares, “He must reign until He has put all enemies under his feet— the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26) We may well long for His second coming in power and great glory to bind Satan and to accomplish these glorious results. Should it not be wonderful to us that the Apostle, who saw clearly and explained definitely these things to be accomplished in the new dispensation, held out that the glorious Messiah is the hope of the world.
Most beautifully does the Apostle picture the present condition of the world with its longing for something better, which it does not clearly appreciate, but which we who are guided by the Word of God do understand. He says, “The whole creation groans and travails in pain together;” and again he tells us that they are “waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:22, 19) The groaning, the travailing, the pain, the death are literal enough, sure enough, manifest enough.
The difficulty with the majority who attempt to study the Bible is that they fail to get this proper standpoint of view; they think of the Bible as addressed to the world, they think of God as dealing with the world, whereas the Scriptures clearly teach that the time for divine dealing with the world is not yet come; that in the interim God is merely dealing with special classes; as, for instance, in the past he dealt with the patriarchs and not with the world in general; from Sinai to Calvary he dealt with the Jewish nation only but not with the world; and since Calvary to the second advent of our Lord and the completion of the church, he deals not with the world but with the special class who he calls out of the world — the household of faiths from amongst whom he selects the “very elect” to be the bride and joint-heir with their Redeemer, and to be associated with Him in His millennial kingdom glory. The Apostle declares this to be the mystery, the secret of the divine plan which obscures the same from the minds of men in general. Our Lord Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the King of Israel, of whom it had been written that he should bless all the families of the earth through His glorious kingdom reign. But, instead of beginning that reign, that kingdom, that blessing of the world, that scattering of darkness and binding of Satan as soon as he had paid the ransom price, He instead began another feature of the divine plan, namely, the selection of the kingdom class and company of joint-heirs, a “little flock” to be the bride of Christ, otherwise styled “members of His body.” This has been the work of the entire Gospel age, anything else being merely incidental thereto, and as soon as this selection of the church and the polishing and preparation of the individuals thereof is completed, the next work will be in order—the pouring out of a blessing through these upon humanity in general.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) The Lord’s faithful, consecrated ones are His sons even now, though hampered with unfavorable surroundings and imperfect conditions. They are waiting for their “change,” which shall be accomplished in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and which will constitute their resurrection from human to spirit conditions.
This is the same epoch, this is the same glorious refreshment coming to the world at our Lord’s second advent and the glorification of the Church which the Apostle Peter so graphically portrays, saying, “Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must retain until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19-21
THE WAGES OF SIN vs. THE GIFT OF GOD
The Scriptures fully account to us for the present terrible condition in which, as a race, we find ourselves— imperfect mentally, morally and physically. They explain that man was not created thus, but perfect, upright, in God’s likeness. They explain that while death is a curse or blight upon our race, and while it came from God Himself, nevertheless, there was a justifiable reason for it. Sin had entered into the world, and it was not God’s purpose to perpetuate sin eternally; hence He had already decreed that the wilful sinner must die, and so the Scriptures declare: “By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world, and death as a result of sin; and thus death passed upon all men, because all are sinners.” Rom. 5:12 We see then, that our sorrows, pain and dying are all the legitimate wages of sin—of our own fallen condition.
We see that God is not to be blamed in any sense of the word, that His work is perfect and His dealings just. Moreover, we have no claim upon Him as respects a restitution or a millennial favor or blessing—all that is a free gift. His provision has included, first, a satisfaction of His own justice, the sentence against us, “Dying, thou shalt die.” This redemptive work costs us nothing so far as we are concerned; everything that God provides for us is a gift full and free.
But as for His own government and laws, He maintains them—will not permit them to be violated. He persists. in regarding sin as criminal and worthy of death; He continues to maintain a separation between sinners and Himself. But He has made abundant provision for mankind, as though He had no such law and was bound by no such justice. More than this, His giving us His Son as our redemption price attests to us His sympathy, His love, His willingness to assist us. Nor does this signify a carelessness as respects the interests of His Son, our Lord Jesus, for we are assured that for the joy that was set before Him He gladly endured the cross and despised the shame and has now been abundantly rewarded by His high exaltation to the divine nature and heavenly throne.
But even yet, notwithstanding the death of Christ, the Creator does not propose to infract His law nor to permit a sinner to have eternal life. Hence, instead of granting eternal life to sinners, He has turned them over to their Redeemer to be instructed and assisted and chastened, uplifted and rewarded during the Millennial Age—so many as will, to the intent that by the close of that age all the willing and obedient shall have reached full perfection and be fully able thereafter to thoroughly obey every divine requirement; because no longer sinners, no longer weak, no longer degraded or impaired, they shall be absolutely perfect through the uplifting influences of their Redeemer. All who will not avail themselves of this privilege will still abide under divine wrath and be destroyed in the Second Death; but all the willing and obedient will be granted the gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In harmony with this there is to be a great testing time after the Millennial Age closes. The world of mankind, except the incorrigible, will be then transferred from the Mediatorial Kingdom, the Millennial Kingdom, to the Father’s jurisdiction. The first work of the Father in dealing with the world will be to apply a test, even as He did to Father Adam when he was perfect. The conditions, however, will be different: in the judgment or test in the end of the Millennial Age each individual will be on trial for himself alone and no race will be involved with him. Again, there will be the difference that Father Adam was entirely without experience, whereas all that wonderful race of perfect, restored human beings at the close of the Millennium will have had a large experience: first in the present life an experience with sin and death conditions, sighing, and crying and dying; and secondarily during the Millennium they will have had an experience of restitution, uplifting from the fallen conditions, and incidentally they will have had full instruction at the hands of the great Teacher respecting the love of God, the wisdom of God, the justice of God and the power of God, and they will be without excuse as respects obedience.
The record shows that the test which will come upon all that will dwell upon the face of the whole earth at that time will be a subtle one, which will try or tempt all mankind whose total number will be as the sand of the seashore. What proportion of these will succumb to the temptation we are not informed, but we are given distinctly to understand that there will be a considerable number found not fully loyal at heart, to the principles of righteousness. These will be esteemed messengers and tools of Satan and, with him, they will be destroyed in the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption, no recovery of any kind.
“EVERY CREATURE PRAISING”
The Scriptures represent that when the glorious epoch will have come, every voice in heaven and in earth and under the earth shall be heard praising God, giving thanks to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb forever. (Revelation 5:13) How glorious this picture! How much more God-like than the one so long presented to us from the “dark ages” to the effect that, to all eternity there would be howlings and blasphemings; poor creatures suffering in terrible torment, anguish, pain and sorrow, but without the privilege of dying! Thank God that the eyes of our understanding are opening more widely and that now His wonderful book, the Bible, is indeed a new book to us, telling of His wisdom, love and power!
It is appropriate that those of us who have been blessed with the opening of the eyes of our understanding should begin our rejoicing and praising God at once. He has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light and put a new song into our mouths, even the loving kindness of our God. Let us praise Him not only with our lips but with our entire beings, let us show forth His praises that, perchance, others, too, may be granted the privilege of hearing and rejoicing. Let us remember not only that our own sins have been forgiven through faith in the precious blood, and that we have been brought into fellowship with the Lord Father, but let us remember also that the very purpose, the very object of these favors to us was to prepare us for our high calling—the invitation of our Creator that we should become heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:17
Let us be more attentive to this great calling, this wonderful privilege, the like of which never was before and never will be again. It will be one thing to be blessed during the Millennial Age by restitution processes and uplifting to human perfection; it is quite another thing that now we should be begotten again, new creatures in Christ, partakers of the Divine nature and have a share with our Master in the glorious work during the Millennium. No wonder the call has attached to its conditions that those who would reign with Christ must suffer with Him in this present time. The Lord seeks a peculiar people. Those who love sin, or those who do not so love righteousness that they are willing to sacrifice on its behalf, are not of the kind whom He is now seeking, now calling, now preparing for the glories to follow. Let us who have received this grace and who appreciate it so run that we may obtain the glorious prize, not trusting in our own strength and righteousness, but looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, until He shall become the finisher of it.
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