Artist: Russell Harlen
TEXT: And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished. Rev.20:4, 5THE word millennium signifies a thousand years. There is a general agreement in applying the word to the period named in the text; but all do not agree as to the character of the millennium. The popular view of this subject is, that the world is to be converted, and that all men will become holy. This happy state of things, it is said, will continue one thousand years, during which time Christ will reign with his people spiritually. And at the close of the millennium, Christ will come the second time, and the judgment will take place.
But the sacred Scriptures do not teach that at any period of time all men will be converted to God. There were but few righteous men from Adam to Moses. And their numbers in the Jewish age, compared with the multitudes of the unbelieving, were very small. Neither does God's plan in the Christian age embrace the conversion of all men. The gospel must be preached to all nations. Thus God visits "the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name." Acts 15:14
Among the finally saved will not be found all of any one generation, or all of any one nation; but some out of every age and every tongue will join in the song to the Lamb: "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Rev.5:9.
From the very nature of the case, the conversion of the world is an impossibility. God is the same during all time. He deals with men and nations impartially. The devil is the same, excepting that the experience of six thousand years has made him more artful in seducing men and women into sin. The fallen race is the same, only that each succeeding generation degenerates physically, mentally, and morally, till the world becomes fully ripe for her final doom.
Artist: William Heaslip"
This is seen in the metallic image of Dan.2. Here five universal kingdoms are the subject of prophecy. Four of these pertain to the mortal state, one to the immortal. The four earthly monarchies, Babylon,
Persia, Grecia, and Rome, are severally represented by gold, silver, brass, and iron. We not only see in the symbol the depreciation of value from gold to silver, to brass, and to iron; but the last divided condition of earthly governments, just before the opening glories of the immortal kingdom, is represented by iron mixed with miry clay.
God's plan to convert sinners, and to save all who would obey him, and believe in Jesus, has been in operation about six thousand years. A crucified and risen Jesus has been preached with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven for more than eighteen centuries; yet the world has not been converted. And the prospect of its conversion to Bible holiness never looked darker than at the present time. In the forcible words of another we would inquire:
"And what are the present prospects of a church that has set out in all confidence to convert the world? How may those now putting on the harness boast of greater expected success than is warranted by the experience of those who have put it off after having fought the good fight? The prophets could not convert the world; are we mightier than they? The apostles could not convert the world; are we stronger than they? The martyrs could not convert the world; can we do more than they? The church for eighteen hundred years could not convert the world; can we do it? They have preached the gospel of Christ; so can we. They have gone to earth's remotest bounds; so can we. They have saved `some;' so can we. They have wept as so few believed their report; so can we. They have finished their course with joy, and the ministry they have received to testify of the gospel of the grace of God; we can do the same. Can we reasonably hope to do more?
`It would take to all eternity to bring the millennium at the rate that modern revivals progress, ' said the venerable Dr. Lyman Beecher, before a ministerial convention, held close by old Plymouth rock. And what hope is there that they will progress more rapidly? Is it in the word of God? Glad would we be to find it there. Sadly we read that `evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.'
"Has God a mightier Saviour - a more powerful Spirit? Has he another gospel which will save the world? Where is it? Is there any way to the kingdom other than that which leads through much tribulation? Is there another way to the crown besides the way of crosses? Can we reign with Him unless we first suffer in his cause?
"No doubt the world might be converted if they desire to know the Lord. And so, had all who heard received with gladness the word of God, the world might have been converted within twenty years of the day of Pentecost.
If each Christian had brought one single soul to God with each successive year, the calm splendors of the millennial era might have shone upon the declining years of the apostles of Jesus Christ. But instead of this, ages of darkness came on. The world did not repent, but the church apostatized.
If the gospel were to convert the world, we should have seen tokens of it ere this. But where are such omens to be found? Shall we look at Judson, who labored ten long years before one sinner yielded to the claims of the gospel? Shall we look to the dense darkness of the heathen world? Shall we look at the formalism of the professed church? Shall we look at the wide extension of infidelity? Shall we look at the abounding of iniquity and the waxing cold of love? Shall we look at a world where eighteen hundred years of toil and tears have not brought one-twentieth part of mankind even to a profession of true Christianity; and where not more than one-fifth claim for themselves the dubious title of Christian nations? Shall we look over a world in which we cannot find one nation of Christians, nor one tribe of Christians, nor one city of Christians, nor one town of Christians, nor one village of Christians, nor one hamlet of Christians, save here and there where a questionable faith has led a few, with hypocrites even then in their midst, to withdraw themselves from the world, and cherish the untried virtues of secluded life?
Surely, after eighteen hundred years of experiment with that system which was to convert the world, men might point to some country, to some province, to some nation, and say, Behold the commencement of a converted world.
"But will not the gospel then prove a failure? That depends upon what is to be expected of it. If the gospel was to effect the eternal salvation of all mankind, then failing to accomplish that work is a failure of the gospel. If the gospel was to convert the world, then, if it is not done, it will prove a failure.
But if the gospel was preached `to take out of the Gentiles a people for His name', then it is not a failure. If it was given that God might in indefinite mercy and love `save some, ' then it is not a failure. If it was given that every repentant sinner might have eternal life, and that every good soldier might receive a crown of glory, then it is not a failure. If it was given that an innumerable company might be redeemed out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue under heaven, then it is not a failure. If it was given that the vales and hills of Paradise restored might teem with a holy throng who shall be `equal to the angels, and be the children of God, being the children of the resurrection, ' then it is not a failure. If it was given that the elect might be brought into one great family of holy ones, then it is not a failure.
And was not this its object, rather than the exaltation of a worldly church to the splendors of earthly prosperity, while beneath the theater of their easy triumph there slumber the ashes of prophets and the dust of the apostles? Are they to hold jubilee a thousand years, while the martyrs' unceasing cry, `How long! O Lord, ' goes up to God? Are they to have their songs of triumph, while the whole creation groaneth for deliverance, and while that longed-for day of the redemption of our body is postponed?
Nay, verily, the hope of the one body is one hope. The hope of the church stops not at death, it sweeps beyond earth's scenes of tempest and of storm, and reposes in the calm beamings of that Sun of Righteousness which shall glow above the bosom of Paradise regained."(Preface to Voice of Church)
The millennium of Rev.20 is to open with the revelation of the Son of God from Heaven, the destruction of the living wicked, the resurrection of the just, and the change to immortality of the living righteous.
It is a period in which Christ will reign personally with the just of all ages who have suffered with him. 2 Tim.2:12.
This period is bounded at each end with a resurrection. Christ plainly declares that "all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28, 29. And Paul testifies "that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." Acts 24:15. But it is left to the Revelator to place these resurrections one thousand years apart, at each end of the millennium.
"And I saw [not a converted world, but] thrones [of judgment] and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them." Mention is then made of that portion of the martyrs of Jesus who had been beheaded, and also the victors over the beast, his image, and his mark, representing all the righteous; then is added, "They lived [were raised to life] and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead [the wicked] lived not again [were not raised from the dead] until the thousand years were finished."
The doctrine of the temporal millennium being based upon false interpretations and incorrect quotations of certain portions of the sacred Scriptures, it is proper that we should here notice those texts usually quoted to prove the world's conversion, and show that they do not mean what they are said to prove.
1. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Ps.2:8. As sufficient evidence that this text does not prove the conversion of the world, we quote the verse following it: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
2. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, shall roll until it becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth. All the proof for the world's conversion, found in the above, is in quoting the text wrong. Here is the text as it reads:
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." Dan.2:34, 35.
In this remarkable portion of prophecy, the following points are worthy of notice:
(1) The stone smote the image upon his feet, and brake the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold to pieces together. Here is destruction, not conversion.
(2) They became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them. Here is illustrated the removal of all earthly governments.
(3) Then the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. In this prophecy the stone has nothing in common with the image. The image, a symbol of earthly governments and all wicked men, is first removed, and then the stone fills the whole earth.
But if it be said that the dashing of the heathen, (Ps.2:9, ) and the breaking of the image (Dan.2:34, ) mean the conversion of the world, then Paul's words, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, " mean the conversion of Satan.
3. A nation shall be born in a day. Here is another incorrect quotation. Isa.66:8, reads: "Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." This text has no allusion to the conversion of sinners; but evidently refers to the resurrection of the just.
4. "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." But let it be borne in mind that this is under the third woe, when it is also said, "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." Rev.11:15, 18.
5. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." Matt.24:14.
Those who teach the world's conversion would have the gospel preached to all nations, every individual hear it, believe it, obey it, and all become holy by it. What then? the end? No; not until the world has enjoyed a sinless period of one thousand years. Some hold that the one thousand years of Rev.20 are prophetic, each day in the year representing a year, making three hundred and sixty-five thousand years. But the text does not say that every individual will even hear this gospel of the kingdom. It does not state that any one will be converted and made holy by it. And we find it far from intimating that a world would be converted, and remain so one thousand years, or three hundred and sixty-five thousand years. The text simply states,
(1) "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, "
(2) "For a witness unto all nations, "
(3) "And then [not one thousand years later, nor three hundred and sixty-five thousand; but then] shall the end come."
6. "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Micah 4:3 See also Isa.2:4
Please notice that Micah 4:1, speaks of the exalted state of the professed church of Christ in the last days. Mountains mean earthly governments. The church, here represented by "the mountain of the Lord's house, " was to be exalted above the hills. It was to be established in the tops of the mountains.
Verses 2-5 is a statement, not of what the Lord declares would take place in the last days, but what the multitudes of popular professors, who are looking for the conversion of the world, would say. The statement commences thus: "And many nations shall come and say." Verse 2. It is man, not God, that says, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Verse 3.
But the Lord speaks in verses 6 and 7, as follows: "In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted." "In that day, " when "many nations" are prophesying of peace and safety, the Lord's remnant people are driven out and afflicted.
But we have more and very decisive testimony in regard to the state of the nations in the last days. The Lord speaks by his prophet thus: "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near. Let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears." Joel 3:9, 10.
Instead of the nations' no more lifting up the sword against each other, in the last days, "evil shall go forth from nation to nation, " and "the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace." Jer.12:12; 25:32.
This subject may appear still more clear and forcible by arranging what many nations say, and what the Lord says, side by side as follows:
MANY NATIONS SAY.
And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the moutain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into poloughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Micah 4:2,3.
|THE LORD SAYS:|
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near. Let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about; thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Joel 3:9-12
To this agree the words of Paul: "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." 1 Thess.5:2, 3
How strikingly is this saying of peace and safety fulfilled in the preaching of the temporal millennium, the conversion of the world, and the prophecy of peace among the nations; while Scripture and facts combine to show that the world is sinking lower and lower, the wicked are waxing worse and worse, and the nations are making far greater preparations for war than at any former period.
7. All shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. Heb.8:11.
This is in the promise of the new covenant, and relates, first, to the condition of each individual with whom the new covenant is made; and, secondly, to the fullness of the blessings of the gospel when all are brought into harmony with God in the everlasting state. Both ideas are embraced in the promise. But that every individual will be converted, or that all of any generation this side of the immortal state, will be converted and come to the knowledge of God, the Scriptures do not teach.
This promise is made concerning those with whom the Lord makes the new covenant. Now, although everything has been done that can possibly be done to ratify the covenant, or make it of force, yet we cannot say that it is actually made with any individual until that individual is brought into covenant relation with God. But when men are so brought into covenant relation with him, according to the promise, the law of God is written on their hearts. Then they know God. John says, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." 1 John 2:3. This, of course, cannot apply to the unconverted. None who remain impenitent are embraced in the promise.
8. The glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
|"But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." Num.14:21. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Isa.11:9. "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Hab.2:14. "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." Matt.5:5.|
This glorious state, however, is not brought about by the conversion of all men. It is introduced by the destruction of sinful men, the restitution of the earth to its condition as it came from the hand of the Creator, and the gift of immortality to the meek of all ages.
|"For evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Ps.37:9-11.|
9. A New heavens and earth..
|"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. . . . The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock; and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." See Isa.65:17-25; also Chap. 11:6-923|
This prophecy is said to be a figurative description of the condition of things during the temporal millennium. We, however, regard it as a prophetic description of the state of things after the restitution of the earth and man to their primeval glory.
Before the fall, man was upright, and the earth and all that God had created upon it, as viewed by the Creator, were seen to be "very good." Gen.1:31.
The Scriptures do not teach the annihilation of all things by the fires of the great day, and the creation of all new things for the future state. But they do distinctly teach the restitution of all things. Thus saith the great Restorer: "Behold, I make all things new." Rev.21:5. Isaiah and the Revelator both speak of the new heavens and the new earth. The prophet Isaiah is either giving a figurative description of a very happy condition of things in this mortal state, or he is portraying the literal glories of the restitution after the second advent and the resurrection of the just. To the figurative view we find serious objections:-
1) Our temporal millennium friends, in order that all parts of their
figurative theory may harmonize, must have in their figurative new heavens
and earth, figurative houses, figurative vineyards, and they must
figuratively eat the figurative fruit thereof, and be obliged to suffer from
figurative wolves, and figurative lions, figuratively feeding with figurative
lambs and figurative bullocks, to say nothing of the presence of figurative
serpents. But it is said that the gospel is to convert all these wolves, and
lions, and serpents. Then we reply, that if they are converted, they are no
longer wolves and lions and serpents, and during the entire period of the
millennium there will be nothing but lambs and doves. Therefore, the
prophecy has no reference to the temporal millennium. It must apply to
some other period.
(2) The apostle has so clearly identified the three worlds, namely, the one before the flood, the one that now is, and the new earth which is to come, as to entirely preclude the figurative view. He says: ..
|"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." "Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2 Pet.3:5-7, 13.|
No fact can be more plainly stated that that the world that perished by the flood is the same as that which now is, and is reserved unto fire. This is to be changed by fire, and then will appear the new heavens and the new earth, according to the promise of God. And it is a remarkable fact that the promise of God referred to by the apostle is found only in the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah.
Thus, the apostle links the three worlds together. Are the first two worlds literal? so is the third. Is the new earth, mentioned by Isaiah, figurative? So are all three worlds figurative. If they are all literal, then we see a harmony in Scripture respecting them. But if they be regarded as figurative, then we are left to the following conclusion:
In the days of figurative Noah, the figurative heavens and earth being overflowed by figurative water, perished figuratively. But the figurative heavens and earth which are now, are reserved unto figurative fire, against the figurative day of figurative judgment and figurative perdition of ungodly figurative men. Nevertheless, we, according to his figurative promise, look figuratively for figurative new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth figurative righteousness.
Page 32 True, the sacred writers use figures and parables. But we feel bound by sacred obligations to believe that God in his word means just what he says, unless the connections show good reasons why a figure or parable is introduced. If God does not mean what he says in his word, who will tell us what he does mean? In case that God does not mean what he says, the Bible ceases to be a revelation, and God should give us another book to teach what this one means. But the Bible is the very book in which he has plainly spoken, and revealed his truth to us.
With this view of the sacred Scriptures we see spread out before us the living realities of the new earth, in all their grandeur and glory, as when Adam was lord of Eden. Before the transgression, all was purity and peace, even amoung the beasts which God had created. And who can say that these, with natures such as the Creator first gave them, will not be in place in the earth restored from the fall, as well as in the earth before the fall? But when the figurative interpretation of the Scriptures is adopted, the new heavens and the new earth of Isaiah and the Revelation may be made to mean almost anything fancy may suggest. Such liberties taken with the word of God, have led the skeptic to say that the Bible is like a fiddle, on which any tune can be played at pleasure.
Having examined the principal texts quoted to prove the conversion of the world, and a period of universal peace and holiness in this mortal state, and seen that they do not mean what they are said to mean, we will now call attention to some of the many direct proofs that no such state of things can exist prior to the second advent.
1. The prevalence of the little horn...
|"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." Dan.7:21, 22. "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." Verse 18.|
Here it will be seen that the little horn makes war with the saints until they take the kingdom; and when they once obtain the kingdom, they hold it forever, even forever and ever. Where, then, is there room for that period of peace and triumph of the church called the temporal millennium?
2. The apostasy.
| "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon
shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter
as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by
any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away
first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth
and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so
that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is
Remember ye not that when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." 2 Thess.2:1-8.
The apostle is here speaking of the day of the coming of the Lord. He is guarding the church against deception in being led to expect the coming of Christ too soon. He states what must come before the appearing of the Lord. Is it the temporal millennium? the triumphs of the world's conversion? No; it is the sad apostasy, the falling away, and the manifestation of the Man of Sin, who will continue his blasphemy until the coming of the Son of Man, when he will be destroyed. Where, then, is room for one thousand years before the coming of the Lord, during which time all men will love and serve God?
3. The wicked continue with the righteous, as illustrated by the parable of the wheat and tares, until the end of the Christian age.
|"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." Matt.13:24-30.|
The friends of the modern doctrine of the world's conversion find this parable directly in their way, and they have wearied themselves in laboring to explain it away. But as our divine Lord, by special request, gave an explanation of it, modesty suggests that we accept his explanation, and there let the matter rest:
|"Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house; and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall 21 be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Verses 36-43.|
We simply repeat, "The field is the world." "The good seed are the children of the kingdom." "The tares are the children of the wicked one." Let both grow together until the harvest." "The harvest is the end of the world."
4. Persecution and tribulation were to be the portion of the church of God in all ages. The apostle speaks of the faithful who had lived and suffered before,
|" who "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. 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." Heb.11:36-40.|
He also points to the future, and says: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Tim.3:12.
5. The last days of human probation have been regarded as the favored period for the completion of the great work of converting the world. But the prophets of the Old Testament nowhere represent God as saying that the last days would be glorious. Jesus and the apostles of the New Testament never speak of the last days as a period of triumph to the church; but, rather, as the days of her peril, which demand especial watching; the days of her mourning, and tears, and importunate prayers for deliverance. Paul describes the last days thus:...
|" "This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away." 2 Tim.3:1-5|
6. Peter says: "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" 2 Pet.3:3, 4.
How could these scoffers arise and deny his coming, and persecutions and perils exist in the last days, if all were converted long before his coming?
7. The last days embrace the very last day, reaching down to the coming of the Son of Man. The days of the coming of the Son of Man, were to be like the days of Noah and of Lot. ...
|Artist: Harry Baerg|
"And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." Luke 17:26-31..
Then the wickedness of the wicked was such that God could bear with them no longer. And when their measure of iniquity was full, he visited them in wrath. There is a wonderful similarity between the days of Noah and Lot, and ours. Then men were given up to the love of the things of this life, as they are at the present time.
Then they were abandoned to lust and crime, fitly illustrating the terrible records of our times. As God manifested his wrath then in flood and in fire, so now the vials of his wrath, unmingled with mercy, only wait for the interposing arm of mercy to be removed, when they will be poured out upon the ungodly.
8. Destruction, not conversion, awaits the world at the very time when many popular professors cherish the delusive hope of a good time coming.
They see no danger, and brand as fanatical alarmists those who obey the prophetic injunction, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand." Joel 2:1.
But, says the apostle: "When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." 1 Thess.5:2. At the very time when the Lord, by the prophet Joel, is saying, "Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong, " chap. 3:9, 10, they are fulfilling the prophecy of Micah, which says, "And many nations shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, . . . and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, nation shall not lift up a sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more." Chap. 4:2, 3
9. The way to destruction is broad, and many go in it; and the way to life is narrow, and but few find it. When one asked Jesus, "Are there few that be saved?" he answered, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Luke 13:23, 24. Again it is recorded, "Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matt.7:13, 14.
The doctrine of the world's conversion, and that of universal salvation, are both directly opposed to this passage. The one has the way to life narrow at first, but growing wider, until all walk in it; while the other has the way to life always wide enough for all the world. To be of real service to Universalism, the text should read: Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to life, and all go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto destruction, and none can find it. But our Lord states a great fact in this passage, which existed when spoken, ever had existed, and which would exist until the close of probation; namely, that the way to destruction was broad and many would go in it; and that the way to life was narrow, and few would find it.
But when the few of each successive generation, from righteous Abel to the close of probation, who have bent their lonely footsteps in the narrow path to Mount Zion, shall reach their everlasting rest, they will constitute that "great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, " arrayed in Heaven's purity and brightness. Not one of these had come out of that imaginary period of a converted world. No, not one. What an imposing scene!
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev.7:13, 14.
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