AS DISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE THEOLOGY OF CHRISTENDOM
Set Forth in a series of propositions, arranged for the purpose of exhibiting the faith promulgated by the apostles of the first century
(4) The Holy Spirit is the same power of God directed to fulfill any special purpose, as in His redeeming work. Thus by the Holy Spirit God's revelation was made through the prophets: by the Holy Spirit Jesus was begotten and enabled to do his mighty works and speak the Father's words: by it the apostles were guided into all truth and were able to attest their message by wonderful works. Special gifts of the Holy Spirit were granted in the early church, and by the Holy Spirit God dwelt among the believers.
(6) Death which sin brought into the world could only be conquered by the conquest of sin itself. This, man himself could not achieve. The death of Jesus was an act of loving obedience to God by which we may have forgiveness of our sins and be reconciled to God, the sinless life of Jesus making him conqueror over sin, an effective offering for sin, and ensuring his triumph over death by resurrection. God revealed His love in providing him as a saviour.
(7) Jesus was raised from death on the third day, bringing life and immortality to light. Exalted to his Father's right hand he is alive for evermore, and pleads the cause of his people as their High Priest and Mediator.
(8) At the time appointed God is to send His Son to the earth again in power and great glory, to judge the living and the dead, and to establish upon earth a universal and abiding Kingdom.
(9) A creature of dust, man is mortal: that is, subject to death or dissolution of being, in consequence of the disobedience of Adam which brought death as the penalty of sin. In the death state a man is a body deprived of life, and is as utterly unconscious as if he had never existed. His dead body corruption will presently destroy.
GEN 2:7 GEN 3:19 PSA 103:14 ROM 5:12 PSA 6:5 PSA 104:29 PSA 146:3-4 ECCL 9:5-6 ECCL 9:10 ISA 38:18-19
(10) "Soul" in the Bible means, primarily, creature; but it is also used of the various aspects in which a living creature - man or beast - can be contemplated, such as person, body, life, breath, mind. It never expresses the idea of immortality.
GEN 1:20 GEN 1:24 ISA 29:8 EXO 12:16 PRO 6:30 ISA 38:17 NUM 31:28 JDG 16:30 EZE 18:4 EZE 18:20 LUK 2:35 ACT 3:23 ROM 13:1 REV 16:3
(11) "Spirit" in the Scriptures, as applied to man, is no more expressive of the notion of an immortal soul than is "soul", but signifies breath, life, energy, disposition, mind, conscience, as attributes of man while alive.
GEN 41:8 GEN 45:27 EXO 6:9 1SA 1:15 2CH 9:4 PSA 77:3 PSA 77:6 PRO 15:13 MAT 5:3 JOH 13:21 ACT 17:16 ROM 12:11 EPH 4:23
(12) Immortality is not inherent in man, but is the gift of God, made available through the work of Jesus Christ His Son, to all who truly believe and follow his example.
JOH 3:16 JOH 10:28 JOH 17:2 ROM 6:23 2TI 1:10 1JO 5:11-12 MAR 10:29-30
(13) Immortality is not possessed now but will be bestowed at the resurrection and judgment at the advent of the Lord Jesus.
JOB 19:25-27 DAN 12:2 JOH 6:39-40 JOH 6:44 1TH 4:13-18 1CO 15:13-14 1CO 15:50-54 LUK 20:35-36
(14) The earth is the destined sphere of the activity of God's people, when made immortal.
PSA 37:9-11 PSA 37:22 DAN 7:27 MAT 5:5 MAT 19:28 ROM 4:13 REV 2:26-27 REV 5:9-10
(15) It follows also of necessity that the once popular theory of hell as a place of eternal torments, is untrue. The original, unspoilt meaning of "hell" was an unseen or covered place. "Hell" in the Bible often means the grave. (In the Old Testament, the original Hebrew word SHEOL occurs 65 times, being translated 31 times "hell", 31 times "the grave" and three times "pit". In the New Testament the original Greek word HADES occurs 11 times, being translated 10 times "hell" and once "the grave".)
PSA 31:17 PSA 86:13 JON 2:1-3 GEN 44:29-31 PSA 6:5 ECC 9:10 ISA 38:10 ISA 38:18 HOS 13:14 MAT 11:23 ACT 2:27-31 REV 1:18 1CO 15:55
(16) Sometimes in the New Testament the original word for hell is GEHENNA, a term associated with the valley of Hinnom, a place near Jerusalem once the scene of idolatrous burnings and consequently so abhorred by the Jews of later Bible times that it was used as a place for the destruction of refuse and the dead bodies of animals and criminals, fires being continually kept burning for this purpose. It is therefore fittingly used to describe the future judgment.
MAR 9:43 MAT 5:22 MAT 10:28
(17) The true Bible doctrine of reward and punishment is that at his return in power and glory Jesus Christ will judge all those who are made responsible to him by knowledge of God's will; these will include some living at the time, and those whom he will raise from the dead, both righteous and unrighteous. He will invest the righteous with immortality in his Kingdom, but will commit the wicked to destruction.
DAN 12:1-2 JOH 3:16-19 JOH 5:28-29 JOH 12:48 MAT 24:44-51 ACT 10:42-43 ACT 24:15 2CO 5:10 2TH 1:8-9 2TI 4:1 REV 11:18
See also MAT 25:31, MAT 25:46, LUK 13:24-30, ROM 2:1-16
(18) Without the knowledge of the saving gospel men have no hope of life; but neither are they responsible to judgment; their death will be an endless sleep.
JOH 3:16 EPH 2:11-12 EPH 4:17-18 1TH 4:13 1JO 5:12 PSA 49:20 ISA 26:13-14 JER 51:39 PRO 21:16
(19) Since Jesus was manifested expressly for the purpose of destroying the Devil and his works (1JO 3:8; HEB 2:14) the Lord's mission is imperfectly understood when the nature of the Bible Devil is not comprehended. The Devil is not a supernatural person but a personification of sin in its various manifestations - individual, social and political.
JOH 6:70 JOH 8:44 ACT 10:38 1PE 5:8 REV 2:10 The following parallels illustrate Scripture usage of the word "devil":
HEB 2:15 HEB 9:26
ACT 5:4 parallel with ACT 5:3 EPH 2:2 parallel with EPH 2:2 EPH 2:3 parallel with EPH 2:2 JAM 1:14 parallel with 2TI 2:26
EPH 2:2 parallel with 1JO 3:10
EPH 4:22 parallel with EPH 6:11
2TI 4:10 parallel with 2CO 4:4
GAL 1:4 parallel with MAT 6:13
LUK 20:34 parallel with MAT 13:38
1JO 5:5 parallel with 1JO 2:14
JAM 1:27 parallel with JOH 17:15
REV 17:14 parallel with REV 20:2
(20) The Bible term Satan means simply "adversary" and is used of human beings.
1SA 29:4 1KI 11:14 1KI 11:23 1KI 11:25 PSA 109:4 PSA 109:20 PSA 109:29 MAT 16:23
Later it came to mean much the same as Devil, i.e. a personification of the influence of sin or evil, individual or political.
LUK 13:16 LUK 22:3 LUK 22:31 ACT 26:18 ROM 16:20 1CO 7:5 REV 2:10-13
Sometimes the personification of the Devil or Satan is on a dramatic scale.
See also JOB 1, JOB 2, MAT 4, LUK 4, LUK 10:18, JUD 9
THE PURPOSE AND PROMISES OF GOD
(21) God has unfolded His purpose in the past by promises made at certain stages in human history. Peter calls them "exceeding great and precious promises" by which we might become partakers of the divine nature.
GEN 12:1-3 GEN 13:14-17 GAL 3:8 GAL 3:16 GAL 3:19 JOH 8:56 LUK 20:34-38 MAT 8:11 ACT 3:25 ISA 2:1-4 ISA 35:4-10 ZEC 9:9-10 ZEC 14:9 See also HEB 11:8-16
GEN 26:3-4 GEN 26:13-14 MIC 7:20 LUK 13:28
ACT 7:5 HEB 11:13 HEB 11:39-40 LUK 1:68-73 MAT 8:11 ROM 15:8-12
(The significance of the first verse of the New Testament should be noted in connection with God's promises to Abraham and David.)
2SA 7:12-16 PSA 132:11 LUK 1:30-33 ACT 2:30 2SA 23:1-3 2SA 23:5 ISA 9:6-7
See also ISA 11:1-10
ISA 2:1-4 ISA 25:6-9 ISA 35:5-6 ISA 35:8-10 ISA 60:12 ISA 60:18 ISA 60:21 ISA 65:17-20 JER 33:14-16 ZEC 6:12-13 ZEC 14:9 ZEC 14:16 ZEC 14:20-21 MAL 3:1-4 ACT 3:20-11
(22) "Salvation is of the Jews", Jesus said. The Kingdom to be established is so far rooted in God's dealings with the Jews in the past that it is described as the Kingdom of Israel restored, enlarged and perfected.
(a) The kingdom of Israel, as divinely constituted at Sinai and established in the land of Palestine was the kingdom of God.
1CH 28:5 1CH 29:23 2CH 13:8
(b) It was divinely overturned on account of the iniquity of its rulers and people.
2KI 17:21-23 EZE 21:25-27 HOS 3:4 LUK 21:24 JER 35:15 JER 35:17
(c) It is to be re-established in glory.
AMO 9:11 ISA 60:4 ZEC 2:12 OBA 17:20-21 MIC 4:1-8 ACT 1:6-7
(23) The establishment of the Kingdom of God will thus involve the re- gathering of the Jews to the land of Palestine which will be restored to its former fertility, and made wondrously beautiful.
ISA 11:11-12 ISA 51:3 ISA 60:15 JER 31:10 JER 31:27 JER 31:28 MAL 3:12 EZE 36:22-24 EZE 37:34-36 EZE 37:21-22 ZEC 8:7-8 MAL 3:12
(24) Jerusalem, rebuilt and glorified, will become the metropolis of God's Kingdom which will embrace all nations.
PSA 48:2 ISA 25:23 ISA 52:1 ISA 60:14 JER 3:17 MIC 4:2 MIC 4:7-8 ZEC 14:16 MAT 4:34-35
(25) The Kingdom of God will be a visible, irresistible and everlasting dominion to be established on earth in the place of all existing kingdoms for the purpose of subjecting, blessing and perfecting the world.
DAN 2:44 DAN 7:13-14 DAN 7:27 ZEC 14:9 PSA 2:8-9 REV 11:15
(26) Christ and his saints will reign a thousand years, until all that is evil, including finally death itself, is abolished.
REV 19:11-16 REV 20:1-9 REV 20:12-15 ISA 65:20 1CO 15:24-28
(27) The Gospel preached by Jesus and the apostles concerns the Kingdom of God.
MAT 4:23 MAR 1:14 LUK 8:1 ACT 8:12 ACT 19:8 ACT 20:25 ACT 28:31
God by the Gospel invites men to participate in this Kingdom and share with Christ in the glory.
MAT 25:34 LUK 12:32 1TI 2:12 JAM 2:5 2PE 1:10-11 REV 2:26-27 2TI 4:1 2TI 4:8
(28) The Way to God's Kingdom and eternal life is to be accepting God's gracious invitation, believing in His word, and obeying His will. This involves:
(a) Belief in His Son as Saviour and Lord.
JOH 3:16 JOH 3:36 JOH 6:40 JOH 20:29 JOH 20:31 ACT 16:31 ROM 10:9
(b) Repentance from past sin, error or indifference.
MAT 4:17 MAR 1:15 LUK 13:1-4 ACT 3:19 ACT 17:30 2PE 3:9
(c) Baptism for the remission of sins.
(d) This baptism as an act of faith unites the believer with Jesus Christ, the Saviour. Through a symbolic burial by immersion in water he is identified with Christ's death and resurrection. Baptism marks the end of the old undedicated life. It indicates, with the forgiveness of past sins, the rising to a new life in Christ, with the privilege of being a son or daughter of God: and confers heir-ship to eternal life in the Lord's Kingdom at his advent.
ROM 6:1-8 1CO 6:11 EPH 5:26 JOH 3:5 GAL 3:26-29 TIT 3:5
(e) Union with Christ involves a life devoted to God's service in love to Him and to one's neighbour, characterized by the regular, thoughtful reading of God's Word, prayer to God through Jesus for forgiveness, strength and guidance; the first-day remembrance of the Lord's saving death and resurrection in the breaking of bread with those of like precious faith; the letting of the light of the Gospel shine in word and deed; the patient waiting for the Lord's advent; the forsaking of sin, the separation from all that is evil in the world, and the doing of good to all, especially to the household of faith.
MAT 22:37-40 1JO 1:6-9 2TI 3:14-17 1TH 5:17 LUK 11:1-4 MAR 13:32-37 MAR 14:22-25 LUK 22:19-20 1CO 11:23-28 HEB 10:25 2TI 4:2 MAT 5:6-7 1TH 1:10 1JO 2:15-17 ROM 12:1-2 GAL 6:10 PHI 4:6-8
# Read also PSA 119, COL 3, EPH 4:17-32 and very many other Scriptures.
The Call to Separation
Some are at first disturbed to find that the true teaching of Scripture is very different from popular religious belief, and wonder how so many can be wrong. The answer is that soon after the death of the apostles men turned from the Bible to pagan philosophy, and the apostles' forecasts of apostasy were fulfilled. The proof is fourfold.
(1) The contrast between the Scriptural truth as set out in the
preceding pages and popular views which may be briefly indicated, as follows:
Question Bible Truth Religious Lies
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- i God |God is one |God is a trinity
ii Jesus |He is the Son of God |He is God the Son
iii Man |Mortal because of sin |Possesses an immortal soul
iv Reward |On earth after resurrection |In heaven at death
v God's Kingdom |To be established on earth at|Place of reward in heaven
(2) The witness of Scripture, which foretold departure from the truth
and calls men who believe to be separate.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Question Bible Truth Religious Lies ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- i God |God is one |God is a trinity ii Jesus |He is the Son of God |He is God the Son iii Man |Mortal because of sin |Possesses an immortal soul iv Reward |On earth after resurrection |In heaven at death v God's Kingdom |To be established on earth at|Place of reward in heaven |second advent
(3) The Scriptures reveal that it is God's purpose at the present time to take out a people for His Name, and not to convert the world. Relatively few respond today. When Jesus Christ reigns on earth all will then know and seek God.
(4) The evidence of ecclesiastical history which traces the changes in doctrine from truth to error. Many scholars, independently studying the Scriptures, have declared that popular views are not in harmony with the teaching of the Bible. Many citations might be given but a few only are appended to show that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul had its source in philosophy and not in the Bible.
Herodotus, the oldest historian, writes as follows: "The Egyptians say that Ceres (the goddess of corn), and Bacchus (the god of wine), hold the chief sway in the infernal regions; and the Egyptians also where the first who asserted the doctrine that the soul of man is immortal" (Herod., Book ii; Sec. 123)
Mosheim says, "Its first promoters argued from that known doctrine of the Platonic School, which was also adopted by Origen and his disciples, that the divine nature was diffused through all human souls, or in other words, that the faculty of reason, from which proceed the health and vigour of the mind, was an emanation from God into the human soul, and comprehended in it the principles and elements of all truth, human and divine" (Ecclesiastical History, vol. I, p. 86).
Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) said, "For if you have conversed with some that are indeed called Christians, and do not maintain these opinions, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and say that there is no resurrection of the dead, but that the souls, as soon as they leave the body, are received up into heaven, take care that you do not look upon these. But I, and all those Christians that are really orthodox in every respect, do know that there will be a resurrection of the body and a thousand years in Jerusalem, when it is built again, and adorned, and enlarged, as Ezekiel and Esais, and the rest of the prophets declare (Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, section 80)
The authentic Christian doctrine has three special characteristics:
Another consideration of the highest importance is that the natural immortality of the soul is a doctrine wholly unknown to the Holy Scriptures, and standing on no higher plane than that of an ingeniously sustained, but gravely and formidably contested, philosophical opinion. (Studies Subsidiary to the Works of Bishop Butler, by W. E. Gladstone)
Careful attention to the origin of the doctrine of the necessary immortality or indestructibility of each human soul, as stated fro instance by Augustine and Aquinas, will probably convince us that it was no part of the original Christian message, or of really catholic doctrine. It was rather a speculation of Platonism taking possession of the Church (The Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Gore)
Martin Luther ironically responded to the decree of the Lateran Council held during the Pontificate of Pope Leo: "I permit the Pope to make articles of faith for himself and his faithful - such as the soul is the substantial form of the human body, - the soul is immortal, - with all those monstrous opinions to be found in the Roman dunghill of decretals; that such as his faith is, such may be his gospel, such his disciples, and such his Church, that the mouth may have meat suitable for it, and the dish a cover worthy of it" (Luther's Works, vol. ii., folio 107, Wittembury, 1562).
"And ye putting them in heaven, hell and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewyth Christ and Paul proue the resurrection. What God doth with them, that shall we know when we come to them. The true faith putteth the resurrection, which we be warned to looke for every houre. The heathen philosophers denying that, did put the soules did every lyve. And the pope joyneth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of philosophers together, things so contrary that they can not agree. no more than the Spirit and the flesh do in a Christian man. And because the fleshly mynded pope consenteth unto the heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to stablish it" (William Tyndale, the translator of the Scriptures into English, who suffered martyrdom in 1536).
Gibbon declares that "The Doctrine of the immortality of the soul is omitted in the Law of Moses" (Gibbon, chap XV.).
Richard Watson remarks, "That the soul is naturally immortal, is contradicted by Scripture, which makes our immortality a gift, dependent of the will of the Giver" (Institutes, vol. ii., p. 250).
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