Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    November 13, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 43.

    E. J. Waggoner


    1. When Christ was crucified, who were put to death with him? Luke 23:32, 33.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.1

    2. While they were hanging on the cross, what did one of the thieves do? Verse 39.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.2

    3. What did the other one do? Verse 40.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.3

    4. With what words did he rebuke his companion? Verses 40, 41.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.4

    5. To whom did the penitent thief address himself? Verse 42.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.5

    6. What request did he make? Verse 42.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.6

    7. What reply did Jesus make? Verse 43.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.7

    8. What is the midst of paradise? Revelation 2:7.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.8

    9. By the side of what river is the tree of life? Revelation 22:1, 2.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.9

    10. From what does the river of life proceed?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.10

    11. Then since both the tree and the river of life are in Paradise, where is God’s throne?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.11

    12. When people go to paradise, in whose presence do they go?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.12

    13. How long after Christ’s crucifixion was the resurrection? 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.13

    14. On the morning of the resurrection what did he say to one of his disciples? John 20:17.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.14

    15. If he had not yet ascended to the father could he have been in Paradise on the day of this crucifixion?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.15

    16. Since Christ cannot deceive, can it be that he intended to meet the in Paradise three days before?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.16

    17. If not, why did he use the word “to-day”?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.17

    18. At what time did the thief want to be remembered? Luke 23:42.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.18

    19. When does Christ have his kingdom? Matthew 25:31.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.19

    20. And when will all who believe on him be with him? John 14:3.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.20

    21. Then to what time did the penitent thief look forward?SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.21

    22. Will his request then be granted notwithstanding he is now dead? 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.22

    The lesson this week covers that much discussed passage. Christ’s answer to the thief on the cross. Comments on this subject need not be extended to any great length, for if the texts referred to are each read carefully, and a comprehensive view of them all is then taken, there can be no difficulty in arriving at the true interpretation.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.23

    In the first place we must consider the present and previous circumstances of the malefactor, and what it was for which he asked. One source of the popular error on this subject is the supposition that the thief had never before heard of Christ. Such a supposition is not probable. The wonderful thing about his action was which he manifested. But faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), and in no other way. So the thief must have heard of Christ and his mission. While others, even his chosen disciples, thought that Christ’s career was ended, and that there was no hope of his saving any one, the thief grasped the great truths which Jesus had been trying to impress upon his followers, of a resurrection and a future coming in glory, when he would reward every man according to his deeds. In harmony with this new born hope, the penitent thief exclaimed, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.24

    It is evident that whatever might have happen to the thief that day would not be in answer to his request; for Christ did not have his kingdom that day. He himself had likened the kingdom of heaven to a nobleman that “went into a far country to receive for himself the kingdom, and to return.” In the seventh of Daniel we learn that the kingdom is not given to the Son of man until all earthly kingdoms have run their course. When he receives the kingdom he will return. So he says, “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.” Matthew 25:31. And therefore Christians are instructed still to pray, “Thy kingdom come;” as yet they are only “heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him.” It is worthy of note in this connection that, according to Griesbach, Luke 23:42 should read, “Lord, remember me in the day of the coming.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.25

    The next point to be noted is what the Lord promised. It was, “Thou shall be with me in Paradise? Where and what is paradise? A few words in answer must suffice. Paul plainly intimates (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), that it is in, or corresponds to, the third heaven. We can identify it still more closely. In Revelation 2:7 we learn that the tree of life is “in the midst of the paradise of God.” In Revelation 22:1, 2, we learn further that the tree of life is on either side of their river of life. Then the river of life must also be in Paradise. From this same passage we also learn that the river of life proceeds from the throne of God, thus showing that the throne of God is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Whoever goes to Paradise must necessarily be in the presence of God. Christ’s promise to the thief, then, was virtually this: “Thou shalt be with me in the presence of God.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.26

    Now what about the fulfillment of that promise? Was it fulfilled that day? or is its fulfillment still future? We can determine this in two ways: (1) By considering, as we have done, what an answer to the thief’s request would imply, and (2) By examining the actual facts in the case. By the first we learned that if Christ intended his promise as a direct answer to the thief’s request, then its fulfillment must still be future, because Christ’s coming is still future. Now as to the recorded facts. On “the third day” after the crucifixion, as Mary, suddenly recognizing her risen Lord, was about to embrace him, Jesus said: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17. This at once settles the matter, for if he had not ascended to the Father, of course he did not go to Paradise-into his presence-three days before. But it is not possible that Jesus should have prevaricated in the least, for “he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22); and therefore he did not go to Paradise on the day of his crucifixion, it must be that he did not promise the thief that he should be with him there that day. In the light of the facts of the case we are forced to conclude that they who think that Jesus and the thief met in Paradise on the day of the crucifixion, do not understand the Saviour’s words to the thief.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.27

    Consider the circumstances under which Jesus uttered those words. He had told his disciples that he was the one spoken of by the prophets, who was to occupy the throne of David. He had told the twelve that when he should sit on the throne of his glory they also should sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Their hopes had been raised to the highest pitch when, but a few days before, he had entered Jerusalem in a triumphant manner, while the multitude waved palm branches before him. They had thought that their hour of triumph had come, and that he was then to assume his kingdom. Instead of that, however, they had seen him taken by a cruel mob, hurried unresistingly from judgment-seat to judgment-seat, subjected to the most brutal insults, beaten, spit upon, and scourged, and finally fainting and under the load of a heavy cross, to which he was now fastened with huge nails, dying the death of the malefactor. The hopes of the disciples were blasted, and while they had all confidence in the integrity of their Master, they thought he had been deceived. To them the future looked dark and gloomy. Not so with Jesus. From the beginning of his earthly ministry he had foreseen this event; and his confidence in God’s power to raise him from the dead, and in the final success of his mission,-that true suffering he should bring many sons into glory,-remained unshaken. And so when the penitent thief, with a faith that has seldom, if ever, been equaled, preferred his request, the mind of Jesus reached forward to the consummation of his work, and like a king he replied in words calculated to strengthen the faith of the petitioner, “I say unto thee to-day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” Truly so royal a gift was never before promised under such untoward circumstances.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.28

    “But,” some one will say, “the punctuation will not allow of such interpretation.” Well, we have found that the words of Jesus himself will not allow any other interpretation, so what shall be done? Shall we preserve the present punctuation, and thus make Jesus contradict himself? or shall we alter the punctuation so that the passage will be in harmony with the after statement of Jesus, and with the rest of the inspired record? Reason and reverence would say the latter, because the punctuation is only the work of man, while the words of Jesus cannot disagree. If we just imagine ourselves back in the time when Luke wrote these words, or else that the art of punctuation has not yet been invented, our difficulty will vanish. Remembering that there were no marks of punctuation when the Bible was written, we can read the words of Jesus so that they will harmonize with other statements of Scripture. We will not say to change the position of the comma, but just drop it out, leaving the texts as it was originally written. Then read it, making the emphasis where a due regard for the harmony of the sacred word would suggest that it be made. Surely there is no more of presumption in dropping out a comma than there is in placing it there in the first place. In fact, there is no presumption in either case. Those who placed it there doubtless thought that it was necessary to the sense. We, with clearer light on God’s word, see that it destroys the sense, and read it in harmony with that clearer light. E. J. W.SITI November 13, 1884, page 678.29

    “Everlasting Punishment” The Signs of the Times, 10, 43.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In our last article, based upon Matthew 25:41, we found that the “everlasting fire” into which the wicked are to be cast at the last day, will have the defect to “burn them up,” so that they will “be ashes;” that the fire is “unquenchable,” thus showing that there will be no hope of escape for those who are cast into it, but that it will continue to burn as long as there is anything left for it to feed upon.SITI November 13, 1884, page 680.1

    We now come to the forty-sixth verse, and here we are obliged to make another stand, for so firmly is the doctrine of eternal torment fastened on the minds of men, that simple proof to the contrary is not sufficient, unless every text bearing upon the subject is examined, and shown to be in harmony with that proof. In summing up his discourse, the Saviour marks the final disposition of both the righteous and the wicked in these words: “And these [the wicked] shall go way into everlasting punishment; the righteous into life eternal.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 680.2

    In order to a perfect agreement on this text, we will state that the two words “everlasting” and “eternal” mean in this place exactly the same thing. They are both translated from the same Greek word. If, instead of two different words the translators had rendered both by the same word, making it either “eternal punishment” and “eternal life,” or “everlasting punishment” and “everlasting life,” it would have saved much unnecessary controversy. We are taught, then, from this text, that the punishment of the wicked is to last as long as does the reward of the righteous. This we most firmly believe. But it must be borne in mind that this verse conveys no intimation of what that punishment shall be. To say that one who violates a certain statute shall receive the penalty of the law, does not determine how, nor to what extent, he is to be punished. It may be by fine, imprisonment, confiscation of goods, or death. In the text before us, however, we are told that the length of the punishment; it is to be as long as the reward of the righteous.SITI November 13, 1884, page 680.3

    Now what is that punishment? Return to Romans 6:23 and read: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life to Jesus Christ our Lord.” The punishment, then, is to be death; and since that punishment is to be everlasting, we conclude that eternal death will be the portion of the wicked. This agrees exactly with our previous investigation. As corroborating this conclusion, we cite 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled [God will recompense] rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” This destruction comes “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” and this agrees with the eighth verse of the next chapter, which says: “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.” And this again is in harmony with the statement in Revelation, concerning the wicked: “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:9.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.1

    That which has caused the misunderstanding in regard to Matthew 25:46, is the mistaken idea of the punishment. Because “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,” are threatened to “every soul of man that doeth evil” (Romans 2:8, 9), men seem to think that tribulation and anguish constitute the sum of the punishment. All these things are threatened, they are nowhere declared to be eternal, as in the death which is “the wages of sin.” Everywhere in the Bible, death and life are the alternatives set before the individual. He may believe and live, or he may do evil and die. “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live .... But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish.... I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:15-19.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.2

    Whatever of anguish may be accessory, the above language shows that so surely as life shall be given to the obedient, death shall be the portion of the sinner. If not, what force is there in the words of the prophet: “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 18:31. Here the prophet, like Paul, “knowing the terror of the Lord,” persuades men to turn from sin. But his persuasion from that standpoint loses all its power if he has made a mistake as to what that “terror” is. Let it be borne in mind that the punishment-“the wages of sin”-is death. Until death has been inflicted upon the sinner, he has not been punished, however much he may suffer. Now the Saviour does not say that the wicked shall go into an everlasting condition of being punished, which would be everlasting dying, but into everlasting punishment, which is everlasting death.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.3

    The wise man has said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12. And the apostle James only repeats the statement in another form when he says: “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bring a forth death.” James 1:15. In short, throughout the inspired record, we find only a repetition of our Saviour’s words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. The death that was threatened to Adam, the execution of which was stayed that he might, by the aid of Christ, have another chance for life, still hangs over his posterity. They may escape from the “wrath to come” by believing in Christ, and thus becoming new creatures. If they do not accept this offer, the penalty will be allowed to fall upon their guilty heads. And to these are the words of Christ: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.4

    “But the wrath of God abideth on him.” Let us see how much force there may be in this statement. The second psalm is devoted to a brief history of those presumptuous mortals who “take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Unto these the Lord shall speak in his wrath, and he will vex them in his sore displeasure, even giving them to the Son to be broken with a rod of iron, and dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel. In view of this threatened punishment, they are exhorted to be instructed, and to repent, and believe on Christ; or, in the words of inspiration, to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and he perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” Psalm 2:12. The wrath of God and of the Son is the same, for the Father hath “committed all judgment under the Son,” and has given him authority to execute it. John 5:22, 27. Now what is the result of the manifestation of this wrath? Even when it is “kindled but a little,” its effect is to cause those against whom it is directed to “perish from the way.” Then if a slight manifestation of God’s wrath will cause the sinner to “perish,“ i.e., “to die; to be blotted from existence,” what will be the effect if the wrath of God abideth on him? It can be nothing less than to keep him in everlasting death. And thus we find, from whatever portion of the Scripture we approach the subject, that the verdict is the same. The Lord “reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nahum 1:2); the effect of that wrath, when let fall upon them, is to blot them from existence (Psalm 2:12); they will never afterward, to all eternity, have any existence. E. J. W.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.5

    “‘The Lord’s Day’” The Signs of the Times, 10, 43.

    E. J. Waggoner


    It will be remembered that our articles on the “Teaching of the Apostles” were called out by an article that appeared in the Advance, making extravagant claims for that document, as for ever settling the Sunday question. Its argument was as follows: The “Teaching” exhorts all to come together on the Lord’s day to break bread and gives thanks; the disciples at Troas, with Paul, did on one occasion assemble on the first day of the week to break bread; and Justin Martyr said, in first apology to the Roman Senate, and that “on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gathered together to one place,’ etc. From these they arrived at the conclusion that when the apostle John said, “I was in the Spirit on a Lord’s day,” he intended by the term “the Lord’s day” to designates the first day of the week. This is a fair statement of the Sunday Lord’s-day position, which we designed to candidly examine. In this examination we have nothing to do with the so-called “Teaching of the Apostles,” because (1) we have already shown that it has not the slightest degree of authority, being the uninspired production of some unknown person, and (2) the expression “Lord’s day” no where occurs in that document, whether it be good or bad. The term “Lord’s day” is used, however, by the apostle, and people have a right to demand that teachers of the Bible tell whether he referred to the seventh or the first day.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.6

    The statement of Justin Martyr will be considered first. The reader will notice that even he does not say that the first day of the week was termed the Lord’s day, but uses the expression, “on the day called Sunday.” If that day had been regarded as sacred, some other title would have been bestowed. This, however, is of little consequence. The argument is that John speaks of the Lord’s day, and the fact that Christians of Justin Martyr’s time assemble on Sunday, proves that Sunday is the day which John had in mind. The reason why he spoke of it as “the day called Sunday” was, as is stated by the Advance, because it was called by the Romans “the day of the sun.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.7

    This argument for Sunday as the Lord’s day would be a good one, and indeed conclusive, if it could be shown that the practices of Christians in the early centuries were always in harmony with the Scriptures. In order to make the argument of any account whatever, it must be shown that their customs were necessarily correct. But how shall we know whether or not their practices were correct? Only by comparing them with the Bible, for that alone contains the rule of righteousness. Our Sunday friends, in their appeals to the practice of the early church, make the mistake of determining by the actions of men what the Bible teaches, when, instead of that, they ought to appeal to the Bible, to determine the correctness of those actions.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.8

    We will give a few quotations to show how little we can depend on the practices of Christians, even in the first centuries as exponents of a true Christian doctrine. First we quote the words of Paul. To the elders of the church at Ephesus, he said:-SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.9

    “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:28-30.SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.10

    Not only did he predict that there would be heresies taught in the church after his departing, but writing to the Thessalonians, he said, “For the mystery of the iniquity doth already work.” Church history, written by first-day authors, bears witness to the truth of Paul’s words. Mosheim, writing concerning the second century, says,-SITI November 13, 1884, page 681.11

    “A large part, therefore, of the Christian but observances and institutions, even in this century, had the aspect of pagan mysteries.”-Book I, Part II, chap. IV, sec. 5.SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.1

    Again he says:-SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.2

    “There is good reason to suppose that the Christian bishops purposely multiplied sacred rites for the sake of rendering the Jews and pagans more friendly to them.”-Book I, Cent. II, Part II, chap. IV, sec. 2.SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.3

    In a footnote to the above passage, Mosheim says further:-SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.4

    “It will not be unsuitable to transcribe here a very apposite passage which I met with in Gregory Nyssa’s life of Gregory Thaumaturgus: ‘When Gregory perceived that the ignorant and simple multitude persisted in their idolatry, on account of the sensitive pleasures and delights it afforded, he allowed them, in celebrating the memory of the martyrs, to indulge themselves, and give a loose to pleasure (i.e., as the thing itself and both what precedes and follows a place beyond all controversy, he allowed them in the sepulchres of the martyrs, on their feast days, to dance, to use sports, to indulge conviviality, and to do all things that the worshipers of idols were accustomed to do in their temples on their festival days), hoping that in process of time they would spontaneously come over to a more becoming and more correct manner of life.”SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.5

    Such was the policy of the leaders of the church in the second century, this century in which Justin Martyr lived. Let anyone read the last quotation, and then read a description of the abominations practiced at even festivals, and he will hardly be willing to adopt any custom whatever on the example of such Christians. Sunday was so called by the Romans, because it was dedicated to the worship of the sun. Its Latin name was Dies Solis, day of the sun. Now if the bishops of the church, in their desire for “converts” from among the heathen, allowed them to observe their festivals with the most abominable orgies, is it to be considered a strange thing if they allowed them to retain the very day of one of their festivals? If they did not scruple to multiply rites and ceremonies to suit the superstitions of the ignorant crowd, certainly they would not hesitate to accept one that was already in use.SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.6

    Thus far we have simply shown that we are not to be influenced in favor of any custom because it was practiced by the early Christians. Their course determines nothing for us. We will therefore leave them, and in our next article will allow the Bible to determine which day of the week is the Lord’s day. E. J. W.SITI November 13, 1884, page 682.7

    Larger font
    Smaller font