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

    April 14, 1887

    “The Unpardonable Sin” The Signs of the Times, 13, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:31, 32.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.1

    Probably no other text in the Bible has been the subject of more speculation, or has been more misunderstood, than this one. Many honest, conscientious people have gone well-nigh into despair over the thought that they were guilty of the sin here mentioned, and that simply because they had received erroneous ideas as to what that sin is. Although there is so much misunderstanding in regard to it, we think that an understanding of it may be gained quite readily by a consideration of the connection and of parallel texts. Every word which our Saviour uttered was timely, and applied to the circumstances then present; it is this feature which makes them practical in all ages. Therefore if we would get a full understanding of any of his words, we must consider the occasion which called them out.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.2

    If we notice the context, we shall find that the words which we have quoted were called out by the position which the Pharisees took concerning a notable miracle which Jesus had performed. He had healed a demoniac who was both blind and dumb, so that the man was not only in his right mind, but “both spake and saw.” The people were amazed, but the Pharisees contemptuously and blasphemously said: “This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Matthew 12:24. Instead of glorifying God, by whose Spirit this wonderful thing was done, they accused Christ of having a devil, by whose aid he performed miracles.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.3

    That this accusation constituted, in that instance, the unpardonable sin, is evident from the parallel text in Mark. This evangelist gives our Saviour’s words concerning the unpardonable nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit, and adds, “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:30. Thus we find, without any further investigation, that this sin consists in attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.4

    But it is not by words alone that men may commit this, any more than any other sin. Paul speaks of some who “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:16. A reprobate is one who is rejected, who has sinned beyond recovery; one who has rejected the Spirit of God by sinning until he is so corrupt that there is no good thing in him for the Spirit to work upon. This is indicated in the preceding verse, which says of those who are “unto every good work reprobate,” that “even their mind and conscience is defiled.” So Paul writes to Timothy concerning men in the last days, who are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” 2 Timothy 3:8.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.5

    This was the condition of the antediluvian world. The record says: “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:3, 5. There was a time when the antediluvians were not wholly bad; there was some trace of the law in their hearts (Romans 2:15), and therefore there was something in them upon which the Spirit could work to convince them of sin; for the Spirit’s sword is the word of God, and it can produce an impression upon men only when they possess some knowledge of truth and right. But the antediluvians resisted the strivings of the Spirit. The tendency of sin is to multiply itself and to choke out any sense of good; and so by repeated stiflings of every good impulse, those people become so corrupt that they had not a single good thought. They were cumberers of the ground; there was no possibility of their reformation, and so they were cut off.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.6

    In every case where the judgments of God have been brought upon people, it was because there was no possibility of their reformation; they had, in short, committed the unpardonable sin. This was the case with the antediluvians, the Sodomites, the wicked inhabitants of Canaan (see Genesis 15:16), who were destroyed to make room for the Israelites, and finally with many of the people of Israel. Says the sacred historian:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.7

    “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” 2 Chronicles 36:14-16.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.8

    “There was no remedy;” that is, their sin was unpardonable. Now since God’s object in giving men this existence is solely that they may prepare for a better, and an eternal existence, it follows that when they utterly refuse to accept of God’s plan for them, and devote themselves wholly to evil, there is no use to continue their existence longer. They are of no use to themselves or to anybody else. Like trees that bear only thorns instead of fruit, they are cut off as cumberers of the ground. Their continued existence would be only detrimental to the soil which might be yielding something useful. Here then is another way in which men may commit the unpardonable sin.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.9

    Still another way is brought to view by Paul to the Hebrews. This pertains especially to those who have once made a profession. Says the apostle:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.10

    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.11

    We have not space to enter into details, and to specify just how men crucify Christ afresh; but it is sufficient to know that the unpardonable sin is here brought to view, for it is a sin which cannot be repented of. We say “the unpardonable sin,” for we understand that there is but one such although there may be many different ways of committing it. John says: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and God shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.” 1 John 5:16. All sin, if not repented of, brings death; but there is one sin which cannot be repented of, and therefore there is no necessity to pray about it as about other sins.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.12

    Now we may understand what the apostle means when he says to the Hebrews that it is impossible if certain ones fall away, to renew them unto repentance. What does he mean by, “If they fall away”? Does he mean that if a Christian shall fall into sin he cannot be forgiven? No; for the verse just quoted from John teaches us that if a brother sins a sin not unto death we must pray for him. 1 John 2:1, 2; Galatians 6:1; Revelation 2:5, and scores of other texts show that men are not necessarily beyond hope, even though they be overtaken in faults after they have accepted Christ and have been pardoned. We must understand, then, that the “falling away” here brought to view means not simply the commission of a wrong act, or even a backslidden state, but a turning away from the gospel of Christ,-a rejection of Christ. Since the name of Christ is the only one under Heaven whereby men may be saved, it follows that if a man deliberately rejects that there is no hope for him. It was this fact which led Paul to use such vehement language in his epistle to the Galatians. See Galatians 1:8, 9. Any man who should preach a gospel which led the hearers to trust in something else besides Christ, would be deliberately leading them to eternal ruin, and so would be worthy of a curse. There is but one way of salvation; if a man deliberately rejects that, he cannot by any possibility be saved. W.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.13

    (Concluded next week.)

    “‘The Old Is Better’” The Signs of the Times, 13, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    1. “Please explain how you harmonize the 14th verse of Revelation 22, and the comments upon it, found in SIGNS, March 24, p. 186, with the same verse as given in the New Version, which reads, ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes,’ etc.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.14

    There are some things that we don’t try to harmonize; we try to follow the simple truth, and if anything differs from it, that is not a matter that troubles us. In this case we accept the reading of the Authorized Version as preferable to that of the New, and let the matter rest there.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.15

    It may seem strange, however, that the two versions, each the work of men skilled in the languages, should have such widely different renderings of the same text. A little explanation will make the matter clear. The Greek of the text as rendered in the Authorized Version is, poiountes tas entolas autou. As given in the Revised Version it is, pluoutes, tas stolas auton. It will be seen that the difference in the words is very slight, so that a copyist might easily make the substitution of one for the other. If the reader has ever seen fac similes of some of the ancient manuscripts, he will the more readily understand how such a change might have taken place. As the result, some of the ancient manuscripts have it one way, and some another. The similar expression in Revelation 7:14 may have been in the mind of the ancient copyist, thus causing him unconsciously and mechanically to make the substitution. Griesbach regards the reading followed by the New Version as “not to be despised,” but worthy of further examination, “though inferior to the received text.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.16

    But while following the Authorized Version, we do not find, in this instance, the slightest lack of harmony between the two renderings. It is a fact that only those who keep the commandments of God, will be permitted to partake of the tree of life. Matthew 7:21; 19:17, and may other texts, settle this matter positively. It is also true that none will be saved, except those who wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb; for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7); and Christ “was manifested to take away our sin.” Now (1) no one can keep the commandments without the help of Christ, whose blood cleanses from sin; and (2) no one can stand, having his robes white, without being a doer of the commandments; for it is sin that defiles, and if one should break the commandments his robes would not be white. Thus they who have kept the commandments of God, and they whose robes are made white, are the same. A blessing pronounced upon those who have kept the commandments of God, is at the same time a blessing pronounced upon those who have washed their robes white. So there is harmony in the two renderings, after all.SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.17

    2. “Also please state whether the New Version is correct in giving the word ‘probation’ where the Old Version has ‘experience,’ in Romans 5:4.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.18

    We think it is not, for the following reasons: The Greek word signifies both a test, a trial, and also that which results from such a test. Therefore “experience” is an allowable rendering. Now to render it “experience,” as in the Authorized Version, makes good sense, for it comports with the facts in the case: patient endurance of tribulation does work out rich experience. But “patience” indicates that the individual is undergoing a testing, a probation and therefore it does not seem consistent to say that this tribulation and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 230.19

    The revisers have given us a good commentary, but they seem often to have been more intent on getting something new than on retaining the simplicity and directness of the sacred text. W.SITI April 14, 1887, page 231.1

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A large attendance is expected at the meetings to be held in Oakland, April 22-27. This will be a very important meeting, the most important, in some respects, of any annual meeting that has been held here, and we hope that those who come will come with the determination of staying to the close. The church in Oakland extends a hearty invitation to the friends of the cause in the State, to be present.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.1

    Bishop Warren of the M. E. church says that many preachers are so gentle of the feelings of sinners, especially if the sinners are rich, that they preach the gospel something after this style: “Brethren, you must repent, as it were; and be converted, in a measure; or you will be damned, to some extent.” It is too true that modern preachers very seldom repeat Christ’s unequivocal and emphatic statements, that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.2

    The reports from the prohibition amendment contest in Michigan are very conflicting. Some say that the amendment is carried, and others that it has been defeated by a majority of 1,500 to 4,000. We understand that Kentucky distillers sent many thousands of dollars into Michigan before the election; and if the fraudulent vices which this money created as counted out, there is little doubt but that the amendment will stand by a handsome majority. If prohibition is a failure, it is passing strange that whisky men should spend so much money in trying to defeat it.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.3

    By a private letter from Elder E. E. Marvin, of Tennessee, we learn that the effort to secure the passage of a bill granting humanity from the penalties of the Sunday law, to those who conscientiously observe the seventh day of the week, resulted in failure. We are very sorry to be obliged to chronicle this fact. We had strong hope that Tennessee would follow the example of Arkansas, and put a stop to persecution for conscience’ sake. Next week we shall give our readers some of the arguments which were used to defeat the bill; they did not come in time for publication this week.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.4

    We have received several hypothetical questions in regard to certain acts performed on the Sabbath, the questioners desiring us to state positively whether or not such acts would be a violation of the Sabbath. We cannot answer them. When anyone wants to know the principles which the Bible lays down to govern our actions, we will give a Bible answer, so far as our knowledge extends; but we have not enough conscience to supply ourselves and other people too. The Lord gives plain commandments and designs that every person shall be conscience for himself. The only safe rule that we can give is this: If you are in doubt about the correctness of any act, abstain from it.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.5

    Someone asks us to tell him which is the longest verse in the Bible. We don’t know. More than that, we haven’t any special curiosity in the matter. There are some lottery schemes gotten up in different parts of the country, usually connected with some so called literary journal whose proprietors offer prizes to the ones who will send correct answers to certain simple questions concerning the Bible. Thus they make a pretense of stimulating Bible investigation. We suspect that our questioner has got hold of one of their offers. We would therefore say here (1) that all such schemes are unmitigated swindles, and (2) that hunting for the longest or the shortest verse in the Bible is not studying the Bible at all. It is no more profitable than it would be to hunt for the largest or the smallest Bible in the world. The way to study the Bible is to study it, and any part of it, even the shortest verse, will be found to contain abundant matter for thought, without which there can be no study.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.6

    The following utterance is ascribed to Prince Bismarck:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.7

    “I regard peace with the Pope as important as peace with any other foreign power. How long this peace may last-if, indeed, peace is attained with the Roman Church-none can foresee. For its continuance I assume no responsibility.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.8

    In commenting upon this statement, the Christian Standard lays bare the real state of affairs as follows:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.9

    “He ‘assumes no responsibility,’ and would find any pretext to break the unpleasant alliance, and again banish the hated Orders and Jesuitical Seminaries, at any time when he saw it was safe to do it. Nor does Leo like the Protestant Bismarck with unfeigned love, but simply has an ax to grind-and it is the blood-rusted ax which has always found service in hewing down every plant of liberty it could get a stroke at. There is no good faith on either side of this compact, but only an interested conspiracy against human rights.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.10

    We learn from an Eastern paper that “Michigan has a law which provides that no sign, picture, painting, or other representation of murder, assassination, stabbing, fighting, or any personal violenc,e or of the commission of any crime, shall be posted, under penalty of fine or imprisonment.” If California had a similar law the occupation of a considerable number of sensational artists and bill-posters would be gone; and theaters would have to resort to some other means of corrupting the morals of the young and inexperienced, than with their demoralizing pictures and worse plays. The advertising of legitimate business is all right, but when theaters, houses of ill repute and saloons flaunt in the faces of the public pictures which can but bring a blush to the check of modesty, public policy demands that their greed be restrained by law.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.11

    “Spiritualism a Delusion” The Signs of the Times, 13, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Bible plainly teaches the existence of good and bad angels, and that they have a great deal of influence upon our lives; so much so, indeed, that if we are not ministered unto in spiritual things by good angels, we are by evil ones. Of the good angels we read: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) while the fallen angels are, we are told, “the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:14.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.12

    This last scripture we understand refers to the delusion of Spiritualism, which to-day numbers its votaries by millions both in this country and in Europe. Kings and queens have become its devotees, and multitudes are everywhere being led captive by Satan at his will. And why? Simply because the professed church of Christ, both Protestant and Catholic, is almost a unit in teaching those twin errors, the immortality of the soul and the conscious state of the dead. Faith in these errors makes it well nigh impossible for people even now to resist the delusions of Spiritualism, and the time will come when Satan works “with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” that all who are not rooted and grounded on Bible truth will be swept into the whirlpool of this monster delusion.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.13

    When good angels have appeared to men and have communicated with them as spiritual beings, they have declared themselves to be angels: Said the angel that appeared to Zacharias, “I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God,” but when the spirits of devils come they come professing to be the spirits of the dead. And it is to this fact that the prophet alludes when he says:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.14

    “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19, 20.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.15

    Let us heed the admonition, that we “may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of man.”SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.16

    “A Critical Period” The Signs of the Times, 13, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    President Washburn, of Robert College, Constantinople, in a letter to the New York Independent, says of the European outlook: “On the whole, there are at least six chances out of ten that we shall have an outbreak of war within two months.” “Bismarck was undoubtedly right when he asserted in his great speech before the Germany Parliament that another war between France and Germany was inevitable. France has never accepted the loss of her provinces, and the one thing that the Republic has steadily adhered to has been the policy of developing the army. It is now larger than that of Germany, and is rapidly reducing the Government to bankruptcy.” He continues:-SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.17

    Russia will have to decide within a few weeks whether to strike now or to compromise with the Bulgarians and postpone her advance to a more favorable opportunity. It is hard to see how she can hope for amore promising chance than the present one. Germany and France are engaged in their own conflict. Austria is totally unprepared for war, and cannot possibly complete her preparations this spring. Turkey is bankrupt. England is absorbed in the Irish question, and her now democracy cares no more for Constantinople than for the man in the moon. Her Government is liable to be overturned any day, and cannot act with vigor on its own convictions. Italy is in the midst of a great political crisis. If war really breaks out between France and Germany, or if the present state of expectation of war continues, it would seem probable that the Czar will either attack Austria directly or occupy Bulgaria and put Montenegro forward to raise an insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.18

    It is undoubtedly the most critical moment that Europe has seen since 1815. It is not simply the fate of empires or the liberty of the Balkan Peninsular which is involved, but the civilization of the world. It is the crisis of that struggle to which Napoleon looked forward when he predicted that Europe would one day be either Cossack or Republican. Russia to-day makes no secret of her determination to overthrow “the rotten civilization of Western Europe” and to replace it by a new civilization of her own.SITI April 14, 1887, page 240.19

    Larger font
    Smaller font