Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I Tim 2:3-4 Not A Theory
I Tim 2:3 IS IT MERELY A THEORY?
A friend said to me, "I want you to explain your theory of the salvation of all mankind." This set me to wondering if people generally consider it merely a theory. I remembered a conversation which was reported to me, and in which a friend said, "I guess Mr. Screws is as apt to be right as anyone else, for he is as smart as any of them."
So! It seems the scriptures constitute a puzzle, to which there may be many solutions, any one of which may be the correct one! And it is impossible to know which is correct, except that it is reasonable to conclude that the smartest man is the most likely to guess the truth!
What a disregard of the wish of Paul, that our faith should stand, not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God!
Some of the brethren who believe as we do, speak of the teaching as "Brother Screws' doctrine." They will tell me, "So-and-so believes your doctrine." I can hear of them saying to someone, "I believe Brother Screws' doctrine." I can see the reason for this. They are accustomed to speaking of the Methodist doctrine, the Baptist doctrine, etc., and, as those who worship with us bear no denominational name, they know of nothing better to do, than to give the teaching my name.
But it is decidedly the wrong thing to do. If I have formulated a doctrine, it is not worth believing. Christ, the only One who ever lived on earth, Who was able to formulate a doctrine, emphatically refused to do so. He declared that His doctrine was not His, but the Father's.
The scriptures either teach that all mankind will be saved, or else they do not teach it. If they do not, no man is smart enough to make it the truth. If they do teach it, it should be believed, irrespective of who teaches it, or who denies it. I know, and God knows, that I want the people to believe God—not me.
If I should say, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth," would anyone doubt that I was teaching that all mankind are to be saved? One would say, "Just listen to him; he claims that everybody will be saved!" Another would ask, "What did he say?" And the first would answer, "He said God will have all men to be saved!" and everybody who heard me would agree. "Yes," they would declare, "he certainly is teaching the salvation of all men."
Yet, they will read that identical statement in the Bible, (I Tim. 2:3), and declare emphatically, "God does not teach that all men are to be saved.
It seems, then, that when I say a thing I mean it; but when God says it He does not mean it!
I wonder—is there any doubt in the mind of the reader, whether the Bible really says, God will have all men to be saved. Why not get the Bible right now, and turn to I Tim. 2:3-6, and see what it says? I am calling attention to the King James Version, because most people have it. This issue will go into the hands of many who do not read it regularly—some who have never seen it before. I am asking them to verify for themselves, whether the Bible does say God will have all men to be saved.
Now, in regard to those who believe with me—they should never speak of the teaching as Brother Screws' doctrine. In doing so they are doing me harm. They are lending assistance to the idea that I have gotten up a theory of my own. Just say "So-and-so believes the truth," Or, "I believe the truth." If you want to identify me with the matter, say, "I hold to the truth. Brother Screws is our teacher." You know it is the truth. You are thoroughly convinced that the scriptures teach it. You know I did not originate it. Then don't accuse me of it! It is not MY doctrine!
We who have been ardent advocates of the freedom of religion, have given people an excuse to believe any kind of theory. We say, "No matter what you believe; you have as much right to your belief as I have to mine," What we mean is, "You have a right to it, so far as I or any other person having authority to prevent you." We certainly do not mean to make the impression that, in the sight of God, a person has as much right to believe a falsehood as he has to believe the truth. Yet, we have made that very impression.
I have warned against reasoning. I have said that the truth does not have to be supported in this way—that plain statements of scripture are sufficient. This very warning has been misconstrued. People have seemed to think that I teach that the truth is unreasonable. The reason I warn against reasoning, is, most of it is unreasoning, instead. It is based on false premises, and, necessarily leads to a false conclusion. But, since people will reason, I will show them how to do it:
Reason from plain facts, as premises. It is a fact that God hates sin and loves righteousness. Is it reasonable to suppose that He will endlessly promote sin when He hates it? He is able to promote righteousness. Is it not in keeping with reason to suppose He will do so?
Those who teach that lost sinners will be endlessly tormented, also say this torment will not cleanse the sinner. They tell us those being tormented will "spend eternity" cursing God—a thing they probably did not do before being placed in hell! Their hopelessness will cause them to become more and more bitter against God, as "eternity rolls on," people tell us. Well, if God torments a sinner endlessly, He is promoting endless sin—ever-increasing sin.
Since we are reasoning, can anyone give a reason why God should do this? The torment will not benefit the sinner. The universe will not be better because of it. It not only perpetuates sin, which is displeasing to God, but actually increases it, which must be quite obnoxious to Him.
God created the universe. He carries it on. He Who can do this can do what else He pleases. If He is pleased with righteousness, He can easily make sinners righteous through the blood of Christ. If He can, and won't, then it must be that He has deceived us about loving righteousness and hating sin. If He deliberately promotes endless sin, when He could easily make those sinners righteous, how are we to escape the conclusion that He loves sin and hates righteousness?
But why reason about it? To believe the word of God is much simpler, and far safer. The King James Bible tells us in Heb. 9:26, that Christ will put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Let it be under stood that He will PUT AWAY SIN—not prolong it endlessly. Reader, which do you believe? No one can believe sinners will be tormented endlessly, and, at the same time, believe Christ will put away sin, unless he takes the unreasonable position that those being tormented have had sin put away on their part. If that is true, why are they being tormented? God tormenting people after Christ has put away their sin! Who can believe such?
There are those who repudiate the doctrine of endless torment, but who claim that there will be endless death for sinners. Death, they say, puts away sin on the part of those who are to be dead endlessly! In other words, Christ will put away sin, not by the sacrifice of Himself, but by the sacrifice of the sinner! This certainly is a theory, for it is a flat denial of the Bible, which says Christ will put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
"But," they tell us, "the Bible teaches the doctrine of endless torment." In what passage, please? Revelation 14:9-11! Who is to be tormented according to that passage? All sinners? No; only those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark.
And how long is for ever and ever? For ever is one for ever. For ever and ever is for two evers. Any Greek scholar can tell you that "ever" is "aion," in the original, and that this word is translated "age," in other passages in the King James Bible. When the Bible goes about teaching endlessness, it uses the word "endless," Heb. 7:16. When it refers to the endless life of people, it uses the word, "immortality, " I Cor. 15:33. But in using the expression "for ever and ever," it couples day and night with it. Satan and the beast and the false prophet are to be tormented "day and night for ever and ever," Rev. 20:10. Do you believe day and night will continue to follow each other endlessly? No; you don't believe it! Well, the torment of the best and the false prophet and the devil will last as long as night follows day. I am sure you cannot force yourself to believe sinners will be tormented longer than that. Just try it! Can you believe those who worship the beast will be tormented longer that the beast himself will be? No matter what you say; you absolutely cannot believe it. The correct translation of the passage, "for ever and ever," is FOR THE EONS OF THE EONS, or if you prefer, FOR THE AGES OF THE AGES. It is no endless duration.
At the risk of getting to technical, I insist that the reader carefully consider the above paragraph. The devil gives the beast his power, seat and authority. People worship the beast. Then God torments the beast and the devil, only until night becomes no more. Will He torment the worshipers endlessly?
I am showing that, when the King James Version—faulty as it is —is considered as a whole, it does not teach endless torment. Instead, it teaches the salvation of all mankind. The King James Version says the reign of Christ will end, I Cor 15:22-28. If "for ever and ever" denotes endless duration, how do you explain the expression that the throne of the Son of God shall be for ever and ever, Heb. 1:8? Just acknowledge that for ever and ever will come to an end, and the whole problem is solved.
Nor does that Version teach endless death. It plainly says death is to be destroyed, I Cor. 15:26. Those who seek to escape the horrible doctrine of endless torment, by adopting the doctrine of endless death, is not teaching in accord with the Bible. Death is not destroyed when sinners are roused for the judging at the white throne. They die the second time. It is at the "end" (King James Version), that death is destroyed. This is long after the judgment—long after they die the second time. It is then that God becomes All in all. He becomes All in believers, "at the coming of Christ," I Cor. 15:23. Others must wail until "the end," for their salvation. This doctrine is NOT merely a theory!
This doctrine is NOT merely a theory!