VAIN IN THEIR REASONINGS
I have said many times that, while the Concordant Version of the Sacred Scriptures is many thousands of times better than the King James Version, yet the latter teaches, just as plainly as language can teach, that all mankind will be saved, justified and made alive in Christ. In the face of this, enemies have injured my testimony, by telling people that the doctrine of the salvation of all mankind cannot be taught, without using a "new Bible." I propose to devote this editorial to showing that this is not true. I do it, because hundreds of my readers have only the King James Version.
In Rom. 1:21, that Version mentions those who became vain in their imaginations. While "reasonings" is a better rendering, the King James Version is substantially correct, for vain reasonings are based on vain imaginations.
Some years ago a man from the Moody Bible Institute was holding a Bible Conference in Glennville, and said, in one of his discourses, "God has to have a Hell, in which to put people whom He can't save. He cannot afford to have them roaming the universe at will. They must be confined." No scripture was given for this statement. It was simply vain reasoning, based on a vain imagination.
I have as much right to reason as he has. So here is my reasoning on that subject: If God can't save them, perhaps He can't put them in hell. Who knows but they may put Him in?
But why reason about it? The simple statement that God is the Savior of all men, I Tim. 4:10 is worth a million times more than all the reasoning of vain imaginations. If we believe that statement, (and it is found right there in the King James Version), there is no need to reason about it, at all. And we won't, if we believe the Bible!
A man said to me, "God means to destroy sin, and, therefore He will kill all whom He can't save. He would rather destroy sin by saving people. But there are some whom He can't save. The only way He can deal with them, is by killing them."
Where, in the Bible do we find that the death of a sinner destroys sin? It will stop that particular sinner from committing acts of sin, but it cannot destroy the fact of sin—sin as a state. This is amply proven by the fact that those who are roused just before the judgment session at the white throne, are judged immediately after their rousing. They will be judged before they have time to commit a sin. They will be judged on a basis of what they did before death. They may have been dead thousands of years, but they are roused as sinners.
The second death is like the first. It is simply death. If the first death cannot destroy sin, neither can the second death. God is interested, not in destroying the sinner, but in destroying sin. Suppose I am a bookkeeper, and make a false entry on the book. Would my death remedy the matter? After I had been dead for years, the entry on the book would remain just as it was at first, so far as my death having anything to do with it. My employer would be interested in getting the books right—not in killing me. So God is interested in putting away sin, (Heb. 9:26, King James Version), and not in the endless destruction of the sinner.
What a pity, that it seems necessary to devote so much space to this matter. It should be sufficient, to quote the passage that tells how God remedies the situation: "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," II Cor. 5:21. The endless death of all sinners could not wipe out the fact of sin; but Christ, the Son of God, could be make Sin for us, and put away sin. In this way we become God's righteousness in Him.
Perhaps it is too much to expect that men will quit reasoning about salvation. Then, the best thing to do, if they must reason, is to reason from well known facts as premises. Here is an example of sound reasoning: God created the heavens and the earth. One who can do this, can do whatever else He wills. God is love. He who is love, wills to save all mankind. Therefore, God wills to save all mankind. He Who can do what He wills, will save all mankind if He wills it. He does will it. Therefore, God will save all mankind.
But even this sound reasoning is abhorrent to me, because it is so unnecessary. It is much better to believe the following passage: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto a knowledge of the truth," I Tim. 2:3, 4, King James Version. I wonder how many of my readers, who boast that they believe everything in the King James Version, really believe this passage.
I asked a brother three questions, and he answered them. They are given here: 1. Does this passage teach that all mankind will be saved? Answer: "No." 2. What does it teach? Answer: "It teaches that it is God's will that all mankind should be saved; but they will not all be saved." 3. How would you phrase a statement if you intended to teach that all mankind will be saved? Answer: "I would phrase it just as it is here in the Bible, but I don't believe Paul meant to teach any such thing." Now, reader, what do you think of that?
His second answer is correct, in that it says it is God's will that all should be saved. Since when has He been unable to do His will? The Version that we are using in this study says, in Eph. 1:11, that God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." If that language means anything at all, it means that God wills, and then works in accord with it. He does not TRY to work all things after the counsel of His will. He WORKS them. Is the salvation of sinners outside the scope of "all things?"
In the King James Version, is one of the most majestic statements I have ever read. When I was a boy, I always felt lifted up, when I heard my old Uncle Irving Kersey quote it, which he often did. It was one of his favorite passages. Here it is: "Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet come, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure," Isa. 46:9. Please remember what I am doing. I am showing that we do not have to resort to some other version of the Bible, to teach the salvation of all mankind. I maintain that the Concordant Version is far superior to any other I have ever seen; but when a person says the salvation of all men is not taught in the King James Version, he simply states an untruth.
The trouble is, preachers do not believe the Bible. They do not believe the very Version with which they try to discredit the Concordant Version. They will read a passage as a Text, and then spend an hour trying to twist it into something else. I know, because I have been there. I suspect that a thousand people have heard me, in the past, read I Tim. 2:3, 4, and then say, "This does not mean all men; it means some form all classes of men." I am ashamed that I ever thus handled the word of God deceitfully. But I did. And others are doing it. And, like myself at that time, they think they are doing service to God.
Many "laymen" would believe the truth if teachers did not fight it. Brother Marion Powell of Kite, Ga., told me that once, many years ago, his father was reading the Bible, and called to him and said, "It says here that God will have all men to be saved. It seems to me that all will be saved." Who knows how many others have found this precious passage, and rejoiced in it, until the preacher assured them it does not mean what it says? That this "assurance" was deadening in its effect, cannot be denied. There has been much gloom in the minds of saints, because preachers would not let them believe the truth.
It is pleasant to remember the great joy that abounded in the hearts of about nine-tenths of those whom I served as pastor, when I first began to preach the salvation of all mankind. It was easy to show them that the Bible teaches it. But this joy was short-lived, in the case of the majority of them. Preachers showed them that it would not do to hold this "pernicious" theory, and that they had better bow to what the parsons said. The alternative was exclusion from the "church." But when it came to a "show-down," several chose exclusion. Many others hid the truth in their hearts, and, while they yet believe it, they dare not say so.
The King James Version says, Rom. 5:18: "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so; by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."
The vain reasonings on this passage revel two schools of "thought." One side says, without shame of confusion, that, while the first "all," means all, the second does not. The other side says that, by the death of Christ, all men may be justified if they will accept it. They ignore the "even so." It denotes a close parallel. All mankind are in condemnation, whether they accept it or not. It is because of what Adam did. If there is any force to the "even so," then all mankind will have justification of life, because of what Christ did, and not because they accept it.
"As in Adam all die, even so, in Christ all shall be made alive," I Cor. 15:22. The words "made alive," should be rendered, "vivified." But, even without this knowledge, one may understand that to be made alive in Christ, means salvation. Who, being acquainted with Christ, can feel that to be in Him is to be in a state of condemnation, or even in danger of it? When Paul wants to emphasize the safe condition of saints, he can find no better phrase, than "in Christ." He uses the expression many times.
A stock expression of those who do not believe death will ever be destroyed, is: "You can destroy war, without bringing back all who have been killed in war. You can put out a fire that is burning a house, without bringing back the wood that already burned." This is vain reasoning. War is a process. So is a fire that is burning. Dying is a process. Dying can be stopped, without bringing back all dead ones. But death is a state. It is not dying, but death, (the state), that is the last enemy to be destroyed, I Cor. 15:26. Abolishing War, and extinguishing a fire, is no illustration of abolishing death. I repeat, death is a state. To abolish it, is to make all alive in Christ.
The King James Version seems to deny the salvation of all, in some passages. This is because aionion is mistranslated. Eternal and everlasting are from aionion, which is not endless duration. Remember this, when reading that Version.