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WHO BENEFITS BY THE RANSOM SACRIFICE?
There is nothing in the sacred Scriptures that foretells or foreshadows that the Most High God provides a ransom or redemption for all human creatures down to and including the willfully wicked individuals. The conclusion must therefore be that during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, now near at hand, the willfully wicked will not be brought back from death by a resurrection. We know that it has long been held by many Bible students that the Scriptures guarantee that "all must come back from the dead" at Christ’s return and during his millennial rule over our earth. (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume5 , pages 478-486) However, that conclusion does not have support in reason or in God’s Word.
No one will receive the benefit of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ unless that one willingly avails himself of such privilege. It appears, then, that God would bring back from the dead only those who could and possibly would avail themselves of the ransom when they come to a knowledge of the truth, because the ransom is available only for such, and not for those who have no desire to be reformed or saved. The gift of God is not forced upon unwilling creatures. Rom. 6:23.
In the redemption of mankind by the ransoming blood of Jesus Christ the attribute of divine justice is not involved. If God’s rule of justice alone is called into action and applied, then the entire human race would have to perish because of sin and imperfection. Rather, it is the attribute of divine love that is involved. 3~fercy is the result of the exercise of God’s loving-kindness. From the viewpoint of justice He is under no obligation whatever to ransom sinful men, nor is God obligated to extend his mercy to every creature regardless of whether that creature wants and seeks mercy. That God reserves to himself the right to decide who is to receive his mercy according to his loving-kindness is shown in his dealings with the twins Esau and Jacob. With these two sons of the patriarch Isaac a prophetic picture was made to show God’s foreknowledge of a class of humans who seek the way of righteousness and life and also of another class that takes exactly the opposite course. At Romans 9:13 we read: "It is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Here Jacob represents that class which seeks the Lord God and finds him and then faithfully serves him. Such class God loves. Esau represents the unfaithful class which does not regard God’s gracious provision for mankind. Such class God hates.
God foreknew those two classes, and so he foretold the same, because he foreknows everything pertaining co his own purposes and works. Says he: "I am God, and there is none else; 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 done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isa. 46 : 9, 10) Surely God foreknew those humans who would spurn his proffered blessings of life, and he also foreknew the class that would gladly accept his gracious provision. It follows, then, that those who have no desire to know God and Jesus Christ and who have no desire to receive God’s blessings through Christ would have no mercy shown them, and God will not force his mercy upon them.
Can it be argued that justice toward all would require God to force his mercy upon all, even though he knows in advance that such persons would reject his loving-kindness? Certainly not! Justice does not require mercy from God, and he is not unjust in withholding mercy from the undesirous and unappreciative. Justice is righteousness, and injustice is unrighteousness. At Romans 9:14-18 we read: ’What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God ? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Thus God allowed Pharaoh and others who challenged his supremacy and universal sovereignty to harden their hearts against Him. At the same time he disclosed his purpose to extend divine mercy toward those who hear the testimony of his witnesses and who then prove their integrity toward Jehovah God as supreme and as Universal Sovereign. For any person to hold that because God is just he is under obligation to extend mercy to every human creature is entirely inconsistent and wrong. To hold that because of justice God is bound to give every creature the benefit of salvation by the ransom sacrifice is wrong and is wholly unsupported either by reason or by the Bible. To hold that God is obligated to save a/l men in order to prove his supremacy fully is entirely wrong and unsupported by any Scriptural authority.
The Devil’s challenge raised the question of God’s ability to put any man on earth who would willingly remain faithfull and true to God when he was subjected to the test imposed by the Devil. As respects that challenge, all the evidence that has since piled up shows that God has proved the Devil a liar and has proved his own supremacy beyond any question of doubt. How so? In that many men up to the present time have kept their integrity toward God. At the battle of Armageddon God will completely wipe out everything that the Devil has brought forward in opposition to God. Therefore God will completely establish his own supremacy. Hence, whoever willingly avails himself of God’s gracious gift will be blessed with life and he will have an opportunity of proving that the Devil’s wicked challenge is a defamation of God’s name, word and universal sovereignty, and that Satan is false and God is true.
Men have gotten themselves into great difficulty respecting the ransom sacrifice of Christ by proceeding on the theory that the question of divine justice is involved. When God sentenced Adam to death for his disobedience in Eden, justice required the forfeiture of Adam’s life. When Adam went down into the dust from which he had come divine justice was completely satisfied. Justice has been satisfied at all times since, so far as Adamw as concerned. "We, who are Adam’s offspring, justly came under condemnation by our inheritance from him, but, not being under direct judgment ourselves, God could consistently extend his mercy toward us. It was not a question of satisfying justice by the death of another perfect man, Jesus Christ, and the death of Jesus was not for the purpose of satisfying justice. If Jehovah would accept the perfect life of Jesus Christ as a satisfaction of justice, that would mean that either God’s judgment was not satisfied against Adam or else the lifeblood of Jesus was poured out as a double satisfaction. This would be entirely inharmonious and impossible with Jehovah the God of righteousness.
LOVE, RATHER THAN JUSTICE, PROVIDES
Viewing the matter now from the point of love: God unselfishly provided that Jesus should become a man and should lay down his life and, without a doubt, Jesus agreed with his Father Jehovah God on this. This perfect human life laid down would be equivalent to what Adam’s offspring would have been entitled to and would have received from their earthly father Adam if he had remained sinless. When that perfect human life of Jesus and his right to it is presented to Jehovah God in heaven as a ransom sacrifice, it constitutes the purchase price of all the rights which Adam’s offspring had lost by reason of Adam’s sin. At his resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ received immortal life as a spirit creature, and his then paying over his right to life as a human creature made him by virtue of purchase the owner of everyone of Adam’s offspring that would comply with God’s requirements. To comply they must have faith in God and in Jesus Christ and must then meet the rules that govern all those who take that step of faith, consecrating themselves to God to do his will. The ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a price that exactly corresponds to what Adam lost in Eden. But it was not a substitute for Adam, nor did Jesus give it so as to satisfy justice, but he gave it as a purchase price. Jehovah God makes Jesus "the everlasting Father", that is to say, the one who administers everlasting life. But upon what conditions? Why, that men comply with God’s requirements.
Hence it is written that the "gift o2 God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". (Rom. 6 : 23; Isa. 9 : 6) A gift cannot become such except by the meeting of the minds of the giver and the receiver. Otherwise stated, the offer of the gift must be made, and the one to whomit is offered must willingly accept that offer. It follows, then, that the man to whomth e offer is made available but who refuses or fails to accept that offer does not have that gift operate toward him. Consequently the ransom sacrifice inures to the benefit of only those who ask for its benefits and who willingly receive them.
As stated at Romans 5:12, alI men have come under condemnation and this must result ultimately in eternal death unless provision is made for redemption. God has graciously provided and placed before mankind the way of escape from death and hence the way to obtain eternal life. Men must choose either to stay under condemnation that justly rests upon them or to avail themselves of the loving-kindness and mercy of God and seek and willingly accept God’s gracious provision of salvation by which man obtains life. The way of escape from death and to eternal life is by and through Jesus Christ. God laid him as the foundation of the new world of righteousness, and there is no other way and no other name but his by which man can receive life. Only those who believe that God has made such provision and that Jesus Christ is the means of salvation can possibly be saved. During the centuries past many have been brought face to face with God’s provision for eternal life and have willfully and deliberately spurned the same. They have died in their sins, the divine condemnation abiding upon them. It is not reasonably possible that God will bring them back and give them another chance to reject his gracious offer of life.
This is not in the least contrary to what John the Baptist uttered concerning Jesus, namely: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1: 29) John’s emphatic statement cannot be construed to mean that Jesus removes the sin of all those of the world who refuse to avail themselves of the opportunity of redemption and who willingly choose the way of wickedness, which means absolute death. In times past there have been many, and there are yet many of such. That the condemnation of God remains upon them is stated emphatically by Jesus in these words: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that belleveth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3 : 17, 18.
When Jesus was on the earth he vigorously condemned the Pharisees and their religious offspring, telling them they were the viperous brood of that old Serpent the Devil and worthy of death. He said: "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . Serpents! brood of vipers! how may ye escape from the judgment of the gehenna?" (Matt. 23 : 29-33, Young) To hold that the ransom sacrifice would apply to such opposers of Jehovah God and his kingdom would be to deny the sincerity of and truthfulness of Jesus’ condemnation of such wicked ones. But the loving-kindness and mercy of Jehovah God is extended to all men who willingly and voluntarily believe God and faithfully serve him and his beloved Son, Jesus Christ: "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD." Ps. 107: 43.
THE WICKED A RANSOM FOR THE RIGHTEOUS
Men of great wealth in the way of money, position, influence and honor among men think themselves especially favored of God and Christ and rely for safety upon their own wealth, honor and position. But what is the end of such men? "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption." (Ps. 49 : 6-9) Such men die like brute beasts, for they have no standing above "beasts, made to be taken and destroyed". (2 Pet. 2: 12) "Man that is honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish." Ps. 49 : 20.
Such men cannot provide for their life or purchase their life by throwing their gold into the streets at the battle of Armageddon. Their deliverance from Jehovah’s Executioner then cannot be bought by themselves in any manner. Man’s riches cannot ransom him. As between men it may be true : "A man’s riches provide ransom for his life; but the poor man finds no means of redemption." (Prov. 13: 8, An.Amer. Trans.) Or, "A rich man may buy off his life: poor man can ignore the robber’s threat." (Moffatt) But this does not hold true-between God and sinful man at any time.
Under certain conditions the wicked become the ransom for the righteous. As it is written: "The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright." (Prov. 21 : 18) This scripture applies at the battle of A’rmageddon. How? In this way, as expressed in the modern translation of Proverbs 21:18: "The wicked man becomes ransom for the righteous; and the faithless man takes the place of the upright." (An Amer. Trans.) "The evil have to pay the penalty; the faithless are punished, not the upright." (Moffatt) In the expression of God’s wrath at the battle of Armageddon the wicked and the willful transgressors must be put to death as the price of freedom for the righteous and the upright. In that way the righteous and the upright may be delivered from the abuse and oppression they have suffered from the wicked and the willful transgressors. Thus by the death of the willfully wicked transgressors the righteous are ransomed or delivered. The reason why is that the wicked and the transgressors refuse to submit to any other arrangement for the freedom of the righteous, and so Jehovah God enforces this remedy against them. In support of this, note Isaiah 43 : 1, 3, 4: "But now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. For I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead. Since thou hast been precious in my sight, and honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men in thy stead, and peoples instead of thy life." (Isa. 43: 1, 3, 4, Am. Start. Vet.) This referred back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in Moses’ day, and also foretold the deliverance of spiritual Israel, the true Christian organization, from the antitypical Egypt of this world at the battle of Armageddon. The wicked and the transgressors pay with the penalty of their lives, but the righteous escape with their lives, a great multitude of persons of good-will surviving the battle of Armageddon into the new world.