My Client, the Lord Jesus Christ, has been convicted of being a Failure. In this, my plea for a new trial, I set forth two complaints which I hope you will weigh carefully: 1. Not all the evidence was considered. 2. Of that portion which was considered, part was garbled.
The verdict acknowledges His love for humanity, and His desire to save all. It even confesses that He gave Himself a sacrifice, in His effort to accomplish this end. It speaks fluently of His death on the cross. Then it contends that not all humanity will ever be saved; it says that a large portion will be lost endlessly. It attaches no blame to my Client; He did His best. But the verdict closes with the doleful claim that in spite of all His efforts, He failed, in a large measure.
The verdict, Your Honor, is based on insufficient evidence. It takes into consideration the first two or three witnesses, and ignores the testimony which comes later.
I admit the early testimony says that at the future coming of Christ, some shall be cast into outer darkness for not having on the wedding garment - Matt. 22:13; that some shall be cast into outer darkness for burying talents - Matt 25:30; that some shall be appointed a portion with hypocrites - Matt. 24:51; that the door shall be locked against some - Matt. 24:10; and that some shall go away into eonian chastening - Matt. 25:46.
This last has been garbled Your Honor. While the witness said "eonian chastening," the garbled version of it says, "everlasting punishment." But even so - even if we admit the correctness of the rendering - the verdict has failed to take into consideration the fact that the same version in another place said the sons of Aaron shall be an everlasting priesthood, (Ex. 40:15), and that in this case "everlasting" does not denote endless duration, as is proven by the fact that these same sons, ceased to be priests long ago. Many such instances could be cited. Yet, in spite of this the verdict assumes that "everlasting" in Matt. 25:46 is endless.
I admit further, Your Honor, that some of the early testimony says some shall be cast into Gehenna fire, where their worm is not deceasing and the fire is not being extinguished - Mark 9:43-48. This too has been garbled in the version, for the word "hell" is used. Let that pass, however. Still earlier testimony, which the verdict absolutely ignores, places this scene near Jerusalem and speaks of a time which is bound to be during the millennial kingdom - Isaiah 66:23,24. This, Your Honor, according to the testimony, shall be taking place while new moons and sabbaths are yet coming. furthermore, the bodies to be seen are carcasses - dead people. While they are being exposed to view, worms shall be eating them. Finally, to prevent contagion they will be placed in Gehenna, and burned.
Your Honor, the verdict assumes that all this is to be endless. Those who go into outer darkness shall never again see the light! Those who are appointed a portion with hypocrite shall remain with hypocrites! When the door is locked, it shall never again be opened! Eonian chastening shall endure endlessly! As for Gehenna, the verdict assumes that the persons, not the worms, shall live endlessly, and shall live thus in indescribable torture! The jury has absolutely ignored the testimony that CARCASSES, not living bodies, shall be put into that place. Yes, the jury assumes all this to be endless.
I admit further, Your Honor, that early testimony speaks of a certain rich man lifting up his eyes in the unseen, and being tormented in flames - Luke 16:24. This is more testimony that has been misrepresented by the version, for it says "hell," instead of "hades," which according to its etymology, means the "unseen." But I will not insist on this. It is evident that if the torment of the rich man is literal, the position of Lazarus is likewise literal. Is heaven Abraham's bosom? If so, how can even one person be in it? No one would try to make it literal. Then why insist on the literalness of the other? It is unfair, Your Honor.
But I will even let this pass. The verdict assumes the torment of the rich man to be endless. We shall see!
Why are all those persons in those various places of "punishment?" For all their sins? Most assuredly not, according to the testimony. Their crimes are failure to have on a wedding garment; burying a talent; beating fellow slaves; failure to feed and clothe the Lord's brethren; failure to have lighted lamps; and failure to cut off a hand or pluck out an eye.
The mistake in assuming that this early testimony is conclusive and speaks of endless conditions, will be apparent, Your Honor, when I call your attention to the fact that our Lord distinctly said there would be other testimony brought to light, whenever the spirit of truth should be coming, and that it, the spirit of truth should tell of things to come - John 16:12. A failure to notice the later testimony is a grievous sin against the Christ Who is the Author of all new revelation, given until the word of God was completed.
Later testimony shows all those who have gone into "punishment" at the future coming of Christ, standing at the great white throne to be judged for all their acts, more than a thousand years later - Un. 20:11-15. Those former punishments, of whatever nature they are, must come to an end, to give place for the judgment at the white throne. This is important, Your Honor. Those other conditions simply cannot be endless.
But what is to hinder the second death which follows this judgment, from being endless? Well, let us not be too hasty in forming a conclusion here. We have seen that taking early testimony and ignoring that which came later, led the jury into a serious error; so there may be still later revelation to upset any theory we might form concerning the second death.
Who is the last witness, Your Honor? It is Paul, the apostle. He declared that he completes the word of God. And we must not fail to notice that this testimony which completes the case - Col. 1:25 - is part of the revelation which Christ promised in John 16:12.
In this last testimony, we find that all mankind are to be justified - Rom. 5:18; that all mankind are to be saved - I Tim. 2:3-6; that all mankind are to be vivified, or made alive in Christ, (not simply BY Christ) - I Cor. 15:22; and that the universe is to be reconciled to God - Col. 1:20. The jury ignored this testimony, Your Honor, and reached a false conclusion. Just as all previous punishment must end, or else the great white throne judgment and the second death could not be a fact, so must the second death end, it the testimony of the completing witness be true. Indeed this very witness says in plain words that death is to be abolished at the consummation - I Cor. 15:24-26.
How sad it is, Your Honor. The jury has reached its verdict by considering only the early testimony. If it had considered the witness who was produced to COMPLETE the case, my Client would have been exonerated, instead of being convicted of failure. This later testimony does not contradict the earlier; it simply amplified it.
DEATH OF TWO DEAR ONES
On October 13, Jerome Screws, my nephew, died of injuries received in an accident while at work. Then on December 26, Lonnie Screws, his father and my brother, died of heart trouble. Jerome was 14; his father was 45.
The lad loved me and the truth I teach. He has been known to walk seven or eight miles to attend the meetings. Lonnie was one of the strongest believers in God's purpose and grace for all mankind; that it has ever been my pleasure to know. This faith sustained him in the trying hour of death. Since coming into the faith, I have never known him to waver.
The family asked me to conduct the funeral of Jerome which I did. Lonnie also requested me, some years ago, to conduct his own funeral, and he renewed this request just before he died. So on December 27 I spoke to the congregation that gathered to pay its last tribute to his memory.
We shall see them both again in the morning.
I mentioned in last issue a debate conducted by Brother W. E. Sherrill and myself. It was held at Rye Patch church, Long county, Georgia, November 30 and December 1. Neither of us challenged the other. It was arranged by Brother Olin Smith of Ludowici, and the church invited us to hold the discussion there.
The first day Brother Sherrill affirmed that the church which Christ built, as promised in Matt 16, is still in existence. I denied it. The second day I affirmed that the scriptures teach that all mankind shall be justified, saved, vivified and reconciled. He denied.
My opponent is a gentleman and was perfectly fair in all he said and did. True, he seemed unable to get my viewpoint, and much of what he said was in answer to something I had not said. But this was because the subjects were new to him. He had no intention of treating me unfairly. I shall ever cherish the opportunity I had of discussing the scriptures with him.
I gratefully acknowledge the many kind remembrances sent me and my family during the Holidays.