INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
POSITION OF THE WORLD IN MILLENNIAL AGE.
Question.--Are the sins of the world class all canceled at death? or, is only their Adamic penalty paid? and do they have an individual penalty still to pay?
Answer.--The sins of the whole world are paid, as far as divine justice is concerned--that is to say--God's account against Adam and his posterity has been sold, transferred and set over to him who purchased the same with his own precious blood.
The sins of the world are not canceled, so far as they are concerned; but a way is opened up, under the New Covenant, by which each can obtain a release. The terms are that when brought to a knowledge of Christ and the redemption in him each for himself shall will to reform and no longer to serve sin, but to serve the Redeemer and to obey him.
In view of this opportunity of retracing steps, it is proper for us to say that every word and action on the part of the world is either building up character or undermining it--either blessing or injuring the doer-- either increasing or decreasing the number and weight of his stripes of punishment, all of which will be corrective.
Thus we may say that the Adamic penalty is set aside until such time as the individual shall have been granted a trial on his own account. If in this trial on his own account he sins wilfully refusing to follow the instructions of his Redeemer, he will be dropped back again into the original penalty--"returned into sheol" --which will be the Second Death.
Thus seen, the only individual penalty they have to pay will be that represented in their own degradation. We might include in this penalty any sins which they might commit in the present life against any degree of light; for such sins bring a special searing of conscience which the same deeds committed in ignorance would not bring. Hence all who thus sin against light receive proportionately a deeper degradation and will have correspondingly the more difficulty in extricating themselves, and returning to perfection under the favorable conditions of the next age.
The world of mankind are not reckoned as coming into existence a second time, but as having their previous existence revived and continued, with the privilege of accepting Christ under the New Covenant, and being regenerated by him, and thus attaining life-- resurrection by judgment, which will progress throughout the Millennial age, and reach completion at its close--those who accept there will reach perfect life, [R3105 : page 335] while those who reject will there be destroyed in the Second Death. From this standpoint the only effect of good and evil in the present life will be upon man's own conscience and character.
In respect to I Pet. 4:6, briefly, I understand this to mean: that for instance we who hear the Gospel and who accept its terms have a two-fold standing--or are viewed in life from two different standpoints. The world views us and judges us according to the flesh, as human beings, just the same as the remainder of the world, but God judges us differently--to him we are new creatures, and he judges us according to our spirit, will, intention, and not according to the weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh. Hence it is that although we know that in our flesh dwelleth no perfection, nevertheless "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us" --because God judges us not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
USE OF FERMENTED WINE.
Question.--Is there any prohibition in the Mosaic Law respecting the use of fermented wine? Was the use of unfermented grape juice not authorized by the Jewish arrangement?
Answer.--We do not know of any place in the Mosaic Law in which the priests of that system were prohibited the use of wine. But if you know of such a statement kindly draw our attention to it. But even if this had been the case, it would not typify our Lord's life from Jordan to Calvary; for the Scriptural declaration respecting our Lord is that he did use wine. You remember they said of him, "Behold a wine-bibber and a glutton"--not, we presume, because he over-indulged, in either eating or drinking, but simply because he was less abstemious in respect to food and drink than John the Baptist, his Forerunner.
The prohibition of leaven would certainly apply as much to liquids as to solids during the Passover season amongst the Jews; but it is a mistake to suppose that wine contains any leaven after it is made. Leaven is sometimes added to grape juice in order to hasten the fermentation; but when the fermentation has all worked off the remaining wine is purer, freer from ferment and everything that would produce ferment than ever it was before. So far as we are aware, the Jews had no method of preserving grape juice unfermented. Their bottles were made of skin, and our Lord's parable shows that if new wine (grape juice) were put into old skin bottles that had lost their elasticity, the ferment would burst them, and the wine be lost; and hence the custom of putting new wine into new bottles, which would resist the strain of fermentation. Since the fermentation of grape juice sets in speedily, you can readily see that there would be no wine in all Palestine that had not finished its working or fermentation several months before the Passover season.
There are few persons more appreciative than ourselves of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors; yet we do not permit our opposition to intemperance to warp our judgment in respect to the use of wine mentioned in the Scriptures. I explain the difference between the customs of that time and this by the fact, first, that they had a comparatively mild wine, which contained only a small quantity of alcohol, the product of the grape; and further, by the fact that their climate and other conditions were less inclined to lead to excesses than are ours. As you perhaps have noticed, we generally use, as "fruit of the vine," at our Memorial Supper, at Allegheny, either hermetically sealed grape juice, or the strained juice of crushed and stewed raisins.
Some tell us that the Hebrews never use the ordinary fermented wine during the Passover week. They no doubt are honest in intention, although they misrepresent the facts. For instance, if they inquire of a Hebrew--"Do the Jews during the Passover week use the ordinary wine?" the Hebrew would answer, "Oh, my, no, never--never!" From this they draw the inference that he means that they use nonalcoholic wine, and perhaps they are foreigners of tongue to each other, and but imperfectly catch each other's thoughts and unintentionally deceive each other. But what the Hebrew did mean was that he would not think of buying any wine which he would use during Passover week from any ordinary wine-seller--just as the strict Hebrew would not think at any time of buying his meat from an ordinary butcher, but only from a Hebrew butcher, whose beef was killed in the presence of a rabbi, and duly attested to have been killed according to the Mosaic Law. This to the Jew would be clean meat, while any other would be unclean. Similarly would the orthodox Jew act in respect to his wine, especially that used during the Passover week. It must come through what he recognizes as the legitimate channels guaranteed that no leaven ever came in contact with it, and that no Gentile ever had anything to do with it. To satisfy ourselves on the subject, we procured from a very particular Jew a bottle of the kind of wine thus approved. We found it to be of the ordinary alcoholic kind.
YOUR HOUSE LEFT DESOLATE.
Question.--Were the Jews cast into outer darkness about A.D. 70? or five days before the crucifixion, when our Lord said, "Your house is left unto you desolate."? --Matt. 8:12; 23:38.
Answer.--As a house, or nation, Israel was rejected of the Lord at the time of the crucifixion, because of unpreparedness to receive the Lamb of God, the Messiah; but while the nation was there rejected and could no longer hope to be the seed which should be the blesser of all nations, nevertheless, in selecting the new nation, the holy nation out of every kindred, people and tongue, God was pleased to give the first opportunity of identification with the new nation to any of the fleshly Israelites who were Israelites indeed, and without guile. Consequently the Gospel went first to them and was confined to them for three and a half years,--Cornelius being the first Gentile convert. All of the period from our Lord's crucifixion down to the utter destruction of the Jewish polity A.D. 70, was the period of testing to that people: some of them, in right condition of heart, were accepted into the light and privileges then due; others, unworthy, were rejected from all divine favor and were in consequent darkness respecting transpiring events and ultimately felt the severity of the trouble figuratively called "weeping and gnashing of teeth."