Pittsburgh Gazette-August 14, 1904

How Sin Brings Certain Punishment in the Future

Scottsdale, Pa. -Pastor C T Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached here twice today at the Opera house. Next Sunday he is expected to preach at "The People's Temple," Boston. The afternoon discourse was on "God's Oath-Bound Covenant to Abraham and His Seed," and was listened to by a large house with close attention. The morning address, which was on "The Certainty of Punishment for Sins," was as follows:

We take for our text the words of the Apostle in 1 Tim. 5:24: "Some men's sins are open beforehand (manifested), going before to judgment: and some they follow after."

The axiom, "He who sins must suffer," is an old one, well supported by scriptural testimony and in accord with all human conceptions of justice. The apostle's statement in our text accords with this. Suggesting that some, but not all, receive the reward of their evil doing in this present life, he assures us that those not rewarded for their evil doings in the present life will meet their just deserts in the future. Some have larger secretive-ness than others, and thus a greater ability to hide their evil sentiments and deeds and to escape their just opprobium and natural consequences, some others possess qualities or are surrounded by circumstances which seem to prosper them in their unrighteous ways-down to the very close of the present life. If there were no future life, no future retribution, no difference in the future between those who have received rewards for their sins in the present life and those who have wrought righteousness and those who have wrought evil-no difference, either, between those who have received rewards for sins in the present life and those who have been successful in evil doing-if these were to be the conditions of the future, there would seem to be a great inequality as respects the divine arrangement. But the more we know of the purposes of the divine plan in respect to sin and sinners in the present and in the future, the more we are impressed with the wisdom, justice, love and power to be exercised toward all by the great Creator.

One great difficulty met with in considering this subject is the very false conceptions of justice generally entertained among civilized people, coming down to us of the present day from our progenitors-from "the dark ages." For nearly 15 centuries the Christian world was evidently asleep as respects the exercise of sound reasoning on religious subjects, and particularly in respect to the divine character and plan of dealing with humanity. Under the blinding influences of Satan, crimes were committed in the name of God, not only against love, but also against justice. In the name of divine love and justice human beings were racked, tortured with red-hot irons, had their nails pulled out with pincers, had their ears and mouth filled with molten lead, had their tongues cut out, had their eyes gouged out, were cut with knives, were burned at the stake-in a word, all that a devil could do or think of doing was done in the name of the God of love and mercy and justice. Is it any wonder that men possessed of such evil dispositions, such cruelty, so lacking in justice and love-so lacking in the spirit of holiness, should have gross misconceptions of the divine character and attributes? Is it any wonder that the creeds formulated by these men and under their auspices, or later by those who were to some extent still controlled by their errors-is it any wonder that these creeds contains gross errors, which thoroughly misrepresent divine justice and mercy in respect to sin and its penalty?


We need not wonder, we do not wonder, that to a large extent these wicked sentiments have attached themselves to the thoughts and writings of well-intentioned people living since the dark ages. This gross darkness which gradually developed during [HGL232] "the second, third and fourth centuries of the Christian era, and which was a horror of darkness upon the whole of Europe from then until the sixteenth century, should require an equal length of time to be thoroughly gotten rid of, Nay! We need not wonder if it should require longer time to get rid of error than to come under its influence, for such is always the case. The great adversary instigates the error still, and seeks to propagate it in various forms gas an angel of light to deceive." (2 Cor. 11:14) Moreover, the fallen condition of our race points naturally downward and needs continually to be assisted to the higher and better and purer and truer sentiments.

The fault of present-day teachings of Christendom respecting the wages of sin is not because they teach that sin will be punished, but because they totally misrepresent the punishment. They teach that which enlightened Christian human judgment cannot accept. And teaching this in the name of God and the Bible, they misrepresent both, bringing both into contempt, and thus not only make void the true teachings of the divine word, but shake the confidence of all intelligent people as respects the divine inspiration of the scriptures, and thus, in the name of God, in the name of the Bible, in the name of Christ, are spreading infidelity.

Is it not time that Christian people should awake to a realization of the error, which as a great nightmare, has afflicted the best of them and which now is not only threatening but effecting the overthrow of all faith among Christians of all denominations? It is time for the truth to be told and hence, to the extent of our ability, you and I and all who would be faithful to God and to His word should cry aloud and spare not the error. God's true people must be awakened even though the spirit of the world, the spirit of indifference, the spirit of doubt, the spirit of ease, the spirit of sectarianism, all urge them to slumber on, saying, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace" -when the time has come that the word of God and His character are being assailed, not only by infidelity from without, but also by so-called new theology and higher criticism from within the nominal church.


But says some one, the new theology and the higher critics quite agree with you that there is to be no eternal torment; in fact, you will find that very few ministers and very few intelligent laymen believe in such a doctrine. Why, then, stir up the matter? Why discuss the matter, when the whole civilized world is gradually coming over to the same view?

We reply that in the foregoing argument is the very necessity which should and does appeal to us and to all who are loyal to God's word. So far as the Bible is concerned, the new theology, higher criticism and evolution theories are all so much of infidelity garbed under religious forms, using language in such a manner as to deceive the unsuspecting and illiterate. These theories are being preached throughout the whole civilized world, and thousands of Christian people are not aware that their well-paid instructors have abandoned all thought of the inspiration of the scriptures, all thought of an Edenic fall making necessary a redemption, all faith in a ransom of sinners from the condemnation of original sin and its penalties. Said

teachers do indeed agree with us that eternal torment would be unjust as well as unloving, but they have reached their conclusion on the lines of higher criticism-they have reached their conclusion on the supposition that they are wiser, better informed and more logical than were Jesus and His apostles.

Our position, on the contrary, is that the Bible is a divine revelation, that it is true, that its presentation of the divine character and plan show them to be just, loving, reasonable. We strive not with the higher critics, evolutionists, etc., who have become so wise in their own conceits that they need not the wisdom that cometh from above, need not the word of God. Our endeavor, on the contrary, is to awaken those who still believe in the Bible as God's word, to show them that its teachings have been misrepresented to them through the creeds of the dark ages, and that the Bible itself is grand and its presentations just and loving and logical to the last degree. We feel more and more the necessity for our presentations on this subject, because day by day those who have abandoned the scriptures as not inspired, as the work of men inferior to themselves in wisdom and justice, are insidiously undermining the faith of believers in general, and before a great while all who do not receive the true view of the scriptures will be sure to be led astray by the erroneous views which misrepresent and reject them.

In other words, in the light of present-day intelligence, no thinking man or woman can very much longer believe in the doctrine of eternal torment-that it is the portion of all except the saints, the "very elect." That doctrine is already repudiated by the hearts of all good people, and the heads of the same class must repudiate the doctrine sooner or later. The whole question is, will they repudiate it on scriptural grounds, and because they see that the scriptures do not teach it, or will they repudiate it, and, thinking that the scriptures do teach it, repudiate the scriptures also?

We have already pointed out that the scriptures specifically declare that God's penalty against sin is death extinction. We have pointed out that Adam came under this penalty and that all of his children share it with him, but that God, in mercy, provided a redemption-that Christ did as Adam's substitute, and in redeeming him from everlasting extinction He redeemed also all who shared that sentence through heredity. We have pointed out that it is because of this redemptive work of Christ that eternal life has been offered during this gospel age, in limited measure, to some of the peoples of the world, chiefly those residing in Europe and their descendants in America, and to a very few of the other numerous peoples of Africa and Asia. We have pointed out that the present offer of eternal life, through faith and obedience, is limited still more by the fact that in the favored nations of Europe and America only a few have "ears to hear" and hearts to appreciate and understand the offer. We have pointed out that this is a part of the divine plan, by which a special class, a "little flock," is being gathered out of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, to constitute a glorious company of associates with the Lord Jesus in His kingdom. We have pointed out that His kingdom, for which He taught us to pray, is yet to come, is yet to be established in power and great glory under the whole heavens; and that it will control the world [HGL233] and suppress evil and cause the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth, and ultimately bring about the conditions foretold, in which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the Lord, when God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven. All this present and future opportunity for the world of mankind to return to harmony with God and to live everlastingly, both of which were lost by Adam in Eden, pivots upon the great ransom sacrifice which our Lord Jesus accomplished "for the sins of the whole world."


Had there been no redemption from the original sin there would have been no grounds an which to invite men to obedience to God, to righteous living. As the apostle declares, if there be no resurrection of the dead, let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Death being the sum of the penalty against the race, everything that any man could do in the present life could have done no more than hasten the extinction to which he had already been condemned. But God having provided through Christ opportunities for future eternal life for all, it follows that each member of Adam's race on learning of this should be glad-indeed the message is called good tidings, gospel.

Upon learning further, that the terms upon which he may have eternal life will involve his personal co-operation with the Savior in opposing sin and degradation and unrighteousness in himself, he must realize that every downward step into sin and degradation means the greater difficulty in raising up out of such at some future time, if he ever would attain to the glorious perfection made possible to him-without the attainment of which he could never hope for eternal life. Whoever sees this clearly sees a reason-the best of all reasons'for his resistance to the downward tendencies of his own fallen nature and the best of reasons also for assisting those about him to resist sin and to strive for the attainment of their noblest ideals.

This is exactly what the apostle taught when he said: "The times of former ignorance God winked at." That is to say, in former times when the world was ignorant of God's intention to provide a salvation and opportunity for eternal life, and when God had not revealed to mankind His purpose nor laid the foundation for the same in the redemptive work-the doings of the world under those conditions God winked at, disregarded, paid no attention to them. But, adds the apostle, "God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Why this change? Why command them now to repent and live godly, while He had sent no such message to them for over a thousand years previously?

The apostle answers our question, saying, "Because He (God) hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness." This signifies a second judgment and thus implies that the sentence of the first judgment is to be set aside. The sentence of the first judgment was death, extinction, and it has been set aside by the great ransom sacrifice already referred to; and now, as a consequence of the setting aside of that first sentence upon man, all mankind is to be granted another judgment, that is, another trial, another opportunity to see to what extent past experiences have been profitable, and which under the divine direction and corrections will learn righteousness so heartily and so thoroughly as to pass divine inspection as worthy of life eternal. Whoever will not pass that inspection must die the second death'become extinct.

When we learn of God's redeeming grace in Christ and of our future hope of eternal life, we learn also that the words and acts, and specially the heart intentions of the present time as well as of the future will have to do with our ultimate acceptance, our ultimate attainment of "the gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The heathen world knows not at all of this, and hence has much less responsibility than have we of Christian lands. Whatever their wrong-doings their responsibility for them is merely in proportion to their little light of conscience. Likewise in the Christian lands the responsibility of each individual is proportionate to his knowledge of God and of righteousness. From this standpoint, as we have already seen, the chief responsibility now is upon the "Royal Priesthood," the "sanctified in Christ Jesus," who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit and hence have clearer views of the divine character. The apostle assures them that if they sin willfully, intentionally, with full consent of their minds it will be to them the sin unto death-the second death, but if they sin through weakness, indecision, etc., they shall have stripes, corrections. "For every son whom He receiveth, He chasteneth." These stripes or punishments for transgressions that were partly through ignorance and partly through weakness are designed of the Lord to be corrective, to develop in His people the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Those of the church who receive corrections in the present life may be reckoned among those mentioned in our text whose sins go beforehand to judgment-they receive their chastisements and corrections now to the intent, as the apostle says, that their spirits may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus-to the intent that they may be acceptable to Him at the end of this age when He sets up His kingdom.


As for the sins of the world, the Christian world and the heathen world, all who are not of the fully consecrated church of Christ, their sins, as we have already stated, are proportionate to their knowledge of right and wrong, and their knowledge of right and wrong may come partly through association with the true church, partly through association with civilization and partly through the light of conscience not totally extinguished through the fall. As our text declares, with some of these the sin is manifest in this present life and brings upon the transgressor its natural reward or penalty-perhaps loathsome disease; perhaps mental, moral or physical weakness, perhaps the loss of friendship, sympathy, perhaps the loss of competence, perhaps the loss of liberty by imprisonment, etc. Nearly all receive some measure of retributive justice in the present life. Indeed, as the apostle declares, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together." True, this pain and suffering, mental, moral and physical distress, is largely the result of inherited weakness and depravity. But to whatever extent any one yields to sin in violation of his conscience, to that extent he is apt to increase his degradation and suffering. [HGL234] It is far from our thought that the great mass of these poor creatures need some special torture in the future; the great majority, we believe, will not be called upon by the Lord to suffer anything additional, yet they will have a purgatorial experience, if we may so designate it; that is, the uplifting experiences of the millennial age will require the co-operation of each individual for his own deliverance. He will be obliged to fight against his own weaknesses, though he will have the assistance of the glorified Christ in his battle, and he will not have the opposition of Satan and of an adverse world, as the church has in the present time, because in the world's day of judgment or trial Satan will be bound and no longer deceive and put darkness for light and light for darkness, evil for good and good for evil. And the world, relieved from its ignorance and superstition and blindness, and brought under control of the great kingdom, will no longer be the opponent of righteousness.

As to how the judgment of some men's sins will follow after them into the future life-as to how, after their awakening from the sleep of death, they will have varying experiences corresponding to their use or abuse of present knowledge and opportunities, is an interesting question. Protestant views in general would cast all such into a fiery torture which, the creeds assure us, will be never ending, hopeless. No attempt is made to show gradations of punishment proportionate to the sins and weaknesses of the culprit. And while it will be admitted that some of this class have been generous and kind in the present life, and have given cups of cold water in the name of a disciple, and according to the Lord's declaration should have a reward for so doing, no plan or arrangement for the mitigation of their sufferings is even suggested. In this respect the views of Protestants are more inconsistent that those of Romanists, who attach sufferings and tortures lasting for decades and centuries and thousands of years for various sins, but, nevertheless, hold out a hope that eventually the culprit may escape the torture. All of these views have the appearance and odor of the dark ages; they are unmerciful, unreasonable, unjust, loveless. To torture any creature for years or centuries for the evil deeds of an hour or even of a lifetime, would be most horrible injustice and totally ungodlike. Furthermore, all such unscriptural views of future punishment for sin are inferior to present worldly conceptions on such subjects. Our penitentiaries of the present time are backed by a better sentiment, and are much more in accord with what the Lord proposes as the future punishment for sin.


Through the Prophet Daniel, the Lord gives a brief pen picture of those who will come forth from the tomb during the millennium. They are divided into two classes, a similar division to that which our Lord makes in His account of the same. (John 5:28, 29.) Our Lord said, All that are in their graves shall come forth, those who at heart have been loyal to Him and sought their best to do His will, however imperfect their accomplishment, are classed as the "good" 'as those who have divine approval and shall come forth to a life resurrection-raised completely out of sin and death conditions up to perfect life conditions. All the remainder of mankind, disapproved of the Lord because they have not done to the best of their ability, come forth from their graves that they may have opportunity for a gradual raising up to perfection by "judgments," by the system of rewards and punishments which will prevail during the millennial age.

Those who will submit to the judgments of that thousand-year day of judgment, will, under the Lord's discipline, guidance and assistance, obtain full perfection; while all who will persistently resist the reign of righteousness will be cut off from life in the second death. The picture of these same great matters given through the Prophet Daniel touches another side of the question, and shows us more what will be the experiences of the world during that millennium of uplift, or resurrection from sin-and-death conditions. The account reads, "Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12:2.) Those who come forth to a life-resurrection will be approved of the Lord, the "good." Those coming forth to shame and lasting contempt are the world in general, who have not approved themselves to God by the acceptance of Christ and obedience to His counsel to the best of their ability. Their shame and lasting contempt will be incidental to the judgments by which they will be rewarded and punished according to their conduct during the millennium.

As we have already seen, the living generations of the world will be dealt with before any are awakened from the sleep of death, and that they will make rapid progress under the instructions of that time is beyond question; the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth promptly, speedily. Secondly, when the awakening processes begin, many will find themselves well known, through the teachings of history, to those already well advanced in knowledge and character development. Moreover, the art of phrenology, character reading, and possibly mind reading, will be well advanced; and we may well suppose the shame covering many of the awakened ones as they find the secrets of their lives and the meanness of their characters known to all about them. Their condition will naturally draw upon them the contempt of each other, as well as of those by that time more advanced in character development. Some have had such an experience as this in the present life, and sometimes to their profit and reformation, their sins were open, going before hand to judgment; but others have succeeded in cloaking their real sentiments and character in the present life, and these will have double shame and contempt when they shall come forth from the tomb in the awakening of the millennial day. Will not this be torture enough? Will it not be punishment enough?

The prophet declares that they come forth to everlasting shame and contempt; but the Hebrew word "olam," here translated everlasting, does not signify without end, but literally means-to an end, to a completion. We can readily discern that under the new conditions those coming forth to shame and lasting contempt will continue to be under that shame and contempt until they shall have started upon the reform road and shall have gotten a [HGL235] reasonable distance thereon, with knowledge and perseverance marking a conversion from sin to righteousness. In proportion as their restitution shall progress mentally, morally and physically, in that same proportion their shame and contempt shall diminish, so that by the time they shall have reached perfection, under the Lord's guidance and instruction, none of the shame and none of the contempt will remain. Thus eventually the more depraved and most degraded, by obedience to the laws of the kingdom, may become absolutely pure, absolutely perfect, even in the Lord's sight, and be accounted worthy of life everlasting.


Such is the reasonable scriptural view of the judgments present and to come. How different from those that have come to us from the dark ages! It will be seen, too, that in this, the Lord's method of dealing with the world, outlined in the scriptures, there is a close correspondence to the latest and best methods of dealing with criminals throughout Christendom. The criminals are put under strict laws and regulations, but obedience to these brings rewards, greater liberties and privileges, and ultimately the quicker release-or brings penalties proportionate to the willfulness and viciousness of the culprit. We can see, too, that whoever undermines character in the present life, by sin, by violation of his own conscience, is thus laying up for himself a more difficult task for the future, when all these weaknesses of character must be offset, must be compensated for by the longer and more tedious upbuilding of the same, with the possibility that the depravity and degradation will have gone so far and will have so weakened and impaired the conscience as to make recovery in the future doubtful.

I cannot hope that every one in this audience is a true, consecrated believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus a member of the church of the first-borns, whose names are written in heaven. Upon others I desire to impress the thought of the apostle in our text, that disregard of the divine will and the law of righteousness is sure to bring its penalty either in the present life or in the one that is to come. The lesson to all such is that they should make all possible haste to put themselves on the side of righteousness, in their hearts and general conduct; that they should realize that the present life is at most a vestibule to the larger and greater opportunities of the future; that wisdom now directs in the same course that she will direct by and by, and that the sooner her voice is heard and obeyed the greater will be the blessing both for the present and for the future life. And to those of you who are of the consecrated church of the Lord, let me suggest that while our subject has dealt largely with the world and its present and future punishments for sin, nevertheless the same question applies to the church and with peculiar force, for if we are the Lord's we have His guarantee that our sins shall go to judgment beforehand, in the present life-except we be reprobate.

Thus we see that among the Lord's people are two classes. They must all expect to suffer, for it is written, "Through much tribulation shall ye enter the kingdom." Again that class of the church which will not be accounted worthy of a share in the kingdom but will be granted, nevertheless, everlasting life-the great company of Rev. 7:9, who ultimately will stand before the throne as servants instead of being honored with the little flock in the throne as the bride, who will get palms of victory as overcomers, but who will fail to get the crown which the Lord has promised to His footstep followers-this class of the church also will pass through tribulation, as we read (verses 14 & 15), "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple."

See, then, that the church, the little flock, must have tribulation as disciplines and testings in harmony with their covenant, and that the "great company," less zealous, will also pass through tribulation, we inquire, in what way are the two classes of tribulations different? In what way do the experiences of these two classes of the church represented by the priests and Levites in the type-in what respects do their sufferings differ? We answer that the little flock, filled with the spirit of the Lord so enter into the joys of their Lord that their sacrifices and sufferings and self-denials for His sake seem to them but as light afflictions, but for a moment, not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. This class is enabled to rejoice in tribulation and in everything to give thanks.

Evidently the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas belonged to this class, when, with bleeding backs in the Roman prison, at midnight, they were able to thank God for the privilege of being His servants, and to burst forth in a hymn of praise. The greater company of the Lord's followers, less faithful, less filled with the spirit of zeal and self-sacrifice, feel their trials and difficulties and self-denials and sacrificing keenly, even though their sacrifices be of themselves much less. Their lives are full of trouble, with much less of the Lord's grace and peace and joy to offset life's difficulties and trials. Nevertheless, to those suffering is a purgation, a discipline and correction in righteousness, to mellow their hearts, to test their loyalty to the Lord and to principle. And we rejoice that the Lord has made such an arrangement, by which some who would not come up to the standard that is ordained for the very elect may thus have a good though an inferior portion as servants in the kingdom. Let us, dear brethren and sisters, wisely choose that good part which not only has the promise of the glory, honor and immortality of the kingdom, but also in the present life has the joy and peace which the world can neither give nor take away.

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