Allentown, Pa., April 14, 1907


Pastor C T Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today in the Lyric theater. In the afternoon his topic was "The Bible Defended To Hell and Back." He had a very large and attentive audience. We report his morning discourse from the text, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). The speaker said:

The meaning of our text is obscure to very many. On the surface it seems to teach an absurdity, namely, that the dead would hear first and live afterward. Whereas, the ordinary thought would be that they would live first and then hear. But our Lord made no mistake in the statement, and the text is very ample of solution when once the right principles of interpretation are recognized. To get the proper signification of these words we must remember that from God's standpoint only three members of our race have ever been alive: Father Adam and Mother Eve, during their period of innocence while in Eden, and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose life unimpaired by sin was transferred from a high plane of spirit being to human nature when he, in the language of the apostle, "was made flesh," that he by the grace of God, "might taste death for every man" (John 1:14; Heb. 2:9). The scriptures consistently hold to this thought that nothing short of perfection of being is alive, and hence that Adam and Eve and all their posterity who shared in their fall immediately became dying creatures and could not be said to be alive.

The statement of Rev. 20:5 is in full accord with this thought. The thousand-year reign of Christ is described, and the resurrection of the church to glory and perfection of life in the kingdom is portrayed, and then the general statement follows that the "rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." It will be the work of the Millennial age to fulfill the meaning of our text to cause all mankind, all the dead, first to be awakened from the tomb; second, to hear the voice, the message of the Son of God; and thirdly, if they will, to be raised by this message out of sin and death conditions completely, up to the full perfection of life as it was lost in Eden and redeemed at Calvary. But not until the dead world shall have heard the voice and obeyed it can they reach that perfection, the end which is designated as life. All the obedient then, having heard and having obeyed, shall live in the full sense of the word Adamic death, weakness, imperfection, will have no further power over them, because by the Lord's grace the work of the Millennial age will have raised them completely out of the sinful dying conditions.


The context (vs. 28, 29) declares that "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth" unto resurrection. The intimation is very clear that the coming forth would not of itself constitute a resurrection, and this is corroborated by other Scriptures which tell us that the widow of Nain's son, Jairus' daughter and Lazarus were awakened from the sleep of death, or, in the Master's words, came forth from the tomb. None of these, however, lived again none of them were brought to perfection by their awakening. They were still under sentence of death, and were merely resuscitated for a brief time to die as others die under the death sentence. The first to rise to die no more was our Lord Jesus. His was a life resurrection a resurrection to perfection to life and being completely out of death. His, therefore, was an anastasis, or raising up absolutely. In harmony with all this is the testimony of the Scriptures that he was the "first fruits of them that slept." He was the "first born from the dead," he was the "first that should rise from the dead," and that "Christ dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him" (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18; Acts 26:23; Rom. 6:9).

Accordingly, our Lord's words declare that after those in their graves shall have heard the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, unto those who have done good unto those who have pleased God, unto those acceptable to God through Christ it shall be a life resurrection or a raising up completely out of death, similar to that experienced by our Lord. Indeed, the resurrection of the church is elsewhere designated as the resurrection of Christ, who being the head and the church his body, the reckoning is that in his resurrection began the resurrection of the entire body. Hence the apostle declares again that his ambition was to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings that he might also share in "his resurrection" (Philip. 3:10). But it is evident that those who will share in the life resurrection will be comparatively a very small proportion of humanity, because only a few have this testimony that "they pleased God," only a few have the witness of the word of God and of the Holy Spirit that they are accepted in Christ that they have been faithful to their privileges, opportunities and covenants. All others are grouped by our Lord's words together under the general term, "Those who have done evil," those whose course God has not approved. For these our Lord declares there will be a "resurrection by judgments" 'mistranslated in our common version a "resurrection of [HGL366] damnation," but properly enough rendered in the revised version.


Having in mind that the resurrection process is to bring the individual up to the perfection of life, it is readily discerned that the life itself will not be possessed until the resurrection process shall have been accomplished. The great mass of the world then, after coming forth from the tomb not all at once, but, as the apostle declares, "every man in his own order" will still be in death. The resurrection by judgments must therefore in the case of these signify a gradual raising up to life through a process of judgments, a process of rewards and punishments, correction in righteousness. There will be disciplinary in character, helpful, with a view to the enlightenment, instruction and uplifting of all from the sin-and-death conditions to absolute perfection of life.

Preceding our text (vs. 21, 22), our Lord makes this same distinction between the awakening the dead and the quickening them, or bringing them to perfection of life, and declares that, as the Father Himself has power to do this, even so he has given the same power to the Son. Then he tells the reason, the necessity, for giving it to the Son because, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son; that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father also. If we inquire what judgment is this that the Father hath committed to the Son," the answer comes that it was not the judgment against father Adam in Eden, for that judgment was by the Father and the sentence was from the Father to death. The world, once judged in Adam and condemned, could not be judged again and condemned again until the first judgment was set aside. The decisions of the great supreme court of the universe must stand inviolate. To rescind the sentence would signify either that a wrong was done by the original sentence or that a wrong was done in the setting aside of a rightful sentence. The scriptures show how God, maintaining the original judgment or sentence of death against the race, has nevertheless planned that our Redeemer should pay the penalty for Adam and all involved through his disobedience, and that having paid their penalty he might grant them a new judgment, a fresh trial, for everlasting life. This, then, is what our Lord meant when He said that the Father had committed the judgment of the world to Him. What a blessed promise that the world of mankind was to have a fresh judgment, a fresh trial for everlasting life! How thankful we are that the Lord had mercy upon us, and provided the redemption from the original sin and its death penalty, giving us thus an opportunity of a fresh trial or judgment at the hands of our Redeemer.


How fully in accord with the foregoing is the apostle's declaration that God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained the Christ, Jesus the Head, the Church His body. (Acts 17:31.) It would not have been appropriate that God should appoint a day for the judging of the world for the granting of a fresh trial for the world of mankind, to permit the willing and obedient to gain eternal life had it not been for the divine arrangement that through Christ the original sin should be atoned for and its sentence set aside. But that day has not yet come. The apostle speaks of it as future: it cannot come until its appointed time. It will be the "day of Christ" The Millennial day, a thousand years long. Hearken to the apostle's explanation, "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years." (2 Pet. 3:8.) This day of judgment is a day of the Lord, one of His own appointment, and for a great work it is none too long.

The Scriptures do indeed refer to that day as a very trying ordeal, but the minds of the Lord's people filled with the crude ideas from the "dark ages" fail to examine the word carefully enough respecting the character of the judgments of that day. When now we look at them carefully, discriminately, we find that the events of that day will be just such as we might reasonably expect in the program of the just and loving God and Savior. As the apostle pointed out, God has left the world very much to itself for several thousand years, not specially interfering either to reward or punish. Satan in the interim operating through the weakness of fallen humanity and deceiving mankind has imposed himself upon them as their god or ruler, whom unwittingly they serve. And he has imposed false doctrines too, defamatory of God and injurious to man, substituting the traditions of men for the word of grace and truth. For long centuries God has permitted Satan to wield vast influence in the world for evil not that He was unable to restrain the father of lies and to deliver the world from its bondage of ignorance and superstition and error, but because, so to speak, He uses Satan's power for evil as a great grindstone, in connection with which the Lord has not only been polishing His "jewels," His "little flock," but also to some extent been permitting the world to get lessons respecting the exceeding "sinfulness of sin," and the unsatisfactory wages every way which it brings. It will be because sin and error and falsehood and deceit have so long held power that the change which God intends to bring in will appear so radical and be so stoutly resisted, and bring in such terrible trials and difficulties upon the resisters.

The thousand-year day of judgment, will begin, according to the Scriptures, as a time of trouble which will involve the whole world, religiously, politically, financially, socially, "in a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" in such a shaking (Heb. 12:26) as will shake loose and utterly destroy everything that is evil or in sympathy with evil, injustice, untruth, etc. We need not stop to detail the awfulness of that time of trouble with which the day of judgment will begin whose types and figures were represented in the time of trouble upon the Jews and the overthrow of their polity, A D 69 and 70, and again later in the French revolution. These judgments upon the nations and systems, political, religious, civil, financial exposing, dashing to pieces and destroying may already be noticed as beginning in the world, and may be expected to reach a culmination of violence in eight years, according to our understanding of the Scriptures. Thank God, the judgment upon the nations will be short, as well as severe, and will accomplish the good designs of the Great Judge in humbling mankind and making them ready for the new institutions and arrangements of their [HGL367] personal judgment or trial of that thousand-year judgment day, which will then be beginning.


The apostle says that the world will be judged in righteousness justly, fairly, properly with a view to the blessing of all who will accept the instructions of that day and come into harmony with God, and with a view to the destruction in the second death of all who will reject the favors of that day of judgment. We want to get rid of the false conception of the day of judgment which has blinded and injured us from infancy that it would be a twenty-four hour day and simply signify a re-trial of the human family, the sending back to heaven or hell or purgatory whence they came of all the human family. No such penalty is taught in the Scriptures, but on the contrary the Lord's people are bidden to rejoice in view of God's glorious proposition that the world shall be granted a day of judgment. Hearken to the words of the Prophet David, who exaltingly exclaims:

"Let the heavens be glad And let the earth rejoice; And let men say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth. Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof; Let the fields rejoice and all that are therein; Then shall the trees of the woods sing aloudAt the presence of Jehovah; Because he cometh to judge the earth. O, give thanks unto Jehovah for he is good; For His mercy endureth unto completion." -1 Chron. 16:31-34

I wish that those of you who are Bible students would take your concordances and note how many Scripture passages refer to "in that day," "in his day," etc. You will find wonderful things predicted of that glorious day when God's kingdom shall be established in the earth, when his reign of righteousness amongst the people shall be inaugurated. It will bring blessings of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the prophets since the world began to all those who obey the Word of the Lord in that time. It will bring chastisements to any of them who might be tardy in the learning of the proper lessons of life, and it will bring the second death to all others who willfully and deliberately reject the grace of God at the hands of him who redeemed us all. And the church of this Gospel age, the "very elect," have been promised of the Master a share with himself in his throne, "in that day." And it shall be a portion of their privilege to be the judges of the world, as it is written, "The saints shall judge the world." 1 Cor. 6:2.

Let us now apply our text again, "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and they that hear shall live." Not only the millions who at the inauguration of the kingdom will not yet have gone into the tomb, but also the millions who have already gone down into sheol, hades all these shall come forth, come forth to hear the words of the Son of Man, come forth to be judged, to be granted a trial under fair and favorable conditions of righteousness come forth to have the eyes of their understanding opened and the ears of their understanding unstopped, that they may hear and know distinctly the right from the wrong, and that they may demonstrate their characters by their acceptance or their rejection of him that speaketh to them from heaven.


We should not overlook this statement of our text, that the hour for the dead to hear the Son of Man is not only a coming one, but that to some it "now is." Ah, yes! to this other Scriptures agree, saying, "Blessed are your ears if they hear and your eyes if they see." Some, a comparatively few in the present time, have ears to hear and eyes to recognize the grace of God in Christ. These in the Scriptures are called the "elect," the church of the first-born, etc. I trust that many in this audience are such as have heard the voice of the Son of Man. I trust further that these discourses, published weekly in some eight journals of large circulation, reach a considerable number of those who have heard the voice speaking from heaven. But there are two ways of hearing! The apostle speaks of some as forgetful hearers and of others as receiving the grace of God in vain, and he urges those who now are so fortunate as to hear the blessed message that they "refuse not him that speaketh from heaven." Heb. 12:25.

The intimation of the apostle's words is that to once hear the invitation of the Lord in a full and satisfactory sense, and to once repudiate his message with deliberation, would mean the full end of all privilege to such an individual would prove that under no circumstances would he be worthy of eternal life. True, the opportunities of the present time are less favorable in some respects than those that will obtain during the Millennium but in other respects the latter are much more favorable. The rewards of obedience in the next age will be granted human perfection by restitution processes eternal life as perfect human beings in a paradise restored. But the rewards of those who now hear, who now accept, who now follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, walking in his footsteps, are by faith, and are explained by the Apostle Peter to be "exceeding great and precious," and he assures us that it is the divine will that through their influence upon our hearts and lives we might become partakers of the divine nature, with its glory, honor and immortality. O, yes! we who now hear have wonderful blessings, wonderful privileges, which more than compensate and offset the disadvantages of opposition from the world, the flesh, and the adversary.


Not only will it be true that hearing in the sense of obeying the Lord will bring the obedient of the world during the Millennial age up to the perfection of life at the close of the Millennium, but it is also true of those who now hear of the grace of God in faith and obedience. Indeed the operation now is much quicker than it will be for the world during the Millennium. We are reckoned as justified from our old sins and from all the blemishes that are ours through heredity, and from all the weaknesses [HGL368] that are not willingly ours and that we are striving against. Then we are permitted to present our bodies living sacrifices to the Lord and to receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit to a newness of life, and thenceforth, according to the Lord's word, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus old things and the old nature have

passed away and all things have become new. After we believed it was the work of a moment to make a full consecration of our hearts to the Lord and to receive the anointing and begetting of his Holy Spirit.

There the new life began not in its perfection, however. As new creatures we needed, as the apostle explains, the milk of the word that we might grow thereby; later on we needed the strong meat, that we might be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and that we might be overcomers, conquerors, fighting a good fight in our hearts, keeping the faith, and so far as possible keeping our bodies under or in subjection to the new mind, the new creature. Of these the Lord declares in the context that they have "everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation (judgment), but have already passed from death unto life." (v. 24.) They will not come into the judgment of the world during the Millennial age, for by reason of hearing the voice of the Lord now and rendering obedience to that voice, they are already accepted to eternal life as new creatures. All that there is for them henceforth to do is to maintain their fidelity to the Lord and the principles of righteousness for which he stands, doing their very best to fight a good fight. All else pertaining to their interests the Captain of their salvation, the heavenly Bri-degroom, will see to. For them he will provide the necessary trials and difficulties, giving meantime the necessary encouragements and joys, and will bring them off conquerors and more than conquerors through him who bought them with his precious blood.

"A little while, our trials will be over;
A little while, our tears be wiped away;
A little while, the power of Jehovah
Shall turn the darkness into gladsome day."

"A little while! 'Tis ever drawing nearer-
The brighter dawning of that glorious day.
Blessed Savior, make our spirit's vision clearer,
And guide, O guide us in the shining way."

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