Christ’s Ascension

Brother Lipscomb: Did Jesus Christ ascend with his fleshly body into heaven? If so, please harmonize the scripture that no flesh nor blood shall enter heaven.

Jesus arose with the same body, with the same wounds with which he died. We have no account of any change in this body, but Paul says: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” (1 Cor. 15:51f) As Christ was not changed in the grave, because he wished to appear to man in his mortal flesh, he was, no doubt, changed, as those who are not in their graves will be changed, in a twinkling as he ascended.

David Lipscomb

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The Spirit of the Antichrist

Please explain, through the Gospel Advocate, 1 John 4:2-3.

This scripture seems to recognize that there is a spirit peculiar to every system of teaching. A class of teachers had arisen in the church, claiming to be inspired or sent of God, who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. He says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” It is probable that these teachers exhibited some ability to work wonders, as evil spirits in the days of the Savior possessed such power. John’s letters were written to warn against these false teachers who were guided by these spirits. He urged them to try the spirits. Paul to the Corinthians, warning against the same class, said: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual [inspired], let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” This is a command to test those claiming inspiration by the word of God. This shows that obedience to the word of God even in the days of the apostles was regarded as a higher evidence of acceptance with God than the power to prophesy or do wonders. John tells them that those denying in his day that Christ had come in the flesh were of antichrist. Antichrist was to come “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” These spirits which worked wonders were all to be tested — proved by the word of God — and one who did not conform to the word of God, even though he should work wonders and signs, was to be rejected. Conforming to the word of God is the only test of acceptance with God. Then the spirit in those persons led them to confess that Christ had come in the flesh. To do this was to recognize him by obeying him as Christ the Lord. “No man can call Jesus Lord, save by the Holy Ghost.” The spirit that prompted others to deny that he was come in the flesh was of antichrist. Antichrist was a spiritual power, but a wicked spirit. These verses recognize there were many spirits gone out into the world. These spirits worked wonders. All were to be tried by the word of God. Only those who acknowledged that Christ had come in the flesh, which is the same as to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, were of God. All who denied this, which was a denial that Christ is the Son of God, were of antichrist.

Angels Rejoicing and Future Recognition

Please explain through the Gospel Advocate the following verse: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:7.)

In 1 Cor. 13:12, does Paul mean that we shall see each other face to face and know each other?

 

The passage in Luke, we think, means just what it says. There is, doubtless, joy in heaven over a sinner that truly repents, truly turns from sin into the service of God. The angels of heaven, doubtless, know what is going on in earth, as angels are ministers for those who shall be heirs of salvation. This passage shows the interest that is felt and manifested in behalf of men by those in heaven.

As to the passage in Corinthians, we cannot speak definitely. Some think that Paul in this passage had reference to the perfected state of the church and to the completeness of the revelation of all matters pertaining to the new institution, so that they could comprehend at once the whole scheme of human redemption. In the days of the apostles these things were only given in parts—just so much at a time as was needed at a certain place or time or occasion; but finally, little by little, the whole was fully given, until they could comprehend the whole matter, as a friend knows his friend when face to face with him. Others, however, think Paul had reference to heaven, when all the fullness of God’s mercy and love will be fully and clearly disclosed before our eyes, and that then we shall know all things pertaining to eternity. And if this idea is correct, then the passage certainly includes the idea that we shall know each other there. We do not think that either interpretation would do violence to other passages on the subject; and we, therefore, will not say definitely, but have generally inclined to the first-named interpretation.

All Things to All Men

Please explain in the Gospel Ad­vocate 1 Cor. 9:22. What is meant by the expression: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”?

Paul in this passage was not speaking of anything that involved the law of God under Christianity. He only had reference to outside matters that were only matters of indifference. Paul never willingly disobeyed any requirement of God under Christianity to please any one. But in the customs of the people that involved no principle of Christianity, he submitted. When among the Jews, he acted as the Jews in all their customs that did not compromise any law of Christ; and the same also among the Gentiles, or heathen. In matters of indifference, in which if people partake they are nothing worse and from which if they refrain they are nothing better, Christians can be perfectly indifferent. If a Christian is where the custom is to invariably wash the hands before eating, he can submit to that; and so of any other custom of like character. But if a Christian is called upon to turn away from the laws of Christ or do anything that is contrary to them, he cannot yield, even if a refusal should imperil his life.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Condition of Adam Before the Fall

Please give in the Gospel Advocate your understanding of the condition of Adam before his fall. In other words, was he immortal before he violated his Maker? Did he lose both temporal and spiritual life? If so, did not the Savior die, not only a temporal, but a spiritual, death, to consummate the at-one-ment for the human family? I have my ideas of this question, resulting from a careful study of the Bible. A brother and myself, differing to some extent about it, agreed to refer to you for the sum of your investigations, thinking you might assist us and perhaps others occupying similar positions. My position is, in short, that he was subject to mortality even in Eden, but the fruit of the tree of life could, and did, perpetuate his life, counteracting his tendency to mortality. What say you?

These questions are so near the border line of speculations that have a tendency to draw men’s minds from the more practical requirements of religion, that we answer them cautiously. Some things, we think, are revealed about the death of Adam. These we try to answer. The death that Adam died clearly was that he became mortal.

Mortality is death. Death is suffering, decay, corruption. What we call “death” is the final result of a state of death that we are undergoing here. The biblical use of the term immortality is not eternal existence merely, but the opposite of mortality — freedom from suffering, decay, corruption. This corruptible must put on incorruption; this mortal, immortality; so death (our present state) will be swallowed up in victory. Man was without corruption, or mortality, before he sinned. Whether he was kept so by eating the fruit of the tree of life or whether it was inherent in him, we have no means of determining. The cutting off from the tree of life corresponded in time with his becoming mortal, or entering into the state of death. It is probably a legitimate inference that the continuance to partake of the tree of life would have perpetuated existence. Man became physically a dying being. He sinned. To sin is to separate from God, is to unite with the devil. This is to breathe the atmosphere of death, is to drink in the life of the evil one. His life becomes our life. The life of the evil one is a living death. Deliverance from the service of the evil one is life, is union with God. Whether it required the spiritual death of Christ, or how far he suffered or died spiritually or in his divine nature, we have no means of determining; so anything we might say would be unprofitable speculation in things not revealed. We only know he did not die as a spiritual being, in the sense of sinning against God, and being united to the evil one. How a being can spiritually die without separation from God and union with the evil one, we know not. Christ’s death opened the way for our escape from union with the evil one for a reunion with God. The devil is the ruler of this world. Its atmosphere is impregnated with a spirit of rebellion against God. We imbibe the spirit of rebellion. Christ died to deliver men from this evil influence. He calls him into his church, in which a different atmosphere prevails, so man may breathe a different spirit. Finally this church will repossess this world. The atmosphere will be purged of the spirit of sin, with which it is surcharged, and men will cease to breathe the rebellious spirit and will be less in love with sin.