"Because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men." 1 Tim. 4:10.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32.
"And behold! a great crowd, which no one could have numbered, out of every nation, and of all tribes, and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and in the presence of the Lamb, invested with white robes and palm branches in their hands." Rev. 7:9.
"These are those coming out of the great affliction, and they washed their robes and whitened them in the blood of the Lamb. On this account they are before the throne of God." Rev. 7:14,15.
(1) God is the Saviour of all men from the Adamic sin and death. (2) To accomplish this, he is the Saviour at first of a very few, a "little flock." (3) And in the work of this salvation he is the Saviour of a great crowd.
In the first, salvation from Adamic sin and death, is the great aim to be attained and is builded upon God's philanthropy and the eternal fitness of things. And it is necessarily now held in abeyance until the accomplishment of the second salvation; because the little flock is destined to be kings and priests, with Christ, to bring about both the first and third of these salvations. He is not now the Saviour, in fact, of all men, nor indeed of any as generally taughta Saviour from famines, pestilences, earthquakes, cyclones, etc., etc. But he will be "the Saviour of all" from the effects of the Adamic sin and death.
Adam and Eve wrecked themselves and the race in the loss of innocence, in the loss of God's image, and in a gain of sin and death. Innocence, a God-like intelligence and moral grandeur, equal to the very perfectness of a God-made and God-endued manhood were lost by disobedience and death gained; yet so perfect in his organization, so God-like in intellectual and moral grandeur, that it took nearly a thousand years to so efface this image as to become totally dead.
The threats that met the sinning pair were, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;" "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in pain shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;" "and in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return."
Animals as well as man felt the influence of the curse; when Adam sinned, they changed, revolted, and became abnormally offensive to mankind as perfection and dominion passed away from their ruler. And they all, as well as mankind are to feel the influence of the Son of Man in "the times of the restitution."
While obedient in Eden's Garden the pair were so gifted with the beauty, perfection and glory of a perfect manhood; so filled the grand niche in God's creation, that they only fell a little short of the angels of God. And all intelligences were put under contribution to administer to their necessities and happiness. His sight was flooded with glory, his taste was satisfied with richest viands, and his ears were thrilled with grandest melodies, his lungs were filled and bathed in the life-inspiring atmosphere, and his blood was made to leap and dance with a perfect manhoodGod's inexpressible gifts for the perpetuation of a glorified manhood.
And this perfect state of manhood might have been continued forever, as the means to this end were placed within their reach. But with the entrance of sin, Eden was lost, lordship was lost, innocence was lost, happiness and a glorified humanity were lost, and pain and [R779 : page 4] woe and misery were gained!
"In Adam all die." "By man came death." "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into our world, and death by sin." "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation" of death. Through the disobedience of one man the world was flooded with sin and woe and death; and these could never have been lifted had not another perfect and obedient Man Redeemed-Ransomed the race. And so the revealing Spirit has said, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:3-6.) And when "the little flock" shall have been glorified, that due time shall have arrived, and not till then.
This salvation is universal, and "God [R779 : page 5] will have" it, no matter who may oppose; for "He works all things after the counsels of his own will."
"But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Heb. 2:9. Taste death for what? That man might not die? No! That was God's inexorable arrangementthe condemnation was just and unalterable. Man, therefore, must die; but thank God! a Ransom was prepared to take him out of this death. "As by Adam all die, even so by Christ shall all be made alive!"
"Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had power of death, that is, the devil." Heb. 2:14. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust." 1 Pet. 3:18. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29. That is, Jesus as the sacrifice for the sin of the world, released all from that condemnation and opened the way for restoring all to perfectionthus removing sin and its penaltydeath.
With these and other Scriptures of like import, which I cannot quote here, it is unchangeably fixed and unalterably true, that all men shall be restored to the Adamic life through the Ransom. And as all sinned and died in or by Adam, so God being just, after the ransom was paid, the Redeemer controls all and may restore all to Adamic life and perfection; and then put them upon trial for themselves, not Adam for them; they will live for, or in, their own obedience; or die for their own sins.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." If to "the little flock" he gives the kingdom, makes them rulers with him in the kingdom, and "partakers of the Divine nature," this is a special salvation he does not give to all.
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it." Matt. 7:14. This life is immortality, and the relationship corresponds. They were livingjustified before, but the strait gate and narrow way led to anothera different life. This salvation is only for "the little flock."
"For many be called, but few chosen." Matt. 20:16. This does not make God partial. He was under no kind of obligation to make any of the race immortal rulers. But this is a striking glory conferred upon the "little flock"; those that "suffer with Christ that they may reign with him." It is an election by grace for kingship and priesthood in the kingdom. This salvation is only for "the little flock," for the Bride of Christ, for members of his Body; and here there can be only so many. Christ's Body is not to be a monstrosity, but perfect and complete. And though "many" may run for this honor, it is only the "few," the approved, who shall be crowned. Paul therefore urges these "to so run," that ye may receive the crown, lest, if we do not so run, others shall receive our crown!
Now in this day many have lost sight of this great truth. We are not generally taught that if we do not die to the world, consecrate, be "a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, zealous of good works," we shall lose the crown, or be excluded from "the marriage supper of the Lamb."
Now it is popular, honorable, and leads to wealth and fame to belong to some so-called orthodox church, but in Paul's day, it meant the loss of caste, of riches and honor, and even life itself to be a member of the true Church. Pure Christianity is unchanged; now, as then, "they that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." And, if we are not partakers of this persecution, of this dishonor, we "are bastards and not sons." That is, many claim to be children of God, to belong to "the little flock," to the consecrating ones, whereas they only have "a name to live while they are dead" to this life of toil and labor and entire obedience to God!
Now, as in Paul's day, true believers must continue to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in their "flesh for his body's sake, which is the Church." The Head consecrated, suffered and died for the great honor of being King and Priest; and so must all the members of his Body partake of the sufferings in order to be partakers of his glory. Every vestige of sin and uncleanness must be covered by the blood of the mercy-seat, the Christian "reckoned" holy by the atonement, or there can be no such acceptable sacrificing, and without the sacrifice no reign with Christ.
They must be "killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter""must endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
As yet the world is not fully ready for restitution to Adamic life and perfection, as the Body of Christ is not yet complete. But so soon as the last member shall have finished his sacrifice, so soon shall the full work of restitution begin.
3. And, in the work of this salvation, he is the Saviour of a great crowd. It could not be otherwise. If the gospel call to the "many" is not compulsory to an entire consecration, then many who start and are honest will not obtain the prize; and these, though losing the crown, may be "saved in the day of Christ."
Having failed to make an entire consecration, they, in the great time of trouble that shall come upon all the world, may then and there come "up through great afflictions, washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Forgiveness of sins or their punishment, or both, not only take place in this age, but will be continued in the age to come. "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Matt. 12:31,32.
The age to come is to be an age of mercy and forgiveness, as well as this. All sins may be forgiven there except the sin against the Holy Ghost. Those who have utterly apostatized here cannot be forgiven there; but the honest, though weak ones, who have failed of the crown now through the weaknesses of the flesh, may be forgiven there, or suffer "many stripes" for the wrong doings of this age, and finally get "near the throne" and live forever!
This is not the leading feature of that Restitution age, but grows out of the higher life and rulership offered "the little flock." So that, thank God! they who fail to win the crown may obtain eternal life "near the throne"!
"And that servant, who knew the will of his master, and was not prepared, nor did according to his will, he shall be beaten with many stripes." Luke 12:47. This, with other scriptures, teaches that Christians, servants of the Lord, they that knew and did not the will of God, shall in the age to come suffer therefor. This is not eternal misery, but "many stripes"; and these "stripes" are corrective, and not vindictive nor eternal. It is not "the second death" either; for "stripes" are not used to kill or destroy, but to correct.
The "few stripes" to those who did things worthy of them, because they knew not their Master's will, will be administered to those who have never heard of the Ransom; these are not even professed Christians, but belong to that larger classthe worldall menthat God will have come unto the knowledge of truth. First saved from the Adamic death, through the ransom, then brought where truth is, and placed on trial, to live for his own obedience, or to die for his own sins.
The world is not now on trial, nor has it ever yet been. Adam was tried and failed, and all men in him. The new trial of the world cannot take place until the Head and Body of Christ are prepared to offer it. The Head of the Christ has been tried and triumphed. "The little flock" is now on trial, and when it shall have triumphed and been joined to the Head, then the trial of the world shall commence. When the King and Queenthe Christ and his Brideshall have been married, then, and not until then, shall "the times of restitution" bear their perfected fruits. The "little flock" are not to be restored; they are to stand out as bright stars, and shine as the sun over a restored earth. The restored earth and its restored lordmankindwill be indeed grand, but the "little flock," the Body of Christ, his Bride with the Head is the grandest of all! far above angels as well as men.
The pure wife is the glory of a pure husband; the redeemed, glorified Bride is the glory of Christ, and Christ is the glory of God! Everything in its own proper place and time; but "God over all blessed forever"!