The Kingdom of God—Part 3

The Results of Its Establishment

THROUGHOUT all the ages of his existence upon the earth, man has striven commendably for certain worthy goals of life. These basic desires of humanity have been described in different terms, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Statesmen have endeavored to bring about peace and goodwill among the nations. Government heads have striven for political independence and economic and social benefits for their countries. Champions of civil liberty have highlighted the needs and rights of the individual, regardless of race, creed, or color. Scientists have produced timesaving and laborsaving inventions. Doctors have waged a continual battle against disease and sought ways of improving man’s health and lengthening his life.

Yes, noble men of every period and in every walk of life have sought to elevate the position of the human race. Notwithstanding these lofty aspirations to improve the lot of humanity, what of any consequence has actually been accomplished?

It is true that recent centuries have witnessed a gradual rise in the economic living standards of many people. But has anything constructive been achieved in attacking the basic cause of man’s problems? Has the greed or hatred or selfishness or other sin lurking in the hearts of men been erased, or even lessened? In the thousands of years of his history on earth, has man’s life been altered to remove the fears of economic loss, war, sickness, pain, or death?

None can deny that all these basic evils still plague the human race and will continue to do so unless superhuman power is employed to extricate man from his plight. And this is the very assurance that is found recorded in the Bible. God has not forgotten the needs of his earthly creation and has designed a master plan by which it will be restored to its original perfection.

Resurrection of the Dead

Of all the major world religions, the Bible alone teaches an actual resurrection of the dead. Although the heathen religions believe in life after death, life is defined by these as an indestructible entity which never ceases to exist once it has begun. Death is considered a gateway into another form of life, higher or lower, thus bypassing the need for resurrection and substituting reincarnation or transmigration of souls instead.

In sharp contrast to this, the Bible teaches that everlasting life was a gift of the Creator and was taken back because of disobedience to the divine will: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4) Death is described in the Bible as a very real condition, completely devoid of life in any form, and as a great enemy of mankind.—Eccles. 9:5,10; Ps. 146:4; I Cor. 15:25,26

Only by the grace of God and the atoning work of Jesus Christ is it possible to have an individual’s life restored through resurrection. Perhaps the greatest of all the promises which God has made regarding the kingdom is found in the scriptural declaration, “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”—Acts 24:15

The establishment of a divine government upon earth is intended to be a blessing, not only to those living at the time, but to all people, living or dead. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28,29) No other source but the Bible has produced a message of such comfort and hope, giving assurance to all that their deceased loved ones will return from the depths of the grave.

To those who find this feature of the plan of God difficult to believe, the Apostle Paul declared, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you [King Agrippa], that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8) The mighty God who was able to form human beings originally is also able to recreate them and restore them to life. The great sacrifice of Jesus, having satisfied divine justice by atoning for the disobedience of Adam, guarantees the resurrection of all mankind. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:22

The divine arrangement in the resurrection includes a plan for the gradual awakening of all the dead, in two broad stages. The first to be benefited will be the footstep followers of Jesus, who have part in what is termed “the first resurrection.” “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) Next in order will be the residue of mankind, all those who are to be blessed by the kingdom reign of the church class. These will be given the opportunity of remolding their lives in harmony with the precepts of Christ.

Notice these two phases of the resurrection as they are mentioned in I Corinthians 15:22,23, “in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming [during his thousand-year kingdom reign].” Here the phrase “Christ the firstfruits” includes the entire church class who are to be raised first. This is corroborated in James 1:18, which reads, “Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

The use of the terms “firstfruits” and “first resurrection” suggests that there will also be “afterfruits” and a “second resurrection.” God has destined that more than just the church class should obtain salvation. In a prophecy of the resurrection of all mankind, Job wrote: “If a man die, shall he live again? … Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” (Job 14:14,15) Moses expressed it in this way: “Thou turnest man to destruction [as punishment for sin]; and sayest, Return, ye children of men [because the sacrifice of Christ has atoned for sin].”—Ps. 90:3

If all mankind is to be resurrected, the question might be asked, “What is the difference between the first and second resurrections?” The chief difference, apart from the order of awakening, is the type of salvation that is attained. For the church class a heavenly reward is promised, which will mean a change of nature from the human to the spiritual. Spiritual bodies with an accompanying greater range of abilities will be necessary for those who will share the kingdom reign with Christ.

For the residue of humanity there will be no change of nature, since God originally intended to have an earthly creation, and the object of the resurrection will be to restore it to the perfection which was lost in Eden. Man will be restored to his earthly home and, under the guidance and supervision of Christ and his church, will be granted the opportunity—by obedience to the righteous laws of the kingdom—of living there forever.

The Apostle Paul summarized the two salvations to be manifested in the resurrection when he wrote: “All flesh is not the same flesh. … There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. … So also is the resurrection of the dead. … There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. … As is the earthy, such are they also that are [resurrected to the] earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are [resurrected to the] heavenly.”—I Cor. 15:39-48

A final testimony is provided by Jesus himself. Notice how his words recorded in John 11:25,26 provide confirmation that all mankind will be granted an opportunity for life in the general resurrection. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

Verse twenty-five applies to the followers of Jesus in this life. All those who exercise faith in Christ, though still subject to death, are nevertheless promised renewal of life in the resurrection.

Verse twenty-six applies to the world of mankind after their resurrection in the millennium. Whosoever believes in Christ at that time and is willing to accept the divine arrangements in the kingdom era will never die again.

There are several passages of Scripture which deserve special consideration at this point. These texts have been understood to teach that unbelievers will be brought forth in the resurrection only for the purpose of being condemned and reassigned to their fate of doom. A proper understanding of the resurrection should harmonize all the promises of God pertaining to the eventual blessing of the human family during the thousand-year kingdom. Any view that falls short of this would not be honoring God’s grand purpose in restoring the dead. The whole object of the resurrection is to provide all the willing and obedient of mankind the opportunity of gaining everlasting human life.

The first of these texts which are generally misunderstood is Revelation 20:5. As it stands in the Authorized Version, it appears to contradict many of the promises of God for the blessing of humanity during the thousand-year kingdom period. It seems to place the general resurrection of the world at the very end of the millennium, which would not permit anyone to benefit from the reign of Christ and his church. It reads, “But the rest of the dead [apart from the church] lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”

The passage is of doubtful authenticity. Since it is omitted in both the Sinaitic and the Syriac manuscripts (the oldest copies in existence), it raises the possibility that it could be spurious and not a part of the original inspired Book of Revelation. On this basis, then, its authority could no longer be accepted as equal to that of other scriptures.

There are two other scriptures which also need to be examined. The first reads: “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28,29) The second, which is similar to this, states, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2) Both of these verses briefly describe the two classes in the resurrection. Both highlight the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the unrighteous.

The question at issue in these two passages is, what is the nature of the punishment inflicted upon the unbelievers who come forth in the resurrection? The Authorized Version defines it as ‘damnation’ and ‘shame and everlasting contempt’. The Greek word krisis, here translated ‘damnation’, is actually defined as ‘judgment’, Young’s Analytical Concordance, and the word is so rendered in the Revised Standard Version. A resurrection to judgment is by no means the same as one of damnation, and it actually implies that divine favor will be granted to those judged.

The Hebrew word olam, translated ‘everlasting’ in the expression ‘everlasting contempt’, may sometimes be defined as ‘age-lasting’. Since an indefinite period of time is actually signified, it can change the thought of the text altogether. The scorn and contempt attached to the unrighteous will last only for an age, or for the time required by them to amend their ways. By accepting the righteous provisions and arrangements of the kingdom, these will have an opportunity gradually to improve their reputation.

When first brought back from death, this class is placed in a shameful and contemptible position because of their degraded characters and the memory of their misdeeds. By humbling themselves and becoming obedient to the laws of the kingdom, these may begin on an upward course. If they turn completely from the error of their ways to full obedience to the Lord, the contempt for their former sin will give way to a new acceptance and respect. The age-lasting contempt for them will then have come to an end. Of this class God will say, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34) Thus, even these texts become harmonious with the general tenor of the Scriptures pertaining to the resurrection and the judgment.

Will There Be Room?

The foregoing discussion has called attention to the fact that God’s plan calls for a resurrection of all those who have died and for their restoration upon the planet Earth. Some who are practical-minded might object to the feasibility of all the dead being restored to life upon the earth, supposing that there would not be sufficient land area to support them. It may readily be shown, however, that these fears are unfounded.

While it is true that within 200 years there would not be sufficient space remaining on the earth to support comfortably even the living, it is likewise true that today there is ample space remaining for both the living and the dead. Though this statement appears contradictory, it may be verified easily by reference to the chart, “Low Population Densities of Earth’s Continents,” and to the chart, “High Population Densities of Selected World Areas.” Data for charts based largely upon: “Density of Population,” The World Almanac and Book of Facts (1978 ed.), pp. 189,439,511

graphs of low and high population densitiesThe first graph shows that today there are vast continents that are barely inhabited at all. Four continents have an average of twenty-seven people per square mile. The average density for the entire earth is only sixty-nine per square mile, which is about the same as the average in the United States. Yet a government study of this country pointed out that only one percent of the land is being used for living purposes and an additional two percent of it for working space. Think of all the emptiness that still awaits man’s use!—“Population Density High,” Daily News-Post, October, 1959

The second graph shows that it is a very feasible proposition for all the resurrected dead and the present living generation to live together comfortably upon the earth. It has been estimated by the Eugenics Department of the Carnegie Institute that some thirty billion people have lived on the earth since the beginning of recorded history about six thousand years ago. (G. Stimpson, A Book about a Thousand Things, p. 140) Thirty billion people distributed evenly over the earth’s land area would give a density of 530 per square mile.

Surprising as this may seem, this figure is actually lower than the density of many countries today, such as Great Britain, West Germany, Holland, and Belgium, and less than some states, such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Notice that a very high standard of living is being supported today in many different world areas where the population density is greater than 530. Surely, then, the world as a whole should have little difficulty in supporting its total population during the kingdom, when man’s total economy will be devoted to peaceful and profitable pursuits.

Now that it is evident that sufficient living space still remains to support comfortably both those people now living and all who died in the past, it becomes possible to appreciate a little more fully the resurrection feature of God’s plan. But there is still one further objection that might be raised. Will it be possible from an agricultural standpoint to raise sufficient food to feed the resurrected billions? The Bible answers in the affirmative and provides interesting clues in predicting how this will be accomplished.

Micah 4:1-3 reads: “In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain [kingdom] of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains. … And he shall judge among many people, … and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.” Here in symbolic language we are told that under divine supervision the nations will direct their tremendous resources, not to war, but to peaceful and profitable pursuits, including the feeding of restored humanity.

Psalm 67:4-6 states: “O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. … Then shall the earth yield her increase.” When man’s efforts are channeled constructively to solve the food problem, when modern methods of agriculture are adopted worldwide, when surpluses are used and not burned and otherwise destroyed, and when new sources of energy are tapped to irrigate barren wastelands, the earth will bring forth abundantly. As predicted in Isaiah 35:1, even “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

Judgment of the World

The thousand-year kingdom period may also be considered from another standpoint. The Bible speaks of a time when God “will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Christ] whom he hath ordained.” (Acts 17:31) Contrary to tradition, the judgment day (epoch, or period of time) will not be a doomsday to be regarded with fear and dread by all mankind. The judgment day of the Bible is actually the same thousand-year day of the kingdom and millennial reign of Christ. Well has the poet written concerning it:

“A thousand years! earth’s coming glory!
‘Tis the glad day so long foretold;
‘Tis the bright morn of Zion’s glory
Prophets foresaw in time of old.”

The Scriptures are replete with references to the judgment day, giving assurance that it will be a grand and desirable time in which all people will be blessed. In I Chronicles 16:31-33 it is written: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: … let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.”

The psalmist adds: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. … Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.”—Ps. 98:4,8,9

The Apostle Paul furthers this thought of the blessedness of the judgment day by saying: “God … hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness … whereof he hath given assurance unto all men.” (Acts 17:30,31) There would be little point in giving all men assurance of a future judgment unless it were to be a favorable time for them.

Further evidence of this is given in the Old Testament description of how judges were raised up by God to execute justice and relieve oppression among the Israelites. Throughout the administration of the judges the people were blessed. For an example, see Judges 3:9-11. Concerning the future kingdom, God has promised: “I will restore thy judges as at the first.” (Isa. 1:26) Then the blessing of the people will not be confined just to Israel but will be poured out upon all nations.

We believe that the judgment day will be a thousand-year period devoted to the education of mankind in the ways of righteousness. The Apostle Peter links the judgment day with a thousand years in II Peter 3:7,8. In verse nine he says God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” during this period. “God …will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”—I Tim. 2:3,4

The gradual process of enlightenment is shown by these words: “When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9) The Gospel shall be made so plain that even the fool will understand and respond: “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the men, though fools, shall not err therein.”—Isa. 35:8

Some matters will have to be unlearned also: “Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Mic. 4:3) Then, at the close of the thousand years, when the lessons of righteousness have been fully learned, “They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 31:34) Then also will come to pass the saying: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:9

There will be a small group of incorrigibles, however, who will stubbornly refuse to make progress toward righteousness in the Millennial Age and must suffer the consequence, which is “the second death.” In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46), these are the ones who prove unworthy of life and are condemned to “everlasting fire,” which the Revelator says is a symbol of second death: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”—Rev. 21:8

At the close of the millennium, it indeed “shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) God will not permit the disobedience of a few individuals permanently to blight his otherwise perfect creation. Disharmony with God leads to an existence which is injurious to self and others and will therefore be justly punishable by “the second death,” which is eternal oblivion and extinction of life.

The overall view of God’s completed plan of redemption will prove to all that he has been a very successful Creator of the human race. The present Gospel Age will have represented the day of salvation for the church: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”—II Cor. 6:2

The future Millennial Age will have afforded the opportunity for the world’s conversion: “And the Spirit [Christ] and the bride [the glorified church] say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”—Rev. 22:17

In the grand finale of God’s plan, the great majority of all the vast multitudes of humans brought into existence will have gained everlasting life. As the Scriptures present it, “The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee.”—Isa. 60:5

Some Christians object to this view of the judgment day, considering it to be an unwarranted second chance for the world to be saved. Not appreciating the full extent of God’s love for his creatures, they feel he has restricted salvation only to the church class. Since the church is being called in this present age, it would naturally follow that all salvation would then be limited to this life.

On the basis of this understanding, consider for a moment how God’s plan would be limited in its effectiveness. Think of the vast multitudes of humanity born in the pre-Christian era who never heard the Gospel or the name of Christ. Are they to be doomed just because they happened to live at the wrong time?

Consider the other billions who were never reached by the Gospel during the present age. Think, too, of the countless others who have been confused by the conflicting and contradictory messages being preached on every hand. Are all these likewise to be eternally lost?

The culmination of such a view would permit the salvation of only a relatively few of God’s creatures, only those who were worthy to become members of the church class. The great majority of humanity, by circumstances largely beyond their control, would have been born to die. Thus God would be a very unsuccessful Creator if only a small percentage were to benefit from the blessings of eternal life. The poet displayed a deeper insight into the plan of God when he wrote:

“For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
Search the Scriptures, search and see
God’s great kindness unto thee.

“But men make his love too narrow
By false limits of their own,
And they magnify his vengeance
With a zeal he will not own.
Search the Scriptures, search and see
God’s grand law of equity.”

This is the basic issue concerning the world’s judgment day: will it truly be a thousand-year opportunity (a so-called second chance) of attaining to the moral and spiritual standards of righteousness, or will it merely be a single twenty-four-hour day designed to rehear and recondemn the sinners back to their fate of doom? We believe it may be clearly shown from the Scriptures that mankind as individuals never really had a first chance or full opportunity for life and that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice upon the cross guarantees this to all.

It was only Adam, the father of the human race, who was originally on trial for life and, as a result of his failure, plunged all of his posterity into the condemnation of death. The logic and justice of the ransom sacrifice require that, as the whole human race was condemned in Adam, so likewise the whole race should be redeemed in Christ. The Apostle Paul expressed this by saying: “For as by one man’s disobedience [that of Adam] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [that of Christ] shall many be made righteous.”—Rom. 5:19

There are additional evidences to show that the human race could not previously have had a full and fair opportunity for gaining everlasting life. The Scriptures teach that every descendant of Adam was born “in sin” and “shapen in iniquity.” (Ps. 51:5) Could it be said that anyone laboring under this handicap of inherent sin had a full or fair chance?

It is written of the present age that “darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isa. 60:2) Not until the Millennial Age shall this veil of darkness upon the people be lifted: “He [God] will destroy in this mountain [kingdom] the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.”—Isa. 25:7

Paul offers an explanation of why so few respond to the true Gospel in the present age by mentioning the blinding influences which hinder the people. (II Cor. 4:4) The Revelator refers to these same evil influences and predicts that they will be removed during the thousand years.—Rev. 20:2,3

In Jeremiah is found another prophecy which contrasts the present age with the kingdom age. “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:29,30) Today it is true that because the fathers (our human ancestors back to Adam) have eaten a sour grape (have sinned and disobeyed God’s laws), the children’s teeth are set on edge (we bear the penalty of condemnation and the traits of sin).

In the kingdom age, however, this saying shall be done away with. Then it will be true that whoever dies “shall die for his own iniquity.” The opportunity for life will be extended on an individual basis, and no one will be penalized for the misdeeds of an ancestor.

There are still other Bible references which explain the character of the judgment day. Turn to the parable of the sheep and the goats, recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. This parable describes those who are doing the judging, those who will be judged, and the basis of the judgment.

First, who is doing the judging? “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him … he shall separate them one from another.” From this text it appears that Christ is judging; and other scriptures reveal that the church class will be glorified with him at that time and will share in the work of judgment. For example, I Corinthians 6:2 reads: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?”

In the parable, the holy angels is a reference to the saints. The Greek word aggelos translated ‘angels’ (Young’s Analytical Concordance) actually means ‘messengers’ or ‘agents’, who in this instance are the resurrected saints. Compare the similar wording of another text found in Colossians 3:4, which reads, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Since the church class is sharing in the judgment work, it becomes evident that the only ones left to be judged are the rest of mankind, those who did not attain salvation during the Gospel Age. The sheep and the goats, then, are descriptive of the obedient and disobedient classes which will develop during the course of the thousand-year judgment day, after the world has been brought forth in the resurrection.

Those who are willing to conform themselves to the laws of God and strive to overcome the sinful tendencies left over from the present life will be eligible for the reward: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”—vs. 34

The parable continues by showing that those who are unwilling to change their ways and to imbibe God’s law of love, shown in their lack of helpfulness toward their fellowman, will be condemned to the second death, here shown by the symbol of everlasting fire. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” (vs. 41) This agrees with the text already cited that “every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”—Acts 3:23

One more picture of the judgment day should be examined. It is a description of the dead being judged by the things written in the books, found in Revelation 20:12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: … and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

Do these books contain an account of all the deeds of men, good and bad, committed in the present life? We do not think so. From God’s standpoint all men are already condemned through Adam; on the basis of their own deeds none would be worthy of life. “There is none righteous, no, not one.”—Rom. 3:10

These books are a symbol of the will of God. As the books are opened, God’s will is revealed to men. During the judgment day the books will be continuously open so that men may pattern their works after the things written in the books. This harmonizes with the text recorded in Joel 2:28, “It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.”

Today, the books of the Bible contain the greatest expression of God’s will, but their understanding remains a mystery to most people. During the thousand years, the principles of truth and righteousness which they contain will be fully understood by all. The final judgment of the world will be upon the basis of their response and obedience to the things written in the books after they are made plain to the people.

Are the works of the present life, then, of any consequence if all men are to receive their first real opportunity in the next age anyway? Yes, they certainly are! Every thought and act has an influence upon the character that is being developed now. Each individual will come forth in the general resurrection with the same thoughts, motives, and habits that he had before he died. The progress that he makes toward righteousness during the judgment day will depend to a large extent upon the character that he developed in the present life. These habits and responses ingrained within him will serve either to help or hinder him in his day of trial.

Yes, the Bible teaches that the works of the present life are not forgotten. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) “He that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”—Luke 12:48

Those people who endeavor to do what is right in this life and who pattern their actions along the principles of the Golden Rule will find it comparatively easy to obey God’s requirements in the kingdom. (Matt. 7:12) On the other hand, those who have deliberately shunned doing what is right and seared their consciences by repeatedly dealing unjustly with their fellowmen will develop a character in which the tendency to do evil has become deeply rooted. These will find it extremely difficult to amend their ways and will labor heavily under Christ’s iron rule of justice over the nations.

Of this latter class it is written: “Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.” (Isa. 26:10) It behooves all, then, to strive for righteous dealings and ethical conduct in the present life, to insure a favorable final judgment in the life to come.

Thus is pictured the world’s great judgment day. The correct understanding of this subject gives due honor and praise to the God who planned it. Perhaps no other feature of his plan of salvation does so much to emphasize the heights and depths of the love of God toward his human creatures.

We cannot help but stand in awe before the long-suffering and merciful nature of our God, who “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”—I Tim. 2:4; Rom. 11:33

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