PAGES FROM THE PAST
September 1, 1987 Issue
M. Lynwood Smith
This month I give you more writings from the pen of Brother H.C. Harper. The subject matter is very interesting and informative. Brother Harper was in constant conflict with the Adventists and much of his writing was directed toward their doctrine. This is the beginning of a three part series from the files of the Apostolic Way, written in December of 1923.
"...There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." (Acts 24:15) Two classes and only two in the resurrection. And of the unjust do we now enquire. Now is it not plain that if the unjust come up in the resurrection in their distinctive class, the character that determined the class to which they belonged was formed before they went down in death? It certainly so follows from this scripture. And Christ Himself clearly shows that this is the case. He says: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which 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 5:38,29) Notice that it is they that have done good that are in one class; and they that have done evil that are in the other "the unjust." So we see that the character formed in this life determines ones eternal destiny. For "when the Son of man shall come in his glory; and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." To those on the right he says: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Why so? "For I was hungry and ye gave me meat," etc. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Why so? "For I was hungry and ye gave me no meat," etc. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:31 -46)
This clearly shows, as I have said, that mans eternal destiny is determined by the character he forms in this life.
Now let us inquire more closely as to what this "damnation" of the unjust at the resurrection is. Jesus says: "And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) The Greek word here rendered hell is Gehenna.
"Both soul and body." Then man- every man-has a soul and a body. Now this leads us to inquire into the nature of man. And from what Jesus says, men can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul. Hence, it is clear that the body is mortal; and so we find it stated in the Bible. We read, "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body." (Romans 6:12) Again, "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies." (Roman 8:11) And again, "Our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:11) Hence, James says, "The body without the spirit is dead." (James 2:26) Hence the language of Paul who says, "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death. For with me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor; yet what I shall choose I know not: for I am in a straight (am perplexed, am pressed) between the two-having the desire (strong desire, the Greek indicates) to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." (Philippians 1:20-24)
Evidently Paul was heeding the Masters admonition: he did not fear men, who might kill his body, but not his soul. And there were two desires (strong desires) pressing heavily upon him; one, to depart (not to abide in the flesh) and be with Christ, which was "far better" of the two for him. The other: to abide in the flesh (not to depart and be with Christ) which was more needful for the brethren. To choose between these, he says, he knew not how- "What I shall choose, I know not." He wanted to depart, not to live in the flesh, and be with Christ, evidently because "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." (Revelation 14:13) "Blessed is translated from the Greek word here that means happy, as Thayer shows his lexicon. And, of course, one could not be happy without feeling, and one could not have feeling without life. Hence, the soul of man does not die. ( End of part 1 )
Our materialistic friends tells us, "The Bible says Adam died." I answer: Yes; and the Bible says, "That which thou sowest is not quickened (made alive) except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or some other grain." (1 Corinthians 15:36,37) And it seems that the Bible puts the "fool" on the negative side of this proposition. And it seems to me that even a "fool" should know that if a grain of wheat "die", there is yet a part of the grain that does not die, or there could be no more grain thereafter.
If Paul could say the grain dies, and yet a part of it live on, it is clear that, in Bible language, it may be said that "Adam died", and yet his soul survive the death of his mortal body. If not, why not? If Adam ceased to exist, or existed only in dust, both soul and body, there might be a recreation, but there never could be a resurrection, of Adam. And the materialistic Sadducees were logical in denying the resurrection.
On the nature of Man, the Jews were divided into two sects - the Pharisees and the Sadducees. "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection of the dead, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both." (Acts: 23:8) When Paul was being tried in a court composed of both these sects, "He cried out in the council, Men and Brethren, I am a Pharisee." (Acts 23:6) Did Paul mean by this, that he had renounced the faith of the gospel and had gone back to the sect of the Pharisees? No, he simply shows by this that, on the nature of man, the Pharisees were right and the Sadducees were wrong.
Jesus points out the same fact. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:29-32)
Hence, only the body of man, which is "mortal" (Romans 6:12) dies. That is, God is the God of the living. But God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; therefore, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living.
But the materialist replies: "Jesus is proving the resurrection, and not that a part of man never dies." Yes; Jesus is proving the resurrection, and he proves it by a scripture that even the Sadducees had sense enough to know, shows that the "spirit" of man survives his mortal body at death. The Sadducees were logical enough to see that if the spirit survives the death of the body, a resurrection of the body is assured thereby. It is the body that is resurrected- "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:43)
Now suppose I turn "fool," and when the Bible says of that which is sown- "It may chance of wheat, or of some other grain," -it is said to "die," therefore no part of it survived death. Really, what different in this respect would I be from the materialist with this theory? I cannot see any difference; can you?
Now, back to the text we took in the first article, Acts 24:16-"... there shall be a resurrection of the dead..." Notice here that "the dead" includes all the dead-"both the just and the unjust." Now notice 1 Corinthians 15:35 - "But some will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" Paul answers the first question by showing the wonderworking power of God, which the Sadducees, as we have seen, were ignorant of-first the vegetable kingdom; second, in the animal kingdom; and third, in the mineral kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:36-41)
Notice that in answering the second question, "With what body (notice body) do they (the dead) come? He says: "So also is the resurrection of the dead (yes, the dead, notice). It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
Now what of the unjust in the resurrection? Well, Jesus says, "And fear not them that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Gehenna, in the Greek, as we have seen.) Then follows it not from this that the unjust will be destroyed in hell? (Gehenna)
Thayer's Lexicon, the standard for N.T. Greek, says of the word Gehenna, in this text, "Where the wicked will be punished." And Berry says: "The place of punishment in the future world."
But says Jesus, "...destroy both soul and body..." Hence, says the apostle, when "death is swallowed up in victory," the dead (yes, the dead, and this includes all the dead, both the just and the unjust) shall be raised incorruptible, and we (those living then) shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on in corruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:52-55)
"Destroy both soul and body in hell" (Gehenna) Thayer says of the Greek word here rendered destroy: "To devote or give to eternal misery." And, as we have seen in the article before this one, when Jesus shall come, and sits upon the throne of his glory, "He shall say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, pre pared for the devil and his angels." "And these shall go away into everlasting Punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:31-46)
Hence, Paul says: "Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil." (Romans 2:9) Hence everlasting punishment - torment, chastisement. Thayer says of the word here rendered punishment, that it is "used of those undergoing the penalties of the other world." (Matt 28:46) In 1 John 4:18, it is rendered "torment." Hence, these shall go away into everlasting (eternal) "torment," or "chastisement," as Berry renders the word, both soul and incorruptible body. (End of Part 2)
Other Related OPA Article Links:
Part 3 of The Unjust by H. C. Harper - 10/1/87
H. C. Harper 1987 OPA Main Page Home