Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 8, 1960
NUMBER 31, PAGE 8-9a

The World To Come

Herschel E. Patton, Shelbyville, Tennessee

We study today the last article of faith in this series. In the manual I have been reviewing, there are nineteen articles of faith listed. As mentioned before, there is another manual acceptable to people of these beliefs which contains only eighteen articles of faith. The reason for the difference is that the manual we have been studying lists Baptism and the Lord's Supper as separate articles while the other combines these two under one heading. There is no difference in the teaching or faiths expressed in the two manuals.

Friends, I have made this review in an effort to provoke thought on your part. There has been no desire on my part to criticize, reprove, and rebuke just for the sake of criticizing. I have not knowingly, at any time, misrepresented the faith of those embracing these articles of faith. I have carefully studied each article of faith in connection with all scriptural references cited to determine the faith professed. In addition to this, I have read from numerous publications of those professing these beliefs wherein they discussed these various subjects. I have not accused those who accept these nineteen articles of faith of teaching or believing anything that they do not. I can show from their own writings where all the things charged to them in these studies are zealously taught. We have studied these beliefs in an effort to determine their scripturalness. Christians are taught in the Scriptures to "try the Spirits," "search the Scriptures" to determine the truthfulness of that presented, and are warned that a lack of love for truth will result in believing a lie and consequently damnation. In view of these scriptures, I offer no apology for leading my readers in a review of things which are currently being taught. I urge you to measure all things presented for your consideration, whether presented by me or anyone else, in the light of what the Bible actually teaches.

There are many people today who are members of various religious groups, and yet are completely unaware of some of the beliefs characteristic of that religious body. Often when a thing is called to their attention, they reply, "I don't believe that," and perhaps they do not; yet they are supporting a united effort to advance that very faith — a thing which they as individuals claim not to believe. This, according to the scriptures, is a sinful thing. Paul said (Romans 14:23), "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin," and he was talking about engaging in a thing that could not be done with a clear conscience. Furthermore the Apostle John said, "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, bath not God....If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 John 9-11) This simply means that to support the teaching of what you do not believe is to become an evil doer. Thus it is very important that people know what is taught and believed by those whom they encourage and help support. This further emphasizes the need for study and investigation. Please do not, dear friends, feel antagonistic toward those who would lead you in an investigation of your faith; be ready at all times to subject your faith to every test, this will contribute to your feeling of joy and security; but if it is found you are clinging to a faith that can not be supported by the scriptures, then quickly change from the slippery ground to that which is firm and secure.

The last article of faith to be considered in this review is number nineteen and bears the title "The World To Come." You will notice in the study of this article, as in all of the others, I take no issue with those statements which are in line with what the scriptures clearly say. It is only when a declaration is made that is based upon a misapplication or perversion of scripture, or that is without scriptural support, that I file objection.

Article No. Xix

"We believe the scriptures teach that the end of the world is approaching; that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave for final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless sorrow, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell on principles of righteousness,"

The End Approaches

The first affirmation of this article is "that the end of the world is approaching." The scriptural references cited are: 1 Peter 4:7 "But the end of all things is at hand: be therefore sober, and watch unto prayer;" 1 Corinthians 7:29 "But this I say, brethren, the time is short." Of course, Paul in this passage, used the term "short" comparatively speaking. Hebrews 1:1-12 speaks of the heaven and earth "waxing old as doth a garment" and finally perishing, and Jesus declared in Matthew 24:35 that "Heaven and earth shall pass away."

No one who believes the Bible could truthfully say, in view of these verses, that the end of the world is not coming. This is a truth plainly taught; hence there is no division throughout so-called Christendom over the fact of the approaching end of the world. No manual or article of faith is needed to teach this fact; we can learn this from the Bible.

What Will Happen At The End?

Our attention is next called to four things that will take place when the end of the world comes. Each of these four things is plainly taught in the scriptures; hence no contradiction is offered. The first thing mentioned is "Christ will descend from heaven." The angels promised in Acts 1:11 "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Paul said to the Thessalonians "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." (1 Thess. 4:16) His return will be visible to all, for we read in Revelation 1:7 "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." As to just when this return will be, no one can say. Jesus said, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32)

In the second place we are told the dead will be raised from the grave for final retribution. Two things are here suggested, first, the dead will be raised from the grave; second, the purpose of their being raised from the grave must be accepted as a scriptural truth, for Paul taught "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." (Acts 24:15) In 1 Corinthians the fifteenth chapter Paul gave extensive teaching, proving the resurrection of the dead. I would like to point out that this resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, will be at the same time. Some contend, and among them are many who accept these nineteen articles of faith, that the resurrection of the just and unjust will be at different times. This reasoning makes room for what is called "premillennialism" — a belief that Christ will raise the righteous dead at his coming and will then reign with them here on the earth for a thousand years, after which the wicked dead will be raised, then, will follow the judgment. I see nothing stated in his nineteenth article which would suggest this theory; in fact, the statement "a solemn separation will THEN take place" connects us back with the time of Christ's descension, which would indicate a belief in the resurrection of the just and unjust at the same time. However, as already suggested, many preachers of the body accepting these articles do believe and preach this theory. However, Jesus said in John 5:28-29 "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; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." This clearly shows that they that have done good and they that have done evil will be resurrected at the same time.

As to the purpose of the resurrection, it is not denied that the dead come forth to retribution; but it could hardly be said this is the only purpose of the resurrection. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that the resurrection is a regaining in Christ of what was unconditionally lost in Adam. Retribution, or being rewarded according to ones deeds, follows having gained in Christ that which was lost in Adam.

The next thing mentioned as taking place when the end comes is "a solemn separation will then take place." Scriptures cited for this faith are Matthew 13:49 "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just;" Matt. 13:37-43 where the righteous are called the good seed and the wicked tares; the separation taking place when the Son of man sends his angels for that purpose; and Matthew 25: 31-33 where the righteous and wicked are separated as a shepherd does the sheep from the goats. We are also cited to Matthew 24:30-31 in support of this truth; however these verses seem to refer, in figurative language, to successful gospel preaching following the destruction of Jerusalem rather than to the separation at the end of the world, for verse 34 declares "these things" were to be fulfilled before the passing of that generation. The separation, supported by the other passages, refers to the judgment — that which is the next thing for people after death. (Heb. 9:27)

The last thing affirmed in this article as taking place at the end of the world is "the wicked will be adjudged to endless sorrow, and the righteous to endless joy." This is a truth clearly taught by all scriptures cited. Matthew 25:35-41 says "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." Writers of this article saw fit to express the reward of the righteous as "endless joy" whereas the Bible says they "go into life eternal." The reason for this is they could not afford to declare that the righteous go into life eternal for it was stated back in article number five that one obtains eternal life at the time he is saved. However, I recommend what the Lord here said rather than what we were told back in article number five. Revelation 22:11, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Mark 9:43-48, other references cited, all clearly show that the wicked will be doomed to eternal sorrow while the righteous will experience eternal joy:

Final State Forever Fixed

The last thing stated in this article is "this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell on principles of righteousness." Second Thessalonians 1:6 and Romans 2:2 may be looked upon as teaching that God's judgments are righteous. Revelation 22:11 shows that the wicked and righteous will remain in the state they were when they came to the judgment. We are cited to Hebrews 6:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Acts 17:31; 1 John 2:28; and 1 John 4:17, passages referring to the judgment, which imply but which do not affirm, that the judgment fixes forever the final state of men in heaven or hell. Two references to which we are cited do clearly teach this truth. Revelation 20:11-15 gives us a picture of the dead, small and great, standing before the Lord in judgment; and verses 14-15 declare death and hell and those not found written in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we are told at the coming "of the day of God" the heavens shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat and the righteous, if they are found without spot and blameless, shall enjoy the fruition of their hope of a new heaven and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. That the judgment does fix forever man's final state is further affirmed by the statement in Matthew 25:46 "And these shall go away into EVERLASTING punishment: but the righteous into LIFE ETERNAL."