J.F. Rutherford.

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shows that those who have come to a knowledge of the divine plan do not
mourn because God sentenced our first parents to death, but rather that
they will rejoice at this manifestation of justice when they understand
that it was necessary in order that the great plan of redemption should
be carried out as outlined by Jehovah from the beginning. And when we
see and appreciate this divine plan we can truly exclaim: "Great and
marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways,
thou King of saints". - Revelation 15:3.


MEN'S SOULS

[53]Against what did God manifest his justice? Did he sentence the body
or the soul of man to death? Is it true that the soul of man is
immortal; and if so, how could God put it to death?

[54]It is profitable to define terms before attempting to discuss them.
The definition given should be supported by proof from the Bible. This
we will attempt to do before answering the question here asked.

[55]Immortal means that which cannot die; something that cannot be
destroyed in death. Soul means a moving, breathing, sentient creature,
or being; a creature or being that possesses faculties and uses them. To
understand whether or not a soul is immortal it is first essential that
we determine from the Bible what constitutes a soul. "The Lord God
formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of lives; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) The word
soul is synonymous with the words being, creature, and man. The dust out
of which Jehovah formed the body was not conscious. It had no life in
it. After God had used these elements to form the man, he breathed into
his nostrils the breath of lives, which animated the body, caused the
lungs to begin to work, sent the blood tingling through the arteries and
returning through the veins; therefore there resulted a moving,
breathing, sentient being, a man, which is a soul. The body aside from
the breath does not constitute the soul; but it requires the uniting of
the breath with the body to constitute the soul. And when we separate
the breath from the body the soul no longer exists. The Scriptures do
not say that God breathed into this body immortality, but merely that
the soul resulted by animating the body after it had been created; and
this resulted from the breath which he breathed into the nostrils.

[56]A locomotive may be used as an illustration. It stands upon the
track with no fire in the box, no water in the boiler, hence no steam.
We speak of it as a dead engine. Then the steam is produced by heating
the water; it is forced into the cylinders, the throttle being open and
the machine moves. Withdraw the steam and it stops.

[57]Just so with man. When the body is formed it would be inanimate and
inactive without breath. When the breath of life is breathed into the
nostrils and his organs begin to functionate, it is said that man then
is a breathing creature; hence a soul. When he ceases to breathe he is
dead.

[58]Man is a soul. He does not possess a soul. Every creature that
breathes is a soul. God applied the words living soul to the lower order
of animals long before man's creation. (Genesis 1:20, _margin_) That
all breathing creatures are designated as souls by Jehovah is proven by
these words: "Levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of war which went
out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the
beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep". (Numbers 31:28) All souls
die alike. "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts;
even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea,
they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre√Ђminence above a
beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust,
and all turn to dust again," - Ecclesiastes 3:19,20.

[59]In the manifestation of divine justice God said to Adam: "Of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat; ... for in
the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die". (Genesis 2:17,
_margin_) This sentence was pronounced against man, the being, the soul.
If there could be any doubt about this, it is definitely settled by
another statement in the Bible which reads: "The soul that sinneth it
shall die". (Ezekiel 18:4) "What man is he that liveth, and shall not
see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?" - Psalm
89:48.

[60]The thought of immortal souls originated with Satan the devil. He
approached mother Eve and said: 'If you eat of this tree, you shall not
surely die'. Jesus denounced this statement as the first lie ever told,
and Satan as the father of lies. (John 8:44) Satan has been trying to
blind the people to the truth concerning God's great plan in order to
keep them away from God and from the blessings they would receive by
obeying him. The Apostle says of him that he is "the god [mighty one] of
this world", meaning the present evil social order; and that he has
blinded the minds of men to the truth, lest the glorious gospel of the
Lord Jesus Christ should shine into their hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
From the day of Eden until now Satan has been blinding the minds of men
to the truth by getting into their minds a false conception of Jehovah's
arrangement; and the basis for this blindness is chiefly the lie first
told: "Ye shall not surely die". All false doctrines are based upon this
first lie.

[61]If man possessed an immortal soul it could not be put to death.
Hence we see that God would be unable to enforce his judgment against a
sinner, and justice would fail. The Scriptures, however, plainly tell us
that the quality of immortality belongs originally only to Jehovah, "who
only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach
unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see". (1 Timothy 6:16) Immortality
will be given as a great reward to faithful Christians and to none other
of the human race. Such Christians who live and continue faithful until
death are promised the divine nature, immortality, the crown of life.
(2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:3,4; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:10) We may be sure
that a man does not seek that which he already possesses; and the apostle
Paul plainly says: "Seek for ... immortality". And again he says to those
who will be faithful Christians: "This mortal must put on immortality".
(1 Corinthians 15:53) If a soul, a man, were already immortal, he could
not subsequently _put on_ immortality. No one of the human race will
ever be made immortal except the faithful Christians. God has a different
reward for others who are obedient to him.


DEAD UNCONSCIOUS

[62]Another of Satan's deceptions by which he has blinded the people is
the teaching that the dead are still conscious after death. This is not
supported by the Bible, however. Those who die are never again conscious
unless they are resurrected by the Lord. The resurrection of the dead we
will discuss later on. If the soul were immortal it would be conscious
somewhere. Let us observe the Scriptures which show that the dead are
not conscious.

[63]"In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall
give thee thanks?" (Psalm 6:5) Thus is shown that they have no memory
while dead. "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into
silence." (Psalm 115:17) Hence they could not speak while dead.

[64]The dead cannot breathe, think, or feel. "Thou takest away their
breath, they die, and return to their dust." (Psalm 104:29) "His breath
goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts
perish." (Psalm 146:4) A person when unconscious does not feel. This is
illustrated by the fact that when a person is taken to a hospital for an
operation the surgeon puts the patient under an anesthetic, puts him to
sleep so that he cannot feel during the operation.

[65]Again the Scriptures read: "The living know that they shall die, but
the dead know not anything. Also their love, and their hatred, and their
envy, is now perished." (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6) Being unconscious, they
know not anything when dead. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it
with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor
wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." - Ecclesiastes 9:10.

[66]Again speaking of man, God says of him: "Nevertheless man being in
honor abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish". (Psalm 49:12)
Anything that perishes cannot be conscious, cannot be in existence and
of course cannot be immortal.

[67]It was Jesus who said: "God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life". (John 3:16) Here the proof is conclusive
that death means the perishing of all unless redemption is received
through Jesus Christ. This would absolutely disprove consciousness of
the dead and would disprove also the immortality of the soul.

[68]Death is spoken of in the Bible as a sleep, for the reason that God
intends in his due time to awaken all of the dead and give them an
opportunity of life. The Bible abounds in the expressions referring to
the dead as asleep. A few of these expressions are: "David slept with
his fathers, and was buried in the city of David". (1 Kings 2:10) "The
fathers fell asleep." (2 Peter 3:4) '"The greater part remain until this
day, but some are fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:6) "I would not have
you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep; ... them
also which sleep will God bring [forth] by Jesus [in the resurrection]."
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14.

[69]We must conclude from these Scriptures that the dead are wholly
unconscious from the moment of death until such future time as the Lord
may be pleased to awaken them out of death and give them an opportunity
of life, which he purposes to do, as set forth in his great plan. (John
5:28,29) Man was made of the dust. He was sentenced to return to the
dust; that is, the condition of the dead. And the Lord said: 'They that
sleep in the dust of the earth shall arise'. - Daniel 12:2.


DOES GOD TORMENT ANY ONE?

[70]For a long time men have been taught that the punishment for the
wicked, those who disobey God, is everlasting torment or torture in a
hell burning with unquenchable fire and brimstone. Many have been
frightened away from studying the Bible because of this terrible
doctrine. Many have refused to believe in God and the Lord Jesus because
of it. It is another doctrine of Satan, used to blind the people. The
doctrine of eternal torment cannot be true for at least four separate
and distinct reasons: (1) because it is unreasonable; (2) because it is
repugnant to justice; (3) because it is contrary to the principle of
love; and (4) because it is entirely unscriptural.

[71]It seems strange that men with reasoning faculties should ever reach
the conclusion that the all-wise Creator would eternally torment any of
his creatures. What could be the purpose of such torment? Could it
accomplish any good? Would it result to the glory of God?

[72]There could be no eternal torment of any of God's creatures except
by God's will. A reasonable, loving God could not torment any of his
creatures. A Creator that would put in operation a system of endless
torment would be a fiend and not a reasonable God. Man is not perfect,
yet he has some love. God is perfect. He is love. A man or a child would
not torture his horse, his dog, or his cat.

[73]Suppose we have a dog that becomes mad and tries to bite every one
in the neighborhood. He must be killed; but we would not torment the
poor brute by putting it into a slow fire. We would kill it in the
easiest way, so that it would not suffer much pain. Why would a person
do this? Because his sense of justice and love would deter him from
doing anything else. Man has not as much love as God. Every thing that
God does for man he does for man's good.

[74]The doctrine is unreasonable because no one could be eternally
tormented unless that one were eternally conscious; and the Scriptures
above cited show that the dead are not conscious. Furthermore, there
could be no eternal torment of the soul unless that soul were immortal,
indestructible; and the Scriptures above cited and all other Scriptures
bearing upon the subject show that man is not immortal, that none are
granted immortality except those who receive it as a reward for
right-doing and who are made joint-heirs with Christ Jesus in his
glorious kingdom. Then it is easy to be seen that this is a doctrine of
Satan; and the two doctrines or teachings of inherent immortality and
eternal torture must stand or fall together. And since they are both
false, they must both fall.

[75]The doctrine of eternal torture is _un_just, because God is _just_.
Justice is the foundation of his throne. God plainly told man that if he
sinned he would die. If thereafter he put him into eternal torment, then
he increased the penalty after man had violated the law, and this is
contrary to every principle of justice. All of Adam's children were born
imperfect. "There is none that doeth good, no, not one," (Psalm 14:3)
Every child is born imperfect. It would be very unjust for Jehovah to
permit such a one to be born under conditions over which he had no
control and then, because he could not obey perfectly, to put him into
eternal torture. Man's sense of justice is shocked at the thought of
torture of any creature. The justice that man possesses is a God-given
quality. The more Godlike a man is the more just he is. We must know,
then, that God deals justly with all of his creatures.

[76]The doctrine of eternal torment is devoid of the attribute of love.
Every good father loves his children and children love their father. The
mother loves the children and the children love the mother. When the
children are disobedient, it becomes necessary for the father or the
mother to discipline them; and sometimes by using the rod. But no loving
parent would for a moment think of torturing his or her child. Just
punishment is always for the purpose of doing ultimate good, and where
the parents are compelled to punish or discipline their children they do
it because they love them. The apostle Paul, discussing the discipline
by earthly parents and by God said: "We have had fathers of our flesh
which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather
be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily
for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our
profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." - Hebrews 12:9,10.

[77]Only a wicked fiend would want to torment anybody, such a one as
loves dark and wicked things.

[78]Our great God is love. (1 John 4:16) "God is light and in him is no
darkness at all," (1 John 1:5) Everything that Jehovah does is good. God
created the first man Adam and gave him the power to transmit life to
his offspring. All the human race are the children of Adam. Only by
God's permission could these children have come into existence. Adam was
God's son and all the human race descend from Adam; and thus they bear
relationship to Jehovah.

[79]None of Adam's children were born perfect. Some were born under
very depraved conditions. God's love, then, for the human race is so
great that he made provision for the redemption and ultimate blessing
of all, and it would be wholly inconsistent with his attribute of love
to arrange to torture any of them at any time. The doctrine of eternal
torment is a libel upon the great and loving name of God, and Satan is
responsible for it. But in God's due time he will make it clear to all
that he is love; and that all of his dealings with the human race are
for their good.

[80]The eternal torment teaching is not supported by any Scripture text
in the Bible. There are some texts that are written in symbolic phrase,
parables and dark sayings, which were written to illustrate another
great truth, but with no reference to the eternal punishment of the
human race. These Scriptures must be considered elsewhere. Our space
does not permit us to consider them here. What we will examine are the
direct Scriptural statements.

[81]All the Scriptures show that the wicked will be punished, but
punishment does not mean torment. There is a wide distinction between
everlasting punishment and everlasting torment. Everlasting punishment
is a punishment that lasts. Everlasting torment would be a torment that
never ends, but one would be consciously suffering all the time. The
laws of the land punish the wicked who violate the law, and the duration
of punishment is short or long in proportion to the enormity of the
crime committed. One who steals a loaf of bread violates the law and he
may be punished by confinement for a day or a month in prison. One who
destroys his neighbor's house by fire is punished, and his punishment
may be a number of years in prison. Another takes the life of his
neighbor, and his punishment is death. No law of any nation on earth
permits the violator of the law to be tormented. The stealer of bread is
punished for a short period; the one who destroys the home is punished
for a longer period; and the one who takes his neighbor's life
deliberately is punished by the full penalty of the law, and his
punishment is lasting. Death is the highest penalty inflicted by the
law. It is also the greatest punishment inflicted by Jehovah. Life is
the dearest thing to any creature, and to be deprived of life would be
the greatest punishment that could be inflicted. Therefore eternal or
everlasting death, with no hope of a resurrection, would be an
everlasting punishment. But it would not be an everlasting conscious
torture. God plainly declared: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans
6:23), and not eternal torture.

[82]Having fixed this penalty, God could not change it afterward,
because God could not be inconsistent; he cannot deny himself.
(2 Timothy 2:13) It was by the disobedience of one man that sin came
into the world and death as the result of sin; so death has been the
penalty upon all mankind. (Romans 5:12) And this will continue until
God's due time to awaken them out of death and give all an opportunity
for life; and this we will discuss later. "The Lord preserveth them
that love him, but all the wicked will he destroy." (Psalm 145:20) The
Apostle plainly says that all the wicked shall be punished with an
everlasting destruction. - 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

[83]But do not the wicked go to hell?

[84]It is true that all who have died from Adam until now have gone to
hell. But hell does not mean a place of conscious torture. Wherever the
word hell occurs in the Bible it means the condition of death. Hell is
not a place, but a condition. Those who go into the grave are not
conscious there; but they have gone into the death condition. Their
bodies decay and return to the dust. The word hell is translated from
the Hebrew word _sheol_, as used in the Old Testament. This same word
is a number of times translated grave and sometimes pit. In the New
Testament the same word hell is translated from the Greek word _hades_
and likewise means grave, the condition of death, the tomb.

[85]Some Scriptural illustrations of this prove that hell means a
condition of death. Job was a good and godly man, who tried to obey
Jehovah. He had suffered the loss of all his earthly possessions and
then his neighbors taunted him because of his suffering; and while he
was thus suffering, he prayed that God would permit him to go to hell,
saying: "O that thou wouldest hide me in hell [_sheol_, the grave] until
thy wrath be past". (Job 14:13) He desired to be hid in the grave until
the time of the resurrection, hoping in God's promise that some day the
dead would come again. Then Job says: "If I wait the grave is mine
house: I have made my bed in the darkness". "Our rest together is in the
dust." (Job 17:13,16) Thus he pictures the grave as a condition of
darkness, where there is no knowledge, no wisdom or device. Again he
said: "A man's sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are
brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them". (Job 14:21) Why? Because
those who are in hell, in the tomb, in the grave, in the condition of
death, have no knowledge of anything. They are out of existence, waiting
for the resurrection.

[86]Jacob's beloved son Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brethren.
Joseph's coat was dipped in the blood of an animal and brought to Jacob,
and it was told Jacob the father that his son Joseph was dead. In his
grief he exclaimed: "I will go down into hell [_sheol_, the grave] unto
my son mourning". (Genesis 37:35) Jacob was a good man and approved of
the Lord; for the Apostle says he was. (Hebrews 11:9,39) Jacob meant
that he was going to the grave, to the death condition, mourning for
his beloved son.

[87]Benjamin was Jacob's youngest son. After he lost Joseph his
affections were centered upon Benjamin. His elder sons came to him and
requested that their younger brother be permitted to go down with them
to Egypt. Their father Jacob objected to their taking him, saying, "My
son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left
alone: if mischief befall him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye
bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to hell [_sheol_, the grave]".
(Genesis 42:38) We know, then, that the hell here described could not be
a place of fire and brimstone, for the gray hairs of Jacob would not
last long in the fire. What he really meant was that as an old,
gray-headed man he would go down to the grave in sorrow if anything
befell his beloved son.

[88]Jesus came to earth and lived and died and was buried; and it was
written of him that he went to hell. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in
hell." (Psalm 16:10) If hell is a place of endless torment and Jesus
went there he could not have been released. The fact that he did not
remain in hell is proof conclusive that hell is not a place of eternal
torment.

[89]Jehovah established the true religion in the earth, which was and is
to worship him and glorify his name. Satan established a false religion
in his attempt to be like the Most High. God established his covenant
with the nation of Israel and commanded that they should keep themselves
separate and distinct from the heathen nations round about. Satan
established a false religion amongst the heathen nations and caused them
to worship images and other things aside from Jehovah. These heathen
idolaters built an altar in the valley of Hinnom for the purpose of
offering sacrifices to their gods. The Jews forsook their covenant with
Jehovah and became worshipers of Baal, one of Satan's deified ones. In
practising Baal worship they offered their children as sacrifices, and
upon this has been based the doctrine of torture by fire, concerning
which Jehovah says: "They have built also the high places of Baal, to
burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I
commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind". (Jeremiah
19:5) Again said the Lord: "They built the high places of Baal, which
are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their
daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech, which I commanded them
not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination,
to cause Judah to sin". (Jeremiah 32:35) The things which the heathen
sacrificed they sacrificed to devils and not to God. (1 Corinthians
10:20) This false or devil religion established amongst the deluded
people of the world was another means employed by Satan to blind the
minds of men to the true teachings of the divine plan.

[90]In exercising divine justice, Jehovah at no time employs torture;
but he denounces such doctrine as an abomination in his sight. Divine
justice exercised destroys the evil doers; therefore that which is
destroyed eternally is everlastingly punished. Some Scriptures proving
this are: "Evil doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the
Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the
wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and
it shall not be.... But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the
Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall
they consume away.... For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the
earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.... For the Lord
loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved
forever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.... Wait on the
Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land:



Online LibraryJ.F. RutherfordThe Harp of God → online text (page 3 of 26)