By C. T. Russell Pastor Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
THE FALSE view of the Day of Judgment began to be introduced in the Second Century and human fear and superstition continually made it worse and worse. The Bible, on the contrary, represented it as a period of glory and blessing. The Psalmist’s declaration, calling upon humanity and all creation to rejoice because the Lord would come to judge the earth in righteousness and the poor with equity (#Ps 98:9), is worthy of note.
A Blessed Judgment Day.
According to the Bible, the world’s Judgment Day will be the world’s time of opportunity for coming to a knowledge of God and then being tried, tested, or judged, as to their willingness to serve and obey God and His righteous government. Those found heartily obedient will be granted everlasting life with every joy and blessing appropriate to man in his perfection. Those rebellious to the light of the righteousness of Jehovah will be destroyed in the Second Death without hope of any future whatever.
That will be the time when all the heathen will have their trial, after they shall all be brought by Messiah’s Kingdom to a clear knowledge of the Truth.
That will be the time when the great masses of Christendom will for the first time hear of the real character of God and His requirements of them. Although some of them may have been in churches occasionally and may have seen Bibles occasionally, nevertheless the eyes of their understanding were darkened. They saw not; they heard not; they understood not. The god of this world blinded them. (#2Co 4:4.) That Judgment Day, the thousand years of Messiah’s Kingdom, will not only bind Satan, but chase away with the glorious beams of the Sun of Righteousness all the darkness, superstition and error of the world.
The Church will not be judged during that thousand-year Judgment Day, because her trial, her judgment, takes place now—during this Gospel Age. The saintly few who will gain the great prize of joint-heirship with the Redeemer, Messiah, will be His Queen and sit with Him in the Great White Throne of Judgment mentioned in the text; as the Apostle declares, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (#1Co 6:2; #Ps 45:9.)
Former Views Were Erroneous.
Our former and very unreasonable view was that man, "born in sin, shapen in iniquity," depraved in all of his appetites, would be condemned of God in the Judgment Day on account of this heredity and environment, for which he is not responsible. The theory was that the heathen also would be damned in that Judgment Day, because they did not know and did not accept "the only name given under heaven." The theory was also that the masses of civilized society would in that Judgment Day be damned because they did not live perfectly, notwithstanding their heredity.
OV256 Now we see that the death sentence was upon Adam and all of his race, who were in his loins when he sinned. We see that they could not be put on trial a second time until released from the first sentence. We see that their release will be at the Second Coming of Messiah in the glory of His Kingdom, when He shall cause the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth and open all the blinded eyes. Then, because of having satisfied the claims of Justice against the race, the Great Redeemer, as the Mediator of the New Covenant, will grant the world of mankind another judgment or trial—additional to the one given to Adam, in which they all failed and from the penalty of which failure Jesus redeemed them.
True, the measure of light and knowledge now enjoyed and willfully sinned against will work as a corresponding degradation of character; all downward steps will need to be retraced.
The Great White Throne.
Symbolically, the whiteness of the throne indicates the purity of the justice and judgment which will be meted out by the Great Redeemer as the Messiah-King. The heavens and earth which will flee away from the presence of that throne are not the literal, but the symbolical. The ecclesiastical heavens and the social earth of the present time will not stand in the presence of that August Tribunal. The people will not be judged nationally nor by parliaments and systems in society, but individually. The judgment or trial will not merely test those living at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but will include all the dead.
The books of the Bible will then all be opened—understood. All will then see that the Golden Rules laid down by inspiration through Moses and the Prophets, Jesus and His Apostles, are the very ones which God will require of men in the future and which Messiah will then enable the willing and obedient to comply with by assisting them up out of their sin and degradation. The judgment of that time, the test, will not be of faith, for knowledge will be universal and all the darkness and obscurity created by ignorance and superstition will have passed away. The test at that time will be of works, whereas the tests of the Church at the present time are of faith.
Another Book of Life Opened.
Pastor Russell declared that the Lamb’s Book of Life alone is open now and only those called to be members of the Bride class and who accept the call are written therein.
But in the great day of the world’s trial or Judgment, another book of life will be opened. A record will be made of all who, by obedience, show themselves worthy of everlasting life on the human plane, and, if faithful, they will eventually be accepted of the Father to life eternal. All the incorrigible, all those who after the most favorable opportunities, will not give their hearts to the Lord and be obedient to the laws of the Messianic Kingdom "shall be destroyed from amongst the people."—#Ac 3:19-21.