G. H. LANG
Mr. Hudson Taylor and Mr. R. C. Chapman held the view that sharing in the first resurrection and the millennial glories of the Lamb to which that resurrection introduces, is a privilege possible of forfeiture by the believer. As it seems not to be generally known that these great servants of God so taught, it may be well for the proofs to be given.
In the Appendix to his small work on the Song of Songs entitled Union and Communion (ed. 5, p. 83), Mr. Hudson Taylor wrote of such as "if saved, are only half-saved: who are for the present more concerned about the things of this world than the things of God. To advance their own interests, to secure their own comfort, concerns them more than to be in all things pleasing to the Lord. They may form part of that great company spoken of in Rev. 7: 9-17, who come out of the great tribulation, but they will not form part of the 144,000, ‘the firstfruits unto God, and to the Lamb’ (Rev. 14: 1-5). They have forgotten the warning of our Lord in Luke 21: 34-36; and hence they are not accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man. They have not, with Paul, counted ‘all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord’, and hence they do not ‘attain unto’ that resurrection from among the dead, which Paul felt he might miss, but aimed to attain unto.
"We wish to place on record our solemn conviction that not all who are Christians, or think themselves to be such, will attain to that resurrection of which St. Paul speaks in Phil. 3: 11, or will thus meet the Lord in the air. Unto those who by lives of consecration manifest that they are not of the world, but are looking for Him, ‘He will appear without sin unto salvation.’" This specially emphasized testimony leaves no doubt as to Mr. Hudson Taylor’s belief as to the teaching of Scripture.
As regards Mr. Robert Chapman, about the year 1896 he sent out to leading teachers in his own spheres, the assemblies of Open Brethren, as series of Suggestive Questions. Number 10 includes the following: "Are not the redeemed in Revelation 4. and 5. the same with those in chapter 20: 4, ‘Thrones and they that sat upon them’? (verse 5.) ‘This is the first resurrection.’ Is it not a resurrection of firstfruits"? Now in the essential nature of the case firstfruits are but a portion of the whole harvest, and so the question proceeds: "And the rest of the dead (in the same verse) do they not include all the family of God? Not the wicked dead only. Hence, in verse 12, ‘Another book is opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works’ (verse 15). ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.’"
As regards this last passage, the exact rendering in the Revised Version, "if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire," by its negative form, strongly supports the view Mr. Chapman took of this passage. If it should be said of the crowd at a platform barrier that, If any was found not to have a ticket he was refused admittance, who would dream of suggesting the meaning that no one of all who were there had a ticket, or was allowed to pass?
The questions were written out for Mr. Chapman by one who lived with him in his early years, and so was well acquainted with his views, and in reply to an inquiry upon question 10, he wrote to me as follows, kindly giving permission for his statement to be used. He said: - "It was Mr. Chapman’s desire that, by so walking with God and by obedience to His Word in all things, he might not shut himself out from the honour of reigning with Christ. He saw no authority from the Scripture for saying that all the children of God would. Rev. 20: 4, ‘and they sat upon them’ Mr, Chapman considered were distinguished persons, not all saints." Now from verses 4 and 6 of Rev. 20., "they lived and reigned" and "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection ... they shall reign," it is clear that all who rise in the first resurrection do reign, from which it certainly follows that such as are not accounted worthy to reign do not rise at that time. Who would say to what large degree this conscience-quickening belief contributed to the blamelessness of Mr. Chapman’s beautiful life? That such notable saints and God-used workers held this view should at least command for it toleration and patient investigation. If it is the real meaning of Scripture it must be perilous to neglect it, and deeply injurious to assert the opposite.
The Holy Spirit through Paul strongly emphasizes the thought that the first Resurrection must be won, by the words "if by any means I may attain unto (or arrive at) the resurrection," etc. On this "if by any means" Ellicott says: - "The idea of an attempt is conveyed, which may or may not be successful." Lightfoot remarks: "The Apostle states not a positive assurance but a modest hope." Alford says of the expression: "It is used when an end is proposed, but failure is presumed to be possible." The New Testament itself puts the force of Paul’s words beyond doubt by using the exact expression in a historical narrative where the sense is unmistakable (Acts 27: 12): "The more part advised to put to sea thence, if by any means they could reach Phoenix", which we know they did not reach.
attempt to make these words mean that Paul, now nearing the end of his long and
wonderful career, was still only endeavouring to teach that moral union with
Christ of which long before he had written to the Romans (ch. 6)
is unworthy of his sanctified life, for without having already known that
union, he could not possibly have lived as he had done. Moreover, it is
not sound practical theology. Freedom
from enslavement to sin is to be gained only by an act of faith,
by which the believer accepts once for all that which God says
took place in the past at the Cross: "your old man
was crucified"; whereas Paul is speaking of a goal to be reached
in the future by a course of practical fellowship with Christ in His
sufferings, by which means the believer becomes more and more outwardly
conformed to the death of his Lord. The present participle (becoming
conformed) carries clearly this progressive sense. Moreover, only one
already by faith in the moral power of Christ’s resurrection is able to endure
a perpetual sharing of His sufferings. Romans 6. Must be
first the experience before Philippians 3.
can begin to be known experimentally. "Any reference here to a merely ethical resurrection is
wholly out of the question," says Ellicott, when referring the
passage to the First Resurrection. The application of this passage to the
resurrection of the body has ample support. It was the view of Alford,
Lightfoot, Bengel, Wordsworth, Bloomfield,
Thus the goal, to reach which Paul was straining every fibre was the "out-resurrection". Hence for the Thessalonians he prayed that "our God would count you worthy of your calling": that is, not to salvation from hell, but "ye should walk worthily of God who calleth you into His own kingdom and glory" (2 Thess. 1: 11, 12; 1 Thess. 2: 12). If this calling is assured to everyone justified in Christ, solely on the ground of His righteousness imputed to the believer, why should Paul need to pray that God would count them worthy, for in that case they were already worthy? Our prayers add nothing to the justification of fellow-believers, but they do help them to walk godly and worthily and so to attain to the recompense of thus living.
It has been generally taught that, whereas eternal life is a "free gift" (Rom. 6: 23), that is, free of conditions, as well as of purchase-price, rewards in the [millennial] Kingdom may be lost and must be won. It is no more than an extension of this undeniable principle that the millennial kingdom is itself a reward and that attaining it is subject to the same rule. And by as much as the reward is made more magnificent the incentive to attain to it by grace becomes the more regnant, and the pursuit of holiness the more urgent. The Christian athlete will cry: "Not that I have already obtained (the prize) or am already made perfect; but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3; 12).