SECOND LETTER TO MOLESWORTH
By Robert Govett.
I now proceed to discuss the texts you have alleged on your behalf, and the replies you have given to those adduced by myself, or Mr. Newman.
1. We rest a good deal upon Matt. 7: 21: Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. You make answer -
Here the Lord is indeed excluding from the kingdom, but not defaulters from the saints, but sinners dead, workers of iniquity. (See ver. 23)
This supposes, that in the two verses which follow the twenty-first, Jesus is speaking of the same parties. This you assume, and we do not grant. We will therefore quote them. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
It seems clear at the first glance, that here a new class is described. In order to enter the kingdom, there must be obedience to the Fathers will, or the sayings of Christ, (ver. 24) or (what I suppose is its equivalent) the Sermon on the Mount. If there be not this, none will enter.
But what if there were a doing of miraculous works with testimony to the coming kingdom: would not that avail to grant entrance? By no means: if there were joined therewith the working of iniquity. But, so far as we know, the case supposed cannot occur during the time of the church. For no one but true believers, since Pentecost, have prophecy and miracle been bestowed.Ή Simon Magus was the nearest to the reception of them, but even he was rejected.
2. Your next citation is not easily to be accounted for. You say: -
Rom. 2: 1-16 is interpreted as teaching (see Voice of January, 1869, p. 10,) - God will in the coming day manifest his perfect righteousness, and will render to each according to his deeds, but to every soul of man that doeth evil, tribulation and wrath. This day is designated (Rom. 1: 18) as the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God against men that do not obey the truth (m.i.) - the day (Acts 17: 31) which God hath appointed for the judgment of the world in righteousness by the Man whom he hath ordained - the day in which (John 5: 22, 27-29) all that are in the graves shall come forth. For the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son.
Could you have looked at this passage of the epistle, brother? There is no such passage as that which you have put under inverted commas the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God against men that do not obey the truth. Rom. 1: 18, says, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Here is no mention of the day of wrath; and the words who do not obey the truth are to be found in it. You have joined together pieces of verses found apart in chap. 2. After thy hardness and impenitent heart thou treasurest up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds; To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, tribulation and wrath. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile ... In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
You see then, there is a sad oversight here; oversight on the very essential point of the argument. The day of judgment is to call to its bar not only the dead unbeliever, but all men; every man is to receive according to his deeds. Not only those who do not obey the truth, but those also who having sought for glory, are in that day to receive at Jesus hands eternal life. You continue -
The day then, whatsoever foreshadowings of it may burst forth at the Advent or Epiphany (2 Thess. 1: 6-10) is the day of the Great White Throne, and of the standing in judgment of the universal dead that have not obeyed the truth; and that these are not disobedient or slackly obedient saints, but despisers and rejectors of the truth, plain UNBELIEVERS, see Gal. 3: 1 (as explained by 2: 16); 2 Thess. 1: 8; 1 Pet. 1: 22, and 4: 17; Acts5: 32; Heb. 5: 9; Rom. 1: 5; 10: 16; 15: 18; 16: 26; obeying the truth, the word, the gospel of Jesus Christ ever signifying BELIEF.
obeying the truth is spoken absolutely it means faith into salvation, I
readily admit. And that disobedience to the truth, where spoken
absolutely, intends disbelief unto perdition, I also grant:
Not one of the passages you quote asserts it. Gal. 3: 1, is wrongly quoted. The words that ye should not obey the truth, are not genuine, as a reference to any critical edition of the New Testament will show.
Two of your texts
prove that the judgment of that day takes effect on the living; and one, that
it affects also the saints of God. The judgment of the habitable earth (Acts
17: 31), means the judgment of living men.
The judgment of the Gentiles, commonly
called the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, is also the judgment of living
men: Matt. 25. It occurs
before the millennium begins for earth: ver. 34.
and 2Thess. 1: 4-11,
tells of the coming of Jesus in person, of the measuring out in that day to the living refusers of the gospel, destruction, and of relief to the
sufferers for His sake - when they shall be accounted
worthy of the
The day of Christ is the day of judgment on both the living and the dead, from the beginning in Rev. 4, to its close in chapter 20; 2Tim. 4: 1. To me it seems that there are more than dead sinners set even before the great white throne. Else why is the book of life opened? I know the usual answer, and think it forced.
What shall we say from your text from John 5? All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation. At every step, then, your argument fails, your own texts confute you!
I turn back to the February number of the Voice.
With the first four of your objections I will not meddle; inasmuch as no passage in Scripture is cited on their behalf; and this is a question which must be decided by the Scripture alone. Your fifth objection is - That exclusion from the kingdom is denounced only to the unconverted. Then follow a number of texts. But how they prove your proposition, I cannot comprehend. You say: -
For the Scripture knowing but two classes, assigns the kingdom to the children as prepared for them before the foundation of the world, and shuts up the kingdom from the un-begotten and un-quickened.
here is to the parable of the Sheep and Goats. Now this seems to me not
to refer at all to the
I will consider now the passages you quoted.
1. John 3: 3, 5. Except a
man be born (out) of water and the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the
2. You strangely
cite 1Cor. 6: 9-11. This is the
stronghold of our doctrine: force this, and I
suppose, no other text will stand the shock! First, Paul is addressing in
this epistle all believers everywhere: 1
Cor. 1: 2. Next, in the sixth chapter, he is rebuking those in communion
for not settling their disputes among themselves: ver. 1-7.
Were not the saints, by Gods decree, hereafter to be judges of the world and
of angels? Why, then, should they not be able to decide now questions
about pounds, shillings, and pence? But brother
goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Here the brethren of
[In the Greek these are Aorists. See also Alford.]
That these threatenings refer to believers seems to me to be certain.
(1) It cannot be said, Paul intends certain hypocrites who had crept in among them. For he says of them all, that they had been justified, sanctified, and baptized. Can that be true of hypocrites? Some, indeed insist on the words Such were some of you. But they are not meant to contradict what Paul had expressly asserted in ver. 8, that some were defrauding and inflicting wrong upon their brethren. It is on the ground of this charge, that he utters the solemn threat which follows.
(2) How stands the apostles rebuke, if we read it on the usual theory? O Christian believers, some of you are defrauding your brethren. What! Do you not know that unconverted men, if unrighteous, shall not enter the kingdom! Do not mistake! No unconverted men, if fornicators or adulterers, will enter that kingdom. Was that the apostles meaning? Does he teach that unconverted men, if they are morally decent, will enter the kingdom? I suppose none will say so. Will not unconverted men, simply as unconverted, be refused any portion there? Is not that what Jesus says to Nicodemus? John 3: 3.
But there was,
there is great danger, lest those who believe should rest upon
their privileges given of God, and suppose that, because admitted to the
The kingdom is for
the saints: Dan. 7: 18. Unsaintly conduct, therefore, as sure as it excludes from
In short, I trace in these words of the Holy Ghost a regular argument.
1. No unrighteous person shall enter the kingdom: ver. 9.
2. Some of you are unrighteous: ver. 8.
3. Therefore some of you shall not enter the kingdom.
(3) Eph. 5: 5. Is not the Epistle to the
Ephesians addressed to believers? To the saints
which are at
(4) Gal. 5: 19-21. In the believer the flesh still abides; can he not therefore fall into the lusts of the flesh? Yes: in point of doctrine and of fact it is certain that he may: 1 Cor. 5; 2Cor. 12: 20, 21. Then Paul by the Holy Ghost announces what are the works of the flesh; and adds, that those guilty of such deeds shall be excluded from the kingdom. In the next chapter he addresses the Galatian believers as brethren: ver. 1, 18. He warns them not to deceive themselves: and then adds, that the effects of our actions in the day to come will follow as surely as the reaping follows and depends upon the kind of the seed sown. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall (out) of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall (out) of the Spirit reap life everlasting. ² May not a believer sow to the flesh? Are not thousands of them doing so? Is not the sowing to the flesh the same as doing the works of the flesh? Then such - when the accepted enter the [millennial] kingdom - will be rejected.
(5) Matt. 7: 21. To whom was the Sermon on the Mount addressed? To disciples - men of faith: 6: 30; 8: 26. Then to these Jesus says, Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven. All men of faith own Jesus Lord: Rom. 10: 9. But not every believer observes the will of the Father, as taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Not every believer, therefore, will enter the coming kingdom.
How you would apply the remaining texts, Matt. 13: 41, and 8: 12, I do not know.
(6) Luke 6: 20-26. On this passage I rest with the most confidence, as teaching exclusion of some believers from the kingdom. Jesus is addressing himself especially to disciples: ver. 20. He ranges them into two ranks: one of these is to enter the kingdom; the other is to be excluded therefrom. The poor disciple is to enter it; the rich disciple is to be edxcluded.³ The hungry disciple is to enter: the full disciple is to be shut out. The weeping disciple is to enter: the laughing disciple is to be excluded. The disciple who is rejected by the world is to be admitted: the disciple whom the world accepts and praises is to be refused. Does not this teach exclusion of believers?
(7) Luke 12: 32. Fear not, little flock; for your Father was pleased * [* The Aorist.] to give you the kingdom. Yes! So hath God decreed, the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom: Dan. 7: 18. But how does the Saviour proceed? He tells us of one whom he appointed over his household, being found beating his fellow-believers, eating, drinking, and being drunken, because he puts off the day of the Saviours advent. The Lord will arrive, then, at an unlooked for moment, and will appoint that servant his place amongst the unbelievers: ver. 45, 46. And that servant which knew his lords will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes: ver. 47. Are there no servants of Jesus who know His will concerning baptism, for instance, and yet neither prepare to do it, nor do it? I could be content to rest the question on this text alone.
(8) Luke 18: 16, 17. In the first of these
verses Jesus affirms that they who are to enter the kingdom are to resemble
little children. Are there no believers
who are excessively unlike children in all the good qualities belonging to the
very young? He adds, Verily I say
unto you; Whosoever shall not
(9) Matt. 13: 38. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. How would you bring this to bear? Specially after 8: 12? You add, ver. 43, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Those who enter the kingdom enter it, not as believers, but as righteous.
(10) Col. 1: 13. The Father delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us
into the kingdom of His dear Son. * [* Aroists. Therefore omit the hath.] Yes!
Every believer is, at his conversion, transferred from Satan, and brought into
(11) You quote Heb. 12: 28. For your views a very unfortunate passage! For the previous verses assure us, that if Israel, who begged to be excluded from listening to more words of God than the ten commandments, did not escape, much less will believers now escape, if they turn away from words of Christ: ver. 25. But let us consider ver. 28 especially. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. What is the kingdom not to be shaken, which the holders of grace are to possess? The eternal one - that upon the new heavens and new earth, which are never to be shaken. The millennial kingdom will be shaken; both because the earth on which it takes place will pass away; and because Satan, with his rebel host, comes up against it at the close. Paul is warning believers against turning back from grace to justice; from Christ to Moses. For thus they would lose, not only present acceptance, but the eternal ² kingdom: (Rev. 22: 5,) and fall into the hands of a God awfully just a consuming fire.
I turn now, with your permission, to notice Mr. Bennetts paper, which adjoins yours. In reference to it, I would observe again, that the question cannot be settled by adducing texts supposed to be contradictory.
Eternal life is the gift of God in grace. But there is also to be a reward to each according to his works: Matt. 16: 27; 2 Cor. 5: 10; 1 Cor. 3: 8; Rev. 2: 23.
Mr. B. appeals to Rev. 5: 9, 10 : "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed [us] to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made [us] unto [our] God kings and priests! And [we] shall reign on the earth.
1. That the text in our Authorized Version is not in this passage the genuine, as far as the words in brackets are concerned; as many as seen by a reference to Tragelles, or any of the critical Greek editions.
2. That the twenty-four elders are not the church, nor do they represent it.
3. That the elders are setting forth the merits of Christ, as constituting His pre-eminence above themselves, and His glory in introducing fresh rules to govern the earth. Hence it is no wonder if they do not state something not connected with their primary object. There is no reigning of the risen over the earth, save through the redemption wrought by Jesus; but whether anything beyond redemption by blood is required of those who shall reign, they do not say. However, the same book, yea, the Saviours words in it, fill up this occasion. It is needful to be conqueror, to suffer with Christ, and to keep the Lords words, in order to this: Rev. 2: 26, 27; 3: 21; 2 Tim. 2: 12.
Mr. Bennett thinks the award of Christ to be not in any case punitive. But Scripture says otherwise: Col. 3: 25; Luke 12: 47, 48; Matt. 18: 21-35, &c. What mean many stripes? He sees, indeed, that the award to the servant of one talent seems to stand in the way of his conclusion. But then the man is a Christless professor. How then does Jesus proclaim him one of His own servants? ver. 14. But he is taken up on the ground of his own profession. Will Mr. B. show me where he so professes himself? Jesus four times over owns him a servant of His: ver. 14, 19, 20, 30. I cannot find that he once makes the profession himself. Are the other two , whom Jesus praises and promotes, servants? So then is he! Jesus, even when pronouncing sentence against him, twice calls him servant. But how could any believer call Jesus hard? There are some hyper-Calvinists who so think Him, if they do not openly say so. It is a danger against which Paul warns Timothy: 2 Tim. 1: 6, 7. It is in order to defend himself, that the one talent-servant is driven to accuse his master. Again I ask, are there no believers who are unprofitable servants? Will the ungodly rise at the first resurrection, and be judged before the judgment-seat of Christ? To whom did Jesus speak this parable? To believers only! Mark 13: 3.
Believe me, sincerely yours in Christ,
[1. I cannot find it stated anywhere in Scripture that the gifts of the Holy Spirit (including the gift of healing, [i. e. instant healing]), are unobtainable today.
2. How is it possible for regenerate believer to reap EVERLASTING life, after receiving it as a free Gift? Is this not another instance where the Greek word translated everlasting should be translated age-lasting?
3. Riches are a hindrance to entrance, but it cannot be proved from Scripture that they are always the cause for exclusion. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all exceedingly rich men, but they are not to be excluded!]