Thursday, May 28, 2020

Born of the Spirit

John 3:3 - Jesus answered him, "Most assuredly, I tell you, unless one is born [begotten] anew, he can't see [comprehend] the kingdom of God."
John 3:7 - Don't marvel that I said to you, "You [Nicodemus] must be born [begotten] anew." -- World English


Jesus was addressing Nicodemus in his words as quoted above. Why did Jesus teach that it was necessary for one to be begotten/born again? For an answer to this, we must look back to the first man, Adam. Adam -- before he sinned -- did not need to be begotten again of the spirit, because his original creation, in effect, gave him birth of God's spirit. He was created with a crown of glory, and before he sinned, he had not fallen short of that glory. (Psalm 8:5; Romans 3:23) As such, Adam was perfect as far being without sin, but he had not proven himself as to have been perfected in love for, trust in, and obedience to, his Creator. Thus God gave Adam a choice to obey or disobey. (Genesis 2:16,17) Paul indicates that Adam was created with the law of God in his heart (Romans 2:15), and if he had followed this law, he could have developed the fruitage of the spirit perfectly, and would still be alive today upon this earth. (Galatians 5:22,23) Before Adam sinned, he was sinless, and did not have sinful flesh. (Romans 8:3) Adam could have walked after the spirit in obedience to God, or he could have walked after the flesh in disobedience. Obedience would bring life; disobedience would bring death -- the cessation of life. Most know that Adam and Eve disobeyed, and thus came under the condemnation of death, and that condemnation came to be upon all mankind through Adam. -- Romans 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

Why do we say that Adam was born/begotten of the spirit? Because he, before he sinned, was a figure of the one to come as a man to redeem mankind. (Romans 5:14) Adam was a "son of God." (Luke 3:18) Was Jesus, as a human, "born/begotten of the spirit"? What do the scriptures say? Matthew 1:20: "But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of Jehovah appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived [gennao] in her is of the Holy Spirit.'" The Greek word often transliterated as gennao is the same word that is used in John 3:3 and John 3:7, where most translations render the word as "born".  It is important to realize that the Greek word gennao (Strong's #1080) can have different applications, depending on the context.. Thus, the King James Version renders it several ways, including the following: begat, born, be born, bear, gender, bring forth, be delivered, conceived. It can refer to conception, beggetal,  or it can refer to the actual birth. We believe that in all eight instances of this word in John 3, it should have been rendered as begotten. This harmonizes with Matthew 1:20, where it is apparent that the angel is not speaking of Jesus' birth, but rather of his being begotten by the holy spirit as then an unborn embryo in Mary's womb.

Likewise, we have all reason to think that when Adam was created, that God used his holy spirit in the creative process. (Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30) Additionally, Adam, as a son of God (Luke 3:18), would have been led by God's spirit, for "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God." (Romans 8:14) As we pointed out in our study on "With What Kind of Body Will We Be Raised?", Adam, before he sinned, was incorrupt, but he was not incorruptible. It was possible for him to become corrupt. As long as Adam obeyed, he was thus following the leading of the holy spirit. Of course, we know that his wife, Eve, was deceived, and was thus led into disobedience, and Adam, wishing to please his wife, was led by her into disobedience, and thus man had become corrupted before God.

Romans 1 describes the result of this corruption, and its remedy. Paul says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation [deliverance] to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith. As it is written, 'But the righteous shall live by faith.'" (Romans 1:16.17) What is it that Paul is speaking of that man needs to be delivered from? Paul continues: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness." (Romans 1:18) Paul here identifies what it is that we need to be delivered from: "the wrath of God." The wrath of God has been revealed ever since Adam disobeyed. Paul is speaking of man as represented in the first man and woman. Later he tells us that "the judgment came by one to condemnation," and that "through one trespass, all men were condemned." (Romans 5:16,18) Through Adam, mankind had become "sons of disobedience", "children [sons] of wrath." (Ephesians 2:2,3; 5:5; Colossians 3:6) Being corrupted, and no longer reflecting God's glory (Romans 3:23), God could no longer recognize them as His sons, so Paul tells us that "God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting." (Romans 1:28; see also Romans 7:20) And thus mankind came in need of a rebirth, a regeneration, to sonship of God.

The word "regeneration" comes from the Greek word often transliterated as Paliggenesia (Strong's #3824). The last part part of this word is a form the word Strong gives as number: 1078, which is from the same root as gennao.  The word, regeneration, is only found twice in the Bible: "Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'" (Matthew 19:28) "Not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5) At first glance, it may appear that the two scriptures contradict each other. Jesus speaks of the regeneration as something in the future, when the apostles have been exalted to judgment, whereas Paul in his letter to Titus seems to speak of it as something already accomplished in believers. Both statements are correct, however, as we shall see.

Jesus sets the actual new birth - the regeneration -- in the age to come, the resurrection day -- the last day -- when the saints will rule and judge Israel and the world as co-rulers with Jesus. Jesus was in, in effect, speaking of that regeneration when he spoke the famous words to Nicodemus as recorded in John 3:16,17: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved [delivered] through him." Likewise, Jesus was speaking of the day of regeneration when he said: "If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn't believe, I don't judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and doesn't receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 12:47,48) By saying this, Jesus identifies the day of judgment of the world as "the last day".
Paul spoke of the "last day" -- the world's day of judgment -- as recorded in Acts 17:31: God " has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead." God does not do the actual judging, but he has appointed his Son to do the judging for him. Thus Jesus stated: "For neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment [the power and authority to judge] to the Son." (John 5:22) Paul also lets us know that the saints will participate with Jesus in that judgment, when he asked the question: "Don't you know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2) Paul probably had in mind the prophecy of Daniel, that "judgment [the power and authority] was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." (Daniel 7:22) Thus the authority and time when the saints are to judge the world is linked with the kingdom -- Messiah's kingdom. John saw this in vision as he records in Revelation 20:4: "I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment [authority and power to judge] was given to them."

It is in that last day of judgment that the regeneration of the world takes place, and that is why Jesus spoke of that day as 'in the regeneration" when the apostles are said to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. In order for the disbelieving world to be judged in that day, they must be saved from Adamic death so as to be brought back to life, in effect, "made alive", "born again". (1 Corinthians 15:22) Thus, Jesus says that in that time of regeneration, "the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28,29) Jesus speaks of two resurrections, one to life, and one to judgment. The one to judgment is what Jesus was speaking of in John 12:47,48. As we have shown in our other studies, that day of judgment is not a doomsday for the world, but a day of salvation. Our point now is that the regeneration as Jesus spoke of belongs to that day. So how is it that Paul, in his letter to Titus, speaks of it as applying to believers now?

Going back to Romans, we find that Paul explains how this is. Paul tells us that God "calls the things that are not, as though they were." (Romans 4:17) In Hebrews we learn that those who accept the call in this age taste of "the powers of the age to come". (Hebrews 6:5) Thus, the believers in this age are "reckoned", "counted", "imputed" as righteous and alive in the eyes of God, before the day of regeneration has actually begun. In this manner, God can call out beforehand a people for his name in this age, as a firstfruits to God, who can become the seed of Abraham with Jesus, by faith, in order to bless and judge the nations with Christ in the age to come. -- Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Galatians 3:8,16,26-29.

Nevertheless, the regeneration generated through the second Adam produces children of God, as opposed to children of wrath. The regenerated child of God is called a new creation or new creature, and the old creation is that produced through the generation of Adam which is associated with that which is passing away.  -- 2 Corinthians 5:17; Matthew 5:18; 24:34-36; Mark 13:30-33; Luke 16:17; 21:32,33; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22,47; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 2:17; Revelation 21:1-5.

Thus, closely associated with the word Paliggenesia and being begotten or born again, is the phrase "new creature" or "new creation".  The old creation is the creation of mankind in Adam, the "whole creation" that has been subjected to vanity of Romans 8:20-22 -- mankind under the present sun of vanity, of which there can be no new creation. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,9,10,13-19) Thus, due to the one trespass of Adam, Adam and all of his offspring were condemned to this bondage of corruption, from which none could escape. -- Romans 5:12-19; 2 Peter 1:4.

Nevertheless, what man could not do for himself, God could do, and thus he provided a new creature separate from the old creation condemned in Adam, when he sent his son to be begotten in the womb of Mary. (Matthew 1:20) God prepared Jesus' body totally separate from the old creation condemned in Adam. (Hebrews 10:5) Thus, Jesus was begotten as the first "new" creature when he became flesh in the womb of Mary. (John 1:14) As a new human creature, while in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7), Jesus was the exact equivalent of first of the old human creation, that is, Adam -- before Adam sinned, but because Adam sinned, the world  -- the old creation -- became subjected to the bondage of corruption. Jesus sacrificed his life as a human son of God -- as was Adam before he sinned (Luke 3:38) -- to offset the condemnation in Adam, which allowed God to remain true to His own standard of justice, while as the same time provided a way to justify those condemned in Adam. -- 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 3:26; 5:12-19; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The promise through Abraham that through his seed all the families of the earth would blessed suggests a promise of a king and kingdom who would bring about such blessings. Any who have not carefully examined this subject, with concordance and Bible in hand, will be surprised, on doing so, to find its prominence in the Scriptures. The Hebrew Scriptures abound with promises and prophecies in which the Kingdom of God and its King, the promised Messiah, figure at the very center. It was the hope of every Israelite (Luke 3:15) that as a people God would exalt their nation under Messiah. When Jesus came to them, it was as their King, to establish the long promised Kingdom of God upon the earth.

 John, the forerunner and herald of our Lord Jesus, opened his mission with the announcement, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:2) Jesus commenced his ministry with the same announcement exactly (Matthew 4:17); and the apostles were sent forth to preach the same message. (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2) Thus, Jesus said to Nicodemus: "unless one is born [begotten] anew, he can't see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) Not only was the kingdom the topic with which Jesus began his public ministry, but it was really the main topic of all his preaching (Luke 8:1; 4:43; 19:11), other subjects being mentioned merely in connection with or in explanation of this one subject. The majority of his parables were either illustrations of the kingdom from various standpoints, and in different features, or else served to point out entire consecration to God as essential to a share in the kingdom, and to correct the Jewish misapprehension that they were sure of the kingdom because natural children of Abraham, and hence natural heirs to the promises.

Our Lord Jesus in his talks with his followers strengthened and encouraged their expectations of a coming kingdom, saying to them, "I make a covenant with you as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging [ruling] the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:29,30, RL Improved Rendering) And, again, "Don't be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) And when, instead of being crowned and enthroned, their recognized king was killed, his disciples were sorely disappointed. As two of them expressed it to the supposed stranger on their way to Emmaus after his resurrection, they "were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel"-- delivering them from the Roman yoke, and making of Israel the Kingdom of God in power and glory. But they were sadly disappointed by the changes of the few days previous. Then Jesus opened their understanding by showing them from the Scriptures that his sacrifice was needful first of all before the kingdom could be established. -- Luke 24:21,25-27.

God could have given to Jesus the dominion of earth without redeeming man; for "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will.." (Daniel 4:32) But God had a grander design than could have been accomplished by such a plan. Such a kingdom could have brought blessings which, however good, could have been of only a temporary character, since all of mankind were under condemnation to death. To make the blessings of his kingdom everlasting and complete, the race had first to be ransomed from death and thus legally released from the condemnation and the bondage of corruption which passed upon all in Adam. -- 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19; 8:19-22.

At this point, we wish to note that Jesus did not say, "Unless you are born again, you cannot go to heaven," although this appears to be what many read into Jesus' words recorded in John 3:3. Jesus, however, had come to select a particular class who would inherit the kingdom, that is, those who are to be of the royal house, the ruling house, in the Kingdom. The Kingdom, however, has two general levels, one that is in spirit realm, in heaven, and another that is on the earth.  See our study: "The Manner of the Resurrection."

Likewise, we believe that many have traditionally misapplied what Jesus said here as meaning that which is begotten of the flesh is a fleshly, physical being, and that which is begotten of the spirit is a spirit being. Jesus, however,  also spoke of being born of water; does this mean that one born of water is water in substance? (John 3:5) Additionally, John speaks several times of believers as being "born of God." (1 John 3:9;  4:7;  5:1.5.18) Are we to think that who belong to Christ are Gods -- Supreme Beings? Additionally, that which was begotten* of the spirit as spoken in Matthew 1:20 is definitely not a spirit in substance. The new creature is of the same plane existence as the old creation through Adam that has been subjected to a bondage of corruption and vanity. -- Romans 8:20-22.

As we have already shown, forms of the Greek word often renders as "born" throughout of John 3 is often transliterated as gennao. Strong numbers it 1080. This word can refer to actual birth or it can refer to conception. In Matthew 1:20, it obviously refers to conception, and thus it is often render there as "conceived". We believe that this is what Jesus had in mind in John 3. He was speaking of being conceived, or many prefer, begotten again of spirit and water. We believe that actual birth comes in the "last day," when that which has been begotten is raised. The conception in this age results, we believe, in what the apostle Paul refers to as seed, a grain. (1 Corinthians 15:37) God gives or assigns it -- the seed -- a body, first as fleshly, earthly, terrestrial. (1 Corinthians 15:38,46) If it -- the seed -- in this age puts on corruption, it then, we believe, assigned the spiritual, celestial body.  (1 Corinthians 15:43) As we show in our studies, With What Kind of Body Will We Be Raised? and The Manner of the Resurrection, those called in the Gospel Age, are first given, or assigned the fleshly body, and are given, or assigned, the spiritual body only if they "put on incorruption", having proven an incorruptible faithfulness to God.  Thus, we conclude that all called in this age become sons of God, but not all jointly sacrifice with Christ so as to become joint-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) Those who do attain the mark or goal or the prize of the high calling are, we believe, the joint-heirs with Christ. (Philippians 3:12-14) From this, we conclude that all others -- who have been called but do not in this age prove themselves incorruptible the physical, terrestrial level, and evidently that is the way they will be raised in the "last day".

Nevertheless, in his words recorded in John 3, Jesus was evidently not speaking of the kind of body one will be raised in. He appears to be speaking of understanding kingdom matters that one might "see" [discern] the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) Those who are only born [or begotten] as a descendant of Adam (Romans 5:12-19) will see (discern) only along the lines of the flesh; those who are born [or begotten] anew of the spirit will be able to "see" discern things of the spirit. Paul said something similar in 1 Corinthians 2:6-15. 

In Romans 8:19-22, Paul speaks of the old creation through Adam as having the opportunity of becoming sons of God in the age to come. This is obviously not referring to those called in this age, but rather it refers to the unbelieving world of mankind who are to receive the blessings of the kingdom rule in the age to come. -- See also our study: Mankind's Course to the Day of Judgment.




Friday, May 8, 2020

The Credibility of the Bible


Our Creator

(1) Even if you are not sure that you believe in a Creator, there are many things that you know to be true. We can use things that we know to be true to help us arrive at some reasonable conclusions about our Creator.

(2) Yet by using our reason alone, we still cannot arrive at definite conclusions regarding the Creator’s purposes and what he wants us to do. We still could not be sure that our conclusions were correct. What we would need is a direct revelation from our creator.

(3) What, however, can we learn without a direct revelation? If we look into the sky with a telescope, or even with our natural eyes alone, we can see there the immensity of creation, its symmetry, beauty, order, harmony and diversity. We should reasonably be influenced to believe that the Creator of these is vastly our superior both in wisdom and power. Scriptural verification: Isaiah 40:26.

(4) Every plant and every flower speaks volumes of testimony on this subject. Their very sight is beautiful. From these we obtain a large diversity of foods and aromas. How reasonable to believe that the Creator provided these things for the benefit of mankind.

(5) But as we study how all these things are made, they tell us even more about how great the Creator must be. With all of mankind’s knowledge, we have not been able to even duplicate these wondrous creations. (Scriptural verification: Psalm 104:14-24) Certainly these marvels of creation did not just come here by chance. If so, why has not man been able to duplicate these wonders of creation? No, the possibility of all this happening by chance is so small, so tiny, it can only be believed by those who refuse to look at the facts.

Is Evolution the Creator?

(6) Some who deny the existence of an intelligent Creator claim that nature is the only God. They claim that all forms of animal and vegetable life came to be here without the help of any intelligent God or Creator. These usually say all life came to be on the earth in a process they call “evolution.”

(7) According to the theory or idea of evolution, life started as result of spontaneous biogenesis and then somehow developed into a single cell billions or trillions of years ago. This cell split and made another cell. These two cells split and made four cells. These cells kept splitting and making more cells until finally there millions of cells. Somehow, these cells, without the ability to think, decided to join together to form a different kind of life. In time, enough cells joined together to make the small microbes. Then, as millions of years passed, they finally decided to form into fish, then later into birds, dinosaurs, tigers, apes — and last of all — man. According to this theory, this whole process took billions or trillions of years — all without the help of any intelligence at all! (Some who profess Christianity claim to also believe that man evolved from lower animals. See: our publication, The Ransom For All to see why the Bible and the theory of man’s evolution cannot be harmonized.)

(8) The theory of evolution without a creator, however, lacks proof. All about us we see that the various creatures are of fixed kinds — that is, they do not change from their basic animal kinds. They do not evolve to higher kinds. Some scientists have succeeded in producing mutations and crossing some species. But they have never succeeded in bringing forth a completely new fixed kind of animal that is able to reproduce and carry on its own “kind.” No instance is known where one “kind” has changed to another kind. There are fish that can use their fins for a moment as wings, and fly out of the water. There are frogs that can sing. Yet they have never been known to change into another "kind," as, for instance, birds.

(9) It is true that different types of the same general “kind” or family have come into existence. This has often been referred to as examples of evolution, to which we find no objection to in the Bible. Thus we have different types that belong to the dog family, the cat family, etc. Yet there has been no blending of the various “kinds” to produce a sustainable new “kind.” Nor is there any proof of one kind evolving from another kind. Surely if unintelligent nature were the creator or evolver she would continue the process. There would be no such thing as fixity of kind, since without intelligence nothing would arrive at fixed conditions. Evolution would be a fact today. We would see about us fish becoming birds, and monkeys becoming men.

(10) It is further claimed that the original plants and animals, from which present varieties came, became extinct millions of years before the arrival of man. Skeletons and fossils of animals and plants which do not now exist, found deep below the earth’s surface are used to support this theory. Scientists have found remains of animals that lived many thousands of years ago. Some bear a resemblance to men. However, the evidence is wholly lacking that man was evolved from such creatures, or that these creatures came from a common ancestor of man. Additionally, there is no way to determine factually how old any of these fossils are. Nor is there any genuine evidence from the fossils found that one kind evolved into another kind. Many scientists admit that the evidence of the fossil record for evolution is extremely sparse. For more information regarding evolution, see our
Creation studies.

(11) Back of all the intricate machinery of the laws of creation is the hand of its great Author, the intelligent, omnipotent Creator. We conclude, then, that the theory of evolution without a Creator is not reasonable. Additionally, if one believes the Bible to be God' revelation to man, one should not that it contradicts the Bible when it claims that intelligent beings came into existence by a power not having intelligence.

(12) We maintain, then, that the existence of an intelligent creator is a clearly demonstrated truth. The proof lies all around us. Additionally, our own bodies supply verification of his workmanship. Every power of our minds and bodies speaks of a marvelous skill beyond our comprehension. (Psalm 19:1; 139:14-16; Hebrews 3:4) And he is also the designer and creator of what is termed the laws of the universe. We contend that our Creator ordered and established these laws. Despite the few irregularities they note, even atheistic scientists stand in awe at the beauty and harmony seen in the operation these laws. (Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; Psalm 19:1) Certainly the Bible is correct in attributing the creation of the heavens, moon, stars and man to God. — Psalm 8:1,3-5.

(13) Nonetheless, when one realizes the existence of this mighty God he may feel dread because of his omnipotent strength. Thus we need more than just realizing his existence. We need to have assurance that he possesses qualities of love and goodness to equal his power. Of this fact we are also fully assured by the same evidence which proves his existence, power and wisdom.

(14) Reasonably we judge that the grandest thing created is not superior to its Creator. Hence we conclude that the greatest manifestation of benevolence and justice among men is inferior in scope to that of the Creator, even as man’s wisdom and power are inferior to his. And consequently we have before our mental vision the personal attributes of the great Creator. We project that he is wise, just, loving and powerful. We further reason that the scope of his attributes are immeasurably wider than that of his grandest creation.

(15) We have now shown that it is feasible to conclude that God exists. We have additionally shown what we can reasonably accept concerning his attributes. Now one might inquire: “What should we expect of such a being?” Should he decide to use his power to create, would he not use his power of creation in harmony with his own nature — wisely, justly and benevolently? Regardless of the means to that end, would not the final outcome be consistent with his nature and personality? Would not every step be approved of his infinite wisdom? What could be more reasonable than such exercise of power as we see manifested in the creation of the countless stars, and galaxies in the universe, and in the wonderful variety of earth? What could be more reasonable than the creation of man, endowed with reason and judgment, capable of appreciating his Creator’s works, and judging of his skill — of his wisdom, justice, power and love? All this is reasonable, and all in perfect accord with facts known to us.

THE CREATOR’S
Provision of a Revelation

(16) Would not a wise and good Creator be moved by his love and justice to supply the wants of his creature’s nature by giving him some revelation? Would it not be a reasonable supposition that God would supply to man information concerning the object of his existence, and his plans for his future? On the contrary, we ask, would it not be unreasonable to suppose otherwise? Would such a being make such a creature as man, endow him with powers of reason reaching out into the future, and yet make no revelation of his plans to meet those longings? Such a course would be unreasonable, because contrary to the personality which we have reasonably attributed to God. It would be contrary to the proper course of being controlled by justice and love.

(17) Suppose that the Creator decided it not wise to grant his creatures a knowledge of his future destiny or his share in the Creator’s plans. Then surely divine justice, as well as divine love, would not want his creatures to be continually tormented and perplexed with doubts, fears, etc. Thus the Creator would have insisted that his creatures should be limited in his capacity to reason. Power would have been used under those limitations.

(18) However, man has capacity for appreciating a revelation of the Creator’s plans and purposes. Therefore we reason that the Creator’s personal qualities would see to it that man should receive such a revelation. Accordingly, we have abundant reason for expecting that our creator would grant such a revelation, in such time and manner as his wisdom approved. So, then, in view of these considerations, even if we were ignorant of the Bible, reason would lead us to expect and to be on the lookout for some such revelation as the Bible claims to be. And furthermore, we note the order and harmony of the general creation. We see the grand procession the spheres and systems keep time and place.

(19) Yet there are irregularities that seem to mar the harmony and order of the universe. On earth, we have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and many other erratic disturbances that upsets the tranquility of creation. In space, scientists tell us of many other irregularities. We reasonably conclude that these minor irregularities are being permitted only temporarily. We reason that the elements of the world at present are responding to the same outworking of the Creator’s plan that will eventually benefit all his creatures. Thus we expect some assurance that all will ultimately be perfect and harmonious on earth and throughout the universe. We further expect some explanation as to why it is not so at the present. These are requests which are not unreasonable for reasoning men to ask. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that a loving and wise Creator would provide answers to these questions. Hence we should expect the revelation sought to include such an assurance and such an explanation.

(20) We will now begin an examination of the general attributes of the Bible which claims to be just such a revelation. We will want to see if it presents the personality of God in perfect harmony with what we have reasonably concluded. If so, we should conclude that it thus proves itself to be the needed and expected revelation from God, and should then accept its testimony as such. If the Bible is of God, we should find that its teachings, when fully appreciated, will be seen in perfect harmony with the creator’s attributes of wisdom, justice, love and power.

(21) No other book in the world has been given such a wide circulation as the Bible. Its influence for good in society has been recognized by the greatest statesmen, even though they for the most part have looked at it through the diverse glasses of popular beliefs and traditions. Traditional Christianity has, for the most part, claimed to believe in the Bible. Yet their traditions grossly misrepresent its teachings. Thus these “friends” of the Bible often do more harm than those who outright oppose the Bible. But the Bible tells of a time when all, both its friends and foes, “will come to understanding.” And “those who murmured will learn doctrine,” thus bringing vindication to the Deity of the Bible! — Isaiah 29:24

(22) We have shown that the light of creation leads us to expect a fuller revelation of God than that which creation supplies. Therefore, what would be the reasonable thing to do? If a book shows a reasonable surface evidence that it is a divine revelation, should we not be prepared to examine its claims? The Bible claims to be such a revelation from God. Additionally it does come to us with sufficient surface evidence as to the probable correctness of its claims. This gives us a reasonable hope that a closer investigation will disclose more complete and positive evidence that it is indeed the Word of God.

The Oldest Book

(23) Although not generally acknowledged, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, contains the earliest known historical composition. Evidently, the original author was either the first man, Adam, or Adam's son, Seth. Its opening chapters were composed around 6,000 years ago. Through the centuries men have endeavored by every means to abolish the Bible from the face of the earth. They have hidden it, burned it, and even made it a crime punishable with death to have it in possession. The most bitter and relentless persecutions have been waged against those who had faith it. Yet still the book lives. Today many of its foes slumber in death. Hundreds of volumes that have been written to discredit it and to overthrow its influence have long since been forgotten. Nonetheless, the Bible has found its way into every nation and language of earth. At least part of it exists in over 1,300 languages. The fact that this book has survived so many centuries, notwithstanding such unparalleled efforts to banish and destroy it, is at least strong circumstantial evidence that the great Being whom it claims as its Author has also been its Preserver.

(24) Although simply reading the Bible can be instructive, the design of the Bible indicates that it is not a book to be read merely. It is a book to be studied with care and thought, if one is to gain its truth related to God's purposes for man. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9) And if we really want to understand the plan and thoughts of the infinite God, we must bend all our energies to that important work. The richest treasures of truth do not always lie on the surface. They require rugged digging in order to obtain. — Proverbs 2:3-5.

(25) This book throughout constantly points to two persons. The first is, of course, the Creator Himself. The general theme of the Bible is that God will be vindicated before all creation when his glory is revealed to them. (Isaiah 40:5) All the events recorded in the Bible are related in some way to this eventual end. To this end we are taught to pray: “Your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) God himself will vindicate his own name. — Ezekiel 36:23.

(26) The Bible tells us, however, that 'there are many that are called gods.' (1 Corinthians 8:5) This is in accord with the facts, for no matter where you go on earth, you find people worshiping “gods” in some form or another. There are “gods” worshiped in the form of Buddha, Brahma, Allah, and many other names. The people who adhere to these “gods” use many writings believed to be divine revelations from their own “gods”. If we believe the Bible, then none of these “believers” in various gods have actually come to know the true God. (Matthew 7:13,14,21-23) The true God is still to them an “unknown God”. (Acts 17:23) And yet, while many claim to know the Bible, and to know the true God (John 17:3), their knowledge is often slanted by the creeds of men. They have not understood the Creator’s purposes and have proclaimed counterfeit gospel messages.

(27) Instead of seeking to worship in “spirit and truth”, the traditional idea of  Christianity has adopted false teachings and practices from the Greeks and Romans and proclaim them as “Christian”. (John 4:24) True, thousands profess Jesus as their savior. But of these thousands, very few take the time to learn the real purposes of their Creator. The traditions taken from the Greeks and Romans are so embellished with scripture quotations, that the vast majority accept them without further investigation. As a result, their worship becomes proportionately “in vain.” They are similar the religious people of Jesus’ day, to whom he said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, saying: ‘This people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8,9) Such as these, despite all their protestations to contrary, have not yet come to fully understand the true gospel, nor the God who reveals this gospel to us.

God's Holy Name

(28) The first part of the Bible, often called “Old Testament,” was originally written in the Hebrew language. God’s personal name in the Hebrew is spelled with four letters (Yod – He – Waw -He) that correspond with the English letters YHWH or JHVH. Bible Scholars often refer to the four letters that make up God’s name as the tetragrammaton. This personal name of God appears thousands of times in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. Additionally some fragments of ancient Greek manuscripts containing Greek translations of the Old Testament  show that they also contained God’s name.

(29) Many Bible scholars translate the Creator’s name into English as “Yahweh” or “Jahveh.” Others use the form “Jehovah”. Most Bible translations, however, substitute “the Lord” or “God” for God’s name, making it appear that His name is “the Lord” or “God.” But in reality, there is no scripture that tells us to change His Holy Name to “Lord” or “God”.

(30) The Hebrew name often rendered as “Jehovah” does not mean “the Lord” nor does it mean “God.” “Lord” and “God” are titles, not the proper name of God. Thus Isaiah 42:8 should be translated: “I am Jehovah, that is my name.” Likewise, everywhere that the King James Version (as well as many other translations) has “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, it should be rendered “Jehovah.” Thus anytime we see in this and many other translations “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, the only proper thing to do would be reinstate the divine name by reading these as “Jehovah.”

(31) While we may not know for sure the correct pronunciation as God Himself stated it in the original Hebrew, the scriptures do declare that Jehovah was angry with the Israelites for taking away his name for that of Baal, which means “Lord” or “the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:13,14; 11:13,14; 23:13,27 – remember that “the Lord” in all capital letters should be read as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.* The Hebrew word for “Jehovah” means “He is”, He will be”, “He causes to be,” or “He proves to be.” His name is considered important all through the Bible, especially as related to His being found to be true to His Word. — Ezekiel 12:25; Isaiah 14:24; 55:11; 2 Timothy 2:13.
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*See Psalm 83:18, Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 in the King James Version where the tetragrammaton is translated as Jehovah. For more details, see our studies on the Holy Name.
(32) Earlier we mentioned that Jehovah will sanctify his own name. The sanctification or vindication of Jehovah’s name means more than that just the word used as his personal name will be made known. It means that his name (his character and authority) will be cleared of all the falsehoods and lies that have been spread about him since mankind’s fall as recorded in the first few chapters of the Bible. In fact, this is what all creation has been unknowingly waiting and longing for as they grope blindly, because not aware of Jehovah’s purposes. (Romans 8:19; Jeremiah 4:22; Isaiah 59:10) The entire Bible is intended for the revealing of this One to those who are truly seeking him. — Proverbs 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15.

The Son of God

(33) Besides Jehovah, another person is given great prominence in the Bible. This is the one commonly called Jesus* (His name has been rendered many ways into English: Yahowshuwa, Yahshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Iesous) of Nazareth,” whom the Bible declares to be the Son of God, the son of the Most High. (Luke 1:32,35; 3:21,22) From beginning to end his name, and office, and work, are made prominent in the Bible. Writers outside of the Bible confirm that a man called Jesus of Nazareth lived. The fact that Jesus walked this earth is thus corroborated by historical documents. Concerning this Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia 1986 Edition) states: “Scholars generally agree that his existence is authenticated, both by New Testament writers and by a number of Roman and Jewish historians.” The “New Testament” Bible writers (except Paul and Luke) were the personal acquaintances and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, whose doctrines their writings set forth.
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*Some have argued that the name of the Son of God is sacred and should be written “Yahshua.” Others have argued that “Yeshua” or “Yahoshua” is the correct manner for writing the Saviors name. Still others have claimed even different ways of writing and expressing this name. We believe that it is more important to recognize the personage behind the word than to spend hours upon hours trying to prove this or that spelling or pronunciation in English as supposedly representing an original Hebrew pronunciation. The person is still the same whether we pronounce his name Jesus, Yahshua, or Yeshua. Scripturally, these should be viewed as variations of the same name, rather than different names.

Motives of the Bible Writers

(34) The existence of any book implies motive on the part of the writer. We therefore ask: “What could have been the motives of these men that they would feel inspired to give all their support to the cause of Jesus?” He was condemned to death and hung on a tree as a criminal at the instigation of the Jews. Even the most religious among his people approved of and demanded his death. They considered him as one unfit to live. But his followers took up his cause, and spread his teachings. In doing so, these men braved contempt, deprivation and bitter persecution. They even risked life itself, and in some cases suffered martyrdom. Many admit that Jesus was a remarkable person while he lived, in both his life and his teaching. Yet what motive could there have been for any to defend his cause after he was dead, especially when his death was considered so shameful?

(35) And what if we suppose that these writers invented their narratives, and that Jesus was their imaginary or ideal hero? Let us consider this. These writers declared that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had been begotten in a supernatural way. (Luke 1:30-35) They asserted that he had supernatural powers by which he had healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the deaf to hear, and even raised the dead. (Matthew 9:27-34; 12:22; 11:2-5; Luke 5:17-25; 6:6-10; 7:11-16; 8:43,44; 13:11-13; 17:12-14; John 5:5-9) How absurd to suppose that they would wind up the story of such a person by stating that a little band of his enemies executed him as a criminal! Wouldn’t it be senseless for them to have all his friends and disciples, among them the writers themselves, forsake their hero and flee in the trying moment? — Matthew 26:47-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:2-19:42.

(36) The fact that certain historians do not agree in some respects with these writers should not lead us to regard their records as untrue. Those who dismiss these scriptures as untrue should assign and prove some motive on the part of these writers for making false statements. What motives could have prompted them? Could they reasonably have hoped thereby for fortune, or fame, or power, or any earthly advantage? The poverty of Jesus friends, and the unpopularity of their hero himself with the great religionists of Judea, contradict such a thought. Indeed, the fact that he died as a common criminal, a seditious disturber of the peace, and that he was made of no reputation, held forth no hope of enviable fame or earthly advantage to those who should attempt to re-establish his doctrine. On the contrary, if such had been the object of those who preached Jesus, would they not have quickly given it up when they found that it brought disgrace, persecution, imprisonment, stripes and even death? What prompted these men to sacrifice home, reputation, honor and life? What caused them to live for something other than present gratification? Why did they risk all to tell others about their God, and to aid their fellowman to worship Him, thus inculcating a high standard for doing what is right?

(37) Reason would have us conclude that these men were not only possessed of a motive, but further that their motive must have been pure and their object grandly sublime. Reason further declares that the testimony of such men, actuated by only pure and good motives, is worthy of ten times the weight and consideration of ordinary writers. Nor were these men irrational religious fanatics. They were men of sound and reasonable mind. They furnished in every case a reason for their faith and hope. They were perseveringly faithful to those reasonable convictions.

(38) And what we have here noticed is likewise applicable to the various writers of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called “The Old Testament”). They were, in the main, men notable for their fidelity to Jehovah. Their writings as impartially records and reproves their weaknesses and shortcomings as it commends their virtues and faithfulness. This must astonish those who presume the Bible to be a manufactured history, designed to awe men into reverence of a religious system. There is a straightforwardness about the Bible that stamps it as truth. Evil-minded men would desire to represent a man as great. If desirous of presenting some of his writings as inspired of God, he would undoubtedly paint such an individual’s personality blameless and noble to the last degree. Such a course has not been pursued in the Bible. This is reasonable evidence that it was not fraudulently gotten up to deceive.

Tithing Under the Law – Was It Fair?

(39) Someone might ask: “Doesn’t the law concerning the tithe prove that the priesthood was a selfish institution?” It is true that the tribe of Levi was supported by the annual tenth, or tithe, of the individual produce of their brothers of the other tribes. This fact, stated thus, is an unfair presentation too common to skeptics. These, possibly ignorantly, thereby misrepresent one of the most remarkable evidences of God’s part in the organization of that system, and that it was not the work of a selfish and scheming priesthood. Indeed, it is often misrepresented by modern clerical priesthoods. Many religious leaders claim a similar system today, using the Israelite priesthood as a precedent, without mentioning the condition of things upon which it was founded, or its method of payment.

(40) It was, in fact, founded upon the strictest equity. When Israel came into the possession of the land of Canaan, the Levites certainly had as much right to a share of the land as the other tribes. But, by God’s express command, they got none of it, except certain cities or villages for residence, scattered among the various tribes, whom they were to serve in religious things. (Numbers 35:2-8) Nine times this prohibition is given before the division of the land. Instead of a share in the land, some equivalent should surely be provided them, and the tithe was therefore this reasonable and just provision. Nor is this all: the tithe, though, as we have seen, a just debt, was not enforced as a tax, but was to be paid as a voluntary contribution. And no threat bound them to make those contributions; all depended upon their conscientiousness. The only exhortations to the people on the subject are as follows: “Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 12:19) “And the Levite who is within your gates, you must not forsake him, for he does not have any part nor inheritance with you [in the land].” — Deuteronomy 14:27.

Israel’s Laws Came From Jehovah

(41) Is it, we ask, reasonable to suppose that this order of things would have been thus arranged by selfish and ambitious priests? — an arrangement to disinherit themselves and to make them dependent for support upon their brothers? Does not reason teach us contrary?

(42) In harmony with this, and equally inexplicable on any other grounds than those claimed — that God is the author of those laws — is the fact that no special provision was made for honoring the priesthood. In nothing would impostors be more careful than to provide reverence and respect for themselves, and the severest penalties and curses upon those who misused them. But nothing of the kind appears: no special honor, or reverence, or immunity from violence or insult is provided. The common law, which made no distinction between classes, and was no respecter of persons, was their only protection. This is even more remarkable because the treatment of servants, and foreigners, and the aged, was the subject of special legislation. For instance: “You must not mistreat nor oppress a foreigner, or widow, or fatherless child; for if they should cry at all to me [to Jehovah] I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:21-24; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34) “You must not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers, or one of the foreigners that are in your land, within you gates. For his day you must give him his wages, neither should you allow the sun to go down upon it, for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you unto Jehovah and it becomes a sin to you.” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Exodus 21:26,27) “You should rise up before the greyheaded and honor the face of the elderly.” (Leviticus 19:32; see also Leviticus 29:14) All this, yet nothing special for the priests, or Levites, or their tithes.

Jehovah’s Law
Compared to Hammurabi’s Code

(43) Some, however, point to the law code of King Hammurabi of Babylon as the supposed actual source of the laws given by Moses. Hammurabi is believed to have lived about 150 years before Moses wrote the laws of Israel. There are several authors that point to Genesis 26:5, in which Jehovah states: “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” It is argued that this scripture indicates that God had given a set of laws to someone long before Hammurabi or Mosaic Law Covenant. If so, then the suggestion is given that Hammurabi, or Hammurabi’s ancestors, actually copied from God’s earlier given law. Far from being merely copied from Hammurabi’s code, the Mosaic law stands far superior to those of Hammurabi. Concerning this the noted Frend Orientalist Joseph Plessis wrote: “It does not appear that the Hebrew legislator made any use of the various codes of Babylonia and Assyria. Nothing in his work can be proved to have been borrowed. Although there are interesting similarities, they are not such that they cannot be easily explained by the codifying of customs shared by people with a common origin.” (Supple’ment au Dictionnaire de la Bible) Also W. J. Martin tells us: “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylonian. Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit. For example, in the Hammurabi Code, theft and receiving stolen goods were punished by the death penalty (Laws 6 and 22), but in Israel’s laws the punishment was compensation. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 6:1-5) Whereas the Mosaic law forbade handing over an escaped slave to his master (Deuteronomy 23:15,16), the Babylonian laws punished by death anyone taking in a fugitive slave. — Laws 15,16,19.” — Documents from Old Testament Times.

(44) Further, the Code of Hammurabi would have one display a spirit of retaliation, whereas the Hebrew law tells us: “You must not hate your brother in your heart…. You must not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Jehovah.” — Leviticus 19:17,18

Jehovah’s Law A Marvelous
Arrangement of Wisdom and Justice

(45) The sanitary arrangements of the law, so needful to a poor and long-oppressed people, together with the arrangements and limitations respecting clean and unclean animals which might or might not be eaten, are remarkable, and would, with other features, be of interest if space permitted their examination, as showing that law to have been up-to-date with, if not in advance of, the latest conclusions of medical science on the subject. The law of Moses had also a typical nature, which we must leave for future consideration; but even our hasty glance has furnished overwhelming evidence that this law, which constitutes the very framework of the entire system of revealed religion, which the remainder of the Bible elaborates, is truly a marvelous display of wisdom and justice, especially when its date is taken into consideration.

(46) In the light of reason, all must admit that the Hebrew law bears no evidence of being the work of wicked, designing men, but that it corresponds exactly with what nature teaches to be the personal qualities of God. It gives evidence of his wisdom, justice and love. And further, the godly and noble lawgiver, Moses, denies that the laws were his own, and attributes them to Jehovah. (Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Exodus 26:30; Leviticus 1:1) In view of his general personality, and his commands to the people not to bear false witness, and to avoid hypocrisy and lying, is it reasonable to suppose that such a man bore false witness and palmed off his own views and laws for those of Jehovah? It should be remembered also that we are examining present Hebrew “copies” of the Bible, which themselves do not agree in all details with each other. By reason of demonstration of the entire divine plan of the ages in the scriptures, by faith, we believe God has seen to it that scriptures have not been so tampered with that the marvelous truths of God's plan cannot be seen.

The Prophets of the Bible

(47) Glance now at the general personality of the prophets and their testimonies. A rather remarkable fact is that the prophets, with few exceptions, were not of the priestly class. In their day their prophecies were generally repugnant to the degenerating priesthood, as well as to the people who were inclined to indulge in the gaiety of idol worship. The burden of the prophets’ messages from God to the people was generally reproof for sin, coupled with warnings of coming punishments. Along with this, however, we find occasional promises of future blessings, if the people would repent from sin and should return to the favor of Jehovah. The experiences of the prophets, for the most part, were far from enviable. They were generally reviled. Many of them were imprisoned and put to violent deaths. (See 1 Kings 18:4,10,17,18; 19:10; Jeremiah 38:6; Hebrews 11:32-38.) In some instances it was years after their death before their true integrity as God’s prophets was recognized. But we speak thus of the prophetic writers whose utterances claim to be the direct inspiration of Jehovah.
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The prophets were not primarily foretellers of events or historical soothsayers but rather foretellers of God’s will, teachers of His Word, statesmen for leading His people. They boldly proclaimed divine judgment and faithfully reminded the people of God’s promises. A prophet in his primary role was one who passed a message from God to man (Exodus 7:1; Ezekiel 3:4; Amos 3:8). He did not attain his position by heredity, as did a king or priest, or by human appointment, as did an official, but only by receiving a message from God with instructions to deliver that divine message. In other words, the designation “prophet” is one of function instead of position. Thus, a king or priest or government official could perform prophetically (Exodus 3:10; Judges 6:14). The primary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi. Though its etymology is unknown, the meaning of the word is abundantly clear in its usage. The word is usually masculine in gender; however, its feminine form (nebiah) usually indicates a woman who receives and delivers a divine message (cf. Judges 4:4-6; 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28). — from The Criswell Bible (KJV), comments on Numbers 11:29 (We have expanded names of the Bible books in scriptural citations to aid in searches).

(48) It is well in this connection that we should remember that in the giving of the law to Israel there was no priestly intervention. It was given by God to the people by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 19:17-25; Deuteronomy 5:1-5) And, furthermore, it was made the duty of every man seeing a violation of the law to reprove the sinner. (Leviticus 19:17) Thus all had the authority to teach and reprove. But, since, as in our own day, the majority were evidently absorbed in the cares of business, and became indifferent and irreligious, so that only a few actually fulfilled this requirement by reproving sin and exhorting to godliness. But there were those who received messages from God and who proclaimed what God told them. These preachers are termed “prophets” in both the Law and the Prophets (commonly called the “Old Testament”) as well as the Apostolic Scriptures (commonly called the “New Testament”). The term prophet itself signifies public expounder, and the public teachers of idolatry were also so called — for instance, “the prophets of Baal,” etc. — See 1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:15; 14:5; Nehemiah 6:7; 1 Kings 18:40; Titus 1:12.

(49) Prophesying, in the ordinary sense of teaching, afterward became popular with a certain class, and degenerated into Phariseeism. This order taught, instead of or as in extension of God’s commandments, the traditions of the ancients. In doing so they opposed the truth and became false prophets, or false teachers. (Matthew 15:2-9) Out of the large class called prophets, Jehovah at various times made choice of some whom he specially commissioned to deliver messages, relating sometimes to things then at hand, at other times to future events. It is to the writings of this class who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit, that we are now giving attention. -- 2 Peter 1:21.

Divinely Commissioned Prophets or Seers

(50) We should note that most of these prophets were not Levites. They did not receive support from the tithes of the priestly tribe. Additionally, they were frequently not only the reprovers of kings and judges, but also of priests (though they reproved not the office, but the personal sins of the men who filled it). Therefore it becomes evident that we could not reasonably decide that these prophets were parties to any league of priests, or others, to fabricate falsehood in the name of God. Reason in the light of facts contradicts such a suspicion.

(51) We find no reason to challenge the motives of the various writers of the Bible. We find that the spirit of its various parts is righteousness and truth. Consequently let us next proceed to inquire whether there exists any link, or bond of union, between the records of Moses, those of the other prophets, and those of the disciples of Jesus. Can we find one common line of thought as a connecting theme throughout the Law and the Prophets and the Apostolic Scriptures which cover a period of more than 2,000 years? If so, this, taken in connection with the honesty of the writers, will be good reason for admitting their claim — that they are divinely inspired. Particularly should this be true if the theme common to all of them is a grand and noble one, conforming well with what sanctified common sense teaches regarding the personal qualities and attributes of God.

One Plan, Spirit and Purpose

(52) This we do find: One plan, spirit, aim and purpose pervades the entire book. Its opening pages record the creation and fall of man; its closing pages tell of man’s recovery from that fall; and its intervening pages show the successive steps of the plan of God for the accomplishment of this purpose. The harmony, yet contrast, of the first three and the last three chapters of the Bible is striking. The one describes the first creation, the other the renewed or restored creation, with sin and its penal-curse removed. The one shows Satan and evil entering the world to profane God’s name, deceive and destroy, the other shows his work undone, the destroyed ones restored, God vindicated, evil extinguished and Satan destroyed. The one shows the dominion lost by Adam, the other shows it restored and forever established by Christ, and God’s will done in earth as in heaven. The one shows sin as the producing cause of degradation, shame and death, the other shows the reward of righteousness to be glory, honor and life.

(53) Though written by many pens, at various times, under different circumstances, the Bible is not merely a collection of moral precepts, wise maxims and words of comfort. It is more — it is a reasonable, logical and harmonious statement of the causes of present evil in the world. It shows the only remedy for this evil and the final results as seen by divine wisdom and love, which saw the end of the plan from before its beginning, marking as well the pathway of God’s people, and upholding and strengthening them with exceeding great and precious promises to be realized in due time.

(54) The teaching of Genesis, that man was tried in a state of original perfection in one
representative, that he failed, and that the present imperfection, sickness and death are the results, but that God has not forsaken him, and will ultimately recover him through a redeemer, born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), is kept up and elaborated all the way through. The necessity of the death of a redeemer as a sacrifice for sins, and of his righteous blood as a covering for our sin, is pointed out in the clothing of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21); in the acceptance of Abel’s offerings (Genesis 4:3,4); in Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-18); in the death of the various sacrifices by which the patriarchs had access to God, and of those instituted under the Law and perpetuated throughout the Jewish age (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:14; Numbers 19:2; Hebrews 9:7-14). The prophets, though credited with understanding but slightly the significance of some their utterances (1 Peter 1:12), mention the laying of the sins upon a person instead of a dumb animal, and in prophetic vision they see him who is to redeem and deliver the race led “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” and the “by his stripes we are healed.” They pictured him as “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and declared that “Jehovah has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) They told where this deliverer would be born (Micah 5:2), and when he would die, assuring us that it would be “not for himself.” (Daniel 9:26) They mention various peculiarities concerning him — that he would be “righteous,” and “free from deceit,” “violence,” or any just cause of death (Isaiah 53:8,9,11); that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12); that he would be numbered among the transgressors in his death (Isaiah 53:12); that not one of his bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:36); and that though he should die and be buried, his flesh would not corrupt, neither would he remain in the grave. — Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.

(55) The writers of the Christian Scriptures clearly and forcibly, yet simply, record the fulfillment of these predictions in Jesus of Nazareth, and by logical reasoning show that such a ransom price as he gave was needful, as already predicted in the Law and the Prophets, before the sins of the world could be blotted out. (Isaiah 1:18) They trace the entire plan in a more logical and forcible manner, appealing neither to the prejudices nor to the passions of their hearers, but their enlightened reason alone, furnishing some of the most remarkably close and cogent reasoning to be found anywhere on the subject. — See Romans 5:17-19, and onward to the 12th chapter.

(56) Moses, in the Law, pointed not alone to a sacrifice, but also to a blotting out of sins and a blessing of the people under this great deliverer, whose power and authority he declares shall vastly exceed his own, though it should be “like unto” it. (Deuteronomy 18:15,19) The promised deliverer is to bless not only Israel, but through Israel “all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) And notwithstanding the prejudices of the Jewish people to the contrary, the prophets continue the same strain, declaring that Messiah will be also “for a light to lighten the nations” (Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:32); that the nations would come to him “from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 16:19); that his name “will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11); and that he “will be a light to the nations” and he “will set justice in the earth.” —- Isaiah 42:1-7.

(57) The writers of the Christian Scriptures claim a divine anointing which enabled them to realize the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the sacrifice of Christ. They, though prejudiced as Jews to think of every blessing as limited to their own people (Acts 11:1-18), were enabled to see that while their nation would be blessed, all the families of the earth would be blessed also, with and through them. They saw also that, before the blessing of either Israel or the world, a selection would be made of a small number from both Jews and Gentiles, who, being tried, would be found worthy to be made heirs of the glory, and sharers with him of the honor of blessing Israel and all the nations. —- Galatians 3:29; Acts 3:20-26; Romans 8:17-23.

(58) These writers point out the harmony of this view with what is written in the Law and the Prophets. The grandeur and breadth of the plan they present more than meets the most exalted conception of what it purports to be —- “Good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” —- Luke 2:10.

(59) The thought of Messiah as ruler not only of Israel, but also of the world, suggested in the books of Moses, is the theme of all the prophets. The thought of the kingdom was uppermost also in the teaching of the apostles; and Jesus taught that we should pray: “Your kingdom come,” (Matthew 6:10) and promised those a share in it who would faithfully carry out his words — Galatians 4:29; 1 John 2:3-6.

(60) This hope of the coming glorious kingdom gave all the faithful ones courage to endure persecution and to suffer reproach, deprivation and loss, even unto death. And in the grand allegorical prophecy which closes the Christian Scriptures, the worthy “Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12), the worthy “overcomers” whom he will make kings and priests with him in his kingdom, and the trials and obstacles which they must overcome to be worthy to share in that kingdom, are faithfully portrayed. Then are introduced symbolic representations of the blessings to accrue to the world under that Millennial reign, when Satan will be bound and Adamic death and sorrow wiped out, and when all the nations of the earth will walk in the light of the heavenly kingdom —- the new Jerusalem. —- Revelation 21, 22.

(61) The Bible, from first to last, holds out a doctrine found nowhere else, and in opposition to the theories of all the world’s religions — that a future life for the dead will come through a resurrection of the dead as a result of having been purchased through one ransom sacrifice that covers all who are dyingĂ‚ due to the sin of one man. (John 5:27,28; Acts 24:15; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Revelation 20) All the inspired writers expressed their confidence in a redeemer, and one declares that “in the morning,” when God will call them from the tomb, and they come forth, the wicked will no longer hold the rulership of the earth; for “The upright will have dominion over them, in the morning.” (Psalm 49:14) The resurrection of the dead is taught by the prophets; and the writers of the Christian Scriptures base all their hopes of future life and blessing upon it. Paul expresses it thus: “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen; and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain; … then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept; … for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.” —- 1 Corinthians 15:13-22.

(62) Like a watch, whose many wheels might at first seem superfluous, but whose slowest moving wheels are essential, so the Bible, composed of many parts, and prepared by many pens, is one complete and harmonious whole. Not a single part is superfluous. Though some parts take a more active and prominent place than others, all are useful and necessary. It is becoming popular among the so-called “advanced thinkers” and “great theologians” of the present day to treat lightly, or to ignore if they do not deny, many of the “miracles” of the Hebrew Scriptures, calling them “old wives’ tales.” Of these are the accounts of Jonah and the great fish, Noah and the ark, Eve and the serpent, the standing still of the sun at the command of Joshua, and Balaam’s speaking donkey. Seemingly these wise men overlook the fact that the Bible is interwoven and united in its various parts that to tear from it these miracles, or to discredit them, is to destroy or discredit the whole. For if the original accounts are false, those who repeated them were either falsifiers or dupes, and in either case it would be impossible for us to accept their testimony as divinely inspired. To eliminate from the Bible the miracles mentioned would invalidate the testimony of its principal writers, besides that of our Lord Jesus. The story of the fall is attested by Paul (Romans 5:17); also Eve’s deception by the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). (See also our Lord’s reference to the latter in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.) The standing still of the sun at the overthrow of the Amorites, as an evidence of Jehovah’s power, was evidently typical of the power to be displayed in the end of the age, in “the day of Jehovah,” at the hand of him whom Joshua typified. This is attested by three prophets. (Isaiah 28:21; Habakkuk 2:1-3,13,14 and 3:2-11; Zechariah 14:1,6,7) The account of the speaking donkey is confirmed by Jude (verse 11), and by Peter (2 Peter 2:16). And the great teacher, Jesus, confirms the narratives of Jonah and the great fish and of Noah and the flood. (Matthew 12:40; 24:38,39; Luke 17:26; See also 1 Peter 3:20.) Really these are no greater miracles than those performed by Jesus and the apostles, such as the turning of water into wine, the healing of diseases, etc.; and as a miracle, the awakening of the dead is the most wonderful of all.

(63) These miracles, not common to our everyday experience, do find parallels about us every day, which being more common, are passed by unnoticed. The reproduction of living organisms, either animal or vegetable, is beyond our comprehension, as well as beyond our power —- hence miraculous. We can see the exercise of life principle, but can neither fully understand it nor produce it. We plant two seeds side by side; the conditions, air, water and soil are alike; they grow, we cannot tell exactly how, nor can the wisest philosopher or scientist truly explain this miracle. These seeds develop organisms of opposite tendencies; one creeps, the other stands erect; though the conditions are the same. Such miracles grow common to us, and we cease to remember them as such as we leave the wonderment of childhood. Yet they manifest a power as much beyond our own, and beyond our limited intelligence, as the few miracles recorded in the Bible for special purposes, and as intended illustrations of omnipotence, and of the ability of the great Creator to overcome every obstacle and to accomplish all his will, even to our promised resurrection from the dead, the extermination of evil, and the ultimate reign of everlasting righteousness.

(64) Here we rest the case. Every step has been tested by reason. We have found that there is a God, a supreme, intelligent Creator, in whom wisdom, justice, love and power exist in perfect harmony. We have found it reasonable to expect a revelation of his plans to his creatures capable of appreciating and having an interest in them. We have found the Bible, claiming to be that revelation, worthy of consideration. We have examined its writers, and their possible objects, in the light of what they taught. Our reason has told us that such wisdom, combined with such purity of motive, was not the cunning device of crafty men for selfish ends. Reason has urged that it is far more probable that such righteous and benevolent sentiments and laws must be of God and not of men, and has insisted that they could not be the work of knavish priests. We have seen the harmony of testimony concerning Jesus, his ransom-sacrifice, and the resurrection and blessing of all as the outcome, in his glorious kingdom to come; and reason has told us that a scheme so grand and comprehensive, beyond all we could otherwise have reason to expect, yet built upon such reasonable deductions, must be the plan of God for which we seek. It cannot be the mere device of men, for even when revealed, it is almost too grand to be believed by men.

(65) When Columbus discovered the Orinoco river, some one said he had found an island. He replied: “No such river as that flows from an island. That mighty torrent must drain the waters of a continent.” So the depth and power and wisdom and scope of the Bible’s testimony convince us that not man, but the Almighty God, is the author of its plans and revelations. We have taken but a hasty glance at the surface claims of the Scriptures to be of divine origin, and have found them reasonable. Succeeding chapters in this series, will unfold various parts of the plan of God, and will, we trust, give ample evidence to every candid mind that the Bible is a divinely inspired revelation, and that the length and breadth and height and depth of the plan it unfolds, gloriously reflect the personal attributes of the divine being, which has been most often but dimly comprehended, but which can now be more clearly seen by means of the revealings through the holy spirit. — 1 Corinthians 2:10.

Ronald R. Day, Sr, Restoration Light Bible Study Services (RLBible, ResLight)

Why God Allows Suffering and Wickedness

(1) For centuries many noble men, philosophers, and religious leaders have tried to explain why mankind suffers. Most of those who have tried to answer the question of human affliction have not understood God's overall purposes. Thus the answers they have come up with cannot completely satisfy our minds. Many people have become atheists or agnostics because of the agony they have either seen or experienced.

(2) It is not enough to say that God allows or sends us grief so we will appreciate the good even more. For instance, a five year old child dies from starvation in Ethiopia. How can one explain the benefits of this child's suffering? Probably all he has experienced in his short life has been misery. Was his pain purposeless? Will he and millions of others like him receive any benefit from the agony they suffered in the small amount of time they spent in this world? There must be a complete and satisfying explanation. Why are wickedness and suffering permitted? What good could possibly come from it? We also need to know if mankind will forever be subject to suffering. Will the time come when all afflictions will cease?

(3) The Bible attributes mankind's overall suffering to the first man's sin. "Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned. . . . Many died through one man's trespass. . . . The judgment following one trespass brought condemnation. . . . Because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man. . . . One man's trespass led to condemnation for all men. . . . By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." (Romans 5:12,15-18) These scriptures bring even more questions to our mind. "Why did he permit Satan to present the temptation to our first parents, after having created them perfect and upright? Or why did he allow the forbidden tree to have a place among the good?" Despite all attempts to turn it aside, the question will obtrude itself -- "Could not God have prevented all possibility of man's fall?"

(4) Some inquire: "Could not God, with whom all things are possible, have interfered to prevent the full accomplishment of Satan's design?" God could have prevented the first man from sinning. This he did not do. He allowed the first man to sin. Therefore, we must reasonably conclude that Jehovah (Yahweh) foresaw some greater advantage by allowing man to experience sin and suffering.

(5) God's plans, seen in their completeness will prove the wisdom of the course pursued. Doubtless he could have prevented the first man from sinning. However, such interference would have prevented the accomplishment of God's own purposes. His purpose is twofold: first, to make manifest to men and angels the perfection, majesty and righteous authority of his law to the glory of his name; second, to prove both to men and to angels the wicked results from its violation. -- Ephesians 3:10,11; Ezekiel 38:23; Psalm 67:1-5; 145:5-12

(6) Besides, some things are impossible with God, as the scriptures state. It is "impossible for God to lie." (Hebrews 6:18) "He cannot deny himself." (2 Timothy 2:13) He cannot do wrong, and therefore he could not choose any but the wisest and best plan for introducing his creatures into life.

(7) Most, however, have short-sighted vision. (Isaiah 56:10; 59:10; Ephesians 4:17-19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 11:33-36) Therefore for a time they fail to discern the hidden springs of Jehovah's infinite wisdom.

(8) The Scriptures declare that all things were created for Jehovah's pleasure. (Revelation 4:11) Yes, Jehovah takes pleasure in dispensing blessings. And surely these blessings are all in harmony with his personal attributes of love, justice and wisdom. God is not permitting wickedness and suffering simply for evil's sake. Nor is Jehovah in league with sin. He declares that he is "not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness." (Psalm 5:4) Though opposed to sin in every sense, God permits (that is, does not hinder) it for a time. Why? Because his wisdom sees a way in which it will provide a lasting and valuable lesson and eventual blessing to his creatures.

Right and Wrong Principles

(9) It is commonly accepted that for every right principle there is a corresponding wrong principle. For instance, we all know of truth and falsity, love and hatred, justice and injustice. We distinguish these opposite principles as right and wrong, by their effects when put into action. If an active principle brings harmony and happiness, we think of that as a right principle. If a principle, once activated, brings discord and unhappiness, we think of that principle as a wrong principle.

(10) Man, in his sinful state, may not be able to discern these principles very well. A person may think that a certain action has brought good results when in reality it has only seemed to be good for a short time. Sometimes what appears to be good in the eyes of man may not be so in finality. (Isaiah 5:20; Proverbs 14:12) Thus the Bible says that the very conscience of the wicked has become branded with deception as with a hot iron. Therefore he may think that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right. -- 1 Timothy 4:2.

(11) The first man's conscience was fully in accord with God in its discernment of right and wrong. Jehovah had endowed him with this sense of right and wrong -- of justice and injustice. (Ecclesiastes 7:29) This had to be so for we read that Adam was not deceived although he disobeyed. (1 Timothy 2:14) It is by this sense of conscience that we are able to recognize that God is good. It is to this conscience that God always appeals to prove his righteousness or justice. -- Psalm 34:8

(12) By his sense of conscience Adam could discern sin, or unrighteousness, to be harmful, even before he knew all its consequences. The lower orders of God's creatures are not endowed with this sense of conscience. A dog has some intelligence, but not to this degree. He may learn that certain actions bring the approval and reward of his master, and certain others his disapproval. He might steal or take life, but would not be termed a sinner. Likewise, he might protect property and life, but would not be called virtuous -- because he is ignorant of the principles involved in his actions.

(13) God could have made mankind devoid of ability to discern right and wrong, or able only to discern and to do right. Such a being, however, would have been only a living machine. He certainly would not be a mental image of his Creator.

(14) God could have made man perfect and a free agent, as he did, and have guarded him from Satan's temptation. In that case, man's experience would be limited to only good. He would have been continually liable to suggestions of wickedness from without, or to ambitions from within. This would have made his everlasting future uncertain, and an outbreak of disobedience and disorder might always have been a possibility. Additionally, good would never have so highly appreciated except by its contrast with the bad.

Results From the Permission of Sin and Suffering

(15) God first made his creatures acquainted with good. They were surrounded with good in Eden. Afterwards, as a penalty for disobedience, he allowed them to experience the bad. God expelled them from Eden and deprived them from fellowship with himself. Outside the garden God let them experience sickness, pain, and death, that they might thus know wickedness and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. By comparison of results they came to an appreciation and proper estimate of both. "Jehovah said: `Look! Man has become as one of us, knowing good and bad.'" -- Genesis 3:22.

(16) The whole human family has inherited a share in this knowledge. However, unlike Adam and Eve, they first acquire their knowledge of badness. Thus Adam's family cannot fully realize what good is at present. Thank Jehovah that mankind has been redeemed! They will realize the goodness of God in the Millennial Kingdom. -- Psalm 90:3; 2 Timothy 2:3-6; Revelation 21:2-4.

(17) Man was created in the likeness of his Creator. The law of right and wrong was written into his natural constitution. It was a part of his nature, as it is a part of the divine nature. (Genesis 1:27) Adam's conscience, or judgment of right and wrong, and the liberty to use it, which Adam possessed, were the most important features of his likeness to God.

(18) But let us not forget that today man does not have this image to same degree that Adam had it. Fallen mankind has lost much of its clear outline through the erasing, degrading influence of sin. Hence it is not now what it was in the first man. Mankind's conscience has become defiled. (Titus 1:15; 1 Corinthians 8:7) But this was not God's design for man.

(19) It is Jehovah's desire for mankind to express perfect love. (1 John 2:4,5; 5:2,3) But love that is forced is not true love at all. Therefore Jehovah gave the first man the ability to choose to love or not to love, even as Jehovah himself can choose to love or not to love. (Psalm 11:5,7) This liberty of choice, termed free will, is a part of man's original endowment. This, together with the full measure of his mental and moral faculties, constituted him an image of his Creator. Today, after six thousand years of degradation, much of the original likeness has been erased by sin. Mankind is no longer free. He is bound to a greater or less extent, by sin and its entailments. (Romans 3:9; 7:14-17) The result has been that sin is now more easy and therefore more agreeable to the fallen race than is righteousness.

(20) God could have deterred Adam from sin by giving him a vivid impression of the many adverse results of sin. God foresaw, however, that an experience of suffering and wickedness would be the surest and most lasting lesson to serve man eternally. Therefore God did not prevent but permitted man to take his choice, and to feel the aftermath of wickedness.

(21) If Jehovah had not allowed an opportunity to sin, then man could not have resisted it. Thus there would have been neither virtue nor merit in his right-doing. God seeks those who desire to worship him in spirit and truth. He desires intelligent and willing obedience, rather than ignorant, mechanical service. He already had in operation inanimate mechanical agencies accomplishing his will. His design, however, was to make a nobler being. God desired an intelligent creature in his own likeness. This being was to be a lord of the earth. His loyalty and righteousness would be based upon an appreciation of right and wrong, of good and bad.

(22) The principles of right and wrong, as principles, have always existed, and must always exist. All perfect, intelligent creatures in God's likeness must be free to choose either, though the right principle only will forever continue to be active. The Scriptures inform us that the activity of the corrupt principle will only be permitted long enough to accomplish God's purpose. Then it will forever cease to be active, and all who continue to submit to its control will forever cease to exist. (1 Corinthians 15:25,26; Hebrews 2:14) Righteousness and right-doers, only, will be active forever. -- Psalm 37:9-11,18,28,29.

(23) But the question persists in another form: "Could not man have been made acquainted with wickedness in some other way than by experience?" There are four ways of gaining knowledge, namely, by intuition, by observation, by experience, and by information received through sources accepted as positively truthful. An intuitive knowledge belongs only to Jehovah himself, the eternal fountain of all wisdom and truth. (Job 36:5; Romans 11:33-36) Of necessity and in the very nature of his being, Jehovah is superior to all his creatures. (Isaiah 55:9) Therefore, man's knowledge of good and bad could not be intuitive. Man's knowledge might have come by observation. But for this to happen, he would have needed some exhibition of wickedness and its results. This would imply the permission of wickedness somewhere, among some beings. Why not as well among men, and upon the earth, as among others elsewhere?

(24) Why should not man be the illustration, and get his knowledge by practical experience? It is so. Man is gaining a practical experience. He is furnishing an illustration to others as well, being "made a spectacle to angels." -- 1 Corinthians 4:9.

(25) Adam already had some information concerning wickedness. Jehovah had told him that if he ate from a certain tree that he would die. Thus he had a knowledge of wickedness by information.(1) That, however, was insufficient to restrain him from trying the experiment. Adam and Eve knew God as their Creator. They recognized him as one who had the right to control and direct them. God, in speaking of the forbidden tree, told them: "In the day that you eat from it, dying, you will die." They had, therefore, a theoretical knowledge of wickedness, though they had never observed or experienced its effects. So they did not fully appreciate their Creator's loving authority and his beneficent law, nor the dangers from which he thereby proposed to protect them. They therefore yielded to the temptation. God wisely permitted this, for his wisdom had already traced the good that would come in due time.

(26) Few appreciate the severity of the temptation under which our first parents fell. Nor do many recognize the justice of God in attaching so severe a penalty for what seems to many so small an offense.

(27) However, a little reflection will make all plain. The Scriptures tell the simple story of how the woman, the weaker one, was deceived. Thus, she became the first to disobey. Her experience and acquaintance with God were even more limited than Adam's, for he was created first. God had directly communicated with him before her creation the knowledge of the penalty of sin. Eve probably received her information from Adam. Then the serpent approached her with a lie. She convinced herself that what he said was true. She thus partook of the forbidden fruit. Evidently, she did not understand the full extent what her disobedience would mean. Although she was deceived, the apostle Paul tells us that she was a transgressor, though not as responsible as if she had transgressed against greater light. -- 1 Timothy 2:13,14.

(28) Adam, we are told, unlike Eve, was not deceived. (1 Timothy 2:14) Hence, he must have transgressed with a fuller realization of sin. He knew that if he disobeyed, he would die. Up until that time, as a son of God, he had been led by the spirit of God. (Romans 8:9,14; Luke 3:38) While enjoying the provisions in the Garden, his main attachment was to his Creator. He had not received any temptation to do otherwise. We must remember that Adam was in the image and likeness of his Creator. Yet, as long he obeyed, his quality of god-like love was otherwise his to express freely in whatever way he desired. As long as he continued to be led by the spirit of God, he would be showing his supreme love for his Creator.

(29) But Eve approached him with a temptation to disobey his Creator. He was now tempted to reject the leads of God's spirit in order to follow that of the flesh. Now a desire for his wife enticed him to walk after the flesh rather than the spirit. We can readily see what was the temptation that impelled him to disobey, and thus walk after the flesh with the result of death. (James 1:14,15; Romans 8:6,7) His love for God was now being strained. Would he love his Creator more than his wife? Or would he obey his wife? He decided to show more love for his wife than his Creator. Therefore he listened to the voice of his wife. Both were "in the transgression," as the apostle Paul shows. (Romans 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:14) Adam and Eve were counted as "one" and not "two". Hence Eve shared the sentence which her conduct helped to bring upon Adam. -- Romans 5:12,17-19.

(30) God had given man the freedom to choose. God also knew that man lacked the fullappreciation of sin and its results. (Psalm 44:21) Therefore God foresaw that man, when tempted, would give in to sin. God also foresaw, in order to establish before all creation the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that once man became acquainted with sin that he would still choose it. This is because that acquaintance would so impair his conscience and will that wickedness would gradually become more agreeable and more desirable to him than good.

(31) Still, God designed to permit wickedness. God had already provided the remedy for man's release from sin's effects. He saw that the result would be to lead mankind, through experience, to a full appreciation of sin's `exceeding sinfulness.' Further mankind could then understand the matchless brilliancy of virtue in contrast to it. (Romans 7:13) Mankind could thus learn to the greatest degree to love and honor his Creator, the source and fountain of all goodness. All this experience would lead man to forever shun that which brought so much woe and misery. So the final result will be greater love for God, and greater hatred for all that is opposed to his will. Thus God's permission of sin and wickedness for a short time will result in the firm establishment in everlasting righteousness of all such as will profit by the lessons God is now teaching.

(32) However, a wide distinction should be observed between the indisputable fact that God has permitted sin, and the serious error of some which charges that God is the author and instigator of sin and wickedness.(2) The latter view is both blasphemous and contradictory to the facts presented in the Scriptures. Those who fall into this error usually do so in an attempt to find another plan of salvation than that which God has provided through the sacrifice of Jesus (Yahshua) as our ransom-price. They convince themselves and others that God is responsible for all sin and wickedness and crime.* They want us to believe that man as an innocent tool in God's hands was forced into sin. Thus they clear the way for the theory that not a sacrifice for sins, nor mercy in any form, was needed, but simply and only JUSTICE.

(33) Additionally, they lay a foundation for another part of their false theory, that is, universalism. This teaching claims that as God caused all the sin and wickedness and crime in all, he will also cause the deliverance of all mankind from sin and death. And reasoning that God willed and caused the sin, and that none could resist him, they therefore claim that when God wills righteousness, all will likewise be powerless to resist him. But if we reason this way, we have to set aside the most striking feature of man's likeness to God, that is, his liberty of will or choice. Without this, man's noblest quality, he is theoretically degraded to a mere machine which acts only as it is acted upon. If this were the case, man, instead of being the lord of earth, would be inferior even to insects, for they undoubtedly have a will or power of choice. Even the little ant has been given a power of will which man, though by his greater power may be able to oppose and thwart, cannot destroy.

(34) True, God has power to force man into either sin or righteousness, but his Word declares that he has no such purpose. He could not consistently force man into sin for the same reason that "he cannot deny himself." (Titus 2:13) Such a course would be inconsistent with his righteous personal qualities, and therefore an impossibility. And he seeks the worship and love of only those who would worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) To this end he has given man a liberty of will like his own, and he desires man to choose righteousness. -- Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; Esther 7:7; Proverbs 1:29; 3:31; 16:16; 22:1; 31:9; Jeremiah 8:3; Acts 4:19; 13:46; 1 Corinthians 2:15; 10:14,15; Hebrews 11:11.

(35) Permitting man to choose for himself led to his fall from divine fellowship and favor and blessings, into death. (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; 5:3) By his experience with sin and death, man learns practically what God offered to teach him theoretically, without his experiencing sin and its results. God's foreknowledge of what man would do is not used against him, as an excuse for degrading him to a mere machine-being. On the contrary, it is used in man's favor. God, foreseeing the course man would take if left free to choose for himself, did not hinder him from tasting sin and its better results experimentally. But he did begin at once to provide a means for man's recovery from his first transgression. He promised a Redeemer, a great Savior, able to save to the uttermost all who would return to God through him. (Hebrews 7:25) God provided not only a ransom for all, but a guarantee that all would receive its testimony in due time. -- 1 Timothy 2:3-6

(36) The severity of the penalty was not a display of wickedness or malice on God's part. It was but the necessary and inevitable, final result of sin. Through this God allowed man to see and feel its harmful effects. God can sustain life as long as he sees fit, even against the destructive power of actual wickedness. Notwithstanding, it would be as impossible for God to sustain such a life everlastingly, as it is for God to lie. (Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13) His justice will not allow it. Such a life could only become more and more a source of unhappiness to itself and to others. (Ecclesiastes 2:23) Consequently, God is too good to sustain an existence so useless and harmful to itself and others. Accordingly, when he removes his sustaining power, destruction, the natural result of wickedness, follows. Life is a favor, a gift of God, and it will be continued forever only to the obedient. -- Hebrews 5:9; Acts 3:32.

(37) No injustice has been done to the human race in condemning them without giving each an individual trial. Jehovah was no sense bound to bring us into existence. Having brought us into existence, there is no law of equity or justice which binds him to perpetuate our being everlastingly, nor even to grant us a trial under promise of everlasting life if obedient.

(38) Mark this point well. The present life, from cradle to the tomb is but a process of dying. Notwithstanding all its suffering and disappointments, it is still a boon, a favor, even if there should be no life after this one. The large majority cherish life as such. Only a few, through severe depression, consider their life unworthy of living. (Even these, however, usually would desire to live, but their circumstances have caused them so much pain that they no longer esteem life something to hang onto.) But what if we each were given a separate trial under the same circumstances as Adam? Would we not all do the same as he?

(39) Many have believed the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture. In spite of this, nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the Bible as the penalty. The favor or blessing of God to his obedient children is life -- eternal life -- free from pain, sickness and every other element of decay and death. Adam had this blessing in full measure. He had eternal life, but this eternal life was conditional upon his continuance in obedience. Thus Adam was warned: "In the day that you eat from it, dying, you will die." (Genesis 2:17) Adam lost eternal life because of his disobedience. (Genesis 3:22) He knew nothing of a life in torment, as the penalty of sin. Only those who remain obedient are continued in everlasting life. (Hebrews 5:9) Life is God's gift, and death, the opposite of life, is the penalty he prescribes. -- Romans 6:23.

(40) Eternal torture is nowhere suggested in the Hebrew Scriptures, and only a few statements of the Christian Scriptures can be so misconstrued as to appear to teach it. Even these are found either in the symbolisms of Revelation, or in the parables and obscure sayings of Jesus. (For a full understanding of these scriptures, see our publication: Hope of Life After Death) These sayings of Jesus were not understood by people who heard them. (Luke 8:10) Today they seem to be but little better comprehended by most Bible readers. "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) "The soul that is sinning, will itself die." -- Ezekiel 18:4.

(41) Many have supposed God unjust in allowing Adam's condemnation to be shared by his posterity, instead of granting each one a trial and chance for everlasting life similar to that which Adam enjoyed. But what will such say if it should now be shown that the world's opportunity and trial for life will be much more favorable than was Adam's? What if we can show that the world's trial will be more favorable because God adopted this plan of permitting Adam's race to share his penalty in a natural way? We believe this to be the case, and will endeavor to make it plain.

(42) God assures us that as condemnation passed upon all by one person's condemnation, Adam, so he has arranged for a restoration of Adam and his race. "Therefore as by of the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5:12,18,19) Thus seen, the death of Jesus, the undefiled, the sinless one, was a complete settlement toward God of the sin of Adam. One man had sinned, and in him all had shared his curse, his penalty. So Jesus, having paid the penalty of that one sinner, bought not only Adam, but all his posterity -- all men -- who by heredity shared his weaknesses and sins and the penalty of these -- death. Our Lord, "the man Christ Jesus," himself unblemished, approved, and with a perfect seed or race in him, unborn, likewise untainted with sin, gave his all of human life and title as the full ransom-price for Adam and the race or seed in him when sentenced. -- 1 Timothy 2:5-7; 1 Peter 1:19

(43) After fully purchasing the lives of Adam and his race, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:19) "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." God adopts these as children by Jesus the Messiah to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. (Ephesians 1:5) Eventually the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) Therefore we read: "As in Adam all are dying, even so in Christ all will be made alive." -- 1 Corinthians 15:22

(44) The injury we received through Adam's fall (we suffered no injustice) is, by God's favor, to be more than offset with favor through Messiah. All will sooner or later (in God's due time) be restored to the same standing that Adam enjoyed before he sinned and have an opportunity to live forever. Most do not receive a full knowledge, and, by faith, an enjoyment of this favor of God in the present time (including children and those not professing Christianity). These will assuredly have these privileges in the next age, or "world to come," the dispensation or age to follow the present. To this end, "all that are in their graves . . . will come forth." As each one (whether in this age or the next) becomes fully aware and appreciative of the ransom-price given by our Lord Jesus, and of his subsequent privileges, he is considered as alive and on trial, as Adam was. Obedience brings everlasting life, and disobedience everlasting death -- the second death. Perfect obedience, however, without perfect ability to render it, is not required of any. Under the covenant of favor true worshippers during the Good News age, have had the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by faith, to make up for their unavoidable deficiencies through the weakness of the flesh. (Romans 4:13-25; 7:14-25; 8:1-4) Divine favor will also operate toward "whosoever will" of the world during the Millennial age. (Revelation 22:17) It will be the privilege all who are unjust to symbolically walk on the highway of holiness in that age to come, since that highway is for the unclean, that they might clean up their ways. However, not all reach its end, so those who remain in their unclean condition will not pass over it. (Isaiah 35:8) Those who do pass over it will have proven themselves to be incorruptible, incapable of being corrupted, by which death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8) That new trial, the result of the ransom and the New Covenant, will differ from the trial in Eden, in that in it the acts of each one will affect only his own future. (Jeremiah 31:29,30) During the time of resurrection, the time of regeneration (Matthew 19:28), there will be no marrying, and thus no offspring. -- Matthew 22:30.

(45) But wouldn't this be giving some of the race second chance to gain everlasting life? We answer: The first chance for everlasting life was lost for himself and all of his race, yet in his loins, by Adam's disobedience. Adam was our first father. Under his original trial "condemnation passed upon all men." God's plan was that through Christ's redemption-sacrifice Adam, and allwho lost life in his failure, should be given the opportunity to turn to God through faith in the Redeemer. (First, however, man must taste the bitterness of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the weight of its penalty.) If any one chooses to call this a "second chance," let him do so. It must certainly be Adam's second chance. In a sense at least it is the same for all the redeemed race. But it will the first individual opportunity for his descendants, who, when born, were already under condemnation to death. Call it what we please, the facts are the same -- all were sentenced to death because of Adam's sin. Likewise, all will enjoy (in the Millennial age) a full opportunityto live forever under the favorable terms of the New Covenant. This, as the angels declared, is "good tidings of great joy which will be for all people." And, as the apostle declared, this grace of God -- that our Lord Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all" -- must be "witnessed" to all "in due time." (Romans 5:17-19; 1 Timothy 2:4-6) Men, not God, have sought to limit opportunity at a person's death in this age. God, on the contrary, tells us that the Good News age is merely for the selection of the Church, the seed of Abraham, through whom, during a succeeding age, all others will be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth and granted full opportunity to secure everlasting life under the New Covenant.

(46) But what advantage is there in the method pursued? Why not give all men an individual chance for life now, at once, without the long process of Adam's trial and condemnation, the share by his offspring in his condemnation, the redemption of all by Christ's sacrifice, and the new offer to all of everlasting life upon the New Covenant conditions? If wickedness and suffering must be permitted because of man's freedom to choose, why is its extermination accomplished by such a peculiar and circuitous method? Why allow so much misery to intervene and to come upon many who will ultimately receive the gift of life as obedient children of God?

(47) Ah! that is the point on which interest in this subject centers. God could have ordered the propagation of our species differently. He could have made it so that children would not partake of the results of parental sins. He could have arranged it so each one of us would have a favorable Edenic condition for our testing. Thus only those who failed would have been condemned and suffer the death penalty. But if God has chosen this method, how many might we suppose would, under all those favorable condition, be found worthy and how many unworthy of life?

(48) Adam was in every respect a sample of perfect manhood. If we take the one instance of Adam as a criterion, what might we expect? The conclusion would be that none would have been found perfectly obedient and worthy. None would possess a clear knowledge of and experience with God. They would not have been able to develop full confidence in his laws, beyond their own personal judgment. We are assured that it was Jesus' knowledge of the Father that enabled him to trust and obey implicitly. -- Isaiah 53:11

(49) But let us reason at little. Suppose that one-half were found worthy and the other half would suffer the wages of sin -- death. Then what? Let us suppose the other half, the obedient, had neither experienced nor witnessed sin. Would they not forever feel a curiosity toward things forbidden, only restrained through a kind of fear of God and of the penalty? Their service could not be so hearty as though they knew good and bad, and hence had a full appreciation of the benevolent designs of the Creator in making the laws which govern his own course as well as the course of his creatures. Then, too, consider the half that would have gone into death as a result of their own willful sin. They would be lastingly cut off from life. Their only hope would be that God would in love remember them as his creatures, the work of his hands, and provide another trial for them. But why do so? The only reason would be a hope that if they were re-awakened and tried again, some of them, by reason of their larger experience, might then choose obedience and live.

(50) But there two other objections to the plan suggested, of trying each individual separately at first. One redeemer was quite sufficient in the plan which God adopted, because only one had sinned, and one had been condemned. (Others shared his condemnation.) But if the first trial had been an individual trial, and if one-half of the race had sinned and been individually condemned, it would have required the sacrifice of a redeemer for each condemned individual. One unforfeited life could redeem one forfeited life, but no more. The one perfect man, "the man Christ Jesus," who redeems the fallen Adam (and our losses through him), could not have been "a ransom [a corresponding price] for ALL" under any other circumstance than those of the plan which God chose. If we suppose the total number of human beings since Adam to be one hundred billion, and that only one-half of these had sinned, it would require all of the fifty billion obedient, perfect men to die in order to give a ransom [a corresponding price] for all the fifty billion transgressors. And such a plan would involve no less suffering than is at present experienced.

(51) The other objection to such a plan is that it would not allow participants from those who have shared in the fallen flesh as part of the judging body. Even if such a plan were put into effect, there would still be question of the fairness of God's judgment. (With the plan that Jehovah in his wisdom has chosen "the saints will judge the world" with Jesus.) Likewise God could not justly command the fifty billion obedient sons to give their rights, privileges and lives as ransoms for the sinners. Under Jehovah's law their obedience would have won the right to live forever. Hence, if those perfect men were asked to become ransomers of the fallen ones, it would be God's plan, as with our Lord Jesus, to set some special reward before them, so that they, for the joy set before them, might endure the penalty for their brothers. Suppose that the same reward should be given them that was given to our Lord Jesus. He was made highly exalted above angels, principalities, powers, and every name that is named -- next to Jehovah. (Ephesians 1:20,21) Under the alternative plan under discussion, then, there would be an immense number taken from the human to the spiritual realm, which the wisdom of God evidently did not approve. Furthermore, these fifty billion, under such circumstances, would all be an equality, and none among them chief or head. But under the plan God has adopted there is only a need for oneredeemer, one highly exalted above the angels. Additionally, provision was made for a small number of those whom he redeemed, who prove worthy to be "joint-heirs" with him through joint-suffering with him through self-denial. (Galatians 8:17) These will share his name, his honor, his glory and his position on the Father's throne, even as a wife shares with the husband. -- Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2.

(52) By condemning all in one representative, the way was opened for the ransom and restoration of all by one redeemer. Those who can appreciate this feature of Jehovah's plan will find in it the solution of many perplexities. They will see that the condemnation of all in one was the reverse of an injury. It was a great favor to all when taken in connection with God's plan for providing justification for all through another one's sacrifice. Wickedness and suffering will be forever extinguished when God's purpose in permitting it shall have been accomplished, and when the benefits of the ransom are made co-extensive with the penalty of sin. It is impossible, however, to appreciate rightly feature of the plan of without a full recognition of the sinfulness of sin, then nature of its penalty -- death, the importance and value of the ransom which our Lord Jesus gave, and the positive and complete restoration of the individual to favorable conditions, conditions under which he will have full and ample trial, before being judged worthy of the reward (living forever), or of the penalty (death forever). In view of the great plan for redemption, and the consequent "restoration of all things," through Jesus, we can see that blessings result through the permission of wickedness and suffering which, probably could not otherwise have been so fully realized.

(53) How much more like the wisdom of God to confine sin to certain limits, as his plan does. How much better even our finite can discern it to be, to have but perfect and impartial law, which declares the wages of willful sin to be death -- cutting off from life. God thus limits the sinfulness which he permits. The time will come when the permission of sinfulness will end. The Millennial reign of Jesus will accomplish a full extinction of suffering and also of willful evildoers. (Revelation 20:2-4,9; 21:1-4; Psalm 37:9-11,29) Afterwards and for all eternity righteousness will prevail amongst all creation, based upon full knowledge and perfect free-will obedience by perfect beings. -- Psalm 145:10-13.

(54) Mankind will forever be benefitted by the experience gained. The angels will be benefitted by their observation of mankind's experience. (1 Corinthians 4:9) Not only this, but all will be further advantaged by a fuller acquaintance with Jehovah's personal qualities as manifested in his plan. When his plan is fully accomplished, all will be able to read clearly his wisdom, justice, love and power. (Romans 11:32-36) They will see the justice which could not violate the divine decree, nor save the justly condemned race without a full cancellation of their just penalty by a willing redeemer. They will see the love which provided a noble sacrifice and which highly exalted the Redeemer to God's own right hand, giving him power and authority thereby to restore to life those whom he had purchased with his precious blood. They will also see the power and wisdom which were able to work out a glorious destiny for his creatures, and so to overrule every opposing influence as to make them either the willing or the unwilling agents for the advancement and final accomplishment of his grand designs. If wickedness had not been permitted and thus overruled by divine providence, we cannot see how these results could have been attained. The permission of wickedness for a time among men thus displays a far-seeing wisdom, which grasped all the attendant circumstances, devised the remedy, and marked the final outcome through his power and grace.

(55) During the Good News dispensation sin and its attendant suffering have been further made use of for the discipline and preparation of the Church. If sin had not been permitted, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and the joint-heirs, who receive the reward of immortality in the spirit realm, would have been impossible.

(56) It seems clear that substantially the same law of God which is now over mankind, obedience to which has the reward of life, and disobedience the penalty of death, must ultimately govern all of God's intelligent creatures. That law, as our Lord defined it, is briefly comprehended in the one word Love. "You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind -- and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27) Ultimately, when the purpose of God will have been accomplished, the glory of the divine qualities will be manifest to all intelligent creatures. The temporary permission of wickedness and suffering will be seen by all to have been a wise feature in the divine policy. Now, this can only be seen by the eye of faith, looking forward through God's Word at the things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began -- the restoration of all things! -- Acts 3:21

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Questions

(1) What have most of those who have tried to answer of the question of human affliction not understood?

(2) What questions need to be answered concerning wickedness and suffering?

(3) a) To what does the Bible attribute mankind's overall suffering? b) What further questions does this raise?

(4) Since God allowed the first man to sin, what can we reasonably conclude?

(5) a) When seen in their completeness, what do God's plans prove? b) Why did God not interfere to stop the first man from sinning?

(6) What else shows that God could not choose any but the wisest and best plan for introducing his creatures into life?

(7) Why do many fail to discern the hidden springs of Jehovah's infinite wisdom?

(8) Does God take pleasure in wickedness? What do we reasonably conclude, then, concerning God's permission of sin and wickedness?

(9) How are the principles of good and bad, right and wrong generally perceived?

(10) How has sin affected man's ability to discern right and wrong?

(11) & (12) Could the first man distinguish right from wrong? What is the basis for your answer?

(13) What if God had made mankind devoid of ability to discern right and wrong, or able only discern and to do right?

(14) What if God had made man perfect and a free agent, and guarded him from Satan's temptation?

(15) What did the first human pair experience as a result of their disobedience?

(16) Who else is experiencing wickedness and suffering besides the first human pair? Will these ever experience the good so as to obtain a proper appreciation of both?

(17) What were the most important elements of Adam's likeness to his Creator?

(18) What does man today not have the image of God to the same degree that Adam had it?

(19) What is it Jehovah's desire for man to express? What is meant by "free will," and how has this free will been affected by sin?

(20) Why did Jehovah not give Adam some vivid impression of the results of sin instead of permitting him to suffer the actual experiences of wickedness?

(21) What would be the case if Jehovah had not allowed man an opportunity to sin?

(22) a) How long have the principles of right and wrong existed? b) And which principle alone will continue to active forever?

(23) a) What are the four ways of knowing things? b) And why might not Adam have known good and bad by intuition or observation?

(24) In which of these four ways has mankind been gaining knowledge?

(25) a) What knowledge did Adam and Eve have about wickedness and suffering? b) Was this knowledge sufficient to keep them from experimenting with wickedness?

(26) What do few appreciate concerning the temptation of our first parents?

(27) What can be said concerning Eve's responsibility for her disobedience?

(28) What was Adam's main attachment or love before he sinned? What freedom did he have?

(29) How was Adam's love for his creator put to the test and with what results to both Adam and Eve?

(30) Could God foresee that the man would disobey and partake of the forbidden fruit?

(31) What results did God foresee in permitting mankind to sin and suffer?

(32) What theory is not supported by the fact that God permitted sin?

(33) What is the theory of universalism, and what does this theory deny of man?

(34) Why would God not force man into sin?

(35) Why is God's foreknowledge of man's sin not to be used against him?

(36) Why is the death sentence not too severe, nor a display of malice or wickedness on God's part?

(37) Why is not unjust on God's part to condemn all for Adam's sin without giving each an individual trial for life?

(38) Even though we may go through many sufferings and disappointments, how should we esteem our present life?

(39) & (40) What have many considered to be the penalty for disobedience? What do the scriptures say?

(41) What do we believe to be case for Adam's posterity who have been condemned because of Adam's sin?

(42) & (43) How has God arranged for a restoration of Adam and his race?

(44) How and when are all "made alive" in Christ?

(45) How do we respond to those that say that this would be giving the majority of the race a "second chance"?

(46) What questions are not presented?

(47) What other method could Jehovah have chosen?

(48) What might we expect the result to be if God had chosen the method under consideration?

(49) If Jehovah had chosen the method under consideration, what should we expect if one-half had proven faithful and did not disobey?

(50) What would be required to redeem those who fell if Jehovah had chosen the plan under consideration?

(51) What other objection is there to the suggested plan?

(52) Appreciation of what feature of God's plan brings solutions to many perplexities?

(53) How else is God's wisdom manifest in the plan he has chosen?

(54) How will mankind and angels be forever benefitted by the permission of wickedness and suffering?

(55) What else would not have been possible if sin had not been permitted?

(56) What conclusions do we draw respecting God's permission of wickedness and man's future blessing?

Endnotes: 

1.

Some have thought that Adam had a working knowledge of death while in the Garden of Eden. They claim he saw animals dying. This idea is sometimes used to make it appear that Adam was guilty of the second death and that therefore the ransom sacrifice of Jesus did not cover his sin. The only scripture that is used to support this idea is 2 Peter 2:12: "And these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, . . ." From this some have assumed that when God created animals in the Garden of Eden, they were "made to be taken and destroyed." But this is not the case. In Ephesians 2:2,3 we read the same of the children of disobedience. Paul there says that the early Christians had in times past been "by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Certainly this does not mean that God created Adam and Eve as "children of wrath." No, but they became such through disobedience. (Colossians 3:6; Ephesians 5:6) By nature, their sin resulted in wrath upon them and all in their charge, including the lower animals. Had Adam actually seen wickedness and suffering being performed, or performed such himself, in or upon the lower animals, then he already had working knowledge of good and bad before he sinned. But the Bible states that he came to have this knowledge after he sinned. (Genesis 3:22) Therefore, we conclude that Adam had never seen death at all until after he had sinned. 

2. Two texts of scripture (Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6) are used to sustain this theory, but by a misinterpretation of the word evil in both texts. Sin is always an evil, but an evil is not always a sin. An earthquake, a conflagration, a flood or a pestilence would be a calamity -- an evil. But none of these would be sins. The word evil in the texts cited signifies calamities. The same Hebrew word is translated in the King James Version as affliction in Psalm 34:19, 107:39, Jeremiah 48:16, and Zechariah 1:15. It is translated trouble in Psalm 27:5, 41:1, 88:3, 107:26, Jeremiah 51:2, and Lamentations 1:21. It is translated calamities, adversity, and distress in 1 Samuel 10:19, Psalm 10:6, 94:13, 141:5, Ecclesiastes 7:14, and Nehemiah 2:17. And the same word is in many places rendered harm, mischief, sore, hurt, misery, grief, and sorrow.

In Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6 Jehovah is reminding Israel of his covenant made with them as a nation -- that if they would obey his laws he would bless them and protect them from the calamities common to the world in general. But if they would forsake him he would bring calamities (evils) upon them as chastisements. -- See Deuteronomy 28:1-14,15-32; Leviticus 26:14-16; Joshua 23:6-11,12-16.

When calamities came upon them, however, they were inclined to consider them as accidents and not as chastisements. Therefore word was sent to them through the prophets, reminding them of their covenant and telling them that their calamities were from him and by his will for their correction. It is absurd to use these texts to prove that God is the author of sin, for they do not at all refer to sin.

See also our study:

Under the Sun - What Does It Mean?
Also some studies written by others; we may not agree in all details with these studies, but the authors do present the basic idea concerning God's permission of evil:

Why God Permits Evil

Seasons of Life

The Failure of Human Wisdom

No More Curse

Why Does A Loving God Permit Calamities?