The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
By W. Resume
All Scripture references are to the King James Version, unless noted otherwise.
For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will
I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
Isaiah 48: 9
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION is a principle firmly established in Scripture. When Adam sinned the entire human race was condemned as sinners. The physical consequences of ageing, dying and death were passed down to everyone (Romans 5: 12, 14):
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: . . . 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression . . . .
So all have been tarred with the same brush. But this principle works not only in the negative but also to the benefit of others. In its positive application it may be stated thus:
God loves those who love those who love God
We will call this, Grace By Association, whereby God confers blessings on, or exercises mercy towards, one party as a result of intercession or advocacy by another. Some examples follow:
The flood of Noah’s day destroyed all human life except the eight persons aboard the Ark. When the waters had subsided and Noah and his family emerged into an altered world, with a less hospitable climate, God attached a promise to the appearance of the rainbow (Genesis 9: 11-17):
11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
Jehovah’s unconditional pledge that never would there be ‘any more a flood to destroy the earth’ is a covenant-guarantee made to the human race because of the virtue of Noah. And although this promise seems on its face to refer to global flooding, it would also seem to rule out any earth-wide catastrophe which might exterminate the human race, such as cosmic collision, contagious disease, famine, the results of climate change, or nuclear warfare. The promise would have little value if God had merely said ‘I won’t flood you again’, but under His breath added, ‘I’ve got something worse in store for you’.
Because of Abraham’s faith, Jehovah promised to create from him a great nation, adding, ‘I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 12: 2, 3). God buttressed this promise with an oath (Genesis 22: 15-18):
15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Ancient Israel were a truculent people, inclined on many occasions to flout God’s Law, in spite of their collective promise to obey it. Notwithstanding their disloyalty to God, He maintains His loyalty to them. Likening His affection for them as a mother’s for her child – incidentally hinting that of all earthly loves, maternal love is the highest – He says (Isaiah 49: 15):
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Compare this text with Jeremiah 31: 35-37, in which Jehovah warrants His faithfulness to Israel against the impossibility of fathoming the heavens. And the Apostle Paul, in his masterly treatise on Israel’s fall and rise, writes as follows (Romans 11: 1, 2, 26-29):
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. . . . 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
The Sodom Principle
In Genesis Chapter 18 we are told that the angel of the Lord predicted to Abraham the extermination of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their ungodliness. Knowing that his nephew Lot and his family resided in Sodom, Abraham pleaded with the Lord’s messenger for a stay of execution. ‘Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?’ (v. 23). In the ensuing conversation Abraham whittled down the qualifying number of righteous until the angel agreed that the city would not be destroyed even if only ten could be found there. However, they were not. Sodom was destroyed, Lot and his family being permitted to escape.
God’s people are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5: 13). That is, their influence is beneficial to secular society as a whole. As long as its influence remains, the world may hope for God’s mercy. In the Great Prophecy of Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus predicts a notable period of trouble which will come on the world some indeterminate length of time before He sets up His Kingdom:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. [emphasis added]
The Little Flock (the ‘very elect’) are the joint-heirs with Christ and will live and reign with Him. In some way we cannot know in advance, they will ameliorate the worst aspects of the Time of Trouble. At some unknown point after that Christ will set up His Kingdom for the blessing of all families of the earth, as promised to Abraham. Of course, mankind does not yet know this nor believe it (Romans 8: 19):
[T]he earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
The Lord's followers are to be found in all epochs of the Church, including our own. This remnant is described by God to Elijah as those who ‘have not bowed to Baal’; the number of whom we may view today in a metaphorical sense (1 Kings 19: 18). Based on this type, and the Apostle Paul’s application of it in Romans 11: 1-5, we conclude that Christianity will never be obliterated from society, for God must always have His witnesses and proclaimers of biblical truths (regardless of their denominational connection).
A Word About Predictions
As for the various claims regarding the so-called end of the world, there are at least four reasons why no one has yet got the dates right:
1. Interpretation of the Bible prophecies was incorrect and the wrong things were expected
2. Data at the time of the prediction were incomplete
3. Those making the predictions overestimated the importance of social trends, or
4. They misjudged the length of time necessary to accomplish the prophecies
Such errors appear to confirm what Jesus said of the limits of human knowledge in Matthew 24: 36:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, not, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only
and Acts 1:
6 When [the disciples] therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
There are, of course, various schools of thought on these matters. Christians who favour Preterism – ʻlooking backʼ, as opposed to ʻlooking forwardʼ, or Futurism – fix Christ’s return shortly after the Roman invasion and sacking of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, asserting that this was followed immediately by the setting up of Christ's Kingdom. Those who lean toward Dispensationalism and a coming Kingdom of Christ on earth emphasize chronology and notable dates in history as the most reliable guide.
A popular view is that the ‘time of trouble’ erupts at the close of the Gospel Age (sometime in the twentieth century) during the Second Advent, followed by the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. If current events are a guide, it seems reasonable to conclude that we are now in this period, the duration of which remains uncertain, but the outcome of which – according to several Scriptures – will probably be determined by the fate of Israel.
A Great Reversal Of Sin's Effects
The condemnation for sin inherited from Adam is limited to the time of the Permission of Evil. Once its purpose has been completed and Christ begins to rule, the principle of personal responsibility will operate (Jeremiah 31: 29-34):
29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
The ultimate and most perfect demonstration of Grace By Association is the love of God expressed in the person of Christ. For the sake of His Beloved Son, who died for all, God has pledged the remission of sins through faith and a full, fair opportunity for eternal life for all. The principle on which mankind was condemned in one man, is the same that in reverse application will rescue them.
There is a simple, elegant logic to this.
18 Therefore as by the offence 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. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
1 Timothy 2:
4 [God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1 John 2:
12 . . . your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
We may all trust in the boundless mercies of God, who through Christ alone can save to the uttermost all who approach Him in faith.
Copyright January 2014 ukiblestudents.co.uk
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