EZEKIEL XXXIII. 11.

ELDER G. BEEBE AND SON – DEAR SIRS: – Please give your views on this passage of scripture, and oblige a reader of the SIGNS: “God wills not the death of any, but would rather all would turn unto him and live.” I have been searching for this passage, but failed to find it, and consequently cannot tell where to find; but I have heard it quoted frequently by revivalists.

Yours truly,
A WELL WISHER.
Cedar Grove, Ohio, Feb. 15, 1881

REPLY. – A “Well Wisher” will search the sacred volume of the inspired scriptures long and vainly before he will find the passage as he has stated it, or as it is generally stated by modern revivalists and other sensational preachers, who handle the words of God deceitfully in order to excite the eternal passions of their deluded victims, and draw them into their nets and snares. The words spoken by God to his ancient people Israel, who were held in a peculiar relation to him, as chosen and separated from all the Gentile nations of the earth in a covenant of works, which pertained exclusively to them, requiring of them strict obedience to the provisions of that covenant, and for disobedience to what it required of them, denounced temporal judgments, such as sword, famine and pestilence, and temporal death in extreme cases; and for strict obedience they were to be blessed with corn, wine and oil, and shielded from the sword, famine, and pestilence, and enjoy security from invasions and disaster. To them God spake by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, saying, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evils ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” – Ezek. xxxiii. 11. This message was addressed to the house of Israel, and to no other people under heaven, and had no reference to eternal life, which is alone through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; nor to the endless perdition of the ungodly, which is called the second death. The connection of this text in the same chapter shows that the life spoken of was secured to the house of Israel by turning from their transgressions against the covenant which they were under, and doing the things required of them as the covenant people of the Lord; but the salvation from perdition is not attainable by any works of righteousness which they have done or can do. The salvation which is in Christ Jesus is not by works, lest any man should boast. Neither good nor bad works can save us from that death to which the ungodly word is already condemned; for the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, “Who hath saved us [his saved people], and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” – 2 Tim. i. 9. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” – Rom. ix. 16.

The house of Israel were under the law of a carnal commandment, and from the temporal judgments of that covenant they could save themselves by works of obedience to its requisitions; but they were also held under a law from the judgments of which they could not release themselves, for “as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in the sight of God. If a law had been given that could have given life (eternal life), verily righteousness should have been by the law; but we are told that the law was given that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Rom. iii. 19, 20.

The house or family of Israel, in the flesh and under the law of Moses, as chosen of God from all the families of the earth to be a peculiar people, and as redeemed from the house of bondage, is a type of the spiritual Israel redeemed from sin and death by the precious blood of Christ; and the ceremonial law which the carnal Israel was under is typical of the laws which are given under the gospel dispensation for the discipline of the spiritual Israel under the new covenant; and as the willing and obedient under the old legal covenant ate the good of the land, so christians in obedience under the new and better covenant enjoy the approving smiles of the Redeemer and fellowship of the church of Christ. And as under the typical covenant the disobedient and disorderly were subjected to sword, famine and pestilence for their transgressions, and even to death, when they turned not away from their evil ways; so the children of the new covenant, who walk disorderly, are beaten with many stripes, and if they persist in their disorderly course, are excluded from the fellowship of the church. If they live after the flesh, they shall die; but if they through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, they shall live. – Rom. viii. 13.

The house or family of Israel, in the flesh and under the law of Moses, as chosen of God from all the families of the earth to be a peculiar people, and as redeemed from the house of bondage, is a type of the spiritual Israel redeemed from sin and death by the precious blood of Christ; and the ceremonial law which the carnal Israel was under is typical of the laws which are given under the gospel dispensation for the discipline of the spiritual Israel under the new covenant; and as the willing and obedient under the old legal covenant ate the good of the land, so christians in obedience under the new and better covenant enjoy the approving smiles of the Redeemer and fellowship of the church of Christ. And as under the typical covenant the disobedient and disorderly were subjected to sword, famine and pestilence for their transgressions, and even to death, when they turned not away from their evil ways; so the children of the new covenant, who walk disorderly, are beaten with many stripes, and if they persist in their disorderly course, are excluded from the fellowship of the church. If they live after the flesh, they shall die; but if they through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, they shall live. – Rom. viii. 13.

This application of the types to their legitimate antitypes is in perfect harmony with all the scriptures of truth; but the application made by will-worshipers and carnal revivalists would turn the truth of God into a lie, and represent the holy scriptures as a confused paradoxical mass of contradictions.

Elder Gilbert Beebe,
Middletown, N. Y.

Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 9.
May 1, 1881.