Brother Beebe: If you will give your views on the following enquiries, you will oblige an enquirer after truth:
- Is it right to say the children of God were never exposed to eternal damnation?
- Is it right to say that Adam’s sin never exposed him to eternal death?
- Is it right to say that if Adam fell at all, he fell upward?
- Is it right to say that the non-elect never were under the law, and cannot sin?
Reply: We have never found any record of Christ or any of his inspired apostles making use of these or similar declarations, nor do they seem to us like the apostolic manner of preaching. Such dashing declarations are never heard from those whose paramount aim and desire is to edify and instruct the humble followers of the Lamb. Some young preachers, who, if they are not mistaken, know a great deal, and wish to exhibit all they know, are far more frequently heard in that strain; and like those novices of whom Paul wrote to Timothy, who being lifted up with pride, fall into the condemnation of the devil. I Timothy 3:6. Such a strain of preaching or talking betrays a recklessness and self confidence not often found in those who have become fools, that they may be wise. They seem to say to their seniors, we know more than you all, and usually seem very anxious to provoke a debate in which they may display their own polemic smartness.
We know that the counsel and grace of God, in the eternal purpose which he purposed in himself before the world began, secured his chosen people from eternal damnation, by providing for them a full and sufficient salvation in Jesus Christ. But the declaration in the first enquiry would imply that such provisions were unnecessary.
We are informed in the word that, “by one man, [whom we supposed to be Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” “Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” and “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Romans 5. Also in chapter 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The gift of eternal life must be a gift whereby we are saved from what is the opposite of eternal life. That gift does not save us from temporal death; for death still holds dominion over our natural bodies.
We are told that Christ has obtained eternal redemption for his people. But if they were never exposed to an opposite eternal or interminable state, what are they saved from? We know and rejoice to know that there was no liability of a failure in God’s purpose of salvation; but that salvation was to deliver us from death, in which we were fully and legally involved, and to save that which was lost.
We do not consider it right or scriptural to say that if Adam fell, he fell upward. For his fall never raised him or any of his posterity to any higher state; but hurled him down from the paradise to which he was adapted before he sinned. We are aware that in his primeval state of purity he was not qualified for the enjoyment of anything beyond the sphere of his existence as a pure natural man; and that in that state he could not see the kingdom of God; but we are equally sure that his transgression never supplied him with any spiritual qualification; nor could he be qualified for the kingdom of God in any other way than that which is revealed in the gospel.
Neither Adam’s good works nor his bad works could prepare him for the kingdom. Their sins, instead of raising them upward, imposed a necessity for the shedding of the blood of Christ to wash and cleanse them from sin, and purge them from guilt. And when redeemed from sin, they must be born of the Spirit, and made partakers of immortal life, before they could either see or enter into the kingdom of God. It is not truth therefore to say that Adam fell upward.
We do not understand that the Sinai, or ceremonial law, was given to any but the children of Israel. But the human family was involved in sin twenty-three hundred years before that law was given to Israel. Still sin is the transgression of the law of God. If Adam had not been created under law to God, or if he had been a free agent, he could not have sinned; but he did sin; and so all have sinned, and hence all have transgressed the law they were under to God.
Finally; our face is set against such imprudent and uncalled for declarations.
May 15, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 425 – 427