Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 6, 1958
NUMBER 27, PAGE 8-10a

Third Reply To Welch

Bill Thurman Dallas, Texas

Mr. Welch argues that the regeneration of Mt. 19:28 is in progress because Tit. 3:5 says we are saved by "the washing of regeneration". Our brother would really have a point if Mt. 19:28 had read "in the washing of regeneration you shall sit on 12 thrones"! He has overlooked that the regeneration of Mt. 19:28 is the one "WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL SIT ON THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY". And Mt. 25:31 tells us clearly when this shall be — "WHEN the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the angels with Him, THEN shall he sit on the throne of His glory." He fails to distinguish between the regeneration of the heavens and the earth, when they will be made new, and the present regeneration of sinful man. The RSV interprets the regeneration of Mt. 19:28 to mean the "NEW WORLD".

He says that "Thurman makes the transfiguration scene a 'preview' of the kingdom . . ." But it is Peter, not I, who interprets the majesty of which he was an eyewitness on the Holy Mount as proof that Jesus prophesied power and coming is no fable! II Peter 1:16-18. One fact is certain — that on the Mount of Transfiguration they did SEE THE SON OF MAN in His kingly power, Mt. 16:28. No such thing as Mt. 16:28 predicted was SEEN on Pentecost. Nor has my friend answered the argument that the context in every instance of this prediction refers to the second coming, Mk. 8:38.

He affirms that Thurman's critics do understand my argument on Acts 15:14-17. If Mr. Welch understands it, why doesn't he answer it. See former articles.

As for Heb. 8:4 Mr. Welch claims that I take this passage "figuratively". It would interest me for him to explain what he finds that I take as a "figure", and of what. The writer obviously meant that if Jesus were on earth he would not have been recognized as a priest, "seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law." When Jesus was on earth, he was not recognized as a priest, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A PRIEST. This contradicts what Mr. Welch wants Heb. 8:4 to say. He wants it to say that Jesus cannot both be on earth and be a priest. But I have shown that Jesus can for the very reason that he already has! To quote, "What is the supreme sacrifice that this Great High Priest had to offer? Himself. Where was he when he offered it? On earth. Was he a priest at the time he offered his sacrifice?"

My two former articles defended the proposition that a future age is coming when the ruling power that now belongs to human governments will be given to the people of God. This is a firm conviction with me, whereas it is merely my opinion that this future age is the millennium or "1000 years" of Rev. 20. Surely my respondent can see this distinction!

Heb. 2:5, "Not unto angels did he subject the world to come." Let me thank Mr. Welch for examining the ASV margin and conceding that "world to come" means "inhabited earth to come" rather than "age to come". But I wonder whether he has yet learned that this verse is not part of a "prophecy from a past age" which the writer quotes? Now, being hard-pressed to find any disproof of this coming inhabited earth, he asserts, "Well, the earth is now inhabited." Yes, and it was inhabited before Heb. 2:5 was written. But Heb. 2:5 speaks of a future inhabited earth — future to the time of writing of Heb. 2:5. Has that new earth come? Mt. 6:10.

Heb. 2:6-8 quotes three statements from Ps. 8 which apply to the "man" and "son of man" named in the Psalm: (1) "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." (2) "Thou crownedst him with glory and honor." (3) "Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet." Heb. 2:8-9 applies all three of these descriptions to Jesus: (1) The first is already past, for "we behold him who HATH BEEN MADE A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, EVEN JESUS." (2) The second is right now, for "WE BEHOLD HIM .. . CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR" (3) And the third is yet future, for "NOW WE SEE NOT YET all things subjected to Him." Since Mr. Welch's view leaves no place for an inhabited earth to come, subjected entirely to Jesus, he must affirm that this present earth is subject to Him, in spite of the fact that "evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse!" II Tim. 3-4.

No, Heb. 2:5-9 does not contrast Jesus from man, but from angels. Our brother has not noticed that Jesus is that very man whom the Psalmist said was "made a little lower than the angels" and "crowned with glory and honor". This man being Jesus, Jesus is also the one under whose feet all things are to be subjected. Jesus is THE SECOND MAN, I Cor. 15:47. He is HIMSELF MAN, CHRIST JESUS, I Tim. 2:5.

I Cor. 15:23-24. Mr. Welch fails to distinguish between the resurrection of the saints when Jesus first appears and the final abolition of death. For the faithful saints, their resurrection and glorification marks their victory over death, I Cor. 15:54-55. But the end does not come until death itself is abolished. The only wicked whom I know will be avenged at once upon Jesus' return are those who have had a chance to serve him, but have rejected him. "But these mine enemies THAT WOULD NOT THAT I SHOULD REIGN OVER THEM, bring hither, and slay them before me," Lk. 19:27. "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of THESE THE LEAST (OF MY BRETHREN), ye did it not unto me," Mt. 25:45. "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction TO THEM THAT AFFLICT YOU," II Thess. 1:6-9. At His return the promised new earth will begin. II Peter 3:13 "ACCORDING TO HIS PROMISE, we look for new heavens and a new earth . . ." But the very promise to which Peter alludes shows that in this new earth there will still he death for those in the flesh who rebel against God. Isa. 65:17-20 "I create new heavens and a new earth ... the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed . . ."

So Welch has admitted that the end has not yet come! By doing so, he contradicts his view of Heb. 2:8. If he is going to contend that all things are now subject to Jesus, he must quit preaching that the reign of Jesus is still in progress. He'd better start preaching that it is past. I Cor. 15:28. "AND WHEN ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO HIM, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to aim that did subject all things to Him, that God may be all in all." The inhabited earth is not yet subject to Jesus, much less all creatures and death itself.

The conflict between Welch's view of Heb. 2:8 and I Cor. 15:28 is due to the failure to see the difference between the potential and the actual. One may possess power by right which has not yet been used in fact. In Rev. 11:15 at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. The chorus goes up, "Thou hest TAKEN THY GREAT POWER AND BEGUN TO REIGN", Rev. 11:17. Although the power has been his all along he has not yet used it! Therefore, Heb. 2:8 and I Cor. 15:28 alike refer to power in use, whereas Eph. 1:22 to which Mr. Welch appeals, refers to the potential that exists.

Of Dan. 7:27 our brother merely says that it "refers to the gospel dispensation". His dictum is not enough. Dan. 7:27 is not symbolism, but rather it is the divine interpretation of the symbolism contained in the first part of the chapter. "The kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the KINGDOMS THAT ARE UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." Will it, or will it not? The kingdoms UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN are the nations of earth, portrayed symbolically by the four beasts and their outgrowths in the first part of the chapter. It is their power and dominion that will be given to the saints. That is simple enough. Whence then the conjecture that Mr. Welch makes that the four beasts were gospel preachers and that the saints have occupied their pulpit! Or are we to believe that neither Iraq nor Iran, Greece nor Italy have any of their ancient power, but that the Church has it all right now? He who sounds so much like the Pope accuses me of sounding like the Watchtower! For it is the Pope who, in this age, claims temporal power over all the kingdoms of earth! Mr. Welch must have overlooked that the Watchtower Society ("Jehovah's Witnesses") denies the visible return of the Lord Jesus to this earth in glory. But He will return to give kingship to His saints, "Have thou authority over ten cities" and "be thou also over five cities". Lk. 19:17, 19. It is not in this life but the resurrection that the saints of the Most High will inherit the kingdom of Dan. 7:27, for Daniel plainly states that their kingdom will be an EVERLASTING KINGDOM. And Peter confirms that this kingdom is only for those who have proven themselves, that they will not stumble, II Peter 1:11. Rev. 2:26-27 is an added witness "He that overcometh AND KEEPETH MY WORKS UNTO THE END, to Him will I give authority ever the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of Iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers."

My respondent evaporates Mt. 24:29-31 into a misty nothingness. He accuses that I "virtually deny men are being saved today, by insisting that after the destruction of Jerusalem the Son of Man is not gathering His elect." I suppose Paul virtually denied men were being saved when he said "touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM" that "that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first and the man of sin be revealed", II Thess. 2:1-3.

So from A.D. 70 and after, the Son of Man was gathering his elect! What, we might ask, was the Son of Man doing from Pentecost to A.D. 70? Perhaps I do not so much "virtually deny" that men are being saved today as that he denies that men were being saved before A.D. 70!

Now the scripture in question is Mt. 24:29-31, which, as I said, he evaporates into a misty nothingness by applying it to people being saved in the church! "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN shall be darkened and THE MOON shall not give her light, and THE STARS shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH MOURN, and they shall SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN with power and great glory. And He shall send forth HIS ANGELS with a GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other." What are the "sun", "moon" and "stars"? Neon lights over the church door? I guess the "clouds of heaven" are preachers meeting appointment by airplane! Does Mr. Welch, like the "Jehovah's Witnesses" think that he is one of "the angels"? Maybe his preaching is "the great sound of a trumpet"! And after all this our brother has the gall to object that I "make the word generation figurative"!

However, I have no other thought than that "this generation" is a literal, physical generation of men — that one which will be on earth and endure the great tribulation. The very one about which our Lord had just been speaking!

I am accused of "backing up on the implication" that the devil will be cast into hell twice. I cannot apologize, for I did not imply this. But I can apologize for expressing myself in such a way that Mr. Welch had a chance to infer this. "The lake of fire is THE SECOND DEATH." Rev. 20:14. The very argument on the page from which Welch quotes depends on the fact that hell is a point of no return. Speaking of the beast and false prophet I said, "the two that are cast alive into the lake of fire in Rev. 19:20 are referred back to in Rev. 20:10." The point was that by the time the devil is thrown into the lake of fire after the 1000 years, it is now old and familiar, because the beast and false prophet had been thrown into it 1000 years before. This is one reason why it seems to me that Jesus must come before the 1000 years. For, when Jesus comes he must find the man of sin in full bloom and destroy him, II Thess. 2:8. Even Church of Christ expositors identify the man of sin of II Thess. 2 with the false prophet of Rev. 19:20. Then, if the false prophet is cast into hell before the 1000 years, Jesus must come before the 1000 years, for it is the "breath of His mouth and power of His coming" that will destroy the man of sin. This quote will show that my argument was based on the fact that Hell is a point of no return: "Now if the Lord Jesus is not to come until after the 1000 years, HOW DO YOUR LEARNED MEN AND SCHOLARS GET THE FALSE PROPHET UP OUT OF THE LAKE OF FIRE TO BE THERE WHEN JESUS COMES? THE LAKE OF FIRE IS THE SECOND DEATH . . ." So, if Mr. Welch had read a line or two farther he might have done the useful work of dealing with my argument, instead of quibbling over his inference.

Our brother complains that I "touch on too many topics". It is he, not I, who set the pace for the procedure. If he is so eager to take up passages and arguments one at a time, let him follow the suggestion that I made to the Guardian editor back in February before this series began. I stated clearly that it was my preference to draw up a clear proposition and let either one party or the other affirm it. It was not my idea for him to review a paper to which his readers did not even have access! I wrote, "Frankly, If I am to be in the affirmative I'd prefer to be the one to set forth the affirmative arguments, then let the negative respond. Or, if I am to be in the negative, it would be nice to see the affirmative affirm something!"