Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 13, 1958
NUMBER 28, PAGE 1,12b-13

Things That Abide

George W. Tyler, San Diego, California

Flitting through my mind this afternoon are these questions? Does anything abide? In a fluxing universe can anything be static? Is there anything unchangeable? Close observation sees nothing that suggests fixity. Vainly we search history but find not even the slightest hint of it. Prophetic hope finds no foundation on which to build. The things that are seen, heard or touched unite to create doubts of it in our minds. If we are left to rely upon the senses and human reasoning for an answer to the problem, it must be, "No". It is human instinct to seek for something which abides though our senses refuse to locate it for us.

We live in a universe of change. On every hand integration and disintegration; renewal and decay; life and death are continually in evidence about us. The change is so rapid and constant that we never see anything twice the same way. Identifying factors might continue for a short time; but, like flowers, they eventually fade. Notice the sunset this evening. As you look toward the northwest the southwest dresses herself in new colors. Even plant foliage this morning was fresher, or duller than yesterday. Wind and calm, heat and cold continually chase each other in a never-stopping merry-go-round. We are told that even the sensations of the vitality of body and mind never repeat.

It is well that nothing we see is permanent. If all material things remain as they are, universal death would be the state. Peter's statement, "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10) does not disturb us, for, only by such procedure can a "new heaven and a new earth" be brought into being.

However, reason insists that something must be "abiding"; something must be unchangeable to keep the change itself going. Things have never been known to create or control themselves. They are here. From whence came they? The answer is, "out of some mine of intelligence-inexhaustible, unchanging". Your automobile, your television set, your watch and even your clothes did not design or create themselves. There was an intelligent being who designed and created them.

Much abides. God abides. "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation neither shadow that is cast by turning." (Jas. 1:17.)

The unseen God submits His visible creation to us as conclusive evidence of His existence, power, majesty, providence and love. They are indisputable evidence of the existence of a Supreme Being. Things have never been known to create themselves despite the evolutionists' claim. The Scriptures say, "We understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen bath not been made out of the things which appear." (Heb. 11:3) The man who cannot see the existence of God in His handiwork is as blind as a bat. God created things by the power of His word. "He spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." (Ps. 33:9.) The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity" (Rom. 1:20.) In Rom. 16:26 Paul identifies this being as "the eternal God"; in I Tim. 1:17 he calls Him "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God." Yes, God abides. He is the SOMETHING that enables us to explain that which would otherwise be inexplicable.

Christ, God's Son, abides. John in Rev. 22:13 writes, "He is both the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end". This is a very striking way of describing Christ as being eternal like the Father. The prophet Isaiah saw Him as the "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6.) The writer of Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and forever." (Heb. 13:8.) Continuous existence is His nature. Jesus claimed His eternal existence by affirming, "Before Abraham was born, I am." (Jno. 8:58.) The four gospels record He promised to be with His disciples "always" and the appearances He made among them after being raised from the dead demonstrated His power to keep that pledge. In identifying Himself to John on the Isle of Patmos He said, "I am the first and the last, and the living one: and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." (Rev. 1:17,18.) To His disciples Jesus said He would go to prepare a place for them, and would come again to receive them unto Himself (Jno. 14:2,3.) Speaking of Christ's resurrection on Pentecost Peter said, "This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we are all witnesses" and that God "loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." (Acts 2:32,24.)

He came out of the unseen, the eternal, into the seen, temporal, to reveal His eternity to mankind. It is only the unseen that is eternal. Paul wrote, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18.)

We abide. Not here in this body. In spite of what Jehovah's Witnesses say we shall never cease to be. They teach that the wicked will be raised from a state of nonexistence to again be consigned to the same state. If they are right, why raise the sinners from a state of nonexistence, "annihilation" they call it, only to be annihilated again? If this is the case, the punishment of the wicked will cease and if punishment of the wicked can cease, the eternal life of the righteous can also cease. Bodies die; immortal spirits survive them. Certainly, we shall be changed for "we be like Him." (1 Jno. 3:2; also Phil. 3:20, 21.) "Our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself". The change in us is so radical that Jesus spoke of it as being "born of water and the Spirit" (Jno. 3:5), while Paul says it makes a "new creature" out of us. (2 Cor. 5:17.) The old man of sin dies that the new man might live. The sinful, selfish dies that the new man in Christ can take over. Paul wrote, "Though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Cor. 4:16.) He saw the outward man perishing with bodily infirmity and decay; but the inward man, the immortal spirit, growing from day to day. He also wrote, "We know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." (2 Cor. 5:1.)

The fact that we shall forever be the same personalities that we now are is both terrifying and comforting. The sinner should be apprehensive as was Felix, who was "terrified" by Paul's speech on "righteousness, and self-control and the judgement to come. No wonder that speech "terrified" him. Dean Farrar in his Life of Paul says of Felix, "As he glanced back over the stained and guilty past. he was afraid. He had been a slave in the vilest of all positions. at the vilest of all epochs, in the vilest of all cities. He had crept with the wife of his brother, Pallas, into the position of a courtier at the most morally degraded of all courts. He had been an officer of these auxiliaries who were the worst of all troops. What secrets of lust and blood lay hidden in his earlier life we do not know; but ample and indisputable testimony, Jewish and Pagan, sacred and secular, reveals to us what he had been — how greedy, how savage. how treacherous, how unjust, how steeped in the blood of private murder and public massacre — during the eight years which he had spent in the government, first of Samaria, then of Palestine. These were footsteps behind him; he began to feel as though 'the earth were made of glass'. The terror which seized him was the beginning necessary to a change of life; but lust and ambition smothered kindling fires of conscience and like most alarmed but impenitent sinners he decided to wait for a 'more convenient time'. It never came to him because it would never become 'convenient' to put away Drusilla, the beautiful woman, with whom Felix lived in sin. Penitent sinners have to sacrifice convenience and pride to become real Christians."

The faithful souls are comforted by the knowledge that a "crown of life" awaits them. A more sobering thought can never enter the human heart than that the righteous soul shall inherit eternal life; never die; but continue to abide forever.

Christ's word abides. To His disciples He said, "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35.) We know He left no book, left no manuscripts of any kind and that He chiseled no inscriptions on monuments. What did He mean by this statement? There is but one answer: He made a promise to these same men, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you ... when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth." (Jno. 16:7,13.) He knew these disciples would leave a record of His teaching. Guided by the Holy Spirit, they would write with assurance that His words would be correctly recorded. He said to them, "The Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." (Jno. 14:26.) Therefore, in the New Testament books we have His words. Some of these words are doctrines he approves, as found in the teachings of his apostles. His promise of the permanency of His words has been redeemed in the production of the New Testament by its writers as guided by the Holy Spirit.

I believe these words have a deeper meaning. He meant that His authority, His rule, would be eternal law, to be obeyed by all who believe in and honor Him. Being absolutely right they require no revision. The very finality of His words is a pledge of their abiding forever. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35.) Peter calls the New Testament the "word of God" which he also said "liveth and abideth" (1 Pet. 1:23) and in the twenty-fifth verse said, "The word of the Lord abideth forever".

The "Kingdom of Christ" abides. "Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe" (Heb. 12 :26-29.)

Kingdoms are realms over which kings rule. Christ's kingdom is in the human hearts. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you." (Lk. 17:21.) Paul wrote, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16.) The souls of men are immortal, his rule over them must be continuing, an abiding rule.

We read in Dan. 2:44 that God would "set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed". Regenerated souls were to be its citizens and were to rule with the king forever. This passage suggests that in heaven such perfection will obtain that no change will ever be required.

An eternal kingdom, unchangeable, postulates the eternity of its laws, its programs, its citizenship personnel. All such things will abide.

"But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (I Cor. 13:13.) What a mighty trinity! But the clause, "now abideth" suggests that these graces will not always abide. Faith and hope are temporary graces. After all faith has for its object all the declarations of God concerning the things not seen. James Moffat translates Heb. 11:3 as follows: "It is by faith we understand that the world was fashioned by the word of God, and thus the visible was made out of the invisible". Hope sustains us and is based upon promises. When the objects of our faith and hope are put in our possession there can no longer be a place for them. Love refers to conduct and is measured in terms of obedience. Jesus said, "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments," (Jno. 14:15.) The object of love exists in perfection in heaven and will exist there forever. Because of this fact love is the greatest of the three and will "abide" throughout eternity; for, in heaven the will of Christ will always be done.

Finally: "There remaineth a rest for the people of God." (Heb. 4:9.) "Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience." (Heb. 4:11.) He has pledged security to His people. God has promised them a place of rest. Politicians promise us "old age and unemployment security" to get votes; yet, all thinking men realize each one must pay for his own "security" — at least in part. But the rest, "security", for the Christian is in one of the resting places promised us by our Lord and Saviour in Jno. 14:1-4.

In this rest we are assured relief from worry, immunity from disease, protection from death and personal ministration from the Father, who will "wipe away all tears" from bereaved eyes. This rest will abide forever because it is as unending as God's love, as eternal as God Himself.