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no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."—1 Cor. 15: 12-18.

The gist of this argument is that the testimony concerning God's plan is untrue, that God's plan is a failure, and that all who have died have gone completely out of existence, unless there is an awakening and a resurrection of the dead. Furthermore, this argument conclusively negatives the preachers' contention that the dead are conscious anywhere. Note the scripture says that if there is no resurrection then the dead "are perished". To perish means to cease to exist, and resurrection means to awaken to life. If a creature is perished it could not be awakened to life, nor could the creature be resurrected; but being dead and unconscious, and God having planned that he will bring such to life again, this is exactly what the Scriptures say that he will do; and he will do it through Christ Jesus.

The argument continues: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the

Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." (1 Cor. 15:19-25) The gist of this argument is that Christ Jesus was the first raised out of death, that by his death and resurrection there comes a resurrection to all men, and that this must come in order and in God's due time.

Asleep in Jesus

If the billions who have died are asleep in death, then where do they sleep? For the comfort of those who remain and mourn the loss of their beloved ones who have died, and that they might have hope, God caused to be written in his Word the answer to that question, as follows, to wit: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."-1 Thess. 4: 13, 14, 18.

All "sleep in Jesus", for the reason that his lifeblood provides the ransom price whereby the whole human race is purchased; and therefore they belong to him, by God's arrangement. Jehovah has given him power over death and has given him the keys of hell and death. (Rev. 1:18) This symbolical expression shows that the Lord Jesus is clothed with power and authority to awaken the dead out of the death condition and bring them up out of the grave, and ultimately to bring them to life.

God promised Abraham that he would give to him and to his seed all of the land that he saw before him and as far as he could see. (Gen. 13:14, 15; 17:8) Abraham and his offspring died many centuries before Jesus came. The promise of God, however, must be kept. These dead, as all other dead, sleep in Jesus;

and, again, are said to be "in the dust of the earth" whence they were taken. And so it is written: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake."-Dan. 12:2.

A specific prophecy is given to the Jews by Jehovah, which is a full assurance that the dead shall come forth: "Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord."-Ezek. 37: 12-14.

The peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in a great fire. The preachers would make the people think that they are still burning; but the Lord, through his prophet, says that these shall be brought back to "their former estate", which means that they shall be awakened out of death. They had not had an opportunity for life at the time of their destruction. The opportunity must come to them, because God promised it to all. (Ezek. 16:55) This is exactly in corroboration of the words of Jesus: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live."-John 5: 25.

The awakening of the dead and their resurrection to life is one of the grand and progressive steps in the outworking of the divine plan. The indisputable proof from the Word of God shows that the dead are not suffering torture in purgatory or hell or anywhere else; and that the claim of the clergy that they are able, for a money consideration, to help the dead is a fraud on the face of it and is the fruit of the Devil's

great lie. The time is at hand when God's message of truth shall sweep away their refuge of lies, and open the mind of the people that they may rejoice in his loving provision made that they might live.-Isa. 28: 17.

Looking back over the ages we see that the entire pathway of the human race has been marked with sickness, sorrow, suffering and death. Today the people, looking forward in the light of the unfolding of the divine plan, may see that there is one great and righteous way for them, leading them to life, and that this way shall be opened for both those who live and those who are dead. Seeing these truths, they have cause to rejoice. The beginning of that blessed and happy day is marked by the coming of the Lord Jesus in power and great glory; and then the people from the least to the greatest shall have an opportunity to know the way to life and happiness, and to walk in the way thereof.

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CHAPTER XII

Coming of the Lord

THE peoples of earth have passed through great adversity. Through it all they have suffered, groaned, and prayed for relief. The Devil, with his organization, has made their burdens grievous to be borne. With malicious design he has formed an alliance by uniting the heartless rich, the dishonest politicians, and the faithless clergy, and has used that unholy alliance to defame God's holy name and to op press the people. Truly it is written that "the love of money is the root of all evil". (1 Tim. 6:10) Satan has played upon this insatiable desire of imperfect men, to further his wicked schemes. With covetous design to have the other man's land and goods the rich have fomented war between peoples and nations, upon the false pretext that such was necessary to protect their own interests.

The dishonest politicians, desirous of pleasing the rich that they, too, might have some of the ill-gotten gains, have repeatedly raised the cry of patriotism and have called upon the people to rally around the colors of war. The clergy, ambitious for more power and influence resulting from being associated with the rich and influential, have in the name of God hypocritically declared war to be a holy thing and urged the people to engage therein. Great sums of money, produced by the laborious efforts of the common people, have been wrung from them in the form of taxation to manufacture guns and poison gas, and to build war-ships and forts, aircraft and other devilish instruments of destruction.

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