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Chapter 4

A Deep-laid Satanic Scheme

IN the previous chapter we saw with what patient explicitness Inspiration has told us of man's mortality and his condition in death. Over and over the thought has been emphasized, that man in death is unconscious, awaiting the resurrection. If righteous, he will be ushered into his reward at the time of the first resurrection; or if adjudged unrighteous, he will come forth from the grave at the time of the second resurrection, and go down again into death -- the second death, which is death eternal.

But the instigator of sin is not content to let man believe this contradiction of his ancient falsehood, "Ye shall not surely die;" and he has elaborated a deep-laid scheme to unsettle the minds of men, and induce them, as he induced Adam and Eve, to believe and trust him rather than God; to cause them to look to themselves for salvation rather than to "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

All through heathenism, practically, the belief in the immortality of the soul has persisted for untold generations; and in the days of the church's apostasy that belief came into the Christian fold -- a child of paganism. Unknown to the gospel, unknown to psalmist or prophet, and contrary to the whole plan of redemption, that belief has won its way until nearly the whole Christian church is impregnated with it as thoroughly as was paganism of old. It is one of the most peculiar anomalies of our day that with civilized lands so full of Bibles, the majority of Christendom should take for granted a tenet of faith so definitely condemned as is this of man's inherent immortality. Says C. E. Luthardt, doctor and professor of theology:

"There is no inquiry which awakens so much interest as that concerning the state of the soul after death; and it is remarkable that there is scarcely any inquiry concerning which Holy Scripture makes so few disclosures."--" Saving Truths of Christianity," p. 298.

Now the fact of the matter is, that Holy Scripture has made very explicit disclosures concerning the state of the soul after death. The difficulty is that so few are willing to take these "disclosures" at their face value and believe them. Something which the Scriptures do not teach seems to be more pleasing to their fancy. The Bible teaches, and teaches it with wondrous plainness, that man is mortal; that God alone has immortality; and that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

Paganism, on the other hand, has taught for generations uncounted that man possesses a never-dying spirit. While Professor Luthardt cannot find much in the Holy Scriptures to support the immortality tenet, he finds plenty in pagan lore and custom. Concerning belief in immortality among pagan peoples, he says:

"To defend the graves of ancestors was as pressing an interest as to defend hearths and altars. They seemed to be the tie which bound the people and their country together, and progenitors were ever regarded as those guardian spirits of their descendants, whom it was considered not merely a domestic but a patriotic duty to honor by sacrifice. . . . The dead have never been looked upon as having ceased to exist, but as living in another world. . . . The very custom of having resting places of the dead in such near vicinity to the homes of the living, and thus keeping up, as it were, a tie of connection between them, is a memorial of the ancient belief that the deceased were not the dead, but the living.

"This belief is universal; it was this belief which in Egypt built the pyramids, and to which the mummies bear testimony; it was this which bestowed upon the Germanic nations the joyful courage with which they met death in the field of battle; it was this which gathered the noblest of Greeks about those sacred doctrines of the Eleusinian mysteries, which sought to give them that consolation in death which their religion did not give.

"The very existence of the idea of immortality is a proof of its truth. . . We call ourselves mortals. Why? Why else than because we know ourselves to be immortal? This is the very reason that we are constantly reminding ourselves that we are mortal. Consciousness of our immortality is itself a proof of its truth."-- Ibid.

This is a marvelous method of reasoning. We know we are immortal, and therefore we keep reminding ourselves that we are not immortal. We know that we cannot die, and therefore keep impressing ourselves with the fact that we can and do die. We know that we are white, and therefore declare we are brown or yellow or black. We know that we are poor, and therefore habitually protest that we are rich. We know that we are sick, and prove that we are by professing that we are well. But why continue the illustration of the peculiar method by which the immortality of the soul is demonstrated? If such an argument proves the immortality of the soul, then anything can be proved true by first proving that it is false; and whatever we declare we do not have is the thing we have.

But can we demonstrate to a Christian that he is immortal by simply showing that the pagan world has always believed in immortality? The Christian looks to his Bible for guidance in such matters, and his Bible tells him in language most plain and unequivocal that God "only hath immortality." The heathen world always believed in communication with the dead; but the true Christian does not draw his inspiration or his guidance from heathenism, but from the Bible; and the Bible declares in language as plain as can be used:

"The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything. . . . Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.. . . Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Eccl. 9: 5-10.

The heathen world in all ages communicated with their dead -- as they supposed -- and sacrificed to their dead. But Paul declares that "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [demons, and not to God: and I would, not that ye should have fellowship with devils." 1 Cor. 10: 20. The same Word that warns us against following the practice of the heathen in sacrificing to the dead, warns us also against communicating with the dead -- or seeking to:

"When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? [" on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?" R. V.]" Isa. 8: 19.

Again, this positive command was given to God's people Israel:

"Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God." Lev. 19: 31.

So long as God's people anciently sought after wizards, witches, and necromancers (all practisers of Spiritism), God considered them defiled; and He tells them in immediate connection with that prohibition, "I am the Lord' your God." There are the two ways in which they can go,-- after wizards and Spiritists (those who have familiar spirits), and be reckoned as defiled in His eyes; or follow Him, walking in the ways of righteousness, doing His will, and be reckoned by Him as worthy subjects of His everlasting kingdom. They cannot do both. Into His kingdom nothing of that nature can enter. The revelator has declared this in the following words, which are spoken concerning the capital city of the kingdom of God:

"There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Rev. 21: 37.

He has explained to us in the words previously quoted what it is that defiles. Therefore, in the practice of Spiritism men and women are doing that which defiles them; and being defiled, their entrance into the eternal kingdom of God is made impossible. It is, then, a most serious offense to practise Spiritism.

How serious God considered it is shown by the punishment to be meted out to those who indulged in the practice of Spiritism in the days of Israel, and meted out, too, by divine command:

"A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them." Lev. 20: 27.

"Whatsoever worketh abomination" is excluded from the kingdom, as explicitly declared in the words above quoted from the Revelation. What God considers an abomination He has told us in the following scripture:

"When thou [Israel] art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee." Deut. 18: 9-12.

What Jehovah would not permit to enter the typical Promised Land, He will not permit to enter the antitypical Promised Land, the inheritance of the saints.

If the question is asked why consulting with familiar spirits (Spiritism) is an abomination to Jehovah, the answer is found in the fact that this practice is based upon a belief in Satan's falsehood told to Eve in the garden of Eden, "Ye shall not surely die." For believing that lie and acting upon it, God drove the first pair out of Eden; for believing that same lie and practising communication with those who represented themselves as being the spirits of the departed, God drove the heathen inhabitants out of the land of Palestine, and in their place settled Israel. Then He warned Israel not to follow after those abominations; and now He warns us that if we practise the same abominations, we shall be excluded from the heavenly kingdom.

It is certainly worth our while to study the immortal-soul question and the Spiritism question (that is based upon it) from the Bible standpoint, rather than depend for our information and our attitude toward these questions upon the practices and teachings of heathen ism and spirit messages purporting to come from the dead.

He who contradicts the Bible -- the Word of God -- upon any point, is doing, either wittingly or unwittingly, what Satan did in his conversation with Eve in the garden of Eden. God had warned man that if he disobeyed, he would surely die. Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die;" and the immortality hypothesis and the Spiritism hypothesis have both grown out of that satanic contradiction of God's declaration.

Heathenism through all its history has followed Satan in contradicting God, by claiming that man never dies, but passes on to a higher plane of life. That doctrine has permeated the church since the days of the great apostasy, and is now almost universally believed throughout Christendom in the tenet of immortality. Nevertheless, it is a perpetuation of Satan's denial of God's declaration, though made unwittingly. That it should still be made, however, in view of the plainness of Bible teaching upon the point, is one of the most unexplainable anomalies of our times. We may expect it from Spiritists; for they have thrown the Bible aside in practice, quoting from it only texts which do not condemn their hypothesis and their practices, and discounting every scripture that shows the fallacy of their claims, and the iniquity of seeking to the dead on behalf of the living. When doctors of divinity do the same, it is then that the kingdom of evil is doubly strengthened, and the Lord that bought them doubly humiliated.

I have quoted from a doctor of divinity concerning the survival of man after death, and will now turn to the writings of those who openly carry the immortality hypothesis to its logical conclusion,-- communication with those whom they call "the spirits of the dead." If the "dead" are really alive, there would seemingly be no logical reason, from a human standpoint, why those who still live in the flesh should not communicate with them. God has forbidden it, to be sure, and for the very good reason that He knows that they who indulge in it are playing into the hands of Satan, falling into his trap, permitting him to deceive them through his impersonation of their dead, and through that deception finally accomplishing their destruction.

In a work entitled, "The Truth About Our Dead," by Lida A. Churchill, many statements are made which bear directly upon the points in question. The opening sentence asks:

"Does any one know the truth about our dead?" Yes; the Author of our existence knows, and He has told us very plainly; and they who believe what He says will also know what is the truth in this matter. What He has told us concerning this matter has already been set forth in these pages. It is an emphatic contradiction, however, of every definite position taken in the book mentioned. "The truth about our dead," says the author in question, "has now been sought and found; not guesses or deductions, but the real truth; not theories about the dead, but experiences among them; not faith about their world, but observances of it" (italics hers).

What has that author found? This: "That our dead are far more vividly alive in their new state than they were in the old." Some one is mistaken. It is either the author in question, or it is the Book which we have so long considered to be the living word of the living God. We have demonstrated the Book of God to be true, to be what it purports to be. Shall we discard it now because some "spirits," rapping out wooden messages on a wooden table, contradict the Book? Shall we disbelieve the Book because some power we cannot see and cannot control is able to make a table skip about a room on one leg, or lifts that table into the air and rends it in pieces? Shall we disbelieve the Book because some power that cannot be seen grips the hand of a willing individual, and writes vapid, inane, and sometimes obscene messages, that the person himself would never think of writing if left to himself? Either Spiritism is true, or the Bible is true. They cannot both be true, for they are diametrically opposed each to the other.

But what does the author of "The Truth About Our Dead" really know about "experiences among them"? She has not been dead and returned from the grave to mingle with the living. What she thinks she knows, she knows only from messages received through spirit mediums. These messages purport to come from the dead; but they come only from those who falsely represent themselves so to be. The dead are not speaking, and she has not had experiences among them.

The declaration of Inspiration through the prophet Job (Job 7:10) to the effect that the dead man returns no more to his house, has 'already been given. Now let there be placed alongside that scripture a quotation from the book referred to:

"It is as absurd to assert that the so-called dead do not sometimes return as it would be to declare that they were never born and have never passed on from this life."--"The Truth About Our Dead," p. 20.

This not only contradicts the Bible point-blank, but declares that this declaration of the Bible is an absurdity. Think of the presumption of a poor fallible mortal in using such language against the word of the Creator! Who should know best? Who does know best?

Already there have been presented in these pages scriptures declaring in the plainest language that all the functions of man's mental powers cease at death. Ps. 146: 3, 4; EccI. 9:5, 6, 10.

But the author in question declares:

"Our so-called dead really live. They live as their own natural selves in natural bodies. They keep their natural love for and interest in their families and friends."-- Id., p. 21.

There is a conflict here, a flat contradiction. If the author of the book mentioned is right, then the devil was right in Eden when he declared, "Ye shall not surely die;" and if that be so, God is the deceiver, and Satan the author of truth. If that be so, the Bible is not only worthless, but false, and Spiritists themselves, who profess to reverence it, are without excuse for so doing. But is it false or worthless? Nay, verily. We have proved the Bible true and dependable on too many counts to accept the adverse testimony of witnesses who speak always out of the darkness to defend the declarations of the fallen Lucifer.

The Bible speaks of death as an enemy of man. It is God's pronounced penalty for sin. It was not on God's program, and will not be in His universe when He has finished with sin. Note these scriptures:

"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." 1 Cor. 15: 26.

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die [referring to the second death]." Eze. 18: 4, 20.

"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" Verse 23.

"I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." Verse 32.

"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes [the eyes of His redeemed people] and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev. 21: 4.

These scriptures show that death is something that was entirely outside of God's original purpose; that it is not natural in God's program for man; and that when the gospel work is finished, death will be thrust out of His universe forever. With these scriptures in mind, we turn again to the pages of "The Truth About Our Dead," and find this:

"Death, so-called, is just as natural as birth, and is simply a transition to another plane and somewhat changed mode of existence.

"To those who are on it, that plane is as real and substantial and fitted to their needs as is the earth substantial and fitted to the needs of those who dwell upon it."-- Page 35.

The contradiction here is as decided and clear-cut as any of the others which we have pointed out. God's Word says death is an enemy, a punishment for sin, a process of extinction. The writings of one who professes to have been among the dead, and to be speaking of their occupations, teach that death is as natural as life, a necessary step in passing from one state of existence to another, as much in the plan of the overruling Power as that we should have any existence at all. Both cannot be true; and again we have to make choice of whom we shall believe and whom we shall follow,-- God, or His enemy who has contradicted God's declarations from the early morning of the race, and who is now throwing the black pall of his deadly deception over a war-weary and grief-stricken world. We should have no question as to whose leadership we shall choose.

While God is declaring that "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest," the author of "The Truth About Our Dead" declares, "Death is another and more advanced phase of life, and one is as natural as the other."-- Page 41. With what marvelous tenacity does Satan cling to his ancient falsehood!

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