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Responsibility principles

Overall principles

  1. That ignorance excludes men from responsibility, but that they are responsible to divine judgment at the resurrection when they know the demand God makes upon them by Christ and the apostles, whether they submit to it or not: Psa 49:20; Act 17:30; Joh 3:19; 9:41; Jam 4:17; Mat 7:26; Rom 1:32; Mar 16:16; Luk 12:47; 1Ti 1:13; Joh 12:48; Deu 18:19.
  2. That the Scriptures recognize and teach that it is according to righteousness and justice that those who rebel against the light should be brought to punishment, even though they be "outside" or "without": Rom 2:2,5; Heb 13:4; 1Co 5:13; Eph 2:3; 5:6; 2Co 5:11; Mat 12:32-36; Act 24:25; Mat 18:6-8; Joh 3:36; Rev 21:8.
  3. The responsible will be punished at the resurrectional judgment because they deserve it, not because of any technical compliance on their part: Heb 10:29; Rom 1:32; Luk 12:48; Heb 2:3; 12:23; 1Pe 4:18; Joh 5:30; Luk 10:12-15.
  4. The multitude who appear before the judgment seat of Christ will consist not only of the faithful and unfaithful members of his own immediate household, but of all who have refused to submit to the Law of God when reasonably attested: Mar 16:15,16; 2Co 2:15,16; Luk 19:27; Rom 1:18; 2:6,8,9,16; 2Th 1:10.

"Those who come to an understanding of the gospel, but have rejected it... come forth from the grave again to encounter the burning indignation of Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (JT, "Revealed Mystery" 46).

"But illuminated sinners and ungodly Sardian saints are obnoxious to a perdition arrived at in different ways. These are they 'who obey not the gospel of the Deity' (1Pe 4:17), or disgrace it; and who come forth at the anastasis of judicial condemnation. These two classes are punished on the principle that 'it is better not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the commandment delivered to them' (2Pe 2:21)" (JT, "Anastasis").

"But men are not only made, or constituted, sinners by the disobedience of Adam, but they become sinners, even as he, by actual transgression. Having obtained the maturity of their nature, they become accountable and responsible creatures. At this crisis, they may be placed by the divine arranging in relation to His Word, which becomes to them a tree of life (Pro 3:18), inviting them to 'take and eat, and live forever'. If, however, they prefer to eat the world's forbidden fruit, they come under the sentence of death in their own behalf. They are thus doubly condemned. They are 'condemned already' to dust as natural born sinners, and secondarily condemned to a resurrectional judgment, for rejecting the gospel of the kingdom of God, by which they become obnoxious to the 'second death' (Rev 20:14)" (JT, Elp 130,131).

"What is the second death? 'Second' implies a first... 'It is appointed unto men once to die' (Heb 9:27). A wicked man dies in the natural course of events; but, if amenable to judgment, he is raised again... to death a second time, but a death that is different from the first, inasmuch as it is directly inflicted by divine displeasure... 'The day that cometh,' said Malachi (Mal 4:1), 'shall burn them up, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch.' David's declaration is that 'the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away' (Psa 37:20)" (RR, XdmAst, 164).

More detailed principle statements

  1. Light is invariably given as the ground and basis of responsibility to judgment. That is, all who know are accounted responsible: Joh 3:19; Jam 4:17; 2Pe 2:21; Joh 15:22; Mar 16:15,16; Rom 2:12-16; Amo 3:2; Gen 20:5,6; Acts 17:30.
  2. God has appointed a great day of giving account, a great Judgment Day, after life has ended. This is not to be minimized. If it were simply for deciding the results of probation, punishment for the baptized wicked would be unnecessary: Heb 9:27; 1Co 4:5; Act 17:31; Rom 2:12-16.
  3. Judgment in this life does not fulfill the Scripturally specialized requirements of the final, "giving account" judgment after death of Heb 9:27, etc: Rom 9:22; Psa 12:8; Job 12:6; Ecc 7:15; Psa 73; Ecc 12:14; Psa 37; Dan 4:17. Judgment in this life often falls upon one generation, although previous generations have been building up such offense: Gen 15:13-16; Mat 23:35,36; 2Ki 24:21.
  4. All must give account to God, except those specifically excluded by ignorance: Pro 21:16; Psa 49:20; Joh 5:28,29; 1Ti 1:13.
  5. The Scriptures never exclude the unbaptized from resurrectional judgment. Partially obedient and willfully disobedient are treated similarly.
  6. The expressions used by Scripture describing the rejected at the judgment seat never give any warrant for excluding any of the willfully or knowingly disobedient: Rom 2:5-16; Act 24:15; Joh 3:19,20; 5:28,29; Mar 16:16; Ecc 12:13,14; Job 21:30; Ecc 3:17; 2Th 1:7-10; 1Pe 4:3,17; Joh 12:46-48; Deu 18:18,19; Luk 12:9; Mar 8:38; Mat 12:32-36; Luk 19:27; Jud 1:15; Act 17:30,31; 2Co 5:10,11.
  7. Whenever we seek for a Bible definition of who shall come forth to a resurrectional condemnation, we find such terms as: the unjust, those who have done evil, the wicked, those who reject, deny, and refuse to listen, the disobedient, those who do not obey the truth, those who believe not when the gospel is preached, those who reject, etc.
  8. The Scriptures often speak with only the approved in mind: 1Th 4:16,17; 1Co 15; Mat 24:31.
  9. The Bible often speaks of resurrection in the sense of a process, including glorification: 1Co 15:42-44,51; Heb 11:35; Joh 5:29; Phi 3:8-11.
  10. "In Christ" is a moral -- not a legal and mechanical -- relationship: 1Co 15:22; Rom 8:9-11; 13:11-14; Eph 4:21-25; 1Co 4:17; Eph 1:1; Col 1:2; etc.
  11. The gospel call is a command, not merely an optional invitation: Act 17:30,31; Mar 16:15,16; Isa 8:6,7; Gen 1:16; Rom 1:5; 15:18; Act 10:48; 2Pe 2:21; 1Pe 1:22; 3:1; Rom 10:16.
See also Lesson, Resurrectional responsibility.

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