Plan of the Ages
1. What is evil and why did God permit evil? (p. 117, p. 118, par. 1)
Evil is that which produces unhappiness; anything which either directly or remotely causes suffering of any kind. The fact God permitted evil is proof that its present permission is designed ultimately to work out some greater good. God's plans, seen in their completeness, will prove the wisdom of the course pursued. His purpose was to make manifest the perfection, majesty and righteous authority of his law, and to prove both to men and to angels the evil consequences resulting from its violation. God permits evil for a time because his wisdom sees a way in which it may be made a lasting and valuable lesson to his creatures.
2. Describe or explain right and wrong as principles. What is the moral sense? (p. 118, par. 2; p. 119, 120, 121, par. 1,2)
That principle the result of which, when active, is beneficial and productive of ultimate order, harmony and happiness, we call a right principle; and the opposite, which is productive of discord, unhappiness and destruction, we call a wrong principle.
The faculty of discerning between right and wrong principles is called the moral sense, or conscience. The moral sense, or judgment of right and wrong, and the liberty to use it, which Adam possessed, were important features of his likeness to God.
3. Could man not have been acquainted with evil in some other way than by experience? (p. 121, par.3; p. 122, par. 1)
Man's knowledge of evil might have come by observation, but in that event there must needs have been some exhibition of evil and its results for man to observe. This would imply the permission of evil somewhere, among some beings, and why not as well among men, as among others elsewhere? Adam already had a knowledge of evil by information, but that was insufficient to restrain him from trying the experiment. They had a theoretical knowledge of evil, though they had never observed or experienced its effects. Consequently, they did not appreciate their Creator's loving authority and law, nor the dangers from which he thereby proposed to protect them.
Eve was weaker than Adam and therefore deceived. Her experience and acquaintance with God were even more limited than Adam's, for he was created first, and God had directly communicated to him before her creation the knowledge of the penalty of sin, while Eve probably received her information from Adam. When she had partaken of the fruit, she, having put confidence in Satan's deceptive misrepresentation, evidently did not realize the extent of the transgression. She was a transgressor, though not so culpable as if she had transgressed against greater light.
Adam was not deceived; hence he must have transgressed with a fuller realization of the sin, and with the penalty in view, knowing certainly that he must die. Adam wilfully shared her act of disobedience in order to share the death-penalty which he probably supposed rested on her.
5. How will the permission of evil ultimately result in good? Since God permitted sin, does this make him the author of sin? Explain your answer. (p. 124, 125)
God designed to permit evil because, having the remedy provided for man's release from its consequences, he saw that the result would be to lead him, through experience, to a full appreciation of sin and righteousness.
God is not the author of sin. He permitted it because man has the liberty of will or choice. Those who believe God authored it believe the false theory only justice, not a sacrifice for our sins, is needed, which leads to the theory of Universalism.
6. Why wouldn't God force man into sin or righteousness? How will God's permission of man to choose his own course ultimately work out to man's favor? (p. 126)
Such a course would be inconsistent with his righteous character, and therefore an impossibility. And he seeks the worship and love of only such as worship him in spirit and in truth. To this end he has given man a liberty of will like unto his own, and desires him to choose righteousness.
It will work out to man's favor because God provided a Redeemer who would save all who would return unto God through him, so that man might have a free will and yet be enabled to profit by his first failure in its misues, in disobedience
7. Was God's penalty for sin unjust or too severe? (p. 127, par. 1,2)
The severity of the penalty was not a display of hatred and malice on God's part, but the necessary and inevitable, final result of evil, which God thus allowed man to see and feel. No injustice has been done to Adam's posterity in not affording them each an individual trial. Jehovah was in no sense bound to bring us into existence; and, having brought us into being, no law of equity or justice binds him to perpetuate our being everlastingly, nor even to grant us a trial under promise of everlasting life if obedient.
8. Man was placed on trial for life. What then was the penalty for disobedience? Is eternal torment anywhere suggested in the Old Testament? What portions of the New Testament are misconstrued to teach this doctrine? (p. 127, par. 3; p. 128, par. 1)
Death was the penalty for disobedience. Eternal torture is nowhere suggested in the Old Testament. Only a few statements in the New Testament can be so misconstrued as to appear to teach it; and these are found either among the symbolisms of Revelation, or among the parables and dark sayings of our Lord, which were not understood by the people who heard them.
9. Explain why God was not unjust when he condemned all in Adam. (p. 128, par. 2,3; p. 129)
The world's opportunity and trial for life will be much more favorable than was Adam's and God adopted this plan of permitting Adam's race to share his penalty in a natural way. Christ purchased the lives of Adam and his race by his death and offers to adopt as his seed all who accept the terms of his New Covenant and they will receive everlasting life. The injury we received through Adam's fall is, by God's favor, to be more than offset with favor through Christ, and all will sooner or later have a full opportunity to be restored to the same standing that Adam enjoyed before he sinned.
10. Does the fact that all will receive a fair trial in the future mean a second chance for some of the race? Explain. (p. 130, par. 1)
The first chance for everlasting life was lost for himself and all of his race by Adam's disobedience. It will be the first INDIVIDUAL opportunity of Adam's descendants, who, when born, were already under condemnation to death.
11. Why not give mankind an individual trial now? (p. 131, par. 1,2,3)
If children did not partake of the results of parental sins and all had favorable Edenic condition for their testing, how many might we presume would, under all those favorable condition, be found worthy, and how many unworthy of life? None would have been found perfectly obedient and worthy because none would possess that clear knowledge of and experience with God, which would develop in them full confidence in his laws, beyond their personal judgment. Even if there were obedient, they might forever feel a curiosity toward things forbidden. Their service could not be so hearty as though they knew good and evil.
12. Why is Jehovah's plan much wiser than that suggested on page 132?
It is wiser to confine sin to certain limits, as his plan does. How much better even our finite minds can discern it to be, to have but one perfect and impartial law, which declare the wages of wilful sin to be death. God thus limits the evil which he permits, by providing the reign of Christ.
13. What is the chief objection to a separate trial for each individual at first? How would this plan affect the divine plan for the selection of the church? (p. 133, par. 1,2,3) It would have required the sacrifice of a redeemer for each condemned individual. One unforfeited life could redeem one forfeited life, but no more.
It would seriously disarrange God's plans relative to the selection and exaltation to the divine nature of a "little flock." God could not justly command the many obedient to give their lives as ransoms for the sinners because their obedience would have won the right to lasting life. God would set some special reward before them so they might endure the penalty of their brethren. Then there would be an immense number on the divine plane, which the wisdom of God did not approve.
14. How do those who appreciate that all were condemned in one man, find in it the solution of many perplexities? (p. 134, par. 1)
They will see that the condemnation of all in one was the reverse of injury: it was a great favor to all when taken in connection with God's plan for providing justification for all through another one's sacrifice.
15. What blessings will eventually result through the permission of evil? What purpose has the permission of evil served in the discipline and development of the church? (p. 135, par. 1,2,3)
Men are benefited to all eternity by the experience gained and angels by their observation of man's experiences. All are further advantaged by a fuller acquaintance with God's character as manifested in his plan.
Had sin not been permitted, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and of his Church, the reward of which is the divine nature, would have been impossible.
16. What law of God will ultimately govern all of God's intelligent creatures? How will the temporary permission of sin be ultimately viewed by all creatures in heaven and earth? (p. 136, par. 1)
The law of love. It will be viewed to have been a wise feature in the divine policy.