“The Water of Life”

“EVERY morning, a sad parade gets under way in the arid frontier town of San Ysidro, California. Men and women, many on crutches or in wheelchairs, as well as sallow young children … emerge from a cluster of motel buildings.”

These are the opening lines of a recent article in Newsweek (June 27, 1977). Who are these people? They are the forlorn victims of the dread scourge, cancer, grasping desperately at what many of them believe is a last hope of escape from suffering and certain death. They are crossing the border into Mexico to receive injections of the highly controversial drug called Laetrile, generally banned in the United States, but available in Mexico.

At the moment, the merit of Laetrile’s use in fighting cancer is being vehemently challenged by the American medical profession and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while cancer victims continue to fight for its legalization in the United States. Thus, Laetrile joins the ranks of several other drugs whose medical value is being disputed, and whose use is presently banned or restricted. One of these is Gerovital, banned in the United States, but sold in several European countries as a so-called fountain of youth drug. And who would not long to partake of such a magic morsel if it truly sustained life!

Another of these disputed drugs is Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO), a chemical that is claimed useful in reducing inflammation and pain, and in relieving other ills. It can now be used legally in the United States only on animals. And the bitter contest over the use of saccharin bids fair to continue for some time.

The one thing all can agree on is that there is an obvious and disturbing lack of agreement among health authorities, the medical profession, and much of the public on many matters vital to the health and well-being of all the people.

To the credit of the medical profession it must be said that much progress in improving health and saving lives has indeed been made. One of the most dramatic advances achieved by medicine has been the development of antibiotics, which have so greatly assisted in controlling bacterial diseases. Up to the present time no such panacea had been found to fight the virus diseases, such as influenza, measles, hepatitis, the common cold, smallpox, and other such sicknesses. But now the medical profession believes it may be on the verge of possessing such a drug. It is called ara-A, and it is hoped that it will eventually assist in controlling the virus diseases, just as the antibiotics presently help to control the bacterial illnesses.

Millions of dollars, too, are spent each year in efforts to discover ways to cure and prevent those two major destroyers of human life—cancer and heart disease, and some people are at last taking note of the findings of the researchers. For instance, between 1968 and 1972 coronary deaths among a controlled group of male Americans dropped by almost 9 per cent. Dr. Jeremiah Stamler attributed the drop largely to a substantial reduction in cigarette smoking by the men in this particular group. Epidemiologist Frederick A. MacCornack of the American Health Foundation also has concluded that the risk of having a heart attack is increased by heavy smoking.

Indeed, so convincing has the evidence of the link between smoking and many cases of heart disease become, that doctors themselves are cutting down on their own consumption of cigarettes. “Among physicians, dentists, and pharmacists, smoking has decreased significantly in the last decade,” says U.S. News & World Report (July 11, 1977).

Research is also indicating that heavy consumption of alcohol contributes to heart attacks. “Heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages increases hypertension, and hypertension increases the chances of having a heart attack,” says Dr. Arthur L. Klatsky of the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center, after studying the relationship between blood pressure and the drinking habits of 83,947 men and women.

Thus, research is alerting man to some simple and sensible ways whereby he can extend his life and make it more comfortable. But the fully desired results continue to elude their seekers: thousands still die of heart attacks and other thousands of cancer. And against the progress in certain areas we sometimes find a loss of ground in others. For instance, in the year 1976 the number of hepatitis cases reported increased slightly over the number of cases reported in 1975.

But progress has been made in the last century to assist sufferers of chronic pain, of whom there are so many. “Chronic pain … constitutes a major national health problem. … More than 20 million Americans live in chronic pain, health experts estimate.” However, neurosurgeon Donlin M. Long of the pain clinic at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine admits, “We can reduce the pain, but we can’t eliminate it.”

Also, in spite of the many differences of opinion among them on the value of specific items of diet, the nation’s nutritionists are performing a most useful service in their efforts to teach the people proper dietary habits.

Today, life expectancy is longer than it was a decade ago. More lives are being saved than ever before, and more illnesses can be successfully treated. Part of the reason is technology, whose use in medical situations is rapidly increasing—so much so, indeed, that U.S. News & World Report has said, “Never have doctors been able to do so much to thwart the course of disease. … Gradually the magic of healing has been replaced by the mystique of science.” (May 23, 1977)

Modern laboratories and the intensive care units of hospitals resemble fully equipped scientific laboratories, which, indeed, they are. They contain, and routinely employ, a variety of mechanical devices that can literally take over and perform most of the functions of the human body. Unquestionably, all of this has been a great boon to suffering humankind. But, points out one discerning writer, even modern medical science has its limits. “Technology may prolong survival, but not meaningful life,” says U.S. News & World Report. (May 23, 1977)

True, the world is filled with wholly dedicated physicians and physician-scientists. True, also, an increasing number of diseases are being brought under a measure of control; life for many of the handicapped has been made vastly more comfortable and more meaningful; pain is being mitigated, and life expectancy increased. But the end, after more or less of health and more or less of suffering, is still the same as it has been from the very beginning. In spite of his best medical efforts and ingenuity, in spite of the considerable scientific progress that has been made in the last century, man continues to die and go down into the grave.

The Apostle Paul explains why the plague of suffering and death continues—it is because of sin. It began more than six thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden when father Adam disobeyed the Creator’s mandate and brought the condemnation to death upon himself and upon the whole human race, then unborn in his loins.

The account of this great human tragedy is recorded in the Book of Genesis (2:15-17): “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Mother Eve was also aware of this divine injunction. But Satan persuaded Eve that God’s announced penalty would not be imposed. “And the woman said unto the serpent … of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent [Satan, the Devil, Rev. 12:9] said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”—Gen. 3:2-4

As a result of that first lie Eve was deceived. (Gen. 3:13; I Tim. 2:13,14) But Adam was not deceived; and because of his disobedience the whole human race has since gone down into the sleep of death, returning to the dust of the earth from which man was first formed. (Gen. 2:7; 3:19) Commenting on this tragic event and its sad results, Jesus said, “The Devil … was a murderer from the beginning, … he is a liar, and the father of it.”—John 8:44

The Apostle Paul briefly summed up and clarified this entire experience in his wonderful letter to the brethren at Rome. He wrote: “By one man [father Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by [because of] sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) Paul further affirmed man’s universal sinfulness, saying, “There is none righteous, no not one.”—Rom. 3:10

Long ago the Prophet Ezekiel confirmed God’s original pronouncement, saying that “the soul [or, being] that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4) Thus, man is still dying because man is still sinful. And, in spite of all the efforts of medicine and science, this condition will continue until man’s sin has been removed.

Jesus made this same point of the direct relationship between sin and death, and he also provided hope for man’s future destiny, on the occasion when he healed the man who was sick of the palsy. Seeing the man’s faith in his healing power, our Lord said to the sick man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Matt. 9:2) Certain of the Pharisees were critical and reasoned in their hearts: “Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?”—Mark 2:7

But Jesus discerned their thoughts and said to them; “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? … Is it easier [for me] to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” (Mark 2:1-9) Here we find Jesus clearly indicating that man’s illnesses are the result of his fallen, sinful condition; and he was directly relating man’s future healing and restitution to life to the forgiveness of his sins.

True, the Bible tells us that Christ died for our sins almost two thousand years ago. In announcing the presence of our Redeemer and Savior at his first advent, John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The Apostle John also stated that “Jesus Christ … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”—I John 2:1,2

This atonement for the sins of the world was all-inclusive. Paul declared to Felix, “[I] have hope toward God … that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) Jesus himself said that “all that are in the graves” shall hear his voice “and shall come forth,” both those who have done good and those who have done evil. (John 5:28,29) And the Apostle Paul wrote to his beloved Timothy, “God our Savior … will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:3-6

In this statement to Timothy, Paul gives us the key to the seeming delay in the blessing of the world with the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf. He says that Christ “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” In the statement quoted earlier, the Apostle John makes it clear that Christ is the propitiation, or satisfaction, “for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Thus we see that the application of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of sin is to be made in two separate parts—for “ours”; that is, for the sins of Jesus’ faithful footstep followers of the Gospel Age, and then (later, “in due time”) “for the sins of the whole world.”

Paul tells us the same thing in his letter to the church at Corinth. In that remarkable treatise on the resurrection of the dead, he writes, “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.”—I Cor. 15:22,23

During this Gospel Age the merit of Christ’s sacrifice for sin is being applied only on behalf of the faithful footstep followers of Jesus, the firstfruits of that sacrifice. Paul writes, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us [the faithful followers of Jesus].”—Rom. 8:34

On the Day of Atonement the high priest carried the blood of the sacrificed bullock into the Most Holy, there to be sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat in the presence of Jehovah. This was done on behalf of Aaron “and for his house.” (Lev. 16:6,11,14) Paul says this transaction was a picture of the presentation before God of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of the church. He writes, “For Christ [our antitypical High Priest] is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”—Heb. 9:24

After the faithful footstep followers have all finished their course and are glorified with their Lord and Savior and Christ’s kingdom is established in the earth, then will be the “due time” to testify to the world that Jesus did indeed give himself a ransom for all mankind. Then will the whole world see that Christ is the propitiation not only for the imperfections of the faithful few who will receive the heavenly reward, but for the sins of the whole world. And because the world’s adamic sins will then have been forgiven, all the rest of mankind will have the opportunity to gain perfect, everlasting human life right here on earth. This glorious future opportunity for all mankind to gain life is called the “times of restitution” by the Apostle Peter.—Acts 3:21

When Christ’s glorious kingdom is established in the earth, all who are in their graves will come forth. (John 5:28,29) Because their sins will have been forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice, all will be free from adamic condemnation and be given an opportunity to gain perfect health and everlasting life. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The inhabitants [of that wonderful kingdom] shall not say, I am sick; [because] the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.”—Isa. 33:24

Thus, in that kingdom, there will be no need for doctors, nurses, medicines, and hospitals, for there will be no illnesses—no cancer, no heart disease, no common colds, nor any such thing. There will be no blind, deaf, dumb, or lame. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.”—Isa. 35:5,6

Is it really possible for imperfect, fallen beings’ to visualize a world with no more funerals, no more blind, or deaf, or lame? A world with no mothers grieving for their suffering or lost children, no more children’s eyes filled with tears for their lost parents? A world composed of smiles and happy voices and people in the fullness of mental and physical health? A world of people filled with love and reverence for their wise and merciful Heavenly Father and for their loving Lord Jesus? A world in which all men love their neighbors as themselves and when God’s will shall be done on earth, even as it is in Heaven?

That is precisely what God has promised! In that kingdom there will be no more pain or suffering; there will be no grief for lost loved ones. And most wonderful of all, there will be no death. For “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; 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

In that kingdom all mankind will be granted free access to the one and only true fountain of youth, the gift of the Heavenly Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, to which they will be lovingly and patiently guided by their Lord Jesus and his bride: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”—Rev. 22:17

To this unmatched and unmatchable promise the great and gracious God of the universe has deigned to set his personal seal. “And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”—Rev. 21:5

As we contemplate the boundless love and mercy and wisdom of our Heavenly Father, we can only humbly join with the psalmist in his beautiful and reverent tribute to his Lord Jehovah:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” —Psalm 103:1-5

Dawn Bible Students Association
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