Essay / Culture

Tobacco and Heaven and Hell

Q. Can a man be an out and out Christian and use tobacco?

A. There are laymen and ministers who purpose to be out and out for God and to make their lives count to the uttermost for Him who do use tobacco, but their lives do not count for God as they would if they did not use tobacco, because,

First. Tobacco costs money and does the one who uses it no good and the money that belongs to God is squandered. Many professedly Christian men spend as much money every year on tobacco as would support several native workers in China or India or Africa.

Second. Tobacco is physically injurious to at least the overwhelming majority of those who use it. Some it hurts more than it does others. Many a minister’s life has been shortened by the use of tobacco. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost and we have no right to do anything that impairs their health or strength.

Third. The use of tobacco is a filthy habit. It cannot be made anything but filthy. Some are not so filthy as others in their use of tobacco but every tobacco user sooner or later becomes more or less a filthy person, and we are specifically commanded in the Word of God to “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh.”

Fourth. No person can use tobacco without infringing on the rights of other people. A man who smokes pollutes the air about him for at least 20 feet in every direction and forces others to breathe this polluted air. The man who chews, disgustingly defiles walks and floors and streets with his tobacco juice. Many a husband poisons his wife and his children with the fumes of his tobacco. The head of an institution for the care of sickly children in a British city told me that the overwhelming majority of the children that came to them for care came there because they had been poisoned by the fumes of the tobacco with which their fathers had polluted the air in the rooms in which they slept. The use of tobacco is one of the most selfish of all habits. The tobacco user, even the most careful, seems to become more or less oblivious to the rights and feelings of others.

Fifth. No man in our day can use tobacco with out losing his influence with somebody. We could give specific instances of men who in many respects are men of extraordinary power who have lost their influence, and who have done positive harm to the cause of Christ, by their use of tobacco. Every out and out Christian desires his life to count to the uttermost for God and will not do anything, no matter how innocent in itself, which he has reason to think will rob him of an ounce of influence for God with anybody. If one will stop to candidly think of it, he must know that the use of tobacco will rob him of the influence with some whom he might and ought to reach and help.

Q. What is the meaning of Acts 3:21, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began”?

A. It means exactly what it says. Through the Old Testament prophets God declared that there was a time coming when all things on earth should be delivered from the curse that had fallen upon them through sin–when the thorns and briers which grew as the result of man’s sin should become fir trees and myrtle trees (Isa. 55:13); when carnage should cease in the animal world (the wolf and the lamb feeding together and the lion eating straw like an ox, Isa. 65:23); when the wilderness should become a fruitful field (Isa. 32:15); when the wilderness and solitary place should be glad and the desert should be glad and blossom like the rose (Isa. 35:1 R.V.). This time of restoration of all things shall be in connection with the return of our Lord, and He has gone into heaven to remain there until that time.

There is no hint whatever here of the future restoration of those who have died in sin. It is not a restoration of persons that is here spoken of but a restoration of “things;” and such a restoration of things as had been spoken of by the mouth of the prophets and, of course, the prophets never hinted at a future restoration to holiness and salvation of those who have died without Christ. This is a favorite passage with those who endeavor to pervert the truth of God and teach the ultimate universal salvation of all, but there is absolutely no hint of it in the passage, and those who so use it belong to the class of whom Peter speaks as wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).

Q. “The wages of sin being death, for what ultimate purpose are the unjust resurrected?”

A. Death does not mean cessation of existence. God defines His own terms and He has defined death in His own Word. God’s definition of the death which is the ultimate outcome of persistent sin is found in Rev. 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” We find here that death means a portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. God defines destruction in a similar way in Rev. 17: 8, 11. We are told the beast goeth into “perdition.” The word here translated “perdition” is the same word that is elsewhere translated “destruction.” If we can find where the beast goeth then we will know what destruction (or perdition) means. In Rev. 19:20, we are told that the beast is cast alive into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. In Rev. 20:10, we are told that a thousand years after the beast is cast into the lake burning with fire and brimstone he is still there and consciously tormented, so it is clear from the study of the Word that the “death” and “destruction” which are the ultimate outcome of persistent sin and rejection of Christ are a portion in a place of conscious endless torment. The bodies of the wicked dead are raised to share in the awful penalty which the wicked have brought upon themselves by their sin and their rejection of Christ.

–Originally published in The King’s Business, “Questions and Answers” by R. A. Torrey (May 1913, pp. 233-34)

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