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VOL. VI. PITTSBURGH, PA., NOVEMBER, 1884. NO. 3.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
NO. 44 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- ISAIAH 55:1,2.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
Many of the household of faith looking out can see the storm coming upon the world--the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." (Dan. 12:1.) They can see the various brigades preparing for "the battle of the great day of God Almighty." There are the Socialistic "Regulars," and to their army is being added daily "Volunteers" from among the honest, well meaning mechanics, and laborers, of every kind, called together by various circumstances and with hopes of maintaining present advantages, or bettering their condition.
On the other hand as opposed to this organization, are the established governments, who seek to perpetuate their honors, titles, revenues, etc., by maintaining control over the people; and to these and their armies of paid soldiery dependent upon them, are being added volunteers also: The rich of this world see that their interests are closely linked with those of present governments to whom they must look for the protection of their interests.
The members of the true Church (whose names are written in heaven) imbued with the spirit of justice--the Spirit of Christ--can behold both of these gathering armies, see the wrongs of each, and the rights of each, and can pity and sympathize with both. They can sympathize with the poorer classes, those who have little, and have never had much, of this world's goods, and who under the clearer light of increasing knowledge on every subject, are beginning to believe that, all men were created free and equal, and to inquire why there is so unequal a division of the honors, power, and wealth, of the world as at present exists. They see that some men own tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of acres of land, which, (notably in Europe) under the Landlord system, is rented out to the masses for as much as they are able to pay; and they inquire whether if the earth is a gift of the Creator to all men, some have a real right to so much more than they use, while others have none; and whether the land should not remain as free as God's other common gifts, air and water.
They see that something is wrong, and that the present arrangement is not entirely just and equitable. The study of their rights and the rights of others, lead them to the inquiry: How came our Landlord's right to ten thousand acres while we have none? The answer comes, it was handed down from father to son for several generations; and looking into the pages of history he finds that the present landlord's great-great-great-grand-father took it by force--or stole it --from his great-great-great-grand-father. Is it any wonder that he expects a restitution of some part of it? As surely as the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof--as surely as he gave it to the people in general, so surely when he whose right the dominion is, shall take his great power and reign, there shall be Times of RESTITUTION of all things, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.)
But they know not what steps to take to obtain rights, privileges, and comforts, which they believe are God-given. They see little hope of their condition bettering --rather, they fear that as mechanical inventions increase, the result will be merely to make the rich richer, which with the increased competition among skilled and common laborers, will result in bringing down wages and making the poor poorer--which means less honor, less power, less comfort.
In this condition men are easily led, by political demagogues and Socialistic enthusiasts, onward to the conflict of the "great day."
The true Church can sympathize also with the "kings, rich men, mighty men, and chief captains," in their view of the conflict. The kings and rulers of earth have so long felt themselves to be superior to their fellow men, that they find it difficult to believe that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men." (Acts 17:26.)
Did not "BABYLON THE GREAT" acknowledge their right to rule the people? Did not the Popes in crowning their ancestors, declare that they acted as God's representatives, and that really God had crowned them? Did they not declare that their reign was "by the grace of God"--a mark of God's favor to the people? Have not all the DAUGHTERS of "Babylon the Great" (all denominations of so-called Protestantism) endorsed this policy of the "Mother of Harlots and abominations"? Do not all religious people recognized as "Wise" according to the course of this world, endorse and support the same theory? Why then should these great ones give up the privileges which they esteem far more than life? Rather they will reassert and exert their power, and drive back the "common people"; if necessary, restraining them yet more, by restricting present liberties.
Surely in the conflict they will have the support of Babylon--mother and daughters, for not only are they committed to the support of the kings of the earth whom they have declared to be of God's appointment, but they are bound by closest ties of common interest to mutually support each other. Are not the nominal churches of Europe supported directly by the kingdoms of Europe?
The great and rich men of all countries are naturally led to join this same side in the battle. Their wealth, both in money and lands, has been accumulated by methods approved both by the governments and the nominal churches, whom they in turn support with it, and from whom they expect both moral and material support and protection now. They have, perhaps, inherited their lands and the income from them for many generations, and while they have no ill-will to the tenants, they have come to consider them as semi-slaves who belong to the land. If they are manufacturers they can truthfully reason that they run risks in business and have the trouble and anxiety of its management, which should entitle them to a greater proportion of the profits than the laborer who uses his muscle only and is free from responsibility. For these reasons the rich will be on this side of the battle.
But the true Church stands separate from both these armies--sympathizes with the feelings of both, but joins neither. But she has an interest, nevertheless, in their conflict, and instructed out of the Word of the Heavenly King, she realizes what few others do, that this conflict is "The battle of the great day of God Almighty," and that "the mighty man shall weep there bitterly." (Zeph. 1:14.) It will be a day of wrath--"The great day of his wrath." He will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. (Hag. 2:22.) It is the day in which the delusions with which earth's rich men, and chief captains, or kings, and the mighty men of the nominal churches who have deceived themselves in their own favor, will all be swept away, and true rights, full liberty (to do right) and progress need no longer be fought for inch by inch, but will be firmly and forever established by earth's new King, who, at this time, takes possession of the dominion under the whole heavens. (Dan. 7:27.)
Unknown to men, he has for some time past been holding back the winds --preventing the conflict until the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3)--given an intellectual knowledge of the things coming and their relation to the plan of God in the establishment of his kingdom. The Lord reserved until its due time that which he had previously declared through the prophet, the means and agency in the overturning of the thrones of kingdoms --"knowledge shall be increased." [R684 : page 1] When ready to have knowledge increased, and through knowledge liberty, the Lord brought to men the art of printing, to which, more than any other perhaps, the overturning of every form of evil and oppression among men is traceable.
We see the various battalions now making ready; the battle-line becomes more and more apparent, and the hosts are marching to their respective positions, and soon the engagement will be general.
But what about the true Church? Has she no share in this conflict? Will she have no part in this battle of the great day? Ah! here is a weak point with many: while interested in watching the world's preparations, they neglect proper attention to their own share in this battle.--"Are there no foes for us to face?"
--"Sure we must fight if we would win."
Yes! yes!! Awake! the battle is already upon you. It begins with the house of God real, extends to the house of God nominal, and ends with the world. Be sober, be vigilant; for the fiery darts of the enemy are even now falling thick and fast about you. The battle of the great day has already commenced. The grand efforts of the adversary now, is to disarm us of our faith in the cross of Christ as the power of God unto salvation, and if possible to convert us into enemies of the cross. The alarming extent to which he has already succeeded should bid every saint that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Never, by the grace of God, never let the banner of the cross be torn down. Evidently the "offense of the cross" (Gal. 5:11) has not yet ceased. Still, it is to the Jew [and the nominal Christian] a stumbling-block, and to the Greek [all the worldly wise] foolishness, that the death of Christ bought for mankind life and liberty. Up, soldiers of the Cross--"Lift high the royal banner,
It must not suffer loss."
The preaching of "Redemption through His blood--the forgiveness of sins" (Eph. 1:7) has always been opposed by the adversary, and he has ever found able assistance but never with such persistent and deceptive effort as now.
It is well that we all should clearly see the Enemy's plan of attack. His soldiers appear clad in garments of light; they even wear aloft the name of Christ, and are divided into various companies, prominent among these being "Spiritists" and "Progressive Christians" so called, but all and everywhere they may be discerned by their opposition to the Cross. Some are more open and some more wily and mild in their opposition, but all deny the ransom--deny the very foundation of real Christianity--that we "were bought with a price" even "the precious blood of Christ." (1 Cor. 7:23; 1 Pet. 1:19.)
Will the battle be hot--will many fall? Alas! yes, a thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand. (Psa. 91:7.) A thousand to one is a very heavy slaughter, and marks the severity of the battle, but evidently pictures what we may expect before our share in the battle is complete. The thousand falling to one who will stand, is as real and truthful as the statements of the same prophet relative to the trouble coming upon the world.
Do you ask the cause of so many falling, and the means by which the few shall stand? We answer that they fall because the Apostles words have not been heeded--"Take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be ABLE to withstand in the evil day." (Eph. 6:13.) Alas! how many in the ranks have nothing but the shield of faith. The shield is very valuable, and if we could have but one piece of armor it would doubtless be the most valuable, but unless we have more we must surely fall as this conflict progresses--we will not be "able to stand" without more armor. Ah! how much we need sandals, the preparation of the Gospel which leads us to [R684 : page 2] expect and enables us to endure the sharp difficulties of the narrow way unflinchingly, as good soldiers. How much we need to be girt about with truth, with the precious promises of God's word, lest we become weary and faint. How much we need to have well in hand the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, that we may be able to keep the adversary at a respectful distance. How much need there is also for the breastplate of Christ's righteousness-- his merit recognized as covering our life, our vitals. How much need too, for the helmet, an intelligent hope of salvation-- a head-cover.
Those who are negligent about putting on the armor, and are relying solely upon their shield of faith, to meet every attack of the enemy, are making a great mistake--As the enemy's arrows ["bitter words," sarcasm, sophistry, etc.,] are showered upon you and he presses you close, you may lower your shield for a moment to note his position, and then unless you have an intellectual apprehension of the truth--a helmet--the enemy will be sure to succeed in striking you with an arrow of sophistry. Or if very guarded about your head, and busy seeking to protect your intellect by your shield of faith, you lift high the shield your breast will be exposed, and there the arrow of no ransom will strike, unless you have on the breastplate of Christ's righteousness.
Even armed with the whole armor you will barely be able to stand--so fierce the assault. With all the armor on there are chinks and openings of various sizes in our helmets (intellectual apprehensions) which demand that we still be on our guard and cast not away our shield.
Let every soldier of the Cross put on the whole armor and see well to it that it is true steel and not mere polished tin. See that it all bears the imprint and marks of the Royal Armory--the Word of God.
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
Walton Co., Fla.
C. T. RUSSELL:--Dear Brother:-- Please accept my thanks. I wish I could only tell you all I feel, but I cannot. The teaching of the TOWER seems to me to be the truth, and yet, so different from what I have been taught. I read, and am amazed and delighted, and frequently I am led to exclaim, Surely, surely, this must be the truth! My Father in heaven knows how I long to know the truth--I have prayed to be kept from error.
For some time I have not been satisfied with so-called orthodox teaching. It didn't seem to me to harmonize with God's Word, and although for a time I tried to keep "in the lines," I finally broke through and preached what I believed to be the truth. I have in consequence been persecuted and denounced as unsound in the faith. I became so disheartened that I meditated leaving the Baptist church. But where to go I knew not. When I came to examine, they all seemed to be afflicted with the same disease, and some worse off than my own denomination. Just then (it seemed an accident), a friend handed me, at meeting one day, a couple of Z.W.T., with the remark that as I was unsound, they would not hurt me to read them. Oh! how they stirred my very soul!
I am studying hard; if I become perfectly satisfied, I am done with sects and creeds. I have been lending the papers and circulating them about. Some of the strict ones are watching me. A storm is brewing for me, and I am all alone; but blessed thought, God will help. Yours in Christ,
VERY DEAR BROTHER:--I am going to write you a few lines. More and more I esteem your special work. I have been feasting on "Food," and it is rich, spiritually. When first I read of the doctrine of the presence of Christ, it was too much for me--so contrary to all I had learned in days past--but now, after months of study and meditation, I see the truth, and it is a power to the believer. Your letter of April 11th has been perused over and over, and has been of great help to me. I again thank you. The one serious and important question, if you remember, was as to how much time I should give to the Lord and how much to business. Since then, the subject has been constantly in my mind, having given it the cool and careful consideration you advised (also my method), desiring to do exactly right in the matter, desiring above all to please our Lord, and to so decide that I should gain spiritually and be enabled to do the best for others.
Well, business takes the second place, and I will give more time in studying the Word and gaining from the Lord spiritual light and direction. The Lord is revealing himself to me more and more. I pray that I may so understand him as to do the most I can to honor him in this life, to do good to all men, and "to live and move and have my being in him." I pray for wisdom, direction and blessing for you, often.
Clay Co., Dak., Oct. 14.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:--May the Lord bless you, in your work, spreading the joyful tidings of our dear Master's presence. "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God." I have often thought of writing to you; but being a foreigner, the English language don't come as natural to me. Have had the TOWER in our house for two years, and it has been the means of opening my eyes. My heart is full of gratitude to my heavenly Father. How gloriously the dawn is breaking after such a long night of darkness! For the last five years I have been earnestly looking for the coming of Jesus my Bridegroom. My path has often been narrow and difficult. Thanks to God, I can see it clearly now. What a great privilege it is to suffer with him here and share his glory there. When your paper and Food first reached me, it seemed to me I was like Peter, who was out along with the other disciples, fishing the whole night and caught nothing. When morning came, Jesus stood on the shore and they knew not that it was Jesus, but John was the first to recognize him, and told Peter, and we know the result. So it was with me, when you told me, "It is the Lord." I believed the John class, and swam ashore. Will you please send me three copies of each number of the SWEDISH WATCH TOWER; I would like to send them to Sweden, to some persons whom I know for sure are thinking Christians and Bible students. The mite enclosed ($5.00) will help pay some of the debt you are in for expense of the Swedish paper. I wish it could be more, but I am sure the Lord is able to provide in due time. "Be of good cheer," the help will come where we least expect it. I hope that some of my countrymen, or the Swedish saints, may be able to comprehend the glorious truth, and take an interest in the Swede TOWER. I know but two or three that really understand--they are old pilgrims. May God bless you abundantly, dear brother and sister Russell, is my daily prayer.
MY DEAR BROTHER:--I am glad to tell you that I am cheerfully holding on to what I have learned of "the good (not spurious) Word of God," and am still anxiously reaching for more. I receive so much comfort from the teachings of the TOWER that I read the different issues over and over again. Indeed, so helpful is the paper to me, in the understanding of God's Word, that I look for it every time as I would for a dear friend. It is next to the Bible. I am alone as yet, but the light is certainly making some impression. Babylon is visibly unstable and corrupt; her corruption is becoming so enormous, that thinking men cannot much longer submit to it; she is actually closing her eyes and ears to known filth in her ministry, as well as laity, and her order is to "hold the fort" against the light now streaming from the Word.
Delta Co., Tex.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:--Some time ago, a copy of the WATCH TOWER accidentally (?) got into my house. I read it and became interested very much; have received several numbers since, and "Food for Thinking Christians." Well, what of it? I hardly know whether to accept it or reject it; in fact, I can't reject a part of it without rejecting the Word of God. I determined many years ago not to accept or reject any theory until satisfied that the Word of God sustained it. I need not tell you this motto has made me a little "weak-kneed" on some things in my church.
I have read all you sent and am thirsting for more. I handed some of the papers to friends, though that voice, "Let no man deceive you," makes me tread cautiously; yet, "by their fruits ye shall know them" partly dispels the fear. I shall be glad if you will answer this by letter, and answer the following questions: First. Should I become convinced that yours is the true Church, and wish to join it, how should I proceed? Second. In other words, would I have to subscribe to a certain set of doctrines, the mode and design of baptism included? Third. If you have a set of doctrines your ministry are bound to subscribe to and teach, what are they?--especially with reference to baptism, its mode and design, and the conditions of pardon? I think, from what I can gather from your book and papers, that we are agreed on these things--I hope so. Can you arrange for us to have preaching on these subjects? This is, I should think, a good field of labor. Our people are ready to hear and test by the only infallible guide--the Bible. Will you please to send us, as per offer, more reading matter, especially, "The Tabernacle and Its Teachings," and whatever else you think would be good for me.
[Answers to the above questions will be found in the following articles of Z.W.T.:--"The Ecclesia," Sept., '84; "Our Sect," Oct., '83; "Justification Defined," Sept., '84; "The Two Baptisms," Oct., '84; "The Episcopal Church," this issue. When evidence is seen, "Be not faithless, but believing"-- then courageous and faithful.]
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL:--My Dear Sister in Christ:--I have longed so often to write to you, but have refrained from anything only short letters to the TOWER, on what seemed necessary. But it is almost a year since I left the M.E. Church, and myself and husband were buried in baptism. It has been such a year of rest that I must write and tell you. Of course, we have had trials; those that once spoke well of us now say strange things, but you know all about that, for all are treated alike. We have stood on the "sea of glass" almost a year, and we are not tired yet! The Word tastes just as good--yea, it grows sweeter all the time. I do wish I knew some word to write that would express my intense love for the precious Word of God, precious because it is the revelation of himself. Several years ago I promised my Lord to do whatever I should see to be duty, regardless of others' opinions, and the Lord always gave me strength to do whatever he required. As to knowledge of Scripture, I had none only the most simple; I clung to what I had, but was afraid to try to learn more. I read my Bible just exactly as a Catholic counts his beads, in reverence and in ignorance. I was afraid to study it, because friends of mine commenced studying long ago, and, seeing the error in the church, left it, and left all. They saw the error in the church, but did not see the glory in true religion; they saw the failure of man, but did not see that God has a religion that is not, and cannot be defiled by man. I feared to study my Bible, lest I should deny the Lord that bought me, and then, of a sudden, I saw that I might study--yea, I could go down into the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and he would aid me, and there was no fear of infidelity! Could I be disobedient to the heavenly vision? nay, nay, but I could praise him continually for the great joy he has given me, the unspeakable joy of knowing him. I wish we could oftener find listening ears, for it seems so selfish to have all these precious truths and not feast our friends too; but they are suspicious of us, it is seldom they will listen, and I find it a severe trial to be quiet and learn so much and say so little. We esteem the WATCH TOWER most highly, but I cannot tell you that we swallow them all instantly; sometimes we get too large a dose, and have to wait a while and apply the test, but we search the Scriptures daily, to see if these things are so, and it is wonderful what feasts we have, how could we have read the Bible so long and not know anything about it?
And now, dear sister, I have written this to you, because I love to commune with one of like precious faith, and hoping that it might prove a slight encouragement to you, if your arms are weary. I would help to hold them up, but the Lord will sustain you. We do not know each other, but we do know the same precious Saviour, and together we will praise him.
NO OTHER NAME.
The healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the temple, the wondering crowd which it excited, and the rulers who were enraged about it, and the more so because they could not deny the genuineness of the cure, all combined to afford the Apostles some rare opportunities to preach to the people. It was quite another thing to seize upon and make use of the opportunities which the miracle afforded. The Apostles, under God's power and guidance, were equal to both demands. This time it would seem as if God had guided the thoughts of the offended rulers to just those utterances which would prepare the way for the Apostles to give voice to some of the most fundamental and important truths they ever proclaimed. "By what authority and in what name have ye done this?" "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," came the answer. And then, as if forgetting the lame man and his cure, the people and their amazement, the rulers and their anger, together with all temporal and temporizing considerations, Peter swept on in thought to that larger, grander power of the crucified Nazarene to save men from the maladies and deformities of sin, and uttered those words that come ringing down to us through the ages. "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Hear it, all ye that need salvation. Accept him, and learn that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.--Selected.
HOLY COURAGE.--Holy courage characterizes every true life. The possessor of this life looks at the right, and says, "With God's help I will do it." He never for a moment asks himself the question, "Will it affect my material interests?" but only, "Is it right?" If the reply to this question is "Yes," he moves right on in the sacred path of duty, though it leads through a "burning, fiery furnace," or a lion's den. The frowns of friends, or the threats of foes move him not. His position is taken, and from it he will not be driven. When he approaches the portals of the tomb, he exclaims, "I have fought a good fight"; and when he is lowered into the grave, the very remembrance of his heroism calls forth the word, "There he lies who never feared the face of man." Such are the men who triumph over every foe, and are more than conquerors through him that loved us.--Sel.
COMMUNION with God must ever hold a higher place than service for God. Do we realize it?
HAVE FAITH IN GOD.When the stormy winds are blowing,
And the angry billows roll,
When the mighty waves of trouble
Surge around the stricken soul,
Have faith in God,
Who reigns above;
Trust in Him,
For He is love.
When the way is rough and thorny,
Danger all along the path,
When the foe is ever planning
How to crush you in his wrath,
Have faith in God;
His loving care
Shall keep you safe
From every snare.
When your eyes are dim with weeping,
And your heart is full of woe
For the loved that now are sleeping
In the cruel grave so low,
Have faith in God;
The dead shall rise
To meet the Saviour
By and by.
Are you filled with eager longing
For the night to pass away?
Are you weary of the watching
For the dawning of the day?
Have faith in God;
He is our stay;
Soon will come
The perfect day.
Are you hoping and rejoicing
In the presence of the Lord?
Are you waiting for the kingdom,
And the glorious reward?
Have faith in God;
Our King is here,
And soon his glory
TO WHOM WAS IT PAID? "Jesus died and paid it all;
All the debt I owe."
We live in a day when the wherefore and why are sought on every question. It is, therefore, to be expected that when the grand old doctrine of a ransom for sin is being attacked and scoffed at, those who hold the doctrine should not only be required to give a "thus saith the Lord" on the subject, but also that when asked to prove the reasonableness of the statement, and show how, and why, and by whom, and to whom, and on what account the ransom for sins was given, we should be ready to show it.
While it should be to all saints, and is to us, SUFFICIENT that God's Word declares that we were "bought with a price," "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ," ransomed "from the grave" by Him who "gave himself a ransom for all," etc. Yet it is gratifying to us that we are able to "give an answer to every one that asketh" on this important subject.
Let us bow before the statements of Scripture, and let us also see that they prove logically"How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for our faith in his excellent word."
Our opponents in an endeavor to make the ransom look unreasonable, ask and answer as follows, viz.: To whom can it be claimed that this ransom sacrifice of Jesus was presented or paid? To God? Surely God delights not in blood and death. God is love, why should the loving Jehovah need to be propitiated? (See "Propitiation" in July TOWER.) Was it presented to release man from death?--then it should have been presented to 'Him that hath the power of death, that is the devil.' (Heb. 2:14.) Did Jesus present the ransom sacrifice to the devil?"
By such questions and suggestions it is sought to ridicule the ransom, and thus to turn some from the plain statements of the Word. Before giving a solution of these queries, let us see how shallow is this method of reasoning. Suppose we did not know, and could not answer to whom the sacrifice of Jesus was offered, would that disprove the fact that he "was once offered to bear the sins of many?" (Heb. 9:28,) or the statement made by Jehovah that his was a "sacrifice for sin," "a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world?" (1 John 2:2.) Surely not, ignorance of reasons or causes is no argument against facts in any sane mind.
If you were asked to give a full explanation of the power and agencies which hold this world in order while revolving in space, or of any other fact the philosophy of which you imperfectly understand, would you be obliged to disbelieve and deny the FACTS because you could not explain them fully? So with the doctrine of RANSOM. Is it sensible or reasonable to ask any child of God to disbelieve the plain statements of God's Word because he cannot fully explain its every reason in detail? You believe that a grain of corn grows when planted. You do not understand and cannot explain fully, how and what the process, but do you therefore deny the fact?
Let it not be forgotten either, that some of our opponents desire to seem to hold fast to the Scripture, and hence sometimes use and quote the word ransom in such a manner as to leave the impression with some that they are in harmony with the Scripture where it occurs, but they have never yet defined the word, nor explained the texts in which it occurs with the context. Beware of such deceitful handling of the Word of God.
Now we come to the questions. Let us consider them in the reverse order: Was the ransom-sacrifice of Jesus presented to "Him that hath the power of death, that is the devil?" We answer, No, assuredly not. Satan's power, though willingly exercised by him, could not be exercised were it not permitted by the great Supreme Jehovah. And Jehovah would have permitted Satan's power and the great calamity to be inflicted upon man, had it not been that by sin he had brought it upon himself as the penalty of Jehovah's violated law.
Hence Satan's power, like that of a hangman, is a delegated "power of death." The hangman is merely the servant of the Law to execute its penalties. And Satan as the servant of the Law laid down by the Supreme Judge of all creation, permitted and used for a time as the executioner of the sentence pronounced: "The wages of sin is death," "Dying thou shalt die."
If a prisoner's ransom or fine was to be paid, it would not be offered to the Jailor or Executioner, but to (the clerk of) the Court whose law demanded it. So likewise the ransom for sin should not be paid to Satan the executor of the penalty, but to the power which condemned sin, made the penalty, and ordered the execution of the guilty.
Thus we have already suggested the answer to the first question--Was the ransom-sacrifice presented to God? Yes. Not only as above shown is it reasonable to say, that the sacrifice for sin should be presented to the one whose laws were violated, but we shall now offer scriptural proof that Jesus did present his sacrifice to God.
The sacrifices for sin, under the Law, were sin-offerings unto Jehovah. See Lev. 4:3,4,23,24,27,31,34 and 35; Exod. 30:10; Lev. 5:11,12 and Lev. 9:2,6,7, and 2 Chron. 29:7-10,20-24. These were but shadows and types of the true sacrifices for sins by which the Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world, putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and presenting himself without spot unto God. (John 1:29, Heb. 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 10:4-9.)
Having thus established by scriptural testimony, the fact that there was a ransom-sacrifice, and that it was presented to God, let us notice the objections implied in the question. Did God require blood as a satisfaction or propitiation for human sin? We answer, yes: and if Christians could take larger and fuller ideas of God and see the perfection of each of his attributes as well as the harmony of them all, the matter would appear perfectly clear and plain.
It is because Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power are all imperfect in us, that we are not quick to notice the perfect operation of these qualities in our Heavenly Father. In the fallen race Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power are continually antagonizing each other, but not so with our Father in heaven. With Jehovah, Wisdom first surveyed the field and laid out the best plan, Justice, Love and Power consenting to it, fully. Under Wisdom's direction man was placed at once, under a Law the penalty of which was the forfeit of his existence, and all the train of woes accompanying death. Wisdom foreknew man's FALL through inexperience, but felt justified in view of beneficial results--lessons, etc.
When man disobeyed, JUSTICE stepped forward, drove him from Eden and delivered him over to Satan to be buffeted by evil circumstances that the FULL PENALTY of the violated Law might be inflicted--"dying thou shalt die." While the Justice element of God's law (and character) was dealing with man, the Love element was not indifferent, but it was powerless for two reasons: first, it could not oppose Justice, and secondly, it could not at first relieve man by satisfying Justice and providing a ransom-sacrifice for sin, because that would have been in opposition to the plan marked out by infinite Wisdom: hence Love moved not to man's relief, except to encourage and instruct through promises and typical sacrifices, shadowing forth its future work. Thus was Love employed while awaiting the auspicious moment when under Wisdom's direction it might act.
Finally that moment came. It was in "the fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4,) and in the "due time" (Rom. 5:6) that God sent forth His Son, "that he by the grace [favor, love, bounty] of God should taste death, for every man." (Heb. 2:9). Herein was MANIFESTED the Love of God, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." (1 Jno. 4:9, Rom. 5:8).
Love, because exercised in harmony with the Law of God was not in conflict with Justice. Love's method was not an attempt to overrule and oppose the sentence, nor to interfere with its full execution, but to provide a substitute or ransom for man. By meeting for man the penalty inflicted by Justice (death,) Love forever releases mankind from the Adamic curse (death) inflicted by Justice. This was Love's triumph no less than the triumph of Justice. Its triumph was in the offering of the acceptable ransom-sacrifice which Jesus presented to Justice--the element of God's character which enforces his righteous decree and penalty.
But Love's triumph was not yet complete, Wisdom had marked out a course which not only should thus redeem man, but by which he should be lifted back to perfection, and that under circumstances favorable to his everlasting continuance in well doing.
The plan was no less than the selection from among the redeemed ones of a "little flock" which through much tribulation and severe trial should be "accounted worthy" to be associated with Jesus in the work of restoring mankind to its original and perfect state. Hence, Love is still at work and soon, aided by the Power of Omnipotence, will in the Millennial age, complete its work in the resurrection, restitution, blessing, of all the families of the Earth.
Thus it is seen, that in our Father's plan all his attributes take their proper part and place, and the result will be a grand triumph of all, demonstrating to angels and to men that His Justice, Wisdom, [R686 : page 3] Love and Power are each infinitely perfect and that together they work out harmoniously His benevolent designs.Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
A RIVER THAT MAKES GLAD.
"There is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early."--Psa. 46:4,5.
The preceding and succeeding words of this Psalm indicate a time of great and wide-spread trouble and distress, which is here very graphically described in symbolic language: the earth is removed, the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, the waters thereof roar and are troubled, and the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
These things were not true, either in a symbolic or in a literal sense, in the day in which it was written, nor is it yet fully accomplished. The writer spoke as moved by the Spirit of God, and, like the other Prophets, uttered many things which he did not understand, they being written for our admonition and instruction, in whose day only the application is due.
The great bulk of prophecy was dark and mysterious, alike to Jew and Gentile, until Jesus and the Apostles, under the direct inspiration of the same Spirit that dictated them, gave us the keys to unlock their hidden meaning, never designed to be understood until God's "due time" should come; and then only by the consecrated in Christ Jesus. These will give their consecrated time and labor and patient thought in applying the keys to the various locks, and these alone receive the rich reward--the meat in due season.
We find that earth, in symbol, signifies human society as at present organized; that sea is a symbol of the unrestrained and uncontrolled masses of mankind not submissive to either civil or religious control; that mountains symbolize the great ruling powers of earth--the kingdoms of this world. We find that this interpretation of these symbols is applicable throughout the Scriptures wherever these terms are used symbolically.
In order to get the idea conveyed here, let us read verses 1 to 3, using the interpretation instead of the symbol: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will we not fear, though the present organization of society be dissolved, and though the kingdoms of earth be overthrown and swallowed up by a revolution of the people who will refuse to be longer ruled by them."
If a literal mountain were cast into the midst of the sea, it would quickly be swallowed by the sea; so will it be with the kingdoms of earth when overthrown by the turbulent masses of discontented people who are now mustering their hosts and disseminating their revolutionary principles under names now universally recognized--Communism, Socialism and Nihilism, etc.
This revolutionary spirit has not yet reached its climax; the earth is not yet removed; nor are the mountains yet carried thus into the midst of the sea: but the events of verse 3 have come to pass. The waters of the sea [the discontented peoples] roar and are troubled. We hear the roaring of the troubled waters from every quarter of the globe, and truly the mountains [kingdoms] shake with the swelling thereof. There is not a government on earth that does not realize that these are perilous times, and in consequence of this fact, each is taking special precautions to protect itself against the rising power of its own subjects--the roaring, troubled waves of the sea.
This is the extent to which the events foretold in prophecy have at present ripened, and the rising storm will, from present indications, require only a few years to reach its terrible climax, overthrowing and swallowing up in anarchy and confusion all the kingdoms of earth. A few more years and the prophecy of verse 2 will find its complete fulfillment, just as surely as we now realize the fulfilling of verse 3.
But who is it that finds a refuge of peace and safety in the very midst of the shaking and dissolving kingdoms? Evidently it is the class spoken of in verse 4 as "the city of God," dwelling in "the holy" of the tabernacle of the Most High. In symbol we find that [R686 : page 4] city represents a church, an ecclesiastical kingdom, true or false. The city of God, then, means the kingdom of God-- the Church. As referred to here, it is not the kingdom set up and glorified, else it would be represented as in the Most Holy. [See "Tabernacle Teachings," pages 5 and 11.] But it is the kingdom of God--the true Church, in its present condition--the wholly-consecrated children, not the mere outward professors. "There is a river," a river of truth, the blessed streams whereof makes glad this city of God.
How many of us have been refreshed, especially of recent years, by these blessed streams of truth! Though we hear the roaring of the troubled sea, the murmuring and threatening of discontented and oppressed people, and feel the shaking of the kingdoms with the swellings thereof; and though we know that the dreadful result will be universal anarchy and the complete overthrow of all governments, yet we fear not, for "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
But our peace and composure, in view of these things, is not a selfish condition which rejoices in its own security regardless of the woes of others. Ah no; for the streams of truth have brought to us the blessed assurance that"Sweet accord shall grow at length
From out this clash of earthly discords."
Men fear and tremble as the storm approaches, and will be in utter dismay when it bursts, yet the Church [all truly consecrated saints] shall not be moved. "God shall help her, and that right early." Even now she is being strongly fortified with the truth which shall protect her. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
In verse 8 the Prophet carries us down to the time, and bids us view the scene, when these things will have been actually accomplished, saying, "Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire."
What! is it the Lord that thus makes the earth desolate? Yes, Isaiah also expresses it so, saying, "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof." (Isa. 24:1.)
But have we not just seen that the trouble and destruction is to be accomplished by a general uprising of discontented and ungovernable people? by such a revolution as Communists, Nihilists and Socialists contemplate? Yes, as verse 6 states it, "The heathen [lit., nations] raged," and as a consequence "the kingdoms were moved." "He [God] uttered his voice; the earth melted."
Truth on every subject, however, or by whomsoever uttered, is the voice of God. And it is the dissemination of truth, the voice of God, among the masses of mankind, that is awakening them to a keen sense of the inequalities existing under the present social organization, and this prompts them to assert their equal rights with their fellows and to make desperate efforts to obtain them.
But human effort will not be able to accomplish that which is desired. The dreadful result will only be anarchy and wide-spread confusion, the earth will melt, organized society will be dissolved. And when human effort has spent itself, and men realize their own inability to rightly adjust affairs among themselves, God speaks through his prophet, saying, "Be still, and know that I am God." And wearied and discouraged at their own efforts, men will hear, for, it is written: "When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9.) [R687 : page 4] Then, too, they will learn that "The Lord of Hosts is with us," and that Christ is present to rule and reign, and he will be exalted among the nations, he will be exalted in the earth. They will realize that the God of Jacob is their only refuge.
"And many people shall say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord [let us seek protection and render obedience to the kingdom of the Lord], and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths." (Isa. 2:3.)
While the message, "Be still, and know that I am God," will have a special application to the world at the time just referred to, it is applicable to the Church now. Amid the clashing creeds of the many great organizations claiming to be the Church, and claiming the support of the Scriptures for their various theories, and yet denying and mystifying their teachings, God's voice comes to his consecrated children, saying, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth."
Those who obey, who bid their own wills, their prejudices, etc., be still, are learning now from God's word the blessed truth that the Lord's Anointed is even now present to set up his kingdom under the whole heavens, enforcing the will of God on earth as in heaven by abolishing evil and restoring the race to fellowship with God. Then all may partake freely of the river of truth, the streams whereof, even now, make glad the city of our God--the saints.
Another thought is suggested by this Psalm, viz., that some at least of the little flock who are to be joint-heirs with Christ will remain in their present condition, in the flesh, until the now threatening and rising storm shall have at least partially accomplished the overthrow of the present kingdoms--until the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. This is also in harmony with what we have learned with reference to the part the same class take in pouring out the seven last plagues of Rev. 16. See, Z.W.T., of June and July, 1883.
To persuade is to convince or teach. Every Christian should "be fully persuaded in his own mind"; that is, he should exercise his mind in the study of God's revelation, so as to know just what he believes, and the scriptural reason for his belief. Thus the Apostle responded and testified concerning "the kingdom of God, persuading men concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets, assisting the willing ones to make up their minds, and to recognize in Jesus the crucified, the one typified in the sacrifices of the Law, and referred to in the Prophets-- the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world--putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself, being delivered for our offences, but raised for our justification, in which risen and glorified condition, he shall soon fulfill all the prophetic declarations of glory and blessing.
After summing up the evidence of God's love as revealed in the fact that "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" and that since "It is Christ that died" for our sins, and thus became our ransom price from sin's penalty, the Apostle says no one has a right to condemn us, for surely God who has justified us through this offering of his Son, would not now condemn us. Then he concludes his strong argument by saying, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD which is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:38.) All God's love and mercy and blessings come to the race in and through Jesus and his work--"through whom are all things, and we in him."
But in the Scripture under consideration, the Apostle refers to a teaching or persuasion which was being advanced in the Church, which he assures them is not of God. This shows the necessity of guarding our judgments, so that we be persuaded only of God, and not by the adversary, even though he should present his persuasion through some of those who have been recognized as teachers in the Church.
Let us closely examine this evil persuasion here referred to, that we may judge whether it is being now used to "trouble" the Church. The Apostle's argument as shown by the preceding context, is not against the Law. No, that is the common way of viewing the matter, but an incorrect view. The law was the law of God, hence could not be bad. It was the same law, of which the same Apostle declares: The law is just and holy and good. (Rom. 7:12.) It is manifestly incorrect then to suppose that he is here opposing the law. His argument is, that because of inherited condemnation and weakness, the law could not justify any to life: that is to say, no one would be counted worthy of everlasting life on account of right doing, (keeping the law,) because all are imperfect and sinful by inherited nature and none could keep the law perfectly.
It was because the keeping of the law could not justify (declare just, or righteous, or pure) any one, but on the contrary, reproved and condemned all, that Jesus came and gave himself a ransom for all, to thus redeem us from our inherited curse. Hence while the Law is good, it was useless as a justifier of sinners, for it condemned totally all who did not harmonize with it perfectly.
The Apostle was writing to Christians at Galatia, some who had been heathens. They had originally received the correct idea, that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures," and that through his blood we have redemption [from the curse of sin] even the forgiveness of sins. (Gal. 3:1 and 1:4.) But their early trust in Christ's redemptive work had been disturbed by some Christianized Jews, who, while calling themselves Christians, were denying the very foundation fact of Christianity, viz.: that Jesus' death cancelled the sins of all who accepted of him as their Redeemer and Saviour.
They did not deny Jesus, else the Galatians would have been unmoved by their teachings. But calling themselves Christians, and confessing that Jesus was a notable and worthy EXAMPLE, they denied the ransom--they denied that there was "redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:14.) They claimed that Jesus' example was good, yet if any would be saved, they must accomplish their salvation by good works, and observance of the law --circumcision, etc. That these were the facts, is evident from the Apostle's language throughout this epistle.
The very first chapter makes it very prominent: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you INTO THE GRACE OF CHRIST unto another gospel, which is not [really] another [Gospel]; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert [turn] the gospel of Christ." (Gal. 1:6,7.) We should note the fact that the Apostle clearly and distinctly shows here that the true gospel was that of grace or favor through Christ.
The gospel says, Here, take salvation as a gift, a favor of God through Christ. Jesus has made of himself a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins; he died the just for the unjust and now presents us with the fruits of his sacrifice--free, for the taking of it. That which you could not win by your own service and merit, you may have free, it is the Lord's bounty or grace, a "free gift," purchased for you with his own precious blood. This was indeed glad tidings.
But this other gospel to which some invited them, Paul assures them was not really glad tidings at all; it was simply the Jewish law of salvation by merit and obedience, supplemented by the name and example of Jesus. But, as all may see, this would do little good, for the name of Jesus is nothing except as it means a Saviour from sin and its penalty. (See Matt. 1:21.) Jesus' example as a perfect man was so far beyond their ability to follow, that thus they must come short, for his example was nothing less than the fullest expression of their LAW, under which, their experience as well as the Apostle's words, proved that none could be justified to life. Hence it is that the Apostle declares, that merely linking the example and name of Jesus to the Law, did not constitute another Gospel or good news, for there was nothing in it which could give them life. Under it they would still be in their sins; hence still under the death penalty. He marvels that they should turn from justification through the sacrifice of Jesus, and attempt to justify themselves by following his example and keeping the law.
The Apostle argued against "this persuasion" or doctrine, which endeavored to base salvation upon the keeping of the law and following Jesus' example, instead of on the merit of his sacrifice freely imputed to all who would accept of it.
To present the matter very pointedly before them, he declares that they must choose one of two ways, for God had provided only the two and they could not be blended: Either they must hold to the law and hope for eternal life through obedience to it, gaining all the help they can from the examples of Jesus, [R688 : page 4] and prophets, etc., or else on the other hand renounce all these and flee to the merit of Christ's obedience and sacrifice alone. His words are, "I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing"--that is to say, the rite of circumcision, if practiced, is an evidence that you are hoping to justify yourselves by your own works, and not trusting to the merits of Jesus' sacrifice; and if not trusting in the merits of Jesus' sacrifice for your sins, then you are still under sin and its penalty as much as though that sacrifice for sin had not been made; for you are not grasping its advantages, and to be had, they must be laid hold of by faith in him as your sin bearer. "Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace [favor]. (Gal. 5:2,4.) You, who seek by works, to justify yourselves and free yourselves of the condemnation resting upon you, are relying upon that for salvation, whether you call yourselves Christians and follow his example, or whether you call yourselves Jews and follow the example of Moses and the prophets. The principle is the same. You are turning from and rejecting the grace--the favor--THE FREE GIFT of God through Christ, by endeavoring to obtain everlasting life without recognizing the ransom which God provided, and which Jesus freely gave.
PRESENT FORM OF THIS PERSUASION.
We know of none to-day who are turning to the law, as such, though they are turning to the law in the sense that they are turning to works, to good deeds, self-denials and Jesus' example (which was keeping the law and justification to life thereby) as the basis of hoped-for future life. They thus turn to an ungiven and unwritten law, which they think ought to insure God's favor and blessing of endless life, just as these Galatians turned to the Law given to Israel with its promises of life. Both these of to-day, and those whom Paul addressed, have forgotten or failed to see, that because of sin and depravity, we cannot render perfect works to God, and that God's great comprehensive law, as well as its brief synopsis given to Israel, condemns as unworthy of life--worthy of death--every creature which cannot, and does not, fulfill its every requirement perfectly. If they realized this, they would see the uselessness of presenting to God anything short of PERFECTION, with any hope of its acceptance and reward. Hence the Apostle assures us that "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be JUSTIFIED." (Rom. 3:20.) This being true, there is no other "way" (John 14:6; 10:1) and "none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved," than Jesus, and the way he opened up when he "gave himself a ransom for all," and thus opened up a new way to life. (1 Tim. 2:6.) The way of the Law (works) had been offered to the sinful and condemned Jew for 1800 years, and had never justified one of them, hence they should have been ready for the new way brought to their attention through the glad tidings, viz., that Jesus had cancelled the claims of justice against both Jew and Gentile by meeting all its requirements in his own person, on which account God could be just when he justified [declared righteous and worthy of life] those who, by believing in the ransom, had their sins blotted out and Jesus' righteousness imputed to them. (Acts 3:19; Rom. 4.)
O, thoughtless Galatians, who has deluded [R688 : page 5] you? [This might be fitly applied to those of our day who are turning from free grace assured by Jesus' ransom, to look for grace as the result of their own sacrifices,] before whose eyes Jesus Christ was previously represented as having been crucified and for our sins.
Beloved let us not forget that "This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you," through whomsoever it comes; even though it might come through an angel from heaven, it is from the Adversary. It "cometh not from him that calleth you." But while rejecting "this persuasion," "cast not away your confidence" in Christ and the promises which God has made, which have a great recompense of reward. Be fully persuaded in your own minds--not satisfied to accept of any testimony or persuasion not well sustained by the word of the Lord. Then with Paul you will be "persuaded" that God is "for us," and that his favor is manifest in that "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up [to death] for us all" [as our ransom]. And if we are thus justified by God's own act, and through his own arranged sacrifice for sins, He certainly no longer condemns us. Who can condemn us while we know that "It is God that justifieth" us? Who could condemn us longer, when it is known that "It is Christ that died" on our behalf, "the just for the unjust"? Nor can anything separate us from such love.
FAITH AND WORKS.
The relationship between faith and works is simple and clear when seen from a scriptural standpoint, yet very obscurely recognized by the great majority.
Works can never justify us, nor so long as we are under the imperfections resultant from sin can God recognize works at all. He is perfect, and cannot accept or enjoy that which is imperfect. Since of the Adamic race there are none righteous, no not one, it follows that Jesus' works only are well pleasing and acceptable to God.
But here comes in the province of FAITH. Jesus having "died for our sins," faith may grasp the fact that he bore our sins in his own body on the tree and appropriated to us the freedom from sin--justification which results. Thus we are justified and brought into fellowship with God, not by our own works, but by FAITH in the works which Jesus did for us; and as a result of our faith in the thoroughness of Jesus' work and its acceptableness to God as a "propitiation [satisfaction] for our sin," we realize that "there is now therefore no condemnation" resting upon us in Jehovah's sight. Our works alone could not accomplish this result, and to attempt to add them to the perfect work which Jesus did for us would be to doubt the perfection and completeness of Jesus' work--his sacrifice--and thus to lose all our interest in it; for it is imputed to us as a result of faith.
Thus it appears that our works are ruled out entirely, and have no share in justifying us to life. What, then, is the value and province of works on our part? We reply that when faith has grasped and appropriated justification through Jesus' work, then we reckoned of God as thus freed from sin, can bear fruit, i.e., perform works acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The works of many justified ones are really no better, and perhaps through a larger share in the Adamic fall and depravity, not actually so good as many others, yet from God's standpoint the works of those justified by faith in Christ's work are counted absolutely perfect, both the works and the person being acceptable to God by or through the implied or imputed merits of Jesus. On the contrary, he who accepts not of Jesus' ransom is not justified; hence, neither himself nor his works would be acceptable to God. He abides still under the condemnation [the same word elsewhere translated damnation]--that is on the world. (Rom. 5:18; Jno. 3:18.)
The whole world, as tried representatively in Adam, was found disobedient and condemned to the penalty prescribed, viz., excommunication from God and final extinction of being. This penalty still remains, and is strictly enforced. (Rom. 5:16.) Consequently the grand aim of all should be, not to avoid being condemned--it is too late for that, all are condemned. (Rom. 5:18.) Our object must be to escape [from] the condemnation that is on the world.
There is only one way to escape, and that is an absolutely certain and perfect way. God provided it. You cannot escape by your own righteousness [truly we have none; yours and mine are only "filthy rags,"] even as you were not condemned for your own sin. We are condemned on account of another's sin, and a way of escape has been provided through a ransom given on our behalf.
ESCAPE FROM CONDEMNATION.
We got into condemnation without our choice, but cannot get out of it without our choice, but the conditions for escape are so simple and easy that all shall be without excuse. It is simply "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
But to believe on him means more than at first appears, perhaps. It does not mean that men shall simply believe that such a man lived and died, nor even that, in addition, he rose again and is now highly exalted; nor that, in addition to these, he was a good man who set an excellent example. Nay, it means more. The names here given indicate it--Lord, and Jesus, and Christ. The belief which releases from condemnation sees him as Lord, or Master and Ruler. It sees him also as Jesus, Saviour, Deliverer, for such is the significance of the word. It sees him also as the Christ, the one anointed as Jehovah's representative. [R689 : page 5]
Christians frequently say to worldly people, "If you don't stop your course and reform, you will be lost," and receive the reply, "We are as good and honorable as many you think will be saved," and the entire argument is wasted and the truth obscured. Let the world know that it is lost--is "condemned already," and that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost to make a way of escape from the condemnation already upon mankind. Show them the necessity of the ransom given and the real and blessed results of that ransom obtainable by faith in the Lamb of God, and it will have a convincing effect.
But does some one enquire, What! have believers actually escaped what the world is still under? We reply, They have escaped the excommunication, condemnation, which came upon man, and now they have access to God and "fellowship with the Father," things from which the sinner was debarred as soon as the penalty went into execution. Thus we, who had been far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:13.) Our access is not complete yet, for outward manifestations of God's favor are not yet granted, only that which is by faith. But this is precious, and the other will shortly be ours.
Another result of the ransom, another part of the condemnation which believers escape, is death. We now by faith only realize on the strength of God's word and the evidence before us that Jesus bore the penalty of our sins in his death, and on the strength of the reconciliation already effected, as one of its results, BELIEVE and realize that we are passed from death unto life. Eventually this blessing shall be realized in full when we are perfected and like our Lord in glory. To this escape from condemnation we may invite all in the name of our Lord Jesus and through the merit of his sacrifice.
But do some enquire, If belief is essential to escape from condemnation, how will it be with those who have died without faith or knowledge of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus? If belief must precede escape, does it not seem that such have no hope?
We answer: Your difficulty arises from too narrow a view of the escape from death. You use it as though it meant to raise from the tomb, as for instance, Lazarus, Jarius' daughter and others, but its use in Scripture is more comprehensive, viz., a full, complete escape from all the penalty of sin; this would include the removal of pain, sickness, etc., as incidents to death and excommunication from God. The "widow of Nain's son" was raised, but not to perfection of life; he did not escape the condemnation; hence was still liable to pain and sickness, and again passed into Adamic death.*
*It is evident that those "raised" from the tomb, when they returned to it a few years after, did not experience the "second death." Yet, if they had been FULLY lifted out of the first, it would have been a "second death." This proves that RESURRECTION, or a complete recovery from Adamic death, means a full release from all its power, a bringing back or restitution to original perfection.
But in the Millennial Age all the world is to be "raised" in like manner, and brought to a knowledge of the truth, and will thus reach a basis for faith, by the exercise of which they may escape completely from the condemnation, and come into the full perfection of being and communion enjoyed by Adam before sin.
Thus, it is evident from God's plan that all men shall be brought to a position where faith in the ransom will be possible, and it is equally clear that none will be covered by its "propitiation" who do not recognize and acknowledge it, for no man cometh unto [into communion and fellowship with] the Father but by Jesus.
THE CLEANSING MAINTAINED.
If our escape from sin and its condemnation is by a ransom for Adam's sin, what shall we conclude concerning errors, omissions and transgressions now committed by those who have escaped and who have been JUSTIFIED from Adamic sin? Would not the least sin on our part bring us again under condemnation? And would not this require another sin-offering to ransom us afresh and enable us to again escape from condemnation?
The lack of a reasonable answer to these reasonable questions has confused many on the subject of ransom. They say, If God can and does forgive recent offences without a ransom, why did he not do so with the original offence, the Adamic transgression?
The answer is simple and very clear: Our Lord's sin-offering cancelled fully the Adamic sin and all guilt which came by or through it in any way. Sin, as it is in the world, is entirely traceable to Adam's sin. The impaired moral and physical nature which you received from your parents (and they from them back to Adam) is the fruitful source of your besetments to sin, and the open door by which you are easily assailed by the adversary. Hence, when you would do good, evil is sometimes presented so as to mislead and entice your degenerated nature into sin. This sin is traceable to the Adamic transgression; hence it is covered by the ransom. Whosoever, then, has by faith laid hold upon the ransom and escaped condemnation, finds ample assurance in our Father's word that the blood of Jesus not only covers the sins that are past, but also all those present and future, not willful, but occasioned by the inherited weakness of the flesh.
This grand truth is clearly expressed by the Apostle. (1 Jno. 1:7,8.) He is writing of himself and fellow believers, who by faith in Christ have been justified and have escaped the condemnation, and says: "If we say that we have no sin [i.e., actual sin; if we claim that our every word, thought and deed is perfect], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we [and Jehovah] have fellowship one with another [God and we], and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
What a beautiful thought--what a glorious truth! Though still actually imperfect, only reckoned righteous, still liable to and sometimes overcome by evil because of inherited weakness, yet, by walking in the light, we may maintain our communion with God, and may realize, on confession, the forgiveness of every sin and that the precious blood-- the ransom--keeps us clean from every stain of sin. Thus, and in no other way, can we "keep our garments unspotted from the world. (James 1:27.) Our robes of righteousness presented to us by our Lord as the fruit of his sacrifice, our wedding garment needful to a place at the marriage of the Lamb, would soon be defiled were it not for the continued efficacy of the cleansing blood.
To this, his plan, by which he can be just and yet justify him that believeth, God invites us, saying; "Come, let us reason together [I will make clear and plain to you how]: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be [deep] red like crimson [a fast color], they shall be as wool." Yes: "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." (Isa. 1:18; 1 John 1:7.)
RANSOM AND TESTIMONY: WILL THEY BECOME CO-EXTENSIVE. 1 TIM. 2:1-6.
The writer of this epistle was a large-hearted man. There was a special place in his heart for special believers, and another for his kinsmen according to the flesh, and room to spare for all other men without exception. "I desire (says he), that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." His heart expanded with the right feeling, because his eye was fixed on the right model. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge, of the truth." And that he had the right conception of the right model was to him clearly demonstrated in the most matter-of-fact way. "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." It is this matter-of-fact proof that God "will have all men to be saved," which at present demands the utmost attention. It is comprised of two parts--first, the fact and its meaning; and second, the testimony which is to be given respecting it.
I. The Fact and its meaning. The fact is one of our foundation facts--the death of Christ. The meaning of the fact is that he "suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"--he "died for our sins according to the Scriptures"--or, as here expressed, he "gave himself a ransom for all." At this point it may be asked,--
1. What is a ransom? It means the price paid to redeem from captivity or punishment. It is something which has been paid for something which has been forfeited; and the one is considered to be the equivalent of the other. Here another question arises,--
What was forfeited? To answer this question, we revert back to the cradle of our race. Adam, we are told, was "the son of God." He has no human father --he derived his life direct from its source. He was made in the image or likeness of God; and to him was given [R690 : page 5] dominion over all the earth and all that it contained. Head of the human race and Lord of its home, he was pronounced by the highest authority "very good." He was placed under law. It was plain and positive, and its penalty-- death. He broke that law, and immediately came under its penalty. The life thus forfeited was not his own individual life merely, but being the head of the race, the life of the entire race was forfeited in him. Human life then being the forfeit, and its extent universal,--
What of the ransom? It was equal to the forfeit, human life, and its extent universal. Every particular in which Adam was different from his progeny, Jesus was his equal. He was born of the virgin, Son of God, image of God, Lord of earth, federal head, the holy from his mother's womb. Here analogy between the two Adams seems to end. When tempted, the first Adam fell, and involved all mankind in his degradation and punishment. [R690 : page 6] When tempted, the last Adam resisted--resisted unto death, even the death of the cross, and involved all mankind in his righteousness and self-sacrifice. The most unimpeachable testimony was given to his sinlessness. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," and "without spot" he offered himself to God. This was giving life for life--human life for human life--untainted human life for untainted human life. This was paying an equivalent price. Justice demanded this. It demanded no more. It could accept no less. The pre-existence of Christ is not forgotten, any more than his present existence, but these are not our present theme. It was not angelic life that was forfeited. Nor was it divine life (were that possible). It was human life. For this special purpose He took part of "flesh and blood:" and the demands of justice were fully met when the "Holy One" tasted death for "every man." Some have asked,--
2. How can the death of one man be equivalent to the death of every man? We may ask another question: How can the sin of one man be equivalent to the sin of every man? The answer to the one question will be the answer to the other. We know of only one way in which these questions can be answered. These two men--Adam and Jesus--were equal. They were federal heads; and the only two men who ever occupied that position. Through the sin of the one death fell upon our entire race, and through the death of the other that dread penalty was exhausted. By the one act the old Adamic account was opened, and by the other that account was closed. The account now stands square--the engagements on the one side being equal to the liabilities on the other. It is true that some of the engagements have not as yet matured, but, thank God! they are of such a nature that not one of them can fail. This is no human theory. There is no truth more plainly stated in the Divine Word. Paul is specially strong and clear on these points. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, in whom (margin) all have sinned. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous....That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:12,19,21). Another question arises here:
3. As the ransom of man has been paid, why do the living continue to die, and the dead remain dead? Because the resurrection hour has not come yet. In God's plan there is a time for everything. "When the fulness of the time was come God sent forth his Son;" "in due time" he paid down the price of man's redemption; and when the appointed hour comes round he will claim his purchased property. "Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done ill unto the resurrection of judgment." R.V. (John 5:28,29.) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." (Hosea 13:14.) Yet another question on this part of our subject claims an answer:
4. Seeing that Christ died a ransom for man, how was it that he did not remain dead? By rising again, did he take back the price of redemption? If he did, there is no hope for us. But he did not, thank God! he did not. The life forfeited was human life--flesh and blood life. The life given in ransom was the same. That was never taken back. Peter makes this point very plain. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in (R.V.) the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18.) Had he been quickened in the flesh, as some contend, there might have been the appearance of taking back the ransom. But he was not. He was quickened (made alive) in the spirit. The Apostles had known Christ "after the flesh," but a time came when Paul wrote, "even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more." (R.V., 2 Cor. 5:15.) At his resurrection he became the "first-born" of a new race. On one side of his grave he was "like unto his brethren"--flesh and blood, and on the other he is "the Lord the Spirit," "a life-giving Spirit," and so on. There is no ground here for reasonable objection, doubt, or even uncertainty. The ransom paid was equal to the forfeit; and having been once paid, it remains always paid. It is for those who have not as yet accepted this glad message to welcome it to their hearts now. You have no guarantee that ever you will hear it repeated; and it is for those who are not obeying "the Lord that bought them" to yield to his paramount claims now. No other lord has any such claim upon you. "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." This brings us up to the other part of our subject,--
II. The testimony respecting this great fact. The Apostle says, it is "to be testified in due time."
1. What is to be testified? That Christ gave himself a ransom for all. That great fact was never intended to remain a secret. In the divine plan means were devised for establishing it beyond the possibility of reasonable doubt, and for publishing it to all concerned. In the immediate context the Apostle writes, "whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle...a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity." As an Apostle, he bore witness to the fact; as a Preacher, he proclaimed the glad tidings based upon it; and as a Teacher, he expounded its meaning. These are some of the different aspects in which the same thing is viewed. To say that this fact is to be testified in due time, is, in other words, to say that its gospel is to be preached in due time, or that its doctrine is to be taught in due time. There are some six, or more, words used by the Apostles, each setting forth a different aspect of this one and the same thing.
2. Who is to testify it? It is sometimes called "the testimony of God," and sometimes "the testimony of Christ." Sometimes "the Spirit's" testimony, and sometimes that of the Apostles and Prophets. It originated in God, it was given in the power of the Holy Spirit, and its words were uttered by the Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets. It varies as to time, and manner, and agent, and accompaniment, but it never varies as to origin. It is God's testimony. Hence John argues, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater ...he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son" (1 Jno. 5:9,10). It is well for man that it is God's testimony. This not only puts its credibility beyond a doubt, but it makes it certain that it will reach every one for whom it was intended. Referring to the word which goeth forth out of his mouth, God has said, "It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isa. 55:11.)
3. Why is it to be testified? Because the testimony is as necessary as the fact itself. Without the testimony the fact would remain without any moral result. Physical results you can have without information, but to have moral results, information is absolutely indispensable. That the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, is a stupendous fact; but it has no moral power except where it is known. Paul puts this matter beyond a doubt. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?... So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:13-17.) There are, of course, other effects produced by the death of Christ than those to be found in the mind, heart and character of man, but the purpose of God in that death can never be fully accomplished until man is brought intelligently under its saving influence.
4. To whom is it to be testified? The obvious answer to this question is, to whomsoever it may concern. The ransom being for all, all are vitally interested in it, and therefore it is to be testified to all. Universal ransom and universal testimony are twin-elements of one scheme. Limit either of them and the scheme is mutilated. Formerly, many limited both. Now many admit the universality of the ransom, and deny that the testimony concerning it will ever become universal; but the two must stand or fall together. This point, however, is not to be settled by any inferential reasoning. The question for us is, what saith the Scriptures? and our quotations will be of the most familiar description. [R691 : page 6] In the preceding verse Paul says God "will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2,3,4.) This being so, the truth must be preached to all men. How else could all men come to a knowledge of it? In a succeeding chapter he says, God is "the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe" (4:10). Here faith is the dividing line between all men and a class, testimony always precedes faith, therefore testimony must be given to all men. In writing to Titus, the same Apostle says, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared" (2:11). It being characteristic of the grace of God to bring salvation to all men, and that grace having appeared, it can never disappear until it has accomplished its mission. "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2:10.) The angel of the Lord says, that the good tidings shall be to all the people. Who is man, and what is he, that he dare say that the good tidings shall not be to all people? "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32.) This, of course, is figurative, but the teaching is plain. Jesus says that he will draw all men unto him, men cannot be drawn until they hear of him, therefore, all men are to hear of him. "That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9.) This, too, is figurative, and the teaching is equally clear. Jesus is the true light which lighteth every man, he cannot be light to any man until he has heard of him, therefore, every man is to hear of him. Whether, therefore, we appeal to Paul, or to John, to the angel of the Lord, or to the Lord himself, the evidence here given only in sample, is plain and conclusive. And as the words which are used proving the extent of the testimony --"all people," "all men," "every man," and so on--are the same as those which are used proving the extent of the ransom, the conclusion is inevitable that ultimately the testimony will become coextensive with the ransom.
5. And when is it to be testified? According to the A.V. the apostle says, "in due time;" but according to the E.D., the R.V., and other authorities, the word rendered "time" is plural; and therefore we ought to understand Paul as saying, "in due times, or seasons." Those times are partly past, partly present, and partly future. The Apostle Peter refers to prophetic testimony given respecting the redeeming work of Christ before he appeared in the flesh, (1 Peter 1:10,11.) God Himself more than once in an audible voice bore witness to His Son in connection with his work. And Christ himself, while upon the earth, testified respecting it. On leaving the earth he spake of other witnesses who were to continue this testimony. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:26,27.) In the plentitude of the Spirit's power given unto them, the apostles prosecuted their mission while they lived. Several of them sealed their testimony with their own blood, and bequeathed it as their legacy to their children in the faith. Since the last of the twelve fell asleep, up to the present hour, this testimony has been repeated with varying success; and we expect a similar repetition of it up to the end of the present age. The question arises here. And what after that? Does this testimony end with the present age? We cannot believe it. Some tell us that testimony is being given in the "intermediate state," only they give us no evidence of its possibility; so we only look to the resurrection state for the completion of this testimony. Ransom is for all men; that is "to be testified in due times." A very large proportion of mankind have died without hearing the testimony; they cannot hear it when they are dead, and therefore they will hear it after they are raised from the dead. The "due times" began when this testimony was first given to our redeemed race; they have been going on ever since, and they cannot end until every man has heard the gladsome sound. "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."
III. In conclusion, permit a few words of caution and discrimination. First, as to the ransom:
1. Those who say that Jesus was literally "the son of Joseph," "tainted with sin," had to "offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people's," and so on, should pause and ponder well their position. Were those and kindred propositions true, the ransom would not be equal to the forfeit, and therefore it could not in justice be accepted.
2. When men teach that Jesus rose as he died--"mortal," their doctrines seem to imply that the price paid for our redemption was taken back again. Were that so, it would leave us entirely without hope, as much so as though Christ had never died. Then as to the testimony:
3. Were the testimony respecting the ransom to end with the present age, that would prove the Gospel to be a failure. It cannot be shown, so far as I know, that more than one in 150, or one in 140 at most, of those for whom the ransom was paid have even so much as heard of it. If it is to end so, what else could it be than a failure? Let us take care lest we put arguments into the mouths of infidels, as to the love, the wisdom, or the power of the Most High.
4. Affirming that the testimony will ultimately become co-extensive with the ransom is no foundation for "Universalism." Sin is universal, death is universal, and the testimony will become universal, but there is no evidence to conclude that the acceptance of the testimony will ever become universal. On the contrary, history, experience, and prophecy, all prove that as it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever will be-- when the testimony is given to all, some will accept and others will reject it.
5. Contending that those who never heard the gospel before death will hear it after resurrection is no encouragement to rejecters of, or triflers with it now. It does not bear upon their case. We do not say who among the present hearers of the gospel are rejecters of it, but it cannot be too carefully noted that there is no evidence whatever to conclude that any deliberate and wilful rejecter of the gospel here will ever have its blessings offered to him hereafter. To all present hearers of the Gospel, now is their "due time." "Behold now is the accepted time; Behold, now is the day of salvation."
6. And as to our position generally. It affords--more than any other that I am aware of--harmonious views, not only of the justice, but also of the wisdom and the love of God. I well remember the time when I first heard of "the universality of the atonement." What peace and joy it brought with it. And I well remember another time when I was worried with doubts and fears as to the possibility of the universal atonement being universally applied: and the latter well nigh counteracted all the blessedness of the former. Now, thank God! both are plain, as plain and clear as anything relating to the future can be. This is an unfailing source of peace and joy, and I invite all, more especially those who have been harassed as I was, to share its blessed assurance. On this position we seem to be most in unison with some of the grandest of old prophetic and apostolic utterances. "My [R691 : page 7] thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" --Joseph Moffit.
MOSES WROTE OF CHRIST.
Moses as both writer and prophet has the endorsement of Christ and the apostles. It is doubtless true that Moses wrote a large share of the Pentateuch,-- the first five books of the Bible,--but we are nowhere told by any Bible writer that he wrote all of them. Hence, it cannot be against either the genuineness or authenticity of these books, because one of them contains a record of Moses' death and burial, written, of course, by some one else, after Moses died.
It seems as applicable now as in the Saviour's day that the disbelievers in Moses are of necessity disbelievers in Christ. To reject Moses after Christ has endorsed him, is not characteristic of a believer in Christ, though there are those in our day who inconsistently reject Moses, overlooking or ignoring the endorsement. They seem to see no connection whatever between the gospel and Moses' writings. For this reason the Jews rejected Christ, though they trusted in Moses, while these of our day reject Moses though claiming to trust in Christ. Verses 45 and 46 make a clear distinction between trust and belief, and make the latter more important. To believe Moses, according to this statement of Jesus, involved an intelligent view of the meaning of his words. The Jews trusted in Moses and accepted the letter of his writings: but had they believed Moses, that is, if they had seen the spirit, or deeper meaning of his writings they would have accepted Christ.
This statement of our Saviour is equivalent to saying that in the deeper sense [R692 : page 7] Moses was a gospel writer. There is, it may be safely said, more gospel in Genesis than in Matthew. In this Matthew is not belittled. The full gospel covers all the ages until the whole world is saved. This fullness of the gospel was given in Genesis, in the sense that the undeveloped seed contains all that can be produced from it. The fulfillment of the gospel is like the process of development of what was before hidden in the seed. Matthew records the beginning of the fulfillment of the types and prophecies of the great plan of the ages. He tells an important, and fundamental part; but still not the whole which the seed contains.
The depth of Moses' writings, then, is the cause of their modern rejection, as it was also the cause in part at least of the Jewish rejection of Christ.
The Jews boasted of being Moses' disciples, and yet their ignorance was the ground of their inconsistency. The same inconsistency exists now. Does it not have the same cause? It is better doubtless to say inconsistency, than guilt, as ignorance is guilt only to the extent that it may be avoided, and it is not best for mortals to Judge the motives. Jesus did not say they were guilty, though He spoke of their ignorance, their inconsistency, and their low moral state,--not having "the love of God" in them. His words were not intended so much to blame, though severe, as to reprove and enlighten, by showing their low condition. Verse 39 is not a command to "Search the Scriptures," as is commonly inferred from this rendering. It was a statement of fact designed to reprove them. Other versions read in substance thus: "Ye search the scripture, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me and yet ye will not come to me that you may have life." In the light of this statement their ignorance and consequent inconsistency of action were clearly reproved.
The moral state of the soul has much to do with the ability to receive truth, especially the deeper truth of the word. Jesus said, "If ye will do his will, he will know of the doctrine." Then loyalty of heart is one of the conditions of clearness of perception and understanding. Truth not understood has no saving or exalting effect. This makes stony ground hearers. There is no depth of earth. But Jesus says, the good seed, sown "in good and honest hearts," brings forth fruit.
The mission of Jesus among the Jews was that of a Divider and Reaper. He did not come among them to make proselytes from the Gentiles, but to prove and develop the qualities of the good and honest among them. These He called His "sheep;"--"My sheep hear my voice." These accepted of Jesus because they were in such a moral state that they could appreciate His teachings. The Divinity, the Father, in Him had an attraction for them, and thus they were drawn to Christ by the Father dwelling in Him; and in John 6:44, Jesus asserts, what from this standpoint appears a necessary fact, that no man can come to Him without the drawing of the Father. How then can any person be drawn to Christ who rejects His divinity? It should be observed that this was the point at issue when Jesus made this statement. Jesus had just asserted that He "came down from heaven;" while the unbelievers declared Him to be Joseph's son. They used this as proof that He did not come down from heaven, as some are still doing. And Jesus said, "Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." They rejected the divinity of Jesus for the same reason that they could not see him in Moses' writings--the subject was too deep for them. Let us beware lest we fall after the same manner of unbelief. (Heb. 4:11.)
The method by which Moses wrote of Christ, was not direct statement, but was by figure, type and allegory. Even in his most direct words he did not say Christ, though that was what he meant. "Her seed shall bruise thy head," which all admit refers to Christ and his work, and is therefore gospel,--it will be observed is highly figurative. When a prophet like unto Moses was promised, it was based upon a comparison, and, but for later developments, none could have applied it to the Lord Jesus. When the promise was given of blessing to all nations through Abraham's seed, the language was perhaps as direct as nay; but no one could have guessed from the wording of the original promise that the "seed" meant Christ. In the letter it was Isaac, and in the broadest literal sense included the fleshly descendants; but the Spirit in Paul takes the cover off and shows us that the seed meant Christ, and in the broadest view includes them that are baptized into Christ.--Gal. 3:16,29. Though the Old Testament did not say Christ, the New Testament shows that it meant Christ. What it meant was represented or typified by what it said. In this way we see that the gospel was covered or veiled by the Old Testament writings. The gospel was in the Old Testament as the kernel in a shell; and no one can understand those writings and say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Spirit.
One who denies the authority of the New Testament writings has no means of proving that Christ is the seed. They should, to be consistent, reckon the seed, the covenant, the circumcision and everything else on the plane of the flesh, for that is all that the Old Testament teaches. But if the New Testament writings are discarded there is no proof that Christ has ever come, or that LIFE and IMMORTALITY have ever been brought to light. The promises and threatenings of the Old Testament are PURELY of an EARTHLY and TEMPORAL CHARACTER. Of course we refer to the letter of those writings.
The manner of the unbelief of the Jews was that of failing to see the spirit of their sacred writings. To them the truth was veiled, because of the veil upon their hearts. The carnal or fleshly state of mind is to the spiritual as the letter of the word is to its spirit, because only the mind in the spiritual state can discern the deep or spiritual things of the word. The more spiritual the degree of mind the greater its ability to understand the deep things of God. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. 2:14. The same thing is true of all writings that have a surface and a deeper meaning, whether in the Old Testament or in the New.
"Light is sown for the righteous," and the love of God shows itself in the love of truth and righteousness. Spiritual truth is the test of spirituality; and the truth of God is a mine in which may be found jewels of all grades, adapted to all degrees of spiritual development, and in which the most advanced may dig with the assurance of finding inexhaustible treasures. "The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6) is a statement by Paul, showing the upward and downward tendencies of feeding on the two phases of truth. He draws a contrast on this principle between the law and the gospel and between the letter and the spirit of the old Testament writings, and shows that the bondage of the Jew was in reading the Scriptures with veiled hearts. They knew what the word said, but its spirit was hidden from them. "The same vail remains untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament....But when it shall turn to the Lord the vail shall be taken away;" that is, when the real truth, the gospel, in those writings is seen, it will no longer appear dark, but it will bring light and glorious liberty. "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." The effect of seeing and feeling the fullness of God's love for all the world as seen in the Mosaic writings can only be beneficial in making the mind like the mind of God. May the Lord anoint our eyes that we may see and be free indeed.
The above, clipped from an Exchange, we can most heartily endorse, but it is truly amazing that the writer of the above cannot go farther in the same direction and see that Moses wrote of Jesus as the ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Moses wrote of the RANSOM in every sin-offering enjoined, the life of the beast which typified the man Christ Jesus being given as a propitiation [satisfaction] for the sins of the people whose sins it bore, and to make atonement for which its blood was shed.
Moses wrote of the RANSOM when he told of how God clothed the guilty pair expelled naked from Eden, with coats of skins to cover their nakedness instead of their own scanty fig-leaf covering. Therein Moses told of the uselessness of man's effort to cover himself with garments of righteousness that would not endure, and the need that God should do it for him; nay, more, of the fact that God would provide a covering, but at the cost of the LIFE OF ANOTHER.
Moses wrote that the one who would "bless" all the families of the earth must first redeem them with his own life, in that touching narrative of the offering of Isaac, in whom centered the promise, a sacrifice upon the altar.
Moses wrote that the New Covenant must be ratified, made operative, sealed, with the blood of the covenant, i.e., by the death of him who ratified it, by ratifying the typical covenant with blood representative of his own, as the Mediator of that typical covenant and type of Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant.
Moses wrote not only of the value of the blood of the Lamb of Passover, but of the necessity that all who would be of the first-born spared, must be under that blood of sprinkling AS WELL as have [R693 : page 7] the Lamb within. Thus he wrote that we must not only recognize Jesus as God's spotless Lamb, but must recognize the value of his death as our ransom price, and must sprinkle it outside --publicly declare the same.
Moses wrote of the ransom work of Jesus, and, in fact, described his whole mission, in the types of the Day of Atonement. There he puts the sacrifice of Christ in the fore-front, and makes it the centre and basis of all the blessings coming to the people, which he here shows to be the fruitage, result or consequence of the ransom-sacrifice. The blood (evidence of shed life, i.e., death) was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat to make an atonement to God FOR the sins of the people. The penalty of man's sin was death; hence the death of the animal (typical of Jesus) making satisfaction for man's sin. As a result of that giving of his life (typically) a ransom for all, the priest was granted the right to go forth to the people who were lying in the dust and, pronouncing their sins cancelled, bid them arise from the dust and again enjoy communion with God.
And Moses wrote further of Christ and the results of his ransom in the typical Jubilee year, for at that time, when the priest came forth from the sacrificial work of the Day of Atonement, he caused the trumpet to blow announcing the JUBILEE begun--the times of RESTITUTION of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.
And what unbiased mind can ignore the fact of a coming restitution, if all "the promises and threatenings of the Old Testament are purely of an EARTHLY character." All the promises of the New Testament which mention anything more than blessings of earth and human nature, apply to and limit those superabundant blessings to the "Seed" specially selected during this age to be the instruments made use of in blessing all the families of the earth with the restitution (restoring to a former condition or estate) of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets. And what unprejudiced mind cannot see that this and this alone would be the work of Christ as expressed in the declaration: He came to seek and to save (recover) that which WAS LOST.
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
A sister writes us from New Hampshire that she cannot see why we speak of THE CHURCH (Episcopal) as we do of the other denominations. She says that they also object to "the sects." She wonders why we refer to THE CHURCH (Episcopal) creed as "shackles," and assures us that they have only the "Apostles' creed," and that she finds every item of it in our teachings. She feels indignant, too, that in a recent article we referred to THE CHURCH (Episcopal) as having been founded by Henry VIII, which idea, she says, was long since abandoned by well-informed people as being an "exploded" statement.*
*The sister is mistaken, the fact remains, so long as history remains, and cannot be "exploded." It has, however, been very generally "dropped," because those who might refer to it, find that their own claims to being "the Church" are best supported by acknowledging the claims of "the Church of England."
The sister shows that her interest in the truth and her perplexity on the Church question are real, throughout the entire communication, saying in conclusion: "I wish your papers could be in the hands of every reading Christian, and that they would read them." And again, "You have come out and are living as you think you have been called to live, and yet whom have you among you? Some very nearly as bad as Judas, who deny the Lord that bought them, and this state of things is even worse than the first [sectarian condition] it seems to me, and your Church is no better than others in its mixture of good and bad. Can you not see reason for my perplexity?"
We answer these suggestions through the TOWER, because it is quite possible that others are similarly troubled and perplexed, and the subject is a weighty one.
Our objection to the Episcopal Church is the same as to all the systems which to-day claim to be THE CHURCH. All Christians will concede as a fact that there is but ONE Church of Christ. He and his Apostles established only one, hence it must be admitted that of all the organizations calling themselves the Church of Christ, not more than one can possibly be claiming truly. If this be so, it follows that all except that one are deceived themselves, and deceiving the world by claiming to be The Church, when they are not.
Going back to the days of the Apostles, we find congregations at various [R693 : page 8] cities, but all members of the one Church of Christ, whose names were "WRITTEN IN HEAVEN." Soon after the death of the Apostles various factions sprang up headed by those who wished to be greatest. This spirit was noticed even during the days of Paul, some saying, "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ," but this was promptly rebuked. (1 Cor. 1:12,13.) Finally the Bishop of Rome came to be recognized by the other bishops as a superior in authority; and under the claim that Peter had been the first bishop of Rome, and that his apostolic succession gave his right, etc., to every successor, authority and power was claimed and exercised over all then recognized as "orthodox," though there were large parties of the Church which dissented both from this authority, and from many of the doctrines then termed "orthodox."
The Papal system came more and more into temporal favor with the Empire of Rome, and under that favor it grew and by its power it crushed out all formal opposition, and for a time seemed about to restore the original idea of ONE CHURCH. But there were in Papacy honest minds, beclouded by her great success, which only needed some good reason to induce them to leave her fold. This occasion came, about the time Papacy's greatest corruption--manifested in the sale of "indulgences," etc. Then some of the bolder of the more enlightened ones ventured to protest against her doctrines and practices and the "REFORMATION MOVEMENT" set in, which has to some extent continued ever since, thank God. And though the work has been slow, those who are to-day in the work of reformation, are much closer to the doctrines, practices, and manners of the Apostles.
Bear in mind that it was while Papish ideas and doctrines were still firmly fastened on men's minds, that their consciences rebelled against some of the corruptions and brought about a partial Reformation. Hence the reformers had in general the same ideas and doctrines as the Mother, and each claimed that there was but ONE Church and that THEIRS was that one; that Papacy was the corruption of the true, and that in rejecting the corruption, they [the Reformers] became the original. It is for this reason and on these grounds that most of the older denominations claim that their beginning was in the APOSTLES' DAYS; that Jesus and the Apostles founded their Church [Episcopalean, Presbyterian, or Lutheran as the case may be], that it was corrupted for a time in Papacy, but was brought to light again in the days of the Reformation.
We see, then, that the ideas above expressed by this sister that the Episcopal Church is THE Church, etc., is the same claim made by other sister systems with equal force, for all such claims are false. The Apostles neither established the Church of England, nor the Church of Scotland, nor that of Germany. They all, as well as that of Rome are human fabrications; each contains good and bad doctrines and forms of godliness; each claims to be THE CHURCH, yet each in some respects opposes the true Church whose names are written in heaven, and the true doctrines of Scripture, putting a human doctrine and system instead of the true. Thus each of these human systems, assists in perpetuating the schism, increasing the confusion, and adding to the "perplexity" of earnest truth seekers.
The mistake was started and is kept up, by assuming that the "Church of Rome" was THE true Church before she became so openly corrupt, prior to the "Reformation." On the contrary, the "Church of Rome," as a system, was wrong from its commencement--contrary to the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles. It was the "Mystery of Iniquity" from the first, and had in it, those errors which developed into the more ungodliness as time and opportunity permitted. The system was wrong; names written on earth attached to fixed written creeds prepared by men and endorsed by councils, are poor and improper substitutes for names written in heaven and the Word of God unlimited by man.
The fact that there are true Christians in all these denominations, and that there should be but ONE Church, and that in some sense all these really belong to one Church, though separated from each other by sectarian names, forms and rules, has long been recognized by thinking Christians. The question which they find it impossible to solve is, How to accomplish the union.
To reach this result "Union Meetings" and "Union Church" buildings have been attempted in small places, but sectish pride and vainglory has always sooner or later hindered and led to disruption. To accomplish the same result, The Evangelical Alliance was formed, which while claiming to have unified the sects holding sound faith, is really a TRUCE between the leading Protestant sects by which they agree not to war upon nor against each other, but to unite in opposing any views which conflict with their main points of agreement, and thus to establish a certain fixed unchangeable line of doctrines, good and bad, true and false, outside of which, all is branded "heretic," and inside which all is branded "orthodox." [R694 : page 8]
This is the same result sought and obtained by Papacy at the inception of its organization, though brought about in a different manner. The several sects, while each is permitted to manage its own affairs, are organized or bound into one system and stamped "Orthodoxy;" but in (Rev. 13:14) it is called the very "image" of Papacy. This is a union on a false basis and hence is as far from the ONE CHURCH of Jesus and the apostles, as Papacy was in the days of her supremacy.
No union will succeed, and be productive of good, and favorable to growth in grace and knowledge, except it be accomplished in the proper manner and on a solid foundation: and the sooner this is realized the better for the saints and the worse for the great worldly tare-full systems which call themselves THE CHURCH of Christ, deceive the world and almost deceive the very elect.
True union, is not a bondage but a mingling of hearts and minds. To accomplish this organization, this union is the work of the Spirit of God. Where it rules there will be true fellowship with the Father and the Son and with all possessing it. The agency or means by which this union is accomplished is the truth--the Word of God.
Because of the inseparable union between God's Word and His Spirit, it is called "The Spirit of truth" and the only way to possess the full harmony and union of the spirit is by possessing a knowledge of the truth, hence Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them through thy truth, Thy word is truth." (John 17:17.)
This leads us to inquire, Is it not because of lack of knowledge of the truth through neglect of the Word of God, and the abundance of error, consequent to giving heed to the traditions of the ancients and to the various theories framed after and like unto those established by the mother of harlots, that Christians to-day find it impossible to unite head and heart as well as hands in the common cause?
This being conceded, it becomes the duty of the hour for every saint to not only cast entirely aside every human yoke of bondage, and stand free indeed, (Gal. 5:1,) but to assist other saints to the same blessed liberty. When thus liberated from sectarian bondage, the spirit of truth will be able to lead into all truth: and such only are able to follow. Would not the union of heart at once bind all these "free" ones? And would not the union of head under the "guide" of the Spirit of truth, soon be perfect? And would not union of labor be a natural accompaniment? We answer, yes! So surely as we comply with the conditions, we shall have the result follow, as promised by the Lord:-- "That they all may be one," and then the result of this will be also as he expressed it, "That the world may believe." (John 17:11,21.)
If then it is seen that all the present systems are improperly named "Churches," improperly organized, improperly bound together, and have improperly built upon the decisions of fallible and mistaken men, and are thus hindered from growth in grace and knowledge, and that these systems are not recognized by God at all, and never alluded to in His Word except to condemn them, then, duty is plain. "Come out of her my people," will not be disregarded by those anxiously seeking guidance, and cannot be disregarded without loss in knowledge as well as in favor of God. His sheep hear his voice and follow Him, and He leads them to green pastures.
One trouble which seems to beset many is this, They have become so accustomed to a fixed doctrinal fence of narrow limits on every side, that to place them in the green pastures of truth with its wide range of liberty, bounded only by the great fence of God's Word, alarms them, and they fear lest they should get lost with such liberty. They have heard that infidels roam in a large field without any fence whatever, and fear lest they should be getting into that field. Some have written to us saying that they see the error of and hindrance from union with systems misnamed THE CHURCH of Christ, and desire to come into the liberty, grace and knowledge of a larger place, but are at a loss to know what to join when they withdraw from present membership.
Ah! how the adversary would blind us to keep us from light and liberty! Can you not see that you, if really a consecrated child of God, have already joined the true Church? You joined it when you made full consecration to the Lord. It was then that your name was "written in heaven" in the "book of life." You were then a member of the true Church, the true ecclesia, the body of Christ, of which Jesus is the only Head, the true flock of which Jesus is the great Chief Shepherd. Can you not realize this? Is this not as plain and clear as God's word can make it?
Getting you to join an institution of men, whose members' names are written on earth and which are named after their heads and founders, was a snare and delusion by which the adversary has robbed you of the use of the liberty wherewith Christ made you free, and as a consequence has kept from you, much of the grace and knowledge which, as the Lord's freeman and the King's son, were yours by right, both to use yourself and to dispense to others.
Hence, we have no space fenced off into which we invite you but into the great field of truth marked and bounded and perfectly and harmoniously squared only by the word of God. If we can be of assistance in pointing out to you any of the boundary lines, or calling your attention to the bountiful provision for your rest, encouragement and comfort within those boundaries, it shall be our pleasure as well as duty as under-shepherds and servants of the flock. Why cannot all come with us into this liberty and this untrammeled enjoyment of all that our gracious and bountiful Father has provided? There is nothing to hinder except sectarian pride, begotten of the adversary and opposed to the Spirit of Christ.
Some are held back from liberty and obedience to the Lord's call, "Come out of her," by a system of false reasoning. They reason thus, Surely the great bulk of the nominal church cannot be in error. I am at least safe while in the company of so great a majority. This is another delusion of the adversary. It was used in the days of Noah, Elijah and Jesus, as well as in the days of the (partial) Reformation. The great size and influence of Babylon misleads and causes many to forget that, though "All men shall be saved [from the Adamic penalty] and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), and though "a great company" shall reach spiritual conditions (Rev. 7:9), yet only a "little flock" of "overcomers" will be accounted worthy to share the "divine nature" by becoming the bride of Christ, joint-heir with him to the kingdom.
Do not forget that it was to give us this opportunity of overcoming, that God has permitted this great Babylon, anti-Christ system, to gain such influence in the world. The overcoming of the beast and his image is specially mentioned as among the needful qualifications to a share in the Millennial reign. (Rev. 20:4). Let us not deceive ourselves. God will never call those overcomers, nor reward them as such, who, in spite of his light and truth, "are all their lifetime subject to bondage," even though he shall eventually "deliver" them, by the complete overthrow of Babylon as a great millstone cast into the depths of the sea. (Heb. 2:15 and Rev. 18:21). Now is the time to overcome. Now is the time when your influence will tell most on the side of truth. Soon the Elect Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife, will be complete, so if you are a candidate and are running for that prize, "take heed that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3:11).
In reply to the suggestion that our Church is corrupt and full of false doctrines, even denying that the Lord bought us, we can only remind you that such are not "OF THIS WAY." If they ever were of us, they "have gone out from us." The true Church, as God recognizes it, does not include any but the redeemed; and if any such put off the "wedding garment" of Christ's imputed righteousness, such are cast forth into darkness. (Matt. 22:11-14).
That some whose names were once "written in heaven" as members of the Church of Christ can lose membership in OUR Church--the Church of Christ, and have their names "blotted out," is evident from the following, as well as other Scriptures, viz.: Rev. 3:5 and 11, Heb. 6:6, and 10:209-31. Thus it is clear that the true Church is kept pure by the great Head of the Church himself blotting out the names of any who may fall away and count the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified a common thing.
As a proof that the Church now, as at first, is kept pure by the Lord, and that those referred to by this correspondent are not of us, we refer you to a similar departure from the faith recorded in 1 John 2:19. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us."
"If you wish to do good, do good; if you wish to assist people, assist people. The only way to learn to do a thing is to do it; and that implies, before you learn to do right you will do wrong. You will make blunders, you will have failures; but persevere, and in the end you will learn your lessons, and many other lessons by the way."
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