EMPEROR NERO WITNESSING THE BURNING OF THE CHRISTIAN
The God of our fathers raised up
Jesus, whom ye slew,
hanging him on a
did God exalt with his right hand to be a Prince and a
Saviour, for to give
But this I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets: having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that THERE SHALL BE A RESURRECTION BOTH OF THE JUST AND UNJUST. Herein do I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always. Touching THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD I am called in question before you this day:(Acts 24: 14-16, 21b, R.V. )
The former treatise I made, Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to TEACH, until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Ghost unto his apostles whom he had chosen: to whom he showed himself ALIVE after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the KINGDOM OF GOD: and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to WAIT for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water; but YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST not many days thence.
when they were
come together, asked
him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to
MINISTRIES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The teaching ministry of the Spirit was one of Christs last promises before His crucifixion. He said, I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take if mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you (John 16: 12-15).
This particular ministry of the Spirit was yet future when our Lord spoke these words. It began on the Day of Pentecost and continues throughout this age. Peters clear comprehension as revealed in his Pentecostal sermon is evidence of the beginning of this ministry.
In general the content of the Spirits ministry encompasses all the truth (the definite article appears in the text). This, of course, means revelation concerning Christ Himself, but on the basis of the written Word (for we have no other information about Him except through the Bible). Therefore, He teaches the believer the content of the Scripture which leads him to an understanding of prophecy (things to come). This particularizing of the general promise concerning teaching ought to encourage every believer to study prophecy. Notice too that the Spirit does not originate His message it comes from the Lord.
The result of the teaching ministry of the Spirit is that Christ is glorified. If He is not glorified, then the Spirit has not been ministering. Note also that it is not the Spirit who is glorified or who is supposed to be glorified in a religious service, but Christ. Further, if Christ is known only through the written Word, then He will be glorified when the Word of God is expounded in the power of the Spirit.
How does the [Holy] Spirit teach the believer? John declares: The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (1 John 2: 27). This could not mean that human teachers are unnecessary in explaining the Word of God. If it could, then what would be the use of the gift of teaching? (Rom. 12: 7.) John wrote concerning the presence of antichrists in the group. Having stated his own conviction concerning their heresies, he simply declared that no man really had to tell them to teach, for the Holy Spirit would confirm it to them. Human teachers are a necessary link in the procedure of instructing believers, though the ultimate authentication of the teaching comes from the [Holy] Spirit.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Rom. 8: 14). Leading is a confirmation of sonship, for sons are led. This work of guidance is particularly the work of the [Holy] Spirit. Romans 8: 14 states it and the Book of Acts amply illustrates it (8: 29; 10: 19-20; 13: 2, 4; 16: 6-7; 20: 22-23). This ministry of the Spirit is one of the most assuring ones for the Christian. The child of God never needs to walk in the dark; he is always free to ask and receive directions from the Spirit Himself.
The Spirit is also One who assures the Christian that he is a child of God. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God (Rom: 16). The word for children is here tekna (in contrast to huioi, sons) and emphasizes the fact that the believer shares in the life of the Father. Because of this, he also shares as an heir* [of eternal life] in the possessions of the Father. Assurance of all this is the work of the Spirit to the heart of each Christian. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie.
[* Note. A distinction needs to be made from what we presently have inherited from God as a free gift (Rom. 6: 23, R.V) to His redeemed children, based upon Anothers work; from what we hope to inherit in the age yet to come, when our Lord Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom rule; and to Reward His redeemed people for the quality and nature of their work. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according as his work is, (Rev. 22: 12, R.V.). Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord, (1 Cor. 15: 58, R.V.). Whatsoever ye do, work heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance; ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons, (Col. 3: 23-25, R.V.). See 1 Cor. 6: 9, 10; Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5.]
1. Messiah was dead, but after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12: 40), He was Resurrected out from the dead (Acts 4: 2b, Lit. Gk.), leaving the rest of the dead waiting in Hades until the time of their Resurrection! John 3: 13; 1 Thess. 4: 16
So says our Lord: Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels in heaven. But as touching the dead, that they are raised; have ye not read in the book of Moses, in the place concerning the Bush, how God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: ye do greatly err: (Mark 12: 24-27, R.V.). Again: And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abrahams bosom: and the rich man died, and was buried. And in HADES (not in Heaven) he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16: 22, 23, R.V.).
God of glory appeared
unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia,
before he dwelt in
So says the Writer of Hebrews: These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES, but having seen them from afar (Heb. 11: 13, R.V.).
So says Peter: (Acts 2: 29-34). Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. receiving the end of your faith, even THE SALVATION OF YOUR SOULS. Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it [He] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and THE GLORIES THAT SHOULD FOLLOW THEM: (1 Pet. 1: 3, 5, 9-11, R.V.).
So says John: NO MAN HATH ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man (John 3: 13). Again: I saw underneath the altar the SOULS of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And there was given them to each one a white robe; and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little time, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, which should be killed even as they were, should have fulfilled their course (Rev. 6: 9-11, R.V. Margin).
So says Paul: But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the TRUTH have erred, saying that the RESURRECTION is past already, and overthrow the faith of some: (2 Tim. 2: 16-18, R.V.).
the filling of the
Spirit is mentioned in the Book of Acts, conversions
are recorded. Spirit-filling
on the Day of Pentecost (2: 4) resulted in the
conversion of 3,000 people (v. 41).
The filling of the
disciples in 4: 31
resulted in multitudes of men and women turning to the
Lord (5: 14).
of the qualifications for
the choosing of the first helpers was that they be
Spirit-filled (6: 3).
This was followed by the conversion of a
number of priests (v. 7).
was filled with the Spirit after
conversion, and the fruit of his life is well known. When Barnabas,
who was filled with the Spirit, went to
(1) In Old Testament times the 50th day (c. 7 weeks) after the harvest-consecrating, sheaf-waving ceremony of the 16th of the month Nisan. Pentecost is also known as The Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34: 22; Deut. 16: 10), The Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23: 16), and The Day of the First Fruits (Num. 28: 26). This one-day festival usually fell on the 6th day of the month Sivan (end of May or beginning of June) and was the 2d and least important of the three annual festivals which, by ritual indicated in sources J and E (Ex. 34: 18-26, cf. 23: 10-17), were to be celebrated at the sanctuary by every male. It opened the fruit harvest, as the Feast of Unleavened Bread opened grain harvest.
Because Pentecost was observed about seven weeks after Passover, it was tied in with the Sabbatical system of feasts; usual labours were halted and people met in a holy convocation (Deut. 28: 2-6).
the N.T. the first Christian Pentecost fell on the same
day as the old
Hebrew festival. The
events narrated in Acts
2 mark the beginning of the Christian Church.
Multitudes of devout Jews from what seemed every
nation under heaven
(v. 5) had been attracted to
[* At the intercession of the descended Christ, as Peter testifies, the Holy Spirit, as the angel (or sent One) of the Lord, descends [at Pentecost] in fire on the disciples of the rejected Christ. Might they not then be the bush that was burning, yet unconsumed? Moses wondered at the sight. And did not men of Israel out of all nations wonder, when the [Holy] Spirit coming down in wind and fire, gave to the 120 to speak with new tongues, while tongues of fire that consumed not, stood on their heads? Out of the fire of the bush came forth the voice of Jehovah, testifying that He was the God of the fathers. Might not then the testimonies of the inspired apostles be true; that this new manifestation came from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Acts 3: 13, 25; 5: 30; 22: 14.]
spoke of delaying
his return to
(3) In some branches of the Christian Church Pentecost or Whitsuntide is observed as a solemn feast 50 days after Easter (reckoning inclusively), to commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit. In Christian symbolism cloven tongues of fire signify the Day of Pentecost, as well as the Holy Spirit.
- (Blacks Bible Dictionary, pp536, 537.)
* * *
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Let us now pass to the consideration of a passage of great moment, to be produced from the New Testament. It is found in the first sermon of St. Peter, and runs thus -
Ye men of Israel, hear
these words: Jesus of
Nazareth, a man
approved of God among you by miracles, and
wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst
of you, as ye
yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by
the determinate counsel
and foreknowledge of God,
ye have taken, and by
wicked hands have crucified and slain,
whom God hath raised up,
having loosed the pains of death, because
not possible that he should be holden of it.
concerning him, I
foresaw the Lord always before my face;
for he is at my right hand that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad;
my flesh shall rest in
hope; Because thou will not leave me in hell,* neither
suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast
made known to me the ways of life;
thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Men and brethren,
let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried,
his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
Therefore, being a
prophet, and knowing
that God had sworn with an oath to him,
that of the fruit of his loins,
according to the flesh,
he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not left in hell,* neither his flesh did see
hath God raised up whereof we all are witnesses.
being by the right hand of God exalted,
having received of the Father the promise of the Holy
forth this which ye now see and hear. For
David is not ascended
into the heavens:
but he saith
himself, The Lord said
unto my Lord, Sit thou
on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy
Therefore, let all the
* NOTE. Hades is spoken of with expressions of comparison utterly inconsistent with the idea of the literal grave. Thus we read of The lowest Hades (Deut. 32: 22; Psa. 86: 13) the depths of Hades (Prov. 9: 18); the midst of Hades (Ezek. 32: 21). It is in two instances clearly distinguished from the grave. In Gen. 37: 35, where it first appears in the Bible, Jacob declares- I will go down into Hades unto my son; but from verse 33 we learn that the Patriarch was under the impression that Joseph had not, and could not have, a grave; he is there represented as exclaiming, An evil beast hath devoured him. And in Isaiah 14: 15 it is declared that Lucifer shall be brought down to Hades, who, verse 19, is represented as being cast out of his grave. It is used in antithesis with Heaven under circumstances which show that the literal grave cannot be intended. It is as high as Heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than Hades, what canst thou know? (Job 11: 8). If I ascend up into Heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in Hades [Heb. Sheol], behold, thou art there (Psa. 139: 8). Though they dig into Hades, thence shall mine hand take them: though they climb up to Heaven, thence will I bring them down (Amos 9: 2.).
The New Testament idea of Hades as distinct from the grave may be most clearly perceived in the declaration concerning Dives in Luke 16: 23; and in the didactic teaching [i.e. a teaching meant to give instruction and understanding] of the Apostle Peter (Acts 2: 27-31) concerning the soul of Jesus between His death and His resurrection. The Apostle, manifestly, spoke of both the body and the soul of our Lord (comp. verses 27 and 31, asserting that the former did not see corruption (although it was placed in a sepulchre) and that the latter was not left in Hades - implying, of course, that it went to Hades. Philip Schaff, D.D.
Unless we adopt the conclusion that the soul remains in Hades for as long as the body remains in decomposition - in the face of the manifest implications of the Apostle and the whole tenor of the Word of God - Hades must be understood to be distinct from both tomb and grave.]
But the force of the argument is lost from the words having become familiar to our ear. Let it then be presented in other words. The descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost had caused all the disciples then present to speak with new tongues. The sound of so many voices speaking together in tongues unknown to the listeners, naturally drew a great concourse of persons, who questioned amongst themselves what could be the cause of so unusual occurrence. One cause was suggested by some scoffers, - that it was only the effect of intoxication. Thereupon Peter stood up to reply, and made answer, that it was by no means probable that so many could all be intoxicated together at so early an hour as nine in the morning. But he assured them that the cause of the event, which so excited their astonishment, was that thing which was spoken by the prophet Joel - the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, - I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. St. Peters answer, therefore, is in substance this, - The event you have witnessed is due, not to the intoxication of wine, but to the effusion of the Holy Spirit. Hence, those have misunderstood the scope of the passage, who suppose that St. Peter quotes the whole of this prophecy as then fulfilled. But it is not so. He does not say, Now is fulfilled; but, This is an event due to the same cause, and is of precisely the same nature, as that which, in the last day, shall receive its literal accomplishment.
After this rebutment of the objection, the Apostle then proceeds to the more immediate object of his proof. He lays first as his basis - the undeniable miracles of the man generally known by them under the name of Jesus the Nazarite* Now miracles such as his, they all acknowledged, were a testimony on the part of God to a commission received from himself. But this Jesus was dead. Did not that destroy the evidence arising from his miracles? No - it was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. They might have anticipated that the Christ or Messiah must die, if they had only attended to their own prophetic writings. In proof of which he cites a passage from the Psalms which evidently implied upon its very face, the death and resurrection of a certain Holy One specified therein. It implied his death - for his body should not see corruption, nor his soul be left in Hades.
* It is a pity that our translators have not rendered the Nazarite, wherever it occurs. If they had done so, its prophetic force would have been seen.
But in order to evade the force of this, the Jews might reply Aye, we know that many of our nation understand this of the Messiah, but now we see that we were wrong - it must be meant of David himself. The Apostle then advances to drive them from this stronghold. It cannot be David, he argues - for the Psalm speaks of one whose flesh was not to see corruption. Now though David, as they all knew, died, and so far fulfilled the prophecy; yet his being buried (which probably did not take place till corruption was begun), and certainly his close and fastened sepulchre remaining among them up to their time, was a clear proof that Davids flesh, like all his fathers had yielded to natural laws, and seen corruption: If any doubted, they might open the tomb and judge for themselves. It could not, therefore, be David that was intended in this Psalm. But it was a natural and easy deduction from the acknowledged principle that David was a prophet, that this Psalm should apply to the Messiah of whom all prophecy was full, and in order to prepare the minds of men for his reception, it was given at the first.*
* See also Pauls words at Antioch of Pisidia: We bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the fathers, how that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he hath spoken in this wise, I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David. Because he saith also in another psalm, Thou wilt not give thy Holy one to see corruption. For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell on sleep, and [his body] was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but he [Christ/Messiah] whom God raised up saw no corruption Acts 13: 32-37, R.V.
not only did it
apply to the Messiah, but it proved also that Jesus was the Messiah, because
fulfilled in his death and
none to testify of the death of Jesus - all their nation
knew or had witnessed
that; and thus far the prophecy of the Psalm was
the Apostles could substantiate to them
the broad difference which marked the death of the Lord
Jesus from that of
David; and this Peter proceeds to do.
For Christ had risen again, had risen the third
day, and, therefore, so
short was the space of time intervening between death
and resurrection; that no
corruption passed upon his body.
Therefore they must also infer that his soul was not
left in Hades, for
it could not be that his body should be alive without the
of the soul to it.
resurrection of his body
was therefore the proof that his soul was delivered
from the bands of death, because he could
not be holden of it. But there was another
proof, arising from the miraculous fact they had
only had the Saviour arisen again, but he
had ascended to Gods right hand; as
the Psalm first quoted implied - God
is at my right
hand that I
not be moved: and
again, - Thou
shalt make me
full of joy with thy
countenance. At thy right hand
there are pleasures for
evidently implied that the speaker* was
enjoying the immediate vision of God in heaven.
proof that he was there,
was the extraordinary miracle then presented.
He - the ascended Messiah, hath been the
cause of this - he
hath shed forth this which
ye now see and hear. He
promised us his disciples that he would do it when
he ascended on high.
accomplishment, therefore, of the sign
on earth is the token of the fulfilment of the
thing signified in
the apostle quotes
also the 110th Psalm, which all referred to the Messiah, and that spake of Davids Lord,
(not of Davids
self) as ascended to the
evidently was, that these
not be fulfilled in David, and therefore that he was
not the Christ; but that
they were fulfilled in Jesus of
[* Note. The speaker in this context, does not refer to King David, but rather to the indwelling Holy Spirit, who recorded the prophecy through David. A prophecy which, after many years, would be literally fulfilled at the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, Gods true Messiah, His anointed King of Israel and Ruler over all creation.]
The two things are set side by side - non-corruption of the body, and the restoration of the soul [of our Lord Jesus] from Hades - which were fulfilled in Christ, and could not be fulfilled in David; therefore it follows, by implication of a strong kind, that, on the other side, corruption of the body answers to the sojourn of the soul in Hades.
But this may be also cleared yet further, from the consideration that Christ is the forerunner, and that it behoved him to be in all things made like to his brethren. As, therefore, he was like them in his death and the disposal of his body, so also in the disposal of his soul. He was to be a man in every point of his history which was compatible with his being sinless; and as his descending to the place of the dead did not destroy that purity of his nature, so it follows that to this also he submitted.
* * *
TO THE SADDUCEES
This true view of the dead will materially affect our comprehension of the Saviours reply to the Sadducees. Jesus argues from the expression used by Jehovah, I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, that the dead were to be raised. In what condition, then, did Jesus assume these patriarchs to be? Dead? or alive? Christians ordinarily suppose that He assumes them to be alive. So says Wesley, Therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are not dead, but living. Therefore the soul does not die with the body. So says Barnes. God spake, then, as being their God. They must, therefore, be still somewhere living. He is the God only of those who have an existence.
But then there is in that passage no proof of a resurrection; but only of the separate existence of the soul, after spirit returns to God and the body is laid aside. Now resurrection never means the immortality of the soul, never means a future state. Then, too, Jesus reply does not refute the Sadducees. Their alleged difficulty did not relate to the intermediate state, but to the coming forth of the dead from their tombs, and the restoration of their bodies. To whom the woman was as wife to belong, was a question applying only to the day when the body was reunited to the soul. Neither Pharisee nor Sadducee believed in marriage among spirits.
makes Jesus evade the question, and prove the separate existence of the soul, instead
resurrection of the body. It is,
in fact, a wrong way of stating the matter.
patriarchs were not alive,
but dead. The dead, as we have shown, are those human beings whose body, soul and
spirit are severed.
admits to the Sadducees, that Abraham is dead, as much
as the woman and her
seven husbands. Abraham is dead, for his body is
still in the
It is, indeed, quite true that this passage proves the separate existence of the souls of the patriarchs. But that was not the point. Jesus does not cite it to prove that, but Abrahams return to his body. The separate existence of Abrahams body soul and spirit is a proof of his being then and now among the dead. He will not be alive till his body, soul and spirit are reunited. In the same state in which Abraham was when God spoke to Moses at the bush, Abraham is still. Barnes and others call him dead then. He is, then, dead now. Jesus therefore is referring, not to time present, but to a future day of resurrection, of which the Sadducees were speaking.
is his God. But
Jehovah is not the God of the dead.
is not now showing Himself the God of
Abraham, for the first
a resurrection to immortality
- is not yet come.
resurrection was to be at
a future day, the Pharisees held; and on that,
allowed as a basis, the Sadducees plead. God,
then, by these words, engages
by His Almighty power Abraham to become Abraham again in
resurrection. Abraham when
the Lord promised him possession of
A new and better age* is coming, in which the resurrected neither die nor marry, nor are given in marriage. As long, then, as marriage and death last among believers, so long have we clear proof that the better age and the resurrection out from the dead are not come. Luke 20: 35, 36.
But if death be resurrection, and the bodyless state be the eternal one, Abraham had already risen ages before, and was either then enjoying the land of promise, or Gods pledged word was broken. Then, too, the Sadducees should not have said, Whose wife in the the resurrection shall she be? For already in the bodyless state she was the wife of one or more of them. If they were wrong in their supposition about this, Jesus would have corrected their error. But while He affirms the reality of resurrection, which they falsely denied, He confirms them in regard of the futurity of the resurrection. But when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage: Mark 12: 25. They which shall be accounted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection [out] from among the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage: (Lit. Greek) Luke 20: 35.
[* The following is from writings by Nathaniel West.
The [Hebrew] word Olam, Ever, does not, of itself, and by fixed necessity, always denote the
annihilation of time, but as frequently, in Hebrew
usage, denotes simply unbroken
continuance up to a special epoch in history, or to a
has a relative as well
as an absolute sense, a finite as well as an infinite
means Here as well as Beyond, and applies to a kingdom that comes to an
End, as well as to one that has no End.
For this reason, a great World-Period, or
Age, are called Olam,
and in World-Periods,
or Ages, are called Olammim,
and in order to
express infinite time, the reduplication is used, Ages of Ages, Olammim Olammim. It is
therefore a false conclusion to say
that because the term Le Olam,
Forever, is applied to
the Messianic kingdom,
therefore the Hebrews contradicted themselves, when they
assigned to it limits
at the same time. Messiahs
Temporal and also Eternal, and in both senses, Olamic. The bondsmans
free covenant to serve his
master lasted forever, but that only
economy was established to be forever, but that only
meant till the
time of reformation.
The Christian Church is forever, in its
present form, but that only means till He comes. True
to this view, the Jewish
Teachers ever held to a
*4th Ezra, VII. 48 **Baruch, XLVIII.
MILLENNIAL, NOT ETERNAL
That the Millennial
Age is not the Final
Age is made clear in both Testaments. The kingdom of
1,000 years stands in relation to an Age beyond its own
limits, the Endless
is a false construction
if the word Until in the expression
Until the 1,000 years are finished, Rev. 20: 3, 5, 7 to say that
these years is the end of the kingdom of Christ,
or of the
blessedness of Israel, or of the Risen Saints reign
with Christ, or of the
distinction between Israel and the Nations, or between
the Holy City and the
outside dwellers. Even
Judgment of the Great
and the surrender of
the Messianic Kingdom to the father, the priestly
co-regency of Christ and His
saints still exist.
There is still a
dominion of Christ and His Bride,
2. MODE OF LIFE AMONG THE RISEN
As to the mode of intercourse between the glorified and un-glorified, there are many vain speculations. We only know in part, and time will bring the answer to our various askings. The whole discussion binds itself to our conceptions of the Resurrection-Body, - what it needs, and what its functions, are. From the very first, the Jewish teachers were embarrassed here, and much divided in their views. The later Jews are not more clear. Saadias and Maimonides maintained that they who rise in the resurrection, eat, drink and marry, and their bodily members serve them, for these are not in vain and they die again.* It was an ancient view, and founded on the cases of the resurrection of the son of the Shunamite, and the son of the widow of Zarepta, both whom, says Saddis, ate and drank and doubtless took wives. On the other hand, Bechai and Abarnanel maintained that they who rise in the resurrection neither eat, nor drink, nor marry, for there is no further need of these, after the resurrection, nor do the risen righteous ones return to dust again. They have their bodies, in which the fleshly functions have ceased, as in the case of Moses, when in the Mount with God. ** Our Lord corrects both these views when, confuting to the Sadducees, He replies that they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (Olam Habba) and the resurrection out from the dead, - [Therefore, they cannot return again to the death state and remain in Hades until the millennium has ended.] - neither marry nor are given in marriage, NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANY MORE; for they are equal to the angels, - [That is, able to ascend to heaven or descend upon earth; and therefore able to rule in both spheres during the Millennium.] - and are sons of God, being sons of the RESURRECTION. Luke 20: 35, 36. Saadis and Ben Maimon said that the Risen eat, drink, marry, die. Bechai, Abarbanel, Talmud and Cabbala, aver they neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more, but says nothing as the eating or drinking. What he teaches is that the children of the resurrection are as the sexless angels. Beyond the fact that Lazarus ate after his resurrection, John 12: 1, 2, remains the fact that our Lord Himself, after His resurrection, had a tangible and visible material body, already free from the limitations of His former humiliation, and possessed of resurrection-life, and yet ate food in Jerusalem and at the shore of Galilee, Luke 24: 30, 41, 42; John 21: 12, and not only promised to the Twelve to drink of the fruit of the vine, new in the Kingdom of God, Matt. 26: 29, but appointed them a Kingdom, in which, said He, ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Luke 22: 29, 30. We can grossly carnalize this, on the one hand, and as ethereally spiritualize it on the other. The fact remains that the Resurrection kingdom is ON THE EARTH, and that the children of the resurrection have material bodies, adapted to spiritual uses, and free from certain physical functions. While we must shun an Ebonite Chiliasm on the one hand, we must equally avoid a Gnostic Chiliasm on the other, and not rob corporeity of its rights in the resurrection, or dissolve, under the idea of Glory, the resurrection body into a gauzy texture ballooning in the sky. Such a conception is foreign to the whole word of God. The risen ones shall have a human body, like their Lords, know each other, and be known, and live in relation to the saints UPON the earth, and to the Nations. Their mode of immorality and intercourse are not revealed. It is enough for us to know that not more difficult is the faith of Christs companionship with His disciples during the 40 days next following His resurrection. It is enough to know that Death is robbed of his empire, and that, as Professor Milligan himself admits in his able work on the resurrection, our Lords body was a true spiritual, glorified body, immediately upon His rising, and not first after His ascension, and that our bodies are to take the form and equality of His. Equal to the angels we shall be, in one respect. Like Him, we shall be, in another. As both, in all. Flesh and blood cannot inherit Gods Kingdom, because corruption cannot inherit incorruption, 1 Cor. 15: 50. And yet flesh and bones, pervaded by the [Holy] Spirit, and made incorruptible, is what our Lords body was in His resurrection, Luke 24: 26, a glorious body, and like which - not equal to which - ours shall be at His coming. Phil. 3: 21. In such bodies, the Risen Saints shall have fellowship with the unrisen in the Millennial Age. For the rest, our curiosity must be restrained, and will be, if we listen to the Angels voice to Daniel, Go thy way, Daniel, till the End shall be! Inquire no more. Be content with what is already spoken. Leave the unrevealed future to God. Sure we are of one thing. We shall behold Gods face in righteousness, and be satisfied when we awake with His likeness! Ps. 17: 15. Even so, Lord Jesus!
* Eisenmenger. Eut. Jud. II. 943.
** Ibid 495.
... The Lords Advent is
to annihilate the existence of the Nations, as such,
but to overthrow their politics and rule, and scatter both like chaff,
and then transfer the sovereignty to
(1) The Risen saints [That is, the resurrected faithful dead or the accounted worthy from both Testaments, for,
apart from us they (the afore mentioned Old Testament saints) - should not be made perfect, Heb. 11: 40. Ed.].
(3) The Favoured Nations in the flesh.
... Such is the clear representation of the whole word of God. Earth is beginning to realize the pattern shown in the Mount, and prepare for the full accomplishment in the final new Heaven and Earth, at the close of the 1000 years. The Nations are the Fore-Court of the Temple; Israel and their Holy Land, are the Holy Place; the Holy City and the Risen BRIDE are the Holiest of All; no veil existing. To the perfect realization of this, all things are tending. The invisible is the source of all Realities, and what has been in history is the Beginning and Type of what will be, only in greater perfection. Davids kingdom shall be restored, and among the sure mercies to David is the gathering of Israel, and the resurrection of the faithful [dead] to enjoy that kingdom together; and therein all Christians -[whom our Lord will account worthy]- shall share, at Messiahs Second coming.
... As to the alleged incongruity of the glorified among the un-glorified, and how they will live, and what they will do, and what their condition, and daily occupation, questions revived by Kliefoth, and repeated by others, though raised and answered ages ago; and, further, will there be flies, and bees, and mosquitoes, in the Millennial Age, as still others have sportingly asked; and, yet others again, as to the habit of nature they all belong to that same unbelieving spirit, and cast of mind, that made a Socinus, some Schoolmen, and later profane wits, inquire whether our Lord rose from the grave with His digestive organs? Whether, as Cleopatra wanted to know, the Saints will rise with raiment? and whence came the raiment our Lord wore when He rose? and so, conclude, from all, to a denial of the literal resurrection of the body. Such inquisition, it becomes us to repel, with force, and rebuke into silence, holding, in spite of a thousand questions all men can ask and none can answer, in reference to every doctrine of Scripture, that it is far more Christian to believe what God has spoken, and give him the glory, as Doer of wonderous things, than it is to idealize the prophecy, to suit our vain thoughts, and land ourselves at last into open rejection of the Word of God.
The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. Painful to the last degree is the ever-recurring style of objection we meet with in certain writers, as It is unreasonable? How remote from reasonable probability! It is Inconceivable, incredible, and far from probable, and everything the mere natural man can object to the supernatural. We dismiss it all with the divine words, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Should it be a marvellous thing in my eyes, saith the Lord? The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it! It is the utterance of Jehovah, Doer of these things! It must be so, as God has said. As to the Risen Saints, we know what their perfection is, and how near they are to Christ. It is the righteous man raised [out] from the dead, who is the perfect man, ordained to dominion, in the Age to come.
* * *
STEPHENS ACCUSATION, DEFENCE, AND MARTYRDOM
Few readers, or even students of Scripture perceive much force in Stephens defence, given at such length in the seventh chapter of the Acts. It appears to them only a rambling citation of portions of the patriarchal and Israelite history, having little, or no bearing on the accusations brought against him. They think too, that probably it was broken off, before it reached its intended completion, by violence apprehended or already begun. Hence they are unable to perceive, why his enemies were so exasperated with the speech.
With the Lord the Spirits help, I think to be able to set the reader at such a point of view, that he shall perceive the martyrs defence to be full of force, strongly bearing against the views of his accusers, and a real and triumphant refutation of their charges.
was one of
the seven Greek-speaking Jews appointed by the church at
* Meaning Jews, who were once Roman slaves, but had been made free by their masters.
In the conflict he proved victorious, by the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit given him. This vexed the beaten party, and they sought to slay him. It is easier far to kill a man of God, than to refute the arguments he draws from Scripture.
They accuse him, then, of blasphemy against Moses and against God. They set him before the religious council of the nation, and bring against him false witnesses who affirm:-
This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous
words against this holy place [the
Stephens reply indirectly presents to us the arguments generally used by Jewish opponents of Messiah. We see in them the men of the flesh and of law, full of self-righteousness, confident that they were better than their fathers, and entitled to expect the fulfilment of the blessings promised to Israel by Moses and the prophets: Luke 18: 9; Matt. 23: 30. We see them here expecting a reigning Messiah, and refusing a suffering one. Among the accusers of Stephen too, were Sadducees, men who believed that the only rewards and punishments were received in this life; the immortality of man being to them only a Pharisaic dogma. Such men would measure the criminality of each by his history. If trouble befell him, it would be a proof of guilt, and of his being refused by the Most High: Luke 13: 1-5.
The arguments, then, of the Jewish opponents of Stephen would take some such form as this:-
1. How could he be the Messiah, who
never received from God the
throne and septre promised to the Son of David?
often spoke about the
2. Did not Scripture promise, that Messiahs foes should be cut off? Psa. 89: 23; 72: 9; 97: 3. How came it to pass, then, if Jesus were Messiah, that the disciples of Moses who resisted His claims, and slew His people, were not destroyed by miraculous judgments, as the prophets foretold?
That this argument was considered very powerful and satisfactory, we see, from the appeals made to Jesus upon the cross. Passengers, scribes, elders, chief priests, the spectators, the soldiers, the robbers, all, Jew and Gentile alike, joined to challenge Him to come down from the cross and deliver Himself, if He were indeed the Christ, the King of Israel, the Son of God: Matt. 27: 39-44; Luke 23: 35-46. It was supposed therefore, that His death was the destruction of His pretensions.
3. Another argument against
the claims of our Lord, was
founded on the judicial
decision of His own nation
against Him. The
wise, the learned, the powerful, had rejected His
claims, and given sentence of
death against Him.
The scribes and chief
priests in their council had condemned Him as a
the law said,
that the decision of the priests and judges at
This argument also was considered of great weight, as we see by the discourse of the two disciples going to Emmaus. Jesus, they said, was a prophet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people. Yet the chief priests and rulers gave Him up to the Romans to be put to death and crucified Him. If His own nation refused Him as an impostor, how could He be the Messiah? The Messiahs people were to be His willing subjects, as the Psalmist declared: Psa. 110; Luke 24: 19-21.
4. How again could He be the Messiah, if He threatened to destroy the temple, and change the customs of Moses? Were not all the godly kings of Davids line, zealous for the maintenance of the whole law, restoring it when it had fallen into disuse?
5. Lastly, how could Christians be the children of the kingdom of Messiah, as they supposed, when they were despised, imprisoned, and robbed? Instead of being exalted, they were losing even the privileges which they had gained by the law of Moses. If Jesus were indeed their Head, how was it, that He did not defend them? Why did He not avenge them on those who ill-treated them? What had become of Him? If He were risen, why did He not show Himself, that they might see and confess Him as risen indeed?
Now the speech of Stephen conveys, principally in the way of narrative, a reply to these and like arguments. Viewed from this point of view his defence is a well-directed battery, every shot of which told, and irresistibly laid low his opponents.
The martyr takes the histories of ABRAHAM, JOSEPH, and MOSES, and by these two or three witnesses establishes every word.
1. Take first the case of ABRAHAM.
If now we are to judge by circumstances, how would they prove their views by the life of Abraham?
The Most High began by stripping him of his country, his relations and friends. He was to leave them all for a foreign land, of which he knew nothing. He promised him that the (1) LAND* should be his, and that a (2) POSTERITY numerous as the sands of earth, and as the stars of the sky, should be given him.
A-millennialists would have us believe the
contrary: It has nothing to do
The Kingdom is
within or among you.
There is no other
place to find the
Had the Most High then fulfilled to him these promises?
Did He give him the
land to his SEED.
(2.) Did he see the fulfilment of an innumerable SEED? For long years HE HAD NO CHILD.
What did God say about his seed? That they should be strangers in a foreign land, enslaved and ill-treated, for four hundred years!
How then must they judge concerning Abraham, if they dealt out the same measure to him, that they did to Jesus Christ? They ought to say, That it was clear, that Abraham was deluded, or an impostor; for he never yet had enjoyed the promises, which as he imagined the Almighty had made to him!
But if the treatment of Abrahams seed for four hundred years was to be so severe as foretold, then it was no proof that believers in Jesus as the Christ were deluded, because they were troubled and persecuted in their own land, and for as long a time.
Then too, it was no proof against Jesus being the Individual Heir, and the chief promised Seed of Abraham, that He was refused and rejected even unto death.
How would they reply? - We admit all that; but another time is coming, in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, shall be raised from the dead, and their seed shall then enjoy the land, and become innumerable; while other promises will be fulfilled to them that are included in the reign of Messiah, the great Heir of Abraham. Moreover God promised, at the very time that He ratified the covenant to Abraham, that He would judge the nation that persecuted them, and bring them out of their bondage to serve him in wealth and freedom.
To this plea the [martyrs] reply was evident at a glance.
agree with you.
But if the future time of retribution,
and of the fulfilment of promises avails in the case
of Abraham, it avails for
We also say, Judgment is coming on
persecute Abrahams spiritual
seed, the children of his faith. And
Abrahams true sons shall have a greater deliverance, and better riches, than
those which rescued
Of the time of trouble which was to
precede the deliverance,
Jehovah gave an emblem, which ought to confirm our
the covenant was ratified, a
furnace of smoke preceded the
torch of fire: v, 17. That is, the
brick-kilns and rigour of
Stephens observation too, that the God of glory showed Himself to Abraham in Mesopotamia, long before he dwelt in Canaan, is a commencing refutation of their idea, that the service of Jehovah could only take place in the holy land and holy city.
The martyr then speaks of the covenant of circumcision, (Gen. 17,) which followed on the first covenant, (Gen. 15,) and then traces the line of the circumcised posterity of Abraham up to Joseph.
What think you, ye Hebrews, of Joseph?
was great and
wise, the favoured of his father and of his God,
ruler of the world, and
But what of his earthly history, both amidst his own family, and the Gentiles?
moved with envy,
sold Joseph into
Mans rejected one was Gods accepted one. The same conduct then on the part of Israel against Christ, prompted by the same spirit of envy, is no proof that Jesus is not the Christ, the beloved Son of God: Matt. 27: 18; Mark 15: 19. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver: Jesus for thirty. Joseph was delivered up to Midianites; Jesus to Romans.
humiliation prove Joseph to be forsaken of the Most
High? If it did not,
neither does the same affliction avail as an argument
against Jesus. God
was not only with him, but delivered him
out of all his afflictions, and
gave Him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh
might be true that Jesus despised,
falsely accused by his brethren, might
only delivered out of all his trials by resurrection,
but promoted on high
before the King of kings, to be ruler of the world,
and Lord of [all]
household, whether angels or men!
rejected by his own family, and forgotten, found a home and glory in
The first half of Josephs life is heavily laden with affliction. Till the time came that his cause was known, the word of the Lord tried him. The second half of it was glorious beyond all former example, and without a break. Might it not be thus one day with the rejected Nazarite also!
Do you say, How should He be the Messiah and Deliverer of Israel, who could not deliver Himself from the degrading death of crucifixion? Try the same reasoning on Joseph! Could he be the exalted of God, and the deliverer of his nation and of the world, who could not save himself from being put down into a pit, sold for less than a slaves price, and thrust as a malefactor into a dungeon under false accusation?
judgment on his persecutors. Famine assailed
The second time of the patriarchs seeking Joseph, he is discovered to them, and he makes known his kindred to Pharaoh.
So Jesus, the rejected at His first coming, may at His second coming make Himself known to His brethren of Israel, and forgive them; while He sets them on high above the nations of the world; and reassembles them to their own land.
other patriarchs died in
* Our fathers died, and
were carried over into Sychem,
and laid in the
Abraham bought for the sum of
money of the sons of Emmor
(the father) of Sychem.
Stephens memory here tripped? Was not the
sepulchre that Abraham bought
purchased of Ephron the
23. And was not
We come now to the critical history of Moses.
Apply now to Moses the same principle whereby you condemn Christ. What would you have thought of him, if judged by the circumstances of his life?
That he was rejected of God! Though he led on his nation with the hope of the land flowing with milk and honey, he was himself shut out of it by the judical decision of God. Does not that overthrow your estimate of Moses? Neither let a like lot undo your view of Christ!
But let us with Stephen enter more particularly into this history.
1. Moses was born as the time of promised deliverance drew near, yet he was in peril from his birth. That Jesus then was born in like circumstances was no proof against him, but rather an evidence that He was the predicted prophet like unto Moses, whom he began to resemble, even from the time of His birth.
Moses was fair to God. So the margin gives it, and so it ought to have been rendered. Much more, was not Jesus beautiful God-ward, as proved by the songs of angels glorifying the Most High at His birth? And what was Jehovahs testimony at His baptism? This is my beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased.
pleased, could have dwelt in a kings house, far above
the afflictions which
befell his people; and was a fair way to be next the
throne of Egypt, if not on
the throne itself.
But his heart of
compassion yearned over his oppressed brethren.
his glory, to take part with the afflicted people of
God, when he was forty
years of age, and fully competent to weigh the
consequences of such a choice.
not Jesus then be the Prophet like Moses, if He
stooped from a loftier throne,
moved by compassion for
Was not this His becoming a prophet like Moses, while yet he was superior to him?
bent on his
peoples welfare, on one occasion stepped forward, by
overt act, to testify how
fully he had taken
the side of
[* NOTE. That statement was true during the time of His earthly ministry while on earth; but it does not apply now, after His resurrection, or in the future: I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reigns and hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your works (Rev. 2: 23, R.V.).]
disappointed in his attempt to engage his peoples
afflictions. But he supposed, that his
brethren would understand,
that God by his hand
is giving them salvation;
BUT THEY UNDERSTOOD
the cause of Jesus was
like this! God was giving
a higher salvation to
have next the
crisis of Moses effort depicted.
His own people were
divided among themselves; the
unrighteous part prevailing. Their discords he would
gladly have removed, as a
first step towards their rescue.
doer of wrong to his neighbour,
refused him both by
word and deed. He
thrust him away, and
denied his mission of deliverance, reproaching with his
very act of favour
towards his countryman. Might it not
be then, that the kindness and
grace of Jesus toward Israel, had been in like manner
misunderstood by the
nation, and His purpose of redeeming them refused by
the proud and oppressing
sect of the Pharisees? Not that, in one
point, the reproach launched
against Moses could be dealt against the Jews.
When besought to divide an inheritance between
two brothers at variance
He refused, in words like this opposer of Moses.
who made me a judge or divider over you? Luke 12:
14. Moses in
justice smote the Egyptian to death.
Christ in grace delivered some from death, and
healed the stricken ear
of one of His persecutors.
reproached for his act of grace to
of the two
parties then would they say
was right in word and deed
on the occasion of old? Moses? Or
Moses, and be with him in
is in peril of life, and flees.
forty years he tarries in another land; and finds a
wife, and has a family
rejected might have fled,
but would for others sake give up His life.
come next to
Moses second and successful visitation of
Moses it might
be said, that his first
attempt to deliver
of the mission
of Jesus this could not be said.
appeared to Jesus at His baptism.
new name of God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, was there
displayed in act. Moses
is obliged to ask the name of God which
he is to bear to
But if it be said, The appearance to Moses took place after his rejection and flight, we still find new resemblances unfolding themselves, and new superiorities. At the intercession of the descended Christ, as Peter testifies, the Holy Spirit, as the angel (or sent One) of the Lord, descends [on the day of Pentecost] in fire on the disciples of the rejected Christ. Might they not then be the bush that was burning, yet unconsumed? Moses wondered at the sight. And did not men of Israel out of all nations wonder, when the [Holy] Spirit coming down in wind and fire, gave to the 120 to speak with new tongues, while tongues of fire that consumed not, stood on their heads? Out of the fire of the bush came forth the voice of Jehovah, testifying that He was the God of the fathers. Might not then the testimonies of the inspired apostles be true; that this new manifestation came from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Acts 3: 13, 25; 5: 30; 22: 14.
was it that
this manifestation of God in Moses day took place? In
the holy land, and its
but before either
tabernacle or temple were built, in
Moses was refused,
Now come, I will send thee into
THIS MOSES whom they denied, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? THE SAME did God send to be a ruler and deliverer with the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.*
* Moses said: Take my life: Jesus gave His life.
Moses, and drove him away.
Denied him in those very aspects, in which,
he saw, the God of
* Reference to the righteous servant of Isaiah. Paul is the first to witness to Christ as the Son: Acts 9. ** Same word as in Acts 7.
in the work
of deliverance, was not
Divine Person attended with His divine
command to arrange all, and to put down all human power
with divine force.
And had not the same been in
part shown, when the
Divine Spirit, at Jesus baptism, descended on Him?
began publicly to act in the wisdom
of God, and the power of God. Was that not
something higher than Moses
commission in the desert?
And what had
come to pass since then?
Had not all
The same (Moses) brought them out and showed wonders
and signs in
Again and again does the speaker thrust upon his unwilling audience the identity of the chosen One of God, with the denied One of their fathers! They spoke of Moses in that olden day with contempt. This Moses! So were men of Stephens day with like contempt treating the Lord of glory. This Jesus the Nazarite! In Stephens day the whole nation stood up to avenge on the martyr a supposed slight against Moses, even though but an uttered word! Perhaps, then, one day the tables might so turn with regard to Jesus, and the nation might worship and rejoice in Him as their deliverer whom their fathers persecuted and slew!
Moses, who at
the first appearing to
a period of forty
years miracles in
This is the Moses which
the children of
To him shall ye hearken.
O then, this new Prophet is also to be a law-giver, an issuer of divine commands! Perhaps those commands may be a repeal of some, or of all of those of Moses! Then it would be no blasphemy against Moses to testify, that the prophet he foretold had come; and that the new prophet was to be listened to, in preference to the old. Did not Moses change the fathers customs? To be like Moses, then, Jesus should change theirs!
Was Moses meek? Jesus was meeker still. Moses once, under strong provocation prayed against his opponents. Jesus allowed them to proceed to scourging, spitting, gibes, and crucifixion!
martyr turns on his accusers with immense force. You accuse me of blasphemy
against Moses. Do you
yourselves obey him? Are you not
in conspicuous opposition to
foretold a successor to himself,
who was to be guide to
This is he who was with the
(A.V.) - the called out redeemed ones from
seen not only in the deliverance out of
Moses was not
alone in his work in the wilderness.
went the angel of the Lord, the
angel of the covenant, the One who spoke to him in
God of old
speak in the wilderness?
He was at that
moment speaking to
Were Moses oracles living? The oracles of Christ by the Holy Ghost were life-giving. They witness to One who is Resurrection and Life.
To whom our fathers were
unwilling to become
thrust him away, and
turned back in the hearts unto
its force still continues,
and deepens. Even
Moses, because of his absence, invisible on high, but appearing in the presence of the Lord for their sakes, was despised and thrust aside by the tribes, and with him his God. But what said the men of Stephens day tauntingly of Jesus? What is become of your Christ? The same taunt did their fathers launch at Moses. The same reply was to be given concerning Moses, as Jesus disciples gave concerning Christ. He is on high in the presence of God for us. But Aarons mouth was stopped from bearing that witness; for he with the other elders had, in unbelief left the height which Moses had assigned him: Ex. 24: 14.
The contempt which the Jews of that day were expressing for Jesus - This Jesus the Nazarite will destroy this place - their fathers had uttered in the same manner against Moses, As for this Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. This was particularly stinging. Some six or seven times does the martyr make use of their word of contempt to glorify Moses, and to discover to them the opposition between Gods thoughts of Moses and the nations. This Moses whom they refused, the same did God send: 35. This (Moses) brought them out: 36. This is that Moses that said: 37. This is he that was in the church in the wilderness: 38.
41. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands.
This is shown us in Rev. 9: 20, 21. In Moses day they worshipped a calf. In the last days it will be the worship of Satan and his Wild-Beast-King: Rev. 13. With the refusal of the Lamb and his Father, Satan and his blaspheming king and false prophet, step in.
God turned and
gave them up to worship the host of heaven,
as it is written in the book of the prophets, Did
ye offer me slain beasts and sacrifices for forty
years in the wilderness,
O house of
that act of
idolatry in Moses day God was displeased, that He
judicially gave them over to worship the starry host. And
answerably thereto arose
a system of
false worship, mocking the promises
and hopes given by Jehovah.
They carried in the wilderness a rival
tabernacle, dedicated to Moloch
king of heaven. They carried
also the star of Remphan. Remphan
in place of Jehovah
26, Jehovah Ropha,)
and the star to come out of Jacob, with the sceptre
to rise out of
the speech, then, is directed against certain fallacious
pleas and ideas of
so. God has
The part of Stephens speech which ensues, refers to the charge of his blaspheming the temple.
44. The tabernacle of witness was (intended) for our fathers in the desert, as He commanded who spake to Moses, that he should make it after the pattern which he had seen.
They boasted of the temple and of Moses. But Moses and their fathers had only a moving temple. That alone was suited to their frequent change of place. It was also the tabernacle of witness, or of testimony, not the temple of fulfilment. This edifice bore testimony in several directions.
(1) Against their
Was not Jehovahs
a testimony against that of Molochs?
tabernacle that bore His ark of the covenant, was a
witness of the better
things to come according to His promises; so the
tabernacle of Moloch could
but be a token of the dark days of Gods
judgment yet to be.
As the one
proclaimed, that the land should be entered, and the
enemies of the tribes
scattered; so the other betokened the triumph of
(2) But the
tabernacle of witness made
by Moses, was also a
testimony to a
system of things yet to come, far superior to itself. For Moses as
Which (tabernacle) also our fathers with Jesus (Joshua) having received, brought in (to the land) at the time of taking possession of the nations, whom God drove out from before our fathers, up to the days of David; who found favour before God, and asked to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house.
worship under Moses, and even for four hundred years was
only a tent, removed
from place to place.
David desired to
build a house for the Lord, yet though he found great
favour with Jehovah, he
was not permitted.
It was very
significant, that Moses could not lead his people into
the land of
must give way to Jesus. (Joshua,
it not be then, that the Jesus whom they despised
might be the conqueror, who
should give them possession of their land in a day to come, and overthrow the Gentile enemies of
48. But the Most High is not dwelling in houses made with hands, as the prophet saith, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, what kind of a house will ye build me? Or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?
then, the Lord has promised one
day to dwell in
has shown, that Jehovah was not tied to any
one place of manifestation.* He had
discovered Himself to Abraham in
[* See Psa. 139. ** This truth - (relative to the Holy Spirits indwelling a regenerate believer) - runs throughout both Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. ]
Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they slew those who beforehand spoke of the coming of the Righteous One, of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers: Ye who received the law at the command of angels, and observed it not!
Their circumcision was the boast of Israelites. This boast the martyr takes away from them. They had circumcision in the flesh, but not in the spirit; the sign, not the thing signified. Their own Moses had reproached them, as the stiff-necked, rebellious against God, and blind. They refused to be turned from evil by any testimony: Lev. 26: 41; Deut. 10: 16. Their hearts refused Gods commands. Nay, they refused even to hear the Lords words, uttered by Stephen the inspired, as they presently afterwards show.
before him better than their fathers?
no means! They
refused the Son of
the [Holy] Spirits
descent to bear witness to the Son, they
refused the [Holy] Spirit too. They had rejected
the prophets, and persecuted
into whose mouth God had put messages of hope,
concerning the Deliverer to
come, were maltreated and slain.
then could they imagine, that their national and
official condemnation of
Christ, really disproved His claims?
only condemned themselves. It only showed, that
the spirit of
There was one distinguished above the world of sinners as Jesus Christ the righteous. How had they served Him? They had betrayed Him to the Romans, and put Him to death.
But were they not strict observers of law? No! Though angels spoke it, they and their fathers had all along disobeyed it, specially in their refusal of the prophet foretold by Moses, and the crucifixion of the Righteous One.
Such was the Holy Spirits testimony against these self-righteous ones. Such the breaking up of all their arguments! A quiet statement of undeniable facts given of God, scattered all their objections of confidence. The effect of the speech is strikingly given: more so in the original, than in the translation.
54. Now while they were hearing these things they were being sawn through in their hearts, and gnashed their teeth at him.
They refused to accept the testimony. Hence they were troubled by the truth. It could not be denied. It was stronger than their hearts. They might resist like wood; but the truth was strong as iron, sharp with many teeth like the saw. Each statement was a new point to pierce them. It was delivered with power of the Holy Ghost. They would not yield. But they displayed their hatred of the truth, by rage. They were like the damned themselves. Gnashing of teeth is one of the characteristics of the lost.* Here the transgressors gnash their teeth at the inspired of the Holy Ghost, the man who was righteous through faith. For so it was written. The wicked plotteth against the righteous, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming: Psa. 37: 12, 13; 112: 10; 35: 16.
always necessarily only
those who are eternally
the Church are also describe as wicked
5: 11, 12, R.V.
; Depart, I pray you,
from the tents of these wicked
touch nothing of theirs, lest
be consumed in all their sins: Num.
These men were those the Lord redeemed
The Lords messenger was hated with a malice that could not restrain even its visible expression. This shows how completely the whole speech told against their feelings and their arguments.
They lacked but one more point.
But he being full of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, Behold, I contemplate the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.
He had proved the argument, that God was not bound to any place on earth. He had adduced the testimony of Moses, that there was a better sanctuary of God, than the one of mans building on earth. He had cited from the prophet a proof, that in this dispensation, God is not dwelling in temples made by hands upon earth. But now he is further to be made an eye-witness of the true temple, and of the glory of God in heaven. There he beholds the Jesus whom they rejected, stationed in the place of the highest honour with God, neither Moses nor Elijah being seen there.
The speech had showed, that despite their condemnation of Jesus, He might have gone up into the heaven. But now Stephen, his eyes opened by the Spirit of God, can testify - He is in heaven, I see Him.
He calls Jesus the Son of Man. This is His title in Dan. 7: 13, 14. It was of Him, then, that Daniel spoke, as the Ruler of all the earth. That is the title of the Governor of all things in heaven and earth, (Psa. 8,) in the promised day of glory.
This was not to be endured. Like the deaf adder, they stop their ears; refusing to listen to the truth: Psa. 58: 4. They rush on him with feet swift to shed blood. They cast stones, and in this way many could take part in his death.
They cast him out of the city, as they did our Lord: for the disciple that is perfect shall be as his Master.
prays to Jesus,
as the Saviour when departing prayed to His Father Lord
Jesus, receive my
spirit. The Redeemer,
then, is the
110. The Father
hath made the rejected Jesus both
Lord and Christ. Stephen, therefore, owns him as Adonai,
not this sin
to their charge.
High Priest is against him, but the new High Priest in
heaven is on his side; a
Divine Help. With
the blood of the new
covenant is come a new spirit also, far beyond that of
the old. When
the Spirit of God inspired the son of
Jehoiada to testify against the idolatry of
In the present martyrs case, earth closed against the man of faith, the inspired by the Spirit of Christ. But heaven opened to him, and in the vision of the glories there, he can overlook the storm of earth. Death to him is robbed of its sting. He only falls asleep. At the first and blessed resurrection he shall reign with his Master.
argument, then, we see, that
a new dispensation must
arise in order to fulfil the
promises made to the
Now is the time of Gods patience, calling on an evil world to repent; calling
the men of faith to come out from the world, and to
work and suffer for, and
with, a rejected Christ.
The [millennial] kingdom of glory to come is set before us, as our comfort under trial for Christ, and as the reward and prize of our calling: Phil. 3. Soon the
days of vengeance
for the martyrs blood will fall on the earth; and
the watchful disciples will be caught out of the hour of temptation which is
coming upon all the inhabitable earth, to test its
dwellers, and to exhibit
their sinfulness: Matt. 23; 24;
Rev. 16. In
that day the glory of Jesus will fill heaven and earth,
Courage, then, Christians who suffer for Christ! The inferior seed of Abraham was left in bondage and trials four hundred years. What wonder, if the superior seed of Abrahams faith are called to suffer too, and for a longer period? It is not our calling to set the world right, and to find our portion here below, in this fleeting life. But we are to wait till the Redeemer comes, till the dead in Christ awake, and the Saviour dispenses His rewards to His faithful servants. May we meet in joy IN THAT DAY!
* * *
THE RIGHTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
MINISTRY OF THE WORD OF GOD
By G. H. LANG
Letter One. November 1937.
Mr. N-------- has informed me of your wishes regarding what I said at your annual meeting upon the unfaithful servant of our Lords parables in Luke 19 and Matthew 25, that you desire such subjects to be omitted from ministry I may give in future.
In various of my writings I have emphasized the duty of local elders to restrain in their midst what they regard as unscriptural or unprofitable ministry, and that this, not the resort to a controlled platform, is the scriptural way of dealing with such ministry. It follows that I shall, of course, be ready to have respect to your desires, should the Lord again send me to gatherings for the ordering of which you are responsible to Him, even though personally I may think that in this particular case you, with every desire to do what is right, are acting partially and not to the true welfare of the people of God or in real interests of the truth.
It is the easier to accept your suggestion because of the gracious and brotherly way in which it has been expressed. I cannot but contrast this with the very different manner in which I was treated many years ago by responsible brethren then in your city, and I rejoice and thank God that a happier and more godly spirit now prevails, for this will command His approval.
It is not necessary to say more, save to thank you heartily for the kind things said as to other elements of my ministry among you. I am writing to Mr. N------ personally upon some aspects of these matters, and you will be welcome to read what I am saying, if you wish.
Commending you to the grace of the Lord Jesus for your holy and responsible service in His house,
Yours affectionately in Him, G. H. LANG.
My dear Brother,
Enclosed with this is a letter in answer to yours on behalf of the brethren in oversight, for which I thank them, as well as yourself for the brotherly covering note. In the latter I have expressed my sincere appreciation of the gracious tone in which the brethren have written, and the same is true of your own kind note.
I have remarked upon the welcome difference in this to the action taken in 1918 or 1919. The dear brethren then leading the assemblies in your parts specially and urgently (by telegram) asked me to expound to a gathering from the whole country certain features of my prophetic views. At the close of the evening meeting one of the oldest brethren in your city, now with Christ, assured me that, while some had consented to the invitation with all sincerity of heart, others had done so because they hoped that in the issue my ministry would be thereby prevented, or at least prejudiced. Subsequent events justified his statement, as you may remember.
I mention this now because it emphasizes the solemn responsibility incurred by rulers in the house of God when they deal with matters concerning the ministry of the Word in their midst. For those brethren virtually deprived the sheep of the Lord under their care of any further help in the following thirteen years which it might conceivably have pleased Him to send through me. For this the Great Shepherd may hold them responsible.
Let me now tell you how I came five years ago to resume on my own account attendance at your conferences. Happening to be in the neighbourhood just before the meetings an esteemed brother and I were rejoicing that they still followed the New Testament plan of liberty of ministry. He added, As you feel so strongly to this effect ought you not to support the brethren in their course by attending the meetings? After some hesitation (in view of the circumstances above mentioned), I decided to do so, and was gratified when I found that a friend had felt moved graciously to prepare the way at your end without knowing what I had in mind. The present kind words by yourself and your brethren as to my ministry in general justify the hope that this step was of the Lord.
In my letter I have expressed my readiness to do as the brethren wish as regards not dealing with such subjects as the unfaithful servant introduced by our Lord in Luke 19, but I have added, should the Lord again send me among you. Let me say plainly that this is not a veiled intimation that I shall be unwilling to come again on account of their present action. My heart will not be affected by it. I shall study to be as wholly at the ordering of the Lord as to your city as much as any other place. But this I must say, that on different occasions when action has been taken to restrict ministry, I have seen the Lord Himself very definitely cease to direct my path thither and open doors elsewhere.
It has to be remembered that, in the event of a restriction not to His mind being imposed, His rights are invaded, and He knows how to act in His own interests and for the justification of His servants. It has very often been the case that opposition to a servant of God in one land or district has been followed by His Master depriving that place of his service and sending him to be a blessing in another: they will not receive of thee testimony concerning Me ... Depart: for I will send thee forth far thence (Acts 22: 18-21).
When the action taken in your district years ago, and similar concurrent treatment by a certain magazine, made difficulties for me in some parts of this country, suddenly, without any thought of it on my part, doors were opened to many other lands, with needy and wonderful spheres. On the other hand, a few years ago, when some leading brethren in a distant country laid down a condition without the warrant of the Word, for four weeks I sat silent among them before the Lord would give me any opening of the mouth, though the assembly as a whole was hungering for food.
Such things teach how solemn a matter it is to deal with ministry, lest it be forfeited, and that those whose duty it is need to have the clearest warrant from the Word of the Lord, and not to act merely out of regard to their own judgment, or preference, or the feelings of others for or against this or that teacher or line of teaching. It is woefully easy to tolerate what the many approve, or to restrain what influential men dislike, and thereby to hinder the [Holy] Spirit from giving what souls need. Medicine is not always palatable. If I mistake not, this is going on widely to-day, is a factor in the decrease of spiritually effective ministry, and is attended with real injury to the moral condition of Gods people. Except (perhaps) in the very first generation of Christians has there ever been a period when the views of the majority have been the truth? I heard Dr. A. T. Pierson say: We have a saying, Great is the truth, and will prevail. That is never so in this age. Truth is always with the minority; and so convinced am I of this that if I find myself agreeing with the majority on any matter, I make haste and get over to the other side, for I know I am wrong.
Are not all right thinking brethren troubled by the undeniable increase of serious and open moral declension among Christians? Ought we not to be enquiring deeply, and before God, as to the cause of this? Doubtless they are many, but does it go beyond the greater probability, almost certainty, that the great majority at least of those over whom we sorrow hold the popular prophetic views? Do they not agree in rejecting the application of the unfaithful servant to [regenerate] believers, in opposing the thought of penalties following the judgment seat of Christ, and in asserting the certainty of a place in the millennial kingdom for every Christian? And ought not brethren to ask seriously whether anything but moral weakness can result when the searching words of the Lord, certainly addressed ostensibly to His own [blood-bought] servants, are emasculated of all force and application to such as being relegated to the unregenerate, and His judgment seat is robbed of its terrors for evil-doers among His [redeemed] people?
points of interpretation in which I do not agree with
the Newtonian school of
are too pronouncedly
also do not give due
weight to the solemn warnings of the Word to [regenerate]
think them mistaken in
regarding the parousia as
continuous movement, and that Darby
was right in holding it to be a period, though he erred
in placing its
beginning before Antichrist, instead of at the close of
the Tribulation, as
This was too quickly and largely evidenced. For Darby himself soon showed that his views on these matters had no moral power to make him afraid of the consequences of bitterness, calumny, slander, and world-wide strife among saints, such as ruined the testimony to the unity of believers committed to Brethren at the first. His chief lieutenants fully imbibed and displayed the opinions and spirit of their leader; and in general, allowing indeed for happy exceptions, those since who have most strenuously fought for his views on these matters have shown the like intolerance. Years ago there was a meeting of leading Open Brethren of different opinions to consider these disputed questions. When I asked one of that period why nothing of value came of that gathering he answered, Because so and so (naming a strenuous maintainer of popular views) was such a little fighting cock! This is the more observable since Darby and so many others were otherwise such good and useful men.
Perhaps many do not recognize to what lengths this spirit has gone and still goes. The leading brother of an Open Meeting told me unequivocally that he would not break bread with anyone who held the view that the church will go through the Tribulation. I asked if he really meant that should Muller have sought fellowship he would have refused it. But he stuck to his assertion.
Doubtless most among us would not go to so plainly unscriptural a length as to make fellowship dependent upon agreement as to prophecy, but it is commonly made a test for accepting ministry. I read a letter from a former convener of the largest annual gatherings in the north which stated that they had not felt difficulty in receiving James Wright of Bristol to their platform because they privately judged he would not obtrude his view upon the point just mentioned, upon which he agreed with his father-in-law, George Muller. So that the acceptance of ministry from that man of faith and most acceptable teacher was tacitly contingent upon his suppressing part of his convictions as to the truth of God, and the liberty in ministry of a spiritually great man was restricted by the opinions of the smaller men around him. Let it be plainly asked was it the mind and requirement of the Head of the church that James Wrights grace and forbearance should be presumed upon by men of less grace and more opinionativeness than he? If this be affirmed, we shall require Scripture to justify the attitude.
But bigotry [amongst saints] can go much further than this. At your last conference, concerning which you have now written, a leading and esteemed brother enquired whether it is the case that I hold that souls are unconscious between death and resurrection, for this had been asserted to him most positively, as quite beyond doubt. I thanked him for raising the question, and equally positively denied the assertion.
Again, in a widely read magazine I have been charged with teaching that [regenerate] believers may be chastised in the lake of fire. Not one word of mine, spoken or written, can be added to support this; it is completely false. Yet it was so stated in print, so as to be read by tens and tens of thousands, and is still believed by many without question. In part, it was because I saw a rare opportunity publicly to correct this wrong notion that I explained among you recently that I regard the outer darkness as NOT the lake of fire, for the charge in question depends upon erroneously identifying these two figures of speech.
Now no possible end can be served by thus spreading baseless charges except to discredit the teacher and thus to prejudice his teaching. To such unworthy measures will holders of the popular views resort. A private remonstrance to the writer in the magazine, with definite assurance that he was mistaken, was met with a blank refusal to believe that I was telling the truth by my denial; and, with my denial before it, the magazine proceeded further in its attempt to fasten the charge upon me.
Is it not most distressing to see Christians spreading falsehood to support what they think truth? It reminds one of the saying of the world, that a diplomat is a man who tells lies for the good of his country. And is it any wonder if those who know of such actions ask whether the easy-going views that leave the conscience so undisturbed can be truth, or whether there must not be some other line of teaching in the Word calculated to prevent such conduct, or at least to condemn it and denounce penalties against it?
Not so long ago at an afternoon meeting I gave ministry to which no exception was or could be taken. The leading local brother said he thought it had been very good. Yet at the evening meeting an evangelist and a professional man dragged in the controversial topics I had not touched, as the basis of violent and bitter personal attacks, and one of them went so far as to extend his attack to an esteemed ministering brother not present.
Concerning the teaching of a partial rapture, and so the view held by Newton, Muller, Tregelles and other godly men, that the church will be on earth during the Tribulation, the editor of a magazine which champions fiercely the popular teaching, wrote in October, 1937, the words: Let the Devil use all these evasions (my italics). Similarly, a well-known evangelist, as I was told, said that the Devil knew well what he was doing when he got Mr. Lang to adopt the opinions he holds! The latter has already gone, and the editor is on his way to that tribunal where, as the presiding Judge has solemnly announced, it is by their words that men are justified or are condemned.
Thus have bitterness and intolerance too often characterized the popular views throughout the whole country of their existence, a long enough test to show their moral importance. What but carelessness of soul can possibly be the effect of such a statement as the said professional man made with emphasis: No matter how you live as a Christian, you are certain to be part of the bride of Christ and to reign with Him? or of a similar mischievous assertion I heard in 1935 from one who has taught these views for sixty years, Every believer will be raised when Christ comes, no matter how worldly you may be? Many teachers of the general views would shrink from putting the matter so baldly, but it is what they mean, it is inherent in their doctrine.
the other hand,
the leading victims of Darbys attacks differed from him
upon these very
Tregelles said in
print at the time that every one knew that if only
Newton had agreed with Darby
on prophecy the latters voice would not have been
lifted against his old
friend when his serious, though temporary, doctrinal
error was discovered.
And when this later came to light the evil
consequences of not regarding the Gospels as for
Christians was at once seen;
for the one to whose notice the error was first brought
was an old colleague of
Newton, but he
did not follow the
principles for dealing with an offending brother as
laid down by the Lord in Matthew
18; he did not draw the private
attention of Newton to the error or make any attempt
to gain his brother and
win him back to the truth upon the matter in question;
instead, and without any notice, he wrote and allowed
to be issued a public
attack upon him as a heretic.
The influence of beliefs on practice is powerful. Several years ago the editor of a magazine then running sent to me the draft of an article he proposed to insert attacking me and my view of a pre-tribulation removal of watchful believers. It was saturated with vinegar and vitriol. I declined to discuss the matter, saying that if there was to be such mud-flinging I was ready to endure it but not to join in it. I pointed out that the views he held (Darbys) evidently had no moral force to prevent him from bitter, ungracious treatment of a brother, just as they had not restrained Darby; but, on the contrary, believing that, were I to be alive at the time, bitterness and strife might cause me to go through the Tribulation for my perfecting, instead of escaping it, I dare not treat him as he was proposing to treat me. As far as I know the article was not published. I am happy now to be on friendly terms with its writer. Perhaps he has profited by experience he himself has since had of being attacked and disapproved for another view which he holds.
The moral bearing of any teaching is a chief test of its nature. While writing this letter a veteran missionary of more than forty years service, writes to me as follows: I am getting well into the typed study of Selective Resurrection, and I think thus far the exhortations and warnings are very important, and do stimulate a more careful and consistent walk with Christ. Similarly a keen north countryman, to whom a friend explained this view, felt its healthy moral quality and said: Look ye, mon, if its wrong its right, and if tothers right its wrong.
Many years ago a lady was working with others in the gospel in another land. Earnest and able she made herself a nuisance by striving to put everyone else right in their work. I sent her a copy of D. M. Pantons Judgment Seat of Christ. Now this contains sundry things I do not subscribe, but it presses the searching warnings Scripture gives in connection with that solemn event. The lady wrote that when she learned from its pages that the Lord will deal with all wrong things she felt no further necessity for her to be judging and correcting everyone. For twenty-five years she has been a valued helper in that sphere.
Twenty-eight years since I met on a journey a gifted woman living to spread the gospel. I explained the passages which show that sharing with Christ in the millennial kingdom may be forfeited if a child of God walks after the world or the flesh. Meeting her in that land eighteen months later it was to find her just sailing to her own country to face things out with a worldly-minded minister to whom she was engaged. She was resolved to break with him if he was not ready to become wholehearted as a disciple. He was not willing, and she made the sacrifice determined. By her own avowal the awakening and resolution was the direct result of what she had learned through our conversation. She was not willing to risk the best that God is offering of fellowship with Christ but was determined to obtain a full reward. For twenty years, until her death, she pressed on.
1923 my path
took me to a remote place in
Such results, deep and lasting, I have seen; and I am yet waiting to meet one believer to testify that he walked godly until these views were imbibed, and then as a consequence, he was turned back from piety and purity. And these instances are given to press the question, which responsible brethren really ought to face, as to the grounds they can produce from Scripture for suppressing the public exposition in the assemblies of teaching which it cannot be denied is morally healthy. With schools of thought and interpretation I have no concern: I would not write or speak a sentence to support any of them. The truth of the return of the Lord is so stated in the Word as to command and enforce practical holiness: every one that hath this hope set on Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure: seeing ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in His sight (1 John 3: 3; 2 Pet. 3: 14). Any view which neither demands nor produces holiness is not accordant with this; any teaching the evident tendency of which is to promote it ought at least to be heard.
what is now
being urged be observed with
is not here asserted that the
popular prophetic views were or are
the cause of those who advocate them being so frequently
controversy. The causes lie in the state of the heart.
But it is urged that these views
never have hindered this lamentable spirit nor provoked
love and patience, and
that in their very nature they are not calculated to do
so, because they empty
the New Testament if its
teaching of the severity
of God towards His own family, and thus make His goodness
a temptation to
one-sided, antinomian treatment of the truth hides the
warning that those who
call on God as Father are
remember that He is also a Judge, and a judge
Who deals with everyone, believer as much as unbeliever, according to his
works; and therefore we are to pass the time of our
sojourning on earth in fear,
striving to be holy because He is a holy Father and
Judge with whom we have to
reckon. It is to be
noted that this line of teaching
follows directly upon the call to set our hope upon the
revelation of Jesus
Christ, and concludes with a call to be unfeigned and
fervent love of the
Pet. 1: 13-22).
If Darby had professed such
a love for his brother
Let one detail be taken as a sample and test. The popular assertion is that the Lord may come at any moment. Many blessed and godly men hold this tenaciously; but if they can and will examine the matter critically they can perceive that this opinion is quite unnecessary to holiness. Peter did not hold it, for he knew from Christ that he had to live till he should be old and then die (John 21: 18), and it was in this expectation that he lived (2 Pet. 1: 13, 14). Paul did not hold it, certainly not between the time when the Lord told him definitely that he must bear witness at Rome and his having done this (Acts 23: 11).
The essential matter that the Lord will come, and that each should be ready to face His judgment, is powerful in moral effect: the supposition that He may come to-day adds nothing to this effect, as is clearly shown by the renowned saintliness of men who flatly reject the idea. When William Hake told Robert Chapman that someone he had met held that the Lord might come at any moment, that choice saint answered, Well, brother Hake, I am ready, but its not in the Bible.
This moral aspect of the matter being really beyond challenge, the question must be pressed, Why shall a violent disturber of the peace of Gods house like a Darby be encouraged to assert boldly from every desk and on every platform that the Lord may come to-night, but a Chapman must not declare his belief to the contrary under the penalty of being blamed for grieving his brethren and as a provoker of strife? Why shall the one be in order in asserting dogmatically that the church will not, simply cannot, go through the Tribulation, while a George Muller, James Wright, David Baron, or A. T. Pierson may not equally freely explain his judgment to the contrary? Where in this discrimination is the impartiality, the fairness, the humility, the love of truth for its own sake, that ought to make all children of God and more especially the rulers of His house?
For the complaint mentioned has become the long-established habit of mind, as the very message you now send from your dear brethren instances. They say that the putting forth of diverse views creates an awkward situation, because other brethren teach differently and it is a pity to cause discussions. But there would be no awkward situation were it not for the intolerance of the beloved brethren of the popular views against any other view. They virtually claim the right that their opinions alone shall be heard in the assemblies. This claim can in no wise be conceded. It is not warranted by Scripture, nor by the earlier and palmier days of the assemblies we love.
as to Scripture. We are all
firmly agreed that teachings depreciatory
of the Person, Offices, and Work of the Lord Jesus
Christ are not Christian at
all, and therefore must on no account be given any place
in a gathering of
But as to
lesser questions, however important in their measure,
how were those dealt with
in apostolic days?
A striking and
critical instance is in Acts 15: 1.
We read that Certain men came down from
fundamental to the matter of [eternal] salvation,
therefore was of vastly greater importance than any
questions of prophetic
there was not a hint
that the elder brethren at
It would be exactly thus were the diverse views as to baptism opened up. I can imagine nothing more calculated to convince the many that household baptism is not Scriptural than for one of its best advocates to say all that can be said in its favour. Possibly a few might be persuaded, as a few are now by private instruction; but the majority would be dissuaded by seeing how very little all is that can be urged.
native to the human mind the suppression of a
teaching creates a suspicion
that there must be something in it, or its opponents
would not so dread it.
This provokes a certain
sympathy with its advocates and their suppressed view
and predisposes to it
being considered favourably.
When the matter was debated at
If it is urged that this particular question had not hitherto been settled and that discussion was necessary for reaching a just conclusion, the answer is that this is exactly the position of prophetic enquiry; as yet we know in part and prophecy in part. The editor of The Letters and Papers of Viscountess Powerscourt, in whose house the united prophetic studies of early Brethren commenced, explaining in 1838 why he included her views on prophecy, wrote:
not do what some persons, whom I esteem, have done -
publish the sentiments of
another, though at the same time considering them
erroneous on the fundamental
principles of the Gospel; but I would publish the
sentiments of another on the
future prospects of the Church, though in those
sentiments I thought the writer
was mistaken; because I consider the first subject
to be vital, and that error
on it is essentially dangerous; while I do not think
so of the other subject. I consider the whole
In these first days this liberty of discussion and exposition was continued among Brethren, and valuable progress in knowledge was made. They became great pioneers and leaders in Bible study. But then came, alas, that period mentioned when ceasing to be investigators they dwindled into dogmatics, each contending for his own scheme of interpretation: then process ceased. It is as sorrowful as true that for some seventy years or more Brethren have added nothing material to the understanding of prophetic scripture. One who has considered carefully B. W. Newtons Thoughts on the Apocalypse (ed. 1, 1843; ed. 2, 1853) on the line of the church passing through the Tribulation, and William Kellys Lectures on the Revelation (Bible Treasury 1853, 1859; ed. 1, 1861) on the opposite side, will gain but little from anything that has since appeared on either side, as far as I know.
The futuristic school of prophecy has hitherto been practically divided between these two schemes, and the discussion has long since reached stalemate. After a hundred years of controversy no approach has been made toward discovering what mistakes in exposition caused divergence. Harmonizing of views would encourage hope that Scripture was becoming understood, but this is as far off as at first. This is regrettable, but it will continue until intolerance on both sides yields to a new humble search for more light, with the readiness to surrender cherished opinions when needful, and to receive new ideas when proved by Scripture. These are deeply searching words by a singularly able teacher, Dr. F. J. A. Hort:
To have become disabled for unlearning is to have become disabled for learning; and when we cease to learn, we let go from us whatever of vivid and vivifying knowledge we have hitherto possessed ... beliefs worth calling beliefs must be purchased with the sweat of the brow. The easy conclusions which are accepted on borrowed grounds in evasion of the labour and responsibility of thought may or may not be coincident with truth: in either case they have little or no share in its power. (The Way, the Truth, the Life, Intro.)
Does not this last sentence indicate what hitherto has been too largely the case in relation to prophecy, that ready made and long asserted notions have been accepted easily without patient individual examination of the nature, and, what is really vital, of their results, or their warrant in the Word of God? Now the most likely way to break this easy and hurtful habit of mind would be to have free interchanges of thought by those who do seriously study these subjects; for the presentation of fresh ideas, even when these after due examination are not accepted, always stimulates general enquiry and conduces to activity of mind in place of stagnation.
And this is peculiarly important just now, for the spread of education, with easy travel, has introduced in the world a general exchange of ideas and a spirit of enquiry into things formerly accepted passively or remaining quite unconsidered. In the world of thought, as in other realms, authority counts for less than formerly: almost everybody questions almost everything. Christian teachers may not shut their eyes to this factor. Let them not assume that the younger generation are accepting mere assertions however frequently or strongly made. It is not so. One who is sympathetic, instead of dogmatic, meets everywhere a spirit of enquiry as to prophetic and other subjects. It is felt that though a statement may have been made a hundred thousand times through a hundred years it is neither more nor less true than it was the first time it was made, and it is demanded that its truth be demonstrated from Scripture. Teachers must produce this proof, or be discredited (if silently) in the minds of the thoughtful.
following the war has greatly accelerated this spirit of
enquiry as to the
future, and with its doubts as to the popular scheme. For believers
have found themselves plunged
into a wild whirl of world affairs, universal in extent,
and therefore neither
requiring real proof nor admitting of doubt, that the
church of God is so
peculiarly the object of grace that it would be utterly
impossible for it to be subjected to the great
Tribulation; it simply must, and
as to every member of it, be removed to heaven before
that era. Yet
under our very eyes hundreds of thousands
of believers in
This is how minds are working, and beloved brethren really must take to heart that mere asserting and re-asserting of their opinions is not convincing; and still more should they ponder that tacitly to stifle enquiry by a show of authority or by denunciation will but stimulate enquiry, foster dis-satisfaction, and may easily lead to the loss to the assemblies of younger and able men, the very class who, by reason of serious thoughtfulness and independence of mind, will be indispensable to the assemblies when we who are older have laid down our armour.
I conceive this to be a most serious consideration. From reading my own heart I know how easily the tie with our assembly life may be snapped. Under the treatment I have myself received it would have been very natural to have turned away, had not the divine principles for the house of God long before gripped my heart and so loyalty to the Head of the house kept me where those principles are better maintained than elsewhere. But many younger men do not yet perceive the duty of thus adhearing to church principles, or that these are really more important to the cause of Christ than enjoying what may seem easier and wider spheres of ministry. It is unwise, yea, wrong, to put upon their adherence a severer strain than the Word of God demands, by stifling enquiry and suppressing utterance upon matters not vital to the faith. Far more often than many conceive younger Christians, brethren and also sisters, fear to reveal their doubts and questionings on matters prophetic and otherwise from a not unfounded dread of being held suspect as possible heretics. When such reach conclusions different to common opinion either they conceal their views to avoid trouble or readily go where more tolerance obtains, and in either case the assemblies suffer loss and themselves also. Cases have been known over such questions as women praying publicly and whether supernatural gifts are now possible. There being no liberty among us, other spheres have profited to our loss.
And on the reverse side, it is easy to believe that this lack of liberty deters some from coming among us who would be a real asset in the ministry of the Word and in church life.
I am very well aware, and very thankful, that by no means all who uphold vigorously the common prophetic views are bitter against other opinions and those who hold them. From many of these I receive much love, and it is deeply appreciated, but this display of Christian affection is in spite of their prophetic beliefs, not a result of them. It would continue were these to change, being independent of them.
And those beloved brethren who are not bitter may well examine their hearts as to whether they are not intolerant, in that they will not suffer other views to be taught, if they can hinder it. Their reasons may seem to them excellent and imperative. They honestly fear that the ark of truth must totter if it would not be supported by their zeal. In this discussion I am aiming to undermine both their reasons and fears, to show that the former are baseless, the latter needless, and that Scripture, reason, and a real edification demand that very freedom of exposition by serious and spiritual teachers which they have refused to tolerate.
Brethren persuaded of the post-tribulation rapture listen in quietness to the popular opinions. For long years others of us likewise have listened in silence to crude and dogmatic assertions that we think regrettable and believe we could easily show to be contrary to the Word; which thing we would attempt to do for general profit but that we fear to provoke fleshly hostility and the hitherto experienced strife that would not be to general profit. What is lacking in the judgment and spirit of so many of our beloved brethren of the common views that they cannot find equal grace and shew like forbearance? It must be plainly affirmed that their school of interpretation has maintained its dominant position for nearly a century, not by weight of argument and sound exposition, but mainly by a subtle species of terrorism, by taking advantage of the fears of the weak, and also of the grace of the strong who have differed from them but who have been unwilling to provoke the unholy dissension that could be expected. This is fact, even if done unconsciously.
Another harmful result to this situation is now being recognized, namely, that the so important topic of the blessed hope is dropping out of the ministry in the assemblies. This is incalculable loss, but it is inevitable unless the whole position be changed. Dogmatists are more or less conscious that they cannot now reply upon the almost obsequious acceptance once rendered to mere assertion. Moreover, some teachers are not so blissfully sure of certain points as once they thought they were, and being undecided in mind they wisely say little. Those who have definite beliefs we judge worthy of statement refrain, either by request or from the fear mentioned of precipitating strife. There seems no way open for restoring the great theme to its just place save granting liberty to every spiritually accredited teacher to express what he believes he has found in the Word, the rest judging of what he says.
A similar but yet wider result is that large portions of the Word are neglected. The more part of the instructions by the Lord Himself; the warnings of Paul as to being disinherited, given to three churches (1 Cor. 6; Gal. 5; Eph. 5); the five lengthy and weighty warnings in Hebrews; the solemn words to the seven churches (Rev. 2. & 3.), are examples of these neglected passages. Under the popular scheme such scriptures have no direct message to the child of God, and their value is lost. Those who would so apply them ARE WARNED NOT TO DO SO: it will compel uncomfortable revision of cherished opinions: it will prick conscience; it will provoke strife! With such as myself it is a solemn question how much longer we shall be justified before God, in the interests of a deceptive truce, to keep back a large part of His counsel. It seems to border on dealing deceitfully with His Word to ignore wide tracts of it, for the teaching prominent in the portions just mentioned permeates the whole. By what right do teachers of any one view put this strain upon the faithfulness of teachers of some other view?
Under the same obstruction great themes on which God has been pleased to give much, if scattered, information cannot be opened up to the saints, for these also would compel some revision of accepted notions. The vast and illuminating subject of the temporal judgment of God, including the present judical administration of heaven and earth by angel rulers, is the key to many perplexing passages; the general service of angels; THE STATE AND PLACE OF SOULS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION; the time and conditions of the judgment seat of Christ and its issues - are some themes of fascinating interest and of deep practical importance waiting fuller investigation. The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation need more exact harmonizing and will yield yet more instruction. Indeed, because the Word of God is inexhaustible, we ought not to treat it as if we had exhausted it, but ought eagerly to push enquiries forward regardless of what revision of opinions may be involved. But for most persons such research, or at least the exposition of its results, is debarred in the assemblies by influences before mentioned. Only the kingdom of the Devil is advantaged by large parts and themes of the Word being let alone by Christians.
If elder brethren would exercise their authority by repressing bores, talkers of platitudes, and other time wasters, would they not be serving the truth and the saints more effectually than by restraining sober, searching ministry merely because it is not liked by some whose views it challenges or whose consciences it troubles? And ought they not as rulers to have equal regard to the judgment of those also who would earnestly welcome more light upon the neglected portions of Scripture mostly in question, or who are already satisfied that the views opposed are profitable? The number of these increases: is it equitable or loving that their needs, desires, and judgment be ignored and all the preference be granted to one school of thought? The convictions of the latter are no doubt strong and sincere, but so are ours. It is really a question of sufficient graciousness to let their yieldingness be known. To invite them to give up ought of the essential faith of the gospel were unpardonable; to suggest that they surrender freely a position or privilege they never ought to have occupied is but reasonable. The suppression of minorities is neither kind, fair, nor wise. In the world it ever produces ultimate disaster; it is still more out of place in the church.
What is needed is for responsible brethren in each assembly to weigh the whole matter before the Lord, and then to declare that in their local sphere there shall be genuine liberty for all sober exposition of Holy Scripture, within the compass of vital truth, and with equal liberty for other men of grace to express their dissent based on the Word; and that restraint be exercised impartially upon any man of any school of thought who ministers injuriously whether by matter or spirit.
The right of elders to restrain ministry is severely limited. According to 1 Tim. 1: 3-5 they are to be dealt with who do not dispense to the saints that which increases faith, but who rather give heed to myths and endless genealogies, such topics as merely rise insoluble and unprofitable questions. But, on the contrary, no right is conferred to refuse what promotes love, a good conscience, and faith, for this is the precise end of ministry. According to Titus 1: 10-16 the mouths are to be stopped of such as will not bow to rule and encourage it, but are unruly; who overthrew whole houses; and who do this for the sake of financial gain. These are to be reproved sharply, yet not simply to silence them, but in the hope that, accepting reproof, they may become sound in faith, in which case they will be useful to the church.
It will be impossible to bring under such scriptures sober, helpful, God-qualified teachers simply because their views upon prophecy, rewards, chastisements, not to say lesser themes, do not coincide with this or that school of interpretation which happens to be popular. Therefore any such restraint is beyond the powers conferred by the Lord upon the rulers of His house.
This brings up the serious issue that such unauthorized restraint is directed finally AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF GOD HIMSELF, acting for the Lord. If this be considered narrowly it will be seen that, over a lengthy period, that every liberty of the [Holy] Spirit in the supply and control of ministry which has been a chief theme and feature of our teaching, in practice has been largely curtailed and denied by unwarranted restrictions being imposed upon His servants.
Of late this curtailment has been vastly extended by the general closing of platforms to all but invited speakers. In meetings left open elders have failed in what is their duty, even to restrain vain talkers, while ready to restrain godly men with whom the Lord has not given them power to deal. In consequence the latter are often silent, and the former are bold to exhibit their emptiness, both things tending to the poverty of ministry and the impoverishment of saints.
This has led many to the unscriptural plan of the world, the arranging of ministry, involving the thwarting of the very testimony that Christian gatherings were designed to give to the world, that God is among you of a truth actually ordering and empowering in His own house. From this restraining of the Spirit of God it follows inevitably that churches become spiritually poorer, even though oft-times congratulating themselves that they are rich, merely because they are pleased to be pleased with the ministry they get, since it is of their own choice. It is true that God withdraws from His temple reluctantly, slowly, by stages (Ezek. 9: 3; 11: 22, 23), and that so long as He lingers a measure of His glory is seen, a measure of blessing is experienced; but if the glory is waning we may be sure that there will presently be night; if the [Holy] Spirit is persistently grieved He will at last be quenched; and finally (Rev. 3: 20) the Lord will be found OUTSIDE a door closed against Him by those who nevertheless will cry, The people of the Lord are we.
We rejoice rightly in much still found in the assemblies that is of Himself and reveals His presence and grace; yet as a whole we are distinctly not what once we were in holiness and spiritual energy. Factors in this declension, germane to the topic discussed, are here suggested. Will they be considered calmly and impartially? Will any be convinced? And will these then be found faithful enough to Christ and His church TO ACT UPON THEIR CONVICTIONS? The good Lord grant it, for His name and glorys sake, for the matter is urgent.
And what is the urgency? Were it a young man writing this appeal for the New Testament liberty there would not fail some to suggest he was merely anxious to air his pet opinions or had an eye to his opportunities to preach and to his income. But for myself every year now diminishes the importance of this liberty of ministry. With forty-five years of public service behind, the years ahead must be far fewer. Already I cannot attempt what I did, and far more doors are open than I can enter. The urgency arises from the general condition and prospects of the people of God, on grounds here indicated.
Though the end days, as they are described in Scripture, are not yet come, they are nearer than they were. At any rate, the present time is perilous enough to spiritual and moral life to require a far more powerful stimulus to devotion and warning against defection than has been provided by the view of the future so long dominant. In the tranquil period some can remember it was easy enough to talk smoothly about perilous times and end days and great tribulation, and for teachers to assure their souls and their hearers that there was not the least ground for personal concern, because the church entire was certain to be removed to heaven before those dread days could set in. But this complacent outlook does not stir the soul into flame, nor brace the nerves to faithfulness and suffering in a period of world upheaval. With nations full of foreboding, and of consequent suspicion against each other, with military service sternly compulsory in most lands, with governments more and more first regulating and then suppressing pure Christianity, some more powerful and deep-acting tonic is required.
What the Church of God now needs imperatively is men able to show fearlessly what the Word of God teaches as to the future that will guide life through difficulties and dangers, perplexities and perils; also how to gain strength to be faithful and holy, and what will be the heavenly recompense; and able to show also what will be the sorrowful penalties the Christian must face if unfaithful to Christ and the word of His patience. But this demands close scrutiny of the Word of truth free from the bias and fetters of preconceived schemes of interpretation. It calls for zeal and courage, and the making known of the results demands liberty of utterance, if saints are to profit by it, It is for this God-granted liberty that appeal is here made.
Readers of church history know that all too many God-wrought movements have sooner or later been paralyzed by one and the same means. The fresh light and truth gained from Scripture at the first, the walking in which brought liberty and quickening, is presently systematized into a creed or a scheme of teaching; zealous adherents of this scheme will allow no deviation from it: it becomes the test of orthodoxy in that sphere; liberty is crushed, progress ceases, movement stops, paralysis and death ensue. Is this to find another exemplincation in the assemblies of Open Brethren? It will, unless the change comes that is here urged, for the process has long set in. The maintaining of popular orthodoxy may prove the death of spirituality. Free movement is essential to health. Only death is motionless. That we may be preserved from this state is my hearts earnest desire, and therefore am I bold to put the foregoing considerations before you and your brethren, assured of their sincere and sympathetic attention. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Yours in His love,
G. H. LANG.
* * *
SPIRIT STUDY:2 (July/Aug 1990)*
[* The following writing, by the late Jack Hull (Belfast), is here included for the benefit of those who maintain the words: Lead thy captivity captive, (Judges 5: 12, R.V.) is proof that Hades is now emptied of all the disembodied souls of the regenerate.]
Hebrews 4:12: For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, PIERCING EVEN TO THE DIVIDING ASUNDER OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
In truth, it must be acknowledged that generally speaking, we do not know our own selves, and great is the controversy that rages among those who give thought to express themselves upon the subject. This is true both in the spiritual and the physical aspect of man.
Those who in their wisdom place our beginnings in a slimy pond, some millions, or trillions of years ago (they cant really decide which) are so far away from the truth of knowing themselves, and are in fact, blinded by their own wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1:19-21). Those however, who in simple faith accept the TRUTH of Genesis chapters 1-3, will find in the following pages of Holy Scripture, a clear and concise description of man - not only of his physical, but also in his innermost (spiritual) concept.
Now, while the truth of this must be acknowledged, yet the vast majority of those who accept the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God, and read it as such, do not fully understand what that Good Book has to say on the subject. This results in misunderstanding which so easily loads to misapplication and false doctrine. The reason for this being that in many instances the English rendering of the Hebrew and the Greek are accepted at face value (and without query or investigation of the original word), and this rendering is then propagated as truth to others, which often finds widespread acceptance. Thus, in this simple way, we find the church today a mass of differing doctrine and confusion. viz. Millenialism, Non-millenialism, A- (Anti) Millenialism, Raptureists, Non-raptureists, Tribulationists, Mid-tribulationists, Non-tribulationists, Arminianists, Calvinists, etc. etc. And even within the ranks of those who hold to one or the other of the above, there are differences of opinions - and we speak only of those who know regeneration by the Spirit of God in their SPIRITS.
We emphasise that last word because we are concerned about the teaching which is the accepted thing today, namely, the salvation of the soul and the tremendous confusion surrounding it. It is spoken of as if the regeneration has already taken place IN THE SOUL. THIS IS NOT SO, and the Bible makes this quite clear and plain in its teaching. The anchor verse on this matter is John 3: 6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. When speaking of the soul, the Bible is clear that the salvation of the soul is AT THE LATTER END OF OUR FAITH. Consider the following Scriptures:-
HEBREWS 10: 39:
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition: but of them that HATH FAITH TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL.
JAMES 1: 21:
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, WHICH IS ABLE TO SAVE YOUR SOULS.
1 PETER 1: 5
Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME. And in verse 9: Receiving the END OF YOUR FAITH, even the SALVATION OF YOUR SOULS.
A careful reading of the context of these verses reveals that they speak to the regenerated man. If, as many proclaim, that the regeneration we now possess in Christ is that which has taken place in the soul, why do the above Scriptures speak DIRECTLY of the soul being saved AT THE END OF OUR FAITH?
Let it be clear that when regeneration takes place in the spirit of man. he is ... SEALED with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance UNTIL the redemption of the PURCHASED POSSESSION, unto the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1: 13, 14). The sealing, takes place in the spirit of man, and this is an earnest (Greek - ARRABON, is a word borrowed from the Phoenicians meaning to pledge something as part of the whole and paid beforehand in regeneration, our spirit is born again - that which was dead to God is given new life through which we are made alive unto God, and brought into communion with Him. Galatians 5: 25 makes it quite clear in which realm of our trichotomy we are made alive. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. The A. V. rendering gives the impression that it is the (Holy) Spirit that is spoken of here, but not so, we have here the same thought as that of Romans 8: 1, 13, and various other places. Look also at Romans 8: 10. And if Christ be in you, the body is DEAD because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness, (or, it has been made) righteous (through faith).
The above verse is quite emphatic that the body in which the believer dwells is DEAD, BECAUSE OF SIN. In other words, it remains in its natural state even though the spirit has been regenerated. And it will remain in its corruptness until at resurrection it puts on incorruption; or, at the return of the Lord it will be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, and death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15: 50-58). If then, the Scriptures confirm that one part of our trichotomy, the spirit, is alive unto God; and that a second part is yet to be made alive at some future date, either while we are in the death state, or alive in the natural state. The Scriptures thus confirming the state of the spirit and the body, what then of the third part of our trichotomy, the soul?
We noted in our last study (Spirit Study:1), that at death the spirit returns to God (Eccl. 3: 1; 12: 7; Lk. 23: 46; Acts 7: 59). And, on the spirit vacating the body it [the body] dies and goes into the grave (James 2: 26; Lk. 23: 52, 53; Acts 8: 2). Also in Luke 16: 22, 23, we were enlightened further about the death state. There it was revealed what happened to the third part of our trichotomy, the soul. Now it does not mention the word PSUCHE (soul) specifically in the context. But having knowledge from [what] the other Scriptures mention above, concerning the, body and the spirit, Luke 16: 22, 23 must then reveal the state of the soul at death. It says of Lazarus the beggar that he died, ... and was carried by the angels into Abrahams bosom. And of the rich man, that he died, and was buried; ... and in hell [Hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (see also 12: 20). The soul then, DOES NOT RETURN TO GOD [in Heaven] AS THE SPIRIT DOES AT DEATH. It goes to a place, prepared for it (Job 30: 23) - the unregenerate to one part, and the regenerate to another (see Note 2). There the soul will remain until either the first resurrection when it will be united once again with its now glorified (spiritual) body indwelt by the already regenerated spirit which had returned to God at the death: or, in the case of the unregenerate - [and also many of the regenerate not worthy to attain to the resurrection [out] from the dead (Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11)] - in the second resurrection (which is a thousand years later) and to stand before the great white throne in judgment (Rev 29: 4, 5, 11, 12). The re-uniting of body, soul, and spirit of the regenerate person completes the redemption of the PURCHASED POSSESSION
In the Old Testament we have NEPHESH - soul, and RUACH and NESHAMAH - spirit, and on the surface there appears to be no difficulty with this. It is in the English rendering of these words that complications set in for these words are given a variety of meanings i.e.; Nephesh rauch neshamah
soul 428 spirit 240 breath 11
life 119 wind 90 blast 3
person 30 breath 28 spirit 2
self 19 side 6 soul 1
mind 15 mind 6 breatheth 1
Plus 14 other Plus 5 other Plus 5 other renderings.
In the New Testament we have only two words to contend with, but the possibly even more complicated situation. They are the Greek word PUSCHE = soul and PNEUMA = spirit.
soul 58 Spirit (Holy) 141
life 40 Ghost (Holy) 89
mind 3 spirit 151
heart 1 life 1
It can at once be seen that accepting at face-value the English rendering of any of these Hebrew or Greek words: without a thorough scrutiny of the context, could well lead one into a misapplication of the meaning of the original.
Some are of the opinion that that house spoken of In Job 30: 23, and which we undoubtedly see in Luke 16: 22-31, has now been emptied of the souls of the justified. It is believed that when the Lord descended into hell [Hades] (Acts 2: 32; 1 Pet 3: 19) which, place is located in the centre of the earth (Eph. 4: 9, 10). On His return He brought with Him the souls of the justified saints, and led them into an abode called paradise - this theory is based on Eph 4: 8-10. The phrase leading captivity captive is assumed to refer to the Lord leading those justified souls out of the captivity, of Hades. This however could not be so if we are to follow the law of first mention. Leading captivity captive is a phrase we meet with in the Old Testament, and in the first instance in Judges 5: 12. After Baraks victory over Sisera and his army, Deborah sang a triumphal song unto Barak (5: 1) for his victory. In verse 12 we come across the first mention of this phrase ... arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive... Now as the type is, so must also be the antitype, but this would not be so if we regarded Ephesians 4: 8 to be the antitype of Judges 5: 12 - unless of course we change the meaning of one to suit the other. In the Judges passage Barak is the conqueror OVER VANQUISHED ENEMIES, but in the Ephesian theory THIS IS NOT SO. The theory built upon Ephesians 4: 8 makes the captives FRIENDS of the conqueror instead of ENEMIES - a meaning which is entirely foreign to the first mention. To be true to the type the Lord would have had to lead the unregenerate souls out of Hades, for truly they were (and are) the real captives there - and we know that the Lord did no such thing. It is our considered opinion that the true antitype of Judges 5: 12 (and also Psalm 68: 18 where it is mentioned in connection with The chariots of God ... verse 17), is to be found in the words of Colossians 2: 15 where, after the victory of the Lord on the cross, it is said. And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in Himself. (margin). This then, was Christs triumphant victory parade, and the antitype of that seen in Judges 5: 12.
* * *
FAITH TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL*
By PHILIP MAURO
[The following chapter (from Gods Pilgrims) is included for the benefit of Christians, desiring to know more of what Peter has in mind by his use of the following words:-
Who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. that the proof of your faith might be found unto praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of souls: (1 Pet. 1: 5-9, R.V.).]
We come now to the important words which bring the tenth chapter of Hebrews to a close, and introduce the great theme of chapter 11: Now the just shall live by faith, but if he draw back MY SOUL shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto destruction, but (of them that are) of FAITH TO SAVING THE SOUL (10: 38, 39).
The foregoing is a literal rendering of the original text; and we would at the outset call attention to several corrections that need to be made in the A.V.
1. The words any man are introduced by the translators as the subject of the verb draw back; but they are wholly without warrant in the original. The antecedent subject is the just man, who is to live by faith. The expression is the same that Paul used of himself in Gal. 2: 20, the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God. Jesus Christ is not only the Author, but also the Finisher of faith. As already seen it is only the believer, the man who has been justified by faith, that can draw back. The unbeliever has not come to anything from which he could draw back. There is no question at all as to the correctness of the reading, if he draw back. The drawing back to destruction is put indirect contrast with the living by faith, and going on to the saving of the soul. It is true that the believer cannot draw back from his standing in Christ. He cannot draw back from eternal life. But he can draw back from the pilgrims place, and return to the world.
2. We have already seen that the word perdition should be destruction. The difference is important. The people of God will surely suffer destruction if they draw back into the world. Because it is polluted, it will destroy them with a sore destruction (Mic. 2: 10); that is, will involve them in great and irreparable damage or loss. But they will never come into perdition.
3. The words of them that believe, should read of faith. The original has not a verb that believe, but a noun of faith; and that word faith is a most important one because it leads into the theme of chap. 11., which is given to the people of God for the very purpose of instructing them as to the character or nature of that faith that is effectual to, saving the soul. The next words are Now faith, (that is, the faith by which the soul is saved), is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (or conviction) of things not seen. Then follow examples of those who lived, to the end of their days, according to that faith which is the substance (that which stands under and thus supports) things hoped for, and the conviction as to the reality of things heard of, but not seen.
So far as the present writer is aware, the subject of the salvation of the soul has not been satisfactorily treated in any of the books of teaching now in the hands of the people of God. The manner in which this expression is commonly used, indicates that saving the soul is regarded as meaning the saving of the individual man from condemnation, that is to say as equivalent to the justification of the sinner, and the impartation of eternal life upon believing the Gospel of God. In other words, being born again, and saving the soul, are, generally taken to be identical. But according to the Scripture, the two are very different. In every case where the salvation of the soul is mentioned it is distinctly referred to as something future, and as something conditional upon the behaviour of the individual himself. Eternal life is the gift of God, freely bestowed on every believer in Christ. But the saving of the soul is distinctly set forth in many Scriptures, particularly in, the words of the Lord Himself, not as a gift, but as a reward to be earned by diligence, stedfastness, and obedience to His commands.
The chief reason for the misconception that exists on this point is the failure to distinguish between soul and spirit, a distinction which is carefully made in the Scriptures, as we shall take pains to show. The matter is of such surpassing importance, and so great consequences hinge upon it, that we strongly urge our readers to pay the closest attention to the sayings of the Lord Jesus, and to the other Scriptures cited, in this chapter.
As an instance of the mention by our Lord of the saving and losing of the soul, we quote Matt. 16: 25-27, calling attention to the fact that the word rendered life in verse 25, is the same word rendered soul in verse 26: If any man will (is willing, that is, has finally resolved, to) come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will (is willing to) save his life (soul) shall lose it; and whosoever will (is willing to) lose his life (soul) for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.
We see clearly from this Scripture that the saving or losing of the soul is a matter of the will or choice of the man himself; and this is the teaching also of every Scripture that deals with this subject. We see furthermore also that the time when those who choose to lose their souls now for Christs sake will gain their reward, that is, will find their souls again, is to be when the Son of Man shall come in the GLORY OF HIS FATHER, with His ANGELS.* From this Scripture alone it is clear that by the salvation of the soul is not meant salvation from eternal condemnation. The salvation of the sinner from the wages of sin, is not dependent upon denial of self, taking up his cross and following the Lord Jesus; but is the gift of Gods grace, instantly and eternally granted the moment the sinner believes in the Crucified and Risen Saviour. It is only a [regenerate] believer who can make the choice to deny himself, take up his cross, and steadfastly follow his Lord in the way He went. To them who thus follow unto the end, a reward is promised. That reward is the finding, in the age to come, of the soul they purposely lost in this [evil] age. It concerns us, therefore, to ascertain, as may be done by diligent and prayerful inquiry, what the Lord meant by a mans losing and saving his own soul. That is the [future] salvation of which the Lord began to speak, and which has been confirmed to us by those who heard Him, that is, by His apostles. Whatever may be embraced in the meaning of the words saving the soul, it is at least clear that they do not refer to the justification of the sinner by Gods grace through faith in Christ, but to something in the nature of a reward set before those who have been already justified. The salvation of the soul is not something received at the beginning of the Christian life on earth; but something to be gained at the end thereof.
[* The time factor here, proves that this future salvation of souls will happen at the time of the First Resurrection, when the gates of Hades (Matt. 16: 18), will not prevail against the (now waiting in the Underworld of the Dead) disembodied souls accounted worthy to rule and reign with Christ in the age to come, (Rev. 20: 4-6; Rev. 6: 9-11; Luke 20: 35.)]
That the saving of the
soul is not the salvation of the
sinner from eternal doom in
In the sayings of the Lord Jesus, to which we will refer, the man is distinguished from his soul insomuch that the soul is spoken of as a possession of the man, which he can keep or lose. Nevertheless, this distinction is practically obliterated, or at least ignored, in the theology of to-day. Indeed, there are those who expressly force the word soul to mean the man himself, wherever that word occurs in the Bible.
Another cause of the misconception referred to, is (as it appears to us) the relatively little heed that is given in many quarters to the words spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself. There is no room for dispute or doubt as to the value of the words of the Lord according to His own estimate thereof. They are spirit and life (John 6: 63). They are the very words His Father commanded Him to speak, and are what will judge those who receive them not (John 12: 47-50). His Sayings are HIMSELF (John 8: 25). The giving of His Fathers words was the fulfilment of the purpose for which His Father sent Him into the world (John 17: 8, 14). His disciples recognised Him as the One Who had the words of eternal life (John 6: 68). Keeping His words is the test of love for Himself, and has the promise of a great reward. If a man love Me, he will KEEP MY WORDS. Because thou hast KEPT MY WORD. Because thou hast KEPT THE WORD OF MY PATIENCE (John 14: 23; Rev. 3: 8, 10). Whereas, being ashamed of His words will be visited with disastrous consequences (Mark 8: 38).
Notwithstanding these weighty and unmistakably plain
utterances from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself, it
must be admitted that,
in some of the teaching of to-day, the words of the
Lord, recorded for us
in the Gospels, are assigned to a place of
order to maintain certain
dispensational views, it is necessary to relegate the
ministry of Christ in the
days of His Flesh to the Jewish remnant
and to treat His utterances as
having but a remote or indirect reference and
application to the
members of His own Body, the
Church. One consequence of this teaching has been to foster a neglect of His words,
and to render the hearts and consciences of many
saints insensitive to the
wholesome exhortations and warnings uttered by Him,
which they are taught to
regard as applicable only to an insignificant remnant
What, then, is the soul of a man, concerning the salvation of which the Lord Himself made a BEGINNING of speaking? It is clear from the Scriptures that the soul is quite distinct from the spirit; and by attention to the teaching of the Word we may learn that the soul signifies the natural life of the man. This embraces all his own exclusive personal experiences, sensations, and emotions; and these in turn arise from his relations and associations with the created things about him, especially from his relations with his fellow human beings. It is distinctly the self-life, that is to say, the sum of every experience which pertains to the man himself, to his own separate personality, as distinguished from every other man. It embraces all his own distinct and personal desires, ambitions, gratifications, honours, and pleasures. It takes in all the plans and arrangements he devises to secure his own satisfaction, entertainment, enjoyment, and so forth. The instinctive longings of the soul are what impel men to pursue riches so ardently. For it is by means of money that the desires of the soul may be gratified, so far as it is possible to procure gratification for them in this world. Wealth commands distinction, attention, worldly pleasures, and high social position, and by means of it may be procured nearly everything that, this world can supply for the satisfaction of the soul of man. Hence, the Lord says, Beware of covetousness, and His Apostle says, covetousness is idolatry.
Important instruction on this point is given by the Lord in Luke 12., in the parable of the rich man. He spoke this parable for the express purpose of enforcing the warning:- Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a mans SOUL consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (verse 15). Then He tells of the rich man, whose ground brought forth plentifully, insomuch that he had not room enough to store his fruits. Therefore, the man laid his plans for his own advantage, that is for his SOUL. He said, I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and all my goods. And I will say to MY, SOUL, SOUL, thou hast much goods, laid up for many years; take THINE EASE, EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY. But GOD said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy SOUL shall be required of thee*: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
[* NOTE. That is, in the underworld of the dead, including those of all the righteous dead from Old Testament times, are presently waiting the hope of the promise made of God unto their fathers, (Acts 26: 68. cf. Phil. 3: 10-14; Acts 2: 34.) See also Luke 16: 19-31; Rev. 6: 9-11; John 3: 13. Which promise our twelve tribes, says Paul, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king! Why is it judgedincredible with you, if God doth raise the dead (Acts 26: 6-8). It was Pauls belief in a select resurrection of reward (Lk. 14: 14, for disembodied souls out of Hades) unto an inheritance in the age to come, which brought persecution and threats of being killed by some Jews, (Acts 23: 6, 12; 24: 21; 26: 6; 28: 20).]
This parable gives a clear idea of what the soul of man is; and it teaches plainly that the loss of the soul is the separation thereof from the things capable of affording satisfaction to it.
In examining this important subject of the SALVATION
OF THE SOUL, we would begin
with the first reference to the soul in Hebrews,
which is in chap. 4:
12. We find there the important statement
that the Word of God sharply divides between the soul and the spirit; a distinction, however, which teachers and
commentators generally fail to observe. There are
some who professedly
make a specialty of rightly dividing the Word of Truth; which,
however, may be merely the
arranging of dispensational divisions according to their
own ideas. It is
questionable whether 2 Tim. 2: 15 means that we
are to divide up the Word of Truth. A better reading would seem to be, holding
a straight course in the
Word of Truth. But on the other
hand, it is certain, as has
been aptly said, that the Word of God divides us up, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. The Word of God speaks of the salvation of the spirit, of the salvation
of the soul and of the salvation of the body; and there is a great
difference between them.
5, Paul speaks of delivering one of the members of the assembly of
The distinction between the spirit of man and the soul of man is recognized throughout Scripture. Thus in 1 Thess. 5: 23, the Apostle prays for the sanctification of the whole man, .and that your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto (at) the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of the Lord Jesus it is written that just before His death He
commended His SPIRIT to His Father. And when Jesus had cried with a loud
voice, He said, Father, into Thy Hands I commend My
Spirit. And having
said thus He gave up the spirit
Of His SOUL and BODY
it is written in Psa. 16., quoted in Acts 2:
was not left in Hades, neither did His FLESH
It thus appears that His body went
into the tomb, but saw no corruption there, while His soul
went to Hades, or
The word soul signifies, as we have said, the natural, or personal life of the individual man, in the broadest sense, including all the experiences, sensations, and emotions pertaining thereto. In fact, the Greek word psuche is sometimes in our versions translated life, sometimes soul. When the word life in our versions stands for psuche it never means eternal life, possessed by Christ, and imparted as the gift of God to those who believe on Him. For that life the Greek word is zoe. It is sometimes of much importance to know what the original word is. Thus, in John 10, one of these words occurs in verse 10, the other in verse 11. When Christ said I am come that they might have LIFE, He used the word zoe, eternal life. When, however, He added the good shepherd giveth his LIFE for the sheep, He used the word psuche, soul, or natural life; and the same word occurs in verses 15 and 17. In verse 17 we read, Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life (soul) that I might take it again. The Lord Jesus has a true human soul, an individual, personal life, like each one of us, only without sin. He laid it down; but He has taken it again. Thus the Lord speaks of laying down His own sinless Soul, and in this we have further and conclusive proof that losing ones soul does not mean damnation. It means, as we have said, the cutting off of the soul [at the time of death] from the things created for its satisfaction and enjoyment. In verse 28, however, and I give unto them. eternal life, the word is zoe. That life can never be lost; for they who receive it shall never perish. Thus the life (soul) which Christ gave for us is not the same as the life He gives to us. The difference is great.
Again, in John 12., both words occur in verse 25: He that loveth his life (psuche) shall lose it; and he that hateth his life (psuche) in this world, shall keep IT (his soul, psuche) unto life (zoe) eternal.
This is one of the instructive passages in which the Lord
began to speak of the salvation of the soul. The
statement is brief, but
comprehensive. The man who loves his soul (psuche),
shall lose it;
and he that hates his soul IN
shall keep it unto life eternal. The Lord here
declares clearly that the
salvation of the soul is a
thing future, and that it is dependent upon the
faith, obedience, and stedfast
endurance of the man himself. In verse
27 He speaks of His own soul (psuche) saying,
Now is My SOUL
In the Garden of
From the above passage (John 12: 25) and from other Scriptures, it clearly appears, as we have already said, that the soul of man is that part of his being which is capable of experiencing sensations arising from relations with created things - the world. The actual functions of seeing, hearing, tasting, etc. are performed by the organs of the body; but the experiences and emotions resulting therefrom are of the soul. The seeing of pictures, statues, buildings, processions, carnivals, ornate religious ceremonials, etc., etc.; the pleasures of music, literature, especially fiction, banquetting, dancing, sports, and the like; all amusements, entertainments, social functions, etc., form part of the life (or soul) of a man in this world. It is by hating his soul, or self-life in this world, that a man may KEEP IT for the age that is coming.
The passage last above quoted does not teach that the pleasures of the natural or personal life are necessarily evil quite the contrary. Neither does the passage teach that it is wrong for the people of God to experience gratification when some pleasing sight - as a beautiful landscape or gorgeous sunset - meets their eyes, though they should exercise care as to the liberty they allow themselves in this direction. It is because these things are lawful and good in themselves, and are appointed for mans enjoyment, that the Lord would have His disciples keep their souls unto eternal [age-lasting]* life, for then the pleasures of the created universe may be enjoyed to the full, without any taint of sin, and without any alloy of sorrow or pain. To that end the disciple must hate his self-life (soul) in this world. To love ones life in this world is much the same as to love the world and the things that are in the world. BUT CHRIST IS NOT IN THE WORLD. He laid down His Personal Life (psuche) in the world, and has now no part or pleasure in it. Nor could He have pleasure in the world as it is now. His portion here was always sorrow. Therefore, it behoves the disciple of Christ to set his affections on things above where Christ is at the Right Hand of God (Col. 3: 1, 2). And the consequence of not doing so is that he may indeed enjoy his soul here, but will lose it hereafter. That judgment is just, and is so plainly declared in the Scripture that there is no excuse for ignorance in regard to it. Thus it is that the Word of God divides between the soul and the spirit of man.
The above cited passage in Colossians states that YE DIED and your life (zoe) is hid with Christ in God. But when Christ Who is our life (zoe) shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him IN GLORY. Those who are to appear with Him in glory are those who died with Him. It is needful on the believers part to reckon this to be true, and to act accordingly, taking the place of one crucified to the world, and therefore having no portion in it. All that the believer has in the world is a path through it; the same path that the Master trod.
The view we have presented as to the soul of man is confirmed by the passage in Matthew 10: 37-39: He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me.
It is quite common for a person to refer to some trial or burden he is compelled to bear, as his cross; but that is not at all what the Lord means by this saying. A disciples cross is never something he must bear. In order to fulfil this saying of the Lords the bearing must be voluntary. The disciple must, as the act of his own will, take up the cross, and follow Christ; that is, follow Him unto crucifixion to the world; for the sole use made of the cross is to crucify thereupon the one who bears it. The saying, therefore, is the strongest possible
expression for the act of deliberately choosing to be with Christ in the place of death to the world, and to all the world has to offer those who seek their self-life there.
And the next words of the Lord are: He that findeth his soul shall lose it, and he that loses his soul for My sake, shall find it. The literal rendering, which is preferable to the A.V. is: He that hath found his soul shall lose it; and he that hath lost his soul, for My sake, shall find it.
This saying needs no explanation. It contains a clear promise that the man who has lost his soul for Christs sake shall find it; and as clear a warning that he who has found his soul shall lose it. The words has found, has lost, point to the making of a settled and abiding choice. One man has found his soul in this world as it now is, and has settled down to the spending of it. He will learn in the end that he has indeed spent it. Another, for Christs sake, has parted with his soul, in this world. He shall surely find it. Instead of losing it, he is really keeping it for the coming age. These sayings of the Lord show that the losing of the soul in this world is the parting with all that ministers gratification to the Soul. It consists in taking such a position that the man is cut off from all the things the soul desires. If such be indeed the meaning of losing the soul in this world, it will assist us to understand what is meant by the loss of the soul in the world to come.
Turning to Marks Gospel we find in chap. 8: 31-38, a passage in which the Lord began to teach His disciples certain things; and there we observe an important amplification of this doctrine of the Lord. We read: Whosoever WILL (that is, purposes or chooses to) come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (verse 34). In this saying the action of the mans own will is made conspicuous. Also the words are added, let him deny himself, signifying the putting of self, and all personal inclinations aside, in order that he may be free to act according to the will of Another. This denying of self is the giving up of all that constitutes the self-life or soul in this world.
In the next verse we find another addition. In it the words and the gospels are added to the words for My sake. The literal reading is, on account of Me and of the good news. We take it that the good news in this connection is the good news of the so great salvation that awaits the sons whom God shall bring unto glory. The opening words of this gospel of Mark are A beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, SON OF GOD. The Epistle to the Hebrews calls special attention to the things spoken BY THE SON; and defines the so great salvation as that of which A BEGINNING was received to be spoken by the Lord. The correspondence is suggestive, at least, and may have more significance than appears at first glance.
Continuing to read in Mark, we come to the question: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? In this passage the word psuche is correctly rendered soul instead of life, as in the preceding verses. It is the same word in the original. Verses 35-37 read as follows, giving the word psuche the same rendering throughout: For whosoever will save his soul shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his soul for My sake and the gospels, the same shall SAVE IT. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
The Lord then adds this significant utterance: Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and OF MY WORDS in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER with the holy angels. This points very clearly to the Coming of the Son of Man with the angels of His power, as the time when the saving or losing of the soul, as to the next age, will take place. It also admonishes us not to be ashamed of His words. We should take heed therefore lest we slight the words of the Lord Jesus, which He spake concerning the age to come wherein He will reign over the earth. We greatly fear the consequences of the tendency observable in certain quarters to treat the millennial kingdom of the Son as a thing of little interest to the saints of God.
A passage almost identical with the one last quoted is found in Matt. 16: 24-28, quoted in an earlier part of this volume. We call attention again to the fact that this teaching was introduced by the Lord in connection with Peters confession of Him as the Christ, the SON OF THE LIVING GOD, and in connection with His own disclosure to His disciples of His approaching sufferings and death. And the Lord stated that then, namely, at this moment when those who have lost their souls for His sake shall find them, would be the time when He would reward every man according to his works.
Luke 9: 20-26 also contains a passage so closely resembling the above that no further comment thereon is required. This fact, however, should be noted, namely, that the teaching we are now considering is given in each of the four Gospels, which shows the great importance attached to it by the Spirit of God. Yet this surpassingly important doctrine has practically no place at all in the teaching received by many of the Lords people at the present time.
We turn now to the great passage in Matt. 11. The saying of the Lord recorded there was spoken when He had been rejected by that generation to whom He had given the words the Father commanded Him to speak, and before whose eyes He had done the works of God. For their heart was waxen gross, and their ears were dull of hearing, and their eyes they had closed. So He cries, He that hath ears to hear, let Him hear (verse 15). This is the Voice of Wisdom calling to all Her children to hearken to excellent things. And the Lord in this connection declares that Wisdom is justified of her children (verse 19). They are not like the children sitting in the market place (verse 16-18). Then He announces that ALL THINGS have been given Him of His Father; and speaks of KNOWING THE SON, saying, And no man knoweth the Son but the Father (verse 27). This knowledge of the Son is, as we have seen, the knowledge that is appropriate for those fully grown. Then He says: Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. In the original, the words give rest are a verb, which may be rendered will refresh you. This refreshing He gives to all who come to Him. It is the washing of regeneration, the renewing of the Holy Ghost, the making of a new creature in Christ. Then come the important words: Take My Yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye Shall FIND REST unto your SOULS. For My Yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
There is, then, a [future] rest that is to be earned through submission to the yoke of Christ, and through learning from Him meekness and lowliness of heart; and this doubtless is the rest referred to in Heb. 3. and 4., that remaineth for the people of God. None need fear to submit to His yoke, for it is easy, nor to His burden, for it is light. His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5: 3). But the point of chief importance for our present purposes is the doctrine that the [coming millennial] rest by which the disciple of Christ is to be rewarded for his obedience, is rest to his SOUL. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest (Heb. 4: 11).
In another passage of great interest and importance the Lord speaks to His disciples of saving their souls. The passage is found in Luke 21. The Lord is there foretelling the time of false christs, wars and commotions, earthquakes, famines and pestilences, and of persecutions, betrayal and death for His followers (verses 8-16). For their comfort He says: And ye shall be hated of all men for My Names sake; but there shall not an hair of your head perish (17, 18). Then He adds the exhortation, as rendered in the A.V., In patience possess ye your SOULS. This rendering, however, does not at all give the sense of the original. The word translated possess means to gain, as the reader can readily ascertain for himself by consulting any critical version or Greek concordance. In Bagsters Englishmans Greek New Testament the verse is thus literally rendered; By your patient endurance gain ye your souls. The only question among the competent authorities seems to be whether the form of the verb be imperative - gain ye - or future - ye shall gain. For the purpose of our study it is immaterial what maybe the tense of the verb. In either view it signifies that the disciple of Christ may gain his own soul as a reward for the endurance of trials and persecutions. This is the word of Christs patience (2 Thess. 3: 5, R.V.; Rev. 3: 10.).
It should be observed that, although Christ declares that some of His disciples should be put to death, He nevertheless immediately adds that not a hair of their heads should perish. This promise clearly proves the full restoration of the entire man.
It is at the close of this passage that the Lord warns His disciples against allowing their hearts to be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life (bios), lest that Day come upon them suddenly; and admonishes them to watch and pray always, that they may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man. It thus appears that watchfulness and prayer are needed in order to gain the promised reward (compare 1 Thess. 5: 6, 17).
The foregoing are the recorded instances in which the Lord made a beginning of speaking of the salvation of the soul. Among those that heard Him, and that have confirmed the teaching to us, and amplified it, was the Apostle James. This Apostle addresses believers as my beloved brethren, and admonishes them to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, and he exhorts them to receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to SAVE YOUR SOULS. (1: 19-22).
In this important passage the Apostle clearly distinguishes between the gift of the new birth and the reward of saving the soul. He first speaks of the gift, saying, Every good and perfect GIFT is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (verse 17). The next verse indicates a special gift from above, namely, the new birth, which is of the Will of God, and therefore not subject to be withdrawn, for in Him is no variableness. Note the words, Of His own Will begat He us with the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures (comp. John 1: 12, 13). Let it then be carefully noted that those who have been already begotten again with the Word of Truth (having believed on Christ, Who is the Truth), are exhorted to receive with submission the implanted Word, which is able to save their souls. This clearly distinguishes the new birth from the saving of the soul. It shows that a man may have been begotten again, and yet not save his soul. The reason is that the new birth is a work done in a mans spirit. That which is BORN of the Spirit is SPIRIT (John 3: 6). If we assume that the exhortation of James 1: 21 is addressed to those who have been already born again, as we must do since they are addressed as brethren, it necessarily follows that the saving of the soul is something distinct from the new birth.
The new birth, then, is a past event for every [regenerate] believer in Christ, and can never be undone. But the saving of the soul is a thing yet to be accomplished. Receiving the implanted Word is an exhortation having practically the same force as giving earnest heed to things we have heard, or letting the Word of Christ abide in us.
This much neglected Epistle of James, which by many is practically set aside as Jewish, contains much valuable instruction and comfort for Gods pilgrims. The very first words are strikingly appropriate:- My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (or trials). Why? Because the trial of your faith worketh PATIENCE; and this is the very thing declared by the Lord in Luke 21: 19, and by the Apostle in Heb. 10: 36 to be needed for attaining the promise, namely, the salvation of the soul. The next words are very important: But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be PERFECT and entire wanting (i.e. lacking) nothing. The words of the Lord recorded in Luke 21: 19 show that the perfect work of patience or endurance is gaining the soul.
This Epistle belongs to a portion of the New Testament (including also Hebrews, and the Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude) which closely corresponds to the Book of Numbers, the Book of the pilgrimage of Gods people in the wilderness. This correspondence has been often pointed out, and much helpful instruction has been based thereon. But the correspondence teaches more than is generally supposed.
It is highly appropriate that just here we find Gods gracious provision for sickness among His people (James 5: 14-16). That provision is slighted by many; but it is highly valued by such of Gods pilgrims as have accepted His care for their mortal bodies, not looking for help from the worlds systems of healing.
The Epistles of Peter are also full of valuable instruction for those children of God who would be true Hebrews. Here again the Word of God cuts sharply and cleanly between the new birth and the salvation of the soul. The message of Peter is addressed to those who have been already begotten again unto a living hope by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1: 3). These are now being kept by the power of God THROUGH FAITH unto salvation ready to be revealed at the last time (comp. 1 John 2: 18). This future salvation is the salvation of the soul, spoken of in Heb. 10.; and the faith mentioned is the faith to the saving of the soul. This is perfectly clear from verses 6-9. Those born-again ones who are in manifold temptations are called upon (as in James) to rejoice, and for the reason that the outcome of the trial of faith, is to be rewarded by praise, and honour, and glory, at the Appearing of Jesus Christ. Through believing on Him Whom they have not seen, they may rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified, receiving (as they shall if they hold fast to the end the hope to which they have been begotten) THE END of their faith, namely, THE SALVATION OF THEIR SOULS. We would call special attention to the fact here stated that this salvation of the soul is the end of our faith, not the beginning. Then we are informed that this salvation is that concerning which the prophets inquired and searched diligently, desiring to know what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ Who was in them did signify, in testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto those prophets it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you (these being the things which we have heard) by those who preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. All this is manifestly in close correspondence with Heb. 2., where the so great salvation is mentioned. And, to make the correspondence still closer, it is stated that this is a matter in which the angels are directly interested; for the Apostle Peter adds: which things the angels desire to look into (verses 10-12).
The next verse shows that the message is for pilgrims: Wherefore, that is to say, in order to gain the end proposed (the salvation of the soul), gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Grace provides this great salvation, and faith attains it, through hoping to the end. As OBEDIENT CHILDREN, not fashioning yourselves according to the former desires in your ignorance; but as He which hath CALLED YOU is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of behaviour. And if ye call on Him as Father, Who, without respect of persons judgeth according to every mans work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear,(13-17).
Here we have express mention of obedience, of the children who call upon God as Father, of the heavenly calling, of the judgment of believers works, the sojourning, and of fear as to the consequences of disobedience. These are the very topics to which prominence is given in Hebrews.
In chapter 2. we find the holy priesthood, who are to offer spiritual sacrifices (worshipping God in spirit) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (verse 5), and the royal priesthood who are to show forth the excellencies of Him Who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. This, exercise of the functions of the royal priesthood belongs, we take it, to the age to come, when the sons of the priestly house will show forth (which they certainly cannot do now) the excellencies of the Son, Who has called them into His. marvellous light, which will then be displayed.
Again, at verse 11 is a strong exhortation addressed expressly to Gods pilgrims: Dearly beloved, I BESEECH you, AS STRANGERS and PILGRIMS, abstain from fleshly lusts, (desires) which war AGAINST THE SOUL. Surely, the meaning of this is unmistakable. The cravings of the flesh, whether coarse or refined, war against THE SOUL, and if indulged will, as the Lord declared, cause the loss of the soul in the age to come. It is the pilgrims that are warned against enemies, which make war against the soul.
All the exhortations and encouragements of this Epistle are advantageous for Gods pilgrims; but we must leave our readers to study them in detail for themselves, asking them to observe that the practical object of all is that when His (CHRISTS) GLORY shall be revealed, ye may be glad also, with exceeding joy (4: 13). We call special attention also to the reference to Christ as the Shepherd and Overseer of YOUR SOULS (2: 25); and to the exhortation to those who suffer according to the Will of God, that is, according to Gods appointment instead of for wrong-doings as in 4: 15, to commit the KEEPING OF THEIR SOULS unto Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Peters second Epistle is also full of pertinent instruction but we would only call attention to the things which they who have obtained like precious faith are to add to their faith (1: 1, 5-8), in order that they be not barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (chap. 1: 5-8). Also to the words that follow: Wherefore the rather, brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall (comp. Heb. 4: 11); for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST (10, 11).
This connects the passage directly with the [millennial] Kingdom of the Son, which is the theme of Hebrews. Therefore, the instructions given are of the utmost importance to those who would gain an entrance into that Kingdom, and especially to those who seek, as every saint should seek, an abundant entrance thereinto.
Returning now to Hebrews, we would note that the hope there set before us, and which enters into that within the veil, is as an anchor OF THE SOUL (6: 19). The occurrence of the word soul in this passage is very significant, but the significance thereof is rarely, if ever, noticed in the commentaries on Hebrews. It is not said or implied, here or elsewhere, that a man may, by holding fast to a promise of God, save himself from perdition; but it is clearly implied in this Scripture that the heir of promise, by holding fast to the hope set before him, may save his soul for the age when joy will be complete and unalloyed. The only security for the soul is that afforded by the Anchor within the vail.
We fervently pray and trust that the foregoing comments may be blessed of God, to the end that His saints may through study of the Scriptures cited, and by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, receive an understanding of that salvation so great, the salvation of souls, whereof a beginning was spoken by the Lord, and which has been confirmed to us by them that heard Him.
In the light of the Scriptures we have examined, the meaning of the words faith to saving the soul (Heb. 10: 30), is plain; and thereby also, the lesson of chap. 11. may be clearly perceived. We refrain from commenting upon the details of that chapter. It must suffice for our purpose to point out that the saints of former ages who are mentioned there had not only repentance and faith towards God for redemption from sin and death, but also had faith to the end of their days, waiting for something whereof they had heard from God and therefore hoped for, but had not seen. They all became strangers and pilgrims on earth (verse 13), and declared plainly that they sought a country. They were free to return to that country from whence they came out; but they set their hearts on a better country, that is, an heavenly, and for that reason, God is not ashamed to be called their God (14-16). And such as these also are they of whom it is written that Christ is not ashamed to call them brethren (2: 11).
These Hebrews were tested in various ways. No two were tried in exactly the same way. On this point see especially verses 31-38. But, whatever may have been the test appointed by God, it served to show that the man or woman was at heart a true Hebrew - that the HEART was right towards Him; and that is the essential thing.
* * *
But whosoever will lose his life (soul) for my sake shall find it. Our Lord does not insert the word wish in this alternative. Many have been martyrs for the truth, who trembled at the thoughts of their own weakness, and would gladly have been spared. They had no wish to lose their life. But when the voice of God, expressed in the circumstances in which they were placed, demanded it, they made the surrender. Paul, indeed, desired the fellowship of Jesus sufferings, even to the being conformed unto his death, as the pathway to the first resurrection. But this is not the high standing of many.
Jesus death and resurrection show how life lost is found in resurrection. His victory Hades is to be theirs who so follow him. The finding of the soul is seen in Rev. 20: 4. I saw the souls of those beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years. But this resurrection is peculiar. The rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years are finished.
Here we have the secret of the joyful suffering of the martyrs of the earliest age of the church. They saw that a peculiar joy was connected with such endurance. Some rushed into death uncalled, that they might attain it. It is not in human nature to desire suffering for its own sake. But this motive overpowered dread. If all are to be alike in the day of Christ, I should prefer to go through life quietly, without reproach, and without being called to give up any of the comforts or enjoyments of life. But if such is not the way to the kingdom, but the way to lose it, faith will enable me to overcome nature.
So important is the sentiment of the verse before us, that it is often repeated in the New Testament. He that loveth his life (soul) shall lose it, and he that hateth his life (soul) in this world shall keep it unto life eternal: John 12: 25. The context, in this case also, points us to Jesus surrender of life.
- (R. Govett, Entrance Into the Kingdom, pp. 246.)
THOSE WHO ALLEGE CAN PROVE
It has been shown above, that on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1), the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles whom he had chosen (Acts 1: 4, R.V.): Matthias, being numbered with the eleven apostles as the one chosen by Him, to replace Judas, (v. 26).
What did those present in the house where they were sitting (2: 2) see? They saw (1) tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them (Acts 2: 3): that is, upon each one of the Apostles which the Holy Spirit had chosen! It was the apostles, could see tongues of fire as it sat upon each one of them. (2) What was it that they heard? They heard a sound as of a rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting*: (2: 2).
would be hardly likely that the devout
men dwelling in
Every man heard them (the Apostles), speaking in his own language (verse 6).
Those then present were: Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and in parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and Proselytes, Cretans and Arabians (as they all heard the Apostles speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God: (vv. 9-11).
That Pentecost brought with it a literal fulfilment of what John the Baptiser had prophesied: He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: (Matt. 3: 11; Luke 3: 16).
What a difference the divine anointing made in the lives of the apostles, after the Holy Spirit had given them His knowledge, powers and miraculous gifts!
Did believes who had these miraculous gifts imparted to them, by the laying on of the Apostles hands, continue to keep hold of them? No! Why not? Because of their disobedience and apostasy, God withdrew them: and it is believed by many, that after the death of the apostles, they were withdrawn!
The Apostle Paul had no interest in Judging them that are without: his threatenings were all directed toward them that were within! Any brother who was a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, was targeted by him (5: 11)! Why? Because a little leaven (evil practise) would have had an affected all within the Church; and therefore, the guilty one was to be excommunicated.
The threat of losing their inheritance in the kingdom of God, (6: 9). was directed toward the immoral and wicked brother on the inside: those unregenerate on the outside, are in no position to lose any inheritance, in the coming Kingdom - being outside of Gods redeemed family! The danger which threatened the regenerate was imminent; and immediate repentance toward God was demanded from them, for Gods forgiveness and restoration.
The miraculous gifts which Peter received at Pentecost, enabled him to see into the heart of Ananias and Sapphira. He knew how much they had kept back from the sale of the land, and how they tempted and lied to the Spirit of the Lord (Acts 5: 3). Jesus had given Peter the the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16: 19, R.V.): and after exposing their sin, the divine judgment descended upon them immediately after his spoken word! They both died prematurely; and great fear came upon the whole church (Acts 5: 11)! Did they lose eternal life? No! What then did they lose? Their inheritance in the coming kingdom of Messiah Jesus, (1 Cor. 6: 10).
expects all who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to
live responsibly before Him!
to do so will forfeit life in that coming
The days in which we are now living, are days of disobedience and apostasy! 2 Tim. 3: 1-8; 2 Pet. 3: 3-9; Jude 4, 8, 10-13, 16, 18, 19. However, that should not prevent any of the Lords obedient servants from asking Him for miraculous gifts: He has commanded us to ask Him for them! But it does not automatically follow that ever believer will receive knowledge, wisdom, faith, gifts of healings, workings of miracles, prophecy discernings of spirits, kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, (1 Cor. 12: 8-10, R.V.)!
The closing days of this evil age will be days of miracle: but it must be remembered that not all miracles are performed by powers from God! Satan has power to deceive: and his servants too, have received powers from him to perform miraculous works. The Antichrist, who is yet to be revealed, will display his satanic powers; and John reminds us, that even now there are many antichrists in the world! 1 John 2: 18.
Gods anointed servants will, at that time, also have miraculous powers - gifts from the Holy Spirit. Powers which He will distribute upon those chosen and anointed to do His work.
I will give unto my two witnesses, And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in like manner must he be killed. These have the power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire. (Rev. 11: 3, 5, 6, R.V.).
* * *
NOTHING LESS THAN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST CAN EXPLAIN PENTECOST.
Thus we now reach the highest level from which the fact of the
Resurrection can be viewed. Difficulty is solely proportional to the power of the person
difficulty insuperable to an infant, is, to a man,
no difficulty at all: so
to Sadduccan doubt of resurrection Jesus says, Ye do err,
not knowing the Scriptures
[foretelling resurrection], nor
the POWER OF GOD
(Matt. 22: 29). The
apostle chosen at Pentecost to expound the empty tomb,
to our Lords
life, one to his death, but twelve
His resurrection; for while the
efficacy is in the Cross, the demonstration is in the
Tomb; and throughout he
supremely reveals Gods mind in raising
His Son from the dead.
A man approved of God,
mighty works which
2: 22) - the only Man whom God never blamed and never
rebuked: delivered up by the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God - for from the worlds foundation the sacrifice of the Lamb had
dwelt in the heart of the Father (Rev.
13: 8): whom God raised up -
for the resurrection, as also the life and the death,
was full of God.
Now the sting of death is sin, and
the power of sin is the law (1
Cor. 15: 56);
that is, it is broken law which
inflicts death, and maintains corruption; but the body
of Jesus never corrupted
- the only body which never did - nor
was His spirit [i.e., His disembodied soul
(Acts 2: 27.
cf. v. 31)] left in Hades;
the law is powerless against
absolute holiness; and the body was without corruption, for it was without moral
taint. Having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible
He should be
holden of it
So Peter proves that the Resurrection had been on Gods
thousand years earlier.
Thou wilt not leave my soul
neither wilt thou suffer THY HOLY ONE to see corruption.
had sin been in Christ, He could not have risen; and, had it not been on Christ, He
would not have died: but as
sinless, He was free to bear
the death-penalty for others; and as pronounced sinless
still by the
He bore had been expiated and consumed. Declared to be the Son of God
with power, according
to a spirit of
the force of Deity whereby He paralyzed death, and forsook Hades -
by the resurrection [out] of the
But the Lord Jesus also participated in the
Resurrection. The Angels said, He is risen, not, He is raised: others
were raised,* He rose: it was a conjoint work of
the Godhead, in which His was an equal share. I lay down my life, that
I may take it again.
I have power to lay it down, and I have
take it again
10: 17). Twelve times He is recorded as foretelling His
death in words free from all type or figure, and once only (Matt. 26:
without naming His rising from the dead
in the same breath; and the figure He especially used -
the Temple rebuilt in
three days - formed not only the ground-work of capital
26: 61), but
correctly understood by His enemies as a specific
prophecy of resurrection
showest Thou unto us?
Destroy this temple, our Lord answered - for the Resurrection [of
Gods anointed Messiah] is the only sign to be
granted to this generation
12: 39) and in three days I
will raise it up.
But He spake of the temple of His body (John 2:
temples, alike shrines of Godhead (Col. 2:
born in one spot (Psa.
132: 6), and both rent with death-pangs together (Matt. 27:
perished for reconstruction, our Lord in three human
[* NOTE. That is, others were raised temporarily from death and from amongst the dead, who are now present in Sheol/Hades. God allowed Samuel to come up to converse with king Saul; and then return again to the underworld of the dead in Sheol: Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me. (1 Sam. 28: 19, R.V.).]
** Moreover, our Lord, alone of all the prophets, foretold the exact measure of the little while (John 16: 16) between the moment of expiring and the unsealed tomb; a measure of time which makes it impossible that the resurrection was the mere release of the spirit from the body. That was instantaneous. On these three days and three nights, see Note appended to this pamphlet.]
So also the Spirit is Gods great Agent in resurrection, to which also He is the supreme Witness; though I am not aware that He is anywhere stated to have raised the Lord. If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom. 8: 11). Nothing less than the Resurrection [of Messiah Jesus] can explain Pentecost. So it is the Holy Ghost who uncovers the fatal consequences (1 Cor. 15: 12-19) of a denial of the Resurrection. For if Christ now lies in Palestine, (1) He is a dead man still; a false prophet, therefore, of what never was, and never can be, fulfilled; and, in His assertion - I am resurrection (John 11: 25) - a blasphemer: (2) the Gospel is a delusion - our preaching is vain - for its central dogma is a myth: (3) the Apostles are liars - we are found false [not, mistaken] witnesses of God - utterers of falsehood deliberately put into His mouth*: (4) atonement is as dead as the Lamb - your faith is vain - for, as death is the physical proof of sin, so sins obliteration can be physically proved only by resurrection: (5) no soul has ever been regenerated - ye are yet in your sins - so that all that is good and lovely and god-like in character has been a mirage: (6) the godly are lost they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished - for if a lifeboat, seeking a foundered ship, never returns, it can only be because both have been engulfed in a common destruction: and (7) we disciples are fools- of all men most pitiable - for while we have renounced earth, we have also lost [the possibility of ever ascending into] heaven, and have led countless myriads into the same folly. It is Deity alone which emptied the tomb of Christ [the firstfruits of a better Resurrection (Heb. 11: 35b).]: Christianity answers for the Resurrection with its life. But more perishes than the Christian faith, if Christ lies beneath the Syrian blue. History is shattered - for no other event was ever so closely or so amply evidenced; testimony is shattered - for no testimony can survive the ruin of the testimony of holy apostles and prophets; character is shattered - for if our Lord was thus exposed as a false prophet and blasphemer, no character can be trusted again; Heaven is shattered - for if the sinless Christ sank under death, all escape for the sinful is impossible; and faith is shattered for if God has so dealt with His Son, trust in Him can never be restored. All this is a much less credible creed than the Christian Faith. THE RESURRECTION [OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST] IS A FACT. Millions of believing souls had fallen asleep with their faces set forward to a sinless Sacrifice; earths only holy millions to-day have their faces turned upward to a living Christ: and the Church is too holy for a foundation of rottenness, and too real for a foundation of mist.
[* Moreover, our Lord, alone of all the prophets, foretold the exact measure of the little while (John 16: 16) between the moment of expiring and the unsealed tomb; a measure of time which makes it impossible that the resurrection was the mere release of the spirit from the body. That was instantaneous. On these three days and three nights, see Note appended to this pamphlet.
It has been well expressed thus: If false, you must suppose that twelve men of mean birth, and of no education, formed the noblest scheme that ever entered into the mind of men, adopted the most daring means of executing that scheme, and conducted it with such address as to conceal the imposture under the semblance of simplicity and virtue. You must suppose that men guilty of blasphemy and falsehood united in an attempt, which has in fact proved the most successful, for making the world virtuous; that they formed this singular enterprise with the certain expectation of scorn and persecution; that although conscious of one anothers villany, none of them ever thought of providing for his own security by disclosing the fraud, but, amidst sufferings the most grievous, persevered in their conspiracy to cheat the world into piety, honesty and benevolence.
MAN AND HIS DESTINY
Thus the Resurrection, as we should expect from a miracle so foretold, so evidenced, so unique, and so stupendous, has changed the entire destiny of mankind. For what exactly is man? Scripture regards both the body and the soul as man. The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his [still lifeless] nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2: 7): they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths;- there then they laid Jesus (John 19: 40): Dorcas fell sick and died; and they laid her in an upper chamber (Acts 9: 37): in each case the body is the man. So also, only more emphatically, is the soul or [animating] spirit. I [as a disembodied soul] will go down to Hades to my son mourning (Gen. 37: 35): this day [i.e., immediately after the time of death (Luke 16: 22)] shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23: 43): the garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them (Acts 9: 39):- in each case the spirit [not the animating spirit (Luke 8: 55), but a dead soul] is the man. Thus both body and soul (in this context I am using soul and spirit as one) are essential elements in man: humanity is body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5: 23). Death, therefore, we had almost dehumanises: it is a decomposition, a disintegration, dissolution, of man: it is a violent rending asunder of constituent elements, consequent on sin: and, to speak exactly, though body and spirit are each man, neither is man alone. The body rots; [when] the [animating] spirit departs to [God (See Job. 34: 14; Eccl. 3: 21; Isa. 38: 16; Luke 23: 46. Cf. James 2: 26, etc.); and the soul - the person - descends into] Hades: the man is dead.
Thus, when God deals finally with man He deals, not with a corpse, nor with a disembodied spirit, but with a man: man, for all eternity, can never cease to be man: his eternal destiny, whatever it be, must be the destiny of a man. Now our Lord, as the typical Man, is the One who, alone hitherto, has passed through all the processes of man. First, He was truly man:- they took the body of Jesus (John 19: 40); my soul is exceeding sorrowful (Matt. 26: 38); into Thy hands I commend My spirit (Luke 13: 46). Violent dissolution took place on the Cross: Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit; in which He went and preached unto the spirits* in prison (1 Pet. 3: 19). After three days and three nights, the angels said:- Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here - His corpse is not in the graveyard, His soul is not left in Hades (Acts 2: 31) but is risen (Luke 24: 5); that is, the recumbent body stands again upon its feet, and the spirit is returned into it (Luke 8: 55). Christ, born of a woman, was born full man: He died as a man dies: and He rose with body, soul, and spirit re-knit in everlasting resurrection. I am the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore (Rev. 1: 18).
[* NOTE. The spirits in prison, may refer to the Nephilim that is, the off spring from a sexual relationship between the sons of God (angels) and the daughters of men (Gen. 6: 2, 4).]
A passage now arises before us than which perhaps, the whole Bible itself contains none more solemn. For since by [a] man came death - dissolution, decomposition, disintegration by [a] man came also the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15: 21)* - the re-knitting, in individual re-composition, of the whole man; and this, for the entire race. I AM RESURRECTION AND LIFE (John 11: 25): since Christ was made man, and is resurrection, resurrection has become an essential part of human nature. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive - not regenerated, but made alive physically: for as physical death poured itself through Adam into all the race, so physical resurrection becomes integral to humanity from the second federal Head of mankind. Because Christ was a Man, and rose, all [sooner or later will] rise; for all partake of the same flesh with Christ: but believers are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6: 17): so, while unbelief severs from all benefits of the Passion, no man can escape the consequent resurrection. The Incarnation empties every grave: for Christ is the first-born from the dead, the first-born of all creation (Col. 1: 15, 18).
* By man, not by God: so that, while resurrection was from the first a creative design of God (2 Cor. 5: 5), it is actually a product of the Incarnation. The spirit [and soul] of man was always immortal.
The eternal destiny of our race now stands revealed. The last enemy that shall be destroyed - for all mankind is death: man, after entering on resurrection, never suffers dissolution again: it is appointed unto men once to die (Heb. 9: 27): full manhood follows for ever. Thus the redeemed are wholly redeemed: redeemed in spirit, [soul] and also in body (Rom. 8: 23), the man, as man, is redeemed utterly and eternally. What then of the lost? Be not afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell [Gehenna] (Matt. 10: 28). The wicked equally abide as men for ever: they twain were cast alive - that is, spirit, soul, and body - into the lake of fire, which is second death (Rev. 19: 20; 21: 8). The Second Death is not decomposition, the splitting up of the person - as was the First: much less is it annihilation it is the final and eternal abode of the undivided man. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 14). For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and when God says it must, it is certain that it will.
Unbeliever, what a destiny! and what a Christ! I am a substance nobler than the stars: they must perish, but, for better or worse, we endure: none can escape the momentous consequences of the Incarnation. It twists its roots under and about all that is human, and lifts the entire race into resurrection from death; and the new relation which humanity bears towards Christ is glorious, or fearful, according to what we do with Him. And what a Christ! Christ is so truly man that He actually died as man dies: He is so truly God that He not only raised Himself, but the whole of humanity, in His rising. The raising of one is the peculiar prerogative of the Godhead: who but the Son of God, by the mere fact of association in the flesh, could raise all?
For who is it
lay on the slab of rock? The Lord has Himself
answered in one of the
most wonderful utterances that ever fell even from the
lips of the Son of
RESURRECTION AND LIFE (John
11: 25). What is resurrection? It is life
battle with death, and conqueror: it is the tremendous creative energy of the Deity put forth over
a corpse. Jesus does not say, I produce
resurrection, or, I confer
resurrection, or, I intercede to obtain resurrection: He
says,- I am
resurrection. Resurrection, that is, is not some unknown law about
to operate suddenly: it is the personal intervention of Christ:
where He moves, graves
empty. Therefore our Lords resurrection is itself the
touchstone of all salvation. For to
acknowledge its absolute
truth, and therefore to cry with Thomas - My Lord
and my God!
is to confess the sinners need, to
embrace the sinless Sacrifice, and to submit to the
righteousness. Say not in
thy heart, Who shall
ascend into heaven?
- for the
Incarnation has occurred;
Who shall descend
Resurrection [of Christ Jesus] has
and between these two points
Christs righteousness, the imputed obedience of the Son
of God, has
wrought out, and is ready for faith to grasp. Not
righteousness of mine own,
even that which is of
the law, but that [righteousness] which
through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which
is from God
UPON [resting as a garment upon the shoulders of]
Isa. 61: 10).
shalt confess with thy mouth JESUS
AS LORD, and shalt
believe in thy heart that God raised Him
from the dead, THOU
SHALT BE SAVED
* * *
THE POWER OF THE KEYS
The ever-nearing approach of the
Church of Rome wakes
back into life the dormant controversies of centuries;
and it is of critical
importance that where Roman teaching seems
Scripture, but is not, she should be openly and publicly
dislodged from what
appears to be a Bible foundation.
and where she is lodged on Scripture, we agree; we fight
what is pagan in
The Old Testament Priests had no power of absolution: they sacrificed, but they never absolved. In the primitive Church the condemnation passed on an erring disciple, or a pardon granted him on confession, was a work of the whole assembled church, expressed by the officer presiding. Our judgment, says Tertullian, cometh with great weight, as of men well assured that they are under the eye of God; and it is a very grave forestalling of the judgment to come, if any shall have so offended as to be put out of the solemn assembly. But by the fourth century bishops began to assume this power of excommunication and absolution; and by the sixteenth century the Council of Trent had lodged the whole, sole power in the Priest.* The earlier form, Donminus absolvat te - the Lord grants thee absolution - gave way to the priest acting judicially as possessor of the Keys, Ego absolvo te - I grant it.
* To the Apostles, and to their successors in the priesthood, the power was delivered of remitting and retaining sins. Decrees of Trent, Session xxiii.
first of our
Lords three great utterances is addressed solely to
Peter, and, couched in the
future tense, is (as the Church has ever regarded it)
the fundamental passage
on church discipline.
Peter has the
moment before been the mouthpiece of the unborn Church,
in the first great
saving confession of Christ: immediately, the Lord
conjures up the Church to
be; then that Church as issuing from the grave; and
between the two He erects the Churchs present collective authority to include, or
exclude, from the
* Belonging to the Church depends on forgiveness of sins, forgiveness being the sign of entrance into the Church. And since an accepted member may again become unworthy of membership, the power of the keys has importance to those already received, including remission of sin or absolution on the one side, or retention of sin as well as Church discipline on the other (Dorner).
The second passage, in which our Lord makes the actual grant of what he had promised, extends it, explicitly, to the entire Church: word for word, precisely that which was granted to Peter - the keys - are placed in the hands of the whole body of disciples. For the Lord had just told them when to exclude a sinning brother: so now He grants the Divine warrant for doing it, and His own promised endorsement of the exclusion. Verily I say unto you - for this is one of the truths depending solely on the word of Christ - what things soever YE - the Church, just named, and which, for obstinacy in sin, has just put a brother back among the Gentiles and the publicans - shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven the binding coming first, as excommunication precedes restoration; and what things soever - what rather than whom: for it is not so much a person that is bound or loosed, but a sin that is bound or loosed upon a person: therefore it is not the admission or the exclusion of the unsaved, whose persons are involved, - ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 18: 18). Here all precedence or exclusiveness of Peter, or even of all the Apostles combined, disappears; and the power of excluding from the Church on earth, with its ratification by exclusion from the future Kingdom,* is vested in each, and all, of the Community of Believers. So the dominant Protestant interpretation - namely, that it is merely the Gospel declaration of pardon and threatening of hell - is obviously untenable: and our Lord puts binding first, for it is only those already in the Church over whom we have (1 Cor. 5: 12) any jurisdiction; we bind in discipline that we may yet loose in love. An irrevocable, irredeemable ban is far from being spoken of here: in its highest exercise of power the Church looses again precisely that which it has bound; it bound only that it may be able again to loose when this may be possible (Olshausen). These keys, as Augustine says, not one man, but the entire Church, receives.
* It is most remarkable that it is from the Kingdom of the Heavens - our Lords coming Reign over the earth - that the Church, if acting on Scripture commands, locks out; they are the keys of the Kingdom: so Paul, having given the catalogue of sins excluding from the Church (1 Cor. 5: 11), repeats the same list (but with additions) as a catalogue of the sins which exclude from the [Millennial] Kingdom (1 Cor. 6: 9, 10.).
The third passage, equally comprehensive, gives the deep underlying safeguard that hedges power so awful; and our Lord again lodges the power, not in a Peter who dies, or in Apostles who lapse, but in that Divine Society which never dies, and which will never lapse. In the upper room, filled with the gathered disciples, including the women (Luke 24: 9-11, 33), Jesus breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye retain - ye hold fast, so that they may not pass away from him to whom they attach - they are retained (John 20: 23). The use of the perfect in these two words, forgiven and retained, expresses the absolute efficacy of the power; no interval separates the act from the issue (Westcott). He who has a church sentence against him, and knows in his heart that it is a sentence both Scriptural and according to fact, can already be assured exactly of what his sentence will be at the Lords judgment bar. So also in the loosing: as Paul said to the Corinthian Church - Whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: I have forgiven it in the Person of Christ (2 Cor. 2: 10).* But this final passage most guardedly confines the power to the closest connexion with the Holy Ghost: either we must have the miraculous discernment of spirits whereby Peter instantly excommunicated Ananias and Sapphira; or else, if devoid of Apostolic and miraculous powers, we must confine both our binding and our loosing to explicit authorizations of the Spirit recorded in the Scriptures. The Church is not to be a petty tribunal of judgment for everything (W. Kelly);** but the Church (that is, the really regenerate) exercise the powers granted by the Lord, not in any way which they themselves may think proper, but according to the intimations of the Spirit (Olshausen), intimations that can be found alone in the Book of God. Beyond six named immoralities (1 Cor. 5: 11), and also personal injuries (Matt. 18: 15), and perhaps sloth (2 Thess. 3: 10), no offences - and none in any case doctrinal or ritual - are named in Scripture as authorizations of excommunication; and all, on repentance, can be loosed, by the use of the reverse key. This cuts up sectarianism by the roots. We cannot bind on earth what Christ looses in heaven; nor loose on earth what He binds in heaven: unscriptural excommunications, or remissions, can only recoil, in the hereafter, on those who made them.***
* He absolved him (1 Cor. 2: 10) because the congregation absolved him; not as a plenipotentiary supernaturally gifted to convey a mysterious benefit, but as himself an organ and representative of the Church. The power of absolution, therefore, belonged to the church, and to the Apostle through the Church. It was a power belonging to all Christians; to the Apostle, because he was a Christian, not because he was an Apostle (F. W. Robertson)
** It is tragic that the Christian group which, of all groups, stresses most strongly that the Church is in ruins. Is the group which most aptly exercises the full powers, and far beyond, of a Church totally unimpaired.
*** While it is not said, - None are forgiven but those whom you forgive - so , on the other hand, it is not merely the general statement of forgiveness as applicable to certain descriptions of persons; but it has a particular application to particular individuals. And so great is the authority and efficacy that is made over to disciples hereby that it is not called power to forgive, but forgiveness (Govett).
The power of the Keys placed in our hands is a power from which we cannot free ourselves, and which we can refuse only through cowardice and sin. The sainted Robert Murray Mc Cheyne says:- When I first entered upon the work of the ministry, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great, and almost only, work was to pray and preach. I saw souls to be so precious, and time so short, that I devoted all my time and care and strength to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry altogether. But it pleased God who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline with manifest and undeniable blessing; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God: both are Christs gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.
* * *