PRESENT STANDING IN GRACE:
SINS BEFORE FAITH.
The one sin of the first Adam brought under guilt all his posterity. As they grew up, each showed the sinful nature he had inherited. And over all, even before the law of Moses was given, death reigned; and corruption held fast the mouldering bodies of the sinful: Rom. 5. Even infants, guilty of no individual sin, suffered and died.
Most High, in His
wisdom, determined to show further the sinfulness of human nature, by
Law gave the shadow of forgiveness in the sacrifices and priestly atonement which were to be made for certain sins. But it was never able to pronounce any to be righteous, the winner of eternal life.
spoke of a righteousness to be brought in by God, which should be
45: 24; 54: 17; Jer. 23: 6. The Righteous Branch of
line at length appeared. When.
message by John the Baptist had gone forth to all God’s people of
Then, as the Lord of Righteousness, He gives, even on earth, and before His sacrifice for sin was offered, pardon of transgressions. To the palsied one of Capernaum He says, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” And when doubt is expressed at the possibility of so great a gift through a man, He proves that He really possesses the power, by removing in a moment the felt and visible effects of sin upon the bod – ‘Rise up and walk.’ And the man departs to his house cured: Matt. 9. To the woman that was deeper dyed in sin than the rest of her fellows, so as to be an object of especial designation as a sinner, He could. say, “Thy sins are forgiven. Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace:” Luke 7. He could let the Pharisee, his host, know, that if he himself were saved, it must be in the same way of free forgiveness. Nor were these the only instances. He testifies generally that He came as the bearer of pardon for all sins of word and deed except one - the one excepted case being - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
But here stands a difficulty. How can sin be forgiven by a God perfectly just? Yet must it not be for by a God perfectly merciful? How can mercy and justice meet and kiss one another? The Scripture discovers. The Holy Ghost unfolds to us the wisdom and power of God in our salvation. The God of grace brings in justification for the ungodly by His Son, our substitute. “We pray (Men) in Christ’s stead, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ For he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him:” 2 Cor. 5: 20, 21. Of this wondrous substitution of Himself for His people, Jesus in His lifetime gave an intimation. When the officers of justice have come forth with torches and weapons to seize Himself and His disciples, and the traitor and his accomplices approach the Garden, Jesus goes forth and enquires - Whom they sought? They answer – ‘Jesus the Nazarite.’ But they are unable to seize Him without His leave. Instead of that, as sinners assailing the Righteous One, as enemies attacking the Lord’s Anointed, they go backward and fall to the ground : Psa. 27: 2; 9: 3; 35: 4; 70: 2. Again He enquires, Whom they sought? They reply again, ‘Jesus the Nazarite.’ He surrenders Himself then to them, upon condition. ‘If they arrest Him, they must let the disciples go.’ Accordingly the eleven escape, and Jesus is led to condemnation and death in their stead.*
was also an incident referring to Deut.
22: 6, 7. There
was commanded that when the mother-bird and her young were together in
nest, both were not to be
taken. The mother
was to be allowed to
In endeavouring now to present the believer’s present position, I shall consider the following points. 1. The Forgiveness of Sins. 2. The Righteousness of God. 3. Our Place as in Christ. 4. The Testimony to our being Saved. 5. The Emblematic Ordinances given of God. 6. Some Types of our Standing.
1. FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
In order to a lawful deliverance of the sinner from law, two things are necessary. 1. He must have an entire forgiveness of sins against law. 2. He must be able to plead a righteousness perfect in law. So only can a sinner be justified. For justification is the act of a judge pronouncing righteous according to law, one brought before his bar to be dealt with according to law.
The New Testament then states - that the believer in Christ enjoys the forgiveness of all sins, and is possessed of the righteousness of God. He is declared to be justified. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have* peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Rom. 5: 1. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him:” 9. “Ye were washed, ye were sanctified, ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God:” (Greek) 1 Cor. 6: 11.
* The best MSS. here read – “Let us keep peace with God.”
The believer has present forgiveness of sins. So Peter declared in the first sermon after the Spirit’s descent at Pentecost: Acts 2: 38. So he stated it to the Gentiles in the first discourse delivered to them. “To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him receiveth* forgiveness of sins:” Acts 10: 43. So says the great apostle of the Gentiles. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and from all things from which ye could not in the law of Moses be justified, in him every one that believeth is justified:” Acts 13: 38, 39. This is the order of the Greek, and it makes the thing clearer. This passage states the extent of forgiveness – ‘from all sins.’ So in another place the apostle testifies – “And you who were dead in sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (given life to) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses:” Col. 2: 13. “I write unto you, little children, (says John) because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” 1 John 2: 12. It is not a matter of great attainment by eminent saints. The little ones in Christ may know this: it is for Christ’s sake they are forgiven; not because of their goodness. And Peter accounts it a sad position when any backsliding believer “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” 2 Pet. 1: 9.
* Not “shall receive.” It is the past tense – “received.” But that does not suit our idiom.
By what means are those sins put away? By the blood of Christ. “Now once at the end (junction) of the ages hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself:” (Greek) Heb. 9: 26. “Without shedding of blood no remission” takes place: 22. “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation (or mercy-seat) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past:” Rom. 3: 25. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses from all sin.” 1 John 1: 7.
Our present and complete forgiveness is made the ground on which we are to forgive offences against ourselves. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a quarrel (‘complaint,’ margin) against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” Col. 3: 13. “Be ye kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God lit Christ forgave you:” (Greek) Eph. 4: 32. This is the Christian’s abiding position. “He (God) made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace:” Eph. 1: 6, 7; Col. 1: 14. “We have” - it is a present an abiding possession. The blood of Christ which brings it, alters not with our failures.
2. POSSESSED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
2. The believer is also possessed of a perfect righteousness - the answer to law’s demands of unblemished obedience. For although Gentiles are not by birth under the law of Moses; they are, under the broken law of the Garden of Eden, condemned as unrighteous. They need, therefore, a perfect obedience to plead in reply to the challenge of law.
Paul therefore states that he is not ashamed of the gospel, because it reveals “the righteousness of God,” which saves all who accept it: Rom. 1: 17. This righteousness of God is not the justice of the Father, which, as applied to sinners, can only condemn. It is the obedience of God the Son. This is proved very decisively by Phil. 3: 9. “That I may (might) win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness which is from God upon faith.” (Greek.) Here righteousness is exhibited as a robe provided by God, and worn upon the shoulders of faith. This the Jews refused; for they thought themselves righteous. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about (seeking) to establish their own righteousness, submitted not themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of law unto righteousness to every one that believeth:” (Greek) Rom. 1: 3, 4. The righteousness of God, then is Christ’s active and passive obedience, which becomes ours on believing, and which alone discharges us from law. “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ to them that have obtained like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:” 2 Pet. 1: 1. (Greek.)
then is the blessed
contrast of our dispensation to that of the law of Moses. The law demanded
righteousness as God’s just
due - and
3. IN CHRIST.
Now this justification, this forgiveness, this salvation, are said to be ours in Christ. All are by nature “in Adam;” and as in him all are guilty, are unholy, and die. But the Holy Spirit transfers the believer from his membership with the old Adam, to be a member of the New. As God accounts all who are in Adam as condemned and unrighteous; so does he account all who are in Christ as righteous, sanctified, saved. For “the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord:” (Greek) Rom. 6: 23. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus:” 8: 1. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption:” 1 Cor. 1: 30. God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Eph. 1: 3. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:” 2 Cor. 5: 17. “I endure all things for the elects’ sake that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory:” 2: 10. 11. “Ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power:” Col. 2: 10.
This is God’s new unity, created by Himself. It is the contrast to the law’s principle. That individualized each. He was to stand or fall by his own works. “The man that doeth them, shall live by them.” “Every man shall be put to death for his own sin:” Deut. 24: 16. “Every one that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death:” Lev. 20: 9. 11. “Cursed is the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord:” Deut. 27: 5.
But the Father has deigned to make those who now through the Holy Ghost believe, members of His risen Son. Regenerate by the Holy Spirit, they are sons of God. And because they are sons, the Spirit of God inspires them with the spirit of sonship, to cry to God, “Abba, Father:” Gal. 4. The Holy Spirit sent down from on high is the witness that the blood of the Son has put away sin, and brought in reconciliation with God.
Since Christ is on high, the believer is viewed as with Him there, seated in heavenly places. As Christ is a priest, the believer is also a priest consecrated and cleansed. He is taught to draw near to God in the Holiest with the fullest confidence, welcomed to the Father in the value and merits of the work of the Son. He comes in Christ’s own worthiness: he is loved as Christ is loved: John 17: 23.
The Christian, then, as in Christ, takes a place before God altogether new. He is regarded as no longer in the flesh, labouring under the sins the responsibilities, and the curse of the old Adam. He “is sanctified, he is justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God:” 1 Cor. 6: 2.
Scripture, therefore, in many places states that the believer is saved. “For by grace were ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any should boast:” (Greek) Eph. 2: 5, 8, 9. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God:” 1 Cor. 1: 18; Acts 2: 15. Christ came to “give the knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins:” Luke 1: 77. God “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” So with equal clearness and fitness is it stated in Tit. 3: 4, 7: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we did, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he poured on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to hope of eternal life.” (Greek.)
5. EMBLEMATIC RITES.
Of this new and blessed position Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are God’s appointed witnesses. Baptism follows, according to God’s ordinance, after justification by faith. “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins:” Acts 2: 38. “And, now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, having called (Greek) on the name of the Lord:” Acts 22: 16.
1. BAPTISM, then, is in figure the washing away of the old sins of the believer through Christ’s work. They are forgiven to the man of faith. There is God’s visible token. “Unto him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever:” Rev. 1: 5, 6. “Already ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you:” John 15: 3. It is entire immersion: for the whole man needs cleansing.
2. But it takes also a deeper sense. It is the presentation of the believer as one with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. As Jesus died to sin and for sin, so the believer dies along with his sacrifice, and is buried to his old place and standing. The flesh is buried as worthless and corrupt. His offences are buried in the tomb of Christ. But he comes forth to walk in new life, in a life beyond his old responsibilities under law. The immersion of God’s commanding is the dying to, and putting off of Adam and Moses, and the putting on of Christ:
“For as many of you as were immersed into Christ put on Christ:” Gal. 3: 20, 27.
“Know ye not that so many of its as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by the immersion into the death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life:” Rom. 6: 3, 4.
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through faith in the operation of God, who raised him from the dead:” (Greek) Col. 2: 12.
This is the Lords appointed path for the justified by faith.
Paul in the 7th
unfolds to us still further the deep significance of this
the believer judicially dies to law, whether that of
THE SUPPER OF THE LORD,
which, in God’s
scheme follows after baptism, carries on yet further the gracious
of our new position of acceptance in Christ by faith.
Jesus invites to His board the accepted in
Him. Here they are
seen as the one
priestly family of God, feasting before Him on Christ as our sacrifice. These are they who have
They are discovered, then, to all as God’s elect, saved men: 1 Thess. 1: 4. Eternal life is theirs: for it is the gift of God to faith:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord:” Rom. 6: 23.
6. TYPES OF THE BELIEVER’S SALVATION.
(1) God has given us types of the Christian’s position in Noah’s deliverance of old. Christ is our Noah - the ark of old answers to His righteousness. Into that ark we have entered by faith, and are safe. The Lord shuts in for salvation all who enter.
But our Noah, and His ark have passed through the waters of death and judgment, and are resting on the Mount before God. So we who have come through the waters, after entering by faith the ark-, have passed visibly beyond death and judgment, into the heavenly places of acceptance before God.
Or shall we turn to
As justified, then, and forgiven in Christ, let us draw near to God in full confidence of acceptance. Our eye is to be fixed, not on ourselves, our unworthiness and our short-comings; but on the worthiness of Christ, in whom we stand, and in whom we come to God. Our sonship in Christ abides, although we see that evil is still found within us; and sometimes breaks forth into action. It is for us to abide in Christ; for, as without Him we can do nought; so with Him, everything. Abiding in him, we bear much fruit. As redeemed we are to serve God in love. As sons, let us obey in the spirit of sonship. As dead to Moses, let us live to Christ. Yea, Christ is to live in us by faith. And as priests to God, let us offer spiritual sacrifices; prayer, praise, gifts acceptable to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
* * *
SINS AFTER FAITH.
We have seen the certainty of the believer’s [eternal] salvation, as founded on God’s election in eternity, and His justification of him in time. As made a member of the Son of God, and indwelt by the Spirit of God, he cannot fail of eternal life. But the enquiry at once suggests itself - ‘How is provision made for holiness in this scheme? * For in making [of eternal] salvation to depend simply on faith, you throw open the door to all manner of sin.’
* The answer as given by Rom. 6, is left for another occasion.
The ordinary reply is – ‘If a man is truly converted, he will necessarily do good works. If it is a good tree, it will certainly bear good fruit.’ And again, destructively, - ‘If there be bad fruit, the tree is bad.’
Now it is true that the right and proper result is, that believers should do good works. But it is true also, that Scripture does not say of believers who are not doing good works, or doing evil works, - that it is clear therefore, that they were never converted. Had it been so, the Holy Spirit must have pronounced the assembly of believers at Corinth to be no church, no assembly of converted ones at all, because of their many and flagrant sins. Moreover, Jesus describing Himself as the Stem of the true Vine, assumes that there are branches in Him, vitally united to Him, which do not bear fruit: John 15: 2; 2 Pet. 1: 18; Tit. 3: 4. Also, in the parable of the Sower, our Lord gives us to understand that many would receive His testimony, who would indeed grow, and even bear fruit; yet would bring no fruit to perfection, because of their fear of the world, or because of the cares and pleasures of this age entering into them: Matt. 13: 21, 22; Mark 4: 18, 19; Luke 8: 14. And Jesus owns as a servant even the unprofitable holder of the one talent: Matt. 25: 30.
1. The Scriptural view is, that the Christian’s standing is twofold. And in this, as in most other cases the two portions of the truth are seemingly opposed.
We have considered, hitherto, the Christian in his judicial standing, as justified [by faith] in Christ; as seated with Him in the heavenlies before the throne of grace, his previous sins forgiven; himself taken out from among the foes of God, to be for ever his son. In this view it is his privilege to draw near to his Father in the Holiest with boldness; for he comes in the name, and with the acceptance, of Christ Himself.
But this exhibits only one side of the truth. Here, on the other side, the believer is regarded as an individual upon earth still in the body, sin dwelling within him, and at times appearing in action. He is the servant of Christ, to whom commands have been given, and who may or may not obey. He is as a son of God, called to manifest his Father in grace to an evil world. Here he may fail. The light which Christ has kindled may be almost extinguished; the salt may have lost its taste: Matt. 5; Phil. 2: 15. As set among his brethren in the faith, whom he is to edify, and unite, and assist, the believer may also fail. In short, the Father and Son expect of those set in the abundant grace of our dispensation, answerable good works. But it is a time of much trial and danger to believers, because of the watchful and powerful foes whom the Christian is called to encounter in this “the evil day:” Eph. 6. If not clothed* in all God’s armour, and constant in vigilance and prayer, he is sure to be wounded in the combat.
[* That is, I believe, he must put on the armour himself: and the righteousness mentioned, does not refer to the imputed righteousness of Christ!]
Some Scriptures present both these features. Colossians 2 teaches, that the believer is complete in Christ, buried with Him in baptism, risen with Him, forgiven. And yet: ‘Beware of losing your reward by turning to the commandments of men.’ ‘If risen with and Christ, let your life be in the things heavenly. But you have also members on earth; put them to death:’ Col. 3: 1-6.
In 1 Cor. 6, the apostle speaks of believers as justified and sanctified in the name of Christ, and by the Spirit of God; while yet he complains of their being guilty of dishonesty, and threatens them with exclusion from the kingdom
So Peter, in his first epistle, speaks of believers as elect, kept by God’s power to an incorruptible heritage on high. And yet, since the Father on whom we call is already judging our work, it becomes us to spend our time on earth in fear: 1: 17.
The actual sins of [regenerate] believers are testified of by Scripture; manifested in facts.
1. Some believers of old were guilty of Immorality: some are guilty now. We have but to cite a few instances. Look at Ananias and Sapphira; at the incestuous Corinthian; at the fornicators whom Paul threatens, who had not repented of their sin; and of those guilty of dishonesty in the same church : Acts, 5 ; 1 Cor. 5, 6; 2 Cor. 12: 20, 21; Heb. 13: 4; Rev. 2: 20-23.
2. But there is another class of sins, far more common. Multitudes uncounted of believers are living in transgression of commands peculiar to our dispensation. Multitudes deny, that some of them are offences at all. Take the cases of law, of oaths, of war. Thousands of believers are exacting their dues by law; thousands take oaths; thousands are soldiers by profession. Millions belong to national systems which call the world ‘the church.’ Thousands of believers have married unbelievers; and multitudes are pressing with all eagerness to ‘make their fortune.’ They are servants of Mammon; and so cannot serve Christ. And among the teachers of Christianity, what abundance of false doctrine is to be found!
(l.) What shall we
to these things? Does
these offences, if they be but committed by those really regenerate? By no means.
The Saviour assures us that all things will come into
Himself in the future day: Luke
12: 2-5. The Scripture announces,
various forms, that our [entrance
and] position in
the day to come depends upon our
conduct now. The
Holy Ghost informs us also, that the eye
of the Heavenly Father is upon His children; and
that His hand is put forth often in present discipline. He looks for good works as
the result of the
grace in which they are set. If
of Christ bring not forth fruit, He, as the Husbandman of the Vine, removes them from the world. If any bear fruit, He
purifies them that they
may bear more: John
15: 1-8. There are sins unto death which the believer may commit; and then
the saints who may pray for them are not
to be surprised, if their supplications for the continuance of such in
not heard: 1
John 5: 16, 17. Natural
disorders are often the chastisements of the Lord for sin. Hence, many at
(2.) Apostolic action took its stand upon offences of believers. Jesus, after His resurrection, breathes upon the eleven apostles, and says, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained:” John 20: 22, 23. This retaining of sins after faith did not of course destroy the believer’s position of justification [by faith]* and forgiveness in Christ on high. It did not shut him out from eternal life. But it had respect to his entrance or not into the millennial, (or temporary) kingdom of reward. As our Lord more fully expresses it, when bestowing the same power on Peter in the first instance – “On this Rock [Jesus Himself risen from the dead] I will build my church; and the gates of Hadees** shall not prevail against it.” For as Jesus rose, so shall His people rise out of [the underworld] the place of departed souls. And then begins the millennial kingdom. Hence our Lord adds, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven?” Matt. 16: 18, 19.
[* To distinguish the saint’s justification by faith; we also have the believer’s justification by WORKS, for he is also: “justified BY WHAT HE DOES and not by faith alone:” (Jas. 2: 24, N.I.V.).]
* Not of “Hell.” That is ‘Gehenna.’ [* The ‘lake of fire’ is the eternal place of the lost.]
see these keys used
by the apostle Paul. The
committed, Paul delivers over Hymenaeus
and Alexander to Satan: and this
censure seems never to have been removed: 1
20. The same apostle,
threatens believers at
(3) Now that apostles have ceased, it is still competent for assemblies of believers to judge open immoralities after faith found in their midst, and to set the offenders outside the church: Matt. 18. There is no authority for putting out of the church any believer, because of error in doctrine. Even antichrists left the church voluntarily. John neither put them out, nor directs believers to do so: 1 John 2: 18, 19. While Paul puts out the incestuous Corinthian, he does not put out those who denied resurrection,* although that is fundamental truth: 1 Cor. 15.
[* The false belief that we ascend into the presence of God in Heaven at the time of Death instead of at the time of Resurrection; for the soul (now in Hades) will be reunited to a resurrected body (from the grave and decomposition). We cannot enter into the presence of God in Heaven as naked souls; we must wait for the time of Resurrection at the descent of Christ. See Rev. 6: 9-11; and follow the order of events in our Lord’s Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. John 3: 13; 14: 3; 20: 17.]
Exclusion from the church now by the disciples is the token and witness of a greater exclusion yet to be effected by Christ at His coming. Here is a believer excluded from fellowship for intoxication. He dies while excluded. Then the Lord at His coming must own the church’s decision. But that decision does not shut him out from eternal life. From what then can it exclude him, but from sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets [Moses included*], in the millennial kingdom of glory?
Here is the Scriptural
those who object to
(4) But the Holy Ghost not only teaches believers to act on others in cases of offending; it directs each believer to examine himself, before he eats the bread, or drinks the wine of the Lord’s Supper. For if he eat or drink unworthily, he shall be judged guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. It is a sin which entails present judgment: 1 Cor. 11: 27-34. Wherefore each is to judge himself. Thus while the Christian is ever accepted before the Lord on the ground of Christ’s merits, and his justification in Christ ever abides, he yet needs frequent cleansing considered as one in the body, living upon the earth during the evil day. And this our Lord teaches in the 13th. of John. The resistance of Peter to Jesus’ washing his feet brings out to us the counsels of God in this matter. When Peter first refuses to allow the Saviour to stoop thus low, our Lord answers, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Peter thereon says in eflect- ‘If that be the meaning of your washing me, do not cleanse my feet alone, but my whole person.’ Jesus replies – “He that is bathed (Greek) needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” That is - The great forgiveness of the past, granted on faith, of which the immersion of the whole man is the token, abides ever, and needs no repeating. But for daily sins, the sins after faith, there is needed a frequent partial cleansing.* Looked at as walking on the earth, he needs repeated washing. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?” 1 John 1: 7, 9. Here the forgiveness and cleansing come after the confession. Then, in view of our position on earth, the cleansing of the blood is not, as some teach, once for all, but habitual.
* Some seem to regard the washing of feet as a one-sided command. They imagine that the un-fallen, or clean brother alone, is directed to figuratively wash the feet of the fallen one. But this is a mistake. The washing of feet is mutual and literal. In the view of John 13, the feet of all believers need washing: ver. 14, 15.
“Blessed are they that wash their robes;”* Rev. 22: 14; Mark 7: 20-23. Here the washing of the robe is habitual; and that washing is in blood, as Rev. 7: 13, 14, assures us. Again, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of the Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Heb. 9: 13, 14. The cleansing of the unclean was an habitual thing, to be renewed as oft as the defilement of the flesh took, place. The defiled conscience, now, is to be cleansed, as oft as the case occurs, by the blood of the Christ. Though the apostle be writing to believers, he puts their cleansing in this view as yet future. ‘The blood of the Christ shall purge your conscience.’ “Every one that hath this hope in (over) him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure:” 1 John 3: 3.
* True reading.
The principle on which we are bound to forgive offending brethren on their repentance is this - That we ourselves perpetually need forgiveness before God, even after our being, as men of faith, enrolled among God’s servants. In the parable of Matthew 18, the offending servant asks of his master patience, but obtains forgiveness. Refusing to forgive his offending brother, the offences of his service are laid upon him. “0 thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me, shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses:” Matt, 6: 14, 15.
III. We have seen, then, that the believer’s sins of omission and of commission affect him now before the Father. His justification indeed is not destroyed by them; his eternal life is secure in Christ. How then can offences after faith affect him in the future?
This we proceed further to consider. The doctrine to be established is –
THAT THE GOOD OR EVIL WORKS OF THE BELIEVER RESPECT THE COMING DAY OF JUSTICE, AND THE APPEARING BEFORE THE JUDGMENT-SEAT OF CHRIST.
1. The present day of grace has reference to the throne of grace now set up in the heavens; before which Jesus appears as the High Priest.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need:” Heb. 4: 16.
It is the throne of the Father, on which Jesus is seated, expecting his own throne: Eph. 2: 14-18; Heb. 10: 19-22.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne:” Rev. 3: 21.
But another throne is soon to be set up in heaven one of an opposite character. God is about to judge the habitable earth; yea, and the angels themselves. Hence, as soon as the churches are no longer recognized as God’s witness on earth, a new throne is set up, Rev. 4. This throne is like Sinai; out of it proceed thunders, lightnings, voices, and the arrows and trumpets of God’s wrath. It is the throne of judgment, (that is, of justice,) of whose setting the Old Testament also bears witness: Psa. 97: 2.
“For thou hast maintained my right and my cause thou satest in the throne judging right. But the Lord shall endure for ever; He hath prepared His throne for judgment:” Psa. 9: 4, 7.
By it the foes of Jesus are subjected to His feet Psa. 110.
And commission is given to our Lord Himself to sit on a throne of righteousness, judging the earth and heaven: Psa. 45: 6; Isa. 11: 4.
“But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom:” Heb. 1: 8.
2. For God is about to manifest His righteous judgment during the great day of a thousand years: Rom. 2. He will send forth Christ from heaven in a new character - as the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in His time He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords:” 1 Tim. 6: 14, 15.
In this passage, indeed, it is the Father who is called King of kings and Lord of lords. But the same title is also given to the Son, when He comes as the Father’s viceroy.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords:” Rev. 19: 11, 16.
Jesus shall then appear as the King of the Jews, for confessing which truth He was scorned and put to death: Luke 1: 32; Acts 2.
It will then be the time of that [millennial] kingdom of glory, of which the Old Testament prophets are full: Psa. 103: 19.
3. Before the judgment-seat of Christ all His people are to appear, and to give account of themselves and their deeds. And the principle of judgment will be according to works; work for Christ, and suffering endured for His sake: Matt. 25: 19; 18: 23-35; Luke 16: 2; Heb. 4: 13; 13: 17.
“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.* For if is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way:” Rom. 14: 10-13.
* We should read‑, ‘Of God.’
“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of (well-pleasing to) him. For we mast all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad:” 2 Cor. 5: 9, 10.
Jesus says the same Himself.
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own 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:” Matt. 16: 24-27.
After these words He promised that some of the apostles should have a glimpse of His kingdom as Son of Man - that kingdom into which He has the power of admitting or exclusion. Accordingly, He took up Peter, James, and John, to behold His glory, on the Mount of Transfiguration.
IV. The result of believers appearing before Christ will be twofold. Some will be “accounted worthy,” some judged unworthy, to enter the millennial kingdom.
(1.) Some will be accounted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from among the dead, as doers of good, servants of Christ. Matt. 5: 19; 2 Pet. 1.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven:” Matt. 7: 21.
“Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment:” (Greek) John 5: 28, 29.
The Parables of the Pounds, and of the Talents, add their confirmation. The servants enter on the joy of their Lord, when adjudged to be faithful. In this scrutiny many will be exalted, as being authors of good deeds previously unknown, done for the Father’s eye alone: Matt. 6.
“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister:” Heb. 6: 10.
Some will enter that kingdom as sufferers for the Lord Jesus. Those who surrendered life in Christ’s service are to find it again at the first resurrection: Matt. 16: 24, 27; Luke 17: 33. The martyrs are to occupy a prominent place in the glory of the thousand years: Rev. 20: 4-6.
given up much for the Lord’s sake, and have endured much in their
then receive their reward or woes.
For “through much tribulation we must enter
“Blessed are they which have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you:” Matt. 5: 10-12. Old Testament prophets and New Testament believers will both meet together in the millennial king dom. of glory. Then will Paul be exalted, the zealous labourer, the indomitable sufferer for Jesus’ sake.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing:” (Greek) 2 Tim. 4: 6-8.
Suffering and service are the two pillars of the gateway of entrance into the [millennial] kingdom: Matt. 20: 20-28.
Then will the twelve apostles be Jesus’ fellow kings.
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel:” Luke 22: 28-30.
(2.) But others will be accounted unworthy- “castaways” - or rejected in regard of the millennial kingdom: 1 Cor. 9.
(a) Many will not enter, because they have no work to show. They put off faith in Christ to the last. They just believed, and obtained the gift of God’s grace, - eternal life, - and died. Such was the dying robber. He asks for a place in the kingdom of glory at Christ’s coming. But while the Lord promises him an immediate entrance into the abode of bliss [in the underworld] set apart for the souls of the ransomed dead, he is silent about any place in the [millennial] kingdom: Luke 23: 42-43.
(b) Others will not enter, because while they were believers, and had opportunity of service, they were yet useless as servants. The slothful and unprofitable servant of the Pounds, and of the Talents, is a specimen of such. It will be vain to allege faith as the ground of entrance into the millennial kingdom of glory. That day of reward is entered according to [a believer’s] works alone: Jas. 2. It is the rest of God, designed for those who have laboured with Him: Heb. 3, 4. It is God’s consolation for those who have suffered for Him: Luke 6: 24.
(c) Some believers will not enter this millennial kingdom, because they have refused the testimony about it: Mark 10: 15.
“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall
not receive the
because they would not confess Christ
before men. They
believed; but were afraid to put on Christ by
3: 5; Gal. 3; Matt. 10: 32, 33. The “IF”
(d) Some will stand excluded as teachers of false doctrines. Some teachers of erroneous doctrine, will be saved: 1 Cor. 3. For there are some converted men among Roman Catholics; yea, even among the priests. Some of those perverted from the Church of England to the Church of Rome, are persons regenerate in heart. They are on the true foundation, though thereupon they have built idolatries, the worship of Mary, and rubbish of all sorts. Their work then will be burnt up, and a fine inflicted which takes effect during the millennial day.
(e) Some will be rejected as disobedient, and doers of evil. Such are the dishonest persons threatened in 1 Cor. 6. Some as offending in the matter of money; grasping, covetous, avaricious, either squanderers or hoarders of their Lord’s goods: Luke 16: 1-13. Some, as stumblers of the world; some, as defilers of the church: Matt. 18; 1 Cor. 3: 16, 17. Some, because they have chosen the world as their present portion; and live by professions which are in principle opposed to our dispensation, and the commands of Christ: 2 Tim. 4: 10. How can Christ reward believers, who live by the sword? men compelled to slay sometimes unbelievers, at the command of the worldly. Sometimes called to take away the lives of brethren for whom Christ died: Matt. 5: 38-48; 7: 12; 26: 52; 2 C or. 10: 3, 4.
Are there no cases of fearful backsliding in every church? Are there not those who are even numbered among open criminals, as such punished by the world?
Take the following case from ‘The Convict Ship,’ by Dr. Browning, p. 69:-
was born December 27th, 1812, in the parish of
St. A- S-,
“But to proceed. I remember when my teacher was, one Sabbath, contrasting the happiness of the believer with the misery of the wicked, I thought of my dear departed father, who, I feared, could not go to heaven as he died: his death, through the Holy Spirit’s teaching, led me to consider the state of my own soul, and I hope the work of grace then commenced in my heart [that is, when about thirteen years of age, as above stated]. From the age of sixteen, when I became a member of a Christian Church, up to my twenty-second year, I continued at S‑, and was engaged in the Sabbath school, and in various other efforts with God’s people, to advance His glory. During that time, I, to the praise of the Lord, can say, that I was truly enabled to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and to walk as it becometh the gospel. At the age of twenty-two, I came to London; and being in bad health, and my trade being laborious, my friends obtained for me a situation in a tradesman’s office; and for three years I was enabled to maintain a character consistent with the Christian profession; and being anxious to get on in life, I applied myself diligently to my master’s interests, and was, at the end of the time just specified, made his town-traveller, and succeeded in my efforts to increase his connection. But my new sphere of business brought me into more frequent intercourse with worldly minds; and being exposed to the temptation of drinking, as a matter of course, with my customers,- to my shame and sorrow, - in time, that which I had disliked, namely, ardent spirits, I became fond of. Many struggles, sharp and distressing, passed in my poor disordered mind between the powers of grace and sin; but, alas! it became a confirmed habit with me to drink, and to mingle with some who, though they were respectable in society, yet proved enemies to my poor soul. Several of these were my best customers; and my anxiety to increase trade through them brought me at first into contact with them, and led me to court their society, which ultimately accelerated my sad and awful fall.
“But the great evil, and that which lay at the foundation of all others, was my neglect of the means of divine grace, and, most particularly, my fearful neglect of secret prayer. Oh, I mourn when 1 remember how I was wedded to the soul-destructive habit into which I had fallen, of drinking to excess! I feared to approach that footstool of mercy where I had often poured out the desires of my soul, and found sweet access to God, and experienced covenant love manifested to my soul.
“One evil led to another: to deceive my best and my Christian friends, and most of all to deceive the wife of my bosom, who is - blessed be God! - a true Christian, I admit was hard work. I had to call forth all my wicked ingenuity and craft to do the work of the devil; and dreadful drudgery I found it. 0h, it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against God! I have found it to be so. May the Lord preserve my soul from evil desires, and enable me fully to yield myself unto Him as one that is alive from the dead, and my members as instruments of righteousness unto God! I madly pursued the desires of the flesh. As I just said, one evil gave birth to another, and I was carried down the torrent, and plunged at length into the vortex of iniquity.- indulging in other vices besides intemperance in drinking; but all of them the companions of my easily besetting and darling sin. My heart aches; and I need not enumerate the many crimes of which I soon became capable. Oh, the holy Lord only can judge of their aggravation and turpitude! But sweet is the truth of the gospel. It now makes my heart tranquil and peaceful from day to day. I find it not only in John’s first epistle, chapter 2: 1, 2, but in many other parts of Scripture. It is a precious cordial to my weak and wavering mind. Were it not for this blessed assurance, I think the remembrance of my past awful career against light, and my most desperate and presumptuous sins against the holy Lord, and the blessed Saviour who died for, I hope, even wretched me,- I say that were it not for this hope, I think I should sink into utter despair; and especially when I think of the consequences of my sins, as they affect my dear and pious wife, and sweet child, and a whole circle of most respectable friends, ‑oh, I should be cast down very low, were it not for the hope the gospel gives! But I will, in few words, close a history which is most grievous to my mind; and I hope you will excuse my unconnected way of writing: but I feel more than I can express.
“I went on until I found my income would not support my extravagance: and at length, to meet difficulties of my own seeking, I added dishonesty to all my other crimes; and used various sums of money to my own purposes that I had collected from my master’s customers. Being at length discovered, and being a considerable defaulter, my employer, most reluctantly, was compelled to prosecute. I had been six years in his service. Previous to taking his situation, I held one for a short time in the city, at Messrs.-, St. P-’s, and I am happy to remember that I was preserved from every dishonest act up to the time I have mentioned. No praise to me. I thank the Lord, I was, in His mercy, restrained from outward crimes, so that on my trial I had the benefit of a previous good character, and was, therefore, sentenced to only seven years. The Recorder of London, who tried me, most humanely and kindly told me he would afford every opportunity in his power for me to redeem my forfeited character and respectability. I hope I shall; but I am helpless in myself. But I believe that those holy principles which the gospel of Christ creates in the renewed mind, will, in the use of means, preserve me in His fear, and make me once more an honourable and a useful man and Christian.
“Gracious Lord! keep me humble before Thee, and watchful; and grant me the true spirit of prayer, ‘that I may break Thy laws no more; but love Thee and my fellow-men better than before.’
“During my stay in the Justitia, I felt the loss of privileges I once enjoyed of a religious nature; but I bless God for those I here enjoy on board this ship.
“Previous to taking my trial, and whilst a prisoner in Horsemonger-gaol, I met with great kindness from the Rev. Mr. B-, the pious chaplain. I am sorry to say I was dreadfully hardened up to this time; but his serious and earnest converse with me, together with his daily instructions from the pulpit, I am thankful to say, by God’s blessing brought me to a better state of mind. I have a letter from him which I greatly prize, sent to me when in Newgate; I hope - if you will allow me to ask yon - if ever you should meet with this good man, you will please to give my Christian love to him.
“Since I have been under your care, I have found great benefit from the word of the Lord, as explained and enforced by you. My mind has, I believe, become much more confirmed in the truth of the gospel, and consoled by its rich and free blessings. I am now in the enjoyment of peace through resting upon the blessed atonement. I desire to spend the remnant of my days in the service of my Saviour, and for the benefit of the souls of my fellow-sinners. The Lord help me! Oh, praise the Lord with me, and lot us exalt His name together!
“Dear Sir,- I thank you for all your kindness to me, and I thank the Lord for all the good I have enjoyed through you! May the Lord bless you, is the humble prayer of me, a poor, but I trust a saved sinner!” (Signed) “W. B.”
V. But against these views, OBJECTIONS are started. I will consider some of the strongest of them.
1. ‘If I am to be judged by Christ, I shall be lost. For it is written, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Ps. 143: 2.’
Answer. This is said in reference to justification. None can present a perfect righteousness of his own in answer to the demands of law. But we are speaking of the judgment of those already justified by faith in Christ. They are sons: they are servants. And the question is - What are to be the issues of their services, or of their deeds since they were justified?
2. ‘How can Christ judge any believer for sins? Is it not written, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Heb. 8: 12; 10: 17.’
Answer. It is. But the answer here is the same as before. The Holy Ghost is speaking of the forgiveness of the sins of ungodly past life, on faith in Christ. The believer thenceforward takes the place, - no longer of a foe, but of a friend. The place cited is from the Hebrews. Now there is no epistle so strong as that to the Hebrews, in reference to the effects of the believer’s actions, for good or evil, upon his future place. Read the third and fourth chapters, and see if the gist of the argument is not - that as the hope of the good land was set before Israel rescued out of Egypt by the blood and through the water, while yet they fell under the displeasure of Jehovah, and were cut off because of their sins; so it will be with believers in regard of the coming millennial kingdom. If we provoke God as they did, we shall be shut out of the prize of our calling because of disobedience, even as they were.* The reader will find several other passages in that epistle containing the same sentiments.
a tract – ‘Christians,
seek the Rest of God, in His millennial
3. ‘Believers can’t sin - for it is written, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” 1 John 3: 9.’
Answer. But that same epistle says:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1: 8-10.
See also 2: 1-3; 5: 16, 17.
VI. The DISTINCTION, here set forth account for and RECONCILE two apparently antagonistic classes of Scripture texts.
1. We were chosen to eternal life not according to our works before faith, but before our birth: 2 Tim. 1-9; Titus 3: 4-7. But we shall be chosen to enter the millennial kingdom according to our works after faith:-
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father that is in heaven.” Matt. 7: 21.
John 5: 28, 29; Luke 20: 35, 36. Eternal life is the gift of God to those who believe in Christ: Rom. 6: 23. The millennial kingdom or the first resurrection is the prize of our calling proposed to them that believe, to be attained by seeking and effort: Phil. 3: 10-15; Matt. 11: 11, 12; 6: 33.
2. This accounts for the TWO JUSTIFICATIONS of which the New Testament speaks.
(1.) There is a past justification by faith, the effects of which abide. Of this the Scriptures ordinarily speak: Titus 3: 7 ; Gal. 3: 8.
But there is also a future justification by [a regenerate believer’s] works, in answer to a future judgment. Of this James is the witness.
“So speak ye and so act as they that are about to be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy that showed not mercy. Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
That is, if you Christian take justice as the principle of action in your dealings with others now, justice will be the principle on which you will be dealt with before the judgment seat of Christ. But the man of mercy will be blessed then; for he will find it on his side then when most he will need it: 2 Tim. 1: 18. For there is a future as well as a present forgiveness; a future forgiveness based on condition. “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Luke 6: 37.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he have faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him?”*
[* NOTE. Here is mention also of a future salvation – the salvation “of your souls” (1 Pet. 1: 9, N.I.V.), which has to do with suffering and the “glories that would follow” (verse 11).]
No, it cannot! For Paul and James are speaking of different times. Paul says, that without works a man is justified by faith: Rom. 3. For he is treating of the present day of mercy, and of our acceptance in the [imputed] righteousness of Christ, which ends in eternal life.
But James is speaking in reference to the day of judgment, and in view of the millennial kingdom of reward. Then to plead the possession of faith will not suffice. For there are two salvations; as shall presently be shown. The future day is the day of reward according to works; and then works alone, the works of faith, will avail. To allege the possession of faith without works adduced, will be vain. You must prove your faith before the court. And that can be only by works. If in the case of a brother’s being starved with cold or hunger, we show our benevolence towards him only by good words, without giving him aid in the way of food or clothing, how much would he be the better for it? So, if on appearing before Christ, such a believer shall receive words of kindness, but no admission into the millennial glory, what would he be profited? And Jesus says, that not those who own Him Lord, but the obedient ones only shall be admitted to the kingdom: Matt. 7: 21. The father may hope much from one whom he has sent to school. But when his education is ended, will he not expect that the boy shall show that he has acquired knowledge while at school? Will he think it enough that the lad should say?-, ‘I am a scholar.’ That may do while he is learning, but – ‘Show me what you have learnt,’ will be the word when schooling is past. The possession of life and leaf will be enough for the fruit-tree in early spring. But will you be satisfied with green leaves alone in autumn?
3. There are TWO SALVATIONS spoken of in the New Testament. The first is that which is possessed already by faith, and which ends assuredly in everlasting life: Eph. 2. Of this Paul speaks: Acts 13: 26, 46-49; see also verses 38 and 39.
there is a future
day of Christ’s appearing
its time of possession. Of
epistle to the Philippians is a witness: 1:
2: 16. Hence the Holy Ghost
calls on believers to “Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling.” The persecution which the
Angels are sent forth to wait on those who shall enjoy the salvation ready to make its appearance when Christ comes: Heb. 1: 14; 2: 3; 9: 28. And Paul can say, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will bring me safely into” (literally, ‘will save me into’) his heavenly kingdom:” 2 Tim. 4: 18; Luke 9: 24; 1 Peter 4: 18; Rev. 12: 10.
4. The gift of God is one thing; and it is received by grace. The prize of God is another thing; and it is to be won, as its name shows, according to works. For two objects are set before the eyes of disciples, (1.) ETERNAL LIFE, and (2.) THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM. (1.) Two GOSPELS are sent forth by God, having reference to these two objects of faith respectively. There is on the one hand “the Gospel of the grace of God:” (Acts 20: 24) the acceptance of which is knit to justification and eternal life: Acts 13: 32; 14: 3; Gal. 1: 7-9; Eph. 3: 8. There is also “the Gospel of the kingdom,” otherwise called “the Gospel of the glory:” Matt. 4: 23; 9: 25; 24: 14; Luke 4: 18, 43; 8: 1; 9: 1-6; 16: 16; Acts 8: 12; Heb, 4: 2-6; 2 Cor. 4: 4; 1 Tim. 1: 11. This last gospel is founded on the millennial kingdom; and the entrance thereto is attached to degrees of sanctification, and to the works of faith. These two objects are independent one of the other. Hence scripture speaks of those who, shut out from reward because of their works, will yet obtain the salvation of eternal life. The disapproved builder whose work is burnt up, who is fined and escapes through his house on fire over his head, will yet “be saved:” 1 Cor. 3: 15.
The offenders put out of the church, and even given over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, shall yet “be saved:” 1 Cor. 5: 5. So in the description of the millennial day. After the millennial reign is over, when the rest of the dead rise, the book of life makes its appearance before the Great White Throne. For there are those who are written therein for life, citizens of the New Jerusalem, though not counted worthy of reward: Rev. 20: 4-6, 12, 15.
For the glory of the millennial day is sometimes exhibited as the reward of a battle which is now being fought, the prize of a race which the believer is now set to run: Heb. 12: 1-4; 1 Tim. 6: 12; 1 Cor. 9: 25. Of this crown’s bestowal Jesus is the judge: 1 Cor. 4. And only at the close of his well-run career, was Paul assured that the victory was gained, the crown was won: 2 Tim. 4: 6-8.
VII. Of this double view of the Christian’s position many TYPES are given in Scripture.
Abraham, father of the faithful, is
first justified by faith while uncircumcised: Heb.
The wings of a bird are given it for safety in flight. But they will not save the young bird when falling out of the nest, unless he unfold and move them. It is use that is meant to perfect the means bestowed. The exercise of the wings will alone make them perfect in fight.
But these works must be the works of one justified by faith. “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him unto righteousness;’ and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Paul, speaking of present justification in the day of grace, assures us that a man is justified by faith without works. James, looking onward to the time of judgment and reward of the diligent (v. 12) tells us, with equal truth, that in that day faith alone will not save. A man must then be justified by works; for it is the day of recompense to each according,- not to his faith, but to his works.
In contrast to their father, Abraham’s sons after the flesh, though they by faith kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, yet by their many provocations of God, they lost the hope set before them of entering the good land which He had spied for them. As Jehovah’s oath went forth on behalf of Abraham, that the promise of the land and the Seed should be his, because of his obedience; so his oath, not to be recalled, was uttered against them: that the degenerate and disobedient Israelites should not enter the land: Heb. 3. Now these things are “types of us”: 1 Cor. 10.
Another type is
given us in the
deliverance out of
a second command is given. None
is to eat of any leavened bread for
seven days. If they
do they are to be
cut off from the congregation of
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the
Here the apostle was
behaviour of ‘some’
within the Church at
Might we say in this case – ‘If there is leaven in the house, there is no blood on the door?’ Or, ‘If there be blood on the door there can be no leaven in the house?’ The inference in either case would be unsound. So neither can we say – ‘If there be sin, the man is no believer.’ Or ‘If the man be a believer he will not sin.’
(3) The priests of Aaron’s race were consecrated to God at first by a bathing of the entire body in water: Ex. 29: 4. That was never repeated. But their hands and feet were constantly becoming soiled by their employments. They were required therefore to wash their hands and feet when they drew near the altar to minister: 30: 17-21.
[* Always keep in mind the fact that truth is always with the MINORITY: the false report of the ten spies was partly to blame for leading multitudes astray: let us pay attention to ourselves and our doctrines; and remember that God will judge the teachers of false doctrines more severely!]
Let me, then, in a few words sum up the main truths here presented.
1. Eternal life is secured to the believer: for it depends upon the Father’s electing love, and the Son’s completed work on His behalf. Regenerated by the Holy Ghost, the man, from being an enemy of the Most High, becomes a son [child] of God. This new standing he never afterwards loses. The one forgiveness and cleansing away of sin, typified by the total immersion of baptism, ever abides.
2. But after faith the flesh still dwells with the believer, and its notions within are sinful, even when resisted. Sometimes sin appears in word and action. These offences need forgiveness frequently repeated. The Father looks for good fruits from all those set in Christ. He deals out discipline in the present life to those who belong to his family. Sometimes He even removes failing ones from earth. The church also is taught to use present discipline, even to excluding from the Lord’s table those openly offending by immorality. The believer also should judge himself, that he may escape judgment from the Lord.
3. Moreover an object of hope is set before those already possessed of eternal life. They are invited to the millennial kingdom of glory. That is to be sought in the way of obedience and of good works. The Lord at His coming, in the day of judgment will decide who shall possess this prize. While many will be excluded, many will enter in.
IN CONCLUSION, then, let us seek the prize set before us! Let us seek to obtain an entrance* into the kingdom of glory! Matt. 6: 33; Luke 12: 31. Let us sow the good seed now, that the reaping may be with joy! While other crops may fail, the seed of the kingdom, sown while we have opportunity, will not disappoint us: 1 Cor. 15. For this prize Paul sought with his utmost zeal. Sufferings and martyrdom itself were nought, if but this were won: Phil. 3. “Let as many of us then as be perfect be thus minded.” Let us - [seek always by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit] - keep down the flesh, lest we fall: Matt. 18; 1 Cor. 9.
[* This ‘entrance’ – (as applicable to the dead, for throughout the Scriptures it is always “the resurrection of the dead,” never that of the living!) – points to a select resurrection of REWARD of those, “who are considered worthy of taking part in that AGE:” (Luke 20: 35a, N.I.V.). See also Luke 14: 14; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 5-35b; Rev. 20: 4-6, etc. ]
Let us sow, for we shall reap Let us not grow .weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Now the word to us is, “Son go work to-day in my vineyard.” To-morrow those who have laboured with God, with God shall rest. At God’s great harvest-home now hastening on, both sowers and reapers shall rejoice together. “Each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
Let us not be as the land, that after the rain of heaven and the tillage of earth bears thorns and briars, and is nigh unto cursing: but that which bears useful herbs, and good fruits, and receives blessing from God!