Sometimes it is good to be reminded that Gods will for our lives is not always our will. How often when we pray the words, thy will be done, are we trying to psychologically manipulate God? Do we ever think that if we ask Him enough times, we will be able to manipulate Him into rubber stamping what we have already decided to do?
The prophet Jeremiah writes in the Bible, chapter 17v9 that the heart is deceitful above all things, therefore most of the time what we want to do in our own hearts, is not what God wants us to do in our lives.
But as independent, free thinking, self made people we always seem to know best. Why do we need the advice of others when we can work things out for our own lives, even those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. Mark Twain once said that when he was young, he thought his father was the stupidest person he had met, but when he grew up, he couldnt believe how much knowledge his father had acquired.
I wonder do you think you know best for your life? I wonder if you are reading this, are you at the present time trying to manipulate God into your way of thinking, socially, theologically, politically or personally? Do you only have a God who fits your shape, but once He attempts to break that mould and show that He is something greater that you think He is, then He becomes a threat to the way you have always looked at Him.
The lesson from the Cross when Jesus prayed the words, Father not my will, but yours be done. is a challenge to all of us who claim to be His followers. The call from Him to us is to submit ourselves to doing what He wants, not what we want. Why? So that He might be ultimately gloried through our lives and that we might know a blessing in our lives, beyond human understanding.*
[*Behold, I come quickly; and my REWARD is with me, to render to each man ACCORDING TO HIS WORK Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter the gates into the city: (Rev. 22: 12, 14, R.V.).]
OF DIVINE TRUTH
The oneness and harmony of Divine Truth as contained in the Scripture, is a pleasing and profitable subject of contemplation. Though proceeding from so many pens, under such varied conditions, at dates so distant, the Bible contains but one grand scheme.
Yet it must not be forgotten or denied, that there are continually exhibited within its pages, in bold relief, truths seemingly opposed to each other. To trace out some of these, and set them before the reader, with the ground on which they are to be received, is the main object of the present tract.
The twofoldness of truth as offered to our view in Holy Writ, is one strong argument of its not being the work of man. It is the glory of mans intellect to produce oneness. His aim is to trace different results to one principle, to clear it of ambiguities, to show how, through varied appearances, one law holds. Anything that stands in the way of the completeness of this, he eludes or denies, as something destructive of the glory and of the efficiency of his discovery.
But it is not so with God. In nature He is continually acting with two seemingly-opposed principles. What keeps the planets moving in beauteous order around the sun? Not one force, but two: two forces pulling each particle of matter in two opposite directions at the same instant. Leave our earth to one of these and it would fly away into infinite space. Give undivided scope to the other, and the globe would soon be drawn down to the surface of the sun. But between the two forces it moves harmoniously on its way. How is life supported? By two airs or gases of opposite qualities. Did we breathe one of them alone, we should die quickly from the intense expenditure and exhaustion of the vital forces. But place us in an unmingled atmosphere of the latter, and life would be extinguished in a few minutes. Again, the bodies in which we live are ever subject to the opposite action of two forces: by one of which the flesh and blood and bones are being continually taken to pieces; by the other, new particles are being continually added.
What is the salt that we eat? A compound of two substances, either of which alone would destroy us.
It is not then to be wondered at, if two principles seemingly-opposed are found placed side by side in the Scripture, - Unity in plurality, plurality in unity - is the main principle, on which both the world and the Scripture are constructed.
I purpose then to exhibit some instances of seemingly-contradictory doctrines. The widest and most obvious field of these, is found in the range of those schemes of truth which are known respectively, as Calvinistic and Arminian.
In some passages, then, of Scripture, THE CHANGE OF MAN from enmity against God to love of Him, is ascribed in the clearest terms, to the power of God. It is traced to a purpose of the Sovereign of the Universe formed before creation. In others, it is spoken of as the act of the man himself. It is regarded as due to the means made use of. It is enforced on each as his express duty, the neglect or resistance of which will entail his just condemnation.
(2.) As many as were ordained to eternal life believed: Acts 13: 48.
(3.) GOD HATH FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth: 2 Thess. 2: 13.
(4.) He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Eph. 1: 4.
But specimens of the other kind frequently occur.
(1.) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed: Acts 17: 11, 12.
(2.) Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life: John 5: 49.
(3.) Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. SAVE YOURSELVES from this untoward generation: Acts 2: 38, 40.
(4.) Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets. Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: Acts 13: 40, 41.
(5.) The times of this ignorance God winked at, but NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT:Acts 17: 30.
At times the two come into startling nearness of contact.
(1.) Then began He
the cities wherein most of
His mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe
unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee
What more evident, then, than the responsibility of man: and that his criminality is in proportion to advantages bestowed!
Yet after a similar sentiment concerning
(2.) At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, father for so it seemed good in Thy sight: ver. 25, 26.
Here, the sovereignty of God in the election of some, and the omission of others, is as clearly asserted. Nay, the two are closely interwoven in one sentence.
(3.) Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure: Phil. 2: 12, 13.
The first effort of Christians has been to reconcile the two statements, that is, to bring them into one.
Finding that impossible, the great majority have fixed on one class of these texts, rejecting the other. They have made an unscriptural oneness in their own minds, by refusing to listen to the opposing truth; or by torturing the passages that speak it, into as near an accordance with their views as they can. Hence have arisen the two great styles of sentiment on these points; one class calling itself Arminian, the other Calvinistic.
Much mischief has resulted therefrom.
1. The Arminian has fallen into vain self-reliance, bustle, and idolatry of the means. The agency of man, his powers and activity, have come prominently into his view. The glory and praise of man have taken the place of the glory and praise of God.
2. The Calvinistic scheme, taken alone, has fostered an equal mischief in the other direction. Accustomed to regard God only as the Sovereign Benefactor, and man as passive and helpless only, it has fallen into spiritual sloth; and has looked, with suspicion and a frown, on those who would use means to advance the salvation of men.
Extreme Arminianism has made man independent of God, and has denied either His infinite foreknowledge or His boundless power.
Extreme Calvinism has so swallowed up the responsibility of man, by assertion of his passivity, as to foster inactivity, and to verge on making God the author of sin.
What then is to be done? Which are we to believe of the two statements?
Here lies the core of the
mischief. IT IS TAKEN FOR
GRANTED, THAT WE ARE TO MAKE OUR CHOICE BETWEEN THE TWO; AND THAT, IF WE CANNOT
RECOINCILE THE TWO SYSTEMS, WE ARE AT
It is not necessary to reconcile them, before we are bound to receive and act upon the two. It is enough, that the Word of God distinctly affirms them both.
Take another point. What is THE EXTENT OF THE REDEMPTION procured by the death of the Lord Jesus?
The testimony of Scripture on this point is seemingly opposed.
1. Now redemption is affirmed to have been wrought on behalf of the saints and elect, as witness the following passages:-
(1.) Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it: Eph. 5: 25.
(2.) This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you: Luke 22: 20.
(3.) The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I lay down My life for the sheep: John 10: 11, 15.
(4.) Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him: 1 Thess. 5: 10.
2. But again, the death of Jesus is affirmed to have been for the salvation of the world.
(1.) Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: John 1: 29.
(2.) The bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world: John 6: 51.*
* The attempt to turn the edge of these passages, by affirming that the world here means the world of the elect, scarcely calls for an answer. It is a sad perversion of the Word of God. In John and the rest of Scripture, the world means, not the elect, but the opposite company.
(3.) Prayers are to be made for all men For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who is willing* that all men should be saved. For the man Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all: 1 Tim. 2: 1, 4, 6.
* Our version is too strong. It does not affirm Gods decree for the salvation of all, but simply His willingness that they should be saved.
(4.) Jesus is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world: 1 John 2: 2. What does the apostle mean by the whole world? We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lieth in wickedness: 1 John 5: 19.
(5.) We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe: 1 Tim. 4: 10.
Again we are brought to the same point. Here, are two seemingly-opposing truths. And hence Christians have gone off into opposite directions about them. Time and ingenuity have been wasted in the attempt to compress both into one. They will ever resist the pressure.
But are they not contradictory? Nay, that cannot be; for they are both parts of the Word of God; and contradictions cannot both be true. Both, then, are to be received; whether we can reconcile them or no. Their claim on our reception is not that we can unite them, but that God has testified both.
With. regard to the PERSEVERANCE of the saints on their course of holiness, there is the same diversity, or contrast of view.
1. Now the full security of the sheep of Christ is affirmed, in terms the most suited to console them.
(1.) I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,* neither shall any pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of My Fathers hand: John 10: 28, 29.
* Or rather, they shall not perish for ever.
(2.) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate its from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our lord: Rom. 8: 35, 38, 39.
(3.) But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation* through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 2 Thess. 2: 13.
[* NOTE. The salvation here is not a reference to the eternal salvation we presently have - by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2: 8, 9); it is a reference to the future salvation of the soul at the time of the First Resurrection: Heb. 10: 39; 1 Pet. 1: 9; Rev. 6: 9-11; 20: 4.]
2. And yet, how strong and awful the exhortations against falling away! How absolute the terrors threatened in case of so doing! What is the Epistle, to the Hebrews, but a long plea against such apostasy?
(1.) Therefore we [who are regenerate] ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time, we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Heb. 2: 1-3.
(2.) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age* to come, if they shall fall away to renew them again unto repentance; seeing, they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame: 6: 4-6. (See Greek.)
(3.) For if we sin wilfully after that we received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries: 10: 26, 27.
Or look at the question of JUSTIFICATION. On this point almost all true believers agree, that without works, by faith a man is justified.
(1.) By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of [in] Jesus Christ unto all [men], and upon all them that believe: Rom. 3: 20-22.
Yet, on this doctrine, the assertions of Scripture seem opposed.
(2.) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law: Rom. 3: 28.
But what says James?
(1.) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only: James 2: 24.
How then are we to hold in the same heart and understanding views of truth so contrasted? Very easily. The Bible is the Word of God. Contradictions cannot both be true. Therefore there are no contradictions in the Word of God. And opposite views of truth arise from different parts of the subject being viewed at different times. God is one, and His Word is one, though its beauty and its glory is, that it views truth on all sides. Look! those two trains will surely dash one another in pieces! With frightful speed they are rushing right against one another! Stay! They have passed! Neither touched the other. They move on the same railway, but not on the same line of rail.
Am I to believe God when He tells me that His saints are safe in His hand? Yes; God is infinitely worthy of credit. But He testifies also, that it is my bounden duty to watch over myself most carefully; and that if any one apostatize from the truth, recovery is hopeless. This doctrine comes from the same source; it is then infinitely worthy of credit also. Whether I can see how the two principles harmonize or not, I must receive both, and act upon both. I may try to see at what point they run into one, but I am to believe them at once, and to act on them at once. Do I intend to call the Almighty to the bar of my weak and erring intellect, and trust Him only so far as I can see my way alone?
So with justification. God, who knows the opposite directions in which the sinful heart of man goes astray, has provided two antagonist* yet harmonizing truths, to meet these opposite errors. Man, says Luther, is like a drunken peasant; help him up on one side of his horse, and he falls over on the other. Here were Jews, expecting to be justified before the God of strict justice, by their works. Paul pulls down this building stone from stone. But there are others, who seek to make the Gospel a plea for licence; and, while holding the truth in the intellect, to deny it all power in the life. Against these [disobedient and ignorant Christians] is directed the inspired teaching of James; which proves, that the faith which will justify - [i.e., declare a regenerate believer to be righteous by HIS/HER works] - before God is a living faith, from which proceed works good before men.
* I call them antagonist in the same sense that the anatomist calls friendly muscles in the same body, antagonist.
Both faith and [good] works are to be found in the [regenerate] Christian; and the Word of God, with bold voice, claims both. But here Christians [can] generally fail.
The Scripture, while it proclaims that everlasting life is a free gift, yet asserts also that [regenerate] believers shall be rewarded for[the nature of] their works and in proportion to them.
(1.) By grace are ye saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any should boast: Eph. 2: 8, 9.
(2.) For or the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord: Rom. 6: 23. [R.V. (1881)]
Yet again it is written:-
(1.) Each* shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour: 1 Cor. 3: 8.
* See Greek.
(2.) He which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully: 2 Cor. 9: 6.
(3.) All the churches shall know that I am He which trieth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works: Rev. 2: 23.
Two hedges define the road; from two abutments springs the bridge. How does the bird fly? With one wing? Nay, but by two. Cut off one, and it must for ever keep to the surface.
Thus does God try His people. Will they trust Him, when He affirms that view of truth which runs counter to their temperaments and intellectual bias? or will they trample on one of His savings, in their zeal for the other? The humble, child-like saint, will acknowledge and receive both; for his Father, who cannot err, testifies to each alike.
The wisdom of God, foreseeing mens passion for oneness, and yet the opposite errors with which different classes are affected, has provided in the unity of His word the medicines suited for each disorder. He recognises the tendencies of men to deviate in two opposite directions, in not a few places of His Word.
(1.) Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left: Deut. 5: 32.
(2.) The king was to write a copy of the law, that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand or to the left: 17: 20.
But the disobedience of human nature would show itself; and the two opposite tendencies - (1) to add what is human to the Word of God, and - (2) to take away from what is Gods on the warrant of human wilfulness and pride - were sadly seen in the days of our Lord.
The Pharisees overpowered the Word of the Most High, by adding thereto the traditions of the elders. The Sadducees destroyed its power upon their hearts and lives, by cutting off from it whatever displeased them. For both these deviations the Word of the All-wise was prepared.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you neither shall you diminish, ought from it: Deut. 4: 2.
The same tempers and tendencies of human nature appear in our
The same twofoldness of truth appears in the Scripture statements concerning the NATURE OF GOD. It affirms His unity.
(1.) Hear, 0
(2.) God is one: Gal. 3: 20.
(3.) It is one God, who shall justify the circumcision through faith, and the uncircumcision through faith: Rom. 3: 30.
But the Scripture as plainly affirms the distinction of persons in the Godhead. Unity in plurality and plurality in unity is the great assertion here. This master-truth, which takes its rise in the nature of the Godhead, flows out into all His works.
(1.) And the Lord God said, The man is become as one of US, to know good and evil: Gen. 3: 22.
(2.) Whom shall I send, and who will go for US? Isa. 6: 8.
(3.) I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter ... even the Spirit of truth: John 14: 16.
(4.) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: 1 Pet.1: 1, 2.
Shall we inquire concerning the CHARACTER of our God? The same twofoldness of truth meets us. God is strictly just: He is infinitely merciful.
Our God, says Paul, is a consuming fire: Heb. 12: 29. Yet, says John, God is love: 1 John 4: 8.
The Romanist, speaking wholly of His severity, shuts out His love and grace as a father. The Unitarian, insisting wholly on His paternal character, thrusts out of view His infinite justice and vengeance against sin. The cross of Christ presents both attributes perfectly distinct, yet gloriously reconciled.
Shall we turn our eyes to the NATURE OF THE SAVIOUR? Still the same. twofoldness meets us.
Is He man? Yes.
(1.) There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: 1 Tim. 2: 5.
(2.) His Son. Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh: Rom. 1: 3.
But is He man only?
(3.) Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: Heb. 1: 8.
(4.) Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the g1ory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ:* Tit. 2: 13.
* See the Greek.
In some passages the two aspects are joined.
(1.) Of whom [the Jews] as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Rom. 9: 5.
(2.) Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh: 1 Thn. 3: 16.
But, against this twofold truth, human unbelief has ever wrecked itself. One set of heretics denied the manhood of Jesus: one denied the divinity. The Jewish sect perceived in Him the mere man. The Gentile philosophers, believing that matter was evil, refused to admit that He took a human body. Gentile philosophy in our day denies His divinity.
But this glorious truth was foreshadowed of old in the furniture of the tabernacle. The altar of the burnt-offering was composed of wood and of copper. The one, able to stand the fire; the other, fuel for it. The altar of incense was framed of wood and of gold. The ark of the covenant, by Gods direction, consisted of two materials: of wood and of gold. The one of these was vastly more precious than the other; yet both in union were set in the inner presence-chamber of God.
Similarly, HIS HISTORY takes a twofold type. The prophets foretold Him glorified on the earth; reigning at
(1.) Then the moon
shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed when the Lord of Hosts shall reign
(2.) Every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles: Zech. 14: 16.
(3.) And thou, 0 tower
of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of
(4.) He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him: Ps. 72: 8, 11.
On such prophecies the Jewish mind fastened. These it expected to be fulfilled, the moment Messiah appeared. Hence, when Jesus appeared in meekness, and without regal power, the nation rejected Him. But were these the only passages that spoke of Messiah? Nay, there were others that, as unequivocally, foretold His humiliation.
(1.) I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting: Isa. 1: 6.
(2.) Then I said I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought and in vain, yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God: Isa. 49: 4.
(3.) Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship: Isa. 49: 7.
(4.) They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn: Zech. 12: 10.
Now, as the Jews could not see how to reconcile both these classes of passages, they took the set which pleased them best, and rejected the opposite series. Hence, with minds blinded by prejudice, - a prejudice which refused to receive the entire compass of Gods testimony,* they understood not the clearest assertions of the Saviour respecting His approaching sufferings.*
[* In a similar fashion, A-Millennialist Christians today refuse to accept the mass of prophetic Scriptures which testify of our Lords coming millennial glory upon this earth!]
Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold we go up to
But now the opposite result has taken place: and Christians, finding that the promises to Jerusalem, to the Jews, and to Jesus as the King of the Jews, have not yet been accomplished, have decided in their own minds, that they are never to be literally fulfilled; but that they belong to some future and indefinite expansion and victory of the Church of Christ.
Thus have, they, like the Jews of old, believed only the half of what the prophets have declared, and fall under the lash of the Saviours rebuke to the two mourning disciples that travelled to Emmaus: O fools and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken!
From exactly the same defect of human
nature, have sprung the many errors of Christians in regard to WORSHIP.
Jesus commanded immersion of his
disciples in the name of the Holy Trinity; the washing of each others feet; the Supper of the Lord. The Divine
Redeemer knew that doctrine could not subsist without rite, and that rite
is worthless without doctrine.
Hence in His parable of the old and new wine and the old and new wine
skins, He shewed the necessary connexion between rite and doctrine, and the
necessity for new rites to embody the new doctrines of the Gospel.
So again - HOW IS THE CHURCH TO BE BUILT UP? How are sinners to be brought in?
1. Some say By being taught by the preachers living voice. Without that the Bible might be sent to every land, yet scarce a soul be saved. Does not the Holy Spirit say - that men will not believe, because they will not hear, unless the feet and voice of some Gospel messenger bear them the glad tidings!
2. But the reply of others is opposite. Do you ask, how are we to learn? By Scripture! This alone is infallible truth. Preachers are ever erring; now on this side erroneous or defective, now on that. Would you grow wise? Study the Scriptures. Does not Jesus call the Jews to the study of the Word of God, that they might learn whether or not His mission were of God? Does not Paul assert that the Scriptures are able to make wise unto salvation!
If any then should inquire, which of these testimonies we are to receive? The answer is, as before, BOTH! Thrust not out of your understanding or your heart either pillar of the truth. You will not have the whole of Gods testimony, unless the two parts become one in your hand. Let those that will, seek to force asunder distinct truths. Do you retain both! Where did the Gospel prosper most? At Beraea. And why? Because there both these means were vigorously plied. Apostles preached, and brought before their hearers views quite new and strange. But they affirmed them to be borne out by the law and the Prophets. The Beraeans therefore searched, to see whether the new tidings were confirmed by the vouchers to which appeal was made. The living word they found confirmed by the written, and they bowed their souls to the grace of the Gospel.
Thus the written word, is the check upon the preacher. It presents either the proof, or the refutation of what he teaches. Without a preacher, the great majority might read their Bibles daily, and yet would pass the most important truths unnoticed. And yet, on the other hand, from mans constant tendency to evil, and the teachers tendency to abuse the truth for his own interests, it is needful that there should be some stronger proof of his doctrine than that the preacher says so, and that he is wiser than the hearer.
Hence the well-instructed Christian turns to his Bible, to see whether the doctrines set forth are found in the Book of God.
On this point, again, human nature goes off in two opposite
[* Nor should we ever be forgetful or neglectful of the Teachers i.e., the Holy Spirits guidance and help - to enable us to understand and interpret the inspired word of God correctly?]
The SPIRIT OF WORSHIP is another exemplification of the same truth.
1. He who would go before God must approach with the deepest reverence, remembering the Infinite Majesty of Him whom we address. The Christian is a servant (slave)*.
* See Greek,
(1.) Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: Heb. 12: 28.
2. Yet God loves not the distant spirit of fear by itself; but labours to infuse into the minds of His people, love towards Himself as the great peculiarity of the Gospel. The believer is a son.
(1.) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father: Rom. 8: 15.
(2.) Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by blood of Jesus. let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith: Heb. 10: 19, 22.
Steadied by these two dissimilar principles, we shall neither worship afar off; nor yet offend, by levity and fulsomeness of words and manner.
Again the same truth holds with regard to THE MEANS OF GRACE. True religion cannot flourish without public meetings of the saints.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: Heb. 10: 25.
Yet again, a religion which consists solely in public meetings is most unhealthy, and inoperative upon the temper and demeanour. Man consists of an outward and visible body, and of an inward and invisible soul.
So must religion be made up both of rite and of doctrine; both of private prayer, and of public meetings for worship and hearing. The tree consists of two parts, of the visible stem, limbs, and leaves: and of the unseen roots, that keep it firmly in its place.
The gate of Truth is one; but its posts are two. Some seem to think, that in driving through the entrance, they have only to beware of the right-hand post: and pull so strenuously at the left-hand rein, that they wreck their vehicle on the opposite side. Others, as clearly seeing the left-hand gate-post, and amazed at the blindness which overlooks it, shatter themselves as mercilessly on the right.
Shall we turn our eyes for another example to THE CHURCH?
1. Sometimes it is presented as a great unity, in which every believer in Jesus slain and risen, is a member.
(1.) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as the Christ is the head of the Church. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church: Eph. 5: 23, 25, 27.
(2.) He is the head of the body, the Church: Col. 1: 18.
(3.) On this rock. I will build My Church: Matt. 16: 18.
2. Sometimes on the other hand, it is viewed as composed of distinct and separate parts; in which there are local officers.
(1.) I commend you Phoeba our sister, who is deaconess* of the Church which is at Cenchrea: Rom. 16: 1.
* See Greek.
(2.) I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother a and companion in labour and fellow-soldier, but your apostle: (see Greek) Phil. 2: 25.
3. The Saviour addresses each of the
seven churches of
Both then must be held as truths. The
Unity in plurality, plurality in unity, is the law here also.
The DISPENSATIONS of God offer another example of the same truth. God is unchangeable: yet, it is no less true, that He has given, at different times, different views of Himself; and has founded thereon different series of commands. These dispensations are to be kept distinct, if we would understand and follow out the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. But here, as in other cases, the blind, hasty, perverse mind of man has wrought confusion, by breaking, in opposite directions, through the hedges which have been set by the Most High, on the right hand and on the left.
1. The ancient and most awful error
consisted in setting up the
2. That system of blasphemy and error
passed away: though it is destined to revive again in our times, and to recall
the ancient blasphemies of language, and abomination of practice. But when nominal Christianity gained the
ascendancy and the favour of emperors, another system arose. The Jewish and the Christian systems
were confounded and amalgamated. Christianity became hereditary and national; infant baptism was established; the elders of the Christian church became the
sacrificing priests of the Jewish temple; and the earthly promises to the Jew
were claimed as the portion of the church.
This is the fundamental error of
For some final examples I would turn to THE WORD OF GOD.
1. Parts of Holy Scripture are confessedly mysterious, and hard to be understood. On these the church of Rome takes her stand; and asks, if so dark a book ought to be put into the hands of the ignorant of mankind. She asks triumphantly, what the poor man, unfurnished with scholarship, can know of the principles of interpretation?
2. But the answer to her taunts lies in the other aspect of the Word of God. Not all is mysterious; not all requires deep research, knowledge of languages, and the laws of interpretation. Parts of that word are simple, and level to the capacity of a child. And while the Holy Spirit confesses some things hard to be understood, which some evil hearts might wrest to their perdition, the Lord Jesus rebukes the Sadducees as erring, because they did not know the Scriptures. And the Holy Spirit approves the conduct of the Jewish mother, who from childhood taught her son the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation.
Thus the Scripture is twofold in character, like the God who gave it. Here, His will, which is to guide us, is inscribed in letters which he who runs may read. There, we stand on a rock above the shoreless, unfathomed ocean of His eternal purposes: and mystery, with irremovable, palpable weight, oppresses us. We can but cry, with one who knew far more than ourselves, 0 the depth!
Look at the epistles. Man has an understanding. The epistle enlightens him with instruction; and gives him to apprehend those relations of himself to God and the things unseen, which nature could not have discovered. But light in the understanding is not enough. Man is an active being, no less than an intelligent and contemplative one. The epistle then is not doctrinal only, but practical also.
Here the Word of God is literal;
there figurative. Shall we
affirm either principle to the exclusion of the other? God forbid! Mischief lies in pushing either of these
principles out of its province. Divines
have literalized the application
of the law to us. Then come in infant baptism, holy water,
sacred garments, sacred places and days, war, oaths. But they have spiritualized the
prophets, and thus made the promises to
Let us, Christian brethren, take the Scripture as a whole. Some value the Scripture as it teaches and embodies the conservative principle, and with bold and steady voice, asserts the diversities of privileges, ranks, and abilities both in the world, and in the church.
Others can see in it, only its threatening denunciations against the iniquities of the ruler and the rich, its principles of advance, and of amendment. They grasp with eagerness its assertion of the one origin of man, the equality of the souls of all before the Great Judge and the responsibility of all alike to Him.
But the Bible holds both these truths. It is the book of God, and not the book of man. The Most High holds the scales even: now telling us of the sins of kings, and now of the iniquities of the people.
From this twofoldness of truth DESIGNED difficulties arise. Thus does God try mankind. Thus does He try His people. Will they receive both His statements on His simple assertion? Most will not. They are one-sided. They will force ever thing to unity. They are impatient at the breaks and faults which appear in the strata of Scripture. They ignore all evidence that tells against their views. Such must be left. The simple-minded will listen. When it is made a question of fact,- What hath the Lord spoken? Christians will be brought nearer together. When we see and testify, that Gods truth is not to wait for reconciliation to our theories, we shall be far advanced on the toad towards unity.
What is that mighty power, which speeds us so swiftly on our journey by land or sea? It is the product of fire and water. Remove the fire, or the water, and the engine must remain a lifeless mass. They are natural opposites: yet when brought into contact, yet kept distinct, what wondrous results follow!
Now might not a perfectly true account of a steam-engine be given to savages, which should seem quite absurd and contradictory? Show them the steam-engine at work! And might not two parties arise among them The Firemen, who attributed all the power to the furnace? and The Watermen, who should regard all its powers as due to the fluid alone? Like this seems to me the unreasonableness of Calvinism or Arminianism, where either excludes the other.
Preacher! two reins are put into your hand. Do not always pull at one of them, lest you land yourself and your horse in the ditch!
I would, then, exhort the reader, to receive what God has asserted, though in seeming inconsistency, concerning His own sovereignty and unlimited power on the one hand and concerning mans freedom and responsibility on the other, SEMPLY BECAUSE GOD HAS TESTIFIED IT. This is ground amply sufficient for its reception. It does not need first to be reduced to system, and brought under the arrangement of a theory.
Yet, in conclusion, I would desire to offer to the readers notice a conciliating and apologetic thought or two.
The Bible contains the whole truth, the whole counsel of God, His full character. But Gods character is two-fold. God is the Just Governor, requiring obedience from His subjects. But He is also the merciful Sovereign dispensing benefits to His creatures. Viewed in turn from the summits of these two mountainous attributes of God, man takes a two-fold character. Do we regard God as the Sovereign Creator, whose purposes must stand, and whose eternal counsels provided, from the beginning for every derangement? 0 then, man is a thing! a mote of the sunbeam, subjected to undeviating laws! All his goodness must be from the Creators out-flowing.
But we may and should regard God as the Ruler of the Universe; the Law-giver, who expects to be obeyed, who promises and who threatens: whose promises are eternal life, whose threats are endless fire and torment. 0 then man is a person? a free independent potentate, able to choose as he wills, and to be dealt with justly according to his works. In this view, man is the rebel, breaking Gods laws, grieving Gods heart, and suffering the penalty of his provocations of the Righteous Governor throughout eternity.
Both these views are distinct: both broadly true. Scripture maintains them both. . Man is ACTIVE. Man is PASSIVE. Man is active, as related to the JUSTICE of God. Man is passive, as related to the SOVEREIGNTY of God.
How insuperable, without the Gospel view of the cross of Christ, would be the contrary demands of the justice and mercy of God! There, in infinite harmony, appear the perfect justice and the perfect mercy of God. Each attribute shall in the future judgment and award to men, be in as harmonious exercise, as in that wondrous event. But, man could not, without the revelation of the Gospel, have discovered how the antagonist claims of these two attributes should be met, in regard to the sin of men. It is not wonderful then, if, with regard to the harmonious action of these two attributes now, in relation to the conduct and destiny of mankind, we should find difficulty in the attempt to balance and adjust their demands. In attempting it, we have stepped out of our province.
Here is a chemist making up a prescription. One enters his shop, and looks over the paper. He asks him, whether the prussic acid can be good when mixed with the quinine? He inquires, how can he be content to mingle in the same phial, the tonic and the antiphlogistic? What possible good effect can come of the union of ingredients so opposite? Would not the chemists reply be? Why, sir, that is not my business. This prescription is made out by one far more skilled in medicine, than I am. I am only following orders. The issue of the medicine does not rest with me. My duty is to mix these things together. For that alone I am responsible. For the effects on the sick man, I am not liable to be called in question. Shall that be a sufficient reply for the chemist, because of his inferiority of knowledge to the physician? And shall it not be ample justification for the servant of God, who in preaching and teaching combines truths seemingly opposite, on the authority of the all-wise Physician of souls! Yes! chemist of the divine dispensary! Make up the prescription as ordered! Leave the result to Him who wrote the recipe!
The Scripture is a house with more than one front. He who will always approach it by the eastern path, may assert that its colour is black. He who never will enter it by any but the Western road, may affirm, with equal resoluteness and with equal truth, that its colour is while. But he who will tread both paths, and go round the house, viewing it in its every aspect, may see how the black wall and the white, the front, the back, and the gables, make up one consolidated edifice, deep rooted in the nature both of God and man. He who will receive but half the truth, is ever liable to revulsions: and these are the more vehement, the more unmingled and one-sided they are. The vehement Arminian, who, by some potent antagonist, or by the force of truth, is convinced of the sovereignty, of God, not unfrequently passes into the hard and rigid Calvinist: and he who begins by making too much of good works may end, by denouncing and reprobating them.
The Lord give us a single eye, and the teaching of His Holy Spirit; that each part of His Word may leave its due impression on our judgments, our hearts, and our conduct!
* * *
THE LUNGS OF A DOUBLE ACTION
By F. E. MARSH
As the lungs in their functioning in-breathe and out-breathe, so we find there is a double aspect of every truth of the Gospel. We give three examples, namely, suggestive hints as to the doubles of Gods blessings; second, the two advents of Christ; and third, the relative importance of the double of Christs atonement and advent.
Almost every blessing which comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ has a double meaning. There is that which God gives to us in His objective grace, and there is the result of that grace in a subjective sense operating in our hearts and lives. The field is too large to do more than hint at what we might call these double blessings of the Gospel.
Two-fold Meetness. The Father in His love and grace has made us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1: 12); and we are responsible to see that we are vessels meet for the Masters use in being sanctified and prepared unto every good work (2 Tim. 2: 21).
Two-fold Acceptance. God in His grace has made us accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1: 6); and because of this, we are to make it our aim and ambition to be accepted of Him, that is, to be well-pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5: 9, R.V.).
Two-fold Justification. We are justified before God without works (Rom. 3: 26, 28); but we justify our faith by our works (Jas. 2: 14-26).
Two-fold Sanctification. Christ having met every claim of God on our behalf in answering for our sin, declares that the believer his been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, and we are perfected forever (Heb. 10: 10, 14, R.V.); and because of this, we are being sanctified by faith as the Holy Spirit works within us (Rom. 15: 16).
Two-fold Election. God has chosen us in Christ that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph. 1: 4, 5); and we are responsible to make our calling and election sure by adding to our faith the graces of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly-kindness, and love (2 Pet. 1: 5-11).
Two-fold Possession. Those who are born of the Holy Spirit possess the Holy Spirit, as the seal of God marking them off as His property (Eph. 4: 30); but it is not every believer who is possessed by the Spirit, hence the exhortation is to be filled in the Spirit (Eph. 5: 18, R.V.).
Two-fold Rest. Christ promises the rest of salvation to those that come to Him, and thus they find rest of conscience from their sins; but there is also a deeper rest* - the rest of heart from anxiety as we take the yoke of Gods will upon us, and keep in that yoke with our Lord, (Matt. 11: 28, 29).
[* See also Heb. 4: 9: The sabbath rest for the people of God, which they should give diligence to enter: (v11. R.V.).]
Two-fold Righteousness. Because Christ has been made sin for us we are made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5 :21); but we are exhorted also as a consequence of our union with Christ to be righteous and thus evidencing our oneness with Him (1 John 2: 29).
Two-fold Cleansing. The conscience is cleansed from guilt by the atoning blood of Christ, hence we are said to be justified (counted [declared] righteous) by means of His blood (Rom. 5: 9); but the relative to this is, that we cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7: 1).
Two-fold Redemption. We are redeemed to God by the blood of Christ, hence in Him we have redemption (Eph. 1: 7); but the outcome of this means we are to be redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2: 14).
Two-fold Life. Believers in Christ have eternal life as Gods [free] gift (Rom. 6: 23, [R.V.]); but we are to lay hold on eternal* [age-lasting] life as an experience (1 Tim. 6: 19).
[* In this context, of a believers works, the Greek word translated eternal, should be translated age-lasting. See also Heb. 5: 9.]
Two-fold Work of Grace. The grace of God saves us from what we deserve as sinners; but it also teaches us that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and live soberly, righteously and Godly (Titus 2: 11, 12).
Two-fold Forgiveness. God in His wondrous love graciously forgives us our sins (Eph. 1: 7); and that is to be the incentive to forgive one another even as He has forgiven us (Eph. 4: 32).
Two-fold Deliverance. God has delivered us from the power of darkness (Col. 1: 13), that we should be delivered from this present evil world (Gal. 1: 4).
The above will indicate a few of the many doubles that are found in connection with Gods blessings. What God has joined together we must not put asunder. It is our privilege to recognise what is ours in Christ, but we are equally, responsible to allow Christ to live in us that we may fulfil our responsibilities.
ADVENT AND ATONEMENT
The star of Christs first coming, leading on to the goal of
His atonement, is intimately associated with His return
as the Bright and Morning Star. As the
main pillars in Solomons
The late Dr. Saphir has given a concise and consecrated testimony of the importance of Christs Cross of atonement, and His advent of glory. He says: To know Jesus Christ and Him crucified is not the minimum of knowledge, but the maximum of knowledge; that to thus know Him is not a descent from a loftier region, but an elevation into the highest sanctuary; that in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, all doctrines, all Gods teachings, and mans experiences culminate; that from Jesus Christ and Him crucified, all duties, all works, all ministries, are to emanate and to be evolved.
Here is the hidden and perfect wisdom of God. No doctrine is seen clearly and truly unless it leads to the Cross; no work is God-pleasing, no experience or attainment genuine and vital, unless it has its source, root, and strength in the Cross; no waiting for the Second Coming is healthy and purifying unless it is called forth by the contemplation of the great God and Saviour, Who gave Himself for us, and redeemed us from all iniquity. O blessed concentration! Blessed simplicity of the Gospel! From this centre, from this Cross of Christ Jesus, as from the heart, are the issues of life.
The feasts of the Passover and Trumpets show how the two truths are associated. These two feasts are closely allied in the Book of Zechariah. In Zech. 14: 4-21 we have seven times what shall take place in that day, that is, the day of Millennial glory, when the Lord shall tabernacle amongst us again.
1. Arrival of the Lord with His saints
at the commencement of His tabernacling.
His feet shall stand in that day upon the
2. Darkness leading to light will be the phenomenon at that day. The American Revised Version of verses 6 and 7 reads: In that day there shall not be light, the bright ones shall withdraw themselves (the stars) ... but at evening time it shall be light, that is, Von Oreilli says, The light of salvation will break its way through the night of judgment (see Isa. 30: 26).
3. Living waters blessing the
earth. It shall be in that day living waters will go out
4. Christs universal reign. The Lord shall be King over all the earth in that day (verse 9). All the nations will know the right and might of His reign.
5. Christs might victorious over His enemies. The peoples that have warred against the Lord shall be brought under His judgment in that day (verses 12-15, A.R.V.).
6. Holiness unto the Lord shall characterise everything in that day (verse 20). Everything shall be sacred to Him.
7. Exclusion of the enemy. In that day there shall no more be the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts (verse 21). The trafficker for self and sin will be excluded.
All this is preceded by
Decease and Glory.
The same combination of atonement and advent is made known in the
scene on the Mount of Transfiguration, which scene is a picture, Peter
declares, of Christs power and coming in His majesty (2 Pet. 1: 16).
Of our Lord and those who were with Him we read: There talked
with Him two men
appeared in glory, and spake of His decease (Luke 9:
30, 31). His decease refers to His death, to His exodus,
to His going out of the body in death.
The theme of these glorified ones was Christs death. Saphir
says: The source of the glory is Jesus Christ crucified. When He said, It
is finished, two eternities met; there was
revealed and accomplished the counsel of God, and there was purchased and
secured the glory of His people. Thus
the preaching of Christ crucified is central and comprehensive.
The Spring of the
Hope of Christs glory ever flows from the smitten rock of Calvary.
Those who appeared in glory with Christ were there
because of His decease about which they were talking. The vantage point of
The Lords Supper and the Kingdom
As Christ handed the cup to His disciples at the institution of the Lords Supper, He said: This is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins; but I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Fathers kingdom (Matt. 26: 28, 29). The two phrases, This is My blood and This fruit of the vine, take us back to the Cross and on to the kingdom. The first is a metaphor which signifies one thing represented or embodied in another, so that My blood stands for His atoning death. The words, This fruit of the vine, come under the figure of speech periphrasis, which means a description is given of a thing instead of naming it. So the Fruit of the vine and My blood stand for the death of Christ and the outcome. As the bunch of grapes has to be cut off the vine, and the grapes crushed to obtain the wine, so Christ had to be cut off in death, and crushed in the winepress of Gods wrath before there could be any benefit to us. That blood was shed (poured out) for many. The for (peri) signifies action towards an object, and means concerning the many, that is, He was acting for them, and the end He had in view was for the remission of sins. The other for is eis, and embodies intention, and the intention is expressed, it was unto remission of sins. And remission signifies not only the cancelling of guilt, but the removing of the sins which brought the guilt.
Will the Lords Supper be in or after the Millennium? Christ points on to the time, in His Fathers kingdom, when He will again observe the Supper which He had inaugurated, for as Alford says: These words carry on the meaning and continuance of this sacrificial ordinance, even into the new heavens and the new earth. Alford also gives a quotation from Thiersch: The Lords Supper - points not only to the past, but the future also. It has not only a commemorative, but also a prophetic meaning In it we have not only to show forth the Lords death until He come, but we have also to think of the time when He shall come to celebrate His Holy Supper with His own, new, in His kingdom of glory. Every celebration of the Supper is a foretaste and prophetic anticipation of the great marriage supper which is prepared for the Church at the second appearing of Christ. This import of the sacrament is declared in the words of the Lord: I will not drink henceforth the fruit of the vine until I drink it new in My Fathers kingdom.
We therefore see that the Lords Supper not only shows forth His death until He come, but when He has come we shall still proclaim that death to which we owe everything, even as in the Millennium there will be commemorative sacrifices to point back to that death of deaths, that sacrifice of sacrifices, and that only atonement for sin (see Ezek. 46).
Expiation and Expectation
Of Christs atoning death in the past and His outlook in the future, it is declared: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool (Heb. 10 : 12, 13). Expiation means to make reparation for wrong done, or to give satisfaction for an evil committed. What the seraph said to Isaiah, Thy sin is purged, might be rendered, Thy sin is expiated, or atoned for. Christs offering is said to be for our sins, that is, on behalf of our sins, in answering for them; as Westcott says: The offering of Christ, His perfect life crowned by a willing death, in which He fulfilled the destiny of man and bore the punishment of human sin, is that, and by, and in, which every human life finds its consummation. There is infinite value in that death, because of the value of His infinite worth, for it was in the eternal value of His eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God, and so brought an eternal benefit to us.
To quote Westcott again: It is significant that Christ is said to perfect by His offering; it is not said the offering perfects. His action is personal in the application of His own work. It is the Person Who gives value to His work. This is further elucidated if we omit the comma after the word ever and place it after the word sins. Then the sentence reads, After He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down. The work of His atoning death being finished, He will never rise up to open the question of atonement for sin again, for His one offering once for all offered is complete and eternal. The text read in the ordinary way from 1611-1630, but in 1638 the comma was removed, and placed after the word sins, and it read, forever sat down, thus going back to the punctuation of the Bishops Bible of 1568. This is the punctuation in the Book of Common Prayer. Alford inclines to the reading, forever sat down, for as he comments: The words seem better to refer to an enduring state than to a past act. The words that follow confirm this: For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. His perfect act brings unto a perfect state, therefore there is no need for Christ to rise again from His Fathers throne, for since sin has been remitted on the ground of a perfect sacrifice, there is no more offering for sin (Heb. 10: 18). The virtue of Christs work remains ever available as long as the need of man exists. That need is eternal, and that eternal need is met by the Eternal Offerer, Who offered a sacrifice eternal in its value, therefore He could not die again, and will not rise again to repeat His atoning work.
The Cross and the Throne
Flowing from Christs perfect expiation for sin is an outlook of expectancy, of complete triumph over His enemies: Henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. The word for expecting is used only of one waiting for another. It is translated waiteth for: tarry, for : look for. The impotent folk were waiting for the moving of the water by the angel (John 5: 3). Paul waited for, and was content to look for, certain brethren (Acts 17: 16; 1 Cor. 16: 11). Brethren were exhorted to tarry one for another when they remembered the Lords death (1 Cor. 11: 33). Abraham looked for a city whose Builder was God (Heb. 11: 10). The husbandman waiteth for the fruit of his toil (Jas.5: 7). God waited in the days of Noah for the repentance of men (1 Pet. 3: 20). And Christ is waiting till His enemies shall be subject to Him.
The Lamb Slain and Slaying
The one pre-dominating thought in the Book of the Revelation
is, the Lamb, in all the livingness of His death, puts down His foes, and
reigns over His enemies. The wounded One
of Calvary is the Warrior conquering His enemies. The Book of the unveiling is the revelation
that Gods Little Lamb shall conquer the red dragon of hell,
He will put down the seven-headed and ten-horned beast of a revived
This double truth of atonement and advent might be multiplied. The following brief outline will emphasise:‑
1. Christs sufferings and glory, is the theme of the Scriptures. The prophets ... prophesied ... of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow (1 Pet. 1: 10, 11).
2. Christs suffering and glory was the topic of Christs conversation with the two disciples as He journeyed with them to Emmaus (Luke 24: 26).
3. Till He come we observe the memorable feast which proclaims His death (1 Cor. 11: 26).
4. The assurance of the resurrection of our loved ones who have fallen asleep, and the quickening of the living ones is based on Christ died (1 Thess. 4: 14).
5. Who died for us are the [Holy] Spirits words, as He declares the ground why we are appointed (placed in) the salvation of the future (1 Thess. 5: 9, 10).
6. The Church will be set before the Lord without a spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, because He loved her and gave Himself for her (Eph. 5: 25, 27).
7. We are exhorted to be looking for that Blessed Hope, and the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour, Who gave Himself for us (Titus 2: 13).
The cords of Gods love bind us to the altar of Christs sacrifice, and its flame fuses us into Gods nature, and the glory of Christs coming attracts us to the heaven of His holiness. Since the Lord has such a claim upon us, and we have been called to such a glory, what manner of persons ought we to be? With such a past of His passion, and with such a prospect of His glory, we cannot, if we know Him, be anything else than wholly devoted to Him.
Christs two advents are intimately connected the one with the other. There is a correspondence between the two, and yet there is a contrast. The first was in humiliation, the second will be in glory. Let us look at some resemblances between the two advents.
Christs Own Statements
We are not left in any, uncertainty about Christs first coming. His Word is positive, peculiar, and emphatic. In relation to the law He says, I am come to fulfil it (Matt. 5: 17). As to His mission He declares, I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matt. 9: 13). Reverting to the authority behind Him in all He said and did, He assures us, I am come in My Fathers Name (John 5: 43). In calling attention to two of the blessings He came to give, namely - Light and Life, His testimony is beyond all question I am come a Light into the world, and I am come that ye might have life (John 10: 10; 12: 46). Could anything be clearer?
When Christ, in the absence of Judas, speaks of His coming again He says, I will come again and receive ye unto Myself (John 14: 3). His I come is in contrast to His I go. And again cannot mean anything else than again. Palin, the word for again, means a repetition. Peter not only denied his Lord once, but again, and Christ in the garden not only prayed once, but He went away again and prayed the same words. The two pillars of the temple of truth are Christs first coming to atone for sin, and His second coming to reign.
The Fathers Two Sendings
Without referring to the forty-three times in Johns Gospel which speak of Christ being sent by the Father, we recall the two sendings to which Peter refers in his second sermon after Pentecost. God sent Him to bless you, and that in a specific way, by turning away everyone of you from his iniquities, and this by means of the One Who died and rose again. But of that same One it is also declared, He shall send Jesus Christ, and lest there should be any doubt that the sending is future, Peter further declares, Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution (Acts 3: 20-26). The Fathers first sending of Christ was that through (by means of) Him salvation might be provided for the world (John 3: 17); but His second sending is that the covenant with Abraham about the land of Palestine might be fulfilled, and His covenant with David might be completed, and the other things of the times of restoration, or restitution, spoken by the prophets, might be consummated.
The fact of Christ being seen is one of the essentialities of the Gospel. The testimony of the Apostles is beyond doubt or question. Johns witness is, We have seen with our eyes, We behold His glory (1 John 1: 1; John 1: 14). Simeon exclaimed, as he held the infant Christ in his arms, Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation (Luke 2: 26, 30). The people saw the mighty works which He did (Luke 19: 37); and, after His resurrection, He showed Himself alive ... by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Those who saw Him beheld an actual Person, and not an apparition.
The Word had breath, and wrought
With human hands the creed of creeds
In loveliest of perfect deeds.
The actuality of the Christ of the past is a prophecy of the Christ of the future. The exultant note of the blessed hope of Christs return is buoyantly expressed in the soul-stirring words, We shall see Him. Israel is reminded in the Sacred Word of prophetic outlook, They shall look upon Him Whom they pierced; and in the universal light which shall come to all, the Divine declaration is, Every eye shall see Him (Zech. 12: 10; Rev. 1: 7).
The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20: 28). The climax of His ministry was to give His life. There was no compulsion upon Him, He gave His life willingly and lovingly He deliberately laid down His life; and that vicariously, that is, instead of the many. Thus did His last act show forth the ministry of all His ministry. That ministry was not a general serving, but refers to the specific act of His death. This, as Alford comments, is a plain declaration of the sacrificial nature of the death of our Lord. He gave Himself as a ransom, and this denotes a payment equivalent for a life destroyed (Exod. 21: 30); the price of redemption for a slave (Exod. 21: 26); and a propitiation for sin (Job 33: 24).
One of the most wonderful promises of Christ is when He promises to come forth and serve those servants whom He finds faithfully watching for His return, and watching with girded loins and trimmed lamps (Luke 12: 35-40). We would be content to kiss His feet in humble submission and adoration; but that He should come forth and serve us, and that, as Alford suggests, His coming in turn to each is beyond our conception. When love is appreciated by whole-hearted devotion it commands the service of special regard. What an exceptional ministry that will be if our Lord should find us worthy of it. The fact He says He will do it, tells us He will come to perform it.
Two centuries ago the MCheyne of his time, and who, like him, was early called home, once said at a communion service, Oh, when shall those blue heavens be rent, and we be admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb? I long for the day when all the language of heaven and earth shall be, Come, come Lord Jesus. Such an ardent longing is the outcome of a loving devotion to the Lord. Readiness for Him is the outcome of a full obedience to Him.
I am come that ye might have life
(John 10: 10). When Christ Who is our Life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with
Him in glory (Col. 3: 4). The positive message of the Gospel is Eternal Life, and that is, as Westcott says, Beyond the limitations of time. It belongs to the being of God, and finds its
consummation in the transforming vision of the Son seen as He is. ... It cannot be separated from Himself. Therefore His coming
was crowned by, His passover
and exaltation, whereby His life was made available for others through death.
... Eternal life is not an endless duration of being
in time, but being of which time is not a measure. ... Life for a finite creature is union with God.
These quotations from Westcott, inspired by Divine revelation, tell us
that Eternal life belongs to the Being of God; Christ is its Embodiment.
Eternal life, the Life of God,
The Life is God supreme;
Tis what He is, tis what He has,
And is the Gospels theme.
Eternal life! Eternallife!
What can with it compare?
Tis found in Christ, in Christ alone,
In Christ Divine and fair.
The Life is like a Circle true,
Including all within;
God wanteth none, He giveth all,
And all is found in Him.
But God did break the Circle rare,
And by the Cross doth show,
That through the Christ that died thereon,
We in the Circle go.
And now the Christ doth say to us,
I am the Way, the Life,
And he that comes to God by Me,
He finds eternal life.
The essence of that Life is Love,
And with it, too, is Light,
And Love and Light are Life expressed,
For God is Love and Light.
And as we take the Gift of Life,
We Life in Christ possess,
And as the Life our lives enflame
There is no care nor stress.
The goal of Life, the Life indeed,
When Christ shall come again,
Will cause us like to Christ to be,
And in His glory reign.
What a life this Life is! We cannot measure its infinitude, sound its depth, reach to its height, or comprehend its far-reachingness. But we can rejoice in Him Who says, I am the Life and be Looking for the mercy of our God, unto Eternal Life.
Christs incarnation is variously described. In regard to the Father, it is a sending, a mission. In regard to the Son, it is a coming. In regard to the form, it is in flesh. In regard to men, it is a manifestation. In Johns first epistle we find him frequently stating the fact of Christs manifestation in the past, and its purpose (1 John 1: 2; 3: 5, 8; 4: 9); and reference is also made to His future manifestation, when he says, He shall be manifested (1 John 2: 28, 3: 2). The manifestation means an unveiling, so that that which was invisible shines forth. He was manifested in the past to take away our sins, and to destroy the works of the devil; and He will be manifested in the future to make His own like Himself. The future shining forth will be the complement of the past. The one would not be perfect without the other.
Elizabeth Browning, in her Drama of Exile, makes Christ say to Eve:‑
I, wrapping round Me your humanity,
Which, being sustained, shall neither break nor burn
Beneath the fire of Godhead, will tread earth,
And ransom you and it, and set strong peace
Betwixt you and its creatures; with My pangs
I will confront your sins, and since your sins
Have sunken to all Natures heart from yours,
The tears of My clean soul shall follow them,
And set a holy passion to work clear,
Absolute consecration. In My brow
Of Kingly whiteness shall be crowned anew
Your discrowned human nature. Look on Me!
As I shall be uplifted on a Cross
In darkness of eclipse and anguished dread,
So shall I lift up in My pierced hands,
Not into dark, but light - not unto death,
But life beyond the reach of guilt and grief,
The whole creation.
How prophetic and significant are the words:-
... In My brow
... shall be crowned anew
Your discrowned human nature.
Yea, we may say our nature shall not only be crowned anew, but we shall have a body like His, for the goal of the Lords purpose is, we shall not only recover what is lost, but we shall have a body like to His body of glory (Phil. 3: 20, 21, R.V.). It is His design to set us in His presence without spot, without wrinkle, or any such thing.
Once in the end of the ages (R.V.), hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. ... He shall appear the second time without sin (without a sin-offering) unto salvation (Heb. 9: 27, 28). The one definite end He had in view when He first appeared was to put away sin, and the means whereby He put it away was by the sacrifice of Himself. Sin is viewed as a hindrance, keeping man from God, and God from man; or if we take the word put away in its actual meaning, He disannulled sin (the same word is rendered disannulling in Heb. 7: 18) by His sacrifice. Annulling its power and fact by the potency of His death, and thus rendering it naught. The thought goes beyond the redemption from transgression. It is literally for the disannulling of sin. Sin is vanquished, shown in its weakness, set at naught. The death of Christ has settled the question of sin, and therefore the fact of sin is settled by the living Factor of Christs death. Sin laid Him low in death, but by His death He has laid sin low.
A second time He will appear, and unto salvation. The word appear denotes the Object seen, and not so much the act of seeing. It is rendered seen in referring to the fact that Christ was seen by many, people after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 5-8), and means to look in the face of another, hence it is often used in speaking of His return, when many will see Him (Matt. 24: 30; Mark 13: 26; 14: 62; Luke 21: 27; John 16: 16, 17, 19, 22; 1 John 3: 2; Rev. 1: 7, 22: 4). He will be seen unto salvation. Salvation points to what we shall be saved to, although it takes in from what we shall be saved. Westcott comments: To accomplish, consummate salvation, which means not only, the removal of sin, but also the attainment of the ideal of humanity.
Christs first coming had a distinct end in view in relation to the devil For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3: 8). He came to unloose all that the enemy had bound, for destroy means to unloose, as Lazarus was loosed from the grave-clothes; and it also means to break down and melt (John 11: 44; Eph. 2: 14; 2 Pet. 3: 10). And further, Christ is said to have taken our nature, that by means of death He might destroy him that had the power of death (Heb. 2: 14), that is, to make him void, and bring to nought all the power and jurisdiction of the devil; hence, Christ has now the keys of hades and of death.
In the Book of The Revelation our Lord, as the Lamb, is represented as marching on in His victorious way and in His mighty conquest. And that conquest over His enemies is revealed in several particulars. Mystical and actual Babylon are destroyed (Rev. 17: 16; 18: 21); the Beast of the revived Roman Empire, and also the False Prophet who supported him, are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19: 20); the ten kings who act under the Beast are overcome by the Limb (Rev. 17: 12-14); Satan is placed in the abyss during, the Millennium, and afterward cast into the lake of fire (20: 2, 3, 7-10); the nations which act under the devil after the Millennium are devoured with fire from heaven (Rev. 20: 8, 9); and the wicked dead are judged according to their works (Rev. 20: 12-15).
The Lord of Calvary must win through all His enemies, for none can stand before the weapons of His wounds. The Victim of the Cross is, and will be, the Victor in all conquests. This is the throbbing thought right through the Book of the Revelation. The seemingly conquered One on the tree is the sweeping Conqueror of the future.
Only Begotten and First Begotten
He was the Only Begotten when He first came. Dr. I. M. Haldeman,
But something more is required than a sinless man. Only that which is equal can meet that which is equal. Atonement calls for the death of a victim. God, if He would atone, must die. God as God cannot die. If He would offer death as a sacrificial equivalent for sin, then He must have a human nature. It follows, therefore, that for the suffering of death, and to taste death for every man, God must become incarnate. Thus incarnation is in the nature of things. As the Son of God and God the Son has been from all eternity the form, the visibility of God, and by His place and function in the Godhead alone could be, He only of all the persons of the Godhead could become incarnate, God manifest in the flesh; and, therefore, both in fulfilment of His essential relationship to Godhead, and by the terms of the everlasting covenant, He did, indeed, become so, and on the Cross offered His perfect humanity as a sacrifice for sin. That sacrifice finds its value neither in the extent of time in which it was offered, nor in the degree of suffering of the offerer, but in the infinite value of the infinite personality of Him Who offered it.
When Christ is spoken of as The Only Begotten, His eternal existence is before us,
and His manifestation in time. But when
He is declared to be The First Begotten, His resurrection is before us, and His present
existence as the Representative of those whom He has redeemed. The Only Begotten is the One Who was given
for us (John 3: 16). The First Begotten is
the One Who is coming again in manifest glory; hence, when His return is
revealed, it is said, When He bringeth His First Begotten into the world (Heb. 1 : 6). The reason of His
return to the inhabited earth is because the Father brings Him. He is behind Him, and with Him, and the cause
of His return and all He does. Being the
First Begotten, He is the Guarantee of those who are being glorified with
Him. Dr. Haldeman well says: By the term
first born (begotten) from the dead, we are to understand the grave [and Hades (Rom. 8: 22, 23. cf. Acts 2: 27, 31)] as His mother, and out of
that dark womb He was begotten by the Father as the first immortal
When Christ came and clad Himself with
a human body, it is said of Him, He took not on Him the nature of
angels, but He took on Him the seed of
Abraham (Heb. 2: 16).
Under the law, only a kinsman could act for one who had lost an
inheritance, as in the case of Ruth (Lev. 25: 48; Ruth 4: 3-10). It was essential that Christ should
become one of us that He might have the right to act for us. As the Son of Man He had
the right, and as the Son of God He had the power. Under the law sometimes the near kinsman, who
had the right, had not the power, as in the case of Naomis nearer kinsman than
Boaz (Ruth 4: 6). The forcefulness of
Christs taking hold of our nature when He first came is enhanced when we know
the word to take is the one which is used of Peter when Christ caught him as he was sinking into the water
(Matt. 14: 31). Christ has caught hold of our humanity by becoming man, and thus
making it possible for us to be
saved, as Paul declares, There is one God
and one Mediator between God and man, or more correctly, pertaining to God and man ...
.. the Man Christ Jesus, Who
gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2 :
5, 6). A procuring price, instead of all, is
what the giving of Himself means. His incarnation was necessary to His ransom,
but it is ransom which saves, and not His incarnation. There was only one Christian life that began
John, in the Spirit, describes a
wonderful scene in heaven (Rev. 5). He sees in the
right hand of the One sitting on the throne a seven-scaled roll; and an angel
asks the question, Who is worthy to open the Book, and loose the seals thereof? And no man in
heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was
able to open the Book, neither to look thereon.
And this fact filled the apostle with consternation; and caused him to weep much.
Whereupon one of the elders bids him not to weep, and the reason given
is because the Lion of the tribe of
Writing to the saints in
Looking forward to the future [millennial] bliss of Gods children, the [Holy] Spirit through the Apostle John says: We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3: 2). See Him as He is, not as He was. He was the Man of Sorrows, and shamed on the Cross; but as He is, He is honoured and glorified. A full description of Him as the glorified One is given us in Rev. 1. We shall be like Him. This we know, for we are assured it shall be so. Like Him, we shall be pure in nature, spotless in character, beautiful in form, clothed with light, perfect in body, incorruptible in being, and luminous in glory. What a prospect! What a Hope! What manner of persons ought we to be with such a glory before us!
When Christ came into the world there was no room (the word room in other places is given place) for Him in the inn (Luke 2: 7). And as Christ was about to go out
of the world His parting message and promise was, I go to
prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again and receive you unto Myself (not to the place,
John 14: 2, 3). Thus the two
advents are related and connected again; and yet one other place cements them, and that is the place called
Every fact of the Gospel is meant to be a factor in us. Pascal
remarks that everything that happened to Christ as a matter of history is
meant to have a correspondent experience in our hearts and lives; hence, Christ
was born for us that He might be born in us.
Paul, in writing to the believers in
What was it that attracted the wise men to come and worship the infant Christ? They themselves tell us. They said, We have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him (Matt. 2: 1-12). And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, and presented unto Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As we, too, are looking not for the Babe of Bethlehem, but the Bright and Morning Star, we shall bring to Him the gold of obedience, the frankincense of a holy life, and the myrrh of a glad fellowship in His death and [out] resurrection.
The importance of recognising the double aspect of truth is essential to have an even balance in the mind of our thought and in the testimony of our utterance, for a false balance is an abomination to the Lord, and on the other hand a just weight and balance is said to be His (Prov. 11: 1; 16: 11). Error is always a part of truth and is sometimes hard to distinguish from the truth itself, as Tennyson has said,
A lie which is all a lie
May be met and fought outright,
But a lie which is a part of truth
Is a harder matter to fight.
Therefore we need to pray that we may he saved from an un-theological devotion, and an un-devotional theology.
* * *
IS ALWAYS AMONGST THE
Truth has been out of fashion since man changed his robes of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure: it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty. Men are never faithful in crowds. Our nearest and dearest can fail us. What is wanted to-day are men and women, young and old, who will obey their convictions of truth and duty at the cost of fortune and friends and life itself. It is to His regenerate disciples that Jesus says (Matt. 7: 14):- Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it.
Abel was murdered alone. Enoch watched alone.
Noah preached alone. Abraham offered his son alone.
Jacob wrestled alone. Joseph
lay in the pit alone. Moses ascended Sinai alone. Samson repented alone.
David fought Goliath alone. Elijah sacrificed on
Gods People in the wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. Gods People under the kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. Gods People under Caiaphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. Gods People under the Popes praised the Saviour and persecuted the saints: and multitudes of Gods people now, both in the Church and the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness like faithfulness to truth to-day.
Nevertheless the faithful servant of God is never
He never has to repeat